Monthly Archives: July 2008

Now that we’ve landed in Cascadia, I’m trying to tackle various tasks associated with moving. We’ve got power, water, Internet, and the other essentials. On to officially becoming a Cascadian and getting a drivers license. We were elated to discover that no written or driving test is needed if you’re relocating with a current drivers license from another state within the US (or, oddly, Germany). Also, unlike Estacado, they don’t require that you do things in a specific order (Insurance, inspection, car title, license in that order in Estacado).

The only snag (or the only snag thus far, anyway) is “proof of residence”. Unlike in Estacado, Deseret (I believe), and Delosa, a lease agreement isn’t considered proof of residence. You have to have a picture ID with the address (such as would be found on… a drivers license) or more simply a utility bill or hookup order with your name and address on it. We contacted the city utility company and they said that they would only send something after the first billing period which will be a month or so from now.

What’s interesting is that to get a DL we need one primary document, two secondary, or two secondary or a secondary and tertiary document. They have long lists of what all this involves. One of them, interestingly enough, is a voter registration card. So I went to the state’s Secretary of State site and saw what we’d need to register to have a voice in political affairs in the area and state (and, in November, nation). Apparently all they want is the last four digits of my social security number. No proof of anything else required.

So the thought occurred to me that if I go and register to vote I might be able to prove where I live (even though there is no accountability, apparently) so that I can drive. I was on my way out to do just that when I discovered that the cable company (who is taking care of our TV, Internet, and phone) had already sent me something. So off to the license bureau I went.

I have never seen such bureaucratized chaos in my life. They have a line, they have a little “Take a number” machine. They periodically have “Now Serving” numbers appear on top of the stations, but customers come and customers go and that number doesn’t actually change. So I got in line and then was informed that I needed to take a number, after which I kept waiting and waiting for the numbers to change above the stations. Instead the numbers disappeared so I got in line. Then a mean-tempered woman said “If you’re in line with a number above 330, you are not supposed to be in line so get out and take a seat. If you’ve thrown away your number, get a new one. If you’ve left the building to smoke a cigarette or get something our of your car, you have to get a new number”… and start at the back again of the numerical/non-numerical line, presumably.

Half an hour passed and nothing happened, numbers reappeared, didn’t change, disappeared again, more people got in line, and the lady spoke with great irritation that we weren’t abiding by the system and they couldn’t help us if we didn’t follow the rules… whatever they were.

After another hour of observation, this is what I determined the rules to be: Everyone picks a number and takes a seat. They call the numbers in blocks and the people with those numbers get in line in order. The first ten or so from that block will be called by number (with the Now Serving signs) and then the sign will stop changing (once they forget to keep updating it) and then go dark after it hasn’t been changed for a particular time interval (out of boredom I timed it to seven minutes and forty-five seconds). From that point the order will be determined by where you are in line if and only if your number is in the number block, which actually isn’t posted anywhere. Once that block is finished, they’ll start again with a new block. Intermittently there will be cow-herd lectures about how we’re failing to abide by the system.

Once I figured out he system, I bid my time (another hour) by explaining this system to everyone else that was confused and irate. One lady actually offered to give me a tip.

Category: Downtown

There was an interesting back and forth between Barry and Kirk on an old post. I had forgotten about the DVD-watching contingent of BSG and didn’t put up the appropriate spoilers, thinking that it was safe since months had passed since the airing of the actual episode and since the new season was about to begin. Barry takes the position that an hour or two after the episode has aired, it’s all fair game. Kirk, on the other hand, wishes that I would refrain from ruining BSG for him before he can watch it on DVD.

I am slightly more sympathetic to Kirk’s point of view on the issue, my own goof-up notwithstanding, but Kirk says something that I find worthy of note:

And honestly, why pay over $60 a month for an entire cable package, when I can get the basic channels (plus TBS and History) for less than $20/month? Other than BSG, and perhaps South Park, I never watched anything on those extra channels.

Finances aside, shows are often more enjoyable when watched in bulk. From a pure entertainment standpoint, I preferred watching serial action and drama shows in one large sitting rather than spreading it out week to week. Not only did I not have to wait in suspense (I can be impatient), but I also picked up on more things. Week in and week out I forget details. Sometimes they’re seemingly unimportant at the time, though sometimes even more important things.

