Monthly Archives: May 2009

In the first part of this discussion, I come to the following conclusion:

An argument I reject, though, is the notion that the child support payments should be required on the basis not of fairness (it’s hard to argue that the cuckolded fellow deserves it… though some do make that argument), but rather because that’s what’s in the best interest of the child. It’s an argument that sounds solid (bulletproof, even) at the base of it, but it’s an argument that is frequently jettisoned in the name of practicality. In fact, rather than being based in the moral conviction it’s often clothed in, I think it’s mostly based on pragmatism. Somebody has to help the mother take care of the child. Might as well be this guy.

I go on to mention that one example of the “best interest of the child” taking a back seat is sperm donation.

According to Estacado state law, a sperm donor is not considered a legal parent unless he is married to the mother at the time of conception. I choose Estacado state law because that’s the state that I know because Clancy had to take a jurisprudence exam in an effort to get medical licensure there. I assume that to the extent that state law has caught up with fertility practice, most laws are probably along those lines. In some states it may be the case that as long as the father is known (at the time of conception) then the father is responsible. In no state that I am aware of are anonymous donors (even if later unveiled) expected to pay child support.

In the case of a traditional (“live”) conception, the law (as far as I am aware) takes the view that it does not matter what the circumstances were prior to conception, the father is the father and has all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to him. If a man and a woman signed a contract stating otherwise, that contract can be (always is?) declared void. If she takes the sperm from a spent condom, it doesn’t matter. I’ve even heard of cases where the woman was technically committing an illegal act when the child was conceived (he was not of the legal age of consent) and the father is still left on the hook (and oftenly I’m not sure that’s wrong since I frequently disagree with the underlying AOC law anyway).

The legal idea (as I understand it) behind contract nullification is that the child was not a party to the contract but was an interested party and therefore it is not valid. The other circumstances are probably in part for simplification (a man can always claim it was a stolen condom and how can she prove otherwise?) and in part the idea that the child did not get to choose the circumstances in which he or she was conceived and therefore his rights trump those of whatever agreement the parents reached.

Except for sperm donation. In that case, the child had no say in how he or she was conceived. He or she had no more say in what kind of home or financial situation he or she was brought into than any other child. But even setting aside financial support, we legally shield the kid from knowing who one of his parents even is.

From a practical standpoint, this is necessary. If the anonymity of donation is not preserved, the market for donors will dry up. The fear of a child rolling up on his doorstep in twenty years would scare the vast majority of them off. It would make finding a wife of their own harder if he came clean or cause damage to his marriage if he did not and the child found him. Though no jurisdiction has said so to date, the mere possibility that a donor could even theoretically be left on the hook for child support would scare men off. I personally think that men should be worried about these things anyway because I do think that at some point down the line a judge will declare that knowing one’s parentage is a civil right Even though it’s unlikely that child support would be an issue, the havoc wreaked would be significant.

So knowing that we cannot have a robust artificial insemination industry – and believing that having this is a good thing – without preserved anonymity and/or indemnity from child support payments, we treat this as different. This can lead to some tragic circumstances wherein after having donated the sperm a man might reconsider whether or not he wants to be involved (or simply know that it has been used), he does not have the ability to do so (again, as far as I know). A man that donates his sperm to a nice lesbian couple he knows would have no right to claim paternity in the future without the mother’s consent. He could come to regret that decision and it would be heartbreaking for him. But all in all, I think that the law has it right on this one. Men need to think long and careful before donating their sperm before assuming with certainty that they will want nothing to do with the results.

But there isn’t any good reason that I can think of as to why the law should, in the case of live conception, take one stance pretty consistently because it’s in the best interest of the child… then, in another circumstances, argue that a woman’s right to become pregnant by alternative means should trump the best interest of the potential child, which would include two parents and the financial support of them.

