Monday, October 31, 2005

Quick news blurb.

And apparently Willie Nelson is throwing his weight behind the ever-evolving Kinky Friedman Texas gubernatorial campaign. Willie threw a fundraiser at his ranch this weekend which raised over $170,000 for Kinky's campaign. Dick Deguerin, the criminal defense attorney who is currently representing Tom Delay, took part in a small golf tournament which was part of the event.

And Houston's Astroworld closed its doors forever this weekend to little or no fanfare. Apparently the park's business has been dropping steadily in recent years, but I still have fond memories of times that I had there as a kid (and even of a Weird Al concert that I happened upon there one time when I was visiting the park). It's sad to see something that gave you so much happiness as a kid fall apart. Then again, given the current hyperkinetic state of video games, television, and other children's entertainment, I guess I'm not surprised to see carnival rides fall by the wayside. Still, we'll miss you , Texas Cyclone! You were Houston's best roller coaster!

And here's a shot of Team Bloom and Killer Kraber enjoying the wedding hospitality (and especially the candles). Posted by Picasa

And congratulations to Rosa and Nathan for tying the knot on Saturday! Here is a picture of them that was snapped by the paparazzi during the reception... Posted by Picasa
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Entertainment Weekly announced it's list this week of its 20 scariest movies of all time. They placed The Shining at the top of their list, and for once I would have to say that I agree. I know that everyone loves The Shining, and I don't mean to sound like I'm just jumping the band wagon, but that movie scares the bejeezus out of me no matter how many times I see it. The cinematography, the music, the acting, and that giant, scary-ass hotel- it's just about the scariest thing ever put on celluloid. Danny Lloyd is just about one of the best child actors to ever fill a role (although Haley Joel Osment was pretty amazing in The Sixth Sense). The Shining just manages to convey a bizarre, dreamy, nightmarish quality that you can't wake up from, and it conveys that atmosphere more effectively than any other movie I've ever seen. If you don't watch it for Halloween tonight, watch it again sometime soon. It's still really scary- I promise.

And speaking of Halloween scariness.... for all of you kids who wondered why I didn't bitch more about the Miers nomination, I hope that now my reasons for remaining silent have become clear.
Bush announced his new choice for the Supreme Court today as Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., a well known conservative from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Alito, who has earned the nickname Scalito amongst his colleagues by way of comparison to conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has a judicial record which includes conservative statements on everything from abortion to gender discrimination to the separation of church and state, and his nomination already has liberals donning their war paint and preparing to dig in for a long and protracted confirmation battle. In fact, Republican Senator Arlen Specter, who heads the Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he is "very worried" that Democrats may fillibuster this candidate if they believe him to be an extremely conservative jurist.

Also, dear readers, isn't it funny how after a brutal week last week for the White House (given the indictment of Scooter Libby, the 2000th Iraq casualty, and the failed nomination of Miers) that George W. decided to kick this week off with a press conference announcing his new nomination at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning? I didn't even realized that George W. got out of his jammies that early, but it sure managed to draw some attention away from indictments at the White House and all of last week's unpleasantness, didn't it? I'm sure that the timing was just a coincidence, though, especially given the fact that the White House released this nominee's name ahead of time so that reporters would be prepared to focus entirely on this candidate and completely change their direction of discourse....

And if I haven't said so before, The Adventures wishes to bid Ms. Rosa Parks a fond farewell. I'm sure that the lady never set out to become a civil rights icon, but her combination of common sense and dignity set an example that America has been hard pressed to follow. Via con dios, Ms. Parks.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

If you want to better understand the story of Friday night, (due to an idiosyncrosy of the publishing program) it's best to scroll down and start with the first picture from October 29th and then work your way back up. You don't have to do that, but I'm trying to help...

And beer appeared, but it did, in fact, turn some of us into retarded little monkeys. Mostly Crackbass. Posted by Picasa

And suddenly a beer witch arrived, exploding onto the scene in a cloud of American Spirit beer witch smoke, and she raised her magic wand and howled, "Need beer? I'll give you beer, you retarded little monkeys!!!!!!!" Posted by Picasa

"We could have a party, if only someone would get us some beer", said Crackbass, still in his trial suit after a hard day in court... Posted by Picasa

Sigmund was at the Wilson's- pretty much hanging out and feeding beer to Max the weiner dog so Sig could practice some amateur veterinary surgery on Max when he passed out- But Sig seemed reluctant to change his plans.
"How am I going to get any better if I never practice?" asked Sigmund.Posted by Picasa

So last night Elf Rami and Andy F. dropped by to visit in their usual Friday night attire, but it gave us an idea....  Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Not a lot of time to write right now, but how's this for circling the wagons, protecting the quarterback, and falling on your sword?

Also, I think that this article about the U.S. turning its back on science deserves some further exploration, but I just don't have the time at the moment. Still, given America's growing trends toward everything from religious fundamentalism to growing preferences for herbalism and holistic treatments over traditional western medicine, I find the fact the "turning away" from science to be a disturbing trend.
Here's one of those confessions that's really just not much of a revelation at all. George Takei, the actor who played the beloved character of Sulu on T.V.'s original Star Trek series, has announced that he is, in fact, gay. While Steanso had never heard any rumors about Mr. Takei's sexual orientation prior to this announcement, the news wasn't exactly a shock. I guess George Takei always just seemed like such a nice, soft-spoken, level headed guy that it didn't strike me as any big deal to hear that he was gay. Now if someone like Jesse Ventura or Arnold Scharzenegger announced that they were gay- now that would be an announcement.
I do find it kind of interesting that Cheryl Swoops and George Takei both came out in the same week. Maybe they're planning to form some sort of club or something. Or there's a discount at the IHOP. Anyway, good for George. Anything that makes you feel more comfortable with being yourself has gotta be a good thing, you know? (unless you're a serial killer, or something, but I guess it's obvious enough that hurting people isn't really a valid lifestyle choice)

And here's an interesting little Halloween story for you. Apparently some woman in Delaware committed suicide by hanging herself from a tree sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, but despite the fact that the woman hung herself out in the open, in plain view, the suicide went unreported for at least three hours because people passing by apparently thought that the body was some sort of Halloween decoration or prank.
What a drag. You kill yourself because things aren't going well and you're getting no respect, and then people mistake your body for a Halloween decoration for a good part of the day. Jeez. I gotta take a closer look at what's going on with those decorations over at the Wilson house...

