Thursday, March 30, 2006


There are a number of proposed laws kicking around Congress that could, potentially, criminalize being an undocumented alien in the United States. This has sparked huge rallies in various cities around the country. Now we are seeing indications that people in power may also not be supporting such efforts.

Last month Cardinal Mahoney in Los Angeles expressly indicated that the Los Angeles Archdiocese would refuse to ask immigrants for residency documents before providing services to immigrants, even if a Federal law required it. Mahoney also indicated that "the Catholic Church exists to serve people, not the government." I guess the FBI could go and arrest Cardinal Mahoney for not asking these questions. I don't think they will though. So, you have a very prominent religious figure whose church ministers to many immigrants coming out against the law.

Yesterday the City Council in Chicago made law an Executive Order in place since 1985, and renewed in 1989 that says

No agent or agency shall request information about or otherwise investigate or assist in the investigation of citizenship or residency status of any person unless such an inquiry or investigation is required by statute, ordinance, federal regulation or court decision.

Alderman Ed Burke noted that resisting "draconian" Federal laws is a Chicago tradition, noting that in the 1850s the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance barring the Chicago Police Department from enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. The Fugitive Slave Act!?! Ed Burke compared immigration laws currently proposed to the Fugitive Slave Act. So now you have the City Council in America's third largest city, with the largest inland Mexican, Central American, Polish, and Ukrainian populations in the United States speaking out against the law.

What if you passed a law and nobody came?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Some of you may know that people, particularly from Boston, refer to Larry Bird as Basketball Jesus. The picture below must be from early in his career.

Seriously, L sent me the link to this page and I almost died laughing. I love Track Jesus, running in his Lord Boards while the kid in knock-off Adidas smokes him, and Baseball Jesus, who clearly doesn't need any stinkin' helmet (let alone Bonds-style armor). Hockey Jesus is right down on the ice, throwing down with the kids.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal is reporting that Professor June Entman at University of Memphis Humphreys School of Law has banned laptops from her classroom.

When I graduated from law school in 1996 laptops were pretty common, but hardly anyone brought them to class, and they were usually pretty annoying. Since then laptops have become ubiquitous in law schools. My old school has plugs and network jacks at essentially every seat in the law school. I believe that students are required to own laptops at my old school. Professors tell me that essentially every student has their laptops open and types straight into them all the time. Times have changed. I understand that. Still, the reaction to Professor Entman's decision is very interesting.

Professor Entman apparently teaches Civil Procedure, Advanced Civil Procedure, and Evidence. These classes all have one thing in common. They are teaching students how to use and anaylze rules that are explicit and in writing. The Federal Rules of Evidence have an inherent outline structure. While there are concepts that need to be learned (hearsay is an out of court statement presented for the truth of the statement asserted, right Professor?) the rules themselves have a coherence in their organization. The same is true of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. These are distinct from many law school subjects in that you, as the student, don't have to figure out the structure of the law and then how those parts relate. You just need to figure out how the parts relate.

In light of this, when student Cory Winsett is quoted as saying that "if he must continue without his laptop, he'll transfer to another school . . . [because] he won't be able to keep up if he has to rely on hand-written notes, which he says are incomplete and less organized" I think that young Cory may be in for a rough ride in the law. First, Cory, you don't know enough in most classes to have "organized notes." You don't know how the six class periods you do on acceptance in contracts relates to the six you will do on consideration until AFTER you have had the classes on consideration. Therefore, your notes after acceptance class two are not "organized" in any meaningful way. Second, if we are in a meeting with a client and I do not want you to disappear behind a screen like a court reporter because I want you to interact and develop as a lawyer, I STRONGLY suggest that you learn to close the laptop and take effective notes. Just something to think about Cory.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


L and I both took a few days off of work this Wednesday through Friday. We are staying close to home, taking care of errands that loom over each of us, doing a Spring cleaning, and generally not being at work. It isn't so bad. You should try it some time.

Anyway, about a year ago a place opened on the northwest side of Chicago. It was called Pollo Campero, and the Central American communities in the city went nuts when they opened. Apparently they are very big in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and other parts of Latin America. People were lined up around the block for the stuff.

