Monday, September 5, 2005

How Bingeing Became the New College Sport

I've been saying this for years... this and on a related subject, "Death to Liddy Dole!!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Siiir! I have a Plahn!

Via the DailyKos, the Washington Post is now reporting that the Bush Administration is claiming that it needs not only secret evidence in terror trials, but also secret legal theories to argue against the defendants. Here's the pull quote:

ATTORNEYS FOR the Justice Department appeared before a federal judge in Washington this month and asked him to dismiss a lawsuit over the detention of a U.S. citizen, basing their request not merely on secret evidence but also on secret legal arguments. The government contends that the legal theory by which it would defend its behavior should be immune from debate in court. This position is alien to the history and premise of Anglo-American jurisprudence, which assumes that opposing lawyers will challenge one another's arguments.

This really is completely unprecedented, that a defendant would not only be unable to see the evidence and the accuser being used against him, but even the legal argument for his detention. However, KN has acquired a leaked copy of the legal memo that discusses the theory, a new jurisprudence Justice Department lawyers are calling "Just Cause Theory." The chief feature of the new argument is the claim that the Government can hold defendants without trial "Just 'Cause."

The theories cannot be revealed to the public, not because it would put intelligence assets at risk, but because it would put the dimensional sanctity of Earth in danger. The theory was recovered from one of the ancient Cthonic tomes that are always driving people insane in H.P. Lovecraft stories. The mortal mind cannot withstand the fearsome and nameless non-Euclidian symmetries of the theory-- glaring and gibbering from the dark corners of unholy spheres(1)--and so making it a matter of common knowledge would only lead to an epidemic of fatalism, nihilism and suicide.

I think it's a good thing that our government is thinking so proactively of new ways to defend us. Credible intelligence sources have revealed that Iran is developing new legal theories that could reach Rome or London with 45 minutes. They could also sell these new legal pleas to the highest bidder. We cannot allow the smoking gun to be a civil suit. And we cannot allow a crazy-secret legal theory gap.

Thank you, and God bless America.

(1)-- Yes, in the Cthonic reaches, spheres have corners. What do you think of that?!

Monday, December 20, 2004

I have visited a strange place

This most recent saturday, Rachel and I took a bit of a muddy stroll down the Thames to visit St. Mary's of Iffley. Our trusty National Trails Guide to the Thames path had informed is that we were on our way to a "superb Norman church...richly deorated in Romanesque style with fantastic beasts and zigzag stonework in and out." After our visit, we would learn that this is a common approach to describing the place-- see the website for the Church. These description completely miss the point, as far as I'm concerned.

The first thing that stuck us about the Church was that we were fairly sure that we'd failed to find it. Following the direction in the Thames Trail guide book led us up to a smallish looking, yellowish looking building. There was no notable zigzagging or fantastic beasting in sight. This kind of thing happens a lot when one follows the National Trails Guide to the Thames path, as the Guide contains directions such as (P. 30) "When you see, opposite, a big house if Cotswold Stone, take the path bearing right across the meadow." So: a lot of our muddy little walks are spent trying to figure out what is meant by "big" and "path" and "opposite" and such, and often we end up just walking to the river and going south until things look familiar.

Trusting in the guide for a bit, we walked up towards the front of the Church. If it seems odd to you that the front of the Church is as far as possible from the entrance to the church yard, then you and I think along similar lines. When we reached the front door, we saw the zigzags and knew that we were in the right place. Here's a little photo we snapped of the door:

Zigzags appeared present, and the door certainly looked unusual. We assumed that we'd found the right place. Then we looked more closely at the door, and started to think that the descriptions of the place had missed something out by a bit. To wit: the creepiness. For instance, the zigzags on the door are not merely geometric patterns. Rather, they are a constituted of bird beaks attached in unpredictable ways to either bird heads, human heads, or nothing at all. The detail of the door edge looks like this:

The other door that we found also seemed odd, if nothing else than the unusual prevalence of death and violence in the little carvings surrounding it. Having examined the doors and snapped some pictures, we headed inside.

The inside of the Church appeared empty. I say "appeared" because it turned out that one of the local lads has presumably had a very exciting friday night, and was passed out in one of the pews. Our talk and picture taking didn't seem to distrurb him, so we shuffled about some more. The inside didn't have as much creepyness as the outer door-- there were some assorted little goblin looking creatures about, but most of the stonework bore pleasantly featureless zigzagging. The main exception to this was that over the altar type area, the figure of a dragon sloughing off its skin is inscribed. To me this seems a bit unusual as Christian iconography goes. It is highly likely that this is because I am ignorant, but it still seemed creepy.

Returning outside to check that we hadn't missed and photos, we noticed something odd about the grotesques along the top of the building. They appear to be sending the church up. The one that caught our attention first was this:

That's a flying angel cow, bearing a banner that reads "Luke". Other popular apostles had their own animals-- or at least Mark and John did, Matthew's name presumably requiring too much carving to write. All seemed a bit derisory to us. And then there was this:

Initially this didn't seem too odd, but then I started to wonder: is that person crying? Laughing? What are the theological implications of this? Please comment if you have any ideas about resolving this question.

