Friday, July 29, 2005

Well, this whole thing has just gotten surreal. It's my last day here at The Law Office of Travis Williamson, and everyone's still acting as though it's business as usual. They keep putting stuff to do in my box and asking me to take phone calls from clients explaining what is going to be happening on their case next week. I just keep wanting to stand on my desk and say, "Don't you guys realize that none of this f*%king matters to me anymore?", but insteand I've just been hiding in my office and surfing the internet, waiting for five o'clock so I can get my check and go home. I just don't get it. If they don't need me, why are they so desperately looking for me to help them on stuff up until the last second that I'm on the clock? Up is down. Black is white.

I want to say thanks to the Wilsons for not only feeding me last night, but for listening to me vent when I was alternately whining and then cussing up a storm and stomping around wanting to smash something. That's what they get, I guess, for being my very close friends and neighbors. Lord knows, it ain't always pretty. Anyway, someday I will buy them a small alligator or an anaconda for their pond in order to repay them for putting up with my bitching (or maybe a chimp).

I think that I may have gotten one of my old home computers up and running well enough to search for jobs on the internet, which should, in turn, allow me to continue to post to my blog. Of course, now I'll be posting on my own time at night instead of squeezing the blogging in between phone calls and office appointments at work, so the entries may become a little shorter and less frequent. We'll just see how it goes.

And hooray, we have a new energy bill!
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/29/energy.bill.ap/index.html
I'm not sure what to think of this, and I'm not sure that the rest of the country does, either. It seems to provide some incentives for things like electric-gas hybrids and for home improvements geared toward energy conservation, but it apparently does very little overall to stem the demand for oil or to wean the U.S.'s dependence on it. In the end I think that the big oil producers probably won out more than anyone, but I guess that's hardly surprising, given the fact that the oil industry has practically been the official sponsor of Bush's white house.

Well, I guess that's it for now. Stenaso has no plans for the weekend, but if the skies clear up, he may be headed to Barton Springs so he can listen to the drum circle and escape the heat in the cold, cold water.

p.s.- I just came across this while wasting my time online before going home. I think it's an excellent career option for any of you ladies out there who are looking to try something new! Then again, maybe some of you are already in this field and I don't even know it....
http://www.entertheninja.com/ninja_fact/kunoichi.shtml

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Howdy. Last night the Wilsons took me out for dinner (theoretically in an effort to celebrate me leaving my last job and my new chances to explore other opportunities- which was a really nice idea. Talk about trying to look at the glass as being half full....). Anyway, we went to this place called Moonshine which is on Red River at 3rd Street (by the convention center), and it was really cool. The place is built in an old house, or the combination of a couple of old houses, and it has some really nice dining rooms as well as outdoor seating. I met the owner, a really nice guy named Doug whom I would have mistaken for one of the customers or kitchen staff if Crackbass hadn't introduced me to him, and he gave us the tour. We got to see the large, extremely old wine cellar below the place, hear about the modifications that they're making in order to keep the volume down in their various dining rooms, and see the upstairs balconey which Doug wants to expand into a seating area for cocktails. Apparently the restaurant seats 300, but it feels much more intimate because its layout is broken down into a half dozen or so smaller dining areas and bars.
The food was excellent, and in my untrained opinion, fairly unique. It largely consists of modern twists on traditional, southern homestyle cooking. We had corndog shrimp and brautwurst for appetizers, a couple of wicked cocktails whose names I can't remember, and for entrees we had snapper, salad, and ribeye steak. I tried a taste of everything (including their very excellent macaroni and cheese), and all of the dishes were very good. It was all very yummy, and if I thought there was any chance that Doug would read this, I would send him a mad shout out of thanks for being such a gracious host. It's cool to see someone who has so much enthusiasm and energy for his restaurant managing to pass his enjoyment along to other people. Doug had some cool stories about how he would sometimes sit and drink a glass of water on the front steps of the place and anonymously listen to the comments that customers made as they wandered their way out of the restaurant. As long as they were saying some really good things to each other about their meals, he said he figured that he was doing a passable job. Doug is a smart man.
Tomorrow is my last day, apparently, as an employee over here. Steanso needs to get set up with a home 'puter, so you guys may need to bear with him on the blog for a while.
I gotta go make some phone calls.
Peace out.