Today I finally went and tried the pollo. L and I got a couple of meals to go. Chicken, tostones (breaded, deep fried plantains), sweet plantains, and biscuits. I decided not try either of the flans, or the drinks (horchada, some tamarind thing, something made with some part of a cashew). Gotta leave something to try next time. So, how was it? The chicken is crazy good. Insane good. The tostones were OK, kind of salty, but kind of off. The sweet plantains were fine, but you should probably like plantains to have them. It seems that the beans are very famous, so I will try them next time.

I know of readers in Washington and in California. The Californians I am aware of are in NoCal. Sorry. The restaurants are in SoCal. For you DC types, you are in luck. The restaurants are in Adelphia and Wheaton, Maryland, Falls Church and Herndon, Viginia, and at 1375 Kenyon St, NW in DC. You really have to try the chicken. Really. I'm not kidding.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


There are a number of twin cities in the United States. Minneapolis-St. Paul is perhaps the pairing with which we are all most familiar. However, it seems like every state has the "Twin City" region of two cities you don't know about. Whether it's Champaign-Urbana, or Scranton-Wilkes Barre, twin cities abound.

I don't remember many twin cities in Europe. There are a few that are close enough to share airports, Baltimore-Washington International style (i.e. Koln-Bonn), but twin cities seem to have consolidated in Europe.

Or so I thought. Today in the Sun-Times I came across an article about a Romanian man who has apparently been living in O'Hare. He was recently (and apparently thankfully) deported back to Romania. However, the Sun-Times reported that he had to fly to Amsterdam, because there are no direct flights from Chicago to . . . Budapest. And this is Europe's great matching set of twin cities. Budapest. The 1000 year capital of Hungary and the Hungarian people. Bucharest. The capital of Romania. Apparently they are twin cities, because this article is not the first time I have seen the mistake made.

In order to help all of the geographically challenged journalists and editors out there (I'm looking at you Monifa Thomas, transportation reporter, Chicago Sun-Times), let's use this simple rule. Bucharest, which has an "r" in it, is the home to Romanians. Budapest, which has no "r" in it, is the home of Hungarians.

Monday, March 20, 2006


That's right, Donald Rumsfeld (remember him?) has realigned United States troop deployments to remove all United States military personnel from Iceland. Unlike so many other countries, the Icelanders are upset about this. It turns out that they have absolutely no military forces other than the United States military.

There are just under 300,000 people in Iceland (making it between Tampa and the City of Buffalo in population terms), with about 57,000 of them being deemed "fit for military service" by the CIA. As an aside, I take no responsibility for the reliability of the CIA's calculation. In any case, Iceland's nearest neighbor is Greenland, which is actually essentially a Danish territoy. Thus, the Icelanders are caught in the iron grip of Denmark, since the Danes are on the east and west of the Bjorkies. In addition, the Icelanders have territorial disputes with Denmark about the extent of the territorial shelf of the Faroe Islands. That could explode at any moment.

Well, if unless they find oil, they can fight their own battles from now on!

Once again the Christian Science Monitor has covered a story that may not be "news" but it is interesting. Today they report on the plight of working-class Afrikaners outside of Pretoria. Not a pretty picture.

Where there were plentiful, almost guaranteed jobs for white, working class South Africans under the apartheid regime, many of those same jobs have gone to black South Africans since the fall of apartheid. This makes sense. Blacks are something like 80% of the population, and their total exclusion from these jobs demands redress. There is no doubt about that. Equity and fairness demand that black South Africans be allowed and invited to take a stake in their country.

However, the people being hurt by this redress are not the leaders on the apartheid state. The rich stayed rich, and the ones who did not emigrate to the United Kingdom, Australia, or the United States mostly still have their stuff. Instead, the burden has fallen on the working class, who did not have tremendous job skills to begin with, and are not competitive in the new environment. I know that I sound like a Marxist, but this is just robbing one poor group to pay another poor group, while the money stays where it was.

The last line of the story is fascinating. The journalist writes "'If we were black, it would be easier.' The irony is as thick as her Afrikans accent."

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Well, last night the Illini typified their entire season by going down 14, then up 12, then losing by three in the NCAA tournament. I can't say that I had drunk the Kool-Aid with this year's team. They were too in awe of Dee Brown too often and did not develop as a team as they needed to. This is a predictable result for a team that had too big a "generation gap" to overcome. I had them losing to UConn in the Sweet 16, but I was not shocked that they lost to Washington.