On the other hand, there are some practical considerations, spoilers being one of them. As time progresses, your chances of discovering what happens on a show go up as more people figure that everyone else interested already knows. When it’s a blog it’s easy enough to put it behind a spoiler warning, but sometimes you just simply overhear things. It’s unavoidable. Back before IMDB started heavily tracking individual episodes of programs, they used to put the years an actor was on a show in parenthesis if the character left for one reason or another. It was really annoying because I’d try to look up an actor on the episode that I’m watching and then inadvertently discover that a character has died or otherwise left the show. It happened with Boone on Lost and Stringer Bell on The Wire. Fortunately, their new way of doing things doesn’t give quite as much away.

But that’s only part of it and that’s not really the reason that I’ve shifted from watching shows in bulk to trying to catch them week in and week out. The bigger reason is that the best shows create communities. I started watching Battlestar Galactica because my friend had hosted weekly watching parties last season and I couldn’t participate because I wasn’t caught up. I would probably have seen it all eventually, but being able to watch it with friends and discuss it with them was what tipped the scales.

My turning point actually involved Barry. His blog showed a still-frame the death of David Palmer from 24 when I hadn’t started watching that season yet. From that point forward I started reading Barry’s blog a little bit less so that nothing else would be spoiled for me and skimming over anything related to 24. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I didn’t want to avoid discussion of my favorite TV shows, I wanted to participate in them. I came to enjoy the TV show Lost after initially not caring for it very much, but my enjoyment of the show has doubled since I started talking to coworkers about it. I’ve enjoyed reading and trading ideas with Abel and Barry and others almost as much as I’ve enjoyed watching the show itself. You can’t do that when you’re waiting for the DVD.

When you’re ready to talk about it, everyone else has forgotten a lot of the details and has mentally moved on. The DVD is released just before the next season begins, so within a month or two you’re already behind all over again. You can’t go to the websites dedicated the show, you can’t read posts about it, and on and on.

Since getting married to a woman that viewed television and movies as inherently inferior to reading in just about every respect, one of the points that I have tried to hammer home is that television is (or can be) a group activity in a way that reading can’t (or at least for reading circles and whatnot it’s a lot harder to make it so). I could go on and on about this and might in a separate post, but our time together has somewhat opened Clancy to my point-of-view on the matter.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of my hobbies are inherently isolating. I tend to write on my own. I have a lot of great readers and commenters on my blog, but this site is not something that I can tell people in real life because of a lot of what I write. I’m somewhat interested in sports, but it’s not my thing. This all has the effect of making me out-of-step with people in realtime. I often don’t have a lot to talk to people about. When I was having to steer clear of conversations about television, that only added to the problem. Being able to talk about the latest episode of this or that has helped.

Category: Theater

A while back I wrote about the conclusion of this half-season of Battlestar Galactica. I had a stray thought that didn’t really fit within that post. This post contains spoilers. (more…)

Category: Theater

If Barack Obama and John McCain both get 269 electoral votes on election day, the election goes into the House of Representatives. Rather than an up-down vote, though, which would clearly favor Obama, it is instead done by statewide delegation wherein each state gets one vote, which would favor McCain since he is likely to win more states than Obama (Bush won 30 states in 2000 and 31 in 2004, if I recall) because the unpopulated rural states trend Republican.

So I went to Politics1 and took a look at the delegations, and the likely winner in such an event is… Barack Obama. Despite the fact that Republicans typically win more states in presidential elections, only one Gore/Kerry state has a Republican congressional delegation (Michigan) whereas seven Bush states have Democratic delegations (Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, North Caroline, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia) and the two states with split delegations (Arizona and Kansas) are Bush states.

In order to pull it off, McCain would need to get the split delegations and flip four delegations while preventing Obama from flipping any.

