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Wide White: March 2006

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Snobby unions

This is just way over the top. (Even for unions.)
Philly Plumbers Upset by Waterless Urinals

In a city where organized labor is a force to be reckoned with, the plumbers union has been raising a stink about a developer's plans to install 116 waterless, no-flush urinals in what will be Philadelphia's biggest skyscraper.
But the union put out the word it doesn't like the idea of waterless urinals — fewer pipes mean less work.
Never mind that the waterless urinals would save 1.6 million gallons of water per year.

That's as stupid as saying, "We shouldn't simplify our tax code because we'd put thousands of accountants out of jobs!"


Crazy kids...

I'm currently at work babysitting my boss's 4-year-old son, and it's reminding me of how much I love being around kids and miss my little brothers and sisters!

Okay, so I look like a dufus, but I was laughing when I took the picture....


Call me retarded

The other night, a good friend and I were talking and he said, "That's retarded."

I didn't think much of it. Do I use the word "retarded?" No. Do I like the word? No. I think the use of the word - similar to saying, "That's gay" - simply reveals your intellectual integrity.

However, I don't get all bent out of politically correct shape over it. So, I thought it was odd when he immediately stopped with a look that said, "Did I seriously just say that?" And said, "Dude, I'm sooooo sorry!!"

He then repeated that apology a few more times, like I should have been put off at what he said.

It took me a while to figure out why he was so apologetic this time. I have a three-week-old brother who has Down syndrome. Apparently, until three weeks ago, I had no reason to be offended by the word "retarded."

Now, I should be horrified at the use of the word.

I'm not.

Last week, a radio host was fired after calling Condoleezza Rice a "coon" on the air. Upon using the word, he immediately apologized, and spent the next twenty seconds saying, "I am totally, totally, totally, totally, totally sorry for that."

In case you weren't counting, that was 5 totallys. He was still fired.

Now, I like Condoleezza Rice, and I don't like the derogative use of the word "coon" any more than I like the "n" word. Having said that, have we gotten so politically correct that we can't allow for even one mistake?

I appreciated the fact that my friend apologized. He said he's trying not to use the word "retarded" in the way he did anyway, regardless of my brother.

Having said that, I felt no need for him to apologize. I wasn't offended. Being a white male conservative Christian [chauvinist bigot he-man woman-hater racist pig] who not only chaired a conservative organization and Bible study while I was in college but also had a column in my student newspaper and was (and still am) politically active, I've been called just about everything. Most of it, I'd never actually write or say.

However, that's how those people felt. Why should they apologize for that? So what if I think they're intellectually deficient for using their chosen words? Since when did my opinion become a universal code that everyone else must follow, lest my feelings be hurt?

My friend apologized for using the word "retarded" because he genuinely felt bad about using the word. That St. Louis radio host apologized because he was genuinely sorry for what he'd said. Hey, I'm glad both of these people realized that what they said wasn't appropriate and apologized immediately.

But you won't hear me asking for an apology for something someone calls me. I'm sick of our culture trying to keep people from saying what they think. People should love one another, and if they don't, I'd rather they be upfront about it rather than playing nice because their culture demands an apology if they don't.

So, call me retarded. And while you can assume that my respect for any intellectual integrity you're trying to pass off will be a bit degraded, you can be sure that I won't demand an apology.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Too much technology?

You mean law students are whiny?
Law Professor Bans Laptops in Class

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A University of Memphis law professor has banned laptop computers from her classroom and her students are passing a petition against it.
Student Cory Winsett says if he must continue without his laptop, he'll transfer to another school. Winsett says he won't be able to keep up if he has to rely on hand-written notes, which he says are incomplete and less organized.
Just how did they do it ten years ago?


Superstition: giving the rest of us a good laugh for hundreds of years

There was an eclipse in the Middle East and Northern Africa today, but that's not what really caught my attention.

In Turkey:
"It should happen more often," said Hamza Bikmaz who was selling eclipse T-shirts
In Turkey's earthquake-prone Tokat province, residents set up tents outside despite assurances from scientists that there was no evidence of any link between eclipses and tremors.
In India:
One Indian paper advised pregnant women not to go outside during the eclipse to avoid having a blind baby or one with a cleft lip. Food cooked before the eclipse should be thrown out afterward because it will be impure and those who are holding a knife or ax during the eclipse will cut themselves, the Hindustan Times added.


