Monday, November 29, 2004

Good/Bad of the Morning

Good: Waking up on time even though I only got ~3-3.5 hours of sleep.

Bad: Half way through my shower, learning that the hot water is short-lived this morning.

Good: Encountering hot water when I begin to shave.

Bad: Half way through shaving, learning that this hot water too is short-lived.

Good: Getting to work early/on-time.

Good: After checking my law school e-mail, learning that my afternoon Crim. Pro. class is cancelled. WoW here I come!

The Purported Failure of the Living Will

CNN -- Living wills not always a clean solution:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Patients checking into hospitals and clients meeting with their lawyers often are advised to take a simple step toward planning for the future: fill out a living will.

But the reality is, too often, they don't really work.

The concept is straightforward: outline your wishes while you're healthy to guide doctors and family members who might have to make life-or-death decisions for you later on. Would you want to linger in a vegetative state if it were unlikely you'd ever wake up? Or would you rather be allowed to die?

But end-of-life medical questions often involve much more complicated medical and moral questions. Many living wills are so vague as to be useless.
A will might direct that no "extraordinary measures" be used if someone's condition is hopeless. But what is an extraordinary measure? And what is hopeless? If there's a 10 percent chance a treatment will extend someone's life by six months, is that good enough? Should an end-stage Alzheimer's patient, whose life is greatly diminished but still has moments of joy, be given antibiotics to treat an infection that otherwise might bring a quicker end?

There are other problems. People change their minds after they write their living wills but don't update them. Many living wills never make it to the bedside, left in a file cabinet or safety deposit box. And family and doctors often do a poor job of deciphering the patient's wishes even when they have the wills in hand.

"Most people believe that a living will can be written that is effective and that genuinely conveys real information that can be used in making decisions, and that is not true," said Carl Schneider, an expert in medical law at the University of Michigan Law School.

Since 1990, hospitals have been required in most states to offer all patients the chance to fill out a living will. But despite the law and despite several high-profile end-of-life legal disputes, most people still don't have living wills.

"Enough. The living will has failed, and it is time to say so," Schneider and colleague Angela Fagerlin wrote in a bioethics journal, the Hastings Center Report.

Relying on loved one is preferred, studies find

A better end-of-life option, experts say, is to give a trusted loved one the legal authority to make decisions if you become incapacitated. Two large studies found more than 70 percent of people would prefer that doctors rely on family rather than living wills in making decisions about their care.

This has its own problems -- the designated decision-maker may not understand what the patient's wishes are, and picking one person to make decisions could cause tension inside a family.

The stereotypical conflict, doctors and nurses say, comes when the adult child arrives from out of town feeling guilty he hasn't spent more time with his parent and resists steps to end the parent's life, even as a brother or sister who lives nearby says this is what the parent wanted.

Still, experts say designating someone to make decisions allows for more flexibility than living wills.

Another choice that holds less legal weight but perhaps more influence: thoughtful conversations in advance with your regular doctors.
The questions have become more acute as medical advances have given doctors unprecedented ways to prolong life. At the same time, a series of high-profile legal disputes over whether to end medical treatment have prompted more people to consider putting their wishes explicitly into writing.

This fall, the Florida Supreme Court struck down a law that reconnected the feeding tube of Terri Schiavo, 40, who was severely brain damaged 14 years ago. (Florida high court ruling)

The Schiavo dispute pits her husband, who says she wouldn't want to live this way, against her parents, who want to keep her alive. Schiavo did not have a living will. (Judge extends feeding order)

Another hurdle: Persuading doctors

But doctors don't always follow a patient's instructions even when they are clear. Sometimes the document doesn't accompany the patient. Or the doctor fears litigation or simply disagrees with a patient's wishes.

Jeanne and James Hanchett thought they were prepared. Both physicians, they had filled out living wills saying they did not want extraordinary treatments. Each had given the other legal power to make medical decisions.

While watching his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play at Three Rivers Stadium, James Hanchett's head fell onto his wife shoulder. Mrs. Hanchett and bystanders tried to revive him. "There was no response at all," she said.

Paramedics arrived about 25 minutes after he suffered the heart attack and put a tube into his lungs to get them moving again. But Mrs. Hanchett, a semiretired pediatrician, knew it was too late.

At the emergency room, she told the doctor to stop resuscitation attempts. He refused, saying, "'If it were my mother or wife, I would want this to continue,"' Mrs. Hanchett recalled.

She said the doctor dismissed her when she told him that her husband had a living will and that she had power of attorney.

"So I turned on my heel and walked out. I didn't want to start screaming and yelling. I had to call our children," she said.

It was 29 hours before she succeeded in persuading doctors to remove the equipment.
So much to respond to. I'll try to hit them in the order presented and with bolded and underlined headers.

Vagueness: Part of the problem may be that lawyers prefer vague language. We do. Wiggle room is a grand thing if you can make it work. Hence phrases like "extraordinary measures" and "hopeless." Vague phrases that insinuate a nebulous meaning. One way to combat this element is to change the specific language. For example, instead of "extraordinary measures" maybe one should use "extraordinary measures such as CPR or..." Explain the meaning a bit more to more clearly establish the intent behind the phrase. This seems like a drafting problem to me, primarily residing on the lawyer's end though a common set of interpretative phrases would also make this easier. That is, establish common meanings for common phrases. This too would reduce or eliminate the doubt and uncertainty.

Updating Living Wills: This complaint is a poor one. A failure to update a living will rests squarely on the individual concerned. Just as with wills, should you change your mind you must update the document in order to clearly establish your intentions and have them effected. If you don't update the document, don't expect it to reflect your true intentions and don't expect that your intentions will be accurately followed. Gee, was that so difficult? I don't think so.

Access to Living Wills: This is a failure of the system. If doctors are looking for valid directions to follow and lawyers (and their clients) are attempting to draft valid directions for the doctor to follow, the intersection of these two seems obvious and predictable. It's borderline amazing that we as a society don't have an established connection between them. Perhaps its time to implement a national system to address this shortcoming. It wouldn't have to be anything real fancy or complicated. Set up an online database of living wills and powers of attorney. Make the database accessible only to specific hospital employees and doctors. Allow lawyers and their clients to access the database and upload the documents. Yes, I've skipped over a few of the problems. You would need some sort of authentication or verification step on the uploading end to prevent tampering with the documents. Perhaps this can be accomplished by requiring that copies of the original, paper documents be sent to the company. You would also need some sort of official recognition of the system, to enable hospitals to properly rely on the documents within the system. You would also need some sort of control, if possible, on the hospital's end to reduce unwanted and unnecessary access of the system. I.e. Something to try and prevent people from looking up their relatives' or friends' documents without due cause. And the system would need to be safe and secure against unwanted hacking, to enable it to be recognized and accorded respect. Still, it seems doable with the right investment and structure. Plus it could require a small fee for uploading documents. That way the system could become self-sufficient and possible. I have little idea of how to earnestly implement this idea but if someone else is interested, send me an e-mail. It could have potential and could potentially be very helpful and desirable.

Relying on a Loved One: To me, this seems like a one-sided aspect. If the individual would like a loved one, and a particular one at that, to make decisions concerning the individual's health care, the individual should specify that intention in a living will or, more appropriately, a power of attorney. This is not a catch-all nor truly a significant aspect of the living will but rather a choice for the individual when considering this topic. It's an option, not a solution.

Advance Conversations With Your Doctor: This, too, is an option and not a solution. Again, should the individual wish that his or her doctor make choices on his or her behalf or effect the individual's intentions, this should be made clear in the living will or power of attorney.

Persuading Doctors: This parallels the access issue discussed above. Doctors need to have some mechanism by which they can rely on documents produced. As it stands, it appears that no such mechanism exists, perhaps with the exception of waving the document in the doctor's face. Even then, the doctor may be loathe to follow its directives, especially if they are at odds with the doctor's personal beliefs or goals. This is a failure of the system, of the interaction between the legal documents and the medical community. Although it relates to living wills, this particular "problem" lies more in their effect than their existence and may be addressed and "fixed."

The Living Will Has Failed: In my opinion this conclusion is patently wrong. The living will has not failed, we have failed to ensure that these documents are accorded proper treatment. Much as society has implemented devices such as wills and trusts to address certain legal aspects in advance of their occurence, living wills do the same. If we as a society want these documents and want them to have a legally-binding and not insignificant effect, we must address their "failings" and ensure that they are accorded the respect they deserve. Why the author of the CNN piece, and others, have interpreted this to mean the documents should be or have become entirely inefficacious is beyond me. I see it as a failure of the system, and of the government, that can rather easily be addressed should we so chose.


I've purposefully delayed posting this for at least a week, fyi.

I don't know that I've mentioned it before but I do work (part-time) for a law firm and have been there since Summer of my first year (almost 1 1/2 years now). I will not name the firm or respond to any inquiries therefor, thereof or there____.

