Archive for October, 2005

The tropics are quiet

Monday, October 31st, 2005

As we enter the final month of the Atlantic hurricane season, there is — finally — nothing to report. Whether it stays that way remains to be seen, but for now, the tropics are quieter than they’ve been in weeks. There is no obvious “Gamma” candidate lurking out there. (The “proto-Gamma” I mentioned yesterday was largely sheared apart, and now does not appear likely to develop.)

In the eastern Pacific, the remnants of Hurricane Beta have emerged over open water, but there are “no signs of redevelopment.” That’s kind of a bummer, because I was really looking forward to calling the redeveloped storm — which would have gotten a new, Pacific name — the “cyclone formerly known as β.” Oh well, you can’t have everything. :)

On a more serious note, Dr. Jeff Masters writes that in Central America, where Beta made landfall, “No deaths have been reported…and it appears that Beta was too small to trigger the heavy rains required to cause a major disaster. The National Hurricane Center will probably not have to retire Beta’s name from the list of Atlantic hurricanes.” Well, thank goodness for that.

With nothing new in the tropics to talk about, Bryan Woods at The Storm Track is looking back at what was happening fourteen years ago today: The Perfect Storm.

The ‘true’ original pope-mobile

Monday, October 31st, 2005

CNN is carrying an AP report on what one might term the original JPII pope-mobile, and how someone paid a pretty penny for it:

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) — A light blue 1975 Ford Escort GL once owned by Pope John Paul II sold for $690,000 Saturday to a Houston multimillionaire who said he plans to put it in a museum he wants to build in his hometown.

(Does this somehow count as idolatry? I think it must, but undoubtedly someone will tell me it isn’t.) It really is something of a sad story: the seller bought the car at an auction and promised to never sell it. But now he’s in what sounds like extreme poverty, and has to sell his beloved piece of memorabilia to pay debts and for food.

It was bought by a Baptist, if anyone was wondering.

Posted by Brian (Briandot)

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Night has fallen on All Hallow’s Eve.

Alas, trick-or-treating conditions here in Michiana tonight are not exactly ideal. Not like I was planning on trick-or-treating or anything :), but I feel bad for the kids who are.

The Halloween rain takes me back. The last time I recall personally experiencing a rainy Halloween was in 1991, when the remnants of the Perfect Storm brought heavy rain and wind to Connecticut while my friends and I were trick-or-treating in Wethersfield. Man, that was miserable. (Uncharacteristically, I was unaware at the time of the historic weather phenomenon that was occurring. I was so thoroughly distracted by other events — my grandfather’s death earlier that month, my grandmother’s subsequent relocation, my “decade” birthday, and the thrilling World Series between the Twins and Braves — that I hadn’t been paying any attention to the tropics or watching The Weather Channel “religiously” like I usually did. As a result, it wasn’t until months or years later that I found out about the Perfect Storm and made the connection to the miserable weather I vividly remember experiencing on October 31, 1991.)

On an unrelated note, here’s a picture of my cousin Malcolm, a.k.a. Mr. Incredible, in his Halloween costume:

Aww.

P.S. Speaking of “Aww,” I almost forgot! Here’s some bonus catblogging, with a Halloween theme… a year old, but still extremely cute:

Hee hee. (Hat tip: Becky.)

P.P.S. Oh, and here’s a Halloween picture from three years ago that’s sure to scare any UCLA fan.

Emergency Monday catblogging

Monday, October 31st, 2005

I forgot to Friday catblog last week, so I was planning to wait until this Friday to post my latest batch of photos… but with all this partisan vitriol over Alito floating around the blogosphere, I figured that if we ever needed some cute pictures of cats, today is the day. :) I’ve even thrown in some dogblogging for the non-felinephiles. Enjoy!


More here. (Scroll down for newest pics.)

USC #1 again

Monday, October 31st, 2005

USC is back atop the BCS rankings. Woohoo!

Also, Notre Dame’s computer ranking climbed from #23 to #22, and their poll rankings rose from #10 to #9. So they are now #14 instead of #15 in the BCS.