Crazy in Connecticut

A cat under house arrest??
Crazy Cat Terrorizes Connecticut Town

FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Residents of the neighborhood of Sunset Circle say they have been terrorized by a crazy cat named Lewis. Lewis for his part has been uniquely cited, personally issued a restraining order by the town's animal control officer.

"He looks like Felix the Cat and has six toes on each foot, each with a long claw," Janet Kettman, a neighbor said Monday. "They are formidable weapons."

The neighbors said those weapons, along with catlike stealth, have allowed Lewis to attack at least a half dozen people and ambush the Avon lady as she was getting out of her car.

Some of those who were bitten and scratched ended up seeking treatment at area hospitals.
Animal Control Officer Rachel Solveira placed a restraining order on him. It was the first time such an action was taken against a cat in Fairfield.

In effect, Lewis is under house arrest, forbidden to leave his home.

Solveira also arrested the cat's owner, Ruth Cisero, charging her with failing to comply with the restraining order and reckless endangerment.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Taking tips from home schoolers

One of my favorite things about being home schooled was the fact that I wasn't bound to a schedule. I could do a week's worth of school in two days and have the rest of the week open. I could do schoolwork in my bed if I wanted to (and I often did). If it was a sunny day outside, we went outside and put off our schoolwork for another day to catch up on it.

Public schools are starting to figure out that perhaps the "traditional" classroom with desks and chairs may not be the greatest idea. And while the purpose of this experiment is to attempt to combat obesity, it looks like there's an added perk.
ROCHESTER, Minn. - The fidgety boys and girls in Phil Rynearson's classroom get up and move around whenever they want, and that's just fine with him.

In fact, stretching, swaying and even balancing on big wobbly exercise balls are the point of this experimental classroom. The goal is to see if getting children to move even a little can help combat childhood obesity.
The data aren't in yet. But anecdotally, Rynearson and Superintendent Jerry Williams say the fourth- and fifth-graders are more focused on the curriculum than their peers in a comparison group in an ordinary classroom. And there are fewer distractions than in the traditional setup — where a lot of time is spent trying to get children to sit still.

"Sitting isn't bad," Rynearson said. "But I think kids need to move."

The classroom is the idea of Mayo Clinic researcher Dr. James Levine, also the mastermind of an office of the future that encourages more movement from deskbound white-collar workers.

For schoolchildren, Levine says, "My dream was kids shooting hoops and spelling," much like the American basketball game of "H-O-R-S-E."
Williams, the superintendent, has already been converted to the new concept and thinks it could be expanded, with or without the computers and iPods. "I would love to have this move from a single classroom to the whole school," he said.

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Democracy in the Middle East??

Forget about it. Not until people like this fail to hold a majority, and I don't think that's happening any time soon.

(These comments were made upon the release from prison of an Afghan who was facing the death penalty for converting from Islam to Christianity.)
On Monday, hundreds of clerics, students and others chanting "Death to Christians!" marched through the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif to protest the court decision Sunday to dismiss the case. Several Muslim clerics threatened to incite Afghans to kill Rahman if he is freed, saying that he is clearly guilty of apostasy and deserves to die.

"Abdul Rahman must be killed. Islam demands it," said senior Cleric Faiez Mohammed, from the nearby northern city of Kunduz. "The Christian foreigners occupying Afghanistan are attacking our religion."
The international outrage over Rahman's case put [Afghan President] Karzai in a difficult position because he also risked offending religious sensibilities in Afghanistan, where senior Muslim clerics have been united in calling for Rahman to be executed.


Bowling: not a spectator "sport"

I've been at work for 17 hours now, and just haven't had time to blog today (yesterday, by now). However, I did flip the tv on for background noise during the last few hours, after everyone else left the office. ESPN2 was broadcasting the PBA Championship.

If you've never heard of the PBA, don't feel bad. It's the "Professional Bowling Association."

Now, I enjoy bowling. I just went twice last week. But there's something about watching it on tv that just...well, it just doesn't do much for me.

Apparently the guy who just won the match just tied the all-time wins record with 41 tournament wins. The announcer said it's the equivalent of Hank Aaron's home run record being tied.

