Friday, February 22, 2008


Folks in Michigan getting around smoking bans.
What started as a quirky idea to get around the statewide smoking ban appears to be spreading like wildfire.

Dozens of bars are expected to stage "theater nights'' this weekend in which patrons are dubbed actors. The law, which went into effect in October, permits performers to smoke during a theatrical production. "Two weeks ago, we had one bar doing this,'' said Mark Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney who launched the theater-night idea. He estimates 50 to 100 bars could be on tap for theater nights this weekend based on phone calls, e-mails and requests for the how-to-stage-a-theater-night packet that he's devised. And many bar owners are passing on the information quickly among themselves without getting in contact with him.

State Health Department officials didn't return calls Thursday, but said earlier this week that they are waiting for a state attorney general's opinion on the legality of theater nights. State legislators who championed the ban said last week that the loophole likely will be plugged and the bar theater nights will end.

But until that happens, Kenn Rockler, executive director for the Tavern League of Minnesota, said he's getting calls and e-mails from bar owners.

Lisa Anderson, owner of Mike's Uptown bar in Hill City, said that last Saturday she staged a "theater night" and packed in four times the usual crowd that has come in since the smoking ban took effect.

Anderson said she has been helping other bar owners who want to put on their own tobacco productions.

"I'm going to continue to do this,'' she said. "It increased my business.''

So will Brian Bauman, owner of The Rock nightclub in Maplewood, which staged a theater night Tuesday and nearly doubled the usual crowd.

At least 10 other bar owners wandered through his bar that night, taking stock of the event's success.

It won't work for every bar or restaurant because some are carving out a niche with nonsmokers, he said.

"We're a rock bar and the majority of the people who come here smoke,'' Bauman said. Until the state puts a stop to this, "we have every intention of doing this again. ...We have our karaoke night and we have our rock night. Now we will have our theater night.''

Thing is, the smoking ban hurt those bars that chose to go non smoking.

Another one via Hit and Run.

This is our future

If you want to pay for part of your healthcare in the UK, you must pay for all of it.

Because that's the only 'fair' way to do it.
One such case was Debbie Hirst’s. Her breast cancer had metastasized, and the health service would not provide her with Avastin, a drug that is widely used in the United States and Europe to keep such cancers at bay. So, with her oncologist’s support, she decided last year to try to pay the $120,000 cost herself, while continuing with the rest of her publicly financed treatment.

By December, she had raised $20,000 and was preparing to sell her house to raise more. But then the government, which had tacitly allowed such arrangements before, put its foot down. Mrs. Hirst heard the news from her doctor.

“He looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry, Debbie. I’ve had my wrists slapped from the people upstairs, and I can no longer offer you that service,’ ” Mrs. Hirst said in an interview.

“I said, ‘Where does that leave me?’ He said, ‘If you pay for Avastin, you’ll have to pay for everything’ ” — in other words, for all her cancer treatment, far more than she could afford.

Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.

“That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.,” Mr. Johnson said.

You better believe I'm setting myself up to be able to pay for it on my own.

Via Hit and Run

Mandatory Smiling

Richard Martin. Someone we can all stand behind.

Monday, February 18, 2008


When it comes to training with weights (what I call what I do until I am sufficiently prepared to stand on a platform and have other people tell me if I executed a lift to their satisfaction), the theme should and must be simplicity.

What you may find, as with many things, there is a connection between what works for lifting and what works for life.

Use the simplest method that works

Too many people are looking for the magic bullet. Pulling routines from anywhere that they hope will give them the edge they need. Take a step back, and look for the least complicated answer. You don't need to do 12 different leg exercises if you can't squat 400 pounds. This applies to everything you do, from cooking to statistical analysis. Apply it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You have to love this.

The National Libertarian Party sent a funeral wreath to the National Republican Party Headquarters after it became clear John McCain would win the nomination.