The most likely scenario for a tie has the 2000 electoral map except with Nevada and New Hampshire going to Obama. With this electoral map in mind, there are eight states where the Democrats have only a margin of one vote, so McCain would need to change the minds of congressmen in six of those eight states states (which are Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia) or turn two of the tied states (AZ and KS). McCain is likely to win the Dakotas and West Virginia by a fair margin, though there is only one congressperson in each Dakota to flip (WV has three so he would have two there) so it would depend heavily on the personalities involved. Indiana is another state that it’s likely that McCain would win handily and there are five Democratic congressmen there. North Carolina and Tennessee are more likely to be closer in a tight race (and Nevada and Colorado extremely close) and without a clear victory in the state it seems less likely that they will be able to play the “vote your state/district” card, though if Obama’s vote is heavily concentrated in urban districts and McCain is able to clearly win the suburban and rural ones he might have a shot as there are more Democratic congresspeople to pick from.

If McCain were able to flip eight of the ten states (and/or gain eight by pulling over more than one congressman from Arkansas or Mississippi), the election would be his. If he falls short of eightstates, though, Obama can get the election back by flipping New Mexico (by persuading one congressman), Nevada (one congressman), and Michigan (two). New Mexico has an open district that is ripe for a Dem pickup and Obama may have that delegation anyway (Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming appear to be other cases where the delegation may flip, though neither seems extremely likely). There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of volatility in Michigan and unless Nevada changes congressionally it seems unlikely that he would be able to flip a congressperson since he’s only likely to win one of the three congressional districts even if he wins what would likely be a tight race. If McCain flips seven states, Obama would only need New Mexico.

It seems extremely unlikely that McCain would be able to pull off this feat absent some mitigating circumstance such as a huge popular vote victory or substantial victories in all the right districts. If the GOP controlled congress they could convince some Democratic congresspeople to change parties to be with the majority, though it seems unlikely that any would change to be a part of the minority and it seems unlikely that they would be able to remain in their political party if they chose the other guy for president. Even more unlikely that they would do so what would functionally keep the first black president from obtaining office (one of those things that perhaps shouldn’t matter, but will).

It’s actually difficult to imagine any scenario in which a not-insignificant minority are satisfied with the result. In the event of an Obama presidency, we’d be able to look forward to eight years of people saying that he stole it by getting the votes of congresspeople bucking the popular vote in their state. If McCain wins, he will be considered as having done so by making ugly backroom deals. It even gets further complicated by Kansas and Arizona, which could allow for Obama to have more delegations than McCain (25 to 24 or 25 to 23) but still not enough to claim the presidency and the victor (Obama, likely) will only have won because the other side (McCain, likely) did “the honorable thing” by dropping out of a race that they likely couldn’t win (I can see no other way either of these candidates would drop out… Gore, Kerry, and Clinton only dropped out when they had exhausted all other options and they are still varying degrees of martyrs for having done so).

One of the other larger results of such an event would be the reconsideration of priorities among voters in heavily red states. Over the last decade or two voters in the northeast have decided that it’s more important to have a Democrat in office than it is to have a liberal Republican and one by one the Republican congresspeople in the northeast have been losing which is one reason why there are so few Blue States with Republican delegations compared to the inverse. Conservative voters in the south and mountain west have not yet come to that conclusion and don’t have a problem electing Democrats as long as it is “their kind of Democrat”. Watching their kind of Democrat put Barack Obama into office may result in southern voters viewing party label as more important and could ultimately hurt the Democrats in the House and Senate over the longer term.

Below the fold is a list of states under their congressional delegations:

Category: Statehouse

When I was in high school, my brother Mitch invited me to a fraternity party at the University of Delosa. The gist of the party was that the entire frat house was flooded by a couple of inches and everyone dressed like a swamp soldier in camo and whatnot. It was a pretty big deal. Being 16 and invited to one of these things was a pretty big deal, too.

My brother was dating a girl named Suzie at the time and Suzie was a member of the fraternity’s sister sorority. One of Suzie’s sorority sisters was a girl named Maggie. Maggie wasn’t gorgeous, but she was curvacious (sp?) in a really good way and she had a spunky personality that I liked. The coolest, thing, though, was that she talked to me. Not as Mitch’s kid brother, but as a guy.

The water came down and the place was flooded and the party began. Having access to unlimited free booze, I did the expected thing and started drinking a lot right away. Wherever I turned, for a while, there was Maggie. She kept… touching me. Not in a sexual way, but in the offhand way that made me feel warm (so maybe the alcohol was helping in that regard).