p.s.- Late breaking news. Remember how I was talking about how I liked the space program the other day because I thought it brought out some of the best attributes in human nature? Well, I also like it because of stuff like this:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/28/science/space/28cnd-shuttle.html?hp&ex=1122609600&en=8227521902fdf799&ei=5094&partner=homepage
Who wouldn't enjoy a space program where our astronauts are doing flip turns before parallel parking the space shuttle? Kickass.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Well, it looks like we have a few nominations for scary movie viewing in October popping up in the comments section. Also, apparently, some bizarro quotes which I'm guessing come from the movie Freaks. Keep those suggestions coming in, people.
We had a remarkably successful Crack practice, and probably produced sounds that could be our closest approximation yet to what square people refer to as "music". Our stuff had a tribal, trance-like quality last night, except for the few moments when Crackbass was on drums, at which time the band sounded like a steam locomotive undergoing catastrophic engine failure and tearing itself apart. Anyway, it was oodles of fun, and after practice we watched some IFC documentary on punk music in order to refocus ourselves in regard to who and what we are as a band. Don't learn to do it- just do it. That seems to be the theme. That and the beautifully adversarial relationship that we've managed to foster with our tiny audience.
Anyway, Steanso is kind of busy today between doing work for the office and hunting for a new job. Will write more as time permits or as Republicans do things so outrageous that I can't help but bitch about them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hey! I saw that Jim Dedman popped up in the comments section of Steanso's blog yesterday, and let me once again take a moment to thank Jim for all that he did and attempted to do for the Steans clan. As I said yesterday, it was a bummer that we didn't get to see Superman at the Jefferson Theater, but our trip was made mostly for Roundball to see Jim and Randy, and for me to meet them. They're both really nice guys, and as for Jim, he's the first guy to ever go out of his way to try to accomodate the somewhat bizarre Superman obsession of Ryan "Roundball" Steans in such a large scale fashion. So I still send Jim kudos for making the attempt at organizing a screening. It takes a really good friend to not only tolerate their friends' eccentricities, but to champion them.
Not too much to report. I watched the space shuttle launch this morning (I actually skipped quite a bit of work to watch this, but at this point I don't think that it matters).
http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/07/26/space.shuttle/index.html
The shuttle went up just like it has countless times before, but it was nice to see it launch again after the disaster with the Columbia in 2003. I love the space program. In terms of its spirit of exploration, and more recently the dogged determination of the people at NASA after suffering such a big setback 2 years ago, I think our space program represents a lot of what's best about us as human beings. And it's such an optimistic, hopeful endeavor. I just like it.
Some members of Crack are considering pooling their resources in order to host some scary movie nights in October. Our hope is to show the movies outside via a projector onto a screen, possibly in the Wilson's backyard by their pond. If you have any scary movies that you love which you would like to recommend for a screening, send them to me via email (j_steans@msn.com) or maybe even post them on here and I'll add them to the list. Try to include at least a few non-slashers, because Mandy doesn't care for that sort of thing (and we plan to watch the movies at her house).
What else? Not too much to report. Still looking for a new job. Contact me if you have too much money and not enough employees.
Crack practice is scheduled for this evening. Say a prayer for us, for tonight we rock.
Peace.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Well, I'm back from Beaumont.
Actually, as you may or may not remember, Steanso travelled to Beaumont in order to attend a film screening of Superman. Roundball, Steanso's brother, had been initially scheduled to give a short speech introducing the movie (Roundball being known far and wide as a champion of comic books, Superman, and other geek- related endeavors), but somehow Roundball's weasley ass wormed his way out of the speech, so the plan turned into us just driving down there to watch this screening of the movie (apparently Superman was included as part of the summer film lineup at the Jefferson Theater in large part because Roundball insisted upon it). Well, the film projector broke, and there was no screening to be had. Over 4 hours of road trip for me and a plane trip from Phoenix for Roundball and Mrs. Roundball, and no Superman movie.
Actually, that's not true. The projector died about ten minutes into the movie, just as Krypton blew up, leading Jim (Roundball's buddy who planned this whole shindig) to point out that this must have been the Superman story from the perspective of Superman's parents.
So we went drinking. In Beaumont. At 3:00 in the afternoon. There are only about 4 bars in downtown Beaumont, and three of them weren't open yet. We settled upon what passes for a college bar in Beaumont (a place which, as Jim also pointed out, the Real World cast would definitely have frequented if The Real World actually ever took the time to go to Beaumont), and we drank beers and watched Jim get depressed because his film had malfunctioned. Which really wasn't that big a deal, because we had all seen that film before, anyway. Finally some of Jim's other friends showed up to whisk Jim off to Lake Charles so he could drink and gamble his sorrows away. We retreated to Ma and Pa Steanso's house in Spring to drink more beer and float in the pool, and that was all good. Thus endeth the story of Steanso's first, and quite possibly last, trip to Beaumont.
I got back to Austin just in time for Mono E practice last night. It was a pretty good practice, but it ran way later than usual, and Steanso is tired today.
I went to lunch today with Team Bloom, Crackbass, and Killer Kraber. It was pretty good. Among other things, we discussed the kind of genetic freakishness which had produced such a great cyclist in Lance Armstrong and how he gets away with doping. Also discussed were the quantity and nature of drugs which might be considered performance enhancing in the great sport of Texas Hold 'Em Poker. Also briefly discussed was the fact that poker isn't a real sport. And the missing twelve hours in the Carl Rove spy ratting out case. And where is Jennifer's food?
Also, briefly we discussed my forthcoming unemployment, but I found that unpleasant, so I changed the subject.