Well, I don't have too much else. Congratulations to FOS (that's Friend of Steanso) Rosa Theofanis and her fiancee, Nathan Wilcox (sp?), on her upcoming wedding this weekend! I'm looking forward to it, and I wish you guys the best!

Go out and do fun Halloweenish stuff this weekend!


Thursday, October 27, 2005

By the way, Steanso will also now be contributing to a website called Nanostalgia. It's a website hosted by my brother and some friends of ours, and it mostly is meant as a site for the review and discussion of media and pop culture. I won't be writing on it every day (god knows I barely manage to keep The Adventures afloat), but I'll be making posts from time to time, and the other writers on there should be pretty darn good. Check it out. Don't cost nothin'.
Well, the Astros put up a much better fight than the record reflects. I think that, overall, the World Series had two fairly evenly matched teams, and all of the games were pretty close, but you gotta hand it to the Sox for winning four hard fought games in a row. The Astros coaching staff made some decisions during the series which will undoubtedly be analyzed into the ground, but the truth of the matter is that Chicago is just a really consistently good team. Oh well. Maybe next year. At least Houston made it to the World Series.

In other news, Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to the Supreme Court. Although Miers cited a "burden to the White House" and a possible constitutional crisis as reasons for giving up the nomination (senators had begun to request information regarding potentially privileged conversations between Miers and the president), Steanso's personal belief is that both Bush and Miers just wanted to find a way out. Bush didn't want to be embarrassed by a confirmation hearing in which his nominee was torpedoed by his own party, and Miers wasn't interested in suffering the rigors of a confirmation hearing if she wasn't likely to get the job.
I guess now we'll see if Steanso was right, though. People asked why I wasn't objecting more strongly to the Miers nomination, and I kept telling people that I was keeping my mouth shut because Bush could have picked someone much, much worse. And now I think he'll make that choice. I have a feeling that the next candidate that Bush picks is going to make Miers look like Mother Teresa. The religious right screamed like a stuck pig when they didn't get a hardcore right winger on this last nomination, and I have a feeling that now they're going to get what they're yelling for. Let's hope that the Democrats (and some sensible Republicans) in the senate will have the fortitude to stand up and do whatever is necessary to oppose any extremely conservative nomination. It may take a fillibuster, but they need to do whatever it takes to keep the far right from hijacking the judiciary.

And here's something idiotic. The ACL Fest organizers, apparently unimpressed by last year's record breaking temperatures (108 degrees, people!) have moved scheduled the event to take place one week earlier next year. The last two years have had some pretty scorching temperatures (there are shows that I can honestly barely remember anything about from last year other than choking in the heat and dust), and it seems like the year before that was pretty hot, too.
This seems like the first real screw you move from the ACL Fest organizers- a move that says, "We're going to sell this thing out, anyway, so we don't care about how much you have to suffer in order to attend." Fest organizers claim that it would be too difficult to book bands in October, but I just don't buy that. This festival has become a huge event, and I doubt that it would be that hard to fill the bill even if the festival happened in December. I think artists want to play it.
Maybe the festival organizers can cover the grounds out there with sawdust or something else to add to the dust levels and optimize their level of discomfort for the fans. Pricks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

For those of you who might have been thinking that The Adventures have been getting a little too heavy of late, I offer you this.
Apparently the White House has officially warned the satirical newspaper The Onion against continuing to use the seal of the office of the president in its make believe stories which poke fun at George. Well in light of his failing approval ratings, I guess that the White House decided that there's no better way to endear yourself to the American people than by showing that you have absolutely no sense of humor.
The Onion is a very funny rag which was originally started by some college kids at The University of Wisconsin. Everyone should read it. Here it is, if you've never checked it out.
Stupid White House.
The media is full of detailed, individual accounts of our servicemen who have died in Iraq as U.S. casualties crossed the 2000 mark this week. I'm sure that the goal is to help bring home the tradgedy of the Iraq War by humanizing the soldiers who have died- by telling their stories in ways that make their deaths more than just statistics to the American people.
I guess that's a good thing. I mean, of course these deaths are tragic. I guess I'm just annoyed at the fact that somehow the number 2000 is supposed to carry some kind of magic significance. If a war is a mistake (as I resolutely believe this one to be), then even one death during its execution is tragic.
Part of what has made this war such an insidious affair is the fact that, for the most part, American casualties have not come in large lump sums or in the wake of calamitous events. Instead, casualties have come in a slow, steady trickle- the kind of small numbers which may seem almost insignificant on a daily basis (after all, the military suffers a small number of casualties back in the U.S. every year during peacetime training or simply by virtue of the dangerous jobs that our servicemen are required to perform). So maybe there haven't been that many times when large numbers of casualties accrued in one day, but that hasn't stopped the Iraq War from slowly bleeding us to death.
And the slow bleed hasn't simply been a matter of combat deaths. Tremendous quantities of American resources and funding have been tied up in Iraq for years, and are likely to be tied up in Iraq for many years to come.
This morning on my drive in I heard Rush Limbaugh touting the new Iraqi constitution as a justification for our 2000 deaths and as proof that democracy is taking hold in the region. For once, I hope Rush is right, butI just don't see it. A constitution is worth nothing more than the paper it's written on if the people who created it don't have the authority, power, and skill to effectively implement the system of government which it lays out. That's hard to do when insurgents keep killing off your leaders and threatening your nation with civil unrest. It's also hard to do when your nation is deeply divided and polarized (mostly by competing religious and tribal factions).
So the U.S. military stays in place to keep the peace. The problem is, if Israel and/or Afghanistan are any indication, the insurgency could last decades if doesn't simply become a permanent part of the culture for whichever group of people end up feeling dispossessed by the new government.
And that could mean a very long term occupation for the U.S. in a part of the world where Americans are already seen as meddlers who want to control everything.
Anyway, all of this is just a long way of coming around to my assertion that the U.S. needs a viable exit strategy for Iraq. We can't just keep claiming that concrete plans for extraction amount to intelligence information for the insurgents. If nothing else, the new Iraqi government needs to have a timeline which includes deadlines for establishing various aspects of its own autonomy. They need to know that eventually they must stand on their own. The American presence as an occupying force in Iraq is bad for the morale of the U.S. (as well as having more practical negative consequences in terms of resource allocation) and it's bad foreign policy in a region where we are widely distrusted already.
We need benchmarks and a timetable to measure them against. And if we do our job effectively, it shouldn't matter all that much that the insurgents know what we're up to, because we're supposed to be preparing the new Iraqi government to deal with these problems on its own. We owe our troops some kind of realistic timetable, because the slow but steady trickle of deaths in Iraq is nothing new. It's what happens to occupying forces in the Middle East (or anywhere that occupying forces face a determined insurgency). If you don't believe me, ask the Russians.
So tired. So sad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Okay, I spent almost all day in JP court. We were supposed to have jury trials today, but all of the cases in JP 3 are like 5 or six years old, and so almost none of our officers showed up and only one or two of the defendants. Anyway, nothing went to trial.

