1.29.2007

Nutritionism Demystified

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.


That's the upshot of Michael Pollan's fascinating article deconstructing nutritionism. Good advice, too.

1.19.2007

Fighting for the Law

"The people should fight for their law as if defending the city's wall." -Heraclitus of Ephesus, Fragment 100"

This quote was so inspirational that one lawyer got it tattooed on his arm in the original Greek (scroll down).

The Fragments can be found here with the Greek and English side-by-side, for those interested.

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Alberto Gonzales, Master Weasel

Attorney General Gonzales has been busy testifying before Congress. His careful parsing brings you the following entertaining episodes of Constitution shredding and defendant torturing.

First, courtesy of Hit & Run, habeas corpus is not for everyone:

Sen. Arlen Specter: Now wait a minute, wait a minute. The Constitution says you can't take it away except in the case of invasion or rebellion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus?

AG Gonzales: I meant by that comment that the Constitution doesn't say that every individual in the United States or every citizen has or is assured the right of habeas corpus. It doesn't say that. It simply says that the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended.


Ain't careful parsing grand?

Second, brought to our attention by eudaemonia, Patrick Leahy loses patience with "assurances from Syria":
GONZALES: I think General Ashcroft confirmed this publicly, that there were assurances sought that he would not be tortured from Syria.

LEAHY: Attorney General... (derisive chuckle) ... I'm sorry. I don't mean to treat this lightly. We knew damn well, if he went to Canada, he wouldn't be tortured. He'd be held. He'd be investigated.

We also knew damn well, if he went to Syria, he'd be tortured. And it's beneath the dignity of this country, a country that has always been a beacon of human rights, to send somebody to another country to be tortured.

You know, and I know, that has happened a number of times, in the past five years, by this country. It is a black mark on us. It has brought about the condemnation of some of our closest and best allies. They have made those comments both publicly and privately to the president of the United States and others.

And it is easy for us to sit here comfortably in this room knowing that we're not going to be sent off to another country to be tortured, to treat it as though, well, Attorney General Ashcroft says we've got assurances.

Assurances from a country that we also say, now, we can't talk to them because we can't take their word for anything?


Senator Leahy was not amused and promised more hearings if he didn't get better answers within the week.

Attorney General does not sound like the most fun job in the world right now.

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1.18.2007

Queer Eye for the Stoic Guy

Robin Turner has an excellent examination of the Stoic theory of emotions using...umm...unorthodox examples in his post, Queer Eye for the Stoic Guy.

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Short Stories

John Collier's The Chaser, in which a young man learns the relative price of love and death.

Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener, a tale of maddening politeness in the office.

Enjoy.

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1.03.2007

Altering "The Contract"

My legal interests and my IT day job seldom overlap, but this post from The Daily WTF provides an example of insanity at the intersection of both.

At the end of the second interview they handed me a 14 page contract, a mere review copy of their standard Employee Agreement. The document mostly spelled out the various entertainment devices employees were not allowed to bring into the building, the number of minutes per lunch break, and the process of turning in notebooks at of the end of each day. This didn't mean that I was hired; it was simply an opportunity to read through the contract in case I had any questions about it. In the meantime, once they were sure I was not a corporate spy, they might ask me back for a third interview.

Another week passed and I was back in their conference room, ready to discuss the Employee Agreement. The first question I had was about the workweek: the contract described a forty-hour week in one part, yet mentioned that employees would work six days a week, eight hours a day. Before I could finish the question, the VP suddenly froze and starred stunned by my copy of their Sacred Contract.

He saw my pencil marks on the page, where I underlined the two conflicting sections. He snatched the document out of my hand and glared at the pencil markings. He flipped from page and to page, and to his disgust he found MORE PENCIL MARKS! Not just in the margins, but on the words themselves! Pencil marks! There were ugly questions marks, lines, arrows, and circles around words; it was appalling to him! He looked up from the paper and gave me stare of utter sadness and betrayal.

"You ... altered The Contract" he mumbled.

"No," I corrected him, "I made a few notes on the review copy you gave me; you told me to review it, and so, these are my notes."

"You altered ... The Contract!," he insisted.


Read the whole thing. It's like Kafka goes on a job interview.

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Ten Changes for the New Year

As in years past, I'm giving myself the month of January to figure out what my resolutions will be.

A starting point and one that you might find useful is the ToDo Institute's Ten Changes That Will Start You Off on the Right Track for the New Year. While all the suggestions may not fit your situation, they can get you thinking in the right direction.

Happy New Year!

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