Wednesday, November 30, 2005

 

Lawyers need math too

The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting recent post about a court attempting to decide whether the distance from a school should be measured in walking distance or "as the crow flies." A man convicted of selling drugs to an undercover cop will receive a harsher punishment due to a law requiring tougher penalties if drugs are sold within 1000 feet of a school. The defense attorneys argued that buildings were in the way and that the walking distance should be used since "crows do not sell drugs."

Now, I think that there are a few interesting points to be made about this case, but the question I want to ask is whether or not their decision made sense. They argued that the intent of the law was clearly to create a buffer zone and was designed because of the prevalence of drug activity within a 2 block radius of schools. The radius element was something that the court decision focused in on. However, if we are looking at intent then we should not be focusing on the radius but rather the idea that the law was meant to create a buffer zone. If buildings obstruct part of the path to the school grounds then they constitute an additional obstacle and act as a buffer and therefore I am hard pressed to see how we can not include this obstacle in our calculation of the distance to the school. Apparently the overwhelming precedent is that these things should be measured "as the crow flies" but I find the arguments presented in the opinion uncompelling. Maybe it's because I'm not a lawyer, but I would have found the defendent's argument rather compelling.

Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Titles are hard.

So I want to direct everyone over to Voxbaby and this link about the Federal Brain Drain. Please, this is not an excuse to make Bush administration jokes.

I have to say that I don't think the Bush administrations attempts to move away from the General Schedule Pay System will help things. Despite the rhetoric, there is quite a bit of room for rewarding GS employees monetarily both through bonuses and performance related step increases. What is the solution? Well there are basically two easily identifiable routes. 1. Become more efficient and get the job done with fewer employees. This would be more effective if we reduced the complexity of government regulations (like for example the tax code) as it would make administration easier and it would also be more effective if we decreased both the size and scope of government in general as there would be less positions that needed to be filled. 2. The alternative is to increase pay and benefits to induce more people to work for the federal government.

And now for some humor.

Here is an Emo Philips article where he interviews himself.

Also by Emo Philips and voted the number one religion joke over at Ship of Fools here is a great one.

"Iwas walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump.
I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said, "Yes."

I said, "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

"Christian."

"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

"Protestant."

"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"

"Baptist."

"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

 

Economist Articles

As usual, the online version of the economist has some pretty interesting articles.

On Crime in Britain. Specifically on the practices of mugging and how it has changed over time. "These days, muggers are distinguished by their youth. Home Office research in 2003 showed that 71% of muggers were under the age of 21, while 17% were under 16. Part of the explanation, police officers reckon, is that mugging is a short step from many of the things that teenage louts get up to anyway, like playground bullying and menacing people who stray into their neighbourhoods. But teenagers have not just swelled the ranks of muggers; they have also changed the nature of the crime.
Today's muggers are more discerning in their choice of victims and goods. Three-quarters of their victims are men, which is novel: a large study of street robbery in 1987 found that 57% of victims were women. Young muggers look down on drug-addled practitioners, generally in their early 20s, who go after softer targets and will steal anything. Simon Holdaway, who has interviewed young robbers in Sheffield, finds that they occasionally beat up their elders.
“Many of these robbers are funding a lifestyle, not a drug habit,” says Mr Pountain. Although poor, they are driven not by need but by aspiration and desire—for the latest gadget, or for something that can be used to finance its purchase. Engels might have regarded that as a sign of progress. "

Another article on GM's woes.

 

Rent

I thought this review of the movie version of the stage musical Rent was pretty interesting. Some of my favorite excerpts:

"Based in part on La Bohème — you know, that famous opera by Baz Luhrmann — Rent observes 525,600 minutes in the lives of the healthiest-looking, most highly functional junkies, strippers, AIDS patients and starving artists who populate the cold-water flats of New York City’s Lower East Side, circa 1989."

"The characters in Rent suffer for their art — we never really find out if any of them are actually talented, but we’re asked to believe that they’re all brilliant — and they suffer in other ways, too. The whole movie is like a paean to the nobility of suffering. Mark’s ex-girlfriend, the aforementioned artist Maureen (Idina Menzel), has recently ditched him for an attorney named Joanne (Tracie Thoms). Roger and Collins are both HIV-positive — something which, in Roger’s case, becomes fodder for a song, “I Should Tell You.” Fortunately for Roger, the object of his desire, the beautiful but tragic Mimi (Rosario Dawson), is HIV-positive herself — and a junkie and a stripper to boot, which I suppose makes her the winner of the Alphabet City triple crown. And just to make sure he has all his bases covered, Larson throws in one interracial lesbian engagement party, a wisdom-spouting homeless prophet, and a Latino, cross-dressing street performer unsubtly named Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia). No oppressed minority or special-interest group is left unturned (save perhaps for paraplegic albino hermaphrodites). Was Larson really hoping to have a career on Broadway, or was that just going to be his springboard into politics?"

"For the considerably cheaper price of a movie ticket, new audiences can now be showered with such meaningless, up-with-people aphorisms as “No day but today,” “Take me for what I am” and “How about love?” They can be reminded that, no matter how grim things get, they’ll work themselves out for the best (or how, failing that, they’ll become martyrs who inspire all their friends to live their lives to the fullest). And they can rest assured that by swallowing this hooey, they are somehow expressing their own individuality, just like all the lemmings in their Che Guevara T-shirts. Rent wants to teach the world to sing all right, but only if the world buys a Coca-Cola first. "

Jay, Keri, and I saw Rent in Kalamazoo back in January of this year and I have to say, I'm glad the woman playing Maureen was hot because it enabled me to forgive alot.