I kept trying to work up the guts to kiss her. The idea that a college girl could be interested in a dopey high school kid like me was on its face ludicrous, but there really weren’t many alternative explanations for the way that she was acting. I wasn’t sure of anything, but I was sure that to not even try was even more ludicrous than the idea that she might be receptive.

Then, after about my eighth beer or so, she disappeared. Then I was stuck with this other girl who was very, very interested in me. This one didn’t know that I was in high school. Can’t remember a whole lot about her but her name and that despite the fact I was drunk, she was still extremely ugly.

Maggie reappeared and I ditched the other girl with all the tact of a drunk 16 year old kid on the cusp of getting his first kiss or more by an older, hot woman. Before I could spring into action, I was suddenly being talked to by all sorts of girls. One after another. They were introducing themselves to me and lightly flirting and eventually all getting around to telling me the exact same thing: Whatever you do, stay the hell away from Maggie.

Girls of the sort that would never even give me the time of day were suddenly taking an interest in my welfare. Maggie must be a psycho or something, I thought. I was too drunk and too dumbstruck to turn down their advice. Maggie seemed to change a little bit, too, making me wonder if someone had said something to her.

The next day it became apparent to me that Suzie had sent her sorority sisters to be my protector. I asked in as offhanded a manner I could muster why she had done so. She said “I don’t know, I just don’t think that she’s good for you?”

“Really. Why not?”

“I don’t know, she’s just… weird.”

I didn’t say so, but the thought that went through my mind was “Weird? Weird?! You got in between me and a hot chick because you thought she was weird?! Who the hell do you think I am? I know every baseball statistic from the 1986 baseball season. I plot gritty noir movies starring Darkwing Duck. I write comic books during English class and set up paper football leagues. I talk to myself, I talk in my sleep. Weird? Not so much a problem!

But alas, it was not to be. The upshot was that it provided me with a much-needed self-esteem boost (sure she was probably crazy, but a college chick dug me!!) and the whole thing made me feel closer to Suzie who really was looking out for me (why couldn’t Mitch have married her?). Greater opportunities were lost, of course. Then again, considering how much I had to drink, it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t have been remembered, anyway.

Category: Ghostland, School

One of the best emails I ever read was to my friend Kelvin to the lady friend I was attempting reconciliation with. Before she and I or she and someone else got back together (she was choosing between exes), he threw his hat into the ring. He declared his love for her in some of the most eloquent and engaging prose I have ever read. At the end of it he made one request. She could choose him and they could live happily ever after, she could choose someone else and things would (eventually) return to normal… but the one thing that he absolutely, positively, did not want her to say was “Maybe” and leave him twisting in the wind.

To which she responded, over the next few months, with a series of proclamations of “Maybe”.

A while back, Megan McArdle put her finger on something rather important to young men or, at least, young men like I used to be:

There’s a phase most women probably go through in high school or college, when they realize that they have extraordinary power to get men to do things, and they see how many people they can get to chase them at once. Most of us, though, I think quickly realize how pointless it is. There’s something terribly lonely about interacting with someone when you know what’s really going on, and they don’t.

The notion of a “Friend Zone” is often fodder for sitcoms. It often goes like this: Guy is interested in girl. Girl might be interested in guy or might have been interested in guy, but they become friends and since they’re friends, she doesn’t want to wreck it by pursuing something more. Thus, he is in The Friend Zone. In the TV show Friends, Joey warns Ross in the first episode that he needs to make his move or he will be in the Friend Zone. In Scrubs, a corrolary is added that any aborted kiss must be rectified within 24 hours or you are relegated to the place where her shy or goofy Asian-American tutor in high school ended up… I don’t think they said The Friend Zone, but they might as well have.

I’ve heard it suggested by some that The Friend Zone (TFZ) is actually a myth. If a woman is interested in a guy, she will be interested in him. The fact that he’s her friend would make it more so rather than less so. the Myth of the Friend Zone exists because women say “Let’s be friends” or “I was interested in you, but now that I’ve gotten to know you I see you only as a friend” when they really mean “Ewwww…” and they don’t want to hurt the guy because he is nice and it’s not good to hurt nice people any more than you have to or they don’t want to hurt him because he’s not nice and they fear retaliation.

