Saturday, January 28, 2006

Google Earth Spots Flying Car

If you have the new version of Google Earth installed, this link will take you to the gravity defying Flying Car of Perth.

(Parroting The Register, where you can learn more about the flying car and other great things captured mid-flight by Google Earth.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tiananmen Wha?

As you've probably noted in the news, Google has agreed to censor itself in China.

To censorship in action, check out the search results for tiananmen square from Google's main site and from

The distinction is far more jarring when looking at Google image search results for tiananmen square from their main site and from

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hubba Hubba

It's a website selling swim apparel for the modest, and it's called WholesomeWear.

Islam in Space

I love the internet.

The second of these questions occurred to me on the subway last night (I was listening to an excellent Hajj-related podcast from the BBC archive). Thanks to the indescribeable wonder that is the internet, I have at least one answer to my question.

The questions:

  1. In the event of deep space travel, in which direction should a Muslim pray?
  2. If the event of a Muslim living her entire life in outer space, is she required to perform the Hajj (traditional one-in-a-lifetime visit to Mecca & Medina)?
  3. For a Muslim living in a distant solar system, how is Ramadan determined?
These are the questions. For the answers, I refer you to's Fatwa Center.

The Fœderalist Papers

(Crossposted from Columbia Law School :: American Constitution Society)

In the Federalist Papers, published in 1788, federal is written fœderal.

As this spelling makes one go bug-eyed in a hurry, most current editions use the modern spelling.

Procrastinating? Here's Wikipedia's list of words that may be spelled with a ligature.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Silent Majority, The Talking Majority

(Crossposted from the American Constitution Society :: Columbia Law School)

Over at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Herbert Klein believes that "the so-called silent majority supports the President" in his efforts to wiretap Americans without benefit of a FISA warrant.

Where is this silent majority? Not answering public opinion polls, apparently.

The old news is that Bush's approval rating has returned to 36%. Also old news is the now-discredited claim, made by the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, that public opinion shows "support" for the NSA's warrant-free spying program.

The new news comes from Zogby's polling. 52% of Americans surveyed responded with I agree when asked this question:

If President Bush wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge, do you agree or disagree that Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment?
Granted, that's a particularly biased way of phrasing that question, and considering impeachment is not impeaching.

Still, almost 1 in 3 (29%) of surveyed Republicans (76% of surveyed Democrats, 50% of surveyed Independents) and a majority of surveyed Americans answered in the affirmative.

Not happy numbers for a President on the eve of his State of the Union address.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Hope They Convinced Him to Order the Deluxe Package

Naturally, I'm mildly bummed that Cobra Commander, er... Bin Laden has released a new audiotape. However, the bad news that he's (apparently) still alive and kicking is offset by this picture:

Source: CNN
It's nice to know that even Islamo-fascists can get duped into cheesy picture backgrounds.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Home Run Baseballs and Wrecked Spanish Galleons: Both Intentionally Abandoned Property

Great quote from Popov v. Hayashi (.pdf link), the lawsuit that determined ownership of Barry Bonds's 73rd home run ball:

The parties have agreed to a starting point for the legal analysis. Prior to the time the ball was hit, it was possessed and owned by Major League Baseball. At the time it was hit it became intentionally abandoned property.15
15 See generally, Fugitive Baseballs and Abandoned Property: Who Owns the Home Run Ball?; Cardozo Law Review, May 2002, Paul Finkelman, (Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law).

Say Wha? And You Thought US Legal Language Was Bad

Grammatically, judicial opinions delivered by the Cour de Cassation (French Supreme Court) consist of a single run-on sentence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Imagine. Just Imagine Having That On Your iPod

From the Washington Times, America's best Reverend Sun Myung Moon-owned newspaper:

Mrs. Bush also revealed that her IPod listening includes songs by Tina Turner and Dolly Parton. She said her musical tastes are somewhat different from those of her husband.
"He likes country music a little bit more than I do, although I actually really am very fond of country music, as well," she said. "One of the songs on my IPod that I love is Dolly Parton singing 'Stairway to Heaven.' So that's sort of a combination, country and pop." (iTunes link)

The Wages of Kookiness is No Theme Park

It looks like Pat's claims from a few weeks back about the holy origins of Sharon's stroke may have
submarined his plans for a Christian theme park on the shores of the Galilee.