That being said, William Rhoden in the New York Times (no free link available) wrote a very nice column today about how Dee Brown should get a shot in the NBA because he has "common sense," is "selfless," and has his "head on straight and . . . priorities in order." Rhoden also discussed the fact that Dee is a good guy and plays the game the right way. I hope that someone gives Dee a shot at the next level. As Rhoden said, he will not be a "star," like Stephon Marbury, or "dynamic" like Steve Francis, but he is a stable player with which to build. Besides, Starbury and Franchise have both been cancers on every team they've been on. Dee will never, ever be that.

Thanks for the memories Dee and James.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


So, I just finished Studs Lonigan by James T. Farrell. It is a book about the life of a South Side Irish kid from the early 1910s through the 1930s. He grows up at 58th and Michigan and 55th and Wabash, until the family moves to 71st and Stony Island or so. The family is Irish, and Catholic, and working class. Exactly the population from the interwar years I had never read about.

I will freely admit that for the first hundred pages or so, I was not enthusiastic. Studs is about 15, he's graduating from grade school, and he is sort of a young, goofy kid. Frankly, he's not that interesting. However, because his old neighborhood at 55th and Wabash is now the middle of an enormous set of projects, I was interested to read about the neighborhood. The book gets much better right about the time you start thinking that you've had your fill of the 'hood.

In any case, what shocked me about this book, written in the 1930s, is that it deals with issues that are very modern. In the milieu in which Studs operates there are gays, lesbians, Communists, racists, white flight, pedophiles, class issues, and a bunch of other people/ideas/phenomena that we tend to think of as modern. It is apparent that they are not. Instead, it seems that the way we teach the history of the twentieth century might be deficient. I mean, the way I learned twentieth century history was a straight line narrative that went thus:

1898 really starts the century when the U.S. beat Spain in the Spanish-American War.
1917 the Lusitania is sunk.
1918 America single-handedly wins World War I.
1920s Everyone is rich and drinks booze with flappers.
1930s There is a Depression and people from Oklahoma move to California.
1940s America single-handedly wins World War II.
1950s America is innocent, wide-eyed, and prosperous. Nobody has any understanding of racism, homosexuality, or any of the seven deadlies actually existing in America.
1960s We never got to the 60s.
1970s Hell, this is when the history books we used in 1984 were published!

Either Farrell was writing in the 1930s about stuff that nobody but him was aware of, or everything I learned about the 1950s was complete crap. I'm guessing the latter.

Anyway, read Studs Lonigan. Read it like a diary from the era in a neighborhood that will never return. The el that is discussed is gone, replaced by the train in the middle of the Dan Ryan. The houses are gone, replaced by red brick project high rises that are now being torn down. The Irish are gone, left only in Bridgeport, Beverely, and the suburbs. Maybe read it as a bildungsroman, but it definitely will help illuminate that which the history books ignored.

Friday, March 17, 2006


The Washington Post reports on an interview in Allure with Eva Longoria. The entire thing is reproduced below because the Post might password protect it in the future.
NEW YORK -- Eva Longoria says she would consider having a child out of wedlock with NBA star-boyfriend Tony Parker _ but he wouldn't.

'I would,' the 31-year-old 'Desperate Housewives' actress says in an interview in Allure magazine's April issue, on newsstands Tuesday. 'But Tony won't. ... He's only been with one other person in his life.'

Longoria says it was 'lust at first sight' when she met Parker, 23, a point guard for the San Antonio Spurs, in the Spurs' locker room after a game last year.

'He's very sweet,' she says of her French-born boyfriend. 'I'm the experienced one. I'm the teacher, especially about love. He's always telling me he's never met anyone who loves the way I do _ wholly and freely and unconditionally.'

She also clears up speculation that they will soon walk down the aisle: 'No, no, no. But we know exactly what we want in our future.'

'Our children will speak French,' she adds.

Parker appreciates her 'plucky' attitude, Longoria tells the magazine.

'Since I grew up in Texas, I'm like the people he's gotten used to around San Antonio instead of being a Hollywood actress who's selfish and arrogant and full of herself ... and screamy,' she says.

Longoria stars opposite Michael Douglas, Kiefer Sutherland and Kim Basinger in the thriller 'The Sentinel,' set for release next month.