No, it's not.

If it were the equivalent to Aaron's home run record, it would have been the top story on the news. Maybe it's the equivalent in the world of bowling. Great, you just captured an audience of 13,243. But it's really disappointing to see ESPN stoop to comparing bowling to baseball. The only similarity is that they both use a ball and the word "strike."

I hope I never have to see that kind of disrespect for the world's greatest sport again.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Much better voting system

If only it were this easy.

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Thursday, March 23, 2006


This is a great story. A woman goes missing at the age of 14 and turns up ten years later just two miles from her dad.

But here's the part of the story that caught my attention:
Kach's father, Jerry, said, "I just say thank you, there is a God and he brought my little girl back home."
If the recovery of Jerry's daughter is what proves to him there's a God, then he has a long road ahead of him. What else will it take to prove to him there's a God? If he's laid off, will his next proof be his company hiring him back within three weeks? How many other parents have children who have gone missing and never been found. Are they supposed to believe there's a God?

Sure, I'm probably reading into this too much. The fact is, the guy's excited to no end and he's expressing that. But, if what he said is really what he meant - if this event is what proves to him that there's a God - then I think he's been sadly misled.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Is this constitutional?

Texas arresting people in bars for being drunk

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday.

The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication, said the commission's Carolyn Beck.

Being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkenness, Beck said.

The goal, she said, was to detain drunks before they leave a bar and go do something dangerous like drive a car.

"We feel that the only way we're going to get at the drunk driving problem and the problem of people hurting each other while drunk is by crackdowns like this," she said.

"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."

She said the sting operations would continue throughout the state.
I'm all for the spirit of this idea. I think it's atrocious that we lose as many people to drunken mistakes, including drunk driving, drownings, abuse, and much more.

However, I don't think it's our government's prerogative to crash private businesses to look for drunk people. Once that person hits a public sidewalk, they're fair game. But to encroach on the rights of citizens in a private establishment - that's just wrong.

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Double standard

If a man decides to violate a girl under 18 and the public finds out, it's a horrible crime that results in a few years in jail. If a woman does the same thing to a boy under 18, no one cares.

Or maybe it's just because of her looks.

Either way, it's wrong. This teacher took advantage of a 14-year-old student, and is walking away without so much as jail time, just because the boy won't testify. I guarantee the same standard wouldn't be applied to a similar case with a man.

And by the way, it's not a scandal. It's rape. At least one former prosecutor noted that. She also notes this:
"And, frankly, I think it sends a message that we have a two-tiered justice system, that if you're cute, if you have influence of any kind, you get a walk. Because the people who aren't cute, who are doing these things to kids, they're actually behind bars."

Murphy also sees a kind of reverse sexism at work: "Male teachers raping their 14-year-old students, lots of them are behind bars, because that's exactly where they belong."

She is sharply critical of the prosecutor, saying he's to blame for the charges being dropped and, "The judge here is the hero. The judge said, 'I'm not going to accept a plea bargain where she gets a complete pass.' The prosecutor then just said, 'Well, I'm going to drop the charges.' He has to accept responsibility and, frankly, he should hang his head in shame."

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Not good

Many conservatives point to "gay marriage" as something that would be the ultimate sign of the fall of our society into moral degradation.

Not me. Many of those "conservatives" are simply hypocrites. They talk a good game, but the fact is they pick and choose what parts of "morality" they want to believe in. They don't think guys should be able to marry guys because they think it's perverted and immoral, but they don't adhere to that high moral standard in other areas of life. They get wasted on the weekends, watch porn on the weeknights, and are all around moral degenerates.

This post began as a criticism of the recent signing of "The Simpsons" to two more seasons. I began thinking of the many "conservatives" who love to watch Homer drink himself silly, Bart mouth off to his parents and show utter disregard for any authority, and more. I've only seen a few portions of a few episodes, so I'm not an expert on what all "more" entails. All I know is that the little I've seen has been enough to make me turn the channel.

I'm not suggesting that I'm a supreme moral being who everyone else should admire and look up to. I'm suggesting that "social conservatives" quit pretending to be something they're not. I hate to see hypocrisy in people. If you're against gay marriage, be against it. But don't pretend it's because you're taking some moral high road. All you're doing with that argument is helping the liberals make their claim (and justly so) that your words don't match your actions.