The Judge I Don't Know or The Judges I Don't Know

(Crossposted from the American Constitution Soceity :: Columbia Law School)

Permit me to warn you that:

...still, I feel that it's all right for me to have an opinion on the state of the Alito nomination.

In his odd lovesong to Joe Biden this week (NYT Select link), David Brooks opined that Biden's filibusterous Alito nomination hearings comments were said "like the last Spartan at Thermopylae... noble objection(s) before succumbing manfully to the inexorable will of fate." ...and that's where we're at. Alito's nomination will be confirmed.

For all their noble objections, could progressives have received a more palatable candidate from the Bush Administration? Let's review the options that were on the table. On July 1, the same day O'Connor announced her retirement and 2 months before Rehnquist passed away, the Washington Post published its short list of potential SCOTUS nominees:
  • Samuel A. Alito, Jr.
  • Janice Rogers Brown
  • Edith Brown Clement
  • John Cornyn
  • Emilio M. Garza
  • Alberto R. Gonzales
  • Edith Hollan Jones
  • J. Michael Luttig
  • Michael W. McConnell
  • Theodore B. Olson
  • John G. Roberts
  • Larry Thompson
  • J. Harvie Wilkinson
Would any of these candidates leave progressives feeling more satisfied?

Janice Rogers Brown: Labeled Filibuster Candidate Number One by WorkingForChange, her nomination to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals was already stalled for two years due to Democratic opposition.

After being appointed to the CA Supreme Court in 1996 (despite the State Bar of California's Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation rating her as "not qualified"), she's authored a number of decisions and dissents that are irksome even to those who barely lean left.

Trust me, you weren't going to feel any better if it were Janice Rogers Brown.

Edith Brown Clement: Profiled by the People for the American Way in Confirmed Judges Confirm Our Worst Fears, Judge Clement is the unknown of the list — granted, not a Harriet-Miers-level unknown, but a judge who has authored few notable opinions.

Maybe you suspected that former nominee Miers was a progressive in Bush regent's clothing. I did. I sure don't think the same of Clement.

John Cornyn: Senator Cornyn is the junior US Senator from Texas. The Washington Post notes:

In the Senate, Cornyn, 53, has led efforts to defend Bush's judicial nominees and to fight filibusters of nominees, writing National Review articles that label opponents as "liberal special interest groups" engaged in "vicious politics." He spearheaded the push to adopt constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and flag-burning and favors school vouchers, prayer in public schools, extending the Bush-initiated tax cuts beyond 2010 and privatizing Social Security. He opposes abortion and partial birth abortions except when a woman's life is endangered.

You'd prefer Cornyn over Alito?

Emilio M. Garza: Judge Garza was originally interviewed in 1991 for the seat eventually occupied by Clarence Thomas.

Before the Alito nomination was announced, conservative support for the nomination of Garza bordered on the offensive, arguing that Garza's ethnicity created a filibuster-proof shield, independent of his judicial record.

Garza's anti-Roe statements are more strongly worded than Alito's: "[I]n the absence of governing constitutional text, I believe that ontological issues such as abortion are more properly decided in the political and legislative arenas ...[I]t is unclear to me that the [Supreme] Court itself still believes that abortion is a 'fundamental right' under the Fourteenth Amendment..." [Source (.pdf link)]

You'd still prefer Garza?

Alberto Gonzales: Although Attorney General Gonzales might have seemed like a borderline viable SCOTUS nominee on July 1 of last year, subsequent events make his nomination too unlikely to reasonably consider.