Last night Crackbass and I tried to watch a new zombie/horror flick called Undead. It was made in Australia and had kind of cool special effects, so I had high hopes for it. But it sucked. I mean it was weird, so it had that going for it, but it still pretty much sucked.

Well, I don't have much time for blogging today. Good luck to the Astros tonight!!!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's Monday and I'm back at it- making the donuts of justice. My weekend was good. Friday I had some drinks and dined with Crackbass, The Pea, Andy F., and The Elf. We were supposed to watch Prom Night, but I fell asleep halfway through the movie in the Wilson's big, comfy recliner (but not before seeing Jamie Lee Curtis in one of the best disco scenes ever captured on film- I think that the disco was what truly made Prom Night a "horror" movie).
Saturday I had some Octoberfest chow with the Wilsons, watched UT stomp Tech, cut down the giant tree limbs which had fallen on my patio, took Cassidy to the dog park, and watched both Kingdom of Heaven and Unleashed (which were both pretty enjoyable, actually). Sunday I took Cassidy back to the dog park, went and saw Domino (which was a mistake), and had Mono E practice with the crew. Then I hung out with Reed and watched Chicago beat Houston. Damnit. A pretty good weekend, all in all. The weather has been beautiful, and all the doggies at the dog park throw their paws in the air and say "Yeah!".
Apparently there's another hurricane, this one a category 3 when it made landfall in Florida, but I just don't have the energy to monitor another hurricane. I know it's not fair, but they're gonna have to do this one without me.
Not too much else to report. Lunch today was with D.K. "Anklebiter" Punzi, Crackbass, and Josh Saegert (Josh is just crying out for a nickname as well, but inspiration hasn't struck me yet). We ate Mexican food and discussed the intersection of lawyering and politics.
That's all for now. Peace.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Well, I got out of court this morning much earlier than I expected, so I have some time to blog. Sorry that yesterday's post was kind of a downer. I was really tired and not feeling especially well, and let's face it- sometimes Steanso is prone to some nasty fits of depression in which he feels that the whole world just kind of sucks (I like to think that these fabulous little episodes are part of my charm).
Today, though, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Tom Delay is facing a media feeding frenzy at his arraignment, just across the street at our illustrious Travis County courthouse. What could be better?
On this whole Delay thing, I hope that Judge Perkins (whom I've appeared in front of many times, argued with on a few occasions, and even shared some beers with a few times) holds his ground and refuses to recuse himself or let the venue of the trial be changed. Perkins has a few quirks (who among us doesn't?), but he's a fair guy and a knowledgeable judge. The notion that the judge should recuse himself because of his political affiliations is pretty ridiculous in a state where judges have to be political by their very nature if they want to get elected (we don't have appointed judges here, kids- we have elected judges who typically need the support of a party if they're going to have a legitimate chance of winning their elections).

And interesting things are afoot at The White House. Apparently George's kids are nervous because they are anticipating indictments coming down for Karl Rove and possibly vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis Libby in the ongoing CIA leak investigation. Wagons are being circled and damage control teams have been placed on high alert. I gotta say that I'm kind of impressed that the CIA and the Justice Department are taking this leak so seriously, but then again people should be punished for leaking classified intelligence information, especially when leaks are made in the process of carrying on some ridiculous political squabble.

And news has come out that apparently former FEMA director Michael Brown, who has blamed everyone but himself for the chaos following Hurricane Katrina, ignored initial reports (for up to 16 hours) that levees had failed in New Orleans and that the city was flooding with water. Once again, good job Brown!!! Marty Bahamonde, a senior FEMA staffer, reported to a bipartisan House Select Committee hearing that there was no reaction from Brown to initial reports of flooding (reports made by Bahamonde and others) for up to 16 hours after the levees gave way and the New Orleans began to fill with water. I guess there's no reason to beat a dead horse, but once again, good job Michael Brown!!!

And last, but not least, a defense lawyer representing one of Saddam Hussein's codefendants was kidnapped and murdered on Thursday by unknown parties who claimed to be working for the Interior Ministry office. I know that Bush keeps claiming we're making progress over there, but it's gonna be real hard to establish an adversarial court system if they keep killing the defense attorneys. I mean, it's a fun job, but probably not worth dying for.

That's all for now. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Once again, not much time for blogging. In addition to not having any time to get blogging done, I guess that I just haven't been too captivated by the news in the last week or so.
A lot of stuff has happened in the past few years, but it's all begun to shift from being news to just being the way that life is. The Iraq war is part of life, our corrupt, deceitful, self-serving government is part of life (although they constantly seem to find new and enterprising ways of screwing us), the destruction and rebuilding of New Orleans and the gulf coast is part of life, global warming is part of life, the bird flu is part of life, the continuing possibility of terrorist strikes is part of life (although the likelihood of such events is up for debate), high fuel costs are part of life, and the uncertainty of America's economic future is part of life. I'm not saying that these things aren't important- just that they aren't new or catching anyone off guard anymore, and so my usual "first impression" type blog entries regarding some of these topics just don't seem all that appropriate.
The new job is good, but the hours are longer and the work a little more intense than was advertised. It's all part of the "Intake" portion of the job which all starting prosecutors go through, though, so this too shall pass, and eventually I'll move on to other stuff.
Maybe I'm just tired or maybe Steanso is just struggling to avoid a downturn in his attitude cycle. I don't know.