On returning home and checking the internets for information about the place, I found one literary excerpt about St. Mary's Iffley. It was written by Keith Douglas four years before he was killed at Normandy in 1944:

What sudden fearful fate
can deter my shade wandering next year
from a return? Whistle and I will hear
and come another evening, when this boat
travels with you alone towards Iffley
as you lie looking up for thunder again
this cool touch does not betoken rain
it is my spirit that kisses your mouth lightly.
There are strange places in this world, and Rachel and I visited one of them on Saturday.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Imagine you're Sheldon Silver--

a fat-cat trial lawyer and head of the State Senate-- and a man who gets away with anything. Would you talk this way to The New York Times?:
Mr. Silver said he would not be pressured into action. He bristled at industry suggestions that he was not moving to change the law because he himself is a trial lawyer. "I have never made a nickel on any case" involving unlimited vicarious liability, he said. He said his experience as a lawyer helped him understand the issue. "We are a citizen Legislature," he said. "One of the things we are supposed to bring to the Legislature is our personal expertise."

Far from being a sign of dysfunction, Albany's singular refusal to change the law is a badge of honor, Mr. Silver said, adding: "There is a little more integrity in the Legislature in New York. The big automobile manufacturers can't buy their way here."
Would it be illegal for me to smack him around, just once or twice? Please? Mr. Silver needs to know that anybody who lies this well ought to be in the national legislature.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Kikuchiyo Translations Service Presents:

John Kerry v. Tim Russert on NBC NEWS' MEET THE PRESS. They insisted on the caps.

MR. RUSSERT: As you well know, this is a 50-50 race between Bush and Kerry, but there is one area where the president has opened up in a significant lead. And in the interest of candor and clarity, I want to give you a chance to answer a question right up top, and I promise we'll talk about the nuance later on. But the American people, I think, would like a yes or no answer: Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?

KIKUCHIYO: Any chance of getting an answer out of you on this one that makes some sense? It's been a few months now. You've been publicly berated by pretty much every side of this debate for failing to say anything that we can distill down to a soundbite. So? How about it? Give us a little 'the war was the worst idea since we decided that the blip on the radar at Pearl Harbor was just a flight of B-52's,' or a bit of the old 'if yer talkin' down my war for democracy and freedom then yer walking on the fightin side of me.'

SEN. KERRY: I think the way the president went to war is a mistake.

KIKUCHIYO: Screw you, Timmy.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me show you what the American people have been saying about statements the candidates have been making: Which candidate says what he believes? Bush, 53; Kerry, 38. Senator Kerry says what he believes, just 33; thinks--he says what he thinks people want to hear, 57.

KIKUCHIYO: Screw you too, you waffle head. Nobody wants to play with you anyway. I shall now ask you questions as though you were a presidential candidate and not an extrodinarily animated piece of driftwood, because that's what I get paid to do. It's not because I like you, though.

MR. RUSSERT: This is what you wrote in The Washington Post last Tuesday: "Our country has committed to help the Iraqis build a stable, peaceful and pluralistic society. No matter who is elected president in November, we will persevere in that mission."

KIKUCHIYO: So, you're pretty much a kind of dopey version of George Bush with an astonishingly long head and greater affinity for French food, eh?

SEN. KERRY: It's different. Let me explain the difference. You know, last night I got a phone call, Tim, from a great friend of mine from Vietnam, and he was agonized, as I think a lot of veterans are, as they see our young men and women over there trying to distinguish between friend and foe, being ambushed in convoys, not even safe on the airport road, from the airport to Baghdad. I mean, this is extraordinary where we find ourselves. This administration misled America. Nothing is more important than how a president takes a nation to war, how a president decides to put young men and women at risk for our nation. I believe this president broke faith with the rules of how a president does that. He even broke faith with his own promises to the country.

KIKUCHIYO: Um, actually it's that I'm like George Bush except that I'm not a drooling moron, Tim. You see, this is a President recognized by the entire non-mayonnaise-sandwich-eating, literate, good looking world as being slightly less intelligent and crafty than a lightly boiled eggplant. In addition to this minor shortcoming, Mr. Bush is a filthy lying liar liggiddy-lie-lizz-iar. Biach! And the Democratic party is damn straight ready to regulate, snatch him from the backside and slap the taste straight the f**k out of his mouth. I ain't sh****g, fool. Proof? My pal Walter Sobchak called just last night to let me know that, as far as Walter is concerned, President Bush is entering a world of pain. When Walter says that, you know that there's about to be some caps busted in the place.

MR. RUSSERT: But what can you do now, Senator?

KIKUCHIYO: Ok, enough of your creepily dated hip-hop talking points. Get past the pain and talk about the war, buddy.

SEN. KERRY: I'll tell you exactly, but it's important to understand why so many countries are unwilling to come to the table now. It may well be that we need a new president, a breath of fresh air, to re-establish credibility with the rest of the world so that we can have a believable administration as to how we proceed.

KIKUCHIYO: I learned a lot in Vietnam. One thing that I learned is that nobody wants to follow a man into a dangerous jungle when he's so dumb stupid that he's wearing his pants backwards and his firearm is loaded with chapstick tubes. I think that the analogy is clear, Tim. People need to understand that the rest of the world doesn't have Republicans. They don't understand it. They're frightened and unsure of how to react to a guy like George Bush. What America needs is a leader who, with old world charm and cynical posturing, pursues nearly identical policies to the current President while insisting that he is very, very sorry about the whole thing. Look at this face, Tim. Look at the deep lines, and the sheer elongation of the whole affair. I think that this is a face that can say to the world, "America owns you, and we just showed up to tell your punk asses that the rent is due. But we're terribly sorry for it to come to this."