Friday, July 29, 2011

And it was never all that great a game, either

When the WWTDD guy goes on a fine rant, excerpting it would be Boeotian:
I know I’m getting a really late start today, but this is why. The trailer for ‘Battleship’ (HD copies here). I’ve just been staring at this thing. Dumbstruck.

A few years ago of course, Hasbro tricked Universal into a deal to make movies based on thier toys. Except for Transformers and GI Joe, which already had deals with Paramount. In other words, except for the only two toys that could be turned into movies. That left Universal with Monopoly, Candyland, Clue, Ouija, Magic: The Gathering, Stretch Armstrong and… this. Battleship.

So they made a battleship movie. With aliens.

They have fucking aliens in it.

Instead of making a World War II movie about battleships, maybe one about Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in the history of the world, which had like 30 battleships in it, they made this.

A modern day battleship movie. With aliens.

Um, just in case you’re a girl, the US Navy hasn’t had a battleship in its fleet for like 20 years. The big money shot at the end? This? That’s an Iowa class battleship. We don’t have those anymore. Battleships aren’t even listed on the Navy's inventory anymore. They were torn apart for scrap metal. 5 or 6 are still around as memorials, but they couldn’t fire any more than they could have a giant helicopter blade come out of the top and fly away. This would be like if they made ‘Top Gun’ today, and everyone had a Raptor except for Tom Cruise, who had a white scarf and leather helmet and flew a bi-plane.
I really hope some journalist followed this movie from inception on up to write a book about it. The only thing better than that would be if that journalist were Joan Didion.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

There was no stopping it

Emily Gould has a pretty good meditation on the 40th anniversary of the (re-)publication of The Bell Jar, which I think tends to be underappreciated; I would dare anyone to explain to me how The Catcher in the Rye is a superior book.

Gould does fall into the usual trap of trying to "read" Plath's suicide. Having spent a fair amount of study on the two most renowned female-author suicides of the 20th century (Plath and Woolf), I don't think you can explain clinical depression by cultural patriarchy, work vs. family, etc. Mistaking the subject matter of Plath's last poems for "why she killed herself" seems to me to treat mental illness as if it were a matter of reasons, and that makes about as much sense to me as trying to interpret Flannery O'Connor's lupus.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Startle decisis?

Bill Whitfield writes in the MDLA Quarterly about footnote 9 to Robinson Property Group, LP v. McCalman:
The defense lawyer should be alerted to two things about this opinion. The first is the Court's quite obvious reservation of the right to "revisit" the issue of whether the negligence of a "party" relative to apportionment, means a "party" to the litigation, or a "party" to the "negligence." Footnote 9 of the opinion would surely leave one with the impression that this issue has not been decided yet by the Court, when in fact it seems, with some clarity, to have already been resolved. See, Coho Resources, Inc. v. Marion C. Chapman, No. 1999-CA-01825-SCT (Miss. April 21, 2005); Estate of Hunter v. General Motors Corp., 729 So. 2d 1264 (Miss. 1999) and Mack Truck, Inc. v. Tackett, 841 So. 2d 1107 (Miss. 2003).
So glad someone else wondered what the heck the Court was talking about. Supposing the Court to have been "reserving" anything (rather than simply failing to check behind a law clerk's draft) is characteristically gracious on Whitfield's part.

... Given that 85-5-7 has been amended since Estate of Hunter, it seems that even if the MSSC decided it had been erroneous in its reading of the statute, Caves v. Yarbrough would require that the Court adhere to its interpretation. Unless of course the Court also decides to reel Caves back in as well.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christianism in Oslo

Andrew Sullivan notes that Breivik is the "living definition of Christianism." See also:
"As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus," [Breivik] writes.
One must at least value his candor.

The American banana republic

If you're the kind of person to care much about the debt-ceiling issue, you're probably well-informed on it already, TBA figures.

But this Elizabeth Drew article is worth a look, as is the Krugman post linking to it. PK:
As I recall, two things happened last year: voters were angry about the weak economy, and older voters believed that Obama was going to take away their Medicare and send them to the death panels. And so the way to win those voters back is to cut Medicare and weaken the economy?