She divorced Tyler Christopher, who stars on ABC's "General Hospital," last year, after three years of marriage.

I have very little to add. Eva Longoria is a skank. She is a very, very attractive skank, but still a skank. In addition, when she says that she loves "wholly and freely and unconditionally" and then says she is not arrogant and full of herself, I have to question it.

Two stories in the Sun-Times this morning that shocked me. The first is that Mexico beat the US in the World Baseball Classic last night, knocking the US out of the tournament. I don't think people should be too shocked by this. The Dominican, Cuba, Japan, and Korea are all serious ballers. Nevertheless, I wonder if this is what major league baseball had in mind when they pushed the World Baseball Classic.

Second, a man named Jakub Fik cut off his penis and threw it at police. He was distraught about a problem with his girlfriend in Poland. Do you think?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Today the Washington Post is reporting about the lawyer whose e-mails, interviews, and stratgezing put the Moussaoui death penalty in doubt. I was shocked to see the woman named. I was even more shocked to read the following: "Carla J. Martin, a former flight attendant . . ." Uh, what does the fact that she was once a flight attendant have to do with this case?

Then I read that the Department of Justice filed papers saying: "In this sea of Government attorneys and agents who have assiduously played by the rules, Ms. Martin stands as the lone miscreant. Her aberrant and apparently criminal behavior should not be the basis for undoing the good work of so many." Apparently criminal behavior? I mean, she is on the same side as the Justice lawyers. Is there not a more subtle and/or neutral way to have said that?

On the third page of the article the Post starts a short biography of Ms. Martin. In part it says that "she received her degree in 1989 and the next year joined the bar in Pennsylvania, a state where she never lived. Lawyers for federal agencies can be licensed in any state, but some attorneys consider Pennsylvania's bar exam to be among the least difficult." I mean, I have heard the Pennsylvania rumors, but it is hard to see why they mentioned that in this article.

All in all, this article looks like a hatchet job on Ms. Martin, and it appears that Justice is throwing Ms. Martin directly under the bus. It is possible that she is the misbehaving disaster they are making her out to be, but this article looks clearly targeted to discredit her. I wonder if they will blame Katrina and 9/11 on her too.

My last post was about the economics of major league sports. Now, six days later, is reporting that the Florida Marlins are considering San Antonio for their new home.

On the table of economic areas, San Antonio scored a 19 for baseball. So did cities like Springfield, IL, Boise, Charleston, WV, Corpus Christi, Memphis, McAllen, TX, Mobile, and Pensacola. San Antonio indeed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


There are plenty of stories about cities that want major league sports because it will give the impression that they have arrived. I have never really bought into this rationale. Jacksonville, Florida had a Superbowl and I never hear it spoken of with Miami as the metropolis of Florida. In fact, I don't hear it spoken of with Tampa or Orlando either.

In any case, something called the Biz Journal did an analysis of cities ripe for major sport expansion purely from an economic perspective. In other words, the money is there, you go find it to support your team. The methodology was kind of clunky, and is available at the link.

First, on a scale of 0 (totally unable to support a team) to 100 (completely financially capable of supporting a team) there was not one city in the United States that rated 100 for Major League Baseball. In fact, Hartford, Connecticut, with a score of 87 was the closest. Orlando was next with a 74. The possible destinations for the Expos like Portland (54), Las Vegas (63), and somewhere in Virginia (Virginia Beach/Norfolk) tops the list at 58) all are pretty far from being able to support a team. Syracuse, Grand Rapids, MI, Harrisburg, PA and Sarasota, FL all scored higher than Portland. I think that the Devil Rays and Twins might end up being contracted, rather than usefully moved.

Interestingly, it appears that the NFL could support an entire additional league, with 28 cities scoring 100. Albany, Austin, Birmingham, Dayton, Fresno, Lexington, Little Rock, Madison, Rochester, NY, and Tulsa are all cities on the list. Not to run these places down, but it is very surprising to me that the economics of the NFL are such that these cities have enough money to support a team. It makes me wonder how many teams New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago have the money to support.

Finally, the NBA and NHL apparently have similar economics. The NBA is a tiny bit more epxensive to support. Still, the cities that could financially support either an NBA or NHL team is shocking mostly because cities that could support an NFL team apparently cannot support an NHL team! For instance, Greenville, SC could support an NFL team, but only scores a 95 for the NHL. Same for Madison. That is insane. The NHL is not even a major league at this point.