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Monday, March 20, 2006

They ran to death

Has it ever occurred to anyone that it's not exactly natural to run 26.2 miles?
Two runners die during Los Angeles Marathon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two men, both veteran law enforcement officers, suffered fatal heart attacks while running in Sunday's Los Angeles Marathon, marking the first deaths in the event since 1990, organizers said on Monday.

Los Angeles police detective Raul Reyna, 53, and retired Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy James Leone, 60, are believed to be the second and third contestants in the 21-year history of the L.A. Marathon to die during the 26.2-mile (40-km) race.
Reyna collapsed 3 miles into the race. He was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Leone was stricken less than 3 miles from the finish line and died at a local hospital, officials said.

A third man had a heart attack about seven blocks into the race but survived.

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City Club of Cleveland

I'm watching President Bush's speech at the City Club of Cleveland right now.

He just stated that "what makes the evening news isn't the children playing in the streets, shops reopening, and people getting their lives back to normal. It's IED's exploding, and the terrorists know that."

11:53: "The decision to remove Saddam was a difficult decision. The decision to remove Saddam was the right decision." Got his first applause of the speech.

11:57: He just compared Islamic extremism to Communism and Fascism.

11:58: "Americans have never retreated in the face of thugs and assassins, and we will not begin now." Applause.

11:59: Question, "President Bush, do you believe the war in Iraq is a sign of the apocalypse, and why or why not." Laughter. Bush: "I haven't really thought about that." Laughter. "I guess I've never heard of that." Laughter. "I'm more of a practical fella." Stupid question.

12:01: In response to the above question, says 9/11 changed him and affected his decision as much as anything. Continues to tie 9/11 and the war on terror to Iraq. "If you harbor a terrorist you're equally as guilty as the terrorist."

12:03: still responding to the question, has now gone on to Iran, stating that "we will use our military might to protect our ally Israel." "Our objective is to solve this issue diplomatically." He's taking a tough stance on Iran. "This is unacceptable behavior. Your desire to have nuclear weapons is unacceptable behavior." "How do we deal with threats before they fully materialize? ... That's my job. ... That hit home on September 11. ... And I think about my job of protecting you every single day."

12:05: "I didn't say there was a direct connection between September 11 and Saddam Hussein." "I was very careful to never say that Saddam Hussein ordered the attacks on 9/11." "The whole world thought that Saddam Hussen had weapons of mass destruction. It wasn't just my administration, it was the previous administration." Goes on to say that the U.N. even agreed. He's so much better in Q & A, just going with it, then he is giving a scripted speech.

12:11: A guy asking a question first put in a stump for a Hungarian event going on in October in Cleveland. Bush laughs: "A guy seizes a moment when he sees one." Laughter. "Put me down as a maybe." Sustained laughter and applause.

12:15: "I believe that those of us who are free have an obligation to help those who are not free become free." Applause. "Next question. But I'm tied up in October." Laughter.

12:19: Bush just referred to the Japanese as "one of my best buddies." That's why a lot of Americans love him (and why others don't). He then pointed out that his dad fought in a war in which Japan was an enemy. Bush makes the point that 60 years ago if anyone had said that our sworn enemy would be a democratic, capitalist society that was one of our best allies, people would have called you crazy. It's obviously a reference to his critics today concerning Iraq. "History has shown us that democracies don't war with each other."

12:22: To a high school student: "I hope I gave you an excuse to skip school."

12:24: "We need good tort reform." Can he give more speeches on that?

12:30: "I agree...that Pakistan should be allowed to develop a nuclear power industry. And that flies in the face of Cold War philosophy." "As we become less addicted to oil and fossil fuels, which I'm serious about, we need to encourage others to do so."

12:33: "How long do you usually ask questions here?"

12:34: "He's talking about the terrorist surveillance program that has created quite a kafluffle in the press." Kafluffle (spelling?). Nice word.

12:52: "Understand what made America. We're a land of immigrants."