A further point: even if Obama really does cut spending, will anyone notice? Even people who are supposedly well informed believe that there was a vast expansion of government under Obama, when in fact there wasn’t. So we’re supposed to believe that independent voters will actually be able to cut through the fog — the deliberate fog of Fox, the he-said-she-said of most other media organizations — and give him credit for spending cuts? Remember, whatever he does Republicans will claim that the government is getting bigger — and news organization will report only that “Democrats say” that this isn’t true.
Yep. As Kevin Drum notes, the point isn't for the GOP to accomplish anything; the point is for them to revive the debt ceiling deadline in 2012 so as to flog their one "issue" then too.

Louisville Slugger strikes out in Montana

Contrary to the ill-informed speculations of would-be legal pundits, the Montana Supreme Court has affirmed the $850K award in the case of an 18-year-old pitcher killed by a ball coming off an alumninum bat. The theory was failure to warn, as discussed in the above link.

H/t Bashman, whose link to the op doesn't seem to work as of this posting; he does link a news story with this link to the op.

TBA report on popular culture

Captain America -- the best superhero movie of the summer, most likely. Certainly better than Thor and on a par with the Iron Man flix. Tommy Lee Jones turns in a great supporting part. Don't forget to stay for the post-credits Avengers teaser. (But I have a question: how did Cap's shield get in Tony Stark's workshop? Presumably it was a replacement or earlier model that Daddy Stark made.)

A Dance with Dragons -- the looooong-awaited installment in the swords-and-soap-opera Song of Ice and Fire series. Doesn't advance the plot as much as one might've wished, but maybe we won't have to wait 5 years for The Winds of Winter. Regardless, we're not reading for quality at this point; we're reading to find out what happens to Tyrion and Dany and Jon.

Phineas & Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension -- August 5 on Disney Channel. Mark your calendars!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Kinda like Amy Winehouse's views on rehab (just say no, no, no)

This was a good op-ed headline:
Sarah Palin's Views on Abstinence Lead to Second Grandchild
... Link fixed (thx, WTBAL).

... Breivik, the Norwegian murderer, apparently posted a long manifesto online before his attacks:
Titled “2083: A European Declaration of Independence,” it equates liberalism and multiculturalism with “cultural Marxism,” which the document says is destroying European Christian civilization.
Pity he wasn't American; instead of killing dozens of kids of liberal parents, he could've just been elected to the House in 2010 and devoted himself to destroying the American economy.

... The Islamophobic U.S. bloggers whom Breivik quoted in his manifesto are crying "foul" on anyone's comparing their beliefs with Breivik's.
Marc Sageman, a former C.I.A. officer and a consultant on terrorism, said it would be unfair to attribute Mr. Breivik’s violence to the writers who helped shape his world view. But at the same time, he said the counterjihad writers do argue that the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam “is the infrastructure from which Al Qaeda emerged. Well, they and their writings are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

“This rhetoric,” he added, “is not cost-free.”
One blogger had no problem identifying the real culprit:
Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

“If anyone incited him to violence, it was Islamic supremacists,” she wrote.
What a beautifully simple and efficient belief system.

The article suggests that the U.S., like Norway, has focused its preventive efforts on Islamic terrorism to the point that we could well be overlooking a few Breiviks ourselves.

(We are annoyed that one of these hatemongers styles himself "Baron Bodissey" after a Jack Vance character whose enormously compendious book Life supplies Vance with the occasional epigraph in the Demon Princes series.)

(Also, Breivik plagiarized the Unabomber manifesto. I hope that composition teachers around the world are using him as an example.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik

Early reports were 20 dead at the Labor Party youth camp outside Oslo in today's terror attack. That turns out to have been a sad underestimate:
A Norwegian who dressed as a police officer to gun down summer campers killed at least 80 people at an island retreat, horrified police said early Saturday. It took investigators several hours to begin the realize the full scope of the massacre, which followed an explosion in nearby Oslo that killed seven and that police say was set off by the same suspect.

One has to suppose that most of the victims were children. What a remarkably evil man.

This comes as our 16YO heads for the World Scout Jamboree in Sweden. We imagine that whatever security the Swedes had in mind will be augmented.

... You can't make this stuff up. Jim Lindgren has found a pic of the murderer as well as a pre-massacre news item citing Breivik as a nationalist who criticized his government as insufficiently anti-Islam. Because you know, those Muslims might come over and kill your children one day.

... He is clear on the point that he wants to explain himself,” Roger Andresen told reporters Saturday. Oh, goodie.