But I do want to comment that it's quite strange to come in on a Monday morning for a few hours and watch the managing partner, a lawyer and two paralegals leave. And I mean leave as in give-their-notice-and-quit leave. It's also strange to later hear that another partner will also be leaving at the end of this year. Fairly unnerving and unsettling, especially as I don't have an offer yet.

Monday Morning Roundup

Quite a few things here and I don't feel like breaking them up into separate posts.

First, I hope y'all had a nice holiday! Mine was okay. The usual. I'm contemplating a post on my grandparents (really my grandfather) sometime soon. I'd do it now except I ran across at least 6 other things to post on.

Btw, I'm not from the South. I only use the phrase "y'all" in an online context, e.g. e-mails, the blog and the like. I never, repeat, never use it in day-to-day conversation. I think it would sully my mouth.

I forgot one BIG critique for World of Warcraft. (And I'm too lazy right now to link up my previous 2 posts on the game.) The character creation. I've played a few MMOGs, namely Dark Age of Camelot, Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, City of Heroes, and Asheron's Call 2 (beta). Wow has the worst, again repeat, worst character customization of all. The choices you can make on your character are not only limited but the characters end up looking moderately ugly! As a human male your face will resemble all other human males. Period, Q.E.D., end of story. Very annoying. Especially when coming from games like SWG, Second Life and CoH which all offer insane amounts of character customization. Then again, if that's the worst aspect of WoW, it's more than bearable.

I got my WoW Paladin, Belic on Argent Dawn (US East RP Server), up to 13th Season and 65-some Blacksmithing. I'm just now going to take him out of the starting region (Ellwyn) and start exploring Westfall. Sometime I'll make the trek up to Ironforge. Thus far I'm loving the Paladin class. Rather versatile and pretty darn strong. My only complaint is that he won't be able to pull monsters. That is, he won't have a ranged attack to use in order to draw an enemy monster to him. Kind of annoying and strange but manageable. At some point I'll probably try out a Druid and/or a Warlock but not until I get Belic fairly high so he can supply money and items as needed.

I've also reconnected (or started to reconnect) with my 2 old DAOC guilds, namely The Enclave and The Stonecutters (link pending as it is not easily remembered). I chose Argent Dawn so I could meet up with The Enclave again. Good group of players, very helpful. They're pretty much the reason I was able to really get into Dark Age of Camelot. If anyone out there is interested, come on over to Argent Dawn (Alliance) and look me up. I'll help you out as I can. Plus I'm sure you can join up with the guild if interested.

As a helpful update and self-directed reminder, movies I'll likely see soon: Spongebob, Christmas With the Kranks and Alexander (maybe).  Opening this Friday there's Closer and House of Flying Daggers.  On Dec. 8 there's Blade Trinity; Dec. 10 is Ocean's Twelve; Dec. 17 is Spanglish, The Aviator (won't see) and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; and Dec. 22 is Meet the Fockers and Flight of the Phoenix (won't see).

Also tomorrow sees the video/DVD release of Spider-Man 2. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow since I absolutely loved the movie. Saw it twice in the theater this Summer. Well worth purchasing and probably my vote for best movie of the Summer. Where Spider-Man annoyed and bothered me, Spider-Man 2 remedied and remediated. (Peter Parker of the comics would never, never have said "no" to M.J. Seriously!!!) I can't wait for the third installment, especially given where the second left off! Man, I'm almost drooling in anticipation.

Another self-reminder to do a post on subsequent releases of Special Edition DVDs.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Extended Edition) is finally making it to DVD soon. I don't have the exact date but it might be tomorrow. If not, it's sometime in the next month. I can't express (or maybe I can) how annoyed I am that they delayed the Extended Edition release by ~1 year. Truly annoying. I have the Extended Editions of the first two and refuse to purchase anything other than the like for the third. I have to say, the Extended Editions are well worth the extra money and not just for the bonus material, rather more so for the extra footage in the films. It adds even more depth to the story, if that's possible. Very nice.

I think that's everything except for the 2 CNN pieces that follow. (And the subsequent, separate post on another CNN piece.)


Julia Roberts [37] gives birth to twins:
Roberts, who is married to cinematographer Daniel Moder, delivered Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder at a hospital in Southern California [on Sunday morning], said Marcy Engleman.


Daughter turns in dad who called police on her:
NEWARK, New Jersey (AP) -- A father's attempt to teach his daughter a lesson about drinking backfired when the teen led police to a stash of drugs and weapons inside their home.

Kevin Winston, 46, called police at 2:45 a.m. Friday after his 16-year-old daughter came home drunk and unruly. When police arrived, however, the girl told them she feared for her safety because her father stored drugs and weapons in the home.

The girl led officers to a crawl space above the ceiling where they found four semiautomatic guns and more than 600 vials of cocaine.

Winston was charged with numerous weapons and drug charges. His five daughters were placed in the custody of a relative.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. And let the parent who has things to hide not be the one to call the police. Just incredible. You can practically smell the irony.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

WoW Rather Nice So Far!

As noted yesterday, World of Warcraft came out. I've played for 4-5 hours so far and hit level 7 out of 60. Here are my thoughts so far, given that I haven't even gotten out of the beginning areas yet.

First off, the interface is very intuitive and easy to use (pretty much unlike any other MMORPG I've played before). The game is fun and easy to navigate. There's an in-game map so you won't get lost. All of the item stats are easy to follow and easily noted. You have a rather limited inventory, only 16 slots to start, but you can equip up to 4 additional containers (bags). The tradeskills are easy to use although resource gathering will be a bit annoying as the nodes are randomly instanced in the world, as you play. Unlike Star Wars Galaxies, though, I don't see resource quality affecting product (yet at least) so that's nice if it's true. I've only played a human paladin so far but the downtime isn't bad and the game is fun. The only problem nowadays is lag and server population. As time passes and we move further away from the release, I anticipate this problem diminishing.

Btw, if you can stomach the cost ($50 up front, $13-15 per month), this is a good starter-MMORPG. The system requirements are a little high. My computer is at the low end but it still plays okay and is playable. I'll report back again when I've gone deeper in the game, possibly with some class-specific advice and notes.

(Official WoW Site) ( (WoW Vault) (WoW Stratics)

ADDENDUM: Of course the World Server (whatever that may be) is offline and I cannot play at the moment.

Also, don't be surprised if there are no new posts until the weekend due to the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving! [5:42 PM]

I Heart Huckabees Heartfelt But Frustrating

I Heart Huckabees was my Tuesday afternoon movie. Stars Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Dustin Hoffman, Lily Tomlin, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, and Naomi Watts. Written by David O. Russell and Jeff Baena, directed by David O. Russell.

Yahoo! Plot Summary:
This ensemble comedy is about a married couple, the Jaffes (Hoffman, Tomlin), who work as detectives, helping people solve existential crises in their lives. For those not familiar with the philosophy-based term of "existential crisis", some examples of such a crises would be a "mid-life crisis", a "what am I doing with my life?" sort of hang up, "my life has been a mistake", "my whole life is a joke", etc. Their first client in this movie is Albert Markovski (Schwartzman), who is experiencing angst because of his position at Huckabee's, a popular chain of retail stores. Investigating his workplace, the Jaffes take on one of Albert's coworkers, Brad Stand (Law) as a client as well, which leads them to investigate his girlfriend, Dawn Campbell (Watts), who is the spokesmodel in the Huckabees TV commercials. Meanwhile, Albert teams up with an existential firefighter (Wahlberg) and a French radical (Huppert) out of frustration with the idea that the Jaffes are helping the very man who seems to be part of Albert's existential crisis.
Although billed as an existential comedy, this movie is really just existentially confusing. It gets caught up in its own philosophy, repeatedly tripping over itself in its quest to say something that it doesn't get across. As much as Sideways (review) tackles weighty, deep subjects in an easy to follow, calm, collected manner, I Heart Huckabees does not. The movie can be boiled down to the question: Is there meaning to life or not? And it doesn't provide any answer or insite in its rushed attempt to tackle the topic.

Can you feel me tripping over my own words in an attempt to explain why this movie just didn't quite work as it meant to? For crying out loud, I almost fell asleep in the middle!

I can't say I truly enjoyed this movie because it really didn't say anything or go anywhere. You may feel like life has a purpose, an underlying connection, or you may feel like life is random and chaotic, meaningless. That's it. To produce a confusing movie that neither directly confronts the interrelation between these concepts nor indirectly suggests any conclusion regarding them is an exercise in futility, much as watching it is.

I'm really not trying to say "don't go see it." Rather, I want you to understand that I'm honestly frustrated with the film and pretty confused about its goals and direction (or lack thereof). It was far too existential for its own good. That's about the punchline.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Maybe Theater-Worthy, maybe Rental-Worthy, maybe not.

The Grudge Will Give You A Grudge having spent the money to see this lousy thing. (Maybe.)

The Grudge (Yahoo! Movies) was the second of my double-viewing on Monday afternoon. It stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and features Jason Behr, William Mapother, Clea DuVall, KaDee Strickland, Grace Zabriskie, Bill Pullman, Rosa Blasi, Ted Raimi, Ryo Ishibashi, and Yoko Maki. Directed by Takashi Shimizu and produced by Sam Raimi.

