The Aging Law Student

Proudly procrastinating since, well, for a long time

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Donut Burger

Utter and complete genius. It's sad to think that we may, in fact, have reached the limits of human progress. Where do we go from here?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Is There a Dewey Decimal System for This?

One of my assumptions when I started this blog was that I would write a lot about politics, so I've been thinking this week about why I haven't. It occurred to me that the problem is that I find myself paralyzed by the sheer volume of grotesquery. Even ignoring the vast sea of congressional malfeasance, where do you start?

What we need is a system. Some kind of organizing principle in order to keep track of everything. But that raises other questions. Do we break it down by subject area, like so:

Foreign Policy: Iraq, Secret CIA prisons around the world, torture, etc.
Economy: Tax cuts for the rich, hand-outs to big oil and big pharma, etc.
Civil Liberties: Secret wire tapping, restricting dissent, etc.

And so on. Or, do we break it down by the nature of the sin:

Lying: Selling the war, paying for Op-Ed pieces, ignoring congression info requests, Abu Gonzales' confirmation hearings, etc.
Avarice: The tax cuts, no-bid contracts, dismantling environmental regulation, the prescription drug plan, the bankruptcy bill, etc.
Incompetence: Katrina, Mission Accomplished, missing billions in Iraq, etc.
Hubris: "Candy & Flowers," secret wire tapping, etc.

We need to get some charts and graphs going, generate some reports, develop a bureacracy just to deal with it all.

Good news of the week: Congress caves on the NSA wiretapping, Patriot Act gets re-upped, and torture can continue unabated in Guantanamo.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bonds, Kirby, and Baseball

On the same day an excerpt from a new book is published in Sports Illustratedcollating the evidence of Barry Bonds' performance enhancing drug use;

and the Twins legend Kirby Puckett, heroic, tarnished, inevitably understood by most of us only in the most superficial ways, died from a stroke at an age not much different than my own;

The current player whose image and stature most resemble Kirby's of 15 years ago, David Ortiz, also a former Twin, hit two home runs to lead the Dominican Republic past Venezuela before an enthusiastic crowd in the World Baseball Classic.

This seems the time to ruminate about my love of baseball, but it will have to wait. It feels rather complicated to me now, which in turn seems an absurd reaction to what is, in the end, an entertainment.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It's My Birthday

Yay!

On another note, I went to a new place in Madison on Friday, Coco Lequot (sp?). It's a pretty stylish place, with lots of wine by the glass, a chocolate menu, and a variety of tapas style offerings. Very cool interior; clearly trying to cater to the "beautiful" crowd.

Here's the problem, though: Madison has a rather tough time generating a beautiful people crowd. It's just so damn crunchy here. A place like that in New York would be filled with lots of very thin people dressed in black, and I couldn't even get a table, whereas on a Friday night in Madison, I wasn't even remotely out of place. Say what you will about that, and god knows that it irritated me when I was tangentially involved in the New York art world, but it retrospect it has its appeal.

It's a larger issue than just this restaurant, though. I was discussing this with a friend earlier this week; there is absolutely no good shopping in Madison. No high end stores at all, really. You basically have to go to Chicago for style. Now, I can't afford anything high end at this point anyway, but the dearth still depresses me. You can't even dream here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Today's News

The headlines today bring us the news that the Administration is flouting the McCain "Anti-Torture" amendment to the recently passed and signed Defense Appropriations Act. You could see this thing coming a mile away, especially given the "signing statement" that Bush issued when signing the bill.

Now they have decided that the law doesn't apply to detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and they are free to abuse at will.

Now, Congress also recently passed the Graham-Levin Amendment stating that detainees in Guantanamo are not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts, and thus have no standing to bring suit in those courts. My question is a) is this constitutional? Can Congress simply carve into federal jurisdiction? b) If so, does this mean that violations of the "Anti-torture" legislation will be neither litigated nor enforced? c) has congress essentially suspended the writ of habeas corpus for the Guantanamo Bay detainees? It would appear to me that the Graham-Levin amendment essentially eliminates all oversight functions of the congressional and judicial branches appertaining to the operations at Guantanamo Bay.

Department of Motor Vehicles

Madison might be the only decent sized city in the U.S. where going to the DMV makes me happy. There is rarely a long wait, the people are pleasant (though I seem to be getting conflicting opinions on that as I type), and the building is clean.

Renewing my driver's license took all of 15 minutes this morning. At my previous residence, which required me to go to the DMV in Newark, NJ, it would have been an all day and grimly depressing affair. The only downside is that there's now no reason to skip class today.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Little of This...

Our state legislature here in Wisconsin just passed a grotesque constitutional amendment--banning gay marriage among other things--by an embarrassingly wide margin. Now it will appear on the November ballot, where I'm confident it will pass. So fucking mean spirited.

Con Law was fairly lively today, as we were actually discussing a contemporary case--Hamdi v. Rumsfeld--for the first time this semester. My professor needs to slow down both verbally and physically, though. She runs around the room like a Tasmanian devil and talks so fast I fear she'll forget to breathe.

TOE UPDATE: Pedro threw off a mound yesterday. After which he said that his toe still hurts some, he is woefully out of shape, and his arm isn't anywhere near where it needs to be. Yay.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Martinez Toe = Achilles Heel?

It's Hubris.

The Mets traded two starting pitchers this off-season. Two pretty good pitchers. Kris Benson and Jae Seo would have been a decent bet to combine for 350+ innings of league average pitching.

That's valuable, and they traded these guys away for a pair of essentially fungible right handed relievers who are likely to pitch about 1/3rd the number of innings. In the process they threw away one of their strengths--depth in the rotation.

The Benson trade was understandable if not ideal: he makes a lot of money, and getting him off the payroll has a benefit even for the large market Mets. In addition, there simply weren't going to be a lot of teams willing to take him on, and the Mets were clearly annoyed with his lack of stamina (on the mound), not to mention his wife. The Seo trade, on the other hand, is inexplicable.

After being exiled to AAA Norfolk to start the season, apparently because Rick Peterson didn't like the cut of his jib, he was recalled in midseason, and proceeded to make 14 starts and post a 2.59 era, showing excellent command and finishing the season 8-2. Instead of being the turning point in his somewhat erratic Mets career, this earned him a trade to the Dodgers for an unremarkable reliever named Duaner Sanchez.

Admittedly, Seo isn't as good as his results last year. Still, he was a good starter in 2003, and not unbearable in a poor 2004. There is no reason to view him as any worse than league average.

And now, as a result, the Mets are forced to keep a painful-to-watch Victor Zambrano in the rotation, while also relying on a guy--Steve Trachsel, who missed virtually all of 2005, as well as Aaron Heilman, who has yet to be a member of a major league rotation for even half a season.

And then there is the Toe. Pedro Martinez has not been able to pitch off a mound so far this year because of persistent pain in the big toe on his left foot. This injury shut him down last September, and it isn't clear that its gotten any better since. The lesson here is pretty clear: when you trade away useful starting pitching for very little, it will come back to bite you in the ass.

Nobody wants to think about the alternatives for when the inevitable injuries come--largely because there aren't any good ones. But it's going to matter, and the Mets will be wishing they had Jae Seo around to soak up those starts and innings.

The Gods will punish.