Sunday, July 31, 2005

Home Improvements

I bought my 1923 bungalow 2 weeks after law school began. I did it knowing I would be living in Portland for at least 3 years at that point, interests rates were low (but not as low as student loan rates!!!), and property values were rising. So far, it's been one of the smartest things I've done.

But, when I did it I knew I would have absolutely no money to make improvements, or any repairs. So, I just held my breath hoping nothing essential would break down in the interim.

Well, I have emerged relatively intact, but that's mostly because I have an incredible ability to ignore the entropy around me.

My water heater is on the fritz (and has been for 2 years now), the house is in dire need of painting, and one of my bed room windows is about to fall off the side of the house. (To my credit, I managed to fend off a carpenter ant attack, and a flooding basement during school.)

Two of these home maintenance projects will hopefully be fixed by the end of the month. My dad gave me money for new windows for graduation. Today, Herr Pretzel came over and removed the trim around the window so we could measure and order replacements. There's about 50 years worth of cob webs in there! But, the new windows should arrive within the next two weeks, and installation shouldn't be too bad. The only surprise is that the lath and plaster on the interior extends past the stud all the way to the window. The new windows won't need such a large gap because I won't need room for the gigantic weights on old double hung windows. But, instead of cutting through it all with a sawzall, Pretzel suggested we just fill the gap by installing a 2x4. I'm putting my blind faith in him that it's a good idea. Lucky for me, he is an experienced carpenter.

Meanwhile, jkf and I will be painting the exterior this week. We washed the house on Thurs, and bought the goodies we need to start tomorrow morning. I picked up the paint at MetroPaint. It was dirt cheap, because it's recycled. Hopefully it will do the job and I won't have to paint again any time soon. They recommend it for exteriors, and they had plenty of pictures of structures that have their paint, so it should be ok. I think the new Rebuilding Center was painted with it too. I've managed to live 33 years without painting anything, so tomorrow holds another adventure. Lucky for me, jkf was a professional house painter before she went to law school.

Now all I have to do is find out which one of my friends used to fix water heaters for a living.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Consummatum Est

Thank God! Relatively unscathed--let vacation begin!

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Monday, July 25, 2005

More fucked up invasion of privacy

Your printer is spying on you.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

A house down the street is on fire.

There are 5 fire trucks and 3 police cars = many sirens. (Luckily no ambulances). I think this may be a good excuse to call it quits.

Update: the TV news reported that the fire was started by a stove. $40,000 in damages. No one was hurt. But, a deputy chief fireman's truck was struck by a car on the way to the fire. Two of the three car occupants were slightly injured. That's why there were so many sirens I guess.

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The last refuge of a scoundrel

Blog-a-thon tag:

In the early nineties, my friend, Eddie Vanzetti, opined to me that the revolutionary power of the internet lay in its potential for widespread dissemination of subversive ideas. Although I never forgot that conversation, it took me over ten years to take it to heart. Thus: the blog. And although this post may be more masturbatory than subversive, I am on the threshold of change, and so some reflection is in order.

The bar exam is in just two days, and I am on the verge of panic. I have studied hard, and if I do not pass after all this, it is hard to imagine doing this again in February. At times like these, I like take the advice given to us by the minority student recruiter at school just before classes started 1st year. She told us that in all the chaos that is law school, it is sometimes useful to go back and read the essay you wrote on your application, lest you forget why you went to law school in the first place. I am also reminded of my first year Criminal Procedure professor's advice just before finals: never forget that we were all there for one reason—justice.

I can't go back and read the essay I wrote in late 2001 because of the great hard drive meltdown of 2004. But, I do remember what was on my mind at the time.

First, I am a failed scientist. I received a BS in Biochemistry in 1994 and spent 8 years as a molecular biology research associate in both academic and biotechnology settings. My claim to fame is a cocaine addicted yeast strain I engineered to study cocaine addiction. But, I was frustrated by the fact that there was very little room for upward mobility in my field—there are no academic jobs to speak of, and biotech would most likely force me to live in places I cannot abide. Lucky for me I was laid off in 2000 along with the rest of the tech boom orphans, and was forced to think seriously about my future.