Generic Yahoo! Plot Summary:
The Grudge is the curse of one who dies in the grip of a powerful rage. Those who encounter this murderous supernatural curse die and a new one is born, passed from victim to victim in an endless, growing chain of horror.
More specific IMDB Plot Summary:
Kare Davis (SMG) is a woman residing in Japan with her boyfriend, who is studying abroad. Temporarily assigned to be caretaker for a woman (Grace Zabriskie) with severe sleeping conditions, Kare goes to an unsuspecting house. But what she finds, is something she would never expect. The house is plagued by the presence of murderous ghosts, the result of a curse. The curse is born from someone dying in a powerful rage. Now, Kare finds herself being tormented by that curse, as it eventually starts claiming it's victims.
Here's the deal. If you ignore some of the minor (imo) plot holes and just soak in the unnerving atmosphere and creepy vibe, it's an okay-to-sub-par horror flick. However, overall, it's tripe. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the vibe and how I absolutely loathed the two, but the movie itself isn't very good. The plot-continuity leaves a lot to be desired as does the acting and order of scenes presented. (E.g. You're shown Gellar, the house post-some killings, then shown the killings, then shown other ones, then it goes back to Gellar... Not linear by any means and certainly not intuitive.)

Apparently this was an American, bastardized version of a hit Japanese film. Supposedly, the original Japanese movie is good or maybe great. But this p.o.s. that I saw just reeks. I recommend you avoid it at all costs. Not worth the money, not worth your time, not worth the ink this is written in. Heck, I'm a fan of SMG (Go Buffy!) and she wasn't even close to being enough to make this movie worthwhile. Really, avoid it like the plague.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Won't see again for the rest of my life if I can possibly help it.

After the Sunset Is a Bright Light

Okay, okay, the puns are getting worse.

I took in After the Sunset (Yahoo! Movies) as the first in a double-viewing on Monday afternoon. It stars Pierce Brosnan, Salma Hayek, Woody Harrelson, Don Cheadle, Naomie Harris, and Chris Penn.

IMDB Plot Summary:
Two master thieves (Brosnan and Hayek) are finally retiring after one last succesful mission. Residing in their own tropical paradise, their old nemesis, FBI Agent Stan P. Lloyd (Harrelson) shows up to make sure they really are retired. Docked in the port is a ocean liner called the "Diamond Cruise" and Stan is convinced that they're not really retired at all, and that this is the next set up. While Lola (Hayek) is busy settling into their new life and trying to find ways to keep busy, Max (Brosnan) is contemplating whether or not to steal the diamond. Now the question is, will he? Will Stan finally catch him after eight years of chasing him? Will Lola help Max steal it? And what of that shady character that has told Max he must steal the diamond for him?
This was a fun movie. It was entertaining, engaging and kept me interested right through the end. The plot isn't terribly deep though it has its fair share of twists and turns. There's a lot of sexual tension, between the two thieves and then between the two police, that makes things even more interesting. All in all, not a very deep movie but a very enjoyable one. As long as you're not expecting some huge blockbuster or philosophical poignancy and just go in looking to see a good heist movie, you should enjoy it.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Theater-Worthy, maybe DVD-Worthy.

Shadow Hearts Covenant a Sweet PS2 RPG

I picked up Shadow Hearts Covenant (Shadow Hearts 2) a little over a week ago. It's a PlaySTation 2 Roleplaying Game and a rather nice one at that.

A brief bit on my RPG background. I loved Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation, the one that revived the FF series. Using a strategy guide, I spent over 70 hours on that one in college, getting all the limit breaks and ultimate weapons, etc. An amazing game. I also played through Star Ocean for the PS2, noting the differences between it and FFVII and learning of its inferior nature. I missed FF8 and didn't like the cartoon graphics of FF9. Final Fantasy X for the PS2 was my next big one. I played through that one, enjoying it, and its improved graphics, immensely. Final Fantasy X-2 was okay but I didn't like the costume aspect and never really got into it. Then came X-Men: Legends (reviewed earlier). After that, on to Shadow Hearts Covenant ("SHC").

I like SHC. The battle system is rather interesting as the success of your attacks and spells are based on your ability and skill with something called the judgment ring. Basically, take a watch face and spin the minute hand in a clockwise direction at a varying speed. The speed is individual to the characters and may be slowed down with items. You have to "hit" certain slices on the watch face for your spell to succeed or do well. Kind of neat as it adds an extra skill-based aspect to the game. Keeps me awake and paying attention, else I lose the fight.

The characters each have individual special capabilities. E.g. One can transform into powerful monsters, one can use wrestling moves, one can use special sabre moves, etc. This creates very different, well-delineated roles for them to fulfill. Works for me. The most annoying aspect is that at least 2 of the characters will have individual challenges sprinkled through the game. Needless to say, in the constraints of a 4-character party and with 6 selectable characters at the moment, it's tough keeping the lesser-preferred ones at a respectably equivalent level. That is, non-partied characters get half the exp that the competing ones do, and thus level slower if not played.

Anyways, the story seems good and interesting so far, with cut scenes liberally sprinkled throughout, showing you the developing tale. I've only got 13.5 hours in the game so far but I've really enjoyed it and plan on playing a lot more (if I can tear myself away from WoW). All in all, if you like RPGs, I suggest checking this one out. It's pretty good and I rather enjoy it!

Sideways A Slanted Hit

I saw Sideways (Yahoo! link) on Saturday night with a friend and her boyfriend. It stars Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, and Sandra Oh. Directed and written (screenplay) by Alexander Payne, with Rex Pickett as the one who wrote the novel.

IMDB Plot Summary:
Miles Faymond (Paul Giamatti), a failed writer who teaches junior high school english takes his best friend, former hot actor Jack (Thomas Haden Church) on a weeklong drive up to 'wine country' in California. There they explore the nature of their failures and question their relationships. Jack, about to get married, has an affair and wonders whether he should call it off. Miles, recently divorced, questions whether or not he made the right choice.
Before I begin, please note that I missed the first 10-15 minutes of the movie as we were running late. Even so, I caught the film from the point where the trip begins so I don't feel as though I missed much, if at all anything important.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. It's rather dark at times but balanced overall by the entirety of the story. It's a movie about wine, women and men, in that order. Miles is a huge wine buff and the movie is liberally sprinkled (if not downright soaked through and through) with a lot of wine information and tidbits. Miles' wine fanaticism also gives some focus for the relationship between him and Maya (Virginia Madsen) and a nice tie for the whole movie. It also provides some of the oomph behind the bigger, more emotional scenes.

The characters are very nicely done and by the end of the movie you feel as if you have a good handle on who they are, where they are and where they want to go. The transition into that knowledge is the heart of the film, as the characters learn about themselves and reconcile their conflicting desires. The two main characters are definitely not pure or simple, but rather flawed and deep. Even Jack, the most superficial of the 4 main characters, has some hidden depths and worries behind his decisions, notwithstanding his actions.

As for the character flaws, and I read this bit elsewhere (I forget where) so it's not of my own genesis, the movie puts the 2 main characters' flaws out there and doesn't do too much with them. At one point (and this is not a spoiler at all), Miles steals money from his mother. Nothing is done with that, it's just there to show you that although he's loyal and intelligent, he's not perfect by any means. That in particular just sits there. Not a bad thing and certainly not a problem if that is my only complaint, but I agree with the review I read that some of the flaws are there to be there, not to be explored or considered so much.

You can tell this is a somewhat deep movie. It tackles a lot of character development very well. You're not going to be overwhelmed by it and it's all rather easily understood at the time, though I will probably watch it again and again as subsequent viewings will probably improve on my take of the movie. It's really no wonder that some are calling this film the best of the year. It really is well done and rather engaging.

I recommend you check it out if you're okay with more artsy kind of films. This is a nice one and seeing it in the theater is worth the cost. I'll get this DVD as soon as it comes out, not unlike I did for The Chronicles of Riddick and will shortly do (next week) for Spider-Man 2. I really enjoyed this movie.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: DVD-Worthy without a doubt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

WoW Release!

World of Warcraft came out today and, foolishly, I purchased it. I'll likely load it up tonight, once I get back from seeing I Heart Huckabees.

Dolphins and Locusts and Camden, Oh my!

Dolphins save swimmers from shark:
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) -- A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday.
Further proof that Douglas Adams was probably dead on in the fourth book of the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish.


Locust plague sweeps into Israel:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Millions of locusts swarmed through Israel's Red Sea resort town of Eilat on Sunday, devouring crops and flowers in the country's south.

Israeli agriculture officials sent crop dusters into the air to spray against the locusts that swept in from North Africa in the first such invasion since 1959.
In the Bible, locusts were the eighth of 10 plagues that God inflicted on the ancient Egyptians before Pharaoh, their leader, let the Israelites go.
The last major invasion of African locusts 45 years ago ravaged crops in the Jewish state.

But some Israelis as well as laborers from Thailand, where locusts are a delicacy, made the best of the current outbreak by collecting the insects and taking them home for dinner.