In other news, Stewart Mandel says the one thing this college football season is missing is a major upset. Are you listening, Baylor? :)

Also, in an earlier column, Mandel muses on a question that fellow 2L and (f)UCLA grad Mike Tran and I have discussed several times: if UCLA (heaven forbid) beats USC on Dec. 3, do the Bruins — currently the lowest-ranked undefeated team — make it to the Rose Bowl if there are two or three other undefeated teams?

Obviously, it would come down to whether the pollsters simply move the Bruins up a spot or actually bump them ahead of the other undefeated teams. I can’t speak for other voters — not to mention my AP vote doesn’t actually count for anything — but if a 10-0 UCLA team handed an 11-0 USC team its first loss in two-and-a-half years, I know I would vote the Bruins No. 1. No other candidate would have a victory like that on its resume, plus they would have won every other game on their schedule. How could you possibly vote anyone else higher?

How, indeed.

But now, let’s ponder an even wilder scenario. Texas loses twice: one regular-season game (Go Baylor!) plus the Big 12 title game. Alabama loses to LSU and Auburn; LSU goes to the SEC title game, but loses to Florida, which got in because Georgia lost to Auburn. Virginia Tech beats Miami, then is stunned by Virginia, but still makes it to the ACC title game, only to lose to Florida State, which is bouncing back from its non-conference loss to Florida. Penn State beats Wisconsin but then loses to Michigan State. Cal beats Oregon. UConn stuns West Virginia. Texas Tech loses to Oklahoma. Amid all this carnage, USC and UCLA stay undefeated until Dec. 3, at which point the Bruins edge the Trojans in triple-overtime.

The point of all this? There are no one-loss teams from major conferences left on Dec. 4 — none — except for USC. The Bruins are 11-0; the Trojans are 11-1. And thus, presumably, the Trojans only fall to #2 in the polls and the BCS… right? After all, what two-loss team are you going to vote ahead of the one-loss defending champion? #3-ranked Notre Dame, whom the Trojans beat head-to-head?

The result: a USC-UCLA rematch at the Rose Bowl — which of course the Trojans, bent on revenge, win easily. :)

Alito, abortion and spousal rights

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Well, the Right wanted a fight over the direction of the Supreme Court, and they’re going to get it. Already Judge Alito’s 1991 dissent on the issue of abortion and spousal notification has at least one anti-Bush commenter howling “Taliban.” (Actually, if the Left chooses that tack, it won’t be a fight, it’ll be a slaughter — another easy victory for Bush. There’s a reason Howard Dean isn’t president, people.)

But as a pro-choice moderate, I think InstaPundit’s thoughts on the issue are worth reading. Money quote:

The problem here is that you can say “my body, my choice” — but when you say, “my body, my choice but our responsibility,” well, it loses some of its punch.

Now please, before you yell at me, go read the whole thing.

As for me, I’m personally less concerned with how Alito would rule on Roe v. Wade than with how he would rule on Kelo v. New London. Anyone hear anything on that front?

P.S. Speaking of hysteria… the Right is more than capable of it, too, as this absurd bit of Drudgery demonstrates. “Scalito,” a racist slur? Puh-leeze. That Drudge is headlining such a banal piece of pseudo-analysis only proves once again that Drudge is, well, Drudge.

A less pointless rebuttal of the “Scalito” moniker comes from this article, sent along by classmate David Mathues, which suggests that Alito is “not always on the same page as Scalia.”