Following a solid McCain victory in the Super Tuesday primaries, the
Libertarian Party has sent Republican headquarters a funeral wreath marking the
death of limited-government values within the Republican Party. The wreath
was hand-delivered to the D.C. offices of the Republican National
Committee. "We simply felt the need to express our heartfelt sympathy for
the Republican Party as they undergo this tough time within their party," says
Libertarian Party National Media Coordinator Andrew Davis, who delivered the
wreath. "Given that it has become readily apparent that Senator McCain
will soon be the presidential nominee for the Republican Party," reads a card
that accompanied the wreath addressed to RNC Chairman Mike Duncan, "we, the
staff of the Libertarian National Committee, send our condolences to you upon
the death of small-government principles within the GOP."

You have to have a sense of humor when it comes to this stuff.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Micro vs. Macro

An awesome transcript of a lecture to a Macroeconomics class by Gary North.

I think he might be a MicroEconomist.

Me too.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I didn't even know they were on

This year's Grammys may be the third least watched of all time.

Yeah, Frank," Keys interjected during a Sinatra verse. "Tell
'em." Beyonce was paired with Tina Turner for a showy — and leggy — rendition
of "Proud Mary." Kid Rock joined up with Keely Smith, a winner in the very first
Grammys in 1958, for "That Old Black Magic." Hancock and Chinese wunderkind Lang Lang did the dueling pianos thing for a compelling take on George Gershwin's
"Rhapsody in Blue."
Empahsis mine.

Gee. I wonder why. Kid Rock? Really? I'm sorry, I find it hard to take that awards show seriously.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An open letter to NASCAR

I watched the Bud Shootout last night, hoping the new car might at least make the racing a little more exciting.

Here's a little feedback: if the announcers have to tell me how exciting the race was, it wasn't.

All the talk about winning back the old fans (apparently by encouraging fistfights) isn't worth anything if you don't change what's really driving old fans away from the sport.

Top 35 qualifying rule.
Chase for the Championship.

Go back to getting in the race on speed, with limited provisionals so Dale Jr. and Jeffy don't go home. Get rid of the welfare system of points to determine a champion via a playoff. This isn't a stick and ball sport - there is a difference when you 'play' the same teams week after week.

Keep the additional points for winning races.

Call me when you're done.

Saturday, February 9, 2008



The Uneducated Defense

When I was younger, one of the things my parents taught me was ignorance was not an excuse. "I didn't know," didn't fly in my house.

I happen to hold the position that the Miranda ruling is incorrect - that every person has the responsibility to know his rights, and that it is not the role of the police or government agents to inform you of those rights. Their job is to enforce, protect, and not violate those rights.

A while back, a group of teens attacked a couple on a Baltimore MTA bus. Turned into a big news story.

The kids arrested, according to Gregory Kane of the Baltimore Sun, may have an interesting defense.
The juveniles accused of attacking Kreager, her boyfriend, Troy Ennis, and an MTA bus driver have that right, too. Tarud and the five lawyers defending the other juveniles contend their clients weren't properly Mirandized while they were in the custody of MTA Police. When the hearing started Jan. 31, each of the lawyers made a motion to have any statements their clients made to MTA Police detectives suppressed.

For the past week, in the courtroom of Judge David W. Young on the third floor of the Juvenile Justice Center, Tarud and five other defense attorneys have been grilling officers and detectives of the MTA Police force like steaks at a Fourth of July cookout. The lawyers wanted to know if their clients were handcuffed, and for how long. They wanted to know if they were provided with food or drink. The intent was to prove that the atmosphere in which the juveniles were detained was coercive, and certainly not one in which a juvenile could voluntarily waive his or her Miranda rights.

But Tarud and Barbara Greene, who represents another one of the girls, may have gotten to the heart of the matter: If these girls didn't understand simple words any middle-schooler should know, how would they understand Miranda rights?

Greene's client and Tarud's client were questioned by Detective Anjanette McBride of the MTA Police. As McBride talked to Tarud's client, she asked the girl if she thought the fight on the bus was justified. That's when the girl responded with the question on which this entire case might well hinge:

"What that mean?"