... From one of his blog comments:
"The dare not openly express their viewpoints in public because they know that the extreme Marxists will trump them. We cannot accept the fact that the Labour Party is subsidising these violent "Stoltenberg jugend", who are systematically terrorising the politically conservative," the post reads.

He is making a reference to the youth movement of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who heads the Labour Party.
Well, he certainly took it to those terrorizing youth.

... Jennifer Rubin, happy to exploit any horror for her ideological benefit -- no matter the perversion of logic -- writes that the attacks are "a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists." A reminder why I was not mistaken to delete my bookmark to the WaPo.

TBA's endorsement for the 2012 presidential election

He's tough. He's furry. And he opposes the use of "enhanced interrogation methods" on anyone, except on dogs.

Delta to cease service to Tupelo, Greenville, Hattiesburg

Delta announcement. Via.

My first reaction was to wonder why Delta had been flying into those cities in the first place. Greenville? Really?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just don't use one to buy a candy bar

Turns out that a week ago, Jack Balkin solved the debt-ceiling crisis.

Actually, I do this sometimes too

The German rocket scientists took a while to get used to Huntsville, Alabama:
At first, every time a shopgirl in a department store at the end of a transaction said "Y'all hurry on back now, hear?" a German would immediately turn around and return to the cash register.
--Craig Nelson, Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, at 111.

... A pretty good book, written in 2009 and thus able to piggyback on a great deal of secondary literature. (This one had the advantage of being $5.98 on the bargain table at Barnes & Noble, as well.) Despite the title, the book's middle portion goes from Goddard up through Mercury and Gemini, picking its high points. It's also good on the engineers and their technological achievement.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

College admin advice, from Larry Summers

"Don't give a speech speculating that women just aren't ready to be math professors." Oh wait, no, I meant this:
One of the things you learn as a college president is that if an undergraduate is wearing a tie and jacket on Thursday afternoon at three o'clock, there are two possibilities. One is that they're looking for a job and have an interview; the other is that they are an asshole. This was the latter case.
Via. Referring to someone called the Winkelvoss twins, whom I would know about if I were interested enough in Facebook to watch a movie about it, or even have an account.

Our melonball recipe

1 oz coconut rum
1 oz melon liqueur
2 oz unsweetened pineapple juice (vary amount to taste)

Pour over ice cubes in rocks glass.

... We don't like Malibu, as it's not strong enough; presently we have Bacardi Coconut, which works well. Our recipe book calls for regular vodka in place of the rum and 3 oz orange juice, but our version is much more "tropical" (and tastes better). This is the drink that makes summer a happy time.

"Gleichschaltung, y'all!"

That's pretty much all we have to add to this news from Judge Primeaux and Eugene Volokh. (That and "thank god for Arkansas.")

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Annals of lawyerly bewilderment

Okay, so you think your suit should be heard in X County, Miss. rather than Y County, Miss. That's swell.

But why does that entitle you to a stay of discovery?

(The motion certainly didn't answer that question, so I'm all the more curious.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's in the Onion

Nancy Grace Seen In Graveyard Sucking Marrow From Caylee Anthony's Bones

Annals of judicial notice

... it would be a rare person who had no personal experience with feces.
... Okay, more of a Daubert issue than a Rule 201 issue, but YKWIM.

(Ex-?) Lutheran in the news

Michele Bachmann, long one of the jewels of the Wisconsin Synod of the Lutheran Church, appears to've quit that denomination, supposedly because it teaches that the Pope is the Antichrist. (The second link, from a Missouri Synod Lutheran, is interesting for how bemused he is that she found her new "community church" indistinguishable from her WELS church. This is a sore point for conservative churches who are losing their congregations to equally conservative but doctrinally impure megachurches, etc.) (H/t.

We had previously noted the irony in a woman's running for president when her church doesn't think she could even be elected to a church council. Guess that won't be a problem for her any more.

