I ate my wafer...


Why Hillsdale College is on the wrong track with this statesmanship graduate program business:

A. "Statesmanship" is not a conventional graduate program, and is not found as an accreditted degree option anywhere I checked. (Try googling it sometime and looking for an reputable MA/Phd program from an accredited college.) I would point out the Larry Arrn's old home at Claremont is in second place.

B. Honorary degrees in statesmanship are the customary butt kissing handed out to commencement speakers that happen to be politicians. So, imagine how much a degree in statesmanship is worth in both the job market and in school reputation. You have a degree that smells like it came from a thinktank or was honorary, along with a small liberal arts college churning out graduates with a dubious degree.

C. It represents Larry Arrn's unsuitability for his position. He may be an excellent think-tank leader, but turning Hillsdale College into Claremont with the graduate program is not good for Hillsdale. Anyone else notice that Arrn is not exactly churning out books? Big hint Larry, that's what small college presidents do when they aren't raising money directly or adminstrating.

D. Having read, or at least glanced at every issue of Imprimis for about 10 years, the political slant has changed from a mix of anti-deficit spending and anti-liberal social program pieces, with a smattering of non-political articles to nearly constant warmongering and Bush worship. Most of the non-political pieces have disappeared from the Imprimis, and a comparisin between Dr. Barron's attack on homeopathic medicine and the recent Midge Decter piece (although the Imprimis version is sanitized somewhat from her CCA talk to remove her interesting argument that hetrosexual intercourse cannot transmit HIV) shows that accurate science is no longer worthy of Imprimis.


Since I'm deep in the depths of this particular breed of constitutional law at the moment, I think some comments are in order on the discussion of abortion over at the highlands Version 1.0 group blog. (As jared pointed out in the comments previously, I am preparing a "withering assault on both sides" on the topic. Please resist the temptation to jump to any conclusions about my personal oppinions from the following.)

A. As O'toole mentioned, Roe v. Wade is no longer all that relevant to the discussion, with Planned Parenthood v. Casey affirming the central tenents of Roe despite various changes in the timing of fetal viability, etc in the 20 years between the two cases. There are other cases that are relevant as well, but I would say that Planned Parenthood is the place to start if one wished to understand the current state of the law.

B. Jane Roe's recent attempts to have Roe v. Wade reconsidered are completely and correctly covered under mootness. I know that someone may jump in here and point out that Roe v. Wade originally was an exception to mootness, but this was due to the short length of pregnancy, which would otherwise make it impossible to find any litigants for this issue. Giving an exception to mootness to Jane Roe would be unprecedented and silly, any legal argument she has can be better brought by a different litigant. (Jane Roe cannot be naturally capable of bearing children anymore!)

C. Since Jane Roe has been mentioned, I would point out that I am very suspicious that her arguments about post-abortion psychological harm to the mother would hold any weight legally. I will admit that I have not studied the topic in depth, but as far as I know scientific support for the Post Abortion Traumatic Stress Disorder, or whatever people are calling it now is shaky. (I know the APA rejected it in 1989, but haven't really followed the topic closely). I do know that a good bit of the pro-life literature ignores non-pregnancy related factors such as rape, or a previous history of depression. Conversely, from the legal perspective , Post-Partum Depression and the milder baby blues version are well recognized and very common, yet I doubt that it holds a legal goldmine for the pro-choice crowd. If anyone HAS followed this topic closely, I would be interested in more information.

D. I have a anti-abortion leaflet sitting in a desk drawer at the moment that utterly and completely infuriates me with blatant cooking of science and statistics. When I received it in October, I was tempted to blog a scathing analysis of its "abortion facts" but realized I was probably holding it to a higher standard than I should, etc, and held off. Anyway, a couple of the more egregious problems:

-Silently including statistics about health risks to men, especially about mental health, to force false comparisons. (i.e. women that have abortions are x% more like than "everyone else" to have x problem.) I suppose I might excuse not making the comparisons to women that carry a child to term but even that seems like a serious lie of omission.

-A complete whitewashing of the Hippocratic oath. Beyond all of the ethical and historical problems surrounding the original oath, it is completely misleading to imply that all doctors have taken it and are violating it.