12:57: An hour and forty-five minutes after he started, he's done. Events like this usually last about an hour. Interesting stuff. If you read the transcript of the event, read the Q & A, not the speech. That's where the meat was.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006


I've officially joined the club of those whose brackets have been busted. My championship team, the UNC Tar Heels, are out in the second round. I should have known better, but they finished strong, and besides, I'm a diehard. My dad's from North Carolina, and everyone in my family has Tar Heel blue blood.

Aside from that biased (though not completely wacko) pick, Pittsburgh is out, and I had them in the Final Four. In short, my bracket is meaningless at this point.

Time to pull for upsets.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Basketball, politics, and church

This weekend I'll be busy with one of the three, so you probably won't hear much from me.

NCAA update: though I could look at losing 11 of 32 first round games as a huge blow to my bracket, I'm looking on the bright side. I only lost three Sweet Sixteen teams (Seton Hall, Oklahoma, and Syracuse) and I still have every Elite Eight team left. There's still hope....


Friday, March 17, 2006

Gerrymandering fun

For those who don't know, gerrymandering is the division of a geographical area into voting districts to give one party an unfair disadvantage.

The controversy over this was brought to the forefront a few years ago when the Texas state legislature - controlled by Republicans - redrew the state's congressional districts. Democrats accused Tom Delay of arranging the whole deal.

I already knew about that, though.

I didn't know this
The current controversy in Texas dates to the period just after the 1990 census, when Democrats still controlled both houses of the Texas legislature. Even though Texas was by that time trending strongly Republican in statewide and Presidential races, the Democrats drew district lines that enabled their party to win twenty-one seats in the House in 1992, compared with just nine for the Republicans.
By 2000, Republicans controlled the governorship and the State Senate, but Democrats still had a majority in the Texas House. A deadlock between the two legislative bodies prevented Texas from adopting any redistricting plan, and the conflict ended up in federal court. The following year, a three-judge panel, ill-disposed to take sides in a political fight, ratified a modified version of the 1991 map, with two new seats awarded to high-growth districts. “The court essentially carried forward the 1991 Democratic gerrymander of Texas, which is increasingly problematic, given the over-all Republican tilt of the state,” Samuel Issacharoff, a professor at New York University School of Law, told me. “The status-quo ante looked like a distortion.”
On October 4, 2002, the DeLay PAC known as Texans for a Republican Majority sent a hundred and ninety thousand dollars to seven candidates for the State House. The following month, all seven were elected, and Republicans became the majority party in the Texas House.

“After the 2000 census, we never had a chance to vote on a congressional redistricting plan, because the court did it,” Tom Craddick, a close ally of DeLay’s, who became Speaker of the Texas House after the 2002 election, told me.
I'm not a big fan of gerrymandering either way, but it's important for people to know that it goes both ways with the political parties.

Oh, and I had to laugh at this part of the article (and something I didn't know).
In the late seventeen-eighties, there were claims that Patrick Henry had tried to gerrymander [James] Madison himself out of the First Congress. The term was coined during Madison’s Presidency, to mock Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts, who in 1811 approved an election district that was said to look like a salamander.
Oh, don't you just love politics?
“It used to be that the idea was, once every two years voters elected their representatives, and now, instead, it’s every ten years the representatives choose their constituents,” Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford Law School, told me.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Eat pi

SALEM, Va. - A high school student Tuesday recited 8,784 digits of Pi — the non-repeating and non-terminating decimal — likely placing him among the top Pi-reciters in the world.
What's worse, is he doesn't even have the record.
Gaurav Rajav, 15, had hoped to recite 10,790 digits and set a new record in the United States and North America. But he remembered enough to potentially place third in national and North American Pi recitation and 12th in the world.

His ranking should be verified by the Pi World Ranking List within two months.
My brother, now a mechanical engineering major, did this when he was in high school, and won in his class. He recited something like 130 digits, and I thought that was crazy....

Then again, I was runner up in the state geography bee in 8th grade, and had to memorize things that many other people probably found pointless. To each his own....


Going downhill fast

So far, I'm 1 for 3 in the NCAA basketball tournament, an event that is almost a ritual for me, my family, and my friends.

What's worse, is I had both teams (Seton Hall and Oklahoma) making it to the Sweet Sixteen. At least I had them losing there.


Why bother?