... There is of course plenty of evidence that Luther deemed the popes to be Antichrists, and the Lutheran confessions do recite that point as well, tho I don't believe it's asserted in the Augsburg Confession (the Apology therefor does imply as much). ELCAs of course tend to be much more kiss-and-make-up with the RCC.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maybe she can become a Fox News host

Elie Mystal ponders the phenomenon of the rather-resign-than-sign-a-gay-marriage-certificate town clerk:
I guess what I’m trying to say is that a person like Laura Fotusky fascinates me. She’s the former town clerk in Barker, New York, who chose to resign rather than sign a gay marriage license. Apparently the new New York gay marriage law conflicted with Fotusky’s interpretation of God’s law. Or, put another way, Fotusky thought she was teaching Sunday school, and then woke up one day as the town clerk of Barker, New York.
How many town clerks resign when atheists seek to marry? Or Muslims, Buddhists, or Mormons?

Appellate pointers you hopefully didn't need

When the first paragraph of the Fifth Circuit's decision in your case calls it "a petty squabble, masquerading as a civil rights matter, that has no place in federal court or any other court," that kinda signals that you are unlikely to have prevailed on appeal.

Unfortunately, it gets worse for the appellant (and her counsel):
These sentences are so poorly written that it is difficult to decipher what the attorneys mean, but any plausible reading is troubling, and the quoted passage is an unjustified and most unprofessional and disrespectful attack on the judicial process in general and the magistrate judge assignment here in particular. This may be a suggestion that Magistrate Judge Stickney is incompetent. It might be an assertion that all federal magistrate judges are incompetent. It could be an allegation that only Article III judges are competent. Or it may only mean that Magistrate Judge Stickney’s decisions in this case are incompetent, a proposition that is absurd in light of the correctness of his impressive rulings. Under any of these possible readings, the attorneys’ attack on Magistrate Judge Stickney’s decisionmaking is reprehensible.
Probably best not to be remembered by the panel's judges as the attorney who made a "reprehensible" argument.

And then the footnote:
Usually we do not comment on technical and grammatical errors, because anyone can make such an occasional mistake, but here the miscues are so egregious and obvious that an average fourth grader would have avoided most of them. For example, the word “principals” should have been “principles.” The word “vacatur” is misspelled. The subject and verb are not in agreement in one of the sentences, which has a singular subject (“incompetence”) and a plural verb (“are”). Magistrate Judge Stickney is referred to as “it” instead of “he” and is called a “magistrate” instead of a “magistrate judge.” And finally, the sentence containing the word “incompetence” makes no sense as a matter of standard English prose, so it is not reasonably possible to understand the thought, if any, that is being conveyed. It is ironic that the term “incompetence” is used here, because the only thing that is incompetent is the passage itself.
Ladies and gentlemen, Judge Jerry E. Smith. (Via.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A real piece of work

The Mississippi GOP's secret plan to re-elect Jim Hood seems to be going well. I'm not even sure it's a secret any more.

I guess Republican lawyers make too much money to want the AG job? Or if not that, then what?

A brief summer

TBA's day job occasionally comes close to resembling actual work, and the past couple of weeks have been one of those times: four appellate briefs due in the same 30-day window. Hence, light posting. Just didn't want y'all to think I didn't care any more. The good news is, I actually kinda expect to win all four of these appeals, in some sense or other of "winning."

... Work aside, this is some crazy stuff here (via):
Since 1976, according to a new report, Alabama judges have rejected sentencing recommendations from capital juries 107 times. In 98 of those cases, or 92 percent of them, judges imposed the death penalty after juries had called for a life sentence.

More than 20 percent of the people on death row in Alabama are there because of such overrides, according to the report, from the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit law firm that represents poor people and prisoners. The overrides in Alabama contributed to the highest per capita death sentencing rate in the nation, far outstripping Texas.
Once again, the sole reason for the existence of Alabama appears to be "making Mississippi look good."

This quote takes the cake:
“If you didn’t have something like that,” said Judge Ferrill D. McRae, who spent 40 years on the bench in Mobile before he retired in 2006, “a jury with no experience in other cases would be making the ultimate decision, based on nothing. The judge has seen many, many cases, not just one.”
Well, what an excellent argument for the abolition of the jury system altogether! Silly amateurs! Who let them into the courtroom?

Judge McRae, says the article, has ordered six defendants executed and the jury be damned, though he's never reversed a jury-imposed capital verdict. I wonder if he has stickers on his bench, like WW2 aces.

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Interrogator

We mentioned Glenn Carle, sometime CIA interrogator, in connection with Petraeus's call for legalizing "enhanced interrogation methods," which means "torture and abuse" when it happens to you or me. Scott Horton has a short interview with him, and also notes that Carle's book indicates that one of the rare success stories reported in Ron Suskind's One-Percent Doctrine turns out to be not such a success.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Demonic, by Ann Coulter

The long-awaited autobiography?