E. I hate the pro-choice movement for historical revisionism with regards to the number of women killed by illegal back alley abortions. The figure 10,000 deaths a year is often tossed around with the implication that it applies to, oh, 1970, immediately prior to the Roe decision. I can believe that there were 10,000 deaths a year in the 1930's and perhaps even higher during the early years of World War II (I had a very interesting conversation with a retired army nurse on that topic once). In anycase, the availability of antibiotics for treating botched abortions radically reduced the death toll. I suspect that in the absence of Roe, even more states would have joined the handful of existing abortion on demand states, and the death toll would have dropped even further.

German welfare reform laws force prostitution?


A piece of glass from my long ago car accident is working to the surface, the first one in years. Strangely, and probably psychosomatically, more than a normal number of formerly broken bones are also making their presence known today. It always amuses me that the aniversary of said accident tends to fall at the coldest part of the year, so the old injuries flare a bit. I suppose I should admit that other things that I injured in warm weather flare up in the cold too:

(via phone today)

Bob: Hey, what do you find works best on your old fractures when they hurt in the winter? Asprin?
Bob's Dad: Depends on which injury, the ribs....
Bob: Well even though it was a minor crack not a break like the pelvis and ribs, the finger I shut in the manhole cover is the annoying one.

Bob's Dad: Manhole cover? Do I want to know?
Bob: Oh, yeah, you didn't know about that. Nothing big, just dropped on my hand sneaking into a tunnel.
Bob's Dad: Yeah, I'd reccomend that you just try to keep it warm, that's worth more than the pain meds.


A breif experiment in live-blogging:

Currently sitting in consitutional law II...and we're doing Roe. V. Wade today, and...its getting ugly.

Student "A": The definition of citezen in the 14th amendment implies birth as a prerequisite for legal rights....

Professoress Con Law.: ...by that, there's no legal protection against murdering migrant workers.

Student "B": This involuntary servitude argument is B.S., sex is voluntary, the woman signed up to be pregnant.

Student "C": I guess you've never been raped...

Professoress Con Law.: Why don't we require men to donate organs if needed to their offspring to the age of 18.
Student "D": There is a massive fairness problem with requiring child support...

Student "E" Artifical incubators....


I just finished reading Invisible Frontier: Roofs, Ruins, and Rooftops of Hidden New York, which is not really that bad despite what I am about to write below. It has very nice descriptions of the historical and enginneering backround of the various structures explored, written in a style similar to H. Petroski. or perhaps David Hackett Fischer. The narration of the "missions" is decent. Most of the places explored are interesting, and the photography is good. I'm probably being a bit too harsh in light of the Jinx organization's successes, but the book is so close to being great, and falls short...so frustrating. The authors seem to habitually move in too large of groups, under-equiped and under-motivated (they turn back half-way to their goals over and over). The authors' attempts to puff up the importance of their ameteur philosophical discussions and their monthly society meetings comes accross as horribly self-indulgent. Even the trademark jinx black suit and cocktail dress attire, which is admittably cool, is described in terms of "The fields of philosophy and science will never take our empircal findings seriously if we dress as adolecents." I wish I could say that in context that statement is a joke, but unfortunately it does not seem to be. Empirical findings of WHAT? Are you sequencing DNA in old buildings? Refining ethical theories in tunnels? With a little less pretension, and more compentent exploration it would have been an amazing book...


To steal from Krupa...it is my blog and I'll cry if I want to

On the downside, I'm overworked, overstressed and extremely underslept looking at a 10am to 9:30 day of classes. I have stuff to mail, a broken hard drive to RMA, an overdue tape at Blockbuster, laundry to run, a room to clean, bills to pay, the patent bar to study for, job-whoring to do, etc. I've unintentionally been screwing up friendships left and right which sort of has a sword of damocles effect on dealing with the other problems.

Well on the bright side, the week has to get better, odds are definitely good on that; even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while. I had one Camel Dark Mint cigarette left from Christmas, which I smoked on the way to class, so I'm awake, if bored and completely unwilling to pay any attention whatsoever to the intricacies of the rules of evidence. The weekend was good despite -7F lows and piles of snow. Hell, even the lack of sleep is sort of a bonus when it comes to getting up early enough for a substantial breakfast.