I just can't figure out much more to talk about today, I'm really tired, and I need to look at sites that might get me a jobby job. Peace, ya'll.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Well, if things go according to plan, Steanso should be rolling to Beaumont in a few hours in order to attend screenings of Superman and The Flash which my brother is somehow involved in (actually, my brother was initially supposed to introduce the Superman movie, but I think he weasled out of it somehow, so now he's just got us all going to Beaumont to watch movies with him that we all own on DVD. I'm not sure how that happened, but what the hell.)

Anyhoo, it's a chance to go to Houston and let Ma and Pa Steans cook for me while I float in their pool, so I'm jumping on it. Also, Cassidy loves riding shotgun for a good roadtrip.

Just had lunch with Kraber, D.K., KimBloom (which I for some reason enjoy pronouncing as one word), and Rosa. Apparently, in fact, no one was washed away by the hurricane at the criminal law seminar at the beach, and they all had some fun down there. Damnit.

Last night I went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar. For about the third time in a row, the service was pretty darn crappy during our flick, with our orders being screwed up and our food and beverage bill being some fictional document with no grounding in reality. Like I said, this has happened before at that Alamo, and it's really frustrating and disappointing, because I love the Alamo Drafthouse on Anderson Lane at the Village, and it doesn't seem to suffer from the same sorts of problems and confusions which plague the South Lamar location. It's getting to the point where I would rather just go to a regular movie theater and buy a coke at the concession stand than try to deal with hashing out screwed up food orders while I'm trying to watch the movie that I came to see. But like I said, I love the Alamo in the Village, so I don't want to see the Alamo South go out of business- I just want to see them get their act together.
The movie itself was good. Johnny Depp did a good job of bringing out both the sense of wonder and the veiled sense of menace present in the Williy Wonka character (and the menace is necessary to the story in order to really fulfill its role as a cautionary tale for bratty children as Roald Dahl intended), and the psychedelic inventions, characters and scenery of the book play easily to Tim Burton's strengths as an architect of fantasy. I loved the original movie with Gene Wilder as well, and I'm not actually sure that this new version surpasses the old, but it's definitely a well-executed, fun movie that may well serve as the definitive movie version of this story for a new generation of viewers (which actually raises an interesting question about whether today's generation of kids will even be interested in seeing a movie about a magical, giant chocolate factory- our theater was full of a bunch of stoned, slacker 30-somethings reliving their childhood without any actual children anywhere to be seen, but then again, I saw the flick at 10:00 p.m. at night).