 
Your Birthdate: January 14

You work well with others. That is, you're good at getting them to do work for you.
It's true that you get by on your charm. But so what? You make people happy!
You're dynamic, clever, and funny. And people like to have you around.
But you're so restless, they better not expect you to stay around for long.

Your strength: Your superstar charisma

Your weakness: Commitment means nothing to you

Your power color: Fuchsia

Your power symbol: Diamond

Your power month: May
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?
Thanks to Jay at a Random Walk for the link. I have to say that anyone who has ever met me knows charisma is not my thing. I'm the guy who gets people in the graduate programs at Harvard to threaten his physical safety within minutes of conversation. Plus, you would think that a guy with that much charisma would have been able to get a date before he was 25. I'm just saying.

Friday, November 18, 2005

 

Friday? Really?

It feels like a Saturday from "back in the day" when I used to work on Saturdays. Almost everyone is gone. I'm listening to my radio without a headset while typing up reports. My desk is a mess. But no...it's Friday. Huh. I wonder what that is all about. Anyway, here are some links for ya all.

For those of you who don't live in Detroit, here is an economist article on how Kwame made race an issue to win the mayor's race.

Here is an economist article on Delaware Pumpkin hurling.

Scores is being "probed" about overcharging lap dance customers. Thank god I never found one of those in my partying days because a $241,000 tab would definitely not have helped me in getting out of debt.

Via geekpress the real story of the 1984 commercial.

We should go out and rent Night of the Lemurs to celebrate the naming of a Lemur species being named after John Cleese. See here.

There ya all go. Now get back to work no matter what day it is.

Monday, November 14, 2005

 

I'm still working on a tagline

Hey everyone...time for me to update the masses on the news they have already heard. Starting with the Kalamazoo, MI promise to pay tuition for all its students. Article here. I have to step back and ask whether this should be viewed as a good thing or not. It doesn't appear that there is any qualifier for the funding and it also doesn't specify whether or not there is a cap on the amount, but it seems like a pretty simple way to increase the amount of time people spend in college (I'm sure anyone who knows me already knows I believe American's are vastly overeducated and that increased funding of higher education is simply a waste of resources...anyone who wants to throw out arguments about why we should have be striving to increase education levels of the populace should check out E.G. West's research on the topic before they waste my time) and I can't help but think that this act of altruism will provide some extremely interesting data in the long run. I would expect that it will increase the number of low wage manual labor establishments that operate in that area since the annoynomous funding will subsidize the company and allow them to pay less. I also doubt it will have any effect on the number of college students from Kalamazoo who actually GRADUATE college. The ones who have the work ethic to put themselves through college and the capacity to do the work are already putting themselves through college and doing it. Bottom line, as an economist I'll be fascinated by the data this provides in the long run but I also think this is a waste of resources.

Hollywood unions are mad because of product placement in tv and movies. This seems like another instance where the unions are at odds with the customers of the products. I think most viewers are pretty clear that they prefer strategic product placement to two minutes of commercials every 8 minutes. My favorite part is at the end of the article when they state that if they can't convince the producers to do what they want that they will go try and get the government to force them to do what they want.

WWE's Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel. I heard this several times in the car today but they never said what from. Apparently we don't know yet and won't for awhile, but I'd like to ask newscasters to simply say that someone was found dead from "unknown causes" if that is the case rather than have us sit there going "what the hell did he die from?" Probably not a really big deal, but one of my pet peeves.

Monday, November 07, 2005

 

Update

So my girlfriend has been prodding me to update my blog. It leads me to wonder if she actually listens to me when we talk and if the reason she is asking me to update it is so that she can catch up on what she didn't listen to while I was talking. Okay, maybe I'm being paranoid.

In any case, in deference to her I am looking for a new tagline for my blog. "Women are alot like buses, sooner or later you start to think you'd rather have a car" is still a brilliant line, but I'm seeking something else so keep your eyes open for a monumental change to my header. Not sure when it will come, but mark my words...It Will Come.

For Halloween weekend Erin and I went to a William Castle triple feature which was tons of fun. This past weekend we went to Planet Ant to see a Horror/Comedy (more emphasis on the horror than the comedy) called "The Weekend." It was great. We are actually thinking about going back to see it again since it is an original production and we may never get to see it again if we don't. I'm thinking about emailing them to suggest that they videotape their performances and see if there is a market to sell the tapes. I'm sure it wouldn't be as good on tape, but it is a shame to think I won't be able to view this play in 20 years in all its comic beauty.

Okay, so now it is time for some links. The amount of thought that has to go into this project to label waste isolation plants is pretty interesting.

Here we have the The Church and the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

I think Glen over at Agorophilia (who is also responsible for directing us to the link above) has made a pretty good point regarding the Target policy on pharmacists selling contraceptives.

I'm sorry I missed the Live West Wing Debate. I assumed the worst, and it appears I may have been wrong. Marie...don't suppose you taped it?

Okay, I have to get going, but I hope everyone is doing well and I hope my English major girlfriend doesn't expect me to be eloquent or witty or even grammatically correct because that is just not what I'm all about. I'm with Jason...the ends of sentences are what prepositions are for. I'm part of the anthropological linguistics school of grammer and anyone interested in arguing with Language mavens should check out Steven Pinker's work on the subject. Of course, if you are arguing with your girlfriend I suppose you should just assume that you are going to lose the argument. Still, if she's not around I'll throw down with the rest of you elitist bastards. (Just kidding sweetness)

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