Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bloggus Interuptus (Preemptive)

Today will most likely be my last fresh post for a while, as I'll be on the road for most of the next couple of weeks. I'll do a write up of my two days at the Mid-Ohio School at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next week over at the Legal Eagle Racing blog when I get back. Then I get what may be a particularly confusing oral argument with the Fourth Circuit to round off the week. The week after it's off to San Antonio for a massive Federal PD conference. So, my PC access will be limited in the next couple of weeks. Enjoy yourselves in the meantime and come back in June!

Album of the Days

Archive, 1967-1975, by Genesis (1998): For years, a live recording of was the holy grail of Genesis fans. Bootlegs circulated (the only bootleg I own, I think), but they were poor quality and hard to find. So when Archive was announced, fans rejoiced at half of its 4 discs being given over to the band's 1974 performance of The Lamb . . . in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, it's not quite "live," as some 1990s touch up was done, particularly by Peter Gabriel on his vocals. His voice really is quite different now than it was in 1975, so they're fairly easy to pick out. Still, you get the whole experience, complete with Pete's weird stories and some extra instrumental bits that were worked in to facilitate costume changes. Of the other discs, the most interesting is another live disc, taken primarily from the Selling England by the Pound Tour that includes a Gabriel-led version of the epic "Supper's Ready," complete with Pete's introduction. Disc 4, made up of early demos, is interesting only in an archeological sense.

It Must Be a Camel

Houston can keep it's dive bombing birds - West Virginia has a much more dangerous beast on the loose. It seems that in Harrison County (in the north central part of the state), a woman was knocked over by a camel that promptly sat on her. The Daily Mail describes the gripping scene:

The woman, whose name was not released, was painting a fence late Wednesday morning when the 1,500 pound camel knocked her over and sat on her, according to Rick Rock [suppose he's married to Betty Boulder? - JDB], director of the Harrison County Emergency Squad.

'The camel, that was supposedly friendly, knocked her down and sat on her,' Rock said.

The victim was unable to move, but she managed to get to her cell phone and dial 911.
But my favorite quote is another from a local ambulance driver, who matter of factly stated, "[t]here is no protocol on something like this." No kidding!

As for the birds in Houston, take note that they were apparently attacking attorneys. I'll leave it my you, gentle reader, to draw you own conclusions.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Album fo the Day

Forver and a Day, by All Too Human (1998): When I do this complete review of my CD collection alphabetically, this is the first disc up. I won it in a Dutch Progressive Rock Page contest several years back, which is odd because the band is neither Dutch (from Texas, actually) or particularly progressive. Still, there is some decent Queensryche/Fates Warning-ish prog metal on the album, in addition to "Life Begins Anew," which is the best Caress of Steel-era Rush tune the Canadian trio never recorded.

Plook At Your Own Risk

This is hardly breaking news by now, but it's too good to pass up. Yesterday, a Massachusetts (mid-level) appellate court upheld the dismissal of a civil suit brought by an anonymous man against his (presumably ex) equally anonymous girlfriend for injuring during sex. News accounts have danced around what actually happened, but no such luck here at the Ranch. From the court's opinion:

The plaintiff and the defendant were in a long-term committed relationship. Early in the morning of September 24, 1994, they were engaged in consensual sexual intercourse. The plaintiff was lying on his back while the defendant was on top of him. The defendant's body was secured in this position by the interlocking of her legs and the plaintiff's legs. At some point, the defendant unilaterally decided to unlock her legs and place her feet on either side of the plaintiff's abdomen for the purpose of increasing her stimulation. When the defendant changed her position, she did not think about the possibility of injury to the plaintiff. Shortly after taking this new position, the defendant landed awkwardly on the plaintiff, thereby causing him to suffer a penile fracture.