"With insomnia, nothing's real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy." -Fight Club


Silli-Rescue 2005

Trip snippets:

Lee: WTF is that?!? The big thing up there with lights all over it?!?
Bob: They call them "Snowplows".here in the north.
Lee: It looks like a damn carnival ride.A clownmobile.

Lee: Hurry up and pass it, I'm afraid of the carnies.

Oh, and a large, jolly black man, with latex surgical gloves took our toll money at the PA border...ir was...creepy at 2am in a nasty storm.

Got the call from Silliman Monday afternoon, probably a blown head gasket, stranded in Dubois, PA, and he was debating whether sell the corpse of his truck to get a bus ticket to Hillsdale, or just chuck the whole return to college thing and go back to Philly. As discussed elsewhere, after several hours of slapping together arrangements (thanks to danielle miller for the use of her car, scott for his tools, and to everyone else for random logistical and moral support) , Lee Nunn and I drove through the night and a nasty winter storm to Dubois, found Silliman and tried to get a bit of sleep.

With only a towel for a blanket, and further from the heater than Lee, I probably only managed an hour of sleep. Starting as close to the 8am opening time as possible, we worked very, very hard to disassemble the engine. Unfortunately for Lee and Daniel, I worked them like slaves basically keeping them continually busy with various unbolting tasks. Not only was I abusing my own ability/curse to focus this type of mechanical problem, I was basically forcing them to work at the same pace for nearly seven hours straight. (Not to mention that I was low on sleep, and working as fast as I could myself, so I was more curt and blunt with them than they deserved, sorry guys.).

In any case, for those interested in the technical details, the passenger side cylinder head was warped, only around the middle cylinder sealing area, 0.008” out of plane. Not only was the warpage way over the GMC manual’s max of 0.0025”, it was substantially over the more practical Chilton’s 0.004” limit. (A piece of high quality copier paper is ~0.003” thick) It was possible that we could have had the head machined flat, but at the cost of $60 and several hours, best case, of our time. Unfortunately, besides the $60, there would also be $150 worth of gaskets and sealants involved, plus the original towing and repair charges from the day before. I will admit that I was tempted to slide the head around on a flat piece of concrete until the warpage was out, then lap it smooth with wet or dry sandpaper on a piece of plate glass, but in the end I could not justify the price of materials involved on such a contrived repair. Not to mention the risk of future failure on some other long trip. So, after some ten minutes of staring at the straightedge, micrometer, and feeler gauges, I made the call and explained it to Daniel and Lee. (In many ways the most difficult part of the whole trip for me, as they had worked like gallery slaves for 7 hours only to tell them that we should abandon the truck). After we cut our losses, the drive back to Hillsdale (and in my case Lansing) went smoothly, even if I kept interrupting my companion’s well deserved slumber so that they would keep talking and keep me alert.

Was it worth it? Yes, without a doubt. I don't give a damn if people think it was a Silly-quest, or whatever. Why? because Silliman is in Hillsdale, and his possible return to college was not aborted prematurely. Besides, I'd never done that before. Not to mention that it was sort of fun and I can think of worse ways to spend time.


Sam has a shiny new blog on typepad. Check it out, change your links, etc. Sam despite his claim that his diaryland Quinefan45 was extremely casual and unprofessional, has consistantly been one of the better writers in the HBC. It is a safe bet that qf45 will be home to yet more clearly written, well reasoned, and efficient posts.

I've always been vaguely curious about pickling, it seems to be sort of a food relative of brewing and winemaking. (Along with cheese, vinegar, etc) Anyway, the NYT had an interesting article touching on it this week. (Yes, you have to register to read it, get over it, it is free, fast and worth it.) Anyway, since I get and read the dead tree version of the NYT here for free, I've been carrying around the following clipping for the last couple of days waiting to blog about it:

"People will always say, `Give it to me hot,' `Give it to me spicy,' " Mr. Field said. "We live in aggressive times politically, culturally, and I think it all plays out on our palate."" (From page two of the article linked to above.)