I am personally not in favor of the concept of “male abortion”, supported by some, which is that a man should have the right to forfeit all rights and responsibilities of a child that he doesn’t want. I can’t really get into why without discussing the abortion issue at length, and I would like to avoid getting into that mucky terrain. It does seem to me, however, that there ought to be an opt-out that two parents can agree to for live conceptions the same way that they they currently do so for artificial conception.

Sidenote: Much of this post could be moot if such provisions do exist, but I’ve never heard of it and I have pretty frequently heard the inverse. I’ve heard of cases where parental rights were waived but obligations remained in-tact. If I’m wrong about this, please cite where I am wrong and I apologize for wasting everyone’s time.

The most immediate problem with this waiver, from a government’s point of view (as well as a taxpayer’s), is that it’s possible that the government will have to pick up where the extant father left off. This does become less of an issue with artificial insemination because presumably if they have the money for that, then they have the money to take care of the child. But as Octomom has recently demonstrated, this is not necessarily so. Further, any parents aware enough to be drafting paternity-waiver contracts are also more likely to be more educated and have more resources than the average unenthusiastic set of parents.

I do see, however, some good to come out of such laws. It runs against stereotypes, but there are cases where women don’t want a man to wear a condom because it’s uncomfortable for her or otherwise impedes her enjoyment. Or maybe cases where he has difficulty performing with a condom and doesn’t want to risk conception (with the attendant obligations) and she wants to allay those because she is on the pill or is infertile. Some sort of waiver in that regard could be helpful. Right now he has no choice but to trust her or to abstain.

But I came upon this idea not as a way for men to opt out, but as a way for women to. I recently read an article from the perspective of a woman that took the adoption option and she mentioned that one of the hardships was that the father was reluctant to sign off. So my first thought was that he shouldn’t have to (if it’s the difference between abortion and adoption), but on second thought I do think that he should have a say. The problem with the status quo is that if you give him a say, then you are saddling her with responsibilities and in that sense encouraging women like her to abort. So I was thinking that it would be good if there were a way that the baby’s father could get dibs on his child before sending him to an agency and to absolve the woman of responsibility to disuade her from either aborting or putting the child up for adoption without his knowledge.

Several years ago I had a conversation with a young woman that had an abortion over the father’s objections. He offered to take full custody and after birth would require nothing from her (they weren’t a couple). She said that she would have carried to to term, but that he couldn’t make good on his promise. As it happens, I didn’t believe her protestations, but such things could happen. I know that if I had impregnated someone that wanted to abort, I would want to make whatever offer I legally could to prevent the abortion from happening. If her reasoning is that she can’t simply have the child and walk away, legally speaking, I’d like her to not be able to hide behind that rationale.

It’s possible to divorce the mother waiver from the father waiver, if that would be required. We could allow women to give the baby up to the father with no obligations while not giving men an “out” when they get a woman pregnant. The rationale would be breathtakingly simple: She carried the baby and she gave birth to it; she did her part.

Category: Courthouse

I finally got around to returning these dead hard drives to Seagate. This is months after doing the same for a couple dead hard drives from Western Digital. As mentioned, the difference in customer service between the two was truly remarkable.

And has yet become more remarkable still.

One of the many things about my service with WD was the fact that they charge me $200 for the hard drives to be refunded when I sent mine in. That they would take money out and put it back in is not unexpected. Nor is it unexpected that they would charge you more than you could get the drive elsewhere to compensate for their inconvenience. But the price they would have charged was 2.5x the cost of the drive at Newegg. It’s hard to paint that as anything but excessively punitive or ugly profiteering against those that either forget to send the drive in or fail to send it in a package meeting their onerous packaging requirements (requirements which WD’s packaging itself does not meet).

Even so, I expected something similar from Seagate. Maybe not $200, but something like $150 on a drive that I paid $120 for. Yesterday I found out that not only do they not take any money out of your account until the time-period to send your drive back in has lapsed, but worst-case scenario they charge you $82.50.

