Saturday, July 31, 2004

Poetry? In this blog?

Not that it happens all that often, but the past couple of weeks, Calvin Trillin's book of poetry is on the NY Times best seller list, appearing tomorrow at number 14.

In response to the news that President Bush was not attending the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq, Mr. Trillin wrote:

At least there's no Bush eulogy
On why they had to die.
It's better that they're laid to rest
Without another lie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I may have to gouge my eyes out.

I made the mistake of watching a couple of minutes of Johnny McEnroe's talk show last night. And yes, I'd like to know where to write to demand that they give me those minutes back.

Mister Obnoxious was wearing a Lance Armstrong-style yellow jersey (although it seemed to be missing a few of the sponsors' names). No telling why, although perhaps he said something during the opening minutes of the show. In any event, it was the perfect example of why some people should not wear clothing associated with athletes.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Live strong. Wear yellow.

Okay, of late I've been busy. Too busy to post here most nights. But I haven't been to busy to watch the Tour de France this year.

In Monday's Post, Sally Jenkins has an article about Lance Armstrong and what he may choose to do in coming years. (Her guess is that he'll ride the Tour next year, because he would hate to miss it.)

She also talked about his performance in this year's Tour, adding this fascinating note:
He also took the final time trial Saturday in Besancon, despite the fact that he only needed to ride safely to clinch his record title. One of the reasons he streaked across the course so aggressively was that he received a meaningful e-mail reminding him yet again of how much he meant to other cancer patients.

Ten minutes before Armstrong went out to warm up for the final time trial of the Tour in Besancon, he checked his Blackberry, and read a message from a friend at Nike, Scott McEachern. That day, a man had gone into a Niketown store and purchased 500 yellow Live Strong bracelets, which are being sold as a fundraiser by Armstrong's cancer foundation. The goal was to sell them for a dollar apiece and raise $5 million, but $8 million have been sold. The gentlemen who bought a case of 500 had bought them for this reason: his father had just died of cancer. While he was alive, the father had watched every minute of the Tour. His son wanted to give the bracelets out at the funeral.

"I read that literally 10 minutes before I got on the bike to warm up," Armstrong said. "Do you think I was a little motivated?"
Great fun to watch this year. It'll be fun to see what he does next.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

I feel safer. Don't you feel safer? I feel safer.

More from the clowns at the Department of Homeland Security, and their assault on the civil liberties of Americans. A photography student taking photographs of the Ballard Locks in Seattle for a class assignment was followed and harassed by Seattle Police and "Special Agents" from the Dept of Homeland Security. On public property, taking photographs of the area's premiere tourist attraction. After having gotten permission to do so from the National Park Service's resident Park Ranger.

The Special Agent showed his special understanding of the law:
"I've listened to this for over five minutes. Look here. You see this?" Special Agent McNamara said, producing his badge. "This is a federal badge. We're not with the rest of them. We're federal agents from Homeland Security...."

He told me that I'd broken the law by not providing my ID to the original investigator (a man who I personally feel has entirely too much power). I told him that I'd asked if I was legally obligated to produce my ID, and that he'd clearly told me "no," but it was obvious that that didn't matter to Special Agent McNamara in the slightest. I was just wrong, and he was just right.

He went on to tell me that the minute I'd photographed federal property, citing the Ballard Locks, the train bridge and the Patriot Act, that I'd, again, broken the law. Of course, I asked why there weren't any signs on that parcel of public property disclosing that photography was forbidden...

The Army Corps of Engineers - you know, the folks who actually have jurisdiction over the locks - apparently are keeping pretty quiet, although it's also clear that the Special Agent had no authority to make the demands he did, or to bar the photographer from future visits to this particular public park.

The countdown has begun.

With luck, George Lucas won't change the title between now and next May.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Is Bush the Antichrist?

A reasonably thoughtful article asks the provocative question: Is Bush the Antichrist? The author notes the incongruities between Bush's actions and Christian teachings, and concludes: "Bush pretends to come in the name of Jesus Christ and misses no opportunity to exploit Christ for his own personal political advantage. But in every case, Bush has done the opposite of what Christ taught us to do.... Is it possible that Bush is the Antichrist? His Antichrist-like actions make one wonder."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I just send 'em on.

Overheard at Bark Bark Woof Woof:

George W. Bush objects to "four activist judges in Massachusetts" changing the marriage laws of the country, but he has no objection to the five activist justices who made him president.

And this one:

The Republicans rail against trial lawyers like John Edwards, but if it wasn't for a trial lawyer, George W. Bush would still be the governor of Texas.

