Monday, December 31, 2012

Les Mis & The Critics

I tend to pronounce the first "S" in Les Mis,
making me sound like less than a wiz.

I did like the movie. Very moving. I read today that critics often panned the original show for its "earnestness". And reportedly a lot of critics don't like the film for the same reason.

But, audiences are another matter. They mostly don't mind earnestness. That's because they're not deeply cynical, I suppose.

Cynicism tends to destroy
the taste for unalloyed joy.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bloomberg's Perspective

They've arrested another crazy person for the 2nd NYC subway push-death in a month.
A deranged woman who told cops she detests Muslims broke into a maniacal fit of laughter as she was charged with a hate crime Saturday, three days after she allegedly shoved an Indian immigrant to his death in front of a Queens train.
But if you're a regular rider on the system, you shouldn't get too worked up about this, says no less an authority than:
...Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged residents to keep the second fatal subway shove in the city this month in perspective.
Now, some subway systems around the world are actually being retrofitted with safety systems to cut down on push-deaths (and accidents and suicides).
So why not New York City? Last year, 146 people were struck by subway trains in New York City. Of those, 47 were killed. That amounts to one accident every 2.5 days, many of which would conceivably have been prevented by a feature now widely used around the world.

But the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the corporation that oversees the city’s transit system, is notably cash strapped these days, facing a $2 billion budget deficit that is expected to mushroom to $3.6 billion by 2016, according to a recent report by Citizens Budget Commission.
146 people hit by subway trains in New York per year?

It's a public health epidemic.
The problem is systemic.
The mayor's urge for "perspective"
is heartless and defective.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dash Into The New Year

I know it's not quite 2013 yet, but today I ran the Dash Into The New Year 5k. The race was in Matteson, Illinois, about half an hour south of the city limits.

In the past I've run an actual New Years Day 5k in Chicago, but this was a lot more convenient for my schedule, and I managed to snag this nice medal for 2nd place in my age group. And yes, there were more than 2 people in my age group!

Snow was blowing in my face
for half of the race.

But it wasn't really all that cold. The snow wasn't sticking to the road.
I like doing a New Years race because the Christmas season somehow always makes me feel so comfy and cozy. Sooner or later I find myself sitting in a rocking chair, staring out the window at the snow, and savoring the pleasantness of just relaxing. All while munching on cookies!

I can feel my muscles turning to mush
so it's good to run out for a 3 mile rush.

Friday, December 28, 2012


I suspect it's a minor government tiff.
But it sounds much scarier when you say "cliff".

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goodbye Richard

The head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, is stepping down. She says it's to pursue new challenges and spend time with her family. However...
A Washington attorney suing the Obama administration for access to alias emails sent by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson claims that a recent decision by the Justice Department to release thousands of those emails next month contributed to her resigning Thursday.
It seems that Ms. Jackson had a secret EPA email under another name, "Richard Windsor", under which she was conducting government business. And Republicans in congress are making a stink about it.

We live in a suspicious society
where the appearance of impropriety,
even without proof of crime...

can suddenly inspire
an overwhelming desire
for lots more "family time".

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jack Reacher

We sent to see the new Jack Reacher movie. I've read one of the novels, and liked it. I thought the movie was very enjoyable. Tom Cruise turned down the boyish charm a bit and put on a rougher edge.

I haven't read the novel (One Shot) on which this movie is based, but the "world" of this movie felt like the world I remember from the novel I did read (61 Hours).

The author's sense of right and wrong
came through loud and strong.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Whether you're on the mainland, an island, or an isthmus...
wherever the heck it is, I wish you a Merry [insert rhyme]!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Criminal Fortification

I was reading about a local arrest, and saw that someone had been charged with "criminal fortification of a residence". I had never heard of such a charge. Well, sure enough, here in the land of Lincoln:
(a) A person commits the offense of criminal fortification of a residence or building when, with the intent to prevent the lawful entry of a law enforcement officer or another, he maintains a residence or building in a fortified condition, knowing that such residence or building is used for the manufacture, storage, delivery, or trafficking of cannabis or controlled substances as defined in the Cannabis Control Act or Illinois Controlled Substances Act.

(b) "Fortified condition" means preventing or impeding entry through the use of steel doors, wooden planking, crossbars, alarm systems, dogs, or other similar means.
So, on the bright side, it's only applicable if your intent is the protection of certain verboten substances.

