26 April 2007

Slide show for Boalt Class of 2007

Preview for the two people who know that I have a blog =)

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

Reminds me of my class with James A. Gregor ... who once goose stepped out of a UC Berkeley Political Science Department meeting! Naomi Wolf wrote an essay about the ten steps a corrupt government takes to create a fascist state, and provides examples of what the Bush administration is doing to fulfill the requirements of each step. These closely parallel what I was taught by Gregor - though he would say that you also generally need a charismatic leader ... and it doesn't seem like Bush or Cheney fit the bill ...

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

2 Create a gulag

3 Develop a thug caste

4 Set up an internal surveillance system

5 Harass citizens' groups

6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release

7 Target key individuals

8 Control the press

9 Dissent equals treason

10 Suspend the rule of law

"It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster." As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone."

25 April 2007

Stewart vs McCain - this is how to "frame" debate (very Lakoff Mr. Stewart, you win)

From Crooksandliars.com:

Stewart tries to explain a few things to St. McCain about fighting a civil war:

"…but that assumes that we're fighting one enemy—they're fighting each other. We're not surrendering to an enemy that has defeated us. We're saying, how do you quell a civil war when it's not your country?"

McCain got very angry that Stewart called them out for using the " you're not supporting the troops," theme and was trying to filibuster the segment…He tried to use the troops as a wedge. Stewart got hot and fought back…McCain started to stutter. (rough transcript)

Stewart: All I'm saying is you cannot look a soldier in the eye and say questioning the president is less supportive to you than extending your tour for three months when you should be coming home to your family.

McCain: Every American..

Stewart: And that's not fair to put on people that criticize…

McCain: Jon…

Stewart: And you know I love you and respect your service and would never question any of that—this is not about questioning the troops and their ability to fight and their ability to be supported. And that is what the administration does and that is almost criminal.

21 April 2007

Justice Holmes in Gitlow v. New York (1925)

"It is said that this manifesto was more than a theory, that it was an incitement. Every idea is an incitement. It offers itself for belief and if believed it is acted on unless some other belief outweighs it or some failure of energy stifles the movement at its birth. The only difference between the expression of an opinion and an incitement in the narrower sense is the speaker’s enthusiasm for the result. Eloquence may set fire to reason. But whatever may be thought of the redundant discourse before us it had not chance of starting a present conflagration."

That everything you say could be the words that excite someone to actually do something is powerful stuff. But the reasons it doesn't get them off their ass to actually do whatever it is are:
(1) they're lazy
(2) you're wrong, or
(3) you are not persuasive.

I like to think I have a combination of all three most the time.

Can you tell I'm studying for Con Law I?

Becoming a svelt Jew ... slowly

For anyone curious - I'm trying to lose weight (yeah, I'm fat, I'm working on it).

Here's my progress (publically displayed so you can hassle me is I start gaining weight or reaching for cookies or something):

I begin on 1/3/07 and weighted 326.5lbs
The last daily weigh-in was on 4/21/07, I weighted 291.2lbs

So I've lost 35.3 pounds in 108 days =
35.3 / 108 = 0.32685 ~ 0.327 pounds/day!
2.288 pounds/week!

I'm using The Daily Plate to count calories. There's another post on this site with a review of this and other such sites.

Now I want a cookie! Instead I'll ride my bike ... I guess.

19 April 2007

Forbiden mac and cheese ... drool

NYTimes "crusty mac 'n' cheese" with White extra sharp cheddar and Kirkland signature American cheese.

This is only a small batch ... the large batch which I brought to a BBQ contained 14oz of cheddar and 16oz of American cheese ... and 2 pounds of elbow pasta. Secret ingredient? MORE cheese!

Here's an article about mac and cheese and here's the recipe I used (and many people love). [PS - can't read NYTimes because you don't have "timeselect"? If you're a student you can get it free!]

And no, this is not on my diet, but thanks for looking out.

Gratuitous pictures:
Beginning a tradition is hard:
Right to left:
Lisa, Abe, Kendra, Mike, Dan.

Fun with the externs!

Send SMS (Text) messages from your E-Mail account

Here are the addresses for the top six US carriers. Substitute an actual phone number, send the e-mail and it will arrive as a text message.
Virgin Mobilephonenumber@vmobl.com

17 April 2007

After seeing two kids (high school freshmen) shot ...

... I'll never own a gun and I will work to keep them away from others.

The guns that caused this most recent tragedy and nearly all the violent deaths and injuries in the US were legally purchased at one point or another. Preventing people from buying guns (or ammo) will also prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who will use them irresponsibly.

Would an armed student have stopped the attack on VA Tech? Maybe.

Did a (legally) armed student cause the rampage? Yes.

First thing McCain can do to all but suck face with the neo-con right after this? Point out that he likes guns.

I've been shocked by the comments here and on digg and beyond. More guns are not the solution, guns caused this problem. Legal, easily purchased guns.

I've watched 15 year olds literally have their heads shot through because they were being kids in front of school just after class let out for the day. The person who had the gun bought it legally. He bought the ammo legally. He carried the concealed weapon legally. And he was only caught because he was foolish enough to commit another crime days later only blocks away. He was using another legally purchased gun then too.

Yes, we have a history with guns that's part of our tradition. Yes, once they were an important part of our revolution. But militias are out and guns are killing thousands of innocents ... thousands that would not be saved if they too had guns. If more people had guns they would simply go off more often. Road rage a problem with people pulling out their car jacks? What if they were all packing? What if they all got just a little more scared (what, you're not scared enough by the BushCo war and finance machine!?!)?

Keep the guns out of the streets by making them illegal. It works and it may be the only way.

I don't want to explain why there's a cross in front of the school to any more parents. Flowers and teddy bears won't help, activism to make serious changes in gun laws will. Please, I don't want to hold any more kids hands while their friends bleed out waiting for the ambulance. I'm begging you, please, please, please.

EFF has a job opening - "EFF Seeks Intake Coordinator"

This would be an incredible job at a very worthy office!

Straight dope from their site:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an Internet civil liberties nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, is seeking a full-time intake coordinator. EFF receives many requests for legal and other help from the public for Internet-related issues. The intake coordinator screens and gives initial responses to everyone who asks for our assistance.

Our offices are located in the heart of San FranciscoÕs Mission District. This person will support a dedicated staff of lawyers, technologists and activists. The environment is fast-paced, our mission is cutting edge, and EFFÕs staff is very smart and fun to work with.

Applicant must have general computer skills and knowledge of the Internet. Experience with basic legal issues and familiarity with EFF and our specific issues are also very helpful. This person must have great interpersonal skills, compassion and a sense of humor.

Duties include:

  • Greeting visitors
  • Answering general organizational telephone and email inquiries
  • Performing legal case intake and referrals
  • Managing database of cooperating attorneys and technologists
  • Coordinating volunteers and part-time staff for support projects
  • Assisting staff with assorted administrative tasks

Salary mid '30s plus good benefits package. EOE, we encourage diverse applicants to apply. Please email only resume and cover letter to intakejob@eff.org. Position available immediately. No phone calls please!

15 April 2007

Kurt Vonnegut tells you how to write (good for legal writers!)

Some writing advice by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on the subject of short stories, from Bagombo Snuff Box:

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.*

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.