"Delicious," said one Israeli man in Eilat, licking his lips after picking a locust off the ground and eating it raw. "They're a delicacy fit for a king."

A Web site in Eilat listed recipes for locusts including locust shish-kebab, locust chips (French fries) and stir-fried locusts. The recipes said it was essential to cook the insects while alive "as otherwise they become bitter."

The locust is the only type of insect that is kosher and permissible for religious Jews to eat under Jewish law.
Either it's a sign of the coming apocalypse or a tasty afternoon treat. You decide.


Camden, N.J., named most dangerous city:
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- Camden has been named the nation's most-dangerous city, snatching the top spot from Detroit, according to a company's annual ranking based on crime statistics.
Atlanta, Georgia, St. Louis, Missouri, and Gary, Indiana, rounded out the top five in the most dangerous city rankings, which was to be released Monday by Morgan Quitno Corp. The company publishes "City Crime Rankings," an annual reference book that will be published next month. Detroit fell to second in this year's list.
The news wasn't all bleak for New Jersey. The state's Brick Township was rated the second-safest city for the third straight year, behind only Newton, Massachusetts, while the Garden State's Dover Township was ranked tenth. The other communities in the top five were Amherst, N.Y., which had been ranked as the safest city for the past four years, followed by Mission Viejo, California, and Clarkstown, New York.

The rankings look at the rate for six crime categories: Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. It compares 350 cities with populations of 75,000 or more that reported crime data to the FBI. Final 2003 statistics, released by the FBI in October, were used to determine the rankings.
Another boon for the New Jersey tourism industry. Then again, why would people actually want to visit New Jersey? (Okay, okay, notwithstanding Atlantic City, Six Flags or Wildwood.)

Monday, November 22, 2004

X-Men: Legends Xcellent!

I finished up X-Men: Legends for the PS2 (PlayStation 2) this weekend. Took me a little over 31 hours to get through. I've gotta say, this is a very good X-Men RPG adaptation! The game mechanics are a little strange in that it's a live-action RPG game, sort of like Starcraft with a 4-character team and the usual RPG elements (levelling, skills, stat points, equipment). Still, it suits things and works rather well.

I'm a BIG X-Men fan. Even as the X-Men have expanded their ranks over the past 40-some-odd years, my favorite group is the original 5 (Cyclops, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey, Angel/Archangel, Iceman and Beast). In Legends, you eventually have your choice of 14 X-Men (maybe 15, I had one character unselectable though that may have been a placeholder for Professor X, who is only playable for brief durations in the game) from whom to form a 4-character team. Those available are: Cyclops, Phoenix (Jean Grey), Iceman, Beast, Wolverine, Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Magma, Colossus, Emma Frost, and Storm. As you progress through the game, more and more of the characters become playable, as you encounter them. Also, unplayed characters level up as your played ones do, albeit not as fast. I found the unplayed ones to lag behind 1-2 levels.

Each character has at least 3 useable attack skills you can power up as you level. The brawlers have a single, powerful, 1-hit attack and a lesser-powerful, multiple-hit attack. The non-brawlers have various other skills, e.g. Storm can cast lightning and make whirlwinds or Jean Grey can use telekinesis or a point-blank, area-effect (pbae) psionic spell that stuns and damages targets in her vicinity. Every character also has an Extreme ability that you can unlock starting at level 15. Basically, it's a powerful attack that requires special "ammunition" (if you will). Also, every character has a timed buff ability. E.g. Wolverine can temporarily increase his movement speed and stats. Some of these abilities can affect the rest of the party. For example, Cyclops' one increases the Strike and Agility (stats) of the party wqhen you get it to a high enough level.

Enough explanation. My favorite and end-game team was Jean Grey, Wolverine, Iceman and Cyclops. Jean kicked so much ass it's insane. Her pbae attack, once other skills of hers that increase its damage were maxed, was simply devastating. Plus, her timed skill was a damage reduction that affected the whole party (-50 at the highest level). Simply put, she was the cornerstone of my team. Wolverine is the best brawler. He regenerates health and had the highest Strike and Agility of all the characters. Plus his single strong attack was really quite strong. Iceman had a self-damaged reduction timed skill (-50) plus a self-damage increasing skill that added 80-100 ice damage to his melee attacks. His timed skill also increased the party's punch damage by 25-31 energy damage. Lastly, Cyclops was the leader. His leadership skill increased the efficacy of the team's combos and his optic blasts were not insignificant. Plus, his timed skill ended up bumping the party's strike and agility by 14 points each for 32 seconds. Rather nice.

The game was very linear and there was no chance of getting lost or not knowing where to go. I also found the characters to be at the appropriate level for the areas they were in. Nothing was very hard. The worst part was when uncontrolled team members would fall off ledges or such, something you really can't help or control.

All in all, a very fun game! I highly recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men and action-based RPGs. I can't wait for the next one!

National Treasure Should Not Be Treasured

I saw National Treasure on Friday night with Captain Kate and her fiancee. The movie stars Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, and Sean Bean with cameos by Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, The Rock, Con Air, Armageddon, Gone In Sixty Seconds, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur, and many, many more) and directed (and produced) by Jon Turteltaub.

Yahoo!'s Summary:
All his life, Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) has been searching for a treasure no one believed existed: amassed through the ages, moved across continents, to become the greatest treasure the world has ever known. Hidden by our Founding Fathers, they left clues to the treasure's location right before our eyes... from our nation's birthplace, to the nation's capitol, to clues buried within the symbols on the dollar bill. In a race against time, Gates must elude the FBI, stay one step ahead of his ruthless adversary (Sean Bean), decipher the remaining clues and unlock the 2000 year-old mystery behind our greatest national treasure.
Before I go any further, be aware that this is a Disney movie. It has a PG rating.

Although a decent movie, I did not enjoy this one all that much. The story and concept really weren't bad, it had potential, but the execution just left me wanting. Wanting what? More depth, less simplicity, less suspension of disbelief. They should have made this movie either more believable or less believable. More realistic or more fantastic. 'Cause where it sits now, there's too much that's strange to make it real and too little focus on the unusual to make it another world or planet. It slips through the cracks. I honestly can't say I'm surprised by this failure (imo) since it is a Disney film. I generally find most live-action Disney to not come out quite right (Pirates of the Caribbean being a notable exception).

Also, the setup immensely annoyed me. The movie spends the first 15 minutes setting up the entire rest of the film. What does this mean? The background, story and plot are thrust upon you in too short a time. Plus the subsequent 85 minutes are spent resolving the first 15. Not good. While the action sequences and special effects kept me interested and paying attention, the plot just kept getting thinner and thinner. It was even predictable at times. (And I try not to predict movies as it tends to spoil the effect for me.)

All in all, an okay movie that really didn't do it for me. Knowing that the plot is thin, the characters a bit one-dimensional and the concepts of black & white well ensconced (notwithstanding stealing the Declaration of Independence -- it was for "the better good" or such), if you think you might be interested after seeing the preview/trailer, check it out. Who knows, you may like it a bit more than I did.

ALAN'S MOVIE RATING: Rental-Worthy or Theater-Worthy.

It's Deer Season! It's Wabbit Season! No, It's People Season!

Five hunters gunned down in Wisconsin woods -- Police: Dispute over deer stand apparently led to killings:
(CNN) -- Sheriff's deputies are investigating the killings of five hunters Sunday in northwest Wisconsin -- bloodshed apparently sparked by a dispute over a hunting spot. A suspect has been arrested.

"This is completely nuts," said Chief Deputy Tim Zeigle of the Sawyer County Sheriff's Department. "Why? I mean, five people dead because somebody was trespassing on property. It makes no sense."
"Apparently, the person was asked to leave and get out of his deer stand, and he didn't take it very well and he fired away at them," she said.
Veness said the killings have shocked Exeland, a village of 219 people about 135 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

"It just doesn't happen in this neck of the woods," she said. "We don't expect any of this to happen."
Right, 'cause when a hunter shoots people instead of deer in other states, that's completely expected. Uh huh.

As a non-hunting Northeasterner (read: Yankee who lives in or near a city), this just screams out to me of Darwinism and natural selection. (It does!)

TV Show Watch

TNT's Quest for the Spear on Sunday, December 5th @ 8pm (ET).

Sci Fi Channel's Legend of Earthsea on Monday, December 13th @ 9pm (ET).

Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica Miniseries kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 11 @ 9pm (ET - Part 1) with Part 2 on Wednesday, Jan. 12 (9pm ET?) and the complete version (Parts 1 & 2? Part 3?) on Sunday, Jan. 16, @ 3pm (ET). I rather liked the movie-introduction of BG and look forward to the series!

CNN Stories

Before the first, posts to look forward to: movie reviews of National Treasure and Sideways; PS2 game reviews of X-Men: Legends and Shadow Hearts Covenant (SH2). There haven't been any posts for the weekend because of the latter. (Hehe.)