Women that say this are… well… correct much of the time. Sometimes guys are left with the impression that they might have had a shot but the friendship got in the way when in reality he never, ever, had anything resembling a shot. Maybe it’s the vast majority of guys that think that they’re in TFZ or maybe it’s just true some of the time. But it’s not true all of the time. Not completely as such, anyway.

It’s true that if you become genuinely close with a girl that would otherwise be interested in you, it’s unlikely or impossible that this will negatively affect her interest except in the outlier case where she’s just cruisin’ for an emotional bruisin’ (in which case the guy shouldn’t want to go there anyway and if he is he’s cruisin’ for the same bruisin’). But there is something else that does happen that young men ought to be on the lookout for.

There very frequently seems to be a time limit between the point where a guy says that he is interested and something actually happening. It’s not the 24 hours from Scrubs, but it’s not indefinite and this is true even if you are otherwise appropriate dating stock for the girl and not searching out of your station. You can glide your way out of this if you immediately start dating someone else or can accurately (and it must be accurately, faking is easy to spot) demonstrate that you have other options that are worthy of pursuit.

One of the worst positions for a guy to be in is to declare his interest and simply not be given any sort of definitive answer. Hearing “no” hurts, of course, but if you’re well-adjusted life goes on. Hearing “yes” rocks. If you get anywhere in between, you are effectively put on Reserve Status. You’re on a shelf. You’re a bone in her collection. This is what McArdle puts her finger on that I find so worthwhile. A lot of young women do this.

I have in the past called this Bone Collecting. The shorter version is that being a human her ego needs regular watering and having a guy interested in her helps supply that and having more guys interested supplies more of that. Logically, she can only be going out with one person at a time, but if she can manage to have a guy or two that are in the ballpark of worthy of her on stand-by, it can help keep her going in pursuit of the best guy that she can get. McArdle focuses squarely on the things that the guy will do for her, but one of the biggest such is emotional validation. That he may completely revoke this if she tells him it’s unlikely to happen or will only happen in the absence of any other immediate alternative provides incentive for her not to say anything even if he’s actually annoying her with his affections.

Note: This isn’t the same as saying she is not and never could be interested. If she feels nothing for the guy than his emotional validation actually means little. She feels (or has the capacity to feel) something, just not enough to forego all other opportunities.

For a lot of girls, once they have that emotional validation, they’ve already gotten everything they need from the romantic transaction. Foregoing other opportunities or engaging in romantic physical activity are costs that she doesn’t even have to bear. A lot of young ladies want more than validation, of course. A lot of young men want more than sex. Nonetheless, there is a not-insignificant portion of each population that is more singularly-minded and both genders should keep this into account.

The reason I can write with such confidence that the girl is interested in the guy and it’s not all a smokescreen for lack of interest is that various times when I’ve seen it happen the two do eventually get together. Importantly, though, this only happens after he has revoked his validation. Evangeline and Kelvin dated for two years before I ruined it. Tracey threw herself at my feet and for years said (to me and to others) that letting me go was the worst mistake that she had ever made.

I am not saying that these women are evil. Sometimes they don’t realize what they’re doing. Sometimes they do, but she just can’t seem to leverage any perspective with him hanging by so closely even as she doesn’t want him to go away.

Whether she admits it or not and whether he wants to or not, it seems to me that the best thing for the guy to do when he finds himself in reserve status is to go on his merry way. Do whatever it takes to move on. Stop seeing her, stop talking to her, find new friends. Whatever. She generally puts up a lot of resistance to this idea, partially because she loses that validation and partially because she likes him in some capacity (even if she’s unclear what that capacity is) and it hurts to see someone you care for go away and possibly hate you.

Prior to that worst case scenario, it really does pay for guys to be circumspect with their romantic intentions until they get some sort of reciprocation. I don’t mean never expressing interest, but I do mean never expressing interest more than one step ahead of what she has expressed and never stay on that limb for too long.