Conservative causes generally have not been wounded by the DeLay scandal, the Abramhoff scandal, the FISA scandal, the torture scandal, and the Miers nomination debacle... but the Bush Administration has suffered. Gonzales' star is hitched to the Bush Administration's wagon. Until they dig their ratings out of the defeat-by-a-landslide-if-an-election-were-held-today area, his odds of SCOTUS nomination are only slightly higher than mine.

Edith Hollan Jones: Quoting Wikipedia is always risky business, but here goes: Some view Jones as an outspoken conservative. In her opinions, she has questioned the legal reasoning which legalized abortion, advocated streamlining death penalty cases, invalidated a federal ban on possession of machine guns and advocated toughening bankruptcy laws.

SCOTUSblog has more on her story. I encourage you to learn more about Judge Jones, but I don't think that learning more about her will make you more comfortable with her than you are with Alito.

J. Michael Luttig: To be honest with you, I thought Luttig would get the nod after the Miers withdrawl. Looks like SCOTUSblog might have shared the same opinion.

The Washington Post notes the following about Luttig:

In 2000, he dissented from a ruling by Wilkinson that upheld a Fish and Wildlife Service regulation limiting the killing of endangered wolves on private land. He also disagreed with Wilkinson in 2003, when he wrote a dissenting opinion that supported the Bush administration's position that it could designate and detain "enemy combatants" with little judicial scrutiny.

In 1998, he upheld Virginia's ban on the procedure known as a partial birth abortion — but agreed to let it be struck down after the Supreme Court struck down a similar Nebraska law in 2000.

You'd prefer him to Alito?

Michael W. McConnell: Judge/Professor McConnell's criticism of the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision probably would win him some credibility from the blue side of the Senatorial aisle.

However, in 1996, McConnell signed a statement supporting a constitutional amendment to ban abortion. "Abortion kills 1.5 million innocent human beings in America every year... We believe that the abortion license is a critical factor in America's virtue deficit."

If he still thinks that a constitutional amendment barring abortion is a good idea, his stance is several notches more severe than Alito's view.

Would you choose McConnell?

Theodore Olson: Frustrated with the split court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, then Solicitor General Olson told the Federalist Society that "U.S. courts ... have never been extended so far."

As Solicitor General during the first Bush term, Olson has been a familiar figure to SCOTUS watchers.

Now back in private practice, the Washington Post notes that Olson's choice of clients and arguments belie his conservative views:

He argued Bush's case before the Supreme Court that decided the outcome of the disputed 2000 presidential election.

His other cases have included representing Cheryl Hopwood, who argued that affirmative action in admissions at the University of Texas was a violation of the Constitution. In 1996, a federal appeals court agreed with Olson and Hopwood that the university's policy was unconstitutional. That same year, he represented the Virginia Military Institute before the Supreme Court against claims that the school's admissions policy discriminated against women and lost.

Olson was legal counsel to Reagan during the investigation of the Iran-contra affair. And he represented Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of selling government secrets to Israel, in his failed bid for a reduction of his life sentence.

You'd choose Olson over Alito?

John Roberts: Already on the court and voting in the minority on Gonzales v. Oregon.

Larry Thompson: Corporate lawyer, former deputy Attorney General, current senior vice president and general counsel at Pepsico, current senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

You're more comfortable with this jurisprudential blank slate than you are with Samuel Alito?

J. Harvie Wilkinson: Experienced journalist, appellate judge, teacher. The Washington Post notes that "his paper trail is... immense. He has written not only legal opinions, but also books, speeches and journal articles in which he sketches a self-consciously moderate conservative philosophy."

You'd think that Wilkinson would be qualified for SCOTUS; however, it appears that he failed the Presidential Fitness test during Bush's last search for a nominee.