These are the same drives that I cannot find anywhere. I would gladly pay $83 for a few more of these drives. Completely worth it. It almost makes me want to call in a bogus RMA in the future and keep all the drives and let them take that money. I’ve been contemplating the best way to do that, but I can’t escape the feeling like I would be taking advantage of their good faith.

Category: Server Room

I can’t tell you how tired I get of discussions like this:

Originally, we did not have televisions because we always had something better to do. This to me is the first question to ask yourself with regard to watching television: Is there something better I could be doing – something better for me, for my family and household, for my community? As it turns out, the answer to that question is always yes. Even when we need to relax, there is always a better way to do it than in front of a screen of moving images pumping them directly into our minds…

These sorts of things often strike me as an easy way to establish moral superiority as much as anything else. Yes, there is always something better that we could be doing. That’s an enormously high threshold. My wife reads a lot of books. She could, instead of reading those books, be spending time talking with me or calling her parents or making new friends or volunteering in a soup kitchen. Yet it’s always television, which unlike books can be incorporated into a group activity (no, Book Groups don’t count), that gets called isolating. But if someone enjoys books, then adding books to the balance adds value to her happiness which in turn adds value to our happiness. It would be a problem if she read to the exclusion of everything else, just as it’s a problem if someone watches television to the exclusion of anything else. It’s one thing to say “we watch too much TV” which is, on the average, quite true. It’s another thing to say that there is never (or almost never) a time when you wouldn’t be better off doing something else.

While perhaps true in the abstract sense, it is also true of countless other things. Shouldn’t the person watching TV instead be reading a good book? Shouldn’t that person reading fiction be reading something more informative from the non-fiction section? Shouldn’t that person reading the non-fiction book about the Grand Canyon be going to see it for herself? Shouldn’t the person that spent all that money going to see the Grand Canyon have instead donated the money to charity and spent that time working in a soup kitchen? But again, it’s television that almost always gets tagged with this faulty reasoning. Sure, women that read trashy romance novels or men that read fantasy books might be nudged to read something a little more substantial, but the scorn ends up going to the dude watching television.

I spent about three years without watching television early this decade. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I had just lost patience with keeping up with shows week-in and week-out and was too lazy to get a VCR set up and then once I did too forgetful to record it every week and then once I was recording it too busy to watch it. Even prior to all that, the only television I watched was whatever my roommates made a point to watch. I can say, with all honesty, that foregoing television did not enrich my life! It wasn’t unbearable or anything. I wasn’t bored. I still had more things to do than time with which to do them. But it wasn’t a catalyst to going out and “loving” as Mr Shiffman would have it.

Quite the contrary: it was socially isolating. I didn’t have anything to say on a first date when asked what TV shows I watched. Conversations about the latest season of Survivor or the latest happenings on Friends or Seinfeld were conversations I couldn’t join in. The things I did in lieu of television had their social benefits, to be sure, but there really wasn’t any reason that I couldn’t do both. No reason why doing both would have cost me “love” in the world. More recently, I have stopped watching Lost, 24, Battlestar Galactica (two episodes from the end!), and Reaper as part of an ongoing effort to get my rear end posted on that exercise bike (where I would then watch the program). The result? A lot of conversations that I can’t participate in.

A good portion of the animus towards television has nothing to do with love or the love it deprives us. It has little to do with mental development. Mostly, it has to do with people that don’t get as much enjoyment and enrichment out of a popular media device getting a chance to feel a sense of superiority over people enjoying something that they don’t.

I understand the impulse. It’s sort of how I feel about video games when I’m not careful. To me, video games represent a huge time-suck of little lasting value. When people ask me what MMORPG’s I play and then ask me why I don’t play any, it’s all I can do to avoid saying “Because I have more important things to do with my life.” In truth, I don’t. I’m fiddling around on my computer, living in the world of my imaginative creations, watching TV in the background, and reading and writing blogs. These are things I get a lot out of. But I can’t really say that they should do the same (or something else other than big, bad video games) because it would make their life more fulfilling. They stand around talking about their Level Four Druids and communicate on that level the same way my brothers and I (who generally don’t have much in common) share our thoughts on The Office.