By the way, I guess my representatives didn't get my emails about the Patriot Act:
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/21/patriot.act/index.html
What was really disappointing about this vote is that even 43 Democrats voted to renew this piece of crap. I guess they feel like they need to pander to their constituents, and I guess that they feel that their constituents are afraid enough of terrorism to want to see this bill passed. Maybe they're right, but it sure would be nice to see some of our leaders actually lead for a change and make some meaningful changes that might give us greater security (say, by increasing searches of cargo at our nations ports or makijng some effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration) rather than just giving law enforcement greater opportunities to infringe upon our civil liberties. The truth of the matter, people, is that yeah, we'd theoretically all be a lot safer if the government knew every single little detail about what each and every one of us was doing each and every moment of the day, but at some point the cure becomes worse than the disease. Giving the government the power to peer into all of our lives in order to catch an infinitesimaly small number of people who might do us harm gives me the heebie jeebies. I don't trust politicians, and therefore I don't trust their agents- from the CIA and FBI all the way down to the local cops. Individually, they may be fine and upstanding people, but at the end of the day they are bound to follow orders handed down by higher powers- higher powers who increasingly seem less and less interested in serving the American people and more and more interested in pushing the particular agendas of their specialized groups of supporters (i.e., the extremely wealthy, the religious right, big business, etc.). Furthermore, no matter how well-intentioned they may be, sometimes cops and law enforcement agents are just plain wrong, and by the time their errors are realized, the subjects in their cross hairs frequently have had their personal lives exposed to public scrutiny, their careers ruined, and their reputations damaged, almost beyond repair.
OK, I'm done with my rant because I have a client coming in to see me, but please take the time out to go to this page:
http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/action.cfm?itemid=18844
On it, you can take action on certain political items, if you so choose, but more importantly, the web site can give you the names and email addresses of your legislators so you can just add them to your address book and drop them a short email to make your voice heard the next time some ridiculous crap like this Patriot Act renewal comes up. Even if you hate everything I'm saying, I still say you should give your legislators reason for pause before they just go in and vote the party line. Take a second to send an email and make sure your voice is heard.
There endeth the rant.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

See! And you guys thought there was no market for my political rantings....

http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/07/21/unabomber.writings.ap/index.html

If good ol' Ted's work has managed to find an audience, then surely there must be hope for Steanso!

And here's something more genuinely scary:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/21/congress.patriotact.ap/index.html