Although this was generally a position the couple had used before without incident, the defendant did vary slightly the position previously used, without prior specific discussion and without the explicit prior consent of the plaintiff. It is this variation that the plaintiff claims caused his injury. While the couple had practiced what the defendant described as 'light bondage' during their intimate relations, there was no evidence of 'light bondage' on this occasion. The plaintiff's injuries were serious and required emergency surgery. He has endured a painful and lengthy recovery. He has suffered from sexual dysfunction that neither medication nor counseling have been able to treat effectively.

Holy shit - "penile fracture?!?!" Who knew you could break it? The court probably got this one right, for, as Eugene Volokh notes over at Volokh Conspiracy, things could get mighty interesting (in schools, if no place else) if we need to start educating people on the duty of care owed by the "Reasonable Sex Partner." You think the fundies have problems with sex ed now!

Time to Mail Those Anniversary Cards

Today marks the one year anniversary of the first gay marriage performed in Massachusetts in the wake of that state's supreme court ruling legalizing the practice. Today's cover story in USA Today recounts some of the ground that's been covered on the gay marriage debate over the past year, from last year's elections to the fact that folks in Massachusetts appear to be turning around on the idea (a majority now favor gay marriage). The national debate is set to be reignited, thanks to a federal judge in Nebraska who struck down that state's anti-gay marriage portion of the state constitution. The GOP now has a reason to push its "defense of marriage" amendment to the US Constitution.

On a somewhat related note, the question for this week's Debate Club over at Legal Affairs is whether states should abolish marriage completely. The plan would be to leave "marriage" to religious groups and replace it as a state institution with civil unions open to all.

Le Splat

Paging the overseers of the Darwin Awards. This morning in Paris, a Norwegian man jumped to his death from the Eiffel Tower. That wasn't his intent, but as he jumped from the tower's upper deck his parachute caught on the structure and ripped away from his body. He plummeted earthward until he was one with the streets of gay Paris. And the motivation behind this? A PR stunt for a Norwegian clothing company. Yup, they'll get some brilliant PR from this, no doubt.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Album of the Day

Blood of the Berry, by Timothy Pure (1997): When I first got this, Timothy Pure's (it's a band, not a dude) second album, I was not overly impressed. Some guys had come and gone from the band's debut and the sound was different. Nevertheless, I kept putting the disc in the CD player until, finally, after 15 or 20 listens, it really clicked. This is very lush, layered, prog that doesn't jump out and grab you right away. It takes time to soak in. Once it does, it's really worth it.


Auto racing can sometimes be a cruel sport. We occasionally have to deal with the deaths or serious injuries of drivers, event at the top reaches of the sport. As bad as that can be, it's even more tragic when one of the selfless volunteers who help run the event are killed. Glenn Miller, a long-time member of the Sports Car Club of America was killed this weekend during an event at the Neslon's Ledges road course in Ohio during an SCCA driver's school. A driver lost control of his car, went into the wet grass, and hit Glenn. Workers like Glenn not only work at amateur races for groups like the SCCA or NASA, but also for major professional racing series like the American LeMans Series, Champ Car, and even the Nextel Cup series. I'm sure Glenn would have been at Mid-Ohio this weekend for the ALMS race.

My condolences, as an SCCA member and road race fan, to his wife and children.

It's About Time

Supposedly, the Governor will announce tomorrow morning that the state's two Division I universities will enter into an agreement to play football on a regular basis. This has been a big deal in West Virginia ever since Marshall moved up from I-AA in the 1990s. WVU traditionally only played MAC (where Marshall resided, until this coming season) schools in Morgantown and wouldn't really consider going to Huntington every other year to play in front of half the crowd. Still, it makes sense for the two schools to play. The one time they have played since Marshall's ascension was in 1997, when WVU beat a Marshall team led by Chad Pennington and Randy Moss 42-31 in front of a packed house in Morgantown (the start of my second year of law school, I chose to go to Pittsburgh and see Marillion instead).

A Fine Time to Buy Wine Online

After a few weeks off, the Supreme Court was back in action today, handing down a decision that strikes down state attempts to limit the direct-delivery sale of wines from out of state. At issue was whether the states had power to enforce such limitations as a result of the 21st Amendment. In addition to repealing the 18th Amendment (and, therefore, prohibition), the 21st also gave the states power to regulate booze sales. Unfortunately for Michigan and New York (the two states involved in this litigation), the 21st Amendment doesn't trump the Commerce Clause, which prevents them from discriminating against out of state businesses. The fine folks at SCOTUSblog have more detail here.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Album of the Day

Always Almost, by Still (1997): Following up on more once more from the other day (quite a bit of conceptual continuity this week) is the other project that came from the ashes of echolyn when that band split in 1996. The trio of Ray Weston (bass/vox), Brett Kull (guitar/vox), and Paul Ramsey (drums) pursued a much grungier straight ahead sound than echolyn did. To be honest, I wasn't really wild about this disc when it came out and still (ha ha) can't work up a lot of love for it. But it has grown on me and I can definitely see some of echolyn Phase II in there.

More Glazer/ManU Blowback

Day two of the Malcom Glazer era dawned over Manchester today with the team's fans still unhappy about the billionaire American's buyout (much to the delight of many non-ManU fans). However, some observers have noted that Glazer turned the Bucs from perennial losers to Super Bowl winners, although his brief history with an MLS franchise (the contracted Mutiny) was much less impressive. As for the ManU fans, they might consider this perspective:

There is no proof yet that Glazer's takeover would be bad for Manchester United, other than it takes the club's ownership out of English hands.

Much has been said about United's 'heart and soul' being ripped out, but Old Trafford was opened up to market forces went it went public 14 years ago - the start of a period of spectacular success.

'Not for sale' is the great rallying call for Old Trafford's faithful, but in reality almost everything at Manchester United has been for sale since that day. A hollow cry from this mega-rich and mega-marketable club.
True enough. Part of the risk is going public is that the public might actually want to buy in.

Eat Bad Food!

The cover story of today's USA Today is all about how, in spite of our expanding waistlines and docupropoganda like Supersize Me, the growing segment of the fast food market is in stuff that is bad for you, but tastes oh so good. Examples include ginormous burgers and breakfast sandwiches, milkshakes made with real honest-to-gods ice cream, and (the old favorite) fried chicken (KFC is even reverting to its full name). To which I say - good for us and good for the people who sell it. Damnit, good food is one of the last vices this country has, we might was well enjoy it (he thought while reading this article and scarfing down a slice of pepperoni and sausage stuffed pizza - mmmmmm!).

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Album of the Day

Sluggo!, by Mike Keneally & Beer for Dolphins (1997): Another of those great discs of 97, this was my first exposure to Keneally as a solo artist. I was blown away (had my head ripped of, in Kenally terms) and continue to be to this day. Sluggo! is a pretty good snapshot of what Mike can do, from super-catchy rock tunes ("Potato," Voyage to Manhood," "Why Am I Your Guy?"), extended instrumentals ("I, Drum Running, Am Clapboard Bound," "Cardboard Dog"), gentler things ("I'm Afraid"), plain weirdness ("Looking for Nina," "Egg Zooming") and even a solo piano piece ("Sluggo"). This is not the full band effort the name implies - it's still very much a product of Mike's own two hands.

The Ultimate Yank Abroad

Some of the larger soccer clubs in Europe are actually publicly held companies, sort of like the Green Bay Packers. That's why American rich guy Malcom Glazer (he of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) has been able to effectively take over control of England's most well-known club, Manchester United, in a deal worth almost $1.5 BILLION. Glazer bought out the shares of two Irish shareholders and now controls more than 70% of the club's shares. If he can snap up a few more shares and pass the 75% mark, Glazer can remove ManU from the stock exchange and allow the club to take on substantial debts. At 90%, he could force out the remaining shareholders and assume complete control of the club.

ManU fans are pissed about this development, to say the least. They fear that unlike Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who bought Chelsea and pumped in loads of money to bring the club its first title in decades, Glazer is more interested in the American business prospects of the ManU brand. Fans are afraid that he will raise ticket prices to pay for the debt incurred in the purchase, sell players to make up the debt, or even sell (either in whole or the naming rights) to Old Trafford. Fears of a financial collapse as happened to my team Leeds last year are prevalent, as well.