Monday, July 19, 2004

California can have him.

Good old Ahh-nold. Apparently it appeals to his Waldheim-style of leadership to call California Democrats "girlie men", and to refuse to acknowledge that the remark is sexist and homophobic.

Seems to me to be awfully strong language for someone who appeared in gay porn movies.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Is Bozo the Clown running the Department of Homeland Security?

It sure seems so. Between last week's announcement that they were looking for ways to "postpone" the November elections, and this article which indicates that on-board air marshals are required to dress in suits, so that they're no longer able to blend in with the general flying public (who usually wear jeans, tennis shoes, and no ties). Kind of defeats the purpose of making people wonder whether there's an armed marshal on board if a marginally-alert 10-year-old can identify him.

Do you suppose that Tom Ridge has a squirting carnation in his lapel?

Monday, July 12, 2004

The REAL October surprise.

The Homeland Security Department wants to find out how to "postpone" the presidential election if the election is risked being disrupted by terrorism. And what do you know, last week the head of that department announced that there was a credible threat that the terrorists were going to do "something" designed to disrupt the election. Precisely what, he couldn't say. And not so credible as to cause the Terrorism Traffic Light to change color, or to give anyone any precise - or even vague - instructions on how to guard against this credible threat.

Why don't they just set fire to the Reichstag building and cancel the election and be done with it?

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Want a bumper sticker?

Limited offer: Get a Kerry - Edwards bumper sticker. Probably wouldn't hurt to make a contribution, too, as the period in which you can make a private contribution is rapidly coming to an end: when the convention hits, they go onto public funding. So send 'em a check, too.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Wondering what "Dick" Cheney did before he was Veep?

And, God willing, after next January 20? It seems that he made industrial movies.

Okay, probably not something you really want to open at work. Unless you're putting your sound through headphones.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Not that you need another reason.

But if you needed further reason to not watch CNBC, here's one: John McEnroe will have his own talk show. And it will be a "cosmopolitan mix of topical guests, music, art, sports, and a lot of comedy." You know, just like Whiny John himself.

I suppose that CNBC doesn't have all that much to lose by putting The Brat on the air: the business program that currently has the timeslot averages 189,000 viewers. Nationwide. Still, that's 189,000 people that McEnroe has yet to alienate. I predict it'll take about a week.

"Hoop Dreams" retrospective.

Perhaps you recall the movie "Hoop Dreams" that came out about 10 years ago, documenting the lives of a couple of Chicago teens who wanted to become college basketball, and then NBA, players. Great movie, and at the time, the highest-grossing documentary ever (since passed only by two Michael Moore films and "Winged Migration").

The Post has a nice article today, looking at what has happened to those two teens since. Neither made it to the NBA, although one had tryouts scheduled before injury torpedoed his attempts. An interesting "where are they now?" story.

I saw "Hoop Dreams" when it came out; I saw it because Roger Ebert - at one of his shot-by-shot film study seminars at the Virginia Flm Festival - made everyone in the room stand up, raise their right hands, and swear that they would go see "Hoop Dreams" when it came to town, even though it was about basketball, and even though it was a documentary. Apparently enough people took the Roger Ebert Hoop Dreams Pledge that when it came to Charlottesville, the little repertory theater it showed in sold out for all showings, the entire three weeks it was there.

Contract attorneys.

No, this isn't like contracting MLB teams, though some might think that was a fine idea. And it's not how The Mob gets rid of shysters it doesn't like. Instead, a "contract attorney" is what I now am. A temp lawyer, if you prefer. Someone hired by a law firm to do the scut work that they can't even get their own associates to do.

So I'm now doing document review and preparation for discovery in a pair of related investigations - criminal and civil - against a big company accused of doing accounting irregularities affecting stock prices a couple of years ago. (The official line is that everything met generally accepted accounting principles, so it was okay and there was nothing wrong.) The project is a couple of years old, and is expected to go on for another couple of years: that's an idea of how many documents (and by "documents," we also mean emails, PowerPoint presentations, weekly status reports, and notes written on the back of napkins) there are - someplace between tens of millions and squillions. I'm not alone on the project - 25 of us contract attorneys started the same day, on a project that probably had another 25 then working on it, in addition to the "real" lawyers at the firm (partners and associates).

Of course, one of the reasons they brought on 25 on the same day is that they've got a high rate of turnover. Not all that surprising with temps, I suppose. But in addition, it is mindnumbingly dull. I believe I've stayed awake all afternoon exactly once so far, and I think that's about average for my group.

But it pays the mortgage while I look for a job I'm actually interested in, so that's a good thing.