This list from the New Voters Project was sent to me in a packet the NVP put out in an effort to get college students to vote.
Q. What kind of identification will I need to register/vote in Wisconsin?

A. Forms of identification which constitute acceptable proof of residence, when they contain your current and complete name and residential address, include the following:

1. A Wisconsin motor vehicle operator's license
2. A Wisconsin identification card.
3. Any other official identification card or license issued by a Wisconsin governmental body or unit or by an employer in the normal course of business, but not including a business card.
4. A credit card or plate.
5. A library card.
6. A check-cashing or courtesy card issued by a merchant in the normal course of business.
7. A real estate tax bill or receipt for the current year or the year preceding the date of the election.
8. A residential lease which is effective for a period that includes election day.
9. A university, college or technical institute fee card.
10. A university, college or technical institute identification card.
11. An airplane pilot's license.
12. A gas, electric or telephone service statement for the period commencing not earlier than 90 days before election day.

NOTE: If you cannot supply acceptable proof of residence, your registration form can be substantiated and signed by one other elector who resides in your municipality, corroborating your residency information. The corroborator must then provide acceptable proof of residence.
I have an addition to make.

13. A piece of paper with your name.

Or, you could scrap 1 through 12 and just stick with 13. Your call.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Warning: beachgoers descending on blankets"

I've always wondered that more people don't get hurt by these.
...a Long Island judge has ruled that a lawsuit filed by an 11-year-old girl and her grandmother, who were both injured when a man crashed into them while chasing a T-shirt launched into a crowd at Jones Beach as part of a radio-station promotion, presents triable issues of fact.

According to the judge, "The permission granted to the defendant radio station to stage this event impliedly, if not expressly, obligated it to ensure that reasonable, common sense safeguards were used," ... "These included providing security and warnings, and not allowing these shirts to be randomly thrown or slingshoted into the air without regard for the safety of bystanders, beachgoers or others using the beach for normal purposes."

Plaintiff Kristen Curran was attending an Independence Day fireworks show with her mother, grandmother and six of her siblings. They were sitting on a blanket when rock-station WBAB-FM began launching T-shirts into the audience as part of a pre-fireworks promotion. Kristen claims the station used a cannon-type device; the station claims the shirts were thrown.

Either way, the plaintiffs alleged "that within a few minutes, a large, rowdy male beachgoer descended upon the blanket in an attempt to grab a 'flying' t-shirt, and, in so doing, fell on them and caused [them] to sustain serious personal injuries," according to the decision.

Kristen's left leg was fractured, requiring two operations. Her grandmother's injured shoulder also required two procedures, including the insertion of an internal metal anchor.

Kristen and her grandmother, Eleanor Tacchi, initiated the present action, alleging negligence and recklessness by Babylon-based WBAB.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Back in Wisconsin

I had a great week in Washington. I'm not a city person, but I've long held that it's the only city where I can visit for more than a week (or a day, for that matter) and not get bored. I met Congressman John Kline (R-MN), former Congressman Steve Stockman, Congressman Kline's Chief of Staff, Senator Tom Coburn's Chief of Staff, the Assistant Director of FEMA, and numerous political consultants who have worked under everyone from Ronald Reagan to George H. W. Bush to our current president

Arlington National Cemetery had to be the highlight though. While walking through, I happened to see "Rehnquist" on one of the tombstones. Sure enough, it was William H. Rehnquist's grave. It has his birthday and the date he began serving as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but they still haven't marked his death on the tombstone. I also saw Warren Earl Burger's grave (graduate of St. Paul College of Law - now called William Mitchell College of Law - Nixon appointee, Chief Justice on the Roe v. Wade decision, voted with the majority) and the grave of Thurgood Marshall. Also watched the changing of the guards, saw the mast of the U.S.S. Maine (I've written numerous papers on the Spanish-American War, so that was especially of interest to me), toured General Robert E. Lee's old house, and much more. In addition to seeing Rehnquist's grave, I think the highlight had to be the United States Marine Corps Memorial, better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial. That's always been a pretty powerful image, and to finally see it was just awesome. I may have seen it last time I was in DC, but if I did, I sure don't remember it.

If you've never been to DC, I'd make it a priority!