Tarud's client is 13; she's in middle school.

And she doesn't know what justified means.

When McBride read each Miranda right to Greene's client, the detective told the girl to put her initials after each statement to indicate she understood.

The girl didn't know what the word initial meant. McBride had to tell her. The girl was baffled again when McBride read the statement "I agree to answer questions, and I do not want an attorney at this time." McBride asked the girl, explicitly, if she wanted to talk to her. It was then that the girl said yes.

Greene was quick to challenge McBride: Why did she explain only the first part of the statement "I agree to answer questions, and I do not want an attorney at this time"? McBride answered that she assumed the girl understood the second portion.

But when students don't know words like justified and initial, it's safe to assume they neither know about - nor understand - Miranda either.

Not understanding the English Language might just be enough to get you out of trouble. At what point do we return to personal responsibility, the idea that if a 13 year old doesn't understand their rights, it's not the government's fault.

Although, I guess you could make the case it is.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Because if WE do it, it can't possibly be illegal

The Bush Administration says waterboarding isn't torture, and it's perfectly legal. Do yourself a favor, and take a look at this. And this.

Somebody's lost their copy of the Constitution. Honestly, this is the most disgusting Administration I think we've had. Another 8 years of a Clinton presidency is starting to look good.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

They needed a study?

Reserchers find lots of songs have references to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.

I'm shocked.

Monday, February 4, 2008

I heart Economics

Drew Cary on the middle class, and how we are actually far better off than we've been in the past, regardless of what you see on the news.

Required Post

I think there is a blogger rule that requires some comment on the Superbowl, so here's mine:

I've never been this happy to have been this wrong. I predicted the Pats would be up 42-0 at halftime.

One heck of a game. Belichick showed once more he's got no class, and he sure doesn't deserve the class guys (especially the defense) on that team.

I guess it's back to filming the other sideline.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A Lifter's biggest fear

My gym has posted a big sign with the Rules. Apparently, things have changed.

One of the rules is "No Chalk or Powder".

Which means I have to find a new gym.

Restaurant Week!

I was out of town for most of this week, which was Restaurant Week in Baltimore. Too bad, we love this week where we get out and sample places we haven't been, or revisit our favorites.

Last night, J and I went with our neighbors, D and R, to Sotto Sopra.

Very good.

The first course was nothing to write home about - I had the Proscuitto de Parma, J and R had grilled romaine, and D had the soup of the day (which she liked quite a bit). The entrees were all hits, though. J and I both had the Agnolotti di Vitello (veal stuffed pasta), which was fantastic. D had the red snapper, which she raved about, and R had the Veal Scallopini. We had a fantasic wine (recommended by our server).

I would go 8 out of 10. This is a great spot, a boisterous space, attentive service, and great food.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Art in a new age

A few weeks ago, I posted a video that I thought was a great example of a new age of art, combining visual images with music and mathmatics.

This is another example of super cool human art/acting by Improv Everywhere. The reactions are priceless.

Via The Agitator

Friday, February 1, 2008

Another example...

Of why the drug war needs to stop, or at a minimum, the use of SWAT teams and military tactics on people who have a little pot in their house.

The basics of the story:

Police informant sees Japanese Maple trees being grown in a guy's garage (that informant may or may not have broken in, we still aren't sure)
Police get a warrant, without any additional information, to search the home to look for pot.
Police break down the door in the middle of the night, maybe announcing who they are, maybe not, because you know the man sleeping inside might hear them knock and somehow flush a bunch of trees down the toilet or something.
Guy sleeping inside is woken by a group of men carrying weapons, dressed in black, wearing ski masks.
He shoots and kills one of them (he's been on edge since someone just broke into his house)
He's in jail for murder, the use of a firearm in a felony, and misdemeanor posession.

Yes, they broke down his door and got a cop killed for an ounce of pot. They are charging the wrong person with a crime.

Read all the related links, it's quite a story.