To those that say that society spends too much time watching television instead of doing other things, they’re probably right. While I would argue that a lot of the time spent “watching” TV is actually spent multitasking, spending hours and hours of watching television is probably not good for you (definitely not when you’re younger). But a good portion of the anti-TV crusade is ego-puffing. Often a chance to turn their social isolation into a sense of superiority. Sometimes, when espoused by those that do watch TV, they get a good thing to be self-critical about that they can still feel good about because they’re probably not as bad about it as the next guy.

Category: Theater

I heard that there was a new cop show called Southland. That, to say the least, piqued by interest. A cop show that takes place in the south? Sounds sweet! Then I read the discription:

This NBC drama puts the spotlight on the lives of police officers living and working in Los Angeles.

How could I ever thought it could be any different?

Speaking of TV geography, the last episode of My Name Is Earl has run and it sort of established Camden County as being in a border-south or border-north state that was around during the Civil War. My original guess for Camden County was that it was in Tennessee and this episode and the information but forth in the episode (that Camden County sided with neither the north nor the south during the Civil War) lends credibility to that theory. Tennessee was more divided than most states during the war. Kentucky and West Virginia are also possibilities, neither having sided with the south but moderly culturally identifying with the south regardless. Of course, Camden County, like the Simpson’s Springfield, doesn’t really have a state so it’s all rootless speculation.

I’m just glad that they didn’t decide to put it in rural California.

Category: Theater

Katie Allison Granju has a problem with homework. Her kid’s homework, that is:

Children today have so much homework every night, much of it very boring and/or quite demanding, that it certainly will become your problem… a problem you will dread and wrangle with almost every single night of your life for nine months of each year until your child graduates high school. Yes, it really is that bad. And it’s even worse if you have a HRK (homework-resistant kid), as two of mine are. If you wind up with an HRK of your own, you will spend many hours each week – at a time of day when you and your child are tired and ready to wind down and enjoy family time – cajoling, encouraging, threatening, and isolating your HRK in an ongoing battle of wills. It’s exhausting and irritating.

Seems like a part of the problem in the Granju household is the homework-resistedness of her kids. Not knowing her personally, it’s hard to say that the problem is that she is holding their hands through it, but it could be. Even for kids that aren’t HRKs and even if she wasn’t helping them, at what point does it become too much to ask kids to go to school for 7 hours a day and then come home and spend more time on school-related tasks?

Whether there is “too much homework” is a value-judgment. And it seems to differ from individual to individual. I remember I had a friend when I was in high school that never had time to do anything because she was always working on homework. It was ridiculous. She went to a good school but it was no better than mine. I don’t know if she was just assigned that much more of the stuff or if it had to do with time management. That’s another part of the problem. What’s too much for some is not enough for others. Not just because of different levels of intelligence, but different levels of conscientiousness and different levels of discipline.

I managed to avoid copious amounts of homework a few ways. First, my friends and I had to get to school about 90 minutes before the first bell to get a good parking space. Second, we had 30 minutes of “homeroom” that I spent working on homework. Third, I did homework during lunch. Fourth, I ignored the teacher and did homework while she was talking. So with all that, there usually wasn’t much that I had to take home with me.

A lot of the homework was pretty needless and the manner in which they would give it out irritating. For instance, when I was doing homework while the teachers were talking, I wasn’t doing their homework most of the time because they wouldn’t give us the assignment until the end of class. Instead, I’d do math homework during science, science during history, history during something else, and so on.