Category: Coffeehouse

Band members at Mayne High School were expected to wear a Mayne Mustangs Band shirt on gameday or before they were about to leave for a tournament or something like that. It was a pretty simple shirt with the Mustang logo on the left breast and the words Mustang Band written in a circle. For the most part the band members hated it. It singled them out as band people. A quarter of the school would be wearing the same damn shirt. Almost nobody was caught dead in one unless they had to wear it.

I can’t remember how I got a hold of one, but somehow I did. I had it in my regular shirt rotation and wore it quite frequently. People would periodically ask why I wore it or express surprise that I was in band because they’d never seen me before. When I explained that I wasn’t in band but that I liked navy blue and red and breast-logos shirts, I’d usually get a “cool”. The fact that I wasn’t in band made my wearing the shirt okay. Kinda cool, even. In the end I probably got more compliments on that shirt than any other shirt that I wore.

A while back, in response to something that I wrote a while back, Bob said:

You can put the Trumwill in Skidz, but you can’t take the slacks off of the Trumwill. Those things that identify us as losers aren’t the same things that cause us to be losers. Unfortunately, we don’t always appreciate this difference though. Pick-up guides focus on how to *display* high social value. They list attributes and tell you to do those things. Identify those people; watch them; do what they do. Fake it till you make it. (I’m sure there are some exceptions to this, but this seems to be a dominant theme.)

That is of course true. Often true, though is that context matters a great deal. For a mohawk to make a statement, it needs to be rare. My brother has a freckle on his ear where a piercing would be and when he was young he got a lot of looks because it appeared that his ear was pierced. Today, of course, a pierced ear is nothing. Doing the same thing carries a different meaning in a different context. It’s all contextual.

That’s one reason why it’s different when a popular kid wears something dorky than when a dorky kid does the same. For the former, it is adding an element of unpredictability or irony, whereas for the latter it’s simply reinforcing the existing negative perception. A cool kid wearing cool things reinforces positive perceptions about him whereas a dorky kid doing the same is adding an element of desperation and it just totally reeks of effort, which is (or was when I was young) a huge no-no.

This of course boxes the lower high school social classes into their station. Though it’s a risk to liken the man that won the popular vote to become the President of the United States as an outcast, I nonetheless have come to call this The Second Al Gore Dilemma. In 2000, Al Gore was in the position that he could either accept the perception of him being a square with edges made entirely of dull or he could try to change that and then most odiously reeking of effort. According to many in person Gore is a very warm and personable guy but he was effectively prevented from conveying that by popular perceptions.

The second aspect that makes it extremely difficult for lower people to become upper people simply by dressing the part is that there are all sorts of minutiae (if it’s even small, sometimes it’s huge) that someone that is not more intimately familiar with fashion does not know and that will frequently reveal him or her to be someone on the outside desperately looking in, which is about the only thing worse than someone simply slumming it on the outside.

As I was gradually making my way through school baseball caps and football jerseys were going the cycle from Cool to Standard to Banned. What’s to know about wearing a baseball cap? Well, for starters you have to get one of those expensive $20 official MLB caps instead of one of those with the weaved backs. I didn’t realize this and instead wore a Cane Buddies junior cap for the local Colosse Canes if I was wearing an MLB cap at all (and of course I wore it straight rather than cocked to the side). Likewise, my “jersey” wasn’t a jersey so much as it was a simple cotton fake jersey thing (and for the wrong team, to boot) and lo and behold it got me know headway on the popularity front. When I was in college, blue collar gas station shirts with foreign names on them like Habib or Ernesto were all the rage… but it was a no-no to tuck in your shirt as I always did. Being in college I was too old to care and I liked the shirts for a different reason (3 for $1! Relentlessly casual!), but had I been in junior high at the time it was devastating.

As a general principle, if the rules don’t sufficiently favor the haves over the have-nots new rules will be devised to close any loopholes. By the time people like me get caught up on a fashion it’s already on its way out. By the time lower class people can afford to move into a neighborhood the wealthier people are moving out. When a fat girl can look good in something the fashionistas will go out of their way to find something that only the thinnest 1/2 of 1% look good in and it will be the next big thing.