We don't need the Patriot Act, people! (and more importantly, the infringements on civil liberties created by this bill are going to be with us long after our terrorism paranoia has passed unless we do something put a stop to this bill now). And now we're going to grant the FBI the power to subpoena records without the approval of a judge or gand jury? Brilliant. Because let me tell you, working in criminal defense for 7 years has taught me that cops are never overzealous and they never lose their objectivity when pursuing a suspect that they believe to be guilty.
Let me clarify once again. The Patriot Act allows the government to go into your homes or tap your phones without you knowing (or without even requiring any sort of a claim that the suspect is a terrorist). It allows the government to look at your medical records and the books that you check out of the library without any requirement that you be warned of the intrusion. Under this fabulous bit of legislation, the government has the power to look at essentially any kind of record that you possess (school transcripts, library records, internet records or records of online activity, credit and bank records, and almost any other kind of business or personal records that you possess) without even asserting that you are the agent of a foreign organization or without even asserting that you are involved in any kind of criminal activity (and although agents are required to submit an application for such searches to a judge, judges have no power to deny or refuse such applications). Organizations who are forced to hand over such records are legally bound from disclosing the fact that there has been a government search to any third parties. The Patriot Act is unconstitutional in that it violates the 4th Amendment requirement of a showing of probable cause (approved by a magistrate) before search and seizures can take place. The Patriot Act is also unconstitutional in that it allows "sneak and peek" searches into suspect's homes without having to give notice that a search is occurred. Such searches are patently unconstitutional, violating the due process requirement of notice (which in itself is important in that it allows a suspect to make sure that law enforcement officers are complying with legal procedures when entering a suspect's home). Incidentally, "sneak and peek" searches are not limited to terrorism cases, and can be used in any kind of government investigation.
Anyway, I just don't think that America is fragile enough to justify these kinds of intrusions. Or that these kinds of intrusions really do anything to protect us from the real dangers of terrorism. From my understanding, if INS had been properly tracking the individuals involved with 911 in the first place, the whole thing never would have happened (weren't a number of them just loitering around our country on expired visas?), and yet Bush seems resolutely determined to avoid making any real changes to our immigration and naturalization policies (mostly because any real change in that area would most likely be expensive). It's hard to believe that any kind of real "Homeland Security" can exist when hundreds, if not thousands of illegal immigrants have the potential of crossing our borders, unchecked, on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong. My grandfather was an illegal immigrant, and I think that 99.9% of these people want nothing but a better life for themselves and their families, but if we're going to be serious about stopping terrorism, we have to realize that terrorists can easily enter and reside in this country in an undocumented capacity, and our current system will be able to do little or nothing to detect them, let alone stop them.
Anyway, write to your reps or email them to bitch about the Patriot Act. We don't need a renewal. While you're at it, read Crackbass's comment from yesterday's blog and send your rep. an email opposing John Roberts confirmation as well.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Well, by now my colleagues at the Advanced Criminal Law Seminar in Corpus Christi have surely been washed away by hurricane Emily. Via con dios, oh merry band of lawyers!
And Steanso's job hunt continues. Arrgh.
We have a new nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge John Roberts. And all that George W. wants for Judge Roberts is a "fair hearing". Of course, I translate that to mean, "You liberals better not give me a hard time on this with any of your questions about civil rights or protecting citizens from big business or else I'll get that draft started back up in a heartbeat!"
I gotta say, Bush was a little more crafty with this nomination than I expected. He picked a guy that I have no doubt is quite conservative (behind closed doors he may very well admit to Bush that he tortures suspected pot smokers in his free time), but he's only been an appellate judge for a relatively short amount of time, and his record of judicial opinions is relatively small and may have not yet required him to take stands on many controversial issues. In other words, we may not really know what kind of guy we're dealing with until he's already been appointed and is issuing decisions.
Anyway, I guess that my attitude for now is kind of "wait and see", but I certainly won't blame the Democrats if they put Roberts through the ringer, grilling him extensively about his personal convictions on various issues. This needs to be the flip side of nominating a candidate who doesn't have a lenghty record which may easily be scrutinized. I hope that the man turns out to be a decent candidate, but Bush better not bitch too much while the Democrats do the job of investigating what kind of a man they are dealing with. It's the highest court in the country, it's a lifetime appointment, and the guy's job is going to be about protecting our constitution. Don't rush us, George. If your guy has no skeletons in his closet, he'll be fine. Otherwise, we need to know.
Not too much else to report. I'm going to Houston this weekend. Beaumont and Superman. It's a difficult concept to get your mind around.
Thanks to the Pea for cooking me some spaghetti last night. She's a good woman, even if she did marry a guy whose favorite nickname is Crackbass.
And good luck to today's lunch bunch. Good luck to Amy Blanchard with the re-poofing of her hair. Good luck to Trey Collins with Jill. Good luck to Kraber with... uh... all sorts of stuff (pool, mostly, at the moment).

Oh yeah, good luck to Reed Shaw in the AMD trenches for keeping that flow going. Whatever that means.
Peace.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Steanso is still here. Barely.

Looks like the kids at the advanced criminal law seminar at Corpus Christi may be getting some hurricane rain. See, I knew there was a reason I didn't go play on the beach instead of going to court all week (and I bet that all of that Corpus Christi ocean water smells like sour grapes, anyway).