Good news is that the Astros are headed for the World Series, and I've got a new job that's keeping a roof over Cassidy's head.
Peace out, ya'll. I may be stuck in court all day tomorrow, so there may be no blogging. If not, have a good weekend.
I'm tired.
Bear with me.

Congrats to the Astros and the City of Houston!!! I heard quite a few people saying that the Astros were going to go down in flames after the Cards squeaked out a win in game 5 and the series moved back to St. Louis. I'm glad to see that the Astros didn't believe that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hey, guys. Sorry the blogging has been kind of weak lately, but I've just been really busy.

Last night I got together with Crackbass and Jackbart to watch Inferno, a "horror" movie from 1980 by artsy Italian phenom Dario Argento. IMDB had this to say by way of description about Inferno, "Semi-sequal to 'Suspiria' has a American college student in Rome, and his sister in New York investigating a series of killings in both locations where their resident addresses are the domain of two covens of witches. " This is probably my second or third Dario Argento film (I know I've seen Deep Red, and maybe another one as well, but I'm not sure), and I've just got to say that I don't really get them. They're not really scary, and typically they don't even make a whole lot of sense. I guess they're kind of good at evoking a dreamy, hypnotic mood, but mostly that kind of thing just puts me to sleep (quite literally, in last night's case). Anyway, if anyone out there is a big fan of Dario Argento (and someone must be because I keep reading about how great he is in different articles, and I know that George Romero totally dug him), I wouldn't mind if you posted a comment telling me why you dig him, because I just can't seem to figure him out.
Other from that, I don't have too much to report. Another large tree branch fell in my backyard, narrowly missing my house and fortunately missing Cassidy, who was out back at the time.
The new job is going pretty well, but it just doesn't leave me with a whole lot of free time for going out to lunch, blogging, and keeping up with all of my friends in and out of the courthouse. Hopefully things will eventually get easier in that regard.
The Astros play tonight, and I still am hoping that they beat St. Louis to make it to the World Series. Houston has done an admirable job within the past year of trying to care for Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees, and I think that the people over there deserve to have some fun and excitement for awhile.
That's it for now. To all of you people who I'm not getting to talk to as regularly as I should (in light of the new job), I apologize, but bear with me! It'll get better soon! Hopefully...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Short post today, mostly because I spent the entire day in JP3, arguing with people about whether the speed of the car in front of them (which didn't get pulled over) has anything to do with their guilt or innocence on a speeding ticket. (It doesn't)

And in the ongoing debacle which is the Tom Delay case, speculation has already begun about whether Delay's attorney, Dick DeGuerin, is already laying the groundwork for the attempt to change the trial's venue by moving it out of Austin.
I don't think that anyone in the criminal law community is going to be surprised by a motion to change venue. Austin is a liberal city which is likely to be seen as a hindrance to Delay's defense, but in addition, Delay is well known for having led the charge in 2003 to split Travis County into three separate congressional districts, thereby weakening the voice of the liberal county within state government. Motions for change of venue are very rarely granted within the criminal law community, but needless to say, this is not a typical case, and even if the judge at the district court level refuses to approve a change of venue, I would imagine that there will be an immediate interlocutory appeal which will seek to overturn the trial court's decision. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out. Steanso, for one, will definitely be pulling for Ronnie Earl and the oompah loompahs at the Travis County D.A.'s Office- no matter how many commercials Delay runs in the attempt to brainwash his potential jury pool.
Well, Steanso is tired and the hour grows late.
More posting tomorrow, chitlins.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Alright, I missed making a Friday post. I'm sure that all of your weekends were ruined as you sat around wringing your hands and wondering what had become of Steanso. The truth of the matter is that Steanso has just been furiously busy with the new job and could not get to a computer on Friday. The blogging is probably gonna suffer a bit until Steanso manages to get the hang of this new job.
Friday night Steanso had Crack practice after having a drink with law school pal Nhut Tan Tran. It was good to see Newt. Saturday Steanso travelled behind enemy lines in order to attend the A&M v. OSU game with Weedo (A&M won handily). Steanso was supposed to go out with Nhut Tan again on Saturday, but we got back from the game pretty late and pretty tired, and I missed him. Hope you had a good time, Newt. Sunday was a combination of the dog park and Mono Ensemble practice.
Steanso sends out a belated birthday greeting to Jim Gillespie, bass and sax man for the Mono Ensemble. Sorry that we pretty much missed your birthday, Jim. I'm notoriously bad about that kind of stuff.
And how cool is this? (see, Dead Man? I can hide my links when I want to....)
The Astros are one win away from heading to the World Series! I would never claim to be the world's biggest baseball fan, but ever since I was a kid (when we lived in Houston) I've kind of watched the Astros from a distance and hoped that they could overcome their critics and make it to the World Series. This summer I managed to catch two Astros games (seeing them lose to the Rangers and beat Milwaukee), and I had a lot of fun at both games. The Astros are just one of those underdog teams that I can't help but like, so I wish them the best of luck tonight. I definitely need to try to watch that game.
I've perused the news, and although the proverbial sands of time keep flowing through the hour glass, I didn't see anything in particular which managed to launch me into a rant. Hope everyone has good Monday.
Maybe more later if there's time.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Well, the blogging has been a little slow this week, so how's about a little rant?