Monday, July 04, 2011

My wife's July 4 wish for me

She forwarded me the NLT paraphrase of Galatians 5:1 this morning:
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery to the law.
(Emphasis understood.)

Jesus notwithstanding, I've been in slavery to the law most of the afternoon, trying to get a $1M slip-and-fall turned around. Pretty great verse, though.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Tom Ricks passes along a great little story:
Henry "Hap" Arnold, the chief of the Air Corps in World War II, was decorating workers at a B-29 factory in Wichita in 1943, and the foreman introduced a woman in her 70s, saying, "This is our best worker." The woman was Helen Longstreet, widow of the Civil War soldier James Longstreet. He had lived a long life and married a young woman.
According to Wikipedia, which doesn't recount the Arnold incident, Mrs. Longstreet actually worked at the Bell Aircraft plant in Atlanta. She married Longstreet when she was 34, in 1897; he died in 1904. She was also an early conservationist, opposed to damming projects on the Tallulah River.

The Miss. Supreme Court predicts the future

Here's an oddity of the MSSC online docket. The docket calendar for the 4th sitting in 2011 has issued (July 4 - Sept. 2), and, for instance, Auto. Ins. Co. of Hartford v. Lipscomb is listed as "submitted" on July 5. Hence no oral argument in that case.

But if you look up Lipscomb on the general docket (not the docket calendar), the last event is the reply brief's filing. No indication as to what the near future holds for the case. Presumably, on July 6 (a day later), the submission w/out oral argument will show up on the general docket.

So, if you're wondering about the status of your case, don't check only the general docket, especially if a new sitting is coming up. The future may be predicted elsewhere on the website.

(N.b. TBA has no involvement with the Lipscomb case; it's just an example.)

Cory Maye plea deal for time served

Reports Radley Balko, via Orin Kerr at the VC. (I'd forgotten that Kerr assisted in the case). Good news, and good luck to Maye getting on with his life.

"Dear SCOTUS: Please reverse my Court."

In yesterday's dissent from the MSSC's op in Johnson v. State, Justice Dickinson essentially invites the U.S. Supreme Court to rectify Mississippi's wayward speedy-trial jurisprudence:
It is no secret that, for the past twenty years, the Sixth-Amendment right to a speedy trial has been under attack and on life support. Although this Court’s previous decisions have suggested that--given the right set of facts--a speedy trial claim could possibly be won,
today’s final, fatal blow mercifully puts the criminal-defense bar out of its misery. Whereas previous decisions have been less than clear, today’s plurality opinion is as subtle as a stick of dynamite--the Sixth-Amendment right to a speedy trial in Mississippi is dead. * * *

In 1972, the United States Supreme Court handed down Barker v. Wingo, which
established four factors (the Barker factors, discussed later) state courts must consider when analyzing Sixth-Amendment speedy-trial issues. In the forty years since Barker, this Court has applied the Barker factors to speedy-trial issues in ninety- eight cases--forty before 1992, and fifty-eight since.

Of those first forty cases, all decided prior to 1992, this Court found speedy-trial
violations approximately one-fourth of the time. But in the fifty-eight cases decided since 1992, this Court has not found a single violation. Fifty-eight cases in a row over the past nineteen years--and all decided in favor of the State. * * *

The only conclusion one can fairly draw from reviewing the three-to-one cases
decided since 1992 is that, in reality, defendants cannot win speedy-trial claims before this Court unless they win all four factors. And given this Court’s history, even if a defendant could do all that, there’s still no reason to believe the defendant would actually prevail.

In analyzing the prejudice factor, the plurality’s main concern seems to be who had
the burden of proof. Yet the plurality seems to be untroubled by the fact that, when the defendant, Johnson, attempted to take the witness stand and testify concerning prejudice, the trial judge prohibited him from doing so.
Dickinson's op is spicy enough that Chief Justice Waller, although agreeing with the conclusion, joins it only to that extent. The Court's plurality opinion is penned by the new incarnation of Justice Easley, Justice Randy Pierce.

Let's hope that Johnson and his counsel have the resources, or can find them, to petition for cert -- Dickinson's practically drafted it for them.