Good ol' George is supposed to announce his candidate for the Supreme Court, tonight, kids.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/07/19/scotus.main/index.html
I, for one, am all atwitter with excitement to see who George picks to be our next champion of constitutional interpretation. Seriously- a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful governmental bodies in the land, and the decision is being left up to George W. Bush and his cronies. The very idea that Bush will have the power to choose his predecessor has scared Chief Justice Rehnquist into downplaying his own health problems with thyroid cancer and insisting, despite persistent rumors to the contrary, that he has no intention of retiring any time soon. ("No, no. This cancer thing is no big deal. Really. Look! I can walk it off!")
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/07/14/rehnquist.health/index.html
Anyway, watch closely, kids. Once again, Steanso is betting that Bush is about to make something really bad happen (or try to , anyway). Do yourself a favor and send an email to your congressman if Bush tries to nominate someone who's going to step on your civil liberties or undermine the enviroment or average citizens for big business. My guess is that Bush will nominate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his former legal adviser. On the up side, Gonzales could be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. On the down side, Gonzales seems to enjoy the endorsement of civil-liberty-shredding legislation such as the Patriot Act and the violation of human rights, even when they're protected by international law (i.e., the Geneva Convention) with word games and semantic dodges ("Well, Mr. President, it's true that we aren't allowed to torture enemy soldiers under the Geneva Convention, but placing enemy combatants under physical duress during interrogation, why that's something altogether different.") I'm not sure that Mr. Gonzales is really ready to take the reigns when it comes to safeguarding my constitutional rights.
Anyhoo, I don't mean to sound like Chicken Little, and the sky hasn't fallen yet, but I'm just saying that you guys may want to watch this one closely. There's bound to be some crazy footwork going on once this nomination is announced, and you don't want to miss the floor show. All of that smoke and those dazzling mirrors....

Monday, July 18, 2005

Hey, guys. Steanso's back, but it's difficult to say for how long. Nevertheless, to quote Matthew Broderick in The Freshman (something which hardly anyone ever does):
"There's a certain kind of freedom in being completely screwed."
Steanso's job is on life support, and he has no immediate job opportunities dancing on the horizon. If anyone is in need of a 32 year old criminal defense attorney who plays well with others and rocks like a banshee in his free time, please drop me a line (I used to market myself as being good at moving heavy objects, but now that I've hurt my back, I'm not sure that's a good selling point anymore).

Seriously. I need a job. And quick. Cassidy needs a new pair of shoes. Or more specifically, three shoes.

In other news, Mono Ensemble practice went well this weekend. We learned a new song (which was a little complicated, but rocked fairly hard), and we brushed up on some old standards. There were only three of us at practice due to baby-related affairs for some Mono E members (which is a fairly common occurrence- people ask me why we're an ensemble instead of just a band, and I say that it's mostly because we don't know how many people will be playing with us on any given occasion). Eric Gottula (our guitar player, singer, and de facto leader) has a new solo CD out (and by out, I mean he burned me a copy with no song titles or track information on it) which is quite good. To me, it has sort of a Beck vibe (at least on some songs), with solid grooves looped over melodic basslines over some crunchy guitar and whatnot. Anyway, it's definitely got some hummable tunes on it, and I dig it quite a bit.

Well, that's all for now. Maybe more later. Be good or be quick.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Between Steanso's ongoing problems with his back (think muscle relaxers and electric muscle/shock treatment, kids) and the fact that Steanso's job is in jeopardy, Steanso has had little or no time for blogging of late. Nonetheless, Steanso has not forgotten about you and feels bad that he hasn't really had the time to write. Maybe if Steanso had a 'puter at home he would be a more effective blogger. Maybe if Steanso had a sane work enviroment, he might also be a more effective blogger.

Anyway, there are many crazy things going on in the world involving the perpetually evil Bush administration and Karl Rove, in particular, and Steanso's readers should be alarmed and outraged by this stuff, but Steanso just doesn't have the time or attention to lend to it at the moment (which is probably how much of America feels, which is, in part, how they get away with this shit). Anyway, I'll get back to that stuff later, but for now I gots to hunker down, get my work done, and keep my wits about me.

If anyone wants to guest blog, send me an email at j_steans@msn.com and I'll hook you up. If you send me some publishable writings, I will do my best to post them.

Peace out.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Steanso has fallen on some tricky times, guys. Bear with me....