About the same time, the Oregon legislature was in the process of gutting our pioneering genetic privacy legislation in order to make it more palatable to corporate interests. I remember hearing a story on public radio about how legislators were confused about what the law actually meant. Meanwhile, none of my colleagues seemed to care what was happening. It was this that started me thinking about the pervasive myopia of many scientists who care only about their own little research projects without regard to the responsibilities that those of us who are scientifically literate have to the rest of our communities.

Second, I am also a failed musician. Music has always been the one thing in life to make me happy (besides skiing, but that doesn't fit into this post). As a child I played the saxophone and piano, and as adult I have had incredible amounts of fun playing the drums. There is little I would rather do than hang out in the basement drinking beer and writing songs with my friends. But, I've never had the talent or the discipline to pursue music on a serious level. Nonetheless, I consider myself lucky to have surrounded myself with amazingly talented people.

The thing is, I believe it is a tragedy that in our culture music has become something to be bought instead of something to be made. There is no reason why "three chords and the truth" has to be a commodity marketed by large corporations rather than a shared experience amongst us all. It's not that I believe the many talented artists of the world do not deserve our admiration and support (both monetary and otherwise). It's just a shame that so much of our culture is dictated by Megacorps that exist for solely economic purposes.

Given this background, it is no wonder I found a natural affinity to Intellectual Property in law school. In fact I was surrounded by many science and music geeks just like me (except they were mostly men—what's up with that?). It was there that I learned about the Copyfighters and other revolutionary ideas for making intellectual property law more balanced between public and private interests. And I realized that a failed scientist and musician just might make a good IP attorney. It is my hope that with my education I can somehow effect change that will help preserve what is beautiful and true by ensuring more artists and scientists can communicate new expression and ideas in a way that is beneficial to us all.

So, here I am. I've been studying this stupid bar crap since May 16th. It is the most boring, soul sucking ordeal through which I have ever been. And it has been very, very difficult to remember why I am doing this in the first place.

And while Samuel Johnson may have said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel," Lisa Simpson said it was prayer (Season 2, "Bart Gets and F"). So…

This Tuesday and Wednesday I will be sitting in a hotel ballroom racking my brain to remember all the crap I have filled it with these past months. It is my hope that all my law school friends and I will have the grace, strength, and patience to see this through to the fullest of our abilities. That way I (and my friends) can get back to the important task with which we've been charged.


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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Process Subverted

Gay Right's Watch aptly points out that that Karen Minnis' base are the very same people who complained about the lack of process when Multnomah County started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Bryan Harding has even dug up a couple of quotes from Minnis herself:

"Process subverted. They didn't hold any public hearings. They didn't give any advanced warning. Their actions were arrogant and wrong. The Multnomah County Commission purposefully subverted the public process." - Speaker of the House Karen Minnis (Voter's Pamphlet, P 82)

"House Speaker Karen Minnis was the first state official to respond. She blasted the Multnomah County commission: ‘I think they circumvented due process. They made a decision and went forward with it without any public hearings, without any review by the state legislature who sets state policy and without consulting the citizens of Oregon. Minnis said she expected the Oregon legislature to address the issue in its next session."OPB 3/3/04

Yet, this is exactly what she did when she gutted and stuffed SB1000. How does this woman sleep at night?

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Friday, July 22, 2005

TSA Broke Privacy Laws

Ummm. Ok, this is really fucked up.

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There's a post on Stay Free! about a Guardian article reporting McDonald's efforts to block an Australian rugby enthusiast from registering his nickname as a Trademark for clothing promoting the rugby team he sponsors. The guy's name is Malcom McBratney. His nickname is McBrat which McDonald's claims is confusingly similar to its mark, McKids (which it has only used for toys, never clothing).