But, I bet at least half of the houses in my neighborhood have an alarm system or a dog. Or both.

So according to the courts,
we're a neighborhood of forts!


Not exactly shocking news:
Many workers are willing to lie about a death in the family, illness or jury duty to play hooky, according to a survey conducted by a temporary job staffing firm.
Use uncles, not grandfathers, if a relative must "die",
You wonder why?

Because for grandpas there's a limited supply!
You only get two.

But,  when it comes to uncles, you may well have beaucoup.

If It Save One Life

Logistically, it may be hard,
but I believe that each of us deserves a well-armed guard.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

News You Can Use

A friend today requested a rhyme for this legal ruling from Iowa:
The Iowa Supreme Court says a dentist did not commit sex discrimination when he fired an attractive woman assistant he viewed as a threat to his marriage.
If a hot employee tempts you
toward illicit enjoyment,
it legally exempts you
to cut off her employment!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pre-Rhymed Headline

Business woman injured in sex romp gets worker's comp

This case, in Australia, has been working its way through their court system for years, but finally the claimant has emerged triumphant.

While on a business trip, having sex on a hotel bed, a lighting fixture fell down on her head.

The technical legal question before the Australian court was whether her ill-fated mattress-merry-making was "an ordinary incident of an overnight stay". Well, who's to say?

In her favor, reportedly her employer had encouraged her to stay at this hotel with the shoddy light fixture.

The story sounds strange, since the guy in the case testified that he didn't know whether they had bumped the fixture or whether it had simply fallen. Really?

But what interests me is the "injury" claim itself. She suffered "facial and psychological" injuries. Most of the value of the claim had to be on the psych side, wherein she "later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the government."

The nice thing about using a depression claim in your opening move,
is that it's hard to disprove.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heads Roll

3 officials at the state department are resigning, just after the carefully worded impartial report found a pattern of systemic failure leading up to the Benghazi murders.

Security failed.
Careers derailed.

Our secretary of state was already planning on leaving, of course. And can't testify about the murders because she's recovering from a concussion.

Truman said "the buck stops here."
But sometimes the buck just seems to... disappear.

Transparency vs. Privacy

This makes intuitive sense to me:
We typically assume that the more we can see, the more we can understand about an organization. This research suggests a counteracting force: the more that can be seen, the more individuals may respond strategically with hiding behavior and encryption to nullify the understanding of that which is seen.
That's from Ethan S. Bernstein who goes on to argue that people may actually be more productive when they are allowed some privacy at work.

Put privacy under steady, official attack,
and people will find ways take it back.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Blithe Spirit, First Rehearsal

We had our first rehearsal tonight for the MPTG production of Blithe Spirit, the ghost story comedy by Noel Coward.

I'm playing the skeptical doc,
who is rather inclined to mock
the mystically dotty
Madame Arcati.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seasonal Floral Limerick

A competitive sort of poinsettia
Proclaimed that her petals were betta.
She said, "Use your eyes -
My blooms take the prize -
They're bigger and brighter and redda."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Carol (Abridged)

That's the title of the Christmas show at Dream Theatre, which opened today at a matinee performance.

It's performed with 3 actors on a fairly bare stage, and its claim to your attention is that all the words you hear were written by Charles Dickens. The emphasis is on the literary quality, rather than special effects, and you never actually see Tiny Tim - unless you see him in your mind's eye, which I guess I did.

(Yes, there are special effects, but they are of the understated sort that ask you to use your imagination.)

This is a labor of love on the part of Rachel Martindale, who adapted it, directed it, and acts in it. And that love comes across. John-Paul Kostecki is a great deal of fun as Scrooge, and Mason Pain plays the other male parts with skilled enthusiasm.

It's ghostly and slightly scary,
but ends up sprightly and merry.

HRC Hits Head

The US secretary of state was sick, and slipped, and sustained a concussion.

And now won't be able to testify as scheduled before congress about the Benghazi attack.

I think they should reschedule when she's feeling better. Even if she's not secretary of state any more by then.

State department employees were needlessly killed.
The person in charge deserves to be grilled.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Joy on a Sad Day

At lunch, I happened upon highschoolers singing holiday carols in the library lobby. Their singing was lovely, and I stood transfixed.

Listening to them sing,
I felt the truth that life is a holy thing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cliff Hangers

The Wall St. Journal reports:
Fiscal Cliff Inspires Legion of Poets
There are samples, both rhymed and haiku.