Friday, July 08, 2005

Boy, you sure can blog about a lot of different kinds of stuff. I guess the topics that you choose to blog about say a wee bit about you as a person. For instance, here's the kind of blog that I imagine Crackbass would produce if he were ever inclined to blog:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/08/national/08idaho.html
And here's a battle for Civil Rights that I bet Crackbass could finally get behind:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,161956,00.html
And while I enjoyed the article, I'm still not sure which exact part of the Consitution guarantees us the right to get drunk in our own homes. Maybe some drunken law student had torn that page out of my Con Law textbook.
And it's good to know that the U.S. is willing to play ball with other technologically advanced, industrialized nations when it comes to matters of global safety.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/07/AR2005070702231.html
Global climate shifts and rising oceans? Well, the other 7 members of the G8 say that these matters are important enough to address immediately and to take action to prevent, even if it means restructuring their economies in ways which cause some short term growing pains, but which are ultimately more environmentally friendly. Americans, however, are not a bunch of rubes that just fell off the turnip truck, and we ain't going to cut into our profit margins just to overt some kind of world-wide, catastrophic environmental shift. I bet the real reason those other countries are banding together against us is that they hate our freedom and our democracy. There seems to be a lot of that going around lately. By the way, toward the end, this article contains some fascinating stuff regarding what happens when George W. rides his bike too fast. Sounds like good stuff for a short children's book or after school special. Maybe the secret service should get him some training wheels.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

First off, I want to send a mad shout out to Sigmund "Fathead" Bloom for another successful trip around the sun. Many happy returns, Sigmund!!!
Second, I want to bitch about how hot it is. Damn, it's hot. 102 degrees right now. Before Roundball pipes up with some comment about how much hotter it is in Phoenix, let me just go ahead and say it don't matter. Once you get up over the 100 degree mark, it's just freaking hot, and if you have to wear a coat and tie it's that much worse. Anyway, we all know that Phoenix constantly feels cool and breezy, since out there in the desert they only get that extremely comfortable "dry heat".
My sympathies go out to Londoners.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/07/07/london.tube/index.html
I know I bitch a lot about the way the Bush administration has manipulated the "War on Terror" by using it to serve their own political ends, but never let it be said that I'm making excuses for terrorists. Blowing up civilians in order to get strike back at an enemy government is just shitty (and this includes the times when we've done it). It's also ineffective and short sighted. Anyone who thinks that the English are going to change their policies because London has been attacked has both a poor understanding of the British mind set and a very poor knowledge of history (e.g., German firebombing of London during WWII or the decades of IRA terrorist attacks during "The Troubles"). These terrorists are idiots, and I hope they're hunted down and punished in whatever way the English people see fit. I bet Tony Blair doesn't turn around and invade some country that had nothing to do with the attacks, though.

P.S.- The Austin City Limits Festival has already put out a preliminary schedule for this year's festival.
http://www.austincitylimits.com/festival/2005_schedule/schedule_day1.asp
There are some bands which have been announced as playing which haven't been worked into the schedule yet, and there are already some overlaps which are sort of bummers, but on the whole, it looks really fun and I'm already getting excited for it. If you haven't gotten tickets yet, you should. I think I'm going to try to have an after party one night for people to unwind at the Hop-a-Long Lounge, if anyone's interested. I just pray to god that the hot part of the year is over by then....