The twist is that in addition to being a rugby enthusiast, McBratney is also a trademark attorney. He isn't budging and is arguing that McDonald's has abandoned the McKids mark.

This should be interesting. The very first case I read in trademark class was Quality Inns Int'l v. McDonald's Corp., 695 F. Supp. 198 (D. Md. 1988). In that case, McDonald's went after Quality Inns for a low budget hotel concept called "McSleep Inns." That court held that the prefix "Mc" plus a generic term is a very strong coined mark, and therefore entitled to wide protection. Third party uses of Mc*generic* were not indicative of McDonald's abandonment, but merely probative of the strength of the mark. Since we all know just how strong consumer recognition of McDonald's is (the survey in the case found 100% recognition in consumers it polled), Quality Inns didn't have a chance.

However, I think an important factor in that case was the considerable evidence of bad faith on the part of Quality Inns--that they specifically chose that name for its potential association with McDonalds.

In that respect, I can only hope that the Australian trademark office sees things differently, and that it gives consumers some credit for being able to differentiate between McBrat for rugby clothing and McKids for toys.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hell in a handbasket

Gayrightswatch reports that Karen Minnis in a surprise move, gutted SB1000 and it was subsequently moved out of the State and Federal Affairs committee 30 minutes before lunch, and weekend adjournment--apparently she thought we wouldn't notice.

Meanwhile the Columbia County Republicans have adopted a racist resolution blaming Mexicans for methamphetamine abuse. Via Blue Oregon:

Bob Tosh of Columbia GOP says:

“We see more and more crime articles in the paper with Gomez, Martinez, Ramirez, and whatever Hispanic name you might see.”
“All of us who are Caucasian Americans are descendents of ...immigrants,” he said. “But with legal aliens, you know who's here and that they're not some criminal that came from Mexico, escaped from jail there and came over here and is raping 5-year-old babies.”

Finally, The One True B!x reports that Portland's bid to purchase PGE has failed. (I don't care what Bojack thinks--I think it was a good idea). Now what?

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Karen Minnis isn't budging

I just heard on OPB radio that House Speaker Karen Minnis has told the AP she will not bring the Civil Unions bill to a vote. This despite a successful rally last night at the Capitol. She says Oregonians already decided the issue when they passed Measure 36.

I tried to find the AP story on the Internets, but can't locate it right now.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Almost There (stay on target, stay on target)

In just one week I will be sitting in a hotel ballroom taking the Bar Exam. I am getting impatient, mostly because I just do not have the attention span needed to do this anymore. It's the same reason I prefer quarters to semesters, I just lose interest after awhile and need to do something different.

I have had the exact same schedule now for weeks. Wake up 7am, eat breakfast, check email, study. 9am, go on bike ride or run. 10:30am hit the books. Noon take a shower and eat lunch. 1pm to 6pm study. 6pm eat and watch Simpsons. 8-11pm study. Go to bed.

This is a totally manageable schedule, it would even be sustainable, if I could just have a couple of days off. But right now it is so boring my head might burst.

Yesterday was the 1st time I'd driven my car in over a week. It was covered in cobwebs.

I want to sleep in. I want to have a screwdriver with breakfast. I want to go on a hike. I want to sit in the sun and read novels. I want to go to the beach. I want to go out to dinner.

I'd even like to paint my house, install new windows in my bedroom and cut down the ugly bushes in front.

I just gotta stay focused for another week.

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Basic Rights Oregon has a flash movie in support of SB1000. It's worth watching. I especially like the license plate on the car at the end.

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Here's something more that's stupid

An Australian judge has ruled hyperlinking to sites that infringe copyrights is itself infringement. This is dumb because as Copyfight points out: 1) apparently copying and pasting a URL would not be infringement and 2) unless you do copy and paste a URL, everywhere you go on the internet is through a hyperlink.

Once again we have a judgment where "good" companies such as Google are now in violation. However, because industry likes Google, it will never be sued.