I’ve never been good at sitting there and being taught. I’m much better by having something briefly explained, showing me some examples, and giving me some problems. It would have been nice if I’d been able to work on math while the teacher was talking so that I could run into my problems and check with her at the end of class. Instead, I would only discover the question when I was in science class. Maybe I could have avoided if it I’d listened to the teacher, but even if I hadn’t been working on my homework my mind would have been wandering and I would have been thinking about comic books or TV or something.

Some people, though, aren’t like me. They need to be taught. I understand that. But the practice of teachers of assuming that we were all like that was really quite aggravating. I’m sure, though, it saved them the aggravation of people doing their homework during class and asking questions that were already covered while the teacher was being ignored. Even so, I think that there ought to be some sort of balance between instruction time and trying-to-figure-it-out-on-your-own time. At my school there was next to none.

I am reminded of a couple of friends that got In School Suspension for one reason or another. The basic premise behind ISS was that you would be isolated from the general student population. Day-long study-hall, basically. My friends loved it. Not only were they not being pestered by bullies and distracted by classroom attention-seekers, but they’d get all of their assignments and homework at the beginning of the day and would be done within two or maybe four hours. Then they could do whatever the heck they wanted. No homework!

It’s pretty sad when it’s more desirable to be isolated from one’s classmates and stripped of teacher instruction than to have homework and listen to the teachers talk. And it just goes to show how much time is being wasted day in and day out in school. That’s the big problem I have with homework. It’s a symptom. President Obama wants to lengthen the school year. I’m not opposed to the idea, but I would feel much better if our schools made better use of the time that they have.

Category: School

In case you were wondering, this stuff is downright frightening in person.

As in to say: the grease literally drips right off it in front of you, and the smell is nauseating.

Category: Kitchen

Lauren Barack announces that, to her, non-necessities are necessities:

My mother would raise an eyebrow at my bimonthly $200 hair highlighting, my $28-per-week coffee fix and my new dependency on $10 organic, grapefruit-scented hand wipes. And, yes, they fall outside the category of true essentials — a place to live, food to eat, clothes to keep out the chill.

To her credit, she’s trying to keep her eye on the ball. She has even gone so far as forego a flat-screen TV! In all seriousness, we all have frivolities that we like to spend what money we have. As long as we recognize them as just that and are prepared to give them up as circumstances warrant, there’s nothing wrong with that.

I did get a kick out of this, though:

On a recent run to the drugstore (Band-Aids, paper towels, dental floss) Harper spied a battery-powered Hello Kitty toothbrush and brought it to me with a breathless catch in her voice that I recognized from my own.

“Mama, please!”

I took a close look at this candy-colored cartoon character, a dual-headed number that promised to clean my child’s teeth in a whirling vortex of bliss. It was $7.99. Then I glanced at the much more practical, soft-bristled, sad little substitute, which had the unfortunate luck of being stocked next to its superstar cousin. It was perfectly adequate and $2.99.

This seems like a very odd place to crimp. First, she’s sacrificing on behalf of her daughter. A whopping $5 for an instrument that’s going to last six months and might give her a little pleasure doing one of those unpleasant things that kids don’t want to do. She was doing better with the whole flat-screen TV bit. On the other hand, I think that it is good to look at the little things because they can add up. I got a kick out of it because of the part that came before, though:

I get that. I know I should put away as much money as possible — for my retirement and for my daughter Harper’s college years. By the time she’s a freshman, the cost of a bachelor’s degree at a private university could add up to nearly $300,000, according to the College Board, a nonprofit group of educational institutions. At the rate we’re saving, I am not sure we’ll have put away quite that much. We’re trying.

As my father is inclined to say… I have an idea!

I recognize that a degree from a public university in the northeast does not carry as much weight as one from anywhere else in the US might. Even so, I am willing to bet that for less money than that there is some public university that she could go to. Even out-of-state tuition would very likely be cheaper. If she goes off to the University of Florida, she’ll be well-positioned in the job market of a growing state. Now, if little Harper has a shot at Harvard or one of a couple other select universities, then you take a serious look at biting the bullet. But if her grades are good enough, a lot of universities will waive out-of-state tuition and if she can make National Merit Scholar Finalist a hundred or so universities nation-wide will give her a free ride.