From this list, who would you prefer to Alito? Why?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Cumbersome Law School Word of the Day: Nonjusticiable

Nonjusticiable: Not appropriate for judicial consideration or resolution.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

I Presume They Ask For ID From Males Who Look Too Old

Other burgs may have their malfunctional teen centers and their high school dances. In Manhattan's hip Chelsea neighborhood, there is at least one (ostensibly) alcohol-free club for teens, Crush.

PR for the club appears to be managed by Lizzie Grubman Public Relations, whose namesake ran over 16 people outside a grown-up club on Long Island in 2001.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Republicans for Voldemort

A friend told me about this stuff a few months back, but I've just now checked it out online. Nice gear.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Der Sachsenspiegel in Bildern, Violent 13th Century Legal Code/Comic Book

Der Sachsenspiegel in Bildern (translated Wikipedia Germany link) is a 13th century Germanic legal code. For ease of reading, it's illustrated — and the illustrations are crazy.

43. (Ldr. III 90 § 1) Who finds from unknown quantities a killing on the field and buries it with knowledge of the village neighbours, no criminal offense commits. (Thank Google/Babelfish for these glorious translations)

73. (Lnr. 19 § 1) the advocate must pay the bet, if the party does not profess itself to its word, if it cannot swear that it adhered exact to its order. This swears to the verbal error on the picture with a hand on the holy ones, while he points with second on his mouth and with third to his client, in order to say that he adhered exact to its words, which denies these however, by shutting itself the mouth and turning away half from him. (Note: Only historical reference to three-handed lawyer)

76. (Ldr. III 25 § 1) the successor of the deceased of judge may do court certification over the placing, which was done during the term of office of its predecessor and it via the certification of the jurors is proven. Four jurors inform the new judge under oath of the procedures.

133. (Ldr. III 48 §§ 1 u. 2)Who holds a malicious dog, a tamed wolf, a deer, bear or ape, must the damage, which they cause, replace. Right in the picture swore to the damage as plaintiffs (plaintiff gesture!) and two witnesses that the animals were at the time of the causing of damage in the possession of the deplored keeper of an animal.

138. (Ldr. III 79 § 2) No foreign one is obligated to answer for itself in the village after village right — in the new village, by the church, by the farmer master court is kept represented — the before it stand farmer appoint itself on it in the document the gentleman confirm by a document special right. The foreign one at left turns away and gives thereby and with the "Unfaehigkeitsgestus" to understand that it refuses the answer. It is dressed as turn, in allusion on the expression "uz wendic one". (Deep, I know. I think the guy on the left is flipping everybody off.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Party Title: Serious Title

Knee-deep in essays on the justification of punishment, I have but one request to the academics of the future: Please use "Party Title" format only when absolutely necessary.

In the last hour, I've read (one after the other):
Retribution: A Test Case for Ethical Objectivity

Beggars & Thieves: Lives of Urban Street Criminals

Soldiers, Martyrs, and Criminals: Utilitarian Theory and the Problem of Crime Control

Keep it Simple: We're Not Reading This For Fun.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A Tidbit from the 1st Day's Reading in International Law

Another article of the BGB (German Legal Code — the Burgerliches Gesetzbuch) whose application has been controversial is the well-known §1300, which gives an unblemished engaged woman the right to sue her fiance for damages for lost chastity if the marriage does not take place.

Frightening Numbers from the 1st Day's Reading in Criminal Law

Citing Jerome G. Miller's Hobbling a Generation, my Criminal Law textbook offers these disturbing statistics:

Recent studies in the District of Columbia suggests that at any one time, 42 percent of the city's black males aged 18 to 35 are subject to some form of criminal justice system control (incarceration, probation, parole, or bond for release pending disposition of criminal charges). For Baltimore the corresponding figure is 56 percent. For an inner city black male, the lifetime risk of arrest and incarceration may approach 90 percent.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

If You're Ever in New York and Need a Quiet Place to Read...

...the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts @ Lincoln Center really can't be beat. It's beautiful, Aeron-filled, & sparsely populated.