P.P.S. About the Pennsylvania abortion statute that Alito wanted to uphold… as a policy matter, I have mixed feelings about it. As someone who hopes to be a father one day, I’d like to believe I have some say over what happens to my children, at all stages of life. As a realist, I acknowledge that inevitably, women have a bigger role during pregnancy because the fetus is inside of them. As a feminist, I understand the importance of female autonomy in situations where the male partner is less of an upstanding citizen than I am. But again, as a man, as a (God willing) future father, how can I be okay with the idea that my wife could legally abort my child without even telling me? And then of course there’s the libertarian argument, that my wife shouldn’t do it but the government should have no role in telling her not to. But why should that particular issue be on the other side of the line between government power and individual liberty? Why are a father’s reproductive rights less important than any of the other important rights that libertarians believe the government should actively uphold — such as, for example, the mother’s right to receive child support? (See InstaPundit’s post for more on that.) Screaming “libertarianism” doesn’t resolve the issue any more than screaming “abortion is murder” or “my body, my choice” resolves it. As I said, I’m conflicted.

One thing I feel strongly is that the exception to the Pennsylvania law which was triggered if a woman stated (presumably under penalty of perjury) that “the pregnancy resulted from spousal sexual assault that had been reported” is problematic because of those last four words: “that had been reported.” While I understand the fear that a woman might falsely claim sexual assault in order to satisfy that statute, I doubt that would happen in more than a few extremely isolated incidents (and a reporting requirement doesn’t eliminate the small risk), and regardless, I believe the risk that some spousal-rape victims who want no-spousal-notification abortions would be too scared to file a report vastly outweighs, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the risk of deception by a cunning non-victim. So if I had been a Pennsylvania voter in the late 1980s or earli 1990s, I would have, if nothing else, advocated an amendment to the law, and opposed the law on the above-stated grounds if it wasn’t amended. (I might have opposed it anyway, but certainly I would have opposed it on those grounds.)

But as I said earlier, all that is as a policy matter, and it does not necessarily bear on the constitutional question that Alito was asked to decide. The whole point of the strict-constructionist philosophy is that judges are not supposed to act as super-legislatures, i.e., it’s not a circuit judge’s role to decide whether a Pennsylvania statute is good or bad, only whether it’s constitutional or unconstitutional. I don’t presume to have an opinion on that count without knowing more about the issue, and it’s unfortunate — if inevitable — that so many uneducated opinions are now floating around, ignoring the distinction between legislative and judicial and paying no attention to the crucial subtleties of the law.

I won’t go as far as Ed Whalen, who writes that “no one should read the case as expressing Alito’s own constitutional or policy views (as opposed to his reading of Supreme Court precedent) on any aspect of abortion.” I think we may be able to fairly draw some useful and important conclusions from a close reading of what Alito has written, even when he was “just following precedent.” (If I’m wrong and Whalen is right, then it follows that it’s impossible to glean anything useful, ever, from a Supreme Court nominee’s lower-court opinions on constitutional issues — a proposition that strikes me as highly dubious.) But certainly no one should lump policy opinions, constitutional views and precedential decisions into an undifferentiated mass without at least acknowledging the important differences between the three categories. Alas, no one should, but nearly everyone will.

Bush nominates Alito

Monday, October 31st, 2005

CNN Breaking News: Bush made the announcement at 8 AM EST. He has nominated 3rd Circuit Appeals Court Judge Samuel Alito to Supreme Court of the United States. Unlike his previous nomination Miers, who was sunk by Bush’s own party, Alito will appeal quite well to conservatives. Indeed, a wonderful quote from the CNN article above:

Legal experts consider the 55-year-old Alito so ideologically similar to Justice Antonin Scalia that he has earned the nickname “Scalito.”

Heh.

Posted by Brian (Briandot)

400+ busted in Madison WI Halloween riots :>

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Again with the Joe Loy Guestblogging. :) / Evidently the Youth of the Upper Midwest ARE Returning to that old-time Religion… :>

…Police used officers on horseback early Sunday to move chanting and beverage-tossing revelers off State Street, a mile-long stretch of bars, restaurants and shops. The pepper spray was used after cups filled with beverages and ice were thrown at officers…

Ahh, such Piety. :) Very Commendable. :)

CT is 2nd-smartest state, after VT :)

Monday, October 31st, 2005

Joe Loy guestblogging, bloodyObviously. :) Deep-Blue Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maine are numbers 3, 4, & 5 respectively. :)

Don’t cry for Mee, Arizona. :>

New SCOTUS nomination tomorrow?