Here's an article from the New York Times that got me annoyed:

The new bankruptcy law, which goes into effect on Monday, now requires credit counselling before debtors can file for bankruptcy. Why is that a bad thing?
Basically my reasons for getting ticked off about this are twofold. First, it's just another step that makes it more difficult and expensive to file for bankruptcy and seek relief from creditors. Sure, sure, I can already sense fingers moving toward keyboards to post comments out there. Steanso, is each and every American not responsible for his own spending and financial planning? Do creditors not deserve to be reimbursed for the goods and services which they offer?
I guess that my answer is.... sort of. Of course I recognize that people need to be responsible for their own decision making, including their finances, but at the same time we live in a culture which saturates us with sales pitches and unbiquitous advertising at every stage of our lives. I'm not saying creditors should not bear any responsibility for their actions, but I guess that I'm asking a question about how much responsibility lenders should bear for offering credit to people who are clearly known to be poor credit risks, and who are nonetheless constantly inundated with offers to finance purchases and borrow money. We live an the era where halftime reports and sports stadiums carry the names of corporations and products, an age where commercials "pop up" at us on the internet as we try to read the news, where buses and taxis carry the billboards of strip clubs and television shows, and in which scrolling slogans appear above our heads on blimps when large crowds gather. My morning radio comes on to signal the start of my day, and before I can open my eyes I'm listening to the latest deals that I can get on a new Chevy. Our culture and our system of economics drive us to be consumers. The desire to buy things is what propels our society, and that desire is feverishly nurtured. Expensive products become status symbols and even our self worth becomes tied to the amount and quality of objects that we can afford to purchase.
But sometimes the system works too well. Logic falls prey to desire. Some of this is to be blamed on the debtor, to be sure. But when creditors want to keep lending money to people without checking to make sure that these people are going to be able to pay that money back, I think the creditor deserves some of the blame.

Also, by the way, my second point was meant to be that these credit counselling groups are making a profit off of this whole enterpise of lending advice to debtors (the IRS is trying to revoke the nonprofit status of twenty of these organizations by the end of the year). They are not only making a profit, but they are making their profits off the backs of people who literally do not have any money to spend in the first place. In addition to the "impartial" debt counselling which they provide, the debt counselling agencies typically offer debt management services which allow creditors to pay off debts at a reduced rate through the debt counselling/management agency. Creditors, in turn, pay the agencies a fee for "settling" these debts, recognizing that settling these debts at a reduced rate will be more advantageous than letting the cases go to bankruptcy. So, what you get is an agency that's handing out advice to people about whether or not they should file bankruptcy (annoying bankruptcy lawyers, incidentally, who say that many debt counsellors do not even truly understand bankruptcy, and that they inappropriately try to steer people away from it at all costs), while at the same time that same advice-giving agency is collecting money from creditors which can only be obtained if bankruptcy is avoided. It's a screw job, you dig?
Anyway, it's a random rant, but it gets at the heart of some of the things that bug me about our consumer culture. Anyway, creditors have lots of money. George Bush and the GOP love people with money. We got a new bankruptcy law.

"Money- it's a hit,
Don't give me that do goodey good bullshit..."
-Pink Floyd, Money
Hey guys. Well, the blogging has suffered a bit with this new job, but that's probably the price that you pay for little perks like getting a salary and being able to keep a roof over your head. Cassidy is still unhappy with my new work situation (she would strongly prefer that I be available 24 hours a day to take her to the park and the creek), but I've validated and normalized her feelings, and now we're working through these changes.

Here's some sad and disturbing stuff out of New Orleans:

Apparently the hospital staff in New Orleans had some serious discussions about euthanizing patients who would suffer slow, painful deaths without proper medications or hospital equipment in the aftermath of Katrina. There are continuing rumors and allegations that some mercy killings did, in fact, occur, but these reports are unsubstantiated and have been denied by a number of hospital employees.
I just can't imagine being put in a situation where I had to contemplate taking part in such a thing, but then again I've never been put in the position of being responsible large numbers of people who are likely to suffer a slow, painful death if I didn't do something to end their suffering. I'm just not sure that I could sit in judgement of someone who had been put in that position. It's too much to get my head around.
Anyway, I'm filing cases and trucking along. Back to court tomorrow.
Maybe I'll write more later. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kurt Vonnegut. He's a genius. Here's a decent article about him for those of you who are so inclined.

Even better. Go read Cat's Cradle. It's the funniest book ever about the end of the world. (although Hitchhiker's Guide has its moments and Revelations will keep you in stitches).
I'm not sure that anything in this article amounts to a revelation, but it's a decent article about the therapeutic effect of blogging.

Today is my first day to have a computer in my new office, so I wanted to say hi, but I'm also busy, so maybe I'll get back to this later....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Today was my first day in court as a prosecutor. It was JP court and I spent most of the day signing people up for defensive driving and telling truant kids that school is still sort of mandatory in this country. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing (I've really never worked in a justice of the peace or municipal court before), but already I'm dizzy with power.

Cassidy isn't too happy about the whole "Steanso's back to work" program. Even when I get home she sort of sulks and pouts. Oh well. Everyone has stuff to do in order to earn their keep. Cassidy's job is to not freak out when I'm gone.

I'm tired, and I'm getting to the blogging kind of late tonight, but I hope that each and every one of you is doing A-OK as you read this. More, better blogs later. I promise.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Well, today was Steanso's first day of working for the man at The Travis County Attorney's Office. Things went pretty well. I spent more than half of my day in some kind of orientation which talked about my insurance plan and various options for my life insurance policy (which is pretty much completely moot since I have no wife or kids).
Tomorrow I get to go to JP court (Justice of the Peace) and argue with folks about traffic tickets and truancy. It's gonna be weird (and probably fun) after having been dealing with criminal defendants as clients for the last six and a half years.

The weekend was pretty slow. I saw Meredith and the Shaw clan, had a really good Mono E practice, and saw A History of Violence, which was pretty good. I also watched Lifeforce with Jackbart and Crackbass. It was a pretty fun Halloween-type film. The Pea's brother and sister-in-law had to evacuate Beaumont after Rita, so I had their dogs, Woody and Dolly, here (the Wilson house being unavailable because the Wilson wiener dogs would most likely be turned into bite-sized snacks by the hounds o' Beaumont). They were nice pups and it was fun. Cassiday misses them.