You don't need a library card to get in.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Andy, Military Consultant

It saddens me to hear that the 4-year old cease fire on Sri Lanka is apparently over.

Yet, since I'm easily distracted, I look at the AP picture is running with the story and think, Mr. Soldier — please do not use plywood as armor. This is not a tree fort, and they are not shooting finger lasers.

Source: AP

Would Dada Want Matt Drudge to Give Credit Where it's Due?

Though the definition would likely cause an art historian to shudder, if I had to define postmodernism in a single breath, I'd go for something like the creation of meaning through the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated assets or elements otherwise present in modern society.

This is funny.
If you go by my definition, the most conspicuous example of postmodernism at play is the Drudge Report, where Matt Drudge avoids writing much of anything — choosing to control the discourse of his site merely through the position and juxtaposition of stories that are already out there.

Though Drudge is little more than a headline editor and assembler, he sculpts the news of the world for millions of people each day. His daily audience is larger than the daily audience of any of the cable news networks. If you see it on Drudge, you'll see it on any one of the major news sites 30 minutes later.

Viewing Drudge through this lens, I was surprised to see him write something of a dismissive headline concerning vandalism of the Duchamp's Fountain, probably the most famous Dada work.

There would be no Drudge Report without Postmodernism, and there would be no Postmodernism without Dada.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy New Year from Pat Robertson

As I've mentioned before, Pat Robertson's contract apparently stipulates 1 kooky statement every 100 days.

Today, Pat Robertson announced that Ariel Sharon's recent stroke could be God's punishment for Israel ceding Gaza to the Palestinians.

55 days ago, he warned voters in Dover, PA that the Almighty might send a disaster their way — since he thinks God's a big ID supporter.

87 days ago, he announced that an increased frequency of hurricanes – coupled with some knockout earthquakes – is probably evidence of the 2nd coming of Christ.

135 days ago, he asked the US government to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Pat — you might be a kook, but you're a kook who can be regularly counted on.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Is That a Mouse in Your PC Card Slot, Or...

I know, it's easy to be too much of a gear fetishist; however, you've gotta admit that a mouse that recharges in the PC card slot on your laptop is pretty cool.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Strangest Building on an Island of Strange Buildings

Last night, we ventured downtown for a New Years Eve party in TriBeCa. On our way there, we passed a building on Worth Street that gets stranger with each viewing: The windowless, 500-foot monolith that is the AT&T Long Lines Building.

You could write a little narrative about this building, but its nature is best communicated through bullet points of architectural weirdness.

  • Completed in 1974, it is 551 feet tall — but has only 29 floors. Inside, each hidden story is more than 18 feet tall. ( statistics)

  • As you probably guessed, the building is a giant telecommunications hub filled to the brim with telecommunications equipment.

  • The building is assymetrical. The original design plan was for the building to extend for another full city block. (Great pictures of the building @
From this great message board thread concerning the building come other gems:

  • "At the time it was built, telephone equipment generated much more heat, and the building heating system was designed to capture the heat and store it in salt banks, to be released when needed. With modern equipment generating less heat, and no sunlight - the place was always cold and gloomy."

  • Though largely an uninhabited router and switch farm today, hundreds of people used to work inside this Lego.

    "The absence of people inside is a consequence of technology, but that is not the reason they were built windowless. When constructed 1960-1970, hundreds of people worked in each."

    (Each, because the AT&T Switching Center @ 10th Avenue & 53rd street is another windowless building — 370 vertical feet of uninterrupted granite.)

It's a little surprising to me that this building could be built, even in era hostage to Cold War paranoia.

Today, the public's reaction to the 200-foot windowless pedestal at the base of the to-be-built Freedom Tower has been largely negative — but that chunk of rock will be sheathed in glass, set back from the street. Here, you have a mass of a building that positively looms over the diminutive Worth Street.

Google satellite image of AT&T Long Lines Building

Like strange architecture? Visit Pyongyang. I hear it's beautiful in January.