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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tell Karen Minnis we want a vote on SB1000

As you all know, SB1000 the civil union and anti-discrimination bill passed the Oregon Senate by a 2/3 majority. Now Speaker of the House Karen Minnis is trying to let the bill die without out a vote. Call her up and tell her you want it to be voted on before the end of the session. Do it now--it will only take 30 seconds. Her number is 503-986-1200.

And for those of you who already know enough Torts to fake it through the bar exam, skip out early on studying on Wed. July 20 and head down to Salem for a rally. 6pm at the Capitol. Be there.

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Internet Archive sued for archiving internet

This lawsuit is ridiculous. The Internet Archive is being sued because in a trademark lawsuit involving separate parties lawyers for the plaintiff used the Archive's Wayback Machine to access web pages stored by the archive to prove the defendant had infringed their mark.

The defendant is now suing for copyright infringement, DMCA, and CFAA violations for plaintiff''s actions, and is suing the Internet Archive for negligence, breach of contract, and fiduciary duty.

This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Especially since the archive is routinely used by IP attorneys to determine whether there has been infringement. It's the only history we've got and it's fair use. Plus there was no contract, and I'm not sure how there could be a fiduciary duty either.

Pure crap.

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Breaking News: Scientific studies are not always definitive

This shocking revelation comes from a study of JAMA, Lancet, and New England Journal of Medicine. The authors have concluded that

"[c]ontradicted and potentially exaggerated findings are not uncommon in the most visible and most influential original clinical research... ."


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Monday, July 11, 2005

i got nuthin

sorry, kids. i've spent the last four days hoping something interesting might happen to me. or i might have a remarkable thought. no such luck. nothing happened. and i can't think of anything just now.

about the only interesting thing on the horizon is PBS documentary of Guns, Germs and Steel, after the book of the same name. i never got a chance to read the book, so i'll be taping it for later viewing.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

The guy across the street

Three guys live across the street. All are long haired, heavy metal listening types. One guy only ever wears black. Ever. He has black t-shirts and black dress shirts. He has black tank tops. He has black jeans, black carharts, and black carharts shorts. He wears black boots or black converse. Except one time he wore one black converse and one white converse. He has dyed jet black hair. He drives a black truck. I have seen him almost every day for almost three years. He has never waivered from this fashion scheme.

Until today. I just saw him leave his house wearing a white t-shirt, blue jeans, and carrying a red duffel bag. He had white running shoes on.

What does this mean, except that bar studying is really, really boring?

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Monday, July 04, 2005

Competitive Lawnmowing

So, I'd just finished mowing my lawn (a chore that I don't love, but find better than cleaning the kitchen), and I was pulling some weeds next to the ugly bushes in front of my house when out of the corner of my eye I saw a white van pull out in to the street from across the street. I thought nothing of it because the death rockers across the street have several vans, and I think I've seen a white van there before. Additionally, the house next to the death rockers has recently become occupied after a long vacancy. I haven't met the new neighbors so it was conceivable that the white van belongs to them.

I go back to pulling weeds but I am scared out of my skin by a loud honking right behind me. I turn around to see the white van parked half way in my driveway, halfway on my lawn. I walk up to the van. Its driver is an old man, he speaks to me in a thick accent (perhaps from some West African country--it sounded vaguely French like). He says, "I just wanted you to know you have done a good job mowing your lawn. A very good job. At first I thought you were a man. When I realized you were a woman, I had to come over to tell you what a good job you had done mowing your lawn."

I thanked him and went back to pulling weeds. He pulled out of my driveway and drove away.

There are so many things wrong with that interaction I don't even know where to start. First, what is it with van owners that they have no compunction over driving on peoples' lawns? They all do it, it must be a van cultural thing.

When I had short hair I used to be mistaken for a man all the time. That hasn't happened since I grew my hair out. But, here it seems like the very fact I was mowing a lawn is what caused the confusion. Now, I know the guy is old, and he seemed to be from a different country, but what are you supposed to say to something like that, and how is it supposed to make you feel?