Allowing her go to a good local private school would certainly be nice. But I find it bizarre that in an article about pinching pennies and seeking out unnecessary expenditures, that she would tout an expensive private school as a more responsible use of that money.

Of course, a degree from the University of Florida would make it less likely that her girl will be able to truck it on up to Manhattan and bust her way into the writing world like her mother did. Speaking of living in Manhattan, I have another idea…

Category: School

A little while back Mark Ragnerus wrote a piece in the Washington Post that got a lot of response. The question is whether it’s good for society that we marry later and later. Ragnerus thinks not:

Third, the age at which a person marries never actually causes a divorce. Rather, a young age at marriage can be an indicator of an underlying immaturity and impatience with marital challenges — the kind that many of us eventually figure out how to avoid or to solve without parting. Unfortunately, well-educated people resist this, convinced that there actually is a recipe for guaranteed marital success that goes something like this: Add a postgraduate education to a college degree, toss in a visible amount of career success and a healthy helping of wealth, let simmer in a pan of sexual variety for several years, allow to cool and settle, then serve. Presto: a marriage with math on its side.

Too bad real life isn’t like that. Marriage actually works best as a formative institution, not an institution you enter once you think you’re fully formed. We learn marriage, just as we learn language, and to the teachable, some lessons just come easier earlier in life. “Cursed be the social wants that sin against the strength of youth,” added Tennyson to his lines about springtime and love.

A lot of the debate over whether or not Ragnerus is right or wrong depends on how stridently you believe that he makes his case. A lot of the people making the most pointed criticisms say that he’s arguing that people need to just find the nearest partner and get married (no, he’s not). A lot of Ragnerus’s defenders are saying that he’s only making the point that people that are in loving, committed relationships should not put off marriage (no, he’s saying a lot more than that).

Ragnerus’s point, as I read it, is that society has decided that marriage is something that comes after we’ve had our years of self-discovery and have established ourselves independently and that this is not a positive social development. This nebulous concept of self-discovery doesn’t help and may hurt long-term marriage prospects when it takes up prime reproductive years and that it can make us less amenable to the bonding that marriage should entail because we have already so firmly established ourselves as individuals.

I am of a mixed mind as to whether or not Ragnerus is right. When I was living in the Mormon west, I got to see an American subculture that is as Ragnerus wants it to be. Marriage is utmost on the concerns of people years before it is in the urban and suburban south where I came from. Deseret’s rates of marriage success and failure is midling, which is impressive when you consider the frequency of marriage out there and the young age at which people get married… but it also makes the case that strong social institutions and young marriages are not enough to “save” marriage.

My main objection to Ragnerus is that even if he is right and that it would be better if we all married younger, such a cultural shift would be very hard to institute. Ragnerus himself notes that there is a stigma to younger marriage (Deseret being a conspicuous exception). An individual that decides to buck this trend needs to find another individual deciding the same. They’re going to be looking for things that their contemporaries are not. If you’re a 21 year old looking for marriage, unless you’re Mormon (or similarly religious) or in a sub-culture where college degrees are scarce, you’re going to scare people away with talk like that.

Beyond that, young people today simply aren’t equipped to find a life partner at that age. They often don’t have a clear idea of what to look for. Tell a 21-year old to start looking for a wife and he will probably use the same criteria he uses to find a girlfriend. That has the potential for a lot of problems.

On the other hand, if you tell them at 18 that they need to find someone by 23, you’re likely to get better results. They’re more likely to start appraising people more on their marry-worthiness rather than how hot, exciting, or fascinating they are. Then the trial and error of the college years may well produce people with a much better idea of what they want and don’t want when they get married. Right now, the college and post-college years are spent pursuing people that they want to be with either in a casual sexual relationship or a tentatively exclusive one. In the latter case, the sort of relationship where marriage might happen someday, but there’s no rush and it’s more about enjoying the here-and-now.

