Begging The Question

Friday, August 20, 2004

Today is my last day at work here. I've finished everything I needed to, although as usual I was pushing the deadline. I'll have internet access at least through the weekend, so if I get bored from packing, I may post something. I know I'll have at least one post up before I move, so stay tuned. But for now, I just wanted to clear the decks of a couple of things, so I could throw away the sticky note with these items on it.

1. A few days ago I read this long profile of the Washingtonienne and her place in the sexual revolution. I'm not sure how I feel about all that (and I never read her blog), but it's an interesting piece. I may have more to say after I move. I guess I would sum it up this way. I don't mind someone being a slut, if that's what he or she wants to be. But I don't like lying sluts (i.e., sluts who say they aren't). Plus, this girl sounds like a brat.

2. Good gracious, speaking of sluts. Have you been watching Nip/Tuck lately? Talk about pushing the envelope. Wildest show on tv.

3. Not too long ago I mentioned a Massachusetts case about indigent defense problems in that state. Ken Lammers at CrimLaw has had more on that situation here and here, and more on indigent defense in Louisiana, Georgia, Montana, North Dakota, and Texas. Good stuff, as usual.

4. Here's a piece by Gregg Easterbrook at The New Republic (subscription required, sorry), in his usual style, flogging SUVs, one of his favorite pastimes (and mine). If I get time later, I might copy a paragraph or two for non-subscribers.

5. I mentioned the other day about Oprah being on a jury in a murder case and predicted a conviction. Result: guilty. Perhaps in my time between jobs, I'll catch the show she's going to do with her fellow jurors.

6. Speaking of criminal defendants, I saw via the sports blog Can't Stop The Bleeding that incredibly talented and incredibly troubled former running back Laurence Phillips recently sold one of his Big Eight championship rings in a Las Vegas pawn shop for $20. The pawnbroker turned around and sold it on eBay for $1700. I bet Phillips wishes he knew how to use the internet now. But man, that's a sad story. It's not like Phillips deserved special treatment because he's a football player, but rather that his gifts gave him opportunities to overcome his troubles, but he threw it all away. By the way, for more sports blogs, go here.

7. Finally, I'm so thankful for all my wonderful guest-bloggers and all the great stuff they've already posted. I can't wait to see what's next from them. It makes me a little less anxious about rushing back to full-time blogging. I should be able to check in once in a while, but until I'm back, these folks will leave the light on for you.

All The Legal News That's Fit To Blog About
There have been a plethora of interesting stories from LAW.COM in the last two days. If you get their email updates, this will be old news. If you're not that big of a dork, stay tuned and I will briefly summarize what's been going on:

  1. Reinhardt and Kozinski agree -- In a matchup slightly less frequent than Thomas/Ginsburg, these two premier judges of the Ninth Circuit teamed up in dissent on Wednesday. The case, United States v. Kincade, upholds the federal law authorizing law enforcement officials to collect and store DNA material from felons. Reinhardt and Superhottie (*puke*) agreed that the program would lead to "tyrrany and corruption" if allowed to proceed in its current form.
  2. A Diamond is Forever, but ending in 11 hours, 37 minutes, and 2 seconds... -- Jewelry store behemoth Tiffany and Co. is suing eBay for direct and contributory trademark infringement because, they allege, over 90% of the jewelry sold on eBay is counterfeit. Oh, come one -- you mean to tell me I can't really get a girl a Tiffany necklace for $10? That's right -- but at least if you buy your girl a fake piece of jewelry, you can always get a real blue box. (Side note: I totally know people who save Tiffany bags and boxes to re-gift things in. *slowly shakes head*)
  3. The White House will nominate him next week -- Louisiana trial judge set to be suspended for showing up at a Halloween party in shackles, an afro, and blackface. (He's white, by the way.) How in the world do these kinds of people end up on a bench, and so many decent, brilliant attorneys don't?
  4. Gentleman, start your downloads -- In a victory for deviant college students everywhere, the Ninth Circuit holds that peer-to-peer file sharing programs are legal. Unlike Napster and its centralized directory, Morpheus (and KaZaA, I presume) is fine because it doesn't control what people are sharing since they connect directly with each other. Just when you thought you'd never run out of room on your iPod. (Side note: I've started seeing commercials for the Sony mp3 player that I previously said I would rather have. Very cool.)
  5. Luck of the Irish? -- An Irish law student, in the States for an internship, has found DNA evidence that will exonerate an accused murderer on death row. This story is remarkable for a number of reasons, but most touching becuase of Europeans' contempt for our implementation of the death penalty. It's great that this kid comes over here and tries to do what he can. I love this: "You know what Gandhi thought about eye-for-an-eye," said Joyce. "He said we'd all soon be blind." (Side note: I was recently in Galway, where Joyce is from, and it's a really cool place.)