It's bad enough to know that neighbors actually do judge your lawn. I mean, my next door neighbors have a beautiful flower garden--just looking at it lowers your blood pressure. My lawn is mostly weeds--it is the best I can do to mow it before they all go to seed. So, I'm a little sensitive to being judged by the neighbors.

But, not only that, there seems to be multiple levels for which to be judged. I guess there is professional lawn mowing and amateur lawnmowing. But not only that, there seems to be male and female divisions as well.

Maybe I should have just told him that since I had been mowing the lawn for almost 25 years, I was able to compete at a high level.

But, seriously, if this guy is the new guy across the street, what is he going to do when he finds out I live in this house all by myself. Not only that, I own it all by myself. He may blow a gasket.

Better to just keep the windows closed and get Pretzel to come over and do my yard work.

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G8 Protests

Here are a couple of articles covering today's protests: AP and BBC. I like the AP report because it describes the 150 clowns of the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army.

Eddie Vanzetti reports that police outnumber protesters 5-1.

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Terminal Ileum as Art

I was a biochemistry major in college, and I worked in the biotechnology field for about nine years before I entered law school. My college career also entailed a couple of fairly controversial performance art collaborations having nothing to do with science. After my first performance art experience, as a project for Mr. Hands' American Culture and Ideology class, Mr. Hands suggested that my next project should be to genetically engineer him a new terminal ileum. See, Mr. Hands has Crohn's disease, and when we were in high school, he had to have about a foot and a half of his intestines, including the terminal ileum, removed. He thought it would be a good performance art project to grow a new one and try to introduce it into his body.

Needless to say this was all mostly jive talkin'.

Well, much to my surprise, today Stay Free! pointed the way to this NY Times article about genetic engineering as art--like real art. The article catalogues for example, "creating 'victimless' meat by growing tiny steaks from biopsied frog cells and then eating the steaks; using bone cells from pigs to grow wing-shaped objects, a play on the 'when pigs fly' trope; coaxing cactuses into sprouting humanlike hair; growing tissue in a petri dish that could theoretically be marketed as a hymen replacement." You gotta read this article. It's brilliant and disturbing.

Plus, one of the bioartist's names is Steve Kurtz. He's been arrested by the FBI surrounding his art. As many of you know, I have a Steve Kurtz who was my supervisor in genetic engineering a cocaine addicted yeast strain. So, they're not the same guys, but it just makes it all a better story.

From time to time Mr. Hands still asks me about the intestines. Maybe he should look some of these folks up.

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How pitiful?

Those of you who know me, know that before I met my girlfriend I had been single for a long, long, long time. Not that it bothered me too much. I enjoyed the single life. (But, for the record, once I got the hang of it, I've been enjoying the relationship life very much.)

As a single person, you spend a lot of time alone--even if you have a lot of friends. That's just the nature of the beast. And to be happy, you don't let the fact that you are by yourself stop you from doing what you want to do. In fact, you try to embrace doing whatever you want whenever you want.

Why am I talking about this? Well, my girlfriend has been out of town for the last three and a half weeks, and I've been trying to keep a good attitude, keep busy, and not feel too lonely while she's been gone. I think I've been successful. But, I haven't been to the grocery store in weeks, which means I've been eating out pretty much every meal for the last week and a half. This is fine, but tonight I experienced something I haven't experienced in the year and a half we've been together: people's pity for me because I am dining alone.

Tonight I was eating at the Italian restaurant down the street. I had ordered myself a half liter of wine and some pasta, and had just cracked open the book my girlfriend got me for our anniversary (damn you lawschool!). All in all, I was pretty happy. Next to me was a large party--an entire extended family, undoubtedly getting together for the holiday weekend. Mom/Grandma took one look at me and said, "I'm sorry we don't have another chair, we'd invite you to join the family." I thanked her for her sentiment, but tried to tell her as convincingly as possible that I was fine where I was.