Anyway, I'm curious about the proposed relationship between strong flavors and politics/news/culture. Certainly over the last couple of years, I've gravitated towards stronger flavors...be it a transition from colby to swiss to cheddar to extra sharp cheddar cheese; to appreciating strong hop flavors in beer, including the occasional IPA, etc. Typically, I associate this change in preference to aging, not society, but I'm still interested to discuss the topic. Any takers?


I have a nice new 40gb 4th generation ipod on the way. Details to follow.

Hmm...I picked a good day not to go to wal-mart as planned. I feel bad for the poor people that were not driving too fast for the conditions and still got sucked into the pile-ups. Also, serveral people interviewed on the news mention speeding up after hearing thuds behind them...then crashing into unseen cars ahead. What the hell is wrong with these people! Obviously, the thing to do is to pull off the road out of the line of the collisions, even at the cost of getting stuck.

I'm a slow and particularly boring blogger when it comes to legal issues, but the Supreme Court's Decision to gut mandatory sentencing it extremely interesting to me. (Go read Berman for a professional take, this is just law student level opinion). Frankly, I hated the sentencing guidelines, for both their constitutional failure of sentencing based on fact not detrimental by the jury, and their ability to completely screw over minor offenders who happened to commit politically incorrect crimes. Not to mention the way they de facto transfered vast sentencing authority to federal prosecutors. I've personally seen the sentencing guidlines work badly, and I've seen the horribly inequitable resault of information that was not presented to the jury used for sentencing purposes. SCOTUS, got this one right even if it did take entirely too long between Blakley and Booker to do it. Now if only congress doesn't screw it up.


The first week of classes is going very, very well. Grades that are back are decent. Details to follow. Oh, that and I have at least three posts in the works right now.

Current signs of the end times: *edited*

A. I smoked a cigar with my dad over break. I also caught him, I think, doing donuts and parking brake turns with my car in the snow.

B. Amber and Lee are in "love" and seem to have a relatively normal relationship. I think I can empathize with the Manhattan project scientists when they saw their test bomb go off...its sort of a "oh crap, that's cool it worked, and I helped build it, but what have I done, and how will history judge me" moment.

C. Amber and Jon Hoyt have weird, and new parental instincts.

D. Dave Frank, Seraphim, Christopher Lee, Mike Miller and perhaps others are now engaged...and Jen Perkins is married...so wierd.


Florida legistlature attempts forcing FSU to host a college of chiropractic medicine, professors rebel. This, as others have eloquently pointed out, a dark day for science if the school is opened. Comments?


I'm packing up for the return to school. Although it was a short break, it oddly was about exactly the right length so that I could do most of the stuff I had planned, yet wasn't home long enough to get too badly bored or annoyed. I should have sturdied more, I suppose, but I cannot with any honesty pin down what I would have traded for more time in front of the MPEP.


Common Cup v. Intinction v. Shot Glasses

So, I went to my parent's church this morning, and received the standard disposable plastic shot glass full of decent white wine. The service, unfortunately dragged a bit long, so I started thinking about possibility of disease spreading via common cup communion, and I want feedback on the following thoughts:

A. Harmful, and easilly contagious bacteria have been found on the surface of previously sterile common cups after use. Arguments based on the sanitizing powers of silver, alcohol, or various wine chemicals are clearly erroneous. It is generally accepted that ethanol is most effective at saintizing with a 75% concentration, and contact times in excess of 10 minutes (standard homebrewing practice is 20-30 minute contact times). Likewise, it takes a significant amount of time for a cup to leach sliver ions, and for the ions to poison individual bacteria. (A mere silver vessel should not be confused with silver ion producing chemicals, or generating devices). As to the various antiseptic chemicals found in wine, they have fairly long sanitation times, and as everyone knows, wine can support bacteria (Acetobacter makes wine into vinegar, for example). The "rotate the cup and wipe" argument sounds suspicously pre-lister, and ignore the survival times of the various bacteria when exposed to air, and that amount of bacteria that cling to a wiped surface.

B. Intinction is (arguably) no more safe, and possibly less so.

C. The risk of transmitting infectious agents through the common cup exists. It is probably a very small risk, most of the time, for healthy indivduals. It however exists, and is completely eliminated by the use of the shot glasses.