In news from the outside world, stuff keeps happening, but not a lot that I wanna comment on. Big earthquake in Pakistan. That sucks bad, but what else is there to say? The U.S. ought to send a lot of aid. We went crazy with Katrina relief, but in the end there were maybe, at most, a couple of thousand dead? I'm not trying to undermine the tradgedy of that event, but the earthquake in Pakistan killed somehwere on the magnitude of 20,000 people (and the government of that country is just not equipped to deal with that kind of a calamity- their response is gonna make FEMA look world class). Anyway, send a few more bucks to the International Red Cross, people. I know that the call for donations has gone out a lot over the past year, but this year has sucked (tsunami right at the end of 2004, then Katrina, and now this). We must all stand together or we will surely fall apart.

Okay, I gotta go get out of work clothes.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Well, my thanks go out to Frank "The Tank" Skowronski for sending me a link to the following article which was both interesting and a little disturbing:

Apparently President Bush has been telling foreign leaders (including the Palestinian prime minister and his foreign relations minister) that he has been carrying out missions from God. Apparently God told George to invade Afghanistan, and then Iraq, and God is now asking W. to help try to secure peace in the Middle East. Bush went on to tell the prime minister that he (i.e., Bush) had a moral and religious obligation to help the Palestinians to secure a state.

Aside from the fact that these beliefs put Bush on the same level of operational planning as The Blues Brothers, these statements are alarming in that they reveal a motivation for action on Bush's part which neither requires logic or justification nor which leaves room for question, debate, or reasonable doubt (assuming that Bush actually made these statements). A person who believes that they are receiving their daily agenda from God is not going to question those instructions or let anyone else question them either, for that matter. Also vaguely troubling is the fact that if Bush truly believes that God is speaking directly to him, our president may be a raving lunatic who's suffering delusions of grandeur. Of course, all of this stuff may really only be problematic if these instructions aren't really from God. God wouldn't do us wrong, would he? This raises the interesting question of why in the world God would want to talk to George. Can we really trust God to advise the president? God hasn't been through a single confirmation hearing, and his record in advising political leaders thus far has been spotty at best (I mean, he had that whole Crusades thing, the Northern American and European witch hunts, the Spanish Inquisition, the subjugation of numerous "pagan" indigenous peoples, etc., etc.- and let's not forget the fact that God seems to enjoy playing both sides of the fence. There are quite a few Muslims in Iraq right now who swear that God told them to build IEDs in order to blow up American convoys.) Or maybe the voice whispering in Bush's ear isn't God at all. My understanding is that God has an ex-employee who loves to meddle in situations which could potentially turn violent, and this guy seems to love using overly ambitious and foolish humans as his tools (see Faust, Anton LeVey, AC/DC, Colin Powell).
Anyway, thanks to Frank for the article.

Jim "Dizzy" Gillespie has also forwarded an article about how Bush wants to use the military to institute martial law and enforce a quarantine if the bird flu makes it to the U.S.

You gotta wonder why God doesn't just help to cure the flu instead of using George Bush to round up all of the people who contract it so that they can be locked away. George Bush and God. When those two kids get together, there's no telling what kind of shennanigans they're going to get into!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

And I know that I'm posting too much this week and no one is gonna read all of this junk, but I'm not working this week, so I tend to overblog.

How about this?

The Senate passed a bill on wednesday which would help to regulate the detention of prisoners held by the U.S. military, including the length of their detention, interrogation, and their treatment. The bill passed by a 90 to 9 vote, with 46 Republicans joining 42 Democrats and 1 independent in an overwhelming majority. The bill passed despite threats from the White House that Bush would veto the $440 billion military spending bill if the amendment remained attached. Nonetheless, Republicans and Democrats joined together in staunchly supporting the bill. More than two dozen high ranking retired military officers joined in endorsing the bill, including Colin Powell. The White House maintained that the bill tied the hands of the executive branch and the military in times of war.
I'm really glad to see some Republicans stepping up and doing the right thing about this situation with "enemy combatants" who are being held without any meaningful civil rights by the U.S. military. When even Colin Powell is breaking ranks to say that we need to respect the rights of prisoners, you know that your policy needs to be seriously reexamined. Like it or not, the U.S. sets a leadership example around the world, and the practice of seizing prisoners without trials or tribunals or any kind of external oversight has got to be considered a bad precedent. If our soldiers were treated in a similar fashion by a foreign government, the U.S. would, of course, find the situation completely unacceptable. I've bitched about this topic many times before, but I'm glad to see the Republicans and Democrats finally finding some space to come together in the middle and make some headway on some of the issues that the White House refuses to address, let alone remedy.
It's also good news that the Senate sounds like it's tired of being pushed around by the Bush administration. Bush can veto this military spending bill, but he'll be cutting off his nose to spite his face (creating problems with military funding in order to protect their right to mistreat prisoners). Moderate Republicans are right to stand up to irrational, ill-conceived strategies from the White House when such strategies are not in the best interest of the country or their constituencies. I would hope that Democrat senators would act in the same manner if we got some guy into the White House who kept trying to shove idiotic policies down everyone else's throat. It's heartening to see our senators reaching some middle ground on something for a change.
I found out at last night's Crack practice that Rami's apartment was burglarized this week, so she may have some other, more pressing concerns than writing my guest blog at the moment (like replacing all of her worldly possessions). Sorry to hear about your place getting sacked, Rami.

And have we all forgotten about the Iraq war? Not really.

Bush gave a speech on Thursday in which he said that the Iraq war had become "an excuse" for terrorists to hate the United States, but that in reality they had harbored hatred for the U.S. long before we invaded Iraq, and that they would continue to hate us long after the war was over.
Bush probably gave the speech as part of a new push to shore up support for the war in Iraq. Poll numbers have shown support for the war steadily waning since last spring.
I actually sort of agree with Bush's statement that extremists are using the war as "an excuse" for the U.S., and I agree that they hated us long before the war started. The problem is that we keep giving them examples of why the U.S. should be hated (I mean that we keep lending them evidence to support their argument, not that the U.S. should actually be hated). We created prisons without trials or oversight at Guantanamo, we photographed our own blatant mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and we invaded a country, incidentally killing untold numbers of civilians, so that we could insist upon our version of democracy- a version of government that I am still skeptical about ever being successfully implemented as the Iraqis create their new constitution and elect new leaders (what are we gonna do when a bunch of Muslim clerics are voted into power?). Anyway, whether these things are "excuses" or not for the hatred of the U.S., the point is that we keep managing to feed the fire of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world, and the continued building of this animosity is probably not going to end until we withdraw our troops from Iraq (and probably not until a long time after that). I'm really not sure what to do about the Iraq war at this point. I just know that it's a godawful mess, and that we never should have gone in in the first place.
Bush is also now stating that terrorists around the world are now using Iraq as their "main front" in their war for world domination. Is anyone else getting sick of Bush using "terrorists" like some sort of made-to-order boogeymen that he can pull out of his pocket and throw into a debate whenever he needs to scare American citizens into giving him support on some issue?