That's the thing--I was fine. It is ok to eat at a restaurant alone. It is ok to be alone sometimes. There is nothing wrong with me--is there?

Maybe I should just go to the grocery store so I don't have to subject others to my pathological solitariness. Don't want others to feel uncomfortable, you know.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

Speaking of anonymity

I've added a site meter to my site. Mostly because I was gone for so long, I'm wondering if anyone is still out there. I still kind of don't like the idea, so I may get rid of it later. Just thought I'd give you all the heads up.

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EFF legal guide for bloggers

hey kids,

since questions relating to copyright infringement, defamation, and anonymity have come up amongst my bloggy friends in recent times, i'd thought i'd point you all towards the above link. the guide gives you a good map of the legal landscape as well as some pointers on remaining anonymous. happy blogging.

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MGM v. Grokster Lowdown

Kids, since I've just wasted the last hour reading about Grokster instead of learning the difference between 5th amendment right to counsel vs. 6th amendment right to counsel, or the difference between Federal and Oregon rules regarding expert testimony, I thought I'd share what I've learned.

MGM v. Grokster opinion can be found here. But, for those of you with little time, NYU law school professor, Siva Vaidhyanathan, has a very accessible piece on Salon that is worth the read.

The basic gist is that Souter's opinion struggles to keep the Sony Betamax opinion alive by borrowing an "inducement" theory from patent law. That is, the court majority (although a concurring opinion by Ginsburg makes this kind of cloudy to me) says that substantial non-infringing uses are still ok, but if you induce infringement either through advertisement or some other method, then you're contributorily liable. So, basically, as is his wont, Souter once again issued a completely unintelligible opinion.

Siva Vaidhyanathan points out, the way the opinion is worded, there is ambiguity as to whether Apple's Rip, Mix, Burn advertisement would constitute inducement. Also, when you look at old Sony Betamax advertisements, they seem to be inducing infringement too. He also points out that since the entire internet is one big peer to peer file sharing network, Google could conceivably find itself in trouble.

So, although Sony may technically still be intact, future cases will undoubtedly whittle it away as lower courts grapple with what exactly constitutes inducement. In fact, the most devastating impact of this opinion may not be the holding itself, but the economic power such an ambiguous opinion has given to the RIAA, MPAA and the like to pursue lawsuits against small innovators. Case in point: many have been speculating as to whether BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen may be next. Seems that five years ago he wrote a parody cypherpunk manifesto in which he stated he wrote programs to commit digital piracy. Is this inducement under Grokster? Even if it isn't, it may be a legitimate enough question to prompt a lawsuit. Guess we'll find out.

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an end to an unplanned hiatus

hey kids, i have no idea if anyone still checks this site or not. a lot of bad shit happened in the last month. write me an email and i'll tell you about it. needless to say, blogging has not been a high priority.

but, my hope is to return to some semblance of normalcy--as much as can be mustered during this final month before the bar exam.

i don't have much time to surf the internet right now, so i will be a little slow on current events, but i'll try to do what i can.

i haven't even read the Grokster opinion yet. i've had to rely on the newspaper for godsakes. i don't even know what the EFF has said about it yet. fuck.

oh, and don't get me started on Sandra D. Quitting on us now to take care of her ailing husband! well, we shouldn't have been counting on her anyway. it's just testament to the sad state of affairs that she was our only hope on so many issues in the first place. all you breeders better start stockpiling condoms cuz abortion will soon be illegal and all those pharmacies won't be selling contraceptives anymore, anyway.

oh, and all you bar kids might want to take a look at those 10 commandment cases. bar examiners love current events....

finally, i recommend all of you with access to Showtime and TiVo watch the Penn and Teller Bullshit show on Hair. Nothing better than watching someone wax some random guy on the street's hairy asshole on a flat screen TV.

more later, yo.

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