A few thoughts. First, presumably the relatively low number of games in an NFL season, even with inflated ticket prices, is a lower per season burden than the greater number of games in the NBA or NHL (let alone MLB). Still, one has to wonder if a more effective developmental league set up would be worthwhile when there are 28 cities with the money to support an NFL team. Maybe the USFL, which was in Birmingham (100), Portland (100), Tulsa (100) and played in the Spring wouldn't be such a bad idea for the NFL to consider as a minor league.

When I got on the el this morning I picked up the two flyers below. There was no English version. I have no idea if I already know what these say. This makes me wonder if all of the garbled announcements that I thought were the result of bad P.A. equipment may, in fact, be in Korean and Arabic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


The BBC reported that the Chief Constable of Northern Ireland had issued papers against a prominent loyalist to have him kept in jail. I don't so much care about that as I care about the name of the loyalist. He is Ihab Shoukri, and he is described as being "from Alliance Road in north Belfast."

Shoukri and his brother Andre are the sons of an Egyptian Copt who emigrated to Northern Ireland, settled in Belfast, and married. I can only assume that (a) the loyaists are all about the Big Tent, and (b) Troubles have taken on a street gang aspect, with "Protestants" sometimes being led by the children of Coptic Christians, and the "Catholics" sometimes being led by Marxists.

Monday, March 06, 2006


This is Eddie Van Halen. Jeez. I had no idea he had aged like he had. It might be about time to switch to "Ed" when you look this old.

Photo by AP.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Today's New York Times had an article about people piggybacking on other people's wireless internet connections. They say that it is like stealing.

First of all, it is not stealing. In fact, my lap top sometimes automatically connects to wireless networks, whether I want it to or not. If you fail to protect access to your connection, it is free to whomever can use it. Similarly, if I stand on a public way and can read a newspaper by your lights I have not "stolen" your light.

Second of all, it took L and I all of about 20 minutes to put encryption on our network. If you cannot or do not figure out how to do this, maybe a wirless network is a little too advanced for you.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Today the Archdiocese of Chicago put this, restated below, on its web page.

Friday, March 17, 2006: Optional Memorial of SAINT PATRICK: The optional memorial of SAINT PATRICK, March 17, 2006 falls on Friday of the second week of Lent. Because of this, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., has given a general dispensation from the norm to abstain from meat on this day. Please note that this dispensation is for Friday, March 17, 2006 only. On this day (Friday, March 17, 2006) Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago who choose to make use of this general dispensation are asked to substitute another form of penance for the Lenten Friday abstinence.

I guess the other way to address this would have been to declare boiled corned beef not "meat" and not worry about it. Try it some time when it has been in a vat for three hours and there is no mustard. I would have emigrated too.

Today the World Baseball Classic started with Greater China getting skunked. Chinese Taipei lost to Korea and China got whipped by Japan. I know that there are real problems with the World Baseball Classic, but the idea is great.

Maybe China, Australia, South Africa, and Italy have no business having teams. The Dutch are roundly mocked for having a team, but their Caribbean territories mean that Andruw Jones and Sidney Ponson are both in the Classic. That's good stuff. Otherwise, the opportunity to have national all-star teams from powerhouses like the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the United States, Japan, et al. is fantastic. Now, in the next go-around we should try to figure out how to have the players at midseason form. Tough to do, but how amazing would that be? Frankly, the international ball players are so deeply ingrained in major league baseball that I don't know that people would only root for the U.S.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Today I was standing outside. It was pretty cold, but not crazy, and not icy at all, since it had not been wet in days. A car was waiting to turn left. A bike messenger was approaching the car from the opposite direction. The car pulled forward about a quarter of an inch (maybe a tad more). The bike messenger had *just* touched his brakes, when his bike inexplicably shot out from under him, shooting a good foot to the right as his body fell straight down. He was at least fifteen feet from the car. The people in the car just stared at him, then turned and drove away. He got up, flipped them off, and toughly took his time getting back on his bike.

What was really great was that he was not really very close to the car at all. It was not a life-saving fall. His bike just slipped out from under him. It was like he slipped on ice, but there was no ice.