For many the cliff inspires creative leaps.
But I get depressed and soon fall sleep.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hold Out, Turned Out

Illinois is a hold-out state - the only state in the union with no provision for normal citizens to carry a loaded gun. But our local federal appeals court has now struck down that ban as unconstitutional.

Don't go walking outside with a gun in your pocket just yet - the court gave the state 180 days to pass some new rules.

So, the unconstitutional law, is still in effect? That's kind of bizarre, in a way.

The ruling itself is interesting. It's written by Richard Posner, no fan of gun rights, but a bright guy who is trying to apply the logic of recent supreme court rulings. I'm fond of this sentence:
The right to “bear” as distinct from the right to “keep”arms is unlikely to refer to the home.
A "right to bear"
suggests the "where"
extends beyond the home.

Gun carriers must be allowed to roam.

Losing Track of Time

I find I get the most work done when I'm losing track of time and the day is vanishing at a rapid pace. You know, a day where you glance at your watch and are surprised that most of the normal workday has already evaporated.

You want productivity? Here's what I ask:
let me become absorbed in the task.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Liberty of Contract

For book club today we discussed David Mayer's Liberty of Contract: Rediscovering a Lost Constitutional Right. I enjoyed it a lot. It's short and lawyerly, and it's dry, as legal arguments often are.

As with his book on the Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson, part of the interest for me was exploring how the constitution was viewed in the past, by very bright people whose theories were often quite different than those you usually hear today.

In Liberty of Contract, Mayer takes part in an ongoing scholarly re-examination of a period in the Supreme Court's history when it held that such liberty was an individual right.
Synthesizing the new scholarship and presenting a coherent and comprehensive overview of liberty-of-contract jurisprudence, this book argues that the orthodox view of the so-called Lochner era is fundamentally flawed in a number of respects. Indeed, the orthodox view is wrong in virtually all of its assumptions, which were based on myths originally propounded by Progressive-Era scholars that have been perpetuated by modern scholars who similarly defend the policies of the modern regulatory state.
Proponents of the regulatory state
don't give "liberty of contract" much weight.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Clause Needed

A US district judge, refusing to buy the wait and see if it really hurts argument.
“Moreover, the First Amendment does not require citizens to accept assurances from the government that, if the government later determines it has made a misstep, it will take ameliorative action,” he continued. “There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”
Maybe that's what the constitution needs! A "trust us" clause!

Proposed 28th amendment:

Citizens must
henceforward trust
that their government's actions are just.



Haul a tree indoors and prop it,
in a prominent position.

It's very hard to stop it,
it's a dominant tradition.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Come Quick

Somewhere in Texas...
"I'm out in the country somewhere," Moore told the 911 operator during the 10-minute call. "Some guy's got a gun on me."
You might wonder why some guy had a gun on him. Well... because the guy had caught him engaged in a burglary. The guy's wife also called 911, saying:
"You better come quick," she said, "or my husband's going to shoot him."
It's getting tough to be a thief.
You might have to call the cops for relief.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Federalism Chaos

Illinois is now considering a medical marijuana law. And our state senate just passed a law granting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.

Neither of these will make it exactly legal to smoke weed or overstay your visa in Illinois. Because federal laws presumably still apply here.

I'm unclear on whether the state can actually stop a local cop from enforcing a federal law. But I bet they can discourage it.

If... due to a medical condition,
duly certified by a physician...
you need to get high,
it'll be mostly the DEA and FBI
that concern you.

The local fuzz won't burn you.

Monday, December 03, 2012

In Pursuit of an Upper Lip That's Hirsute

In the Mideast, reportedly, a mustache is a sign of manliness. But not all men can grow a thick one. So, here comes cosmetic surgery to the rescue: recent years, increasing numbers of Middle Eastern men have been going under the knife to attain the perfect specimen.
Embarrassed by a thin moustache?
Want to look manly in a flash?
Just slip our surgeons some folding cash!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Owe Yes

Tomorrow, tomorrow, we'll borrow tomorrow -
I hope there's a way to pay!

Saturday, December 01, 2012


Most days I drink a cup or two. But...
"What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can," says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University.
I guess this means I need more caffeine!

But you know the way these things go...
in just about a year
there will be a major study to show
that coffee's a thing to fear.