Here's the thing. Terrorism is a tactic. Terrorists are people who employ that tactic. As much as Bush wants to believe the contrary, terrorists are not some kind of monsters who can be hunted down and wiped out once and for all. You can't just wipe out all terrorists, because the moment that someone decides to attack innocent civilians in order to further their own political agenda, they become terrorists. Terrorism is that tactic of the dispossessed- the tactic of people who don't have the money or resources to wage a full-out war against a military juggernaut, but who still insist upon putting up a fight. People who feel that their lives are threatened seem to be capable of making these kinds of decisions every day (and not just Arab Muslims- the Chechens have been using these tactics for decades in Russia, and the I.R.A. was going like gangbusters with the bombs before that). While Bush angrily spits out the word "terrorist" to describe insurgents in Iraq, other people are considering these people freedom fighters- especially when their attacks are against the U.S. military rather than civilian targets. Using bombs and sneak attacks against a far superior military force is not terrorism- it's just smart strategy. And sadly, I think many people in the Muslim world even understand the terrorist attacks against civilians. Having watched the Palestinians struggle in Israel for decades, they know that one of the most effective ways of applying political pressure (especially when you have only a relatively weak military force) is to bring your "appeal" directly to the constituency of your oppressors through terrorism. I'm not saying Iraqis approve of this method, but they understand it and lack the outrage and shock that Americans feel when terrorist tactics are implemented. Anyway, I'm mostly just saying that terrorism is not going to go away, even if we were to win the war in Iraq tomorrow, so long as there are people out there who feel that it offers an effective tool (and possibly the only tool) for fighting enemies that are much stronger than themselves.

Anyway, as the insurgency seems to continue to gain strength and new deaths pile up in Iraq on a daily basis (and we continue to have no exit strategy or foreseeable date to begin withdrawal), I can only say that for those of you who still don't see the similarities to Vietnam, you would have done very poorly in your history classes. I'm not sure what to do with this war now that we're stuck in the middle of it (I have a feeling that the old, "you break it- you bought it" mantra applies), but I sure wish we'd never gotten into it in the first place, and I'm not about to forget that it was George who told the lies and made the mistakes that led us down this road.

"I went out into the night,
I went out to pick a fight with anyone..."
-The Arcade Fire

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

By the way, Rami Reid is supposed to write a guest blog for The Adventures, so everyone cheer her on so that she will actually do it! Go Rami!!!!

Here's ninja Cassidy again. I wanted to see if I could get the picture to come out better. Posted by Picasa

Well, here's a bit of Steanso history. This is a picture of my grandmother, Tyne Johnson, as a little girl (she's the one in the white dress) with her mother, Mrs. Kivisto, and her brothers, Ero, Tolvo, Lauri, and Eino. The picture was taken in Finland, circa 1900. My great grandmother died in Finland, and my grandmother immigrated to the U.S. (through Ellis Island) to come live with her father, but he was killed in an iron ore mining accident shortly after she arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Anyway, my mom unearthed this photo recently and sent it to me. Those Kivistos may look like a somber group, but they're partying on the inside (actually, for some reason photographers weren't big on having their subjects smile back then- I have other old photographs of the family and no one is smiling in those, either). Anyhoo, three cheers to the Kivistos for coming to the U.S. so Steanso could be born here and spend his time complaining about the government and listening to rock and roll!! Posted by Picasa
I don't feel much like blogging today. Apparently Conan O'Brien is going to dedicate his entire show to U2 when they come to play on Thursday.

That might be fun to watch, if I can remember (living without DVR is a real bitch).

Man, I'm struggling for material today. I had dinner with the Wilsons last night, and we have Crack practice scheduled for today.

In addition to the Neill Young album that I bought yesterday, I also got Fiona Apple's new album, and it's pretty good. I also heard most of the new Rolling Stones album, and it's pretty good, too, although it's got some throwaway songs on there. Still, it's probably the Stones' best album in awhile (and I applaud them at taking a shot at Bush with "Sweet Neocon", except the song itself isn't all that great).

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

By the way, the new Neill Young album, Prarie Wind, is pretty badass. Since I have the week off, I have time to post about random crap like this...

"Amber waves of grain
bow in the prarie wind
I'm hearing Willie singing on the radio again

America the Beautiful, that song from 9/11
keeps ringing in my head
I'll always remember something Chris Rock said

"Don't send no more candles
whatever you do..."
Then Willie stopped singing
And the prarie wind blew"
- Neill Young, "No Wonder"
Ronnie Earle is at it again.

Tom Delay was indicted on a second charge, this time for money laundering, by a Travis County grand jury on Monday. The second indictment came not long after counsel for Delay filed motions seeking a dismissal of the first indictment on the grounds that the conspiracy statute did not apply to 2002 election law in Texas. This second indictment was issued on the same day that the Justice Department confirmed that they would be talking to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in connection to a visit she had in 2000 with Delay during a trip which had been arranged by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The inquiry into Delay's activities on the trip is part of a larger corruption investigation of Abramoff and the lawmakers whom the lobbyist was associated with.
As I've said many times, I'm glad that Ronnie Earle is going after Delay, and I'm pretty darn sure that Delay violated campaign finance laws (after his other string of ethics violations, funnelling money from TRMPAC seems like the kind of thing he would have almost done casually and without thinking). I am, however, a little bit worried about how the Travis County D.A.'s office is running this prosecution. Like I've said, Earle and the kids at the D.A.'s office should have known that Delay was going to come out swinging, and that's exactly what happened. Every indictment that Earle issues needs to be airtight, 'cause Delay is going to hire some of the best lawyers in the country (and Deguerin is up there), and they're going to poke holes in anything that's not on extremely solid legal footing and backed up by some really solid evidence. As much as I love to see Delay indicted, they need to handle his case very carefully, because if Delay dodges this bullet he's going to come back stronger than ever, even more convinced of his own invulnerability. And that's not a good thing when you're going after one of the most powerful politicians in Washington- especially one who holds the nickname "The Hammer", in part because of the retribution he metes out against his political enemies.
Anyway, my point is just that Mr. Earle needs to make sure his ducks are in a row before he goes after this guy because Delay and crew are going to exploit every misstep or apparent misstep that the prosecution makes in their attempt to make this case look like a witch hunt.