(simul-posted at L-Cubed)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Oh baby, you're my obsession, my addiction, my drug
On the drive into work this morning, I heard a car dealer ad that made me laugh out loud. Most of the add was the typical junk, but at the end they threw in this little gem.

"Come in for a test drive, and we'll give you 2 tickets to go see Heart in concert. (In loud, excited radio annoucer voice) That's a $35 value."

Um, can I just have the toaster?

Bear guzzles 36 beers, passes out at campground
The funniest thing about this article is that the bear tried Busch, and then switched to Rainier for the rest of his binge. The second funniest thing is that they managed to trap the bear for relocation by luring him with another beer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

One more thing
By the way, just for the record, if I ever have a guest-blogger on my own site, it will be Tony Danza.

And you will all be jealous.

So there.

Welcome to the Apocalypse
Milbarge has certainly assembled an impressive list of guest bloggers.

Which is why I'm here -- as an unannounced, double-secret guest blogger -- to bring down the quality a little.*

Oh, who am I? Why, Mr. Poon, of course.

Anyway, I just wanted to mention that I'm not sure Milbarge is going to want to return to blogging in a world where Clay Aiken can get voted as the sexiest singer in any sort of organized poll.

Seriously. It's a sad day for America.

*By the way, now that I'm guest-blogging, I'd like to revise my quote listed above and to the right. It should now read, "BTQ is the superlative site. Until I leave. Then it's still, you know, super-sweet. But not totally sweet."

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
I must admit that I've been a little skeptical about the uproar over the electronic voting machines. Were there going to be some problems? Sure. There are with every kind of voting method. I was just having a hard time getting worked up about it. (I would link to Milbarge's old post on this, but on second thought, nah.)

But then today I come across this article on The Slate. Most of it was uninteresting. The Florida vote will be close, blah blah blah. Right in the midst of being bored to sleep, this little tidbit appears towards the end...

Item: These new voting machines take forever to boot up. According to Rodriguez-Taseff, they'll be powered up the night before and left running all night long (in polling spots with little security—like schools and libraries).

Excuse me? What? So in a battleground state, with zealots on both sides willing to do almost anything to defeat their opponent, the voting machines will be turned on and left unguarded the night before. I can't offer any insightful commentary on this, because abject stupidity tends to render my brain unable to process coherent thought for a time. Needless to say, I think I am now on board with the Concerned About Voting Machines crowd.

All Along The Blogroll
This post was inspired by (a) Denise Howell of Bag & Baggage linking to BTQ; (b) Sherry thinking about revamping her blogroll; and (c) PG, who formerly had a blog crush on me, abruptly dropping it (see the comments). It's a little ditty to the tune of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."
"There must be some way onto there," said the Blogger to his friend.
"Is it all worth nothing, all these posts I have penned?
Her blogroll is so exclusive, one of the shortest on earth.
I don't think she realized what a link from her is worth."

"No reason to get excited," the friend he kindly said.
"You have a wonderful website, you know that it's being read.
Blogroll links, they come and go, and this you cannot control.
Just give readers substantive posts, your virtues they'll extol."

All along the blogroll, the Blogger clicked the links.
And further into depression, the Blogger started to sink.
A blog crush he once treasured, now looked at him with a scowl.
But if Sherry won't blogroll him, there's always Denise Howell!

Welcome, Bag & Baggage Readers!
I don't really go out of my way to get links to BTQ. I sometimes send a post to two or three bloggers whom I think will enjoy it. I comment at several blogs, but (almost) always because I have something to say, and not just to get a few clicks. I will admit, though, that one time I was a squeaky wheel about getting blogrolled at Crescat. (I just realized that Will's printing of my email adress in that post probably sends me a lot of spam -- thanks a lot, pal!)