A lot of my thoughts on this (of course) go back to my own experiences. I almost got engaged at the age of 22 or so and that marriage would not likely have been a happy one. Further, my partnership with Julie was not founded on how hot or exciting she was. The criteria I used was the criteria everyone is told to use when looking for a spouse. She was pretty, but she was also warm (to me at any rate), loving, kind, loyal, likely to be a good mother for future children, and so on. Had I acted on those impulses, though, it would have been disastrous because she was lacking other things that I didn’t realize were important. It was when I was gearing up to engage that the sheer horror of our future together started to set in.

So the question I ask myself, when considering Ragnerus’s proposition, is whether or not in a society that pushes young marriages I would have gone forward. Two years in, things were wonderful for us and I might just have plunged ahead. If so, then I cannot possibly endorse Ragnerus’s ideas. But it’s also possible that had I been keeping an eye on marriage from the start, it’s possible that I would have noticed everything that was missing from our equation and moved on a lot more quickly, looking for my future Clancy or whoever else I might have ended up with. It was, after all, the notion of marrying her that dislodged her from my life. But those observations were made in a social atmosphere where becoming engaged at 22 or 23 was considered foolhardy despite over four years of couplehood.

I go back and forth.

One last thing to mention is that some people are saying that people shouldn’t get married until they are personally ready and that this should be considered a personal, not a cultural, issue. I disagree with this pretty strongly. First off, as I mentioned above, if you’re going against the grain you’re likely to have a lot more difficulty finding a partner. Second, as Ragnerus notes, peer pressure is a huge issue.

It’s a lot less to be in a committed relationship when none of your friends are. It was a real issue in my life during the Julie years. My friends were all talking about going out and finding someone and who they were interested in and all that and there I was at the table with little to contribute because I’d already found someone. That didn’t play any significant role in my leaving Julie, but it did contribute to the notion that I was missing out on someone much better out there and at least I was missing out on going out with the guys and doing single guy things. Now, as it turned out, I was missing out on someone better (Hi, Clancy!). But I am pretty sure I would have had those feelings even if I hadn’t been. But now, here I am nearly a decade later, and most of my friends are also married or cohabitating with someone that they are likely to marry. It would suck, suck, suck to be single now… at a time when our marriages (and such) are part of our common experience.

Category: Coffeehouse

Being a big fan of Kafka as well as having some bad airport experiences recently, this may well be the funniest Onion video I have seen to date. It’s not often I actually lose control of my laughter.

Prague’s Franz Kafka International Named World’s Most Alienating Airport

Category: Server Room

And so the Supreme Court loses its only Episcopalian.

The most recent Episcopalian on the court, other than Souter of course, did not leave the court so much as the church. Clarence Thomas converted to Catholicism.

If the newly outgoing Episcopalian is also replaced by a Catholic (albeit this time in the form of a different person), the Catholic influence over the church extends to 2/3 of it.

The count right now is presently 5-2-2 with 5 Catholic, 2 Jewish, and 2 protestant Justices. Soon to be one protestant. That one protestant is John Paul Stevens. Next to Ginsberg, he’s the most likely to create the next vacancy on the court.

There are not many institutions where protestants can feel so underrepresented. Indeed, it’s conceivable that by the end of Obama’s first administration, the court could be entirely Catholic and Jewish.

As far as bean counting goes, Obama probably has two concerns. First, we still have no Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. So if he goes that route, it’s as likely as not that we will get that 6th Catholic (though, notably, the 1st Catholic not to be a part of the conservative coalition on the court). However, we also only have one woman on the court. So if he finds himself a non-Hispanic woman, there’s a pretty good chance that she’s going to be a protestant.

Maybe even an Episcopalian.

Category: Courthouse