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Monday, May 30, 2005
Legal Lies -- This is a fascinating article about the dangers of pursuing the legal profession. Since my alternative career path was law, it makes me glad I chose the professor path instead. Of course, getting a PhD also means taking on massive debt (around $60,000 for me -- and that was with free tuition and a small stipend throughout graduate school), and it doesn't offer the same salaries as law. I'm currently looking for jobs and even if I can land a tenure-track one I doubt it'll pay more than $35,000 or so. What I gain, however, is a life. I spend lots of time with my daughter and have some time to pursue hobbies, leisure reading, and cooking. Moreover, I pretty much get to design and teach courses however I want -- and research whatever interests me. Yeah, it'll be worth it -- IF I can land a tenure-track job. This is what I was meant to do.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Lawyer winds up Britain's longest ever legal speech after 119 days -- Mind you, this was just the opening statement. The trial itself hasn't even begun!

Sunday, May 22, 2005
Somehow I have trouble visualizing a bunch of hard-core Star Wars geeks brining booze the their "line party." And if they did, I don't see them talking to girls. And if they did, I definitely don't see them shouting, "Show us your tits!". And here I thought you had to be a drunk frat boy in New Orleans to use that one...

Friday, May 20, 2005
Why Are We in Uzbekistan? -- My thoughts exactly. Uzbekistan ceased to serve an important strategic function in 2003 or so. While the US certainly has some interests there, they are either unimportant ones or ones that our relationship with the dictator Karimov is actually undermining.

There's been quite a fuss about the FBI's new domestic terrorism findings, which list animal rights and environmental groups as the chief domestic terror threats. However, this has long been the case, even under Democratic Presidents. Because the FBI defines terrorism as force used against either people or property, vandalism can qualify. Moreover, since the FBI definition includes attacks made in furtherance of both political and social objectives, people trying to achieve social change through vandalism get classified as terrorists. Note that the State Department has a completely different definition of terrorism that excludes almost all domestic groups, since it requires that attacks be motivated by political demands. For the record, the three big categories of domestic terror throughout the 1990s were animal rights/environmental groups, hate groups, and pro-life activists vandalizing or bombing abortion clinics. The only thing new in this report is that the number of attacks in the latter categories has declined in the past few years, which doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Weapons Programs -- This is a terrible idea. I understand the need for things like antisatellite (ASAT) weapons, but some of these proposals would create new security threats to other countries that neither threaten America nor fear it. If this occurs, the result is predictable: insecurity + technological innovation + bureaucratic and domestic pressure for defense spending = arms races. Does anyone seriously believe that Russia and China wouldn't follow our lead, triggering similar action by India, Japan, etc.? The net effect of the militarization of space will be to expose Americans to a wider range of attacks from a larger group of countries -- and since space-based weapons can strike with little or no warning, they are likely to cause other countries like China to move to "launch on warning" strategies for their nuclear forces. These strategies increase the risk of war through electronic malfunction, accident, or miscalculation under time pressure. Sheesh, we had this debate back in the 1960s. We should definitely maintain the de facto ban on space weaponry that currently exists; while we're at it, we should scrap our money-hungry missile defense system because regardless of its theoretical merits it simply doesn't work.

I know, allegations of torture have become rather boring at this point. Still, cases where Americans torture prisoners to death over a span of days probably deserve mention now and again. Keep in mind that Bush opposes the International Criminal Court because it would lead to "baseless" accusations of war crimes against Americans abroad. Baseless indeed. Compare the consequences for the Americans involved in this incident with those we would reserve for foreigners who did the same thing to Americans.

Sometimes, when an accused killer pleads not guilty due to insanity, I think they're faking the symptoms. Other times, I just wonder. Finally, there are cases where I'm pretty sure we don't need a trial to prove the defendant insane.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Swooping grackles attack Houston residents -- I'm all but certain to move back to Houston this fall, and I'd rather not be an extra in this real-life Hitchockian thriller.

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Key Somali warlords agree to begin withdrawing fighters from capital -- This is a positive deveopment, because the contest for control of the capital was the focus of the worst fighting during the country's civil war in the 1990s. This should also allow the transitional government to move in, which may herald the end of anarchy in Somalia -- although the government will be much weaker than regional militias/warlords for some time to come.

Monday, May 09, 2005
Custard Customer Refuses to Let Finger Go -- Wow. And I thought frozen custard was cold. Money quote: Medical experts say an attempt to reattach a severed finger can generally be made within six hours. But according to the shop's management, Stowers wouldn't give it back when he was in the store 30 minutes after the accident. "The general manager attempted to retrieve it and rush it to the hospital," reads a statement posted Thursday on Kohl's Web site. "Unfortunately, the customer refused to give it to her and declared that he would be calling the TV stations and an attorney as he exited the store."

Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Angels? -- I thought this was a parody of 50s-style fundamentalists until I poked around on the site and realized this was real propaganda. It's all here, from satanic cults to rock music that steals souls (even Christian rock! gasp!). Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, along comes gay marriage and AIDS. All in one comic. Absolutely priceless!

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