But I'll be honest with you. One link I really coveted was a mention from Denise Howell of "Bag & Baggage." I kind of felt that if Denise linked to BTQ, it was official. We'd made it. As far as I'm concerned, Denise is one of those Bloggers Who Matter, and when she says a blog is worth reading, I'm inclined to trust her judgment.

All of this explains why I'm so excited and flattered and honored that Denise linked to BTQ and had such nice things to say. So, I'd like to welcome any new readers we're getting via B&B.

Unfortunately, Denise caught me at a weird time. This is my last week working as a staff attorney for one of the federal courts of appeal, and next week I'll be moving to go start a clerkship in the chambers of a judge on another circuit. So, I'll be pretty busy and kind of quiet for the next couple of weeks. And my co-blogger, Fitz-Hume, has decided to take a sabbatical from blogging as he leaves the administrative state and takes a job as counsel for a state legislature. (Note to Denise: You may want to move BTQ from the "Court/Court Staff" category on your blogroll to "Clerks" because of this.) But to keep things from going completely dark around here, I've lined up a nice collection of guest-bloggers. So, the BTQ you will see for the next two or three weeks isn't the usual BTQ. (I'll let others argue over whether it's better...)

Anyway, I'll be checking in from time to time, as internet access and packing/unpacking allow, but I invite new visitors to wander through the archives at their leisure. In the interest of convenience and actually getting you to click on something, I've collected a few favorites.

Here are two posts collecting some early "greatest hits" (including the semi-famous Lamentation post), almost all of which ended up being mine thanks to my co-blogger's humility: Part One and Part Two.

Since then, a few I liked. This is one on originalism that I botched a bit but managed start a little fuss by Jacob Levy of the Volokh Conspiracy and several other bloggers. Here is a personal favorite about "beating the buffet." Here is a parody song, "Bill Clinton's White House Prison Blues." Here is a poem about the Bork hearings, "Robert At The Bat." Here's one about race relations, sort of. Oh, and probably my new most favorite post, On Blog Crushes. And, because I put a lot of work into it, a fisking of De Novo's Blogger Survivor contest, while I was a contestant in it (and see also Will Baude's review).

For some more evidence of my law-nerdliness, here is a post about unpublished opinions (spolier: I don't mind them). Here is a list of Ten Don'ts for Appellate Advocates. And, sort of in the same vein, Ten Things Not to Say at a Supreme Court Oral Argument.

I think that's the most advertising I've done for myself since I posted a profile on I'd be happy if either one got me a date. I should also say that all of these posts were mine, but Fitz-Hume had a lot of good ones too. I just didn't want to presume about his favorites. I can't say enough good things about that guy; he's my best friend. All the good things about BTQ are in large part because of him. One of these days I'll do the tribute post he deserves. But anyway, if you're in the archives somewhere and you see his name at the end of a post, I promise it's worth reading.

OK, I feel like I've left enough stuff to read, between this post and all the guest-bloggers, to keep people entertained until I'm back to full-time blogging. Enjoy!, and thanks for visiting. (And thanks again, Denise!)

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Raising Hell and Crying Wolf
Whoa! What the?!

Yeah, I know, this isn't Milbarge. I've hijacked his blog, and submitted a ransom note that requests that he drop off a briefcase full of cash at the mailbox on the corner by my house, watch Alien v. Predator for 24 straight hours, and get me an interview with his federal appellate judge. He has until Thursday at noon to comply, or the blog gets it. And by "gets it", I mean "merges with mine to form Begging for Life to Question Your Libido."

Ok, not really. As Milbarge mentioned, he has enlisted some help as he transitions into a new life in the next few weeks. As he recently spent some time lowering my property value, I jumped at the chance to return the favor.

If I had to guess, I'd say that many of BTQ's readers overlap with ours at L-Cubed, so I won't do a lengthy introduction. For those of you who aren't reading L^3 yet, what the heck is wrong with you? No, really? Kidding -- check it out sometime.

I just got back from my post-bar exam trip to Ireland and London, and I am still recovering. My apartment is a mess, there's no food in my fridge, dirty laundry is randomly strewn about, and I have a lot of TiVo to catch up on. Plus, I started my clerkship yesterday, and it's busy as hell. All of this is a long-winded way of saying I probably won't be contributing much, but I'll do what I can. There's quite a cast of characters in the dugout, so I'm sure it'll be fine.

