Sunday, December 23, 2007

Football Fun

One of the pleasures of completing my big meeting is that I get to have some leisure time. Today I indulged myself by watching some football. I didn't see this bit live, but the clip cracked me up. During the Packers-Bears game (in which the Packers were possessed by the three stooges), one of the refs dragged a player out of a scuffle (above photo from Brian Kersey). One of the commentators, I think it was Madden, likened it to the Martinez-Zimmer scuffle in 2003. The size and age disparity is certainly significant in both, but in this case, the big young guy (linebacker Barnett) doesn't seem pissed at the smaller old guy (ref Quirk). The interaction was more like a small mom dragging her hulking son away from something fun by his ear. Video here.

Update: Apparently Barnett was pissed afterward. Quirk was fined $8150 by the NFL, which Barnett's agent reported was satisfactory.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stuffed Animal

Say you were a dog and someone gave you a plush duck. Would your first instinct be to pull the long fuzz off the top of its head? Besides riding in cars backward, I think my dog has other problems.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Dick Cavett is funny: "Don't be afraid."

I can't wait to use this:

“Hello, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.”

“Bill Jovanovich please.”

“Mr. Jovanovich isn’t in.”

(Temple throb increases.) “Where is he?”

“He’s in Europe, I’m afraid”

“Don’t be afraid. Where in Europe?”

from "An Author's Nightmare in the New York Times

"It's really much better if you don't distort the record"

Earlier this year, JPL employees working with non-classified material were informed they would need to give permission for extraordinarily invasive background checks to keep their jobs. JPL employees filed suit to stop the background checks. In September, a panel of judges granted a temporary injunction against this requirement. This week, another panel heard arguments about extending the injunction. According to an article in the Whittier Daily News, the tone of the hearing was promising for the JPL employees. The judges gave positive feedback to the employee's lawyer:

The panel asked few questions of Keeny, however, and had words of praise.

"You've done a good job. I don't want to interfere, keep it up," Judge David Thompson told her part way through her argument.

And were critical of the government's arguments:

Most contentious were Stern's arguments, during which sparks flew in the normally calm courtroom.

"It's really much better if you don't distort the record," Judge Kim Wardlaw chided at one point after Stern described a questionnaire as having only multiple-choice questions.

"I have a copy of the form. It asks if there is anything else, and there are blanks," she said.

I'm also happy to learn that Caltech objects to the requirements:

Caltech lawyer Mark Holscher argued that the college should not be included in the injunction because it objected to the requirements and is not involved in the collection of employee information.

Leaving Los Angeles

I heard a terrific slip of the tongue on the radio yesterday. A local official was being interviewed about the Southern California Association of Governments' report on "how the Southland is doing on everything, including the economy, crime, traffic, housing and education." The report is described here. The unfortunate official was reading from a statement, somewhat haltingly, and discussed the type of changes the report indicates they need to make so that the region is "a place we want to leave," halting pause, "to our children."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bad owners

JH went running with me this morning. He was telling me about the drama surrounding Congo the German Shepherd. Basically, some gardeners came to a house with six shepherds and one gardener ended up being severely attacked after taking shelter behind their female owner and grabbing her in the process. The guy ended up in the hospital and had to get 65 rabies shots, according to the press. Now, six months after the attack, the court found the dog to be dangerous and decided he should be euthanized. In the ruling, he mentioned that the attack went on for three minutes. From articles, it sounds like the female owner was trying to stop it, but couldn't, and it only stopped when the male owner came out of the house. I can't think of a good reason to have six shepherds; it's suggestive of paranoia and a preference for a big stick. Certainly, anyone whose dogs don't have rabies shots is an idiot.

"Congo, having been granted a stay of execution, is muzzled and under house arrest, as his owners await a decision on their appeal.: - NYTimes

Must be nice to be rich. Everyone else's dog is in a kennel at Animal Control in these situations.

[The day after the attack] an animal control officer took Congo and four other dogs an animal shelter, where Congo stayed until he was released pending the appeal. He was sent home two weeks ago after five months in lockup.

Oh, well, that's not quite as grievous.

"A wide swath was cut today on "FOX & Friends" as we tried to save a German shepherd from death " -as in Fox network

You know you're on the wrong side if Fox agrees with you.

"The dog reacted protectively," [NJ Assemblyman Neil] Cohen said. "Dogs are not just companions. They are here to protect us. If these were criminals, not landscapers, who grabbed (Elizabeth James) the dog would get a medal." ( )

WTF? They weren't criminals. They weren't attacking her. They were hired workers who may have shown some bad judgment, but whose safety from the dogs was still the responsibility of the owners. But this is less about responsible dog ownership than it is about entitlement. These wealthy white people believe their dog is more important than a laborer, especially an immigrant laborer, and there are lots of people who agree with them.

On a lighter note, I enjoyed a satire about the Republican presidential candidates' responses to the Congo drama. Here's an excerpt:
Only Tom Tancredo expressed outright enthusiasm for the law [that would protect dogs like Congo], stating that any dog that bit an immigrant was a hero in his eyes. Tancredo not only approved of the law, but he called on the Governor of New Jersey to pardon Congo, and said that he would nominate the dog for the Medal of Freedom. “The only thing that bothers me is that his name, Congo, doesn’t sound very American,” Mr. Tancredo said. (from this blog)