Kennedy assassination recreated in video game:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- A new video game to be released on Monday allows players to simulate the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

The release of "JFK Reloaded" is timed to coincide with the 41st anniversary of Kennedy's murder in Dallas and was designed to demonstrate a lone gunman was able to kill the president.
Ewing said the game was designed to undermine the theory there was some shadowy plot behind the assassination. "We believe passionately there was no conspiracy," he said.

Traffic Games said the objective was for a player to fire three shots at Kennedy's motorcade from assassin Lee Harvey Oswald's digitally recreated sixth-floor perch in the Texas School Book Depository.

Points are awarded or subtracted based on how accurately the shots match the official version of events as documented by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy's assassination.

Shooting the image of Kennedy in the right spots in the right sequence adds to the score, while "errors" like shooting first lady Jacqueline Kennedy lead to deductions.
That game is in such poor taste it's positively amazing. IMO, the only reason the company can get away with it is because the Kennedy assassination is so far rooted in the target group's past that there's virtually no memory of the event. Give it another 5-10 years and we may even see video games based on the Vietnam War, another currently-taboo subject. Wouldn't surprise me terribly though I would be equally apalled.


Scientists flood Grand Canyon - Flood waters will bring natural sediment to ecosystem:
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (AP) -- Scientists flooded the Grand Canyon on Sunday to restore beaches and save fish and plants that have been disappearing since sediment-free water began flowing from a man-made dam 40 years ago.

A torrent of gushing water raced down the Colorado River and into the canyon, carrying badly needed natural sediment with it, as four giant steel tubes at the base of Glen Canyon Dam were opened.
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam upstream forever altered the canyon: Four of eight native fish species have disappeared and prospects for the fifth, the endangered humpback chub, are grim. Only about 7 percent of the historical sediment before the dam was built remains.
Interesting application of ecology. I wish them luck!


First sex tourism law trial conviction:
SANTA ANA, California (AP) -- An 86-year-old man was found guilty Friday of attempting to travel to the Philippines to sexually molest girls, in violation of a new federal law aimed at fighting sex tourism.

A judge found John W. Seljan guilty of six counts, including attempting to travel for the purpose of having sex with minors and possession of child pornography.

Seljan faces a minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of 270 years when he is sentenced in March.

The retired business owner is one of about a dozen men who have been arrested under the Protect Act, which was enacted last year. The law made it easier to prosecute those who molest children overseas and increased penalties.

Seljan was the first to go to trial on charges brought under the Protect Act, though at least two men have pleaded guilty.
A federal agent testified that Seljan told investigators he had "sexually educated" young girls in the Philippines with their parents' consent since 1983, and that he believed it was legal and culturally accepted in that country.
I vaguely recall hearing of this new law. Although I'm certainly not a fan of sex tourism or child pornography, the law reeks of an overextension of power. The government has decided that this particular conduct is so heinous that it must, for the good of its people, attempt to prevent them from participating in it. So, what's next? If the government determines that drug usage or prostitution is too despicable, no more flights to Amsterdam? Then, if people travel there from Germany (for example), no more flights to Germany?

Ridiculous, of course, but not too much so. Especially given the recent Republican win. Morals and values will be at the forefront of American government for at least the next 4 years. While often important, this particular aspect is also often too-far emphasized and considered.


Woman wins matchmaking lawsuit:
BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) -- A federal jury awarded as much as $434,000 to a Ukrainian woman who sued the Internet matchmaking service that set her up with the man who allegedly abused her after they wed.

Nataliya Fox accused Encounters International of fraud and negligence, saying it should have screened its male clients and told her about a law that helps foreign nationals escape abusive relationships without fear of automatic deportation.

Instead, Fox testified, agency owner Natasha Spivack told her to endure the alleged abuse or return to Ukraine.

The agency had said it had no obligation to tell Fox about the so-called battered-spouse waiver because it never recruited her as a client. Spivack testified that Fox made up the story to get a U.S. visa. She said she had only introduced two adults and could not be held responsible for what happened.
Granted I have insufficient information to make a full determination (not that I'll let that stop me right now) but it sounds like the agency should have made it routine practice to inform its clients of this law. You know, your standard "Cover Your Ass" regiment. Hell, that's why us lawyers exist, right? (Or at least one reason.)


Microsoft warns Asian governments of Linux suits:
SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- Microsoft Corp. warned Asian governments on Thursday they could face patent lawsuits for using the Linux operating system instead of its Windows software.

The growing popularity of Linux -- an open-code software that is freely available on the Internet and easily modified by users -- is a threat to the global dominance of Microsoft's Windows.

Linux violates more than 228 patents, according to a recent report from a research group, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said at the company's Asian Government Leaders Forum in Singapore.
The Chinese government, in particular, sees its reliance on Microsoft as a potential threat. Conspiracy buffs believe certain patches in the Windows code might give U.S. authorities the power to access Chinese networks and disable them, possibly during a war over Taiwan.

Ballmer said the security fears some governments had about using Microsoft software were overblown.

"We think our software is far more secure than open-source software. It is more secure because we stand behind it, we fixed it, because we built it. Nobody ever knows who built open-source software," he added.
So much is wrong with this one that it's obscene. Let's start with Microsoft trying to instill a sense of hesitancy over an unlitigated matter (or one pending litigation) whose success could severely hurt Microsoft. That sounds like antitrust to me. Next, we have the conspiracy theories and comparisons between the two. I'm sorry, but Microsoft's Windows platform is less secure than Linux. Why? More popular means a better target. Write one virus for Windows or work on variants for Linux flavors? Which is the one-stop shop? And Microsoft is not doing a good job of keeping their operating system ("OS") in good straights. They never have, IMO.

If I could get away with it, if I knew my games and programs would work well, I'd switch to Linux in a heartbeat. Heck, I've already stopped using MSIE (Internet Explorer). I'm already thinking that when I get a new computer (probably in a little less than a year) I'll put a Linux flavor on this, my current-but-then-old computer. Just for fun, to play around with. Hopefully I'll have the time to play with it, too.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Strangest Search Leading to This Blog

The current title-holder:

An MSN Search for "top ten worst serial killers" lead to Top Ten Worst Answers to an Interview Question (Part V).

I'm pretty sure the interview answers were not the least bit helpful although it's scary that that blog page is the best MSN can do with that query. Google's response was at least more apropos if not more helpful. The blog page doesn't show up within the first 200 of Google's search.

Two Quick Ones

Last night, in Forensics, I held a human skull that was from someone who lived in Connecticut around 100-200 years ago.

In review, in Forensics to date, I've handled a pistol (unloaded of course), heard Dr. Lee speak, and seen (and smelled) dead bodies. This class rocks!

Lastly, a link to a post over at The Slithery D:
The American Film Institute is making their list of the 100 greatest movie quotes.
Personally, I think the list is incomplete. No Godfather quotes for one. I'm sure it's also missing some other "classic" movie quotes. Then again, I may be biased based on my age. Still, it's fun to look at their list.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A Few Thoughts

I'm not a hit-whore. (Link-whore? Search-whore? Whore?) I link to stories I think are interesting and/or amusing. Often I comment on them. Occasionally this can lead to a minor spike in readership as I link to or comment on something people are looking for. Like my post that mentioned the MNF Nicole Sheridan incident. Checking my Site Meter referral list, I see 18 searches leading to this blog based on that one small report. I find it rather disconcerting, especially since all I did was quote the CNN piece. Hell, I didn't even see the clip!

To the best of my knowledge, the most inbound-popular pieces for this blog are the two on Pop Rocks. Apparently those posts shows up pretty high for those searches.

Apologies for missing two weekly Top Ten Lists in a row now. As with my initial goal of at least one post a day, the weekly feature goal, too, seems to have fallen by the wayside. While minorly frustrating, especially given there's no good reason I can't have prepared Top Ten Lists, it's probably safe to assume this weekly feature has ceased to be weekly. As I come up with new lists, I shall endeavor to post them on Wednesdays.

I have a new installment (the third so far) of As The Gavel Strikes in the works. It's almost done. I'd probably have posted it today except I have about ten minutes left in Crim. Pro. and it's not ready yet. I spent the early portion of class skimming Rufus' & Jeremy's blogs. My weblog reading quotient has fallen dramatically of late. (Though I always have time to see if Soupie has a new JB up. After all, what's life worth living without JB?)

A Little More

CNN: News anchor appears nude.
CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) -- A television news anchor appeared on the air nude in a first-person report about an artist's photographs, drawing a record number of viewers for the time slot, the station said.

Sharon Reed was one of hundreds of people who participated in Spencer Tunick's nude photo installation in Cleveland in June. Her report, shown Monday on the 11 p.m. newscast on WOIO-TV, showed far away angles of her nude and some closer seminude shots, as well as other participants.
WOIO news director Steve Doerr said the idea was to cover Tunick, a well-known artist, in a different way. Doerr said the story also was aimed at bringing in ratings during November sweeps when audiences are measured to set advertising rates.

Monday night's newscast received a record 17.1 share, compared with the 13.6 earned during the newscast airing immediately after this year's Super Bowl, according to Broadcasting & Cable, an industry publication.