Well, I guess I should say something substantive while I'm here, so...

David Ignatius has an interesting op-ed piece in today's Washington Post. In the column, entitled "Don't Politicize Terrorism," he questions whether the Bush administration manipulates the public's fears and suspicions and, by so doing, weakens our ability to fight the war on terror. The specific impetus for the column was the recent warning about attacks on financial institutions, and the subsequent leaking of the name of the Pakastani who provided the information. This man was an al Queda operative, and was cooperating with the CIA by continuing to email other terrorists so that the US could track them and capture them. And then?

Although the government is now denying it, it appears that someone in the US intelligence community told the New York Times his name on background, and it got printed. Good luck catching terrorists now. At least the Brits acted fast enough to catch some of them. They're being charged with, inter alia, planning to bomb the IMF building in Washington, DC. (Side note: the IMF building is literally across the street from my law school -- soooo glad I graduated when I did.)

Anyway, the underlying theme of Ignatius's piece is that Bush may be abusing intelligence for campaign purposes, as in "Hey, look how good at intelligence-gathering and terrorist-catching we are now!" And that scares me -- because he's right: one day the terror threat color will be raised to red, or purple, or orange, or whichever one we're supposed to be afraid of, and no one will be listening. That, my friends, would be a great tragedy.


Oh, and by the way -- the real threat these days isn't dirty bombs or biological weapons.

It's silly string.

Random Thoughts
1. I saw that Oprah Winfrey got picked to serve on a jury in a murder trial. Good for her for not trying to weasel out of it (this time). I'm not a trial lawyer, but I'm not sure I'd pick her. I'm sure Winfrey will perform her duties conscientiously, but I'd be concerned about other jurors deferring to her. I guess the lawyers can use that, though, by working to convince her and hoping that the jury follows. Wouldn't it be fun to be on a jury with her and Dr. Phil? My prediction, based on nothing: Oprah believes in the concept of reasonable doubt, and will force the state to make its case. But once it's made, she's not going to let a guilty man go. So, I predict a guilty verdict based on the always-accurate media portrayals of the facts.

2. I saw that Burton Leon Reynolds is going to play a coach in the Adam Sandler remake of The Longest Yard. Have some pride, Burt! Well, I guess I should say that, although I think The Longest Yard is an enjoyable film and a good sports movie, I never found it to be the transcendant experience that some people do. (I've heard people compare it favorably to Cool Hand Luke, which is just wrong.) Of course, I'm sure it won't be able to hold a candle to Burt's next picture, in which he plays the coach of a volleyball team made up of strippers. (I'm not making that up.) What kind of drunken dart toss does Burt use to pick scripts? This guy turned down the Jack Nicholson role in Terms of Endearment to do Stroker Ace, dropped out after having been cast as Han Solo in Star Wars, turned down the part of Trapper John in M*A*S*H, and hated Boogie Nights so much he fired his agent for convincing him to take the role that led to an Oscar nomination. Isn't it about time for another Cannonball Run?

3. I saw a really tragic story about a three-year-old kid who choked to death eating popcorn at a movie. Although this kind of thing could have happened at any movie, what the hell were his parents thinking taking him to see Alien vs. Predator? For that matter, what is anybody doing at that movie?

4. When I log out of my Hotmail account, the page they take me to has all sorts of headlines and ads and enticements to waste time. It's stuff like "Could you pass eighth grade math?" and "Presidential trivia!" Anyway, they have relationship "advice" from time to time, and the headlines usually indicate how stupid the article is. Most are sort of useless, like "How to deal with a breakup" or something. But one yesterday made me laugh out loud at its absurdity: "Use romance novels to woo her." The "advice" was to emulate the actions of the novels. Right. I'll just hop on my pirate ship and swashbuckle her out of her boddice. Note: by "swashbuckle," I mean "kidnap and rape her into loving me by eventually revealing a tiny vulnerability and making her think she can tame me with her love."