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

The Washington Post is reporting that President Bush may announce his new Supreme Court nominee tomorrow, with Alito seen as the favorite and Luttig and Batchelder also in the running. On TradeSports, it’s all Alito and Luttig. Jeff Goldstein has thoughts. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

Final advisory issued on β

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Beta, the record-setting 13th hurricane of the season, is now a tropical depression dissipating over Nicaragua, and the NHC has issued its final advisory on the storm.

According to the discussion, “There is some possibility of regeneration over [the Pacific] basin during the next couple of days. This is the last advisory on Beta. Should the system regenerate over the east Pacific…it would be assigned a new number and/or name.”

The AP reports:

Jack Howard, mayor of the central coastal town of Laguna de Perlas, told local television that 700 people were trapped in Tasbapauni, a town separated from the mainland by a lagoon. …

Nicaragua’s army chief, Gen. Omar Halleslevens, told reporters in the capital that Beta had destroyed or damaged some houses, ripped off building roofs, knocked down trees and caused some flooding. He said it also damaged at least one pier.

“No one was injured, no one was killed, thank God,” President Enrique Bolanos said. “We are prepared from coast to coast.” …

In Honduras, authorities evacuated more than 7,800 people Sunday from 50 communities north of the Nicaraguan border after four rivers overflowed from 4 inches of rain brought by Beta.

Strong winds knocked down signs, fences, trees and electricity and telephone poles, cutting off power and communication in hundreds of communities and at least two highways were blocked, said the country’s disaster response chief, Hugo Arevalo.

Flooding damaged rice, corn and bean fields. High waters also sent snakes out of the jungle into residential areas, although there were no reports of snakebites.

The threat of heavy rain continues, even as Beta dissipates.

Apple-picking pics

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Becky, Vikki and I went apple-picking today at County Line Orchard in Hobart. We also got ourselves lost and found in a corn maze.

Photos here. A few highlights:



Tragedy in Newington

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

There was a fatal fire in Newington last night.

UPDATE: The victim is Richard Hastings, a retired Newington teacher and NHS wrestling coach.

Maureen Mahoney: a female John Roberts?

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Could the Supreme Court’s next nominee be another Hoosier? (Hat tip: meanoldmom.)

Mahoney’s biggest liability, from the Right’s perspective, is her position in favor of affirmative action. Not only did she argue the case for the University of Michigan, but according to PoliPundit, she addressed it from a personal perspective: “I’m a Republican, and there’s a common misconception that all Republicans oppose affirmative action. I care deeply about this case.”

Beta reaches Cat. 3 status, makes landfall as Cat. 2

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

Hurricane Beta briefly attained Category 3 status overnight — making it the seventh major hurricane of the season, one shy of 1950’s record of eight — then weakened to a Category 2 with 105 mph winds before making landfall at 7:00 AM EST near La Barra, Nicaragua.

It now has 90 mph winds, and further rapid weakening is expected, according to the discussion:

GIVEN THE SMALL SIZE OF THE HURRICANE…BETA SHOULD WEAKEN VERY RAPIDLY AS IT MOVES FARTHER INLAND…AND THE CIRCULATION IS EXPECTED TO DISSIPATE DURING THE 24 HOURS OR SO IT WILL SPEND OVER LAND. HOWEVER…IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT THAT BETA REMAINS A TROPICAL CYCLONE THROUGHOUT ITS OVERLAND PASSAGE…IT WOULD RETAIN ITS NAME IN THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC BASIN.

And now… is there a proto-Gamma out there?! Dr. Jeff Masters writes:

A large tropical wave located about 200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles has not become better organized today but has some potential for further development over the next few days as it moves west or west-northwest at 15 mph. This area of disturbed weather will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the northern Leeward Islands today. If a tropical storm does develop from this wave, it could threaten Hispanolia, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas later in the week. Wind shear over the Caribbean is expected to remain low the next week, favoring tropical storm development of any tropical waves that traverse the region.

Here’s a picture of the wave: