Friday, September 30, 2005

God - It Does the Body Politic Bad

Generally, one of the arguments that the fundies make about getting prayer or creationism back into the public schools or making God a prominent part of our social/political life is that it makes the country a better place. Kids will learn about values, as will we heathen adults, and the country will turn away from evil and be just and virtuous. In other words, God does the body politic good. Well, not so fast. A study published in the Journal of Religion and Society, and reported this week by the UK's Times newspaper, concludes that:

belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.
As a result, the very religious United States does not come out all that well:
The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: 'Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

'In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

'The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.'
England, by comparison:
despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America.
The study's conclusions were based on things like murder rates, abortion, suicide and teenage pregnancy.

Sex & Death in Oregon

Gotta hand it to the Oregonians – they certainly know how to brew up a juicy court case. Take, for instance, this week’s opinion from the state Supreme Court which held that the state’s ban on live sex shows (and accompanying 4-foot no-touching zone for strippers & patrons) violate the state constitution. Presumably these are all happening in private places, but still, that’s pretty open minded of the fine folks in Oregon. The court was divided 5-1:

In a dissent, Supreme Court Justice Paul De Muniz said he could not conclude that 'masturbation and sexual intercourse in a 'live public show'' is a form of speech that the drafters of the Oregon Constitution sought to protect.
I can only imagine.

On an equally juicy topic, death, Oregon will be front and center next week in what may be the first marquee case of the Roberts Era at the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the court will hear arguments in a case to decide whether Attorney General Gonzalez (it was Ashcroft when this began) can, via the DEA’s licensing of doctors to deal with controlled substances, effectively neutralize Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. In one of those great cases of the right completely abandoning the concept of federalism, the Government wants to tell the doctors of Oregon what constitutes a “legitimate medical practice,” regardless of the expressed will of the rest of Oregon. You can read the briefs for yourself here (US Government), here (Oregon), here (Oregon doctors), and here (Oregon patients).

You Think Your Boss Is Tough

On a really really bad day at work, what’s the worst think your boss can do to you? Yell at you? Call you out in front of your coworkers? Fire you? That’s strictly lightweight stuff compared to this farmer in South Africa. He, with the help of other employees (what pals!), threw an unruly employee into a lion’s pit. The result? The employee became lion food and the farmer will spend the rest of his life in a South African prison.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Scopes for the New Millenium Rolls Along

The trial over whether a public school can shoehorn the concept of "Intelligent Design" into its biology class is chugging along in Philadelphia. Tuesday's proceedings (sorry I'm late), as reported in the New York Times, included some testimony that will certainly make the school board work hard to neutralize. Things like:

At a board meeting in June 2004, the plaintiffs say that Mr. Buckingham declared from the podium: 'Two thousand years ago, someone died on a cross. Can't someone take a stand for him?'

Two newspapers in York reported the remark. But the defendants say Mr. Buckingham was misquoted.

As I expected, things are getting interesting over at the Speaking Freely blog, which the ACLU setup to discuss the case. One of the anonymous (c'mon, folks, get some balls!) commenters raised an interesting comparison:

But why do they want to provide a viewpoint that is widely rejected as scientifically vacuous? There is a fine line between academic freedom and academic responsibility. It would be offensive to force teachers to recite a preamble before all classes about World War II saying that some people believe the Holocaust never happened . . ..
Good point. Nobody would seriously argue that Holocaust denials should be a part of any history curriculum. The major difference in the two areas is that ID would be a proper (and interesting) topic for a philosophy, particularly a philosophy of science, class, while I can't imagine Holocaust denial having a similar place in the curriculum (except for the study of it itself, as I did in college).

For what it's worth, the Holocaust deniers have their own Scopes trial. In 1994 book Denying the Holocaust, historian Deborah Lipstadt took on many of the deniers. About one, British historian David Irving, she was particularly vicious. Irving took offense and, in one of the things that makes you glad to have a First Amendment, sued Lipstadt and her publisher for libel in Britain. As a result, Lipstadt's counsel in essence had to prove the assertion that Irving was a Holocaust denier/minimizer. They did, in spades. For a rich collection of articles about the case, see this site maintained by UK's The Guardian.

Kubrick Missed His Calling

Brazil, one of my favorite films, is a great example of how the meaning of a movie can be completely changed by the editing. Compare Terry Gilliam's full-length version to the Universal-driven "Love Conquers All" edit (destined for TV syndication) and it's hard to believe their made of the same raw materials. Gilliam's film is a dystopian fable in which (in Gilliam's words, IIRC) the happy ending occurs when the main character loses his mind. The TV edit, by comparison, manages to present a film in which the main character is really a hero and lives happily ever after (literally rides off into the sunset with the girl).

In a much lighter vein, someone has taken choice clips from Stanley Kubrick's masterful adaptation of Steven King's The Shining and reworked them. The result, as you can see, is a hilarious take on the standard white bread family comedy flick. Thanks to Prawfsblawg for the pointer.

Welcome Aboard, Chief

One of the (few) perks of being Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court is that your name will forever be affixed to a certain period of the court's history, assuming you hang around long enough to make a lasting impression. Hence, the Warren Court, the Burger Court, and the Rehnquist Court. That being said, the era of the Roberts Court began today at 3:00 pm, after John Roberts was confirmed, 78-22, for the post of Chief Justice.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Divorce In an Hour or Your Next One Is Free!

I used to do divorces for a living. One of the biggest myths out there is that it is "easy" to get divorced. Far from it. Even couples who have no kids and no real property to fight over will be wrapped up in the process for months. The same is true, apparently, in Colombia, but the government is doing something about it. The national legislature has passed, and the president is expected to sign, a law that will allow childless couples to divorce in about an hour:

Under the new law, couples without minor children would no longer need to appear before a judge, but can instead head to their local registrar office with a jointly signed declaration that would then be stamped by an official within one hour. Both parties must agree to the divorce.
Wonder if they's end up with Vegas-style drive through divorce chapels in Bogota?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Scopes, the Sequel

80 years ago it was Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryant, slugging it out rhetorically in a boiling Tennessee courtroom over the greatest question of all: how did life begin? Tennessee is now Pennsylvania, and I'm not sure if the modern Darrow or Bryant is involved, but once again, evolution and faith will spar in a US courtroom. This time the battle is over whether a school can force a statement about "intelligent design" into a biology class. The New York Times has a good story about the roots of the conflict in Dover, PA and what the two parties are fighting about. Also, the PA chapter of the ACLU, which is suing the school board over the ID statement, has started a blog which you can use to keep up to date on the proceedings. It should be an interesting few days.

Runaway Bride Redux

You'd think that after this summer's notorious cross-country search for the "runaway bride" that people wouldn't try something like that again. You'd be wrong. Witness this story from Kansas City, in which a man and woman who'd communicated for months over the Net made plans to meet in person. The woman, apparently getting cold feet, backed out of the rendezvous. Did she tell the guy that via Email or IM? No - she concocted a phony kidnapping story that placed her raped and stabbed in a ditch near the airport. Too bad the dude actually cared enough about her to call the police! The police found her, but not in a ditch. There is a warrant out for her arrest.

The King Is Dead - Long Live the King!

Yesterday, Renault’s Fernando Alonso became the youngest Formula 1 world champion, finishing third in the Brazilian GP. His feat displaced Emerson Fitipaldi as the youngest F1 champ. Alonso also became the first Spaniard to win the world championship (coincidentally, Fitipaldi was the first Brazilian champ). In addition to those firsts, Alonso’s championship officially ends the years of Ferrari dominance, becoming the first champ other than Michael Schumacher since 1999. Congrats, Fernado.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

On Legal Education

10 years ago I was starting my senior year of college and trying to figure out where and how I would be going to law school. One thing was certain - I knew I had to go to law school if I wanted to practice law. But, as this AP piece points out (linked from the Detroit Free Press), that's not the case in a few states. In those states, people may still take the bar exam if they get their legal training by "reading law." Basically, to "read law" is to be an apprentice with some lawyer and learn more by doing that by endlessly blathering in class. Sort of like home schooling, but on a higher level (and without that Bible-thumping). For about 100 years after the founding of the US that was the main way new lawyers were trained. By the late 19th century, however, the law school model had pretty firmly taken hold.

And for those of us who go to law school, it's a given that it will take three years. But lots of people question the value of the third year of law school, leading to this week's debate over at the Legal Affairs Debate Club as to whether that third year should be abolished. I wouldn't do away with it completely, but it could be overhauled at most schools to focus on practical lawyering skills and issues. Of course, I'm a bit of a freak because I actually liked law school, so maybe I'm wrong about that.

Talk About Fan Loyalty

OK, you're on a plane traveling to Chile to watch your U-17 national team compete in the FIFA U-17 World Championships. The only problem is that you're running a bit late and it looks like you'll miss kickoff. What do you do? Well, one option would be to fake an emergency to justify a landing near the stadium where the game is being played. That's what a charter jet carrying 289 Gambian fans did yesterday. The good news? Gambia beat Qatar 3-1. The bad news? The plane is still in custody while authorities consider how best to penalize the airline, Air Rum (I am absolutely not making that up).

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Words of Curse - Fuck Yeah!

Today's New York Times has a fascinating article about the history of curse words. For those delicate souls who would try and stifle such speech, keep this in mind:

Yet researchers who study the evolution of language and the psychology of swearing say that they have no idea what mystic model of linguistic gentility the critics might have in mind. Cursing, they say, is a human universal. Every language, dialect or patois ever studied, living or dead, spoken by millions or by a small tribe, turns out to have its share of forbidden speech, some variant on comedian George Carlin's famous list of the seven dirty words that are not supposed to be uttered on radio or television.
For the record, Carlin's seven dirty words are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.

Dubya Gets His Priorities Straight

I know I took a long weekend, but did I miss some major news flashes? Did we capture and prosecute Osama bin Laden? Did we foil a major terrorist plot somewhere in the country by arresting, indicting, and convicting the would-be terrorists? If not, why the hell is the Department of Justice's newest priority prosecuting smut peddlers?!? Not child porn, mind you, just garden variety obscenity. Even the FBI agents don't seem too enthused:

'I guess this means we've won the war on terror,' said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. 'We must not need any more resources for espionage.'
Makes perfect sense to me.

Own a Piece of History!

10 years ago, the Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth Neon was introduced to the world via the "Hi" ad campaign. Time has come, finally, to say "bye" to Detroit's last best chance to beat the imports at their own game. As this Detroit News story shows, the Neon never quite lived up to its commercial potential. However, it was hailed almost from the outset as a great cheap platform for a race car. Neons have been tearing up autocross and road courses ever since they debuted. In fact, those of you who have glanced over at the Legal Eagle Racing blog know that I've been autocrossing a 95 Neon this year. Well, that car is now for sale - this is your chance to own a piece of automotive history! Details here.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Who Says Soccer Is For Wusses?

OK, I don't ever want to hear some jock-talk radio idiot say that soccer is a game for pansies any more. Consider the game that Chavdar Yankow had for Hannover 96 this past weekend in the German Bundeslige. During the first half, Yankow took a foot in his groin during a tackle that resulted in a three-inch gash in his penis. It would eventually take six sttiches to finally fix up, but team docs managed to patch him up sufficiently for him to continue playing - he even scored a goal! Hannover (including American defender Steve Cherundolo) beat Frankfurt 2-0.

Happy Constitution Day!

Today (well, actually, it's tomorrow, but this is America, after all) is Constitution Day. Thanks to West Virginia's own Robert Byrd, all schools that receive federal funds and all federal agencies had to take time today to learn a little bit about the Constitution. That's right, I said all federal agencies, including public defenders. So we took time this morning to stop representing clients (which requires a slight knowledge of the Constitution) to jaw about the founding document. Somewhat ironic, if you asked me.

As for schools, USA Today, as part of a wide-ranging editorial, criticizes Byrd's law:

Across the USA, educators will dress up as George Washington or Patrick Henry to lead patriotic skits and songs.

This might sound harmless, even beneficial, but not everyone is celebrating.

At Vanderbilt University Law School, professors will observe the day next week by debating whether Byrd's law is constitutional. Compelling speech, says Dean Edward Rubin, tramples on the First Amendment.

You don't have to be a constitutional lawyer to understand why Constitution Day sets a bad precedent. What's next? Congress ordering schools to teach 'intelligent design' instead of evolution? Or the glories of West Virginia on Sen. Byrd's birthday?

There's something about the Constitution Day mandate that seems, well, un-American.
In an age when the federal government exerts great influence over local schools, I hardly see the harm in making sure that the schools teach a little about the Constitution. The intelligent design thing is a canard - the equivalent would be forcing the teaching of the benefits of a divine right monarchy as a "competing theory" to representative democracy.

Oh, and, for the record, there were no skits, songs, or costumes in our office this morning. :)

Free Advice - Don't Piss Off the Judge!

Let me provide a free bit of legal advice for those who might someday find themselves in court. It's pretty simple, really, and was not learned in the hallowed halls of the WVU College of Law. It's simply this: don't piss off the judge. Judges have enough discretion that they can make you're life really miserable if you make them mad. Consider these two cautionary tales.

First, over at Ayraud's Blog is the tale of a public defender and his client who had issues with vocal outbursts. While waiting for their case to be called for an arraignment, the PD and client were discussing his case, apparently too loudly. Thus:

the judge looks over at them and says, 'why don't you talk lower so I can keep going through these other cases while we wait to call your case back up.' The defendant turns around and looks at the judge and says, 'why don't you kiss my ass.'
The punch line? "He is now spending a month in jail."

On a larger scale, consider a decision handed down by the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday. A word of explanation first. At sentencing, defendants in the federal system have a right to "allocute" or, basically, talk directly to the court without going through counsel. Usually these allocutions consist of little more than "I'm sorry" or perhaps an explanation of why the defendant did what he did. Either way, it's usually fairly cut and dried.

Anyway, at sentencing in US v. Smith, the defendant took a different approach:
Smith made a lengthy speech, denying (1) the jurisdiction of the district court, (2) that he had any connection to any state or the United States, (3) the existence of the United States, California, Sacramento, the district court, the prosecutor, defense counsel, Judge England, a list of UBOs, and even himself, and (4) that he is a Fourteenth Amendment 'person.' Smith contested that the offenses he was charged with were committed by anyone, and argued that the prosecution had 'failed to show any actual or threatened injury as a result of the challenged conduct.' Smith demanded that the court 'reconsider and withdraw the proposed sentence, reverse the conviction, enter judgment of acquittal, vacate the charges against [him], quash the indictment, dismiss the complaintand otherwise . . . set [him] free.'
The judge was not amused:
The defendant’s statements to the Court that were just read have made it abundantly clear to this Court that Mr. Smith has absolutely no remorse for his actions. And further, he has directly challenged this Court and its ultimate authority. Accordingly, I find that this defendant is appropriate to be sentenced not at the lower end of the guideline range but at the upper end.
Smith's little outburst earned him 30 extra months in prison. The Ninth Circuit, that bastion of loony liberal left wingers, affirmed.

So, to repeat - DON'T PISS OFF THE JUDGE!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Hollywood Loses a Giant

When I woke up this morning and heard on the news that producer/director Robert Wise had passed away, my first thought was "hmm, the guy who directed West Side Story died." It wasn't until I read the obit on that I realized just how many really cool movies this guy was involved with. Folks are most familiar with Wise's other Oscar-winning film, The Sound of Music, but in addition to that dreck Wise also directed three classic piece's of sci-fi, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain, and the first Star Trek flick (screw what everybody else thinks - I like it and it's my blog). And, to top it all off, he edited the brilliant Citizen Kane, which was no mean feat. Quite a talented guy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Asking Questions, Pleading Answers

Without commenting on the quality of the presumptive Chief Justice, I have to say that I completely agree with Dahlia Lithwick's assessment of the spectacle of his confirmation hearing:

Here's a man long accustomed to answering really hard questions from extremely smart people, suddenly faced with the almost-harder task of answering obvious questions from less-smart people. He finds himself standing in a batting cage with the pitching machine set way too slow.
His performance so far definitely shows off his background as a top-flight appellate lawyer.

The (Ninth Circuit) Song Remains the Same

Be honest, you knew this was coming. A federal judge in Sacramento has ruled, in a new lawsuit brought by atheist parents with no standing issues, that recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools violates the First Amendment of the Constitution. The judge's decision, which you can read here, basically holds that the court was still bound by the Ninth Circuit's constitutional analysis in the Newdow's original case. The Supreme Court, of course, punted on the major issue, instead holding that Newdow lacked standing to raise the claim. It was inevitable that the issue would make its way back to the Court fairly quickly, although it will be a different Court this time around.

There's a fairly interesting legal wonk dispute as to whether the Ninth Circuit's original decision in Newdow's case has any precedential value after the Supreme Court's punt. You can get a good feel for the issue over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

We Can Rebuild It: Bigger (?), Stronger, Faster

Both USA Today and The New York Times have extensive articles today about the rebuilding of New Orleans. Not so much whether we should, but how and where to do it in a way that retains the city's history and charm but allows it to be a modern 21st Century city. It will require walking a fine line (from the NYT piece):

Architects and planners worry that developers might try to recreate some fairy-tale version of the city, compromising its 300-year-old character. 'My big concern is that it will become a Disneyland,' said Raymond G. Post Jr., a Baton Rouge architect. 'If we come up with a plastic New Orleans, then you've got a plastic New Orleans. You lose the charm and the quaintness and the crooked walls and the old shutters.'
We certainly can't have that!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

S(upreme) C(court) TV

Thanks to C-SPAN's online streaming video service, I was able to watch a good chunk of the Roberts confirmation hearing today while at work. That's a good thing because the coverage of this first new Chief Justice nominee in 19 years has been relegated to C-SPAN 3 on TV. Hell, my DirecTV package doesn't even have C-SPAN 3! And I thought shunting the US-Mexico World Cup qualifier a couple of weeks ago directly to ESPN Classic was a bad sign.

Speaking of the Supremes and TV, Sandy Grady has a column in USA Today today arguing that the Court should open its proceedings to TV cameras and that maybe Roberts will lead the way on that. I'm not sure that televised oral arguments would be watched by anyone beyond the small group of appellate law geeks of which I am a proud member. But no matter, I don't see the Court changing the rules on this anytime soon ('tho the Ninth Circuit has done it a couple of times, IIRC). Oh, and Sandy, we were spared the specifics of the Martha Stewart trial specifically because it took place in federal, rather than state, court.

Monday, September 12, 2005

It Could Happen Again

Some people have speculated about the wisdom of rebuilding parts of New Orleans that are particularly vulnerable to flooding. But as this article in today's USA Today, there are thousands of levees around the country that could fail (and have failed) in places from Florida to the Mississippi Valley to California. Given the experience with Katrina, will federal funds be cut for improvement projects? Will state and local politicos ensure that the money that's allocated actually gets spent wisely? I wouldn't count on either.

Life & Death in the Big Easy

UK's Sunday Mail newspaper had a harrowing story this weekend about doctors in New Orleans who effectively euthanized severely ill patients who they believed would die horrible deaths due to lack of medical care or at the hands of looters. According to the story:

One emergency official, William 'Forest' McQueen, said: 'Those who had no chance of making it were given a lot of morphine and lain down in a dark place to die.'
The Mail is not revealing the names of the docs involved, partly out of concern that the docs would be prosecuted for their acts. If so, those cases may be studied in law and philosophy classes for years.

When "Chief Justice" Is Just a Title

When Dubya shifted John Roberts's nomination from O'Connor's seat to the Chief Justice spot, I was a but surprised, simply because I would have expected a nominee with more judicial experience to be tapped for that post. But as Michael Dorf points out over at FindLaw today, being Chief Justice doesn't bring with it enough additional responsibilities to really make a difference. He's right. Aside from a slightly higher salary, being CJ doesn't have any real perks (you don't get two votes, for instance). Heck, in WV they rotate the CJ seat from justice to justice every year.

An American in F1 (Redux)

Last month I noted that the Red Bull F1 team had confirmed that American driver Scott Speed would be the team's Friday test driver next year. Since then, Speed's status has been upgraded. Red Bull announced this weekend at Spa that it has purchased the Minardi team and will turn it into a Red Bull junior team, starting in 2006. Speed will be one of the team's two drivers, competing in the races themselves instead of just performing testing duties. Some have speculated that maybe this isn't a good move for Speed, Minardi being a constant backmarker. But with an infusion of Red Bull cash and, presumably, use of this year's Red Bull-Cosworth (at least), the profile of RBJr. should be much higher than Minardi. Either way, the Stars and Stripes will fly over F1 next year!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Few Words for the Dead

As the flood waters recede in the Big Easy, operations begin to shift from searching for and rescuing stranded survivors to collecting and identifying the dead. Today's USA Today has a very sobering cover story today about that process. This gives you some indication of what the folks down there are up against:

He and other doctors say the task of identifying the casualties and returning their bodies to families will be difficult, particularly because many of the dead have been submerged in water for more than a week. Facial features of some victims can become bloated and unrecognizable. Even race becomes hard to determine because the skin darkens as the body decays. Dental records of many victims are likely to be underwater in the flooded streets of New Orleans.
Very depressing work, I imagine.

As always, please give what you can to help out down there.

Beaten by Colonists

While the UK presents a united front in most international arenas, in a few sporting events each of the four Home Countries (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland) are considered separate nations. In the soccer world, England is generally thought to be heads and shoulders above its counterparts - one sage on USENET once responded to the question of what an "UK" national team would look like by saying it would be the England national team, plus Wales and ManU winger Ryan Giggs. So when England hooked up with Northern Ireland yesterday in a World Cup Qualifiers in Belfast, most folks expected an English walkover of their colonial cousins.