No Words Suffice
Last week, I mentioned a New Yorker article by Dan Baum about the aftereffects of training soldiers to kill. Tonight, I read a new article in the same magazine by the same author, also about killing and Iraq. This one is called "Two Soldiers." It's about two soldiers who died over there, and what happened next. We learn the intricacies of the procedures for transporting the dead, contacting the family, and arranging for funerals. The title has a dual meaning. The piece not only uses the story of two soldiers to paint the picture, but the title also evokes the moment when the family is notified of the death. A mother says she understood that, if only one soldier came to the door, her son had been wounded. But if two soldiers showed up, that meant he was dead.

I'm not usually one of those bloggers who just points to an article and says "Go read this." But I don't have anything to add to this one, and it's worth reading. It's very moving. There were a few times when I had to take a deep breath and pause a second to stop my eyes from watering, and one moment when I did choke up.

I was going to write a sentence with the words "worth it" and "sacrifices" and a question mark, but I don't want to start a fight over this fine article. I'll just say that life gets kind of shitty sometimes, but I'm glad I'm alive.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Future, Conan?
One of my favorite bits on television is Conan O'Brien's "In the Year 2000" gag. It started out years ago, when the year 2000 was actually a ways in the future. But, to the show's great comedic credit, they've kept it going well past 2000. They know it's not the particular year that makes it funny, it's the not-too-distant future idea of stuff that could happen tomorrow, or even all the way off in the year 2000. It sounds like it's this mysterious date in the future even when it's not. Anyway, I think my favorite is this one: "In the year 2000....Everyone on earth will become flesh-eating zombies. When all the flesh is gone, they will become dirt-eating zombies. And when the dirt is gone, finally, some will reluctantly go to the Olive Garden."

Awkward segue time. With Fitz-Hume's sort-of-semi-retirement, I find myself forced to gaze into the not-to-distant future to determine what I'm going to do now that BTQ is mine all mine. The long answer to that is forthcming once I figure it out (yay! more introspection!). But the short answer is, I'm bailing out too.

Not for long, though, and not permanently. But I'm finishing one job, and then moving, and then starting my clerkship. So, I forsee myself having a lot less time for blogging over the next few weeks, and I will lack internet access for a good chunk of that time too.

By biggest fear as a blogger is that you won't come back. So, to keep something happening around here, and to take some of the pressure off me, I've enlisted some friends -- a sort of "Cool Blogger Summit," if you will -- to guest-blog here for a while. They're all kind of busy in their own rights, so I figured that having a bunch of them would mean that each one wouldn't have to post much to keep at least something going on.

In no particular order except relative coolness (kidding!), allow me to introduce my new cohorts: Energy Spatula from "Will Work For Favorable Dicta"; Larry the Longhorn from "Lonestar Expat"; Dylan from "The Slithery D"; Mr. Fun Ball from "Taunting Happy Fun Ball"; Matt and Scott from "Life, Law, Libido"; Soup from "BBQ and Daycare"; TP from "Trivial Pursuits"; and non-blogger (but former BTQ guest-blogger) Sebastian Haff. I don't expect all of them to post a whole lot of content, but between my occasional check-ins and whatever scraps they toss this way, there should be plenty of good stuff to see. Then, in a few weeks, I'll be back to operating all by myself and the blog can get back to being the reliable palace of crap you know and love. (I think the official end of the guest-blogging get-together will be September 10, although I expect them to taper off by then, and I should be back to full-time blogging by then too. But that'll be the end of my first week at work, and will make a convenient transition.)

A final note or two. I know it's incredibly anti-climactic, but this is the "big announcement" I've been talking about for days. I kept putting it off because, originally, I wanted to combine it with some kind of assessment about the long-term future of BTQ. But right now I don't know what that is. I do know that, in the short-term, it's going to be a lot of fun having my little end-of-summer campout with my blogging pals.

If you're not familiar with any of these bloggers, I highly recommend checking them out on their home bases. Also, in an effort to provide some ready-made content, and to propmt some conversation on some things I've been thinking about, I'm going to leave a set of questions I hope my guest-bloggers (and anyone else reading this) will answer. (They're mostly going to be about blogging. What with all these bloggers quitting or changing their names or whatnot, plus me trying to decide what to do from here on, the enterprise itself has been on my mind.) Seb, I'll have something different for you.

OK, that's my news. I look forward to seeing whatever my new guest-bloggers have to offer almost as much as I look forward to not having to post as much over the next few weeks.

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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