Category: School

All of these posts are kind of old, but Transplanted Lawyer had a host of good ones last may (one of which in response to a post here):

Age of Consent Laws

Some young people probably do have enough maturity to deal with sex; some people over the age of eighteen do not. The psychological factors that go into that sort of thing are astonishingly complex and functionally impossible for an objective third party to evaluate. That’s why the only possible way to handle the question of how old should we require someone to be before we agree that they can consent to sex of necessity must be totally and completely arbitrary. Maybe as a moral matter we can create constructs to handle particular situations, but as a legal matter it’s simply too big of a mess to ever be anything but an arbitrary distinction that often will have little relation to case-by-case realities. {…}

Eighteen years is as good an arbitrary age as any other reasonably young age one might come up with. Here’s why I think that — the age must of necessity be above the age at which one’s body attains sexual maturity, because the harm that the law seeks to avoid is mental, emotional. One needs some time to come to an understanding of what one’s body is capable of doing, and that takes practical experience, not theoretical knowledge, of what sexual maturity feels like. What does it feel like to be sexually aroused? You can read about it in a book all you like, but until you experience it, the descriptions don’t make any difference and aren’t particularly meaningful. So the law needs to set the line at some point late in adolescence. Eighteen years is an age by which we can be reasonably certain that most people will have entered puberty and picked up a few years’ worth of experience with their newfound sexual maturity and awareness.

I still disagree with TL on the subject in part because he has a lot more faith in judges (and prosecutors) than I do. In order for the judge to be able to look at the situation, it has to get to him. Many defendants will probably plead out simply because the judge has the ability to drop a two-story house on him. Particularly if he’s caught as having done it. It’s low-hanging fruit for prosecutors and there’s no telling how any given judge will read the situation.

No Heart Balm Here

If there was going to be a “heart balm” case, it would be Askew v. Askew (1994) 22 Cal.App.4th 942, referred to here by Eugene Volokh. Basically, the wife admitted that she lied to her fiance about loving him, being attracted to him, and enjoying sex with him. Based on his belief in her statements, he transferred five pieces of property that he owned individually into the marital estate. The couple then divorces and husband sues wife for fraud, asking the court to undo the dedication of the property into the marriage. The court says “no way,” because that sort of thing — even though, in a commercial context, it would obviously be fraud — it would open up a huge can of evidentiary worms for future courts to sort out.

This one is my favorite post of the three as it brought to my mind a subject that I hadn’t thought a whole lot about.

An Hour Of Traffic Court Will Do You Good

The first thing you might want to think about if you have to actually try your traffic ticket is — why would the cop lie? An unbiased traffic judge doesn’t start out thinking anyone is lying, and the police officer gets to testify first. That’s a powerful advantage for the state. The officer gets to set the stage, describing what was going on, and a well-trained officer uses that opportunity to explain why the defendant’s (alleged) misdeeds were dangerous. If you’re going to actually win on the testimony, you need to find some way of getting past that.

Secondly, given that the judge is not inclined to think that the cop is lying, simply contradicting the cop is, as a practical matter, not going to be enough to defeat the state’s burden of proof. Your testimony that the police officer was simply incorrect about something will not be credited. The officer has been to traffic patrol school, the officer is trained in observing traffic conditions and records his or her recollections very quickly after the ticket is written. You very likely have not done this. Therefore, the officer’s testimony about the circumstances of the ticket is likely to be credited over yours in the event of a simple red-light-green-light contradiction. {…}

I don’t particularly like finding people guilty of traffic violations. But it has to be done. I would like to find reasonable doubt if I can, and sometimes I ask searching questions of the officers to see if there is any doubt. But as a defendant, you have to give me something I can hang my hat on. You have to do something more than just say “Nuh-uh” when the police officer says you ran a red light, were speeding, or otherwise committed one of these infractions.

Ahhh, a subject near and dear to our hearts. I agree with TL that even in Ticket Towns the vast majority of the time the people that get pulled over were breaking the law. Sometimes the law simply exists to be broken (“Speed traps”) and sometimes not, but generally speaking there are too many people that are perpetually breaking the law for them to bother to trump up charges on people that are doing no wrong. As for the lack of incentive to lie… well there’s fundraising and the fact that most of the time there is little to nothing that we can do to refute what the cop has to say. There is unfortunately no real way for the system to tell when a cop is acting in good faith and when he isn’t.