Grendel Leaves His Mossy Home . . .

In the world of federal criminal law, a worse beast than even the Sentencing Guidelines are mandatory minimum sentences. Swept in for several drug and gun crimes several years ago as part of the "war on crime," mandatory minimums requires a judge to impose at least a certain sentence (subject to very very few exceptions) if some triggering event has been proven. For instance, if you deal with more than 5 grams of crack, you will get at least 5 years in prison (with much more possible, of course). Not only does that cut against the very ideal of judicial sentencing (the concept that each case is unique and deserves separate consideration), but it ignores the discretion that prosecutors possess to charge the triggering event and thus play games with the harsh punishment hanging over the head of the defendant.

So, with that background, it's disappointing that the House yesterday passed a so-called "anti-gang bill" that is riddled with new mandatory minimums. In addition, the DOJ gets more than $300 million dollars to pursue new convictions, a week after Congress refused to pony up any extra money for we FPDs to deal with the post-Booker fallout. I had hoped the Democrats would have stood up to this bill, but there are more important things than justice to worry about:

Rep. Maxine Waters of California introduced an amendment that would have struck the mandatory sentencing provisions from the bill, but she withdrew it in face of GOP opposition, saying she didn't want it to become a political issue.

'I know there are people who are just salivating for this amendment to remain on the floor so they can catch Democrats voting for something they will use in their campaigns,' Waters said.
And they wonder why we hate Congress?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Album of the Day

more once more, by finneus gauge (1997): A couple of times I've mentioned an album that didn't live up to the hype it generated (see yesterday, for instance). In this case, I was part of the hype! I snapped up this debut disc by one of the echolyn spin-offs right when it came out and promptly wrote a glowing review for my website. To my great surprise, I opened up Progression magazine one month to find an ad for the album with several "critic's" raves - including mine! Something about being album of the year material. It definitely was and is still one of my all-time favorites. It set such a high standard that the band couldn't match it on their second and final album.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Album of the Day

Unfolded Like Staircase, by Discipline (1997): For a band that shares a name with King Crimson's 1981 masterpiece, Discipline sounds a lot like Genesis, Van der Graff Generator, and various other 70s symphonic stalwarts. Actually, Unfolded . . . was the most hyped prog album of the year when it came out and to say I was underwhelmed at the time was an overstatement. I simply couldn't see what all the fuss was about. After living with the album for all these years, it's grown on my tremendously, although I still wouldn't put it in the "classic" category (especially in a year that produced Timothy Pure's Blood of the Berry, Mike Keneally's Sluggo!, and the self-titled finneus gauge album). It's very good (and dark) epic symphonic prog, so definitely seek it out if you like that kind of thing.

Jesus Is Not Alright (at the DMV)

And you think getting a driver's license would be a bitch under the Congress's latest brainstorm. Imagine if you legally changed your name to Jesus Christ! Apparently one man, a current DC resident who was born in Florida, did just that years ago. But his soon-to-be new home state, West Virginia, is balking at issuing him a driver's license bearing the name of the alleged son of god. Sadly, the state is only holding out until the proper documentation arrives from Florida. Line of the day goes to Mr. Christ's attorney: "Christ is not speaking to the press at this time."