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Well, Steanso is still in a great deal of actual, physical pain following the beach bender weekend, so it may be too soon to calmly reflect. But here goes...
Suffice it to say that I had a really fun trip, and I think everyone had a good time. Jeff and Andy did some fishing, and Sigmund and I realized that we are utterly incapable of setting up a tent and/or camp site on our own (fortunately we had friendly, helpful neighbors). We ate some good seafood, saw some fireworks, and stood chest deep in the ocean discussing the frequency and nature of shark attacks on the Texas Gulf Coast. We invented mixed drinks (kudos to the Pea for the Summer Delights) and we saw dolphins and hermet crabs and sunsets (a few of us saw sunrises) and kung fu karaoke and we let the salt water wash over us and fix our ailments. It was a good time, and we all seemed to sort of need it to catch our breath. Thanks to all of the beachgoers- Kim, Rami, Sigmund, Andy, Jeff, and Mandy- for making it so much fun and getting along so well. A trip is only as good as the company that you keep, and this was a good trip.
Now I'm back in the real world, though, and there is much to do. No time for a political rant, but I think it's screwed up that Judith Miller from the New York Times was jailed today for refusing to give up the name of a source.
http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/07/06/reporters.contempt/index.html
I think maybe she should have thought harder before publishing the identity of a CIA operative, but I think it's important that reporters be allowed to protect their sources. It's all part of our big system of checks and balances regarding abuse of power.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Since it's almost the 4th of July (or the 4th of July weekend is almost upon us) and since I spend a lot of time on this blog bitching about various states of affairs in American government and politics, I thought I would take today off to highlight a few of the things that I like about our country and which make me glad to be an American.
#1- Freedom of Speech- The First Amendment. I love it. It's what lets me get away with publicly saying things like George W. Bush probably has sex with pigs without being hauled off in handcuffs in the middle of the night. Seriously, though, freedom of speech, and more specifically the freedom to criticize our government without fear of reprisal is a really good thing and its value shouldn't be underestimated.
#2- The Fourth Amendment- I love this, too, but it's under fire. I'm glad that we live in a country where there are safeguards against the government coming into our homes (or, to a lesser extent, our cars or our person) in order to just arbitrarily search for evidence of criminal activity. I'm glad that the cops have to show probable cause before arresting us or raiding our homes. Once again, Americans take this right pretty much for granted, but ask the people of North Korea or Iran if they wish they had these kind of protections against the police, and you'll probably come to a whole new appreciation of our constitution. Combined with the 6th Amendment right to counsel and the 5th Amendment right against self incrimination, the 4th Amendment helps to set the cornerstones for our entire criminal justice system, and it provides some of the most important civil rights which criminal defense attorneys struggle to protect.
#3- Rock and Roll- It's not all about politics and goverment. Sure the Beatles, The Who, the Stones, and a lot of other rockers helped to perfect it, but it's an American-born creation (getting off the ground with Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, and others), and it saved my soul. God bless rock. Long live rock and roll.
#4- Baseball- I never played baseball in any kind of a formal league, but I love watching it in the summer with a cold beer in my hand. It's a sport that somehow always seems kind of laid back, even during its most exciting games and moments. Everyone should take some time off this summer to go see a live baseball game(even if you don't consider yourself a fan). It's good for the soul.
#5- Movies- Okay, Hollywood may have become self indulgent and overblown, but America is still the place to go if you want to make big movies with big name actors and directors and expensive sets, makeup, special effects, and all of the other things that go along with producing large-scale cinema. Sure, a lot of stupid crap gets made, but Hollywood pretty much got the ball rolling on big-budget pictures and it still occasionally produces epic features on a scale that few places in the world can match.
#6- Jazz- It grew out of New Orleans Dixieland music and ragtime into an art form championed by Miles Davis and his progeny, but it never would have developed at all without African American blues and gospel music. Nowadays, it's celebrated around the world, but it started in the southern black community here in the good ol' U.S.A.
#7- Separation of church and State- Like freedom of speech, this also arises out of the First Amendment, but this right guarantees that our goverment should not impose any particular religion, nor should it adopt any particular religion as the official religion of the American goverment. This is the rule that our original colonists were looking for when they came to settle our country (after having been hounded relentlessly by the church-affiliated governments of their native country). Anyway, this rule makes it ok to have whatever religious beliefs that you want or even no religious beliefs at all. If you don't like this rule, I would refer you to the people of Afghanistan so that you might chat with them about what their lives were like under Taliban rule.

Well, that's it for now. There are other good things about our country, of course, but Steanso is tired. Happy 4th, everyone!!! Wish me luch in Port Aransas!
Sandra Day O'Connor stepped down today, and that scares the bejeezus out of me, but I don't even want to try to consider the ramifications today. I'm going to the beach!!!!