The station aired advisories before the piece, and FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise on Wednesday said WOIO followed commission rules that prohibit indecent material from being aired on broadcast television from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Doerr said the station received mostly supportive messages from viewers. Reed said she considered it an important story about art.
There's a headshot of her with the CNN piece. Maybe more news programs should "boost their ratings" by showing more "art pieces" like this one. Yeah. Right. Good idea. At least the station admits it's pandering.


CNN: The Kmart-Sears deal - Two of nation's oldest retailers set $11B merger. Will lower prices, better merchandise follow?
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Kmart is buying Sears, Roebuck & Co. for $11 billion in a deal that will marry two of the nation's oldest retailers that had trouble keeping up with the changes in American culture around them.

The deal, announced Wednesday morning, will create the third-largest retailer in the country. The new company, known as Sears Holdings, will be based at Sears headquarters outside Chicago.

While the new company will operate both Sears and Kmart stores, "several hundred" Kmarts will be converted to Sears, Sears Chairman Alan Lacy said at a news conference. The companies currently operate about 3,500 stores combined.
Intriguing and highly relevant to my Antitrust class tomorrow morning. (I already e-mailed the prof.)


Lastly, in a (somewhat) completely expected non-surprise, The Girl has gotten back together with her former ex-fiancee (not that they're engaged again but it wouldn't be too accurate to say ex-fiancee with no qualifier). Again, mildly interesting but not unexpected.

Time for me to start not thinking about the Crim. Pro. homework I haven't done and have to hand in tomorrow afternoon. It's non-graded but I have classes all tomorrow morning so it looks like another 4 or 5-hour sleep, tops. Ah well.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

West Wing Notes

Yes, it's only up to the first commercial break (~15 min. into the episode).

Someone mentioned "rats of unusual size." Immediately made me think of The Princess Bride's ROUS' or "rodents of unusual size." Wonder if it's a purposeful reference.

What character is Maria Bello playing? I didn't know she was on the show!

I'd forgotten Gary Cole plays the role of the Vice President.

They're talking about blogs!!!

Today's CNN Installment

Dangerous toys ID'd: Consumer safety group picks its 10 worst of 2004, toy industry shrugs off list.
NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Just in time for the holidays, a consumer group announced its pick for the 10 worst toys of 2004 Wednesday, including the Pocket Rocket Miniature Motorcycle and the Megabuster Battle Weapon.
The list also included Imaginarium Police Car Building Blocks, Dress Me Paz, Fun Slides Carpet Skates, Air Burst Rockets, the 38" Playtime Trampoline, Happy Birthday Bear, Parents Magazine Mirror Pound-A-Ball and the 3 Gun Squad Set -- Uz-1 Commando Machine Gun.

The list, compiled by World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), includes toys the group says are so poorly designed or tested that they pose a serious safety or health risk to children.
The only thing missing is the shrinkwrap on new CDs, movies and games. I've nearly killed things trying to get that shrinkwrap off!


Federal judge condemns sentencing laws:
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- A judge who condemned federal sentencing laws as "unjust, cruel and irrational" said he had little choice Tuesday but to sentence a first-time drug offender caught with a handgun to 55 years and one day in prison.

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell gave record producer Weldon Angelos the minimum 55 years for carrying the gun -- and one day for dealing marijuana and money laundering while in possession of the weapon.

Cassell said Angelos, 25, will serve more time than rapists, murderers or airline hijackers -- and won't be eligible for release until he's 70.

"I'm disappointed the judge didn't go the extra step" of ignoring the sentencing guidelines, said Angelos' attorney, Jerry Mooney, who plans an appeal.
Prosecutor Robert Lunt said Angelos has been suspected of drug trafficking and money laundering for years and got what he deserved.

Last year's trial made news when the witness list included Snoop Dogg and other artists who had worked with Angelos, but Bad Azz was the only big name artist who ended up testifying.

The defense argued Angelos made money legally through his work, while prosecutors claimed he used drug money to finance his music business, Extravagant Records.
So the prosecutor is happy the guy's off the streets even though the alleged criminal wasn't caught for the charges he's supposedly "guilty" of (not jury guilty "guilty" though). Interesting and not unexpected. Those prosecutors!


Jude Law named 'Sexiest Man Alive':
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- British actor Jude Law, currently starring as the irresistible cad in the remake of "Alfie," was named this year's "Sexiest Man Alive" by People magazine Wednesday.

The chiseled-featured, 31-year-old actor was the top pick of the magazine's editors to succeed their leading male sex symbol of 2003, Johnny Depp.

Law appears on the cover of People's November 19 issue, which hits newsstands Friday.
People bestowed its first "Sexiest Man Alive" honors in 1985 to Mel Gibson. Other winners have included John F. Kennedy Jr., Sean Connery, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere and Ben Affleck.
I think they overlooked a serious contender. Someone kind, warm, pleasant and who has a terrific smile. Yep, you guessed it! I'm thinking Bin Laden should have received the honor.

CNN Roundup

Here are some articles I found in my brief perusal of CNN today.


Abercrombie settles race case for $40 million:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has agreed to pay $40 million to black, Hispanic and Asian employees and job applicants to settle a class-action federal discrimination lawsuit that accused the clothing retailer of promoting whites at the expense of minorities, lawyers said Tuesday.

ABC apologizes for steamy MNF intro:
NEW YORK (AP) -- ABC's "desperate" bid at cross-promotion backfired on Monday Night Football.

The network's steamy intro to the Philadelphia-Dallas game, featuring a naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, drew complaints from viewers and the NFL.

ABC Sports apologized Tuesday for the segment, used a day earlier to promote the hit show Desperate Housewives and broadcast just nine months after another football flap -- the Janet Jackson Super Bowl fiasco.
Can't believe I missed that.


Nearly 800,000 Bowflex machines recalled:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The makers of the popular Bowflex fitness machine are recalling nearly 800,000 units after dozens of people reported injuries from mechanical problems, the government announced Tuesday.

This marks the second large recall of Bowflex equipment this year. In January, the machine's manufacturer issued a voluntary recall of about 420,000 units after reports of similar mechanical problems.
Not sounding like good PR for Bowflex. Though I am intrigued by their new product - Bowflex SelectTech, their new dial-a-weight free weights system. Too bad the dumbbells cost $400 (S&H not included).


PETA campaigns against eating fish:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternatives, animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish -- contrary to stereotype -- are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.

Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.
Just for that I'm going to encourage more goldfish-eating at parties.


Conference on blogs' news impact:
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- The woman who writes Wonkette! needed no introduction and offered no apologies Saturday, telling her peers in online journalism that Web logs like hers have spurred a quicker response to breaking news by major media outlets.

Ana Marie Cox and others who maintain "blogs" were criticized after the November 2 presidential election for posting exit polls throughout the day -- a practice frowned upon in the mainstream media because the data could sway the outcome.

"To the extent to which they affect voter turnout is to the extent people believe them," Cox told the Online News Association conference in Hollywood. She added that blogs have made it more difficult for mainstream news organizations "to sit on a story."
I'm no fan of Wonkette (notice no link included) but she's right. Blogs are making more traditional media rethink some of their tactics and reasoning. After all, we are in the 21st century.


So much for all that reality TV:
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Television networks are learning a harsh lesson in reality -- too many reality shows are a turn-off for viewers.

As broadcasters increasingly binge on unscripted shows starring ordinary folks willing to do almost anything for cash, romance or 15 minutes of fame, the burgeoning genre of reality TV appears to be wearing a bit thin with U.S. audiences.
They had me at "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancee." Or was it "The Swan." Or maybe "The Bachelor Part 12 1/2." Or maybe "Wife Swap: The Clean Version." Or perhaps it was "My Dog The Lifeguard." Maybe it was "Ye 'Olde House of Renaissance Pool Cleaners." Egads, I forget which one was one too many. I can't believe I just wrote "egads." Honestly, I'm hoping the whole fad blows over and we get some real entertainment. Some new shows that may stand the test of time. Y'know, like "Tool Time" or "Yes, Dear."

Monday, November 15, 2004


I just read the phrase "the urge to merge" in my Antitrust casebook and completely did not think of antitrust law.


Despite my taking today and tomorrow off from school (see an earlier post for explanation), you will note a distinct lack of fervent posting. This can be attributed to: (a) my quasi-delicate physical condition at this time (you don't want to know), (b) the fact that home in Trumbull has digital cable TV and, hence, numerous additional movie channels to watch all day long, (c) laziness, (d) the Antitrust paper I should have been writing this morning when my physical condition wasn't so iffy, (e) err... more laziness, or (f) the excellent West Wing episode I watched on Bravo from 7-8pm. The choice is yours.

Expect lite (i.e. lighter than "light" is "lite") posting tomorrow too. Most likely for reason (a) only applied to me subsequent to things. I've heard I can expect memory loss (only of the relevant time I hope). Sounds like college party nights... except I don't quite remember all the details from those nights so there's an inherent assumption (and irony) to that analogy.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Election Result Maps

These looked pretty interesting. Take a look.