Build It Your Own Damn Self (and They'll Come)

Reason Online has an interesting column discussing how the Supreme Court's impending decision in Kelo v. New London (the eminent domain case) could spell the end of publicly funded stadia for pro sports teams. Eminent domain is a key tool in acquiring the land to build new stadia. If the Court backs the property owners in Kelo (unlikely, but possible), public bodies may be less likely to fund new stadia that, it's been shown, don't produce the economic development goodies the teams promise. This is not just a big city issue, either. Charleston (and various other WV agencies) just ponied up several millions to build a new downtown ballpark for the local Class A baseball team. As much as I want to see MLS teams have soccer specific stadiums built for them, I hope the league foots the bill instead of suckling at the public teat.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Album of the Day

Läther, by Frank Zappa (1996): Läther was conceived by Zappa as a 4-LP album back in the mid to late 70s. He delivered it to the record company, which refused to release it in that format. After some legal bickering, most of the album's parts were strewn across four separately released projects: Live in New York (a double LP set), Orchestral Favorites, Sleep Dirt, and Studio Tan. The Zappa clan finally put together this release after Frank's death. The scope of the material on Läther is vast. The more straight forward funny rock stuff is here, as are lengthy jazz workouts and orchestra works. And then there's the 20+ minute cartoon for the ears that is "Greggary Peccary." Pretty much covers all the man ever did, stylistically ('cept for the Synclavier stuff, of course). If you've never bought a Zappa album, this is a perfect place to start. Odds are if you don't find anything to like in Läther, Zappa's music is just not for you.

Filibuster Foiled Fortas

With the GOP readying the "nuclear option" on the debate over judicial nominees, some Republicans have claimed that it is "unprecedented" to filibuster a judicial nominee. Aside from the fact that blocking a nominee is blocking a nominee, however it's accomplished (by, say, locking up Clinton's nominees in committed, preventing the all-popular up or down vote), the GOP's claim just isn't true. In 1968, the GOP filibustered the nomination of Abe Fortas for Chief Justice, mainly out of a desire to keep lame-duck LBJ from making the appointment. Orin Hatch is running around claiming that Fortas's situation didn't involve a filibuster, but over at Findlaw John Dean blows that argument out of the water.

Ironically, the most principled person on the filibuster issue in 1968 appeared to be GOP presidential candidate Richard Nixon, who went on record as being against the filibuster regardless of the issue. Who'd of thunk it?

Friday, May 06, 2005

Album of the Day

Human Interest Story, by 3rDegree (1996): I got this album used from someone on the Net (along with Kevin Gilbert’s Thud). So I was surprised that a little while after I posted my review of this disc, I got an Email from the band’s bass player, songwriter, etc. asking were I’d gotten the disc. Turns out that the band had ceased to exist and you could only get new copies of the album directly from him. Whoops. He didn’t seem pissed at the lost revenue, however, and we had a good Email chat about music and the biz (he’s a big Gilbert fan, oddly – didn’t say much about the taste of the seller of these discs). Musically, this album treads a fine line between prog and rock, and was (I’m paraphrasing the guy from the band I talked to here) too weird for the mainstream but not weird enough for the prog scene. Which is too bad, ‘cause there’s lots of good stuff going on.

Members of the Jury, I Represent Bob Killer

It’s hard to go through a criminal trial without mentioning the defendant’s name. The court uses it. The prosecution uses it when it slips their mind to call your client “the defendant.” And we defense attorneys generally use it all the time in order to humanize our clients (i.e., to get the jury off the “defendant” part). But what to do when your client is charged with DUI and her name is (no joke) Lush? Sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch. I’ve never had a poorly named client (although I had a poorly named location – one client shot and killed a guy outside of a bar called “Shooters”), thankfully.

The Boy's Got Speed

Scott Speed, America’s best hope to crack F1, won his first pole position for the first GP2 race this weekend in Barcelona, Spain. Hopefully the spec-series cars will be free from mechanical gremlins this weekend and actually let the guys fight it out on the track. Isn’t that the point of spec racing?

UPDATE: Pole didn't produce a win, but podium finishes in each of the weekend's races at Barcelona now has Speed in a tie for the lead in the GP2 point standings!

A Holy Update

Remember the holy stain of Chicago? It seems that the great religious icon of the Windy City has been sent to hebbin’ by a dude with a paint can. The Chicago underpass stain that many faithful thought was an image of the Virgin Mary was obliterated by a man who painted the words “Big Lie” across the image. The entire stain was then painted over because it had been “defaced.”