Oh, and I was wearing a t-shirt in DC with a high of 70. Now I'm back in Wisconsin, where in 12 hours we've gone from no snow to over a foot.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A new brother and Marine One

Real quickly...

First, I have a new little brother as of today, which now makes me closer in age to my dad than to my brother.

Second, Washington is great! I watched President Bush fly into the White House on Marine One today! I had no idea he'd be coming in then. Was just hanging out at Washington Monument when he came, which gave me an absolutely perfect view of the landing on the lawn of the White House.

I'll be back up soon. Might head home to see my new brother, but I'll definitely be back up and running within a week.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

So you really want a hot tub?

This is sick, but not exactly surprising.
Dr. Rita B. Moyes a microbiologist at Texas A & M University tested 43 water samples from both private and public whirlpool bathtubs. "Every tub tested had some kind of microbial growth," she told Reuters Health.

"And I was just getting the few organisms I was testing for, so it is probably just the tip of the iceberg as far as what is really present. Also, I did no viral testing," Moyes emphasized.

In 95 percent of the tubs, bacteria derived from feces were present, while 81 percent had fungi and 34 percent contained potentially deadly staphylococcus bacteria.

Moyes explained that a teaspoon of normal tap water contains about 138 bacteria and many samples are bacteria-free. A teaspoon of whirlpool tub water, on the other hand, contains an average of more than 2 million bacteria.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

UW shows some common sense

This is the text of the new UW System policy proposal from system president Kevin Reilly. I'll take it.
Resident Assistants are expected to work with student residents to create an open, inclusive, and supportive residential community. At the same time, because RAs are students themselves, they are encouraged to participate in campus activities and organizations. As such, RAs may participate in, organize, and lead any meetings or other activities, within their rooms, floors or residence halls, or anywhere else on campus, to the same extent as other students. However, they may not use their positions to inappropriately influence, pressure, or coerce student residents to attend or participate.
My only concern is with the last sentence, since it could be left to one's interpretation. However, as someone who held bible studies in my dorm room when I was an RA in college, I think a policy like this would have been a good, workable solution.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Who needs the bill of rights?

More Americans - 22% - know all five Simpson family members (from the TV show "The Simpsons) than know all five First Amendment freedoms - .01%.

You're saying, "Wow, that's crazy!" But do you know all five freedoms?

Didn't think so.

But you can probably name at least two, maybe even three, right?

If you can name more than one, you're among just 25% of Americans.

On the other hand, more than half of Americans can name more than one Simpson character.

Here are the five freedoms of the First Amendment:

- freedom of speech
- freedom of religion
- freedom of the press
- freedom of assembly
- freedom to petition for redress of grievances


State of the Campus

Imagine there were a "State of the Campus" address, in which someone who best represented our nation's students and faculty on the campuses of the finest universities in the world gave a report to the nation as to what was going on at those universities.

What do you think that address would sound like?

Here's what the University of Washington Student Senate would have to say:

"Our campuses are the most tolerant places on earth. We not only have banned guns everywhere, thus showing our intolerance of those who would like an automatic means of rape prevention, but we have also banned remembering and commemorating those who used guns to allow us to still have a campus. In fact, we're simply embarassed by them. We really wish our grandparents and great-grandparents had simply surrendered to the Japanese when they attacked Pearl Harbor. Afterall, Hawaii was just another territory we annexed from aboriginal peoples. Or maybe we got it from Great Britain. We can't remember."

It would go on and on and you'd probably either laugh at the hilarity of it or cry at the state of our country.

Here's the proof:
No, it's unlikely many of the University of Washington's student senators knew any of these things [details regarding atrocities Boyington endured at the infamous Camp Ofuna] when they considered a resolution to erect a memorial on campus to the legendary fighter pilot Col. Greg "Pappy" Boyington, who was a Washington graduate, a Medal of Honor winner, and a Camp Ofuna alumnus [for information on the horrible atrocities at Camp Ofuna, read the beginning of this article].

During debate on the resolution, student senator Jill Edwards "questioned whether it was appropriate to honor a person who killed other people," according to the minutes of the meeting. Karl Smith said Boyington should be honored for his service, but Smith was also bothered by the killing thing. Senator Ashley Miller was against the resolution because "many monuments at UW commemorate rich white men." The debate went downhill from there.