Hitchhiker's Movie Trailer

As you may or may not be aware, they are in the process of creating a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie, to be released on May 6, 2005. Yahoo! Movies (see link below) has a trailer for the film. It doesn't show anything but it is mildly entertaining, especially if you're a THHGTTG (or H2G2) fan like myself. (Woot for Douglas Adams!!!)

(Official Site) (IMDB) (Yahoo! Movies)

Bloggers Reign Supreme

CNN: How do bloggers impact political news?

The article has nothing new to say, at all. The best thing about blogs, imo, is that they allow anyone to have a voice if they want to. The worst thing about blogs, imo, is that they allow anyone to have a voice if they want to. I don't think the CNN piece picks up on this, that the reason blogs lack credibility is because, unlike mainstream media, anyone can do it. Hence, not all blogs are created equal. Not all are entirely truthful or to be believed. The only thing one has to go on, the only currency worth anything, is reputation. A classic concept but one overlooked by the CNN article.

Berlin Wall Fall Anniversary

This is a bit late but I just caught it. 15 years ago last week, on Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. I mention this for two reasons. First, I can remember watching this happen on TV and asking my parents what was going on and why it was important. (I didn't get satisfactory answers until a few years thereafter.) Second, I've been to Berlin and seen many areas of the city and many sections of still-standing wall. An amazing place! I highly suggest you check out Berlin if you're ever in the neighborhood.

"Just step up to the altar, lie down and close your eyes. I promise you won't feel a thing."

Under the category of "Things You Should Probably Not Do With Your Kids."

CNN: Couple planned to 'sacrifice' children:
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (AP) -- A woman and her boyfriend are accused of plotting to sacrifice the woman's three children on a church altar.
Police said Mancini told them that Jesus sacrificed himself for her, so she was going to sacrifice the boys to free her soul.
Mancini's attorney, Kimberly Shoen, said her client meant the children no harm.

"They were never tied to the altar, there was no blood, there were no constraints for sacrificial use," she said.
Excellent defense. So if I don't actually begin taking the literal and final steps to kill someone, then I've done nothing wrong whatsoever. ::Sigh:: If only it actually worked like that.

We're Gonna Party Like It's 1999!

Earlier tonight I went to a party. It was an 80's party being co-sponsored by a 2L friend of mine. The reason I went was because I'd missed her previous party (and for no good reason, other than memory or a lackadaisical attitude) and I'd told her I'd show up. So, I went (by myself since none of the members of The Group cared to join me), hung out for a very brief time and left.

I didn't stay long. Why? So many reasons. It was very much not a 3L party so I really didn't know anyone there (or very few, if any). Granted it was an 80's affair with 80's music and some people dressed for that decade, but it was also a college-type party. That is, it was loud, cramped, hot and obnoxious. Definitely not my cup of tea. Long ago I learned that I am either unwilling or unable to "pick up women." After I learned that, it was no longer a reason for going to parties but rather a hope or dream in attending them. Nowadays, when I am well-versed in that aspect or lack thereof, I only go to parties to hang out with friends and relax. Ergo, no friends present, not a good party for me (absent other, exceedingly rare cause).

The party-attendance also reminded me, strongly, of my college experiences. Back then, and we're talking 1998-2001 (which excludes first semester Freshman year), I either went to parties my fraternity threw or hung out with my good friends. Other parties by other fraternities had no allure for me. At all. By Senior year, the only thing I did was hang out with my roommates, drinking beer or liquor and usually playing a game of quarters (at which we became extremely proficient). It was a blast and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Similarly, these days I hang out with my friends. I don't go to bars on Friday or Saturday nights because they're always packed. I prefer to go on less popular nights so I can just relax in my own time.

So I showed up at the party tonight, made sure my friend saw me, stayed a little bit more then left. And that was enough for me.

"Not Without My Anus"

Title from a Terrance & Phillip movie-title from an episode of South Park.

A bit back, I mentioned a doctor's visit. Here's the lengthier, and probably undesired, explanation. I shall endeavor to not provide details when possible.

Back on Election Day (Nov. 2, a week ago Tuesday), I went to the walk-in medical center in Trumbull because I'd been suffering from diarrhea for the previous 3 weeks or so. The walk-in guy hypothesized that it might be a lower g-i (gastro-intestinal) bleed. That is, some part of my intestines was internally bleeding. Not a good thing. The good news, however, was that my case was relatively not bad, as in a slow bleed. My red cell count was down to 11-point-something where a reading in the 12 to 14 range was normal. If that count were below 10, my condition would be classified as serious or very not good. (I think you pass out around 8. Maybe.)

So, the walk-in doctor sent me to a doctor at the practice my regular doctor is at. This guy confirmed the prognosis and arranged for me to see a g-i specialist the next day, which I did. The g-i doctor suspected it was a form of colitis (aka a generic category for lower g-i bleeds) and this Tuesday I'll undergo a colonoscopy to confirm the prognosis.

The condition, should it only be colitis (vs. Crohn's disease, for example), is easily treatable by medication and not life-altering or anything like that. In the meantime, it's annoying as Hell. I've had to temporarily give up beer and coffee as they exacerbate my condition. I also can't contemplate exercise and prefer to stick around my apt. where the toilet paper is nice and soft (vs. businesses where the toilet paper is potentially only a few grades removed from sandpaper).

So there ya go. If you'd like further information, here's WebMD's main page on colitis. Notwithstanding any inquiries, that's probably the last you'll hear of this and the last you want to hear of it.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


I took the MPRE at WNEC Law School in Springfield. 1.5 hours and 50 multiple choice questions later, I walked out just as confused as when I walked in. It was not an easy MPRE test. Other test-takers I spoke with afterwards felt just as mystified as myself. Ah well. We'll see in a month whether I'll be sitting for it again next March.

Also yesterday, it snowed. When we arrived in Springfield at noon it was snowing and had been for a little bit. When we arrived back in Hartford at 4 PM, it was snowing and had been for a little bit. Rather early in the season for a snow. (We usually don't get much until after Thanksgiving.) Especially given the warm temperatures or extreme fluctuations. Still, I like snow and it was nice. Woot for snow.

Jack Daniels Is My Friend

And so are his commercials. There have been quite a number of alcohol-related commercials, including ones for Jack Daniels, Bacardi and more. Hell, J.D. even sponsored the movie Armageddon on FX! The best part? I enjoy the J.D. commercials since they tell me how they make this delectable sour mash whiskey and all sorts of other useless but amusing information.

Btw, ever notice how J.D. (Juris Doctor) is the same as J.D. (Jack Daniels)? Coincidence? I think not!

Schwarzenegger For President!

Here's a CNN article on Schwarzenegger's first year as California's Governator and the prospect of him running for Pres., should the Constitution be accordingly amended.

Why wouldn't you vote for The Presinator? Man, one too many puns. One too many.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Observation for the Night

Photographs of dead people or bodies in movies: Okay.

Seeing real, actual, smelly dead people: Not so okay.

I'm heading out for a whiskey sour to cap off the night. Or maybe I should go for a car bomb? (Ba-dam-bum!)

ADDENDUM: This just in - I like whiskey sours. One stiff one (no chuckling) was enough to make my mind fuzzy enough that I'm not so worried about the MPRE (ethics exam) tomorrow. And Jerry Springer is on Whose Line. Yay. ::Sigh:: [10:12 PM]

ADDENDUM II: I'm actually mildly embarassed by my blog post from a few mornings ago. After consulting with counsel yesterday, I think I'm much better with the 'friend track' of things. Which is probably good. 'Cause it sounds like The Girl is otherwise occupied of late. Presumptively with her ex-fiancee. ::Sigh again:: [10:15 PM]

"I see dead people!"

Here's a CNN Article on How to play a dead body on 'CSI'. Moderately amusing.

In an ironic twist, tonight in my Forensics Class, we'll be visiting with the Chief Medical Examiner and learning what he/she does. I have a suspicion corpses may be involved.

Quote for the Evenin'

"Man my good looks are going down the toilet faster than an unwanted pregnancy on prom night." -- Venture Brothers, Cartoon Channel

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Day in Review (Briefly)

It's been a slow day, largely due to my 2 hours sleep which necessitated a 2 hour nap this afternoon.

Btw, a CNN article on Firefox and the v. 1.0 release. Looks like I need to upgrade!

I'm not proud of it but today I purchased Britney Spears' Greatest Hits. I can't help it, I like her singles! True to expectation, I like the CD. I think this may classify as one of dirty pleasures. (No, get your mind out of the gutter!)

Me + bookstore = very bad. Why? Because I end up purchasing lots and lots of books. Today I went shopping at Borders with Captain Kate and came away with 8 books and a holiday present for my mom. Yeah, I need to avoid bookstores, if not for me then for the sake of my bank account.

If you're interested, Whose Line Is It Anyways (weeknights on ABC Family Channel from 10-11pm) is having a celebrity week. Every episode features a celeb, from Robin Williams to Richard Simmons to Katie Harmon (Miss America). Worth watching if you can. I love Whose Line and the celeb appearances just seem to bring out the best in them (usually). Besides, that Richard Simmons episode is damn hilarious!


I may place one on late-night posting on personal subjects. Dicey at the best of times, certainly suspect after 2am.

I also can't stand to leave the previous post as the top one on the page. (Hence this one.)

And things do look better in the morning, just not all that better, unfortunately.

Whoah! 27 degrees outside! Talk about a big temperature swing over the past day or two!!!

"Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain, which, with pain purchased, doth inherit pain."

Title from Love's Labour Lost & IMDB.

Btw, I write this post before fully considering whether I should write it.

I spent over 5 hours with The Girl tonight, more hanging out and so on. We have become friends such that most anything is ripe for discussion, not everything but most anything. For a change, we hung at her place after a foray to the Wood -n- Tap (for coffee and sustenance). Talking the while. (And please do excuse the odd grammar and language. 'Tis late and my language grows stranger by the hour, not by the bottle.) Of most interest to mind comes her observation that, contrary to previous expressions and probably owing to subsequent or coinciding interactions, she has not written off the ex-fiancee as yet. Her phrase used was that she "is open" and has not closed things off totally (as that is not her proclaimed style). Disturbing to me not in the slightest (but the greater) and I only hope my countenance did not betray any inward signs of discord or distress. (I have faith that it did not though that may be worth only the paper upon which it is printed.)

Tonight probably came the closest yet to anything resembling a communicae concerning anything beyond friendship, though it did not do so overtly by any means. Whether it exists in actuality or only in my own imagination, I perceive (or imagine?) her to be in a difficult position. Two men, one of whom with things did not work out "the last time" and one of whom she has known for scarcely a month. Yet, both to whom she "connects" to some degree. Toss in the other obligations such as law school and work and things are not clear by any degree.

I would be lying if I said the reconnection with the ex-fiancee did not bother me. I would be lying if I did not express that which some part of her (if not her consciously) knows, that I would rather it be something other than friends. Also that were it not for her ex-fiancee (laughably, were things not the way they are), I well imagine we would have chanced other waters than friendship, if for nothing other than the chancing.

Part of me is almost annoyed that I am some cause of some (small) element of turmoil in her life (assuming such import could be granted me and mine at this juncture, no small assumption by any). Part of me hopes I am such a cause for it insinuates other what-ifs. Part of me wonders if not I should remain a passive spectre in the picture, mildly aloof and exceedingly patient, awaiting her choice, her actions, her outcome (as I have to date). And the last part of me wonders if I should not confront her and force her to pin down an answer, for me at least, so that if it is in the negative I can undertake a brief stint of alcohol so as to alleviate or mollify the pain.

That's a lot of parts, wonderment and uncertainty, but such is my mind in reflection of the night at an hour past 3am. I still don't know if she reads this blog, these entries. I like to think I print nothing unflattering or shameful by any degree but rather things that I would be willing to speak if so prompted (as I have not to this date). But if she were to read this, then I suggest that my inner turmoil, which abides by patience more than anything else, is in some way comparable to hers.

Alas, should things go South, as they could and may, perhaps I may yet see friendship on the other side and no more. Then again, were she to reconnect with the ex-fiancee, could I knowingly remain her friend and ally, all the while harboring what-ifs and could-have-beens? Or is that inherently distasteful to my own demeanor so as to preclude such a non-relationship or merit a delay or waiting period before I would be amenable? I think the latter has struck an epiphany within me. And I think the latter more likely in the face of defeat. I really am an all-or-nothing sort of fellow, huh. 'Tis sad and troublesome in its own right. Sometimes I hate being the kind of person I am.

Well, the hour is late and I am weary. Two and half hours sleep is better than two and I must dally with unconsciousness, if for no other reason than to regain my non-gilded tongue and finish off the Antitrust paper for tomorrow morning. (Seems like I end up spending the nights before Antitrust papers are due awake late with The Girl. This is 2 out of 2 now, with 2 more to go.) Good night & good morning. Things will undoubtedly seem better in the morning, as they undoubtedly seemed better before I began this post. I seem to have painted myself into a dark corner born of the usual fears and unknowns. Not surprising but unpleasant.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Quote of the Week (If Not of the Next 4 Years)

From The Mobile Register courtesy of The Volokh Conspiracy:
"Where are we going? And why am I in a handbasket?" -- From a Wednesday e-mail exchange of several Alabama Democratic Party activists.

Guy Fawkes' Day

Thanks to Neil Gaiman for reminding me that Nov. 5 was Guy Fawkes' Day in England.

Secrets and Not Knowing Them

If you've read one of my past posts, you have an idea of how my group of friends handles secrets. That is, the group doesn't abide them. To wit, I have a mildly amusing tale of recent days to relate.

Two more of my friends in the group have gotten engaged. (Woot & Congrats to them!) Of course the trick to this tale is that I'm not supposed to know that they got engaged. For a few reasons, ones arguably appropriate, the two engagees decided not to tell the group. BUT they did tell some people around them. I.e. One of their landlords, a few of their close friends, etc. I found out through one of these people. In kind, I mentioned it, as a rumor, to a friend of mine in the group, Captain Kate of the 5th Armed Bucket Brigade. Captain Kate, agreeing not to relate the channels by which she was informed, confronted one of the engagees and confirmed that they had gotten engaged. (With me so far?)

Now, Captain Kate (or so I hear through secondary channels, so this is not confirmed) may have spoken spoke [Confirmed by phone, this afternoon. -- Ed] with another friend in the group about this. Let's call this friend Ms. Burns (pseudonym, of course). Mind you Ms. Burns was told of the engagement earlier, last Wed. Ms. Burns, subsequent to speaking with Capt. Kate, spoke to an engagee and related that Captain Kate knew from me. So it looks like I may now be in trouble, to some degree, for knowing something that I'm not supposed to know.

Of course, this whole hullabaloo could have easily been prevented had the engagees told the group or people in the group and not have tried to keep the engagement "under wraps."

I have a sneaky suspicion that they now want to tell me or to ascertain how I learned of the engagement. [Confirmed by e-mails this afternoon. -- Ed.] (They left me a voicemail which I haven't returned yet.) My current plan is to eventually give them a call back but not to divulge my source. If I'm in trouble fine, but I refuse to inculpate a third party whose only crime was relating not-quite-private information to me while under no obligation to do otherwise.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A Fellow UConn Law Blogger!

And the ironic element is that his blog pre-dates mine by a few months! I only found out by the Referrals listing on my Site Meter for this blog. Someone did a Yahoo! Search for blog and "uconn law" that lead them to my site. This other guy's site pops up in the results, too. The blog? Saucy Intruder. It's much more intellectual and law-oriented than this one. MUCH more. Go check it out! NOW. (Please?)

Anyone know of any other UConn Law Students blogging? I haven't come across any others (besides Saucy) yet.

Also note that I added links to your left not only for that blog but also for Trivial Pursuits, The Neutral Zone Trap and Ex Mea Sententia. Those three were well overdue.

ADDENDUM: And another, [REMOVED]. [10:18 AM, Nov. 8]

ADDENDUM II: Per the request of said "another," the reference has been removed. [5:59 PM, 1/03/07]

L.L.Bean Rocks!

With regards to my late backpack so "oded" to below, I called up L.L.Bean to discuss its successor. Much to my delight, it's an amazingly easy process! I mail them the victim with a note detailing the approximate date I received it (about 8 years ago I think? maybe more?), what's wrong with it, what I would like them to do (refund, replace, etc.), my phone number and my name and address. Piece of cake! And my only expense is that one shipping cost! I'm going to get another L.L.Bean Deluxe Book Pack in Navy (see here). Woot!

State of the State

The weather up here is insane. A week or two ago, it was dipping into the 40's, 30's at night. Today? The 60's. Right now, at almost midnight on Nov. 7, it's frickin' 59 outside!!! I took a jacket out with me earlier, thinking it might be cool enough to so warrant. My mistake. Even with a nice wind on the air, no need for a jacket. I think this is one of the warmer, if not warmest, Novembers I can recall.

When is it going to get cold? When will ski-season begin??? WHEN WILL IT FINALLY START SNOWING, DAMNIT?!?!? Inquiring minds want to know.

State of the Girl

Things progress, time passes. We hang out much more frequently now, speak to each other almost every day, etc. We're still friends and "just friends." Interesting this week as, for the first time since the calling off of the engagement, she spoke with and hung out with her ex-fiancee. She says she has no desire whatsoever to rekindle that, and I believe her. When I met up with her on Saturday, she was exceedingly frustrated from her interactions with said ex-fiancee and reaffirmed that she "is not over him yet." She even used and/or mentioned the phrase "emotional baggage," just to give you an idea. This isn't surprising in the least seeing as she and him were friends for 5 years before being engaged. Even so, I find it annoying at times, almost like I'm being penalized for another guy's actions. So, she and I are friends though I like to imagine it could be, and might (eventually) become, something more.