Category: Courthouse

A while back I read about an attempt in San Fransisco to rename a sewage plant after our current president:

The measure, if passed, would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. McConnell said the intent is to remember the Bush administration and what the group sees as the president’s mistakes, including the war in Iraq.

Some people aren’t laughing, including the San Francisco Republican Party, which sees the measure as an embarrassment, even to this famously liberal city. Chairman Howard Epstein has vowed to fight the measure with all means available to him.

A White House spokeswoman, when asked about the measure several weeks ago, refused to comment.

My original thought was that it’s a disservice to a sewage plant to use it in such a derogatory political manner… but that actually gave me an idea.

If the Republicans were actually smart, what they would do is completely embrace the notion. If the local GOP embraced it, it’d fail. Perhaps better yet would be if they continued their objections right up until they passed it then have the President request a tour of the facilities. He could then give a speech on how important waste processing facilities are and how modern plumbing and waste material has perhaps had the greatest effect on our quality of life and longevity than any other individual thing. That would leave the Presidents opponents stammering “It is tooooo an insult! Is too, is too, is too!” and the whole thing will look about as childish as it is.

On the subject of naming things after presidents, the No Child Left Behind law resulted in one of the local high schools where I was living in Estacado being shut down. It’s going to reopen as a new school under a different name this fall. Its temporary name is Northside High School though they’re aiming to name it after somebody. Interestingly enough, they’ve pushed back the naming of the high school to November 7th, which is the first Friday after the presidential election. The high school is in the dominantly black part of town and I can’t help but wonder if they’re angling to be the first Barack Obama High School in the nation.

On a sidenote, I prefer the comment section of this post not become congested with commentary on how terrible/great Bush, Obama, or the NCLB act are. I’ve been considering a post on the lattest (though perhaps that would be more appropriate on Bobvis), but this post is about the naming of buildings and schools and whatnot.

Category: School, Statehouse

A while back I rendered aid to CG Hill and some of his commenters on an issue of Windows irritation:

It bubbles up from the System Tray on a seemingly-random basis: “You have unused icons on your desktop,” it scolds, while offering to invoke a Wizard to make things right. Click the X button to make it go away, and it comes back unchanged; wait a few more minutes and eventually it dissolves.

You can actually fix this with the following steps:

  1. Go to Desktop Properties by either right-clicking on the desktop or going through the Control Panel
  2. Click on the Desktop tab
  3. Click “Customize Desktop”
  4. Click checkbox that says “Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days”

It’s a matter of taste, of course, but I have an aversion to clutter on the desktop. But even if you don’t feel the same way, I have a suggestion.

Some of you are probably familiar with the Quicklaunch button. When Windows 2000 or Windows XP is initially installed, it usually has four or so icons on it (Internet Explorer, Show Desktop, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player, I think). As Microsoft gives it to you, it’s kind of an annoyance. But you can use it in a way that obviates the need for desktop clutter and even the Start Menu for the most part. If you set it up like I do, most likely you can have all of the applications that you use available at a single click.

Here is what to do:

  1. Right click on the Start Bar and either unlock it or make sure it is unlocked. Note that this step is unnecessary in Windows 2000.
  2. If the Quicklaunch Bar is not already on the Start Bar, right click, go to Toolbars, and click on Quicklaunch.

  3. Left click the bar to the left of the Quicklaunch icons and drag it to the right side of your screen so that it places against the side. You can do this along top or to the right, though if you do it to the right you will accidentally open programs when attempting to scroll
    Right click on empty spot on the Quicklaunch bar and say “Always on Top”
  4. Add shortcuts to all of the icons that you use on a regular basis by copying the shortcut over to the Quicklaunch Bar. You can find the icons in the Start Menu at {C:\Documents and Settings\-Your User Name Here-\Start Menu} and {C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu}. You can also right click to copy straight from the Start Menu, though this is a bit dexterity-requiring for me.
  5. Play around with it a few days. Try to use it. Once you start, it becomes really handy. If you like having access to it but don’t like the fact that it’s always visible, you can try using the auto-hide feature.

You can click on the image to the right to get a full view of what it looks like and how much space it takes. There’s no particular reason that my Start Bar is double-stacked except that I use a lot of applications and I like it that way.

Category: Server Room