Didn't happen that way! Northern Ireland striker David Healy (who plays for my team Leeds in England, ironically) scored in the 74th minute to send England to a defeat that one British commentator has called "embarrassing" and "wretched." It almost certainly will keep England from winning their qualification group, thus jeopardizing their World Cup future. Or at least making it much more difficult than it should be. It would be the equivalent, I suppose, of the US being beaten by Puerto Rico (which, for some reason, has its own national team).

They say that one of the great things about soccer is that on any given day any team can beat any other team. I bet the English don't think that's quite so special today.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Random Katrina Thoughts

A few bits of new that drifted into my sphere of influence today about Katrina and its aftermath:

Hyatt for President! I'm not kidding. According to this (admittedly self serving) press release, Hyatt managed to evacuate its staff and guests from New Orleans with little trouble. In fact, Hyatt provided food and supplies from its Atlanta and Houston last Wednesday, while FEMA and Friends twiddled about. Hooray for the private sector!

Meanwhile, it was reported today that the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship complete with six operating rooms and 600 hospital beds was deployed in the Gulf of Mexico during the hurricane and volunteered to help, but FEMA didn't make use of it.

Barbara Bush is a bitch. While visiting displaced folks in Houston, she told public radio:

Then she added: "What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality."

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
I guess we know where Dubya gets his sensitivity (and penchant for smirking) from.

But this guy is just an asshole
. A New Orleans "religious" leaders are claiming that Katrina was God's way of punishing New Orleans for its sinful ways:
Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.

The pastor explains that for years he has warned people that unless Christians in New Orleans took a strong stand against such things as local abortion clinics, the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations, and the annual event known as 'Southern Decadence' -- an annual six-day 'gay pride' event scheduled to be hosted by the city this week -- God's judgment would be felt.

'New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now,' Shanks says. 'God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again.'
OK, let's think about this. First, the French Quarter, scene of much of what Shanks says is sinful, made it through Katrina and her aftermath largely untouched. Second, "Southern Decadence" did indeed take place, in some kind of truncated form, according to CNN. And, finally, how many godless folks made it out before the storm hit in the first place? So, it seems that, in Shanks's universe, God decided to send a message to a bunch of people who didn't listen by killing thousands of poor, stranded, innocent people. Nice God there, Shanks. You can keep Him.

Oh yeah, as always, please give.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Yanks Are Coming!

The United States has never clinched a World Cup berth on live TV - until now (thank you EPSN Classic!). Thanks to goals by Steve Ralston and Damarcus Beasley (captain of my Master League team in Winning Eleven 8), the US beat hated rivals Mexico 2-0 tonight in Columbus. And, of course, it just breaks my heart that this comes at the expense of El Tricolore. As a result, we have qualified for World Cup 2006 in Germany. Um, let me say that again:


I wish Blogger had a little dancing emoticon, 'cause I am definitely boogeyin' right now. :)

Over there, over there
Spread the word, spread the word
Over there
'cause the Yanks are coming!

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dubya Deja Vu

Now back from vacation, Dubya took the airwaves this morning to discuss the aftermath of Katrina. During an interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC, he said this:

I don't think anybody anticipated the breech of the levees," Bush said. "They did anticipate a serious storm. But these levees got breached and, as a result, much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will."
Sorry, Dubya, wrong again. You wonder at this point if the administration is just so far gone that they actually believe this (in spite of fairly obvious evidence to the contrary) or are so incompetent that they actually don't know what is going on. I'll let Dubya's apologists figure out which fork in this road they want to take.

Meanwhile, today's Washington Post has a chilling article about the future of New Orleans:
First they have to pump the flooded city dry, and that will take a minimum of 30 days. Then they will have to flush the drinking water system, making sure they don't recycle the contaminants. Figure another month for that.

The electricians will have to watch out for snakes in the water, wild animals and feral dogs. It will be a good idea to wear hip boots and take care of cuts and scrapes before the toxic slush turns them into festering sores. The power grid might be up in a few weeks, but many months will elapse before everybody's lights come back on.

By that time, a lot of people won't care because they will have taken the insurance money and moved away -- forever.
Please, if you haven't already, give what you can to the Red Cross's relief efforts.