It sounds like the Justice Department may soon be adding to Delay's list of problems, however, and if the feds ultimately end up charging Delay with corruption, his federal court problems may make these Texas charges look insignificant by contrast.

In other news, it seems that at least some conservative leaders are hesitant to support Harriet Miers, Bush's new choice for Supreme Court nominee, because they don't feel that her political leanings fall far enough to the right.

Some conservative leaders such as Rush Limbaugh have openly criticized the pick, while others such as James Dobson (Focus on the Family) and Paul Weyrich (the Free Congress Foundation) have stated that they are skeptical, but will reserve judgement until they learn more.
This is probably a good sign for those of us in the middle or on the left. In fact, pretty much any time Rush Limbaugh starts bitching about something, you can take that as a good sign. I think that these leaders on the far right were willing to accept Roberts' confirmation without complaint because they assumed that the next appointment that Bush made would be farther to the right. Now that Bush has selected another fairly moderate candidate in Miers, conservatives are realizing that the president has no intention to stack the court with right-wingers, and this realization is ruffling some feathers. In truth, I think that the selection of somewhat conservative but fairly moderate candidates by Bush is politically savvy. He'll still get some pretty conservative people appointed, but without having to test his current political strength (which may not be all that great at the moment after the Katrina debacle and his sagging approval numbers) through a long, protracted confirmation battle.

I also noted that Alan Greenspan, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, will be retiring in January and that Bush will need to pick someone to fill his seat. This may have a huge impact on the U.S. economy, as Greenspan has been a key influence in guding the U.S. economy during his tenure, helping to avoid deep recessions and massive inflation through (among other means) his control of interest rates. It'll be interesting to see who Bush comes up with to fill that post.

Here's a picture of Cassidy the Wonderpup doing some aquatic ninjitsu at the Barton Creek the other day. Ninja!!!!! Why, oh why do I have to go back to work next week? Maybe I can live off the earth or something.... Oh well, it's gonna be too cool for the creek soon, anyway. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 03, 2005

So Bush has made his next choice for Supreme Court nominee.

Harriet E. Miers, a woman from Texas who is currently serving as White House counsel, has been selected as Bush's new nominee for Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. Having never been a judge, Miers lacks a judicial record which may be examined in order to predict how she may rule on future issues which may come before the court. Miers has previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff, chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, managing partner and president of two Texas law firms, White House Counsel, and at one time, personal attorney to the President.
Personally, I don't really have an opinion on the woman, yet, because I don't think her views have been made clear. Let's hope that she's fairly moderate.

And the Tom Delay story just keeps going on:

Delay has, as predicted, come out swinging against Travis County D.A. Ronnie Earle, accusing him of an unethical, partisan attack and an illegal prosecution. Earle, for his part, has denied any partisan politics, and points out that 12 of the 15 public corruption cases which he has tried have been against Democrats. Delay, nicknamed "The Hammer", has run up against other issues of questionable ethical behavior before, although none have risen to the level of a criminal indictment. On three separate occasions in 2004 he was admonished by the House ethics committee for questionable actions which he had taken while serving as GOP whip. Even some Republican leaders have issued calls for Delay's resignation, including Rep. Christopher Shays from Connecticut who appeared on CNN asking for Delay to step down in light of this new indictment and past unethical behavior. The White House continues to support Delay, with Press Secretary Scott McClellan referring to Delay as a "good ally" and a hard worker for the American people.
Personally, I want the man gone. He's a bully who openly flaunts his unethical practices, believing that no one has the power to take him to task for his actions. He takes gifts from lobbyists and pushes around junior colleagues, all the while believing that no one outside of Washington will care and that no one within Washington has the power to stand up to him. Well, someone down here in your home state noticed, Tommy, and we're calling you back to Texas to take a bit of medicine. Personally, I think it's great that if the people in Washington can't put a stop to Delay's nonsense, then the people back here in Texas are taking the job on for themselves. If we created this monster, then we can put a stop to it. Maybe the fact that we've seen his power grabs up close makes us more aware of the danger than the rest of the country (see his redistricting agenda), but I'm glad that someone in Texas is doing the right thing for the first time in a long time. You go, Ronnie.
Well, the weekend went pretty well, all in all. I went to Spring to visit Mum and Dod Steanso, and they were doing well. We did things like going out to eat and seeing a movie and watching football and hearing one of Mum's friends play in a band and taking Cassidy for walks around the neighborhood.
The movie that we saw was Serenity. It was pretty cool. For the people who saw the original series, Firefly, the movie is definitely in keeping with the plotlines and spirit of that show. I think that they even brought back most of the characters which were introduced on that show. Dod and Steanso both really dug Serenity. Mum once again wished that she had had daughters who would come home and take her to see romantic comedies. Joss Whedon wrote the script, I believe, and although the movie pretty much uses a mishmash of pre-existing scifi source concepts rather than attempting anything completely original, Whedon is good enough at writing characters and dialogue to make you forget that you've seen most of the elements in his plotline before. It's a fun flick.
I got home earlier today (technically yesterday at this point), and we had Mono E practice. We rocked pretty hard, and ran over a lot of material, hardly breaking into an AC/DC song once. Eric's renting a Telecaster, so he brought that to practice and tried it out. It sounded cool. We need to get a gig.