Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Supreme Court on Twitter

Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court appeared before the House Judiciary Committee talking about tweeting. C-SPAN has the coverage.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fixing/abusing my camera

For almost a year my digital camera's LCD screen would go whitish-grey. This would happen on and off, and only on the photo and video settings--it would still show the Benq company logo when the thing turned on and it allowed me to look through previous photos.

I was mad worried that repairing the camera was going to cost me more than it was worth. I purchased the camera for $100 US in Taiwan five years ago and figured the technology is outdated by now. Tonight I looked online for any possible solution, knowing that I wasn't able to do any major electrical work. But if there was something simple to try at home before forking out the cash to fix it I would.

I stumbled upon a thread on a digital media repair website called "re: it actually worked!". The author of the thread had the same problem as I did. He claimed that he "held the camera in [his] left hand" and then flicked the lens with his right hand. I figured what the heck, it's pretty Office Space but what do I have to lose. So I flicked it. The lens made a clicking noise. And then the camera started working again. Who'd of thunk it.

Nate 1, Technology 0.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

physics is a stinking mind bender

I'm taking a course in electromagnetism because I'm considering practicing patent law. Let me tell you, this course is a mind bender. Learning about the magnetic waves that are all over and how they control everything, I start to get visions of what Howard Hughes felt like when he went through his germophobe phase.

Anyways, there are a lot of concepts that you just have to rap your head around--for example when an electric particle and a magnetic field collide they propel the object in a force that it perpendicular to both forces. WHAT ?!?!? where did you come up with that one Maxwell?

Anyways, I know this is a bit melodramatic and it's really not that bad. But sometimes I like to cry in public.

My thoughts on Obama's nominee

Yesterday it was announced that President Obama will nominate Solicitor General Elena Kagan to replace Associate Justice John Paul Stevens' spot on the Supreme Court when he retires after this term. Kagan's nomination comes as no real surprise; she was on the short list of candidates that Obama had reportedly considered and comes with strong credentials.

I had hoped DC Court of Appeals judge and judicial moderate Merrick Garland would be nominated, but Solicitor Kagan will be fine. She has strong academic credentials. She has taught at some of the top law schools in the nation. She clerked for Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. As the Dean of Harvard Law School she scored points with the conservatives by supporting conservative law professors and speaking at a forum of the Federalist Society, a group of mainly conservative and libertarian legal scholars.

There will be accusations at her confirmation hearings that she is part of the Ivory Tower elite and out of touch with reality. People will point that aside from a stint in the Clinton administration and her current position she has never practiced law. Others will point out that she lost the Citizens United case (a recent SCOTUS case which held that corporations have political speech rights) to former Solicitor General Ted Olson. A lot of conservative Senators will spout off about her positions on abortion and not vote for her. But she has not written a lot of controversial articles. There is not too much dirt on her. And ultimately, the Dems rule Congress now and she should be easily nominated.

In the end I don't think that Kagan's nomination will do much to affect the Court. She is generally a liberal who is replacing a liberal. The Court is still the Roberts-Kennedy court, run by the conservative base of the Court. Kennedy will still probably vote for the conservative sides more often then not. If Kagan were to replace a conservative or Kennedy, that would be another story.

Kagan is well-qualified for the job and in most ways is a typical liberal judge. Her track record at HLS shows that she may be more sympathetic to conservative views than some of the other members on the Court, but she will vote liberal more often than not. Because she is a liberal judge replacing another liberal judge, I don't think that her nomination will have a strong immediate effect.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tim James' "Common Sense" Proposal

If I have had the chance to talk to you over the last couple of weeks, odds are that I have shared this dandy of a campaign promise. Yes, I have been smitten with ironic Tim James fever. But can you blame me? The man is a walking, campaigning punch line.

The ad is a liberal's dream come true. James plays into many of the stereotypes that liberals have about southern conservatives. His thick southern drawl, pandering to xenophobic voters, condescending delivery, and emotional appeal to "common business sense" all are stereotypes mocked by liberals and news satire like SNL and the Onion.

But James is tapping into more than just stereotypes about southern Conservatives. In 1990, Alabama voted on a Constitutional amendment establishing English as the only official language of Alabama. The good citizens of Alabama voted overwhelmingly in favor--it received 88% of the vote. However those pesky lawyers intervened and a series of lawsuits ensued culminating in a 1998 US Supreme Court case ruling that only the Alabama Governor could determine whether or not to make languages available in English only.

However, Governor Bob Riley chose not to do this. Concerns over Federal transportation funds conditioned on multi-lingual drivers exams funds derailed the application of the Constitutional amendment.

So it does appear that, if elected, James could easily make the executive decision to use English-only exams. But it would probably cost Alabama Federal funding. As a business man, does that make sense?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Messersmith at the Cedar Cultural Center (file under chamber pop)

I had a chance to see local Jeremy Messermith play a packed show at the Cedar Cultural Center tonight. In case anyone wondered about the influences on Jeremy Messersmith's new album The Reluctant Graveyard, those questions were answered by the replica-McCartney bass and an encore performance of "Nowhere Man."

The new albums contains some of his strongest work. Always the able songsmith, this installment finds him scoring a string quartet and horns as well as the traditional guitar/bass/drums/piano model. The string sounded their finest on "John the Determinist," this album's Elanor Rigby. The live quartet brought out a depth and fullness of sound which I the album didn't fully capture. Other standout performances included "Franklin Ave" and "Lazy Bones."

Messermith seems to have reached a steady following. The crowd nervously sang along to the choruses of fan favorites "Novocaine" and "Great Times" and Jeremy was called back on stage for an encore (the first time that I saw him called for one).

Messermith started the set with "Novocaine." He played material from all three of his LPs and finished the set with an acoustic rendition of "Miracles."

Messersmith kicks off his 12 gig May tour tomorrow in Sioux Falls. If you are interested in his music check out his website. He has listings for his shows, streams all three albums and lets you download them at a price that you choose.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Franky's Back! Twins Win!

The Twins clobbered the Cleveland Indians today, pounding out twenty hits en route to an 8-3 victory this afternoon. Although his three runs raised his ERA to 1.50, Fransisco "Franchiso" Liriano pitched seven strong innings, striking out 9, to get the W.

After sitting out the 2007 season with Tommy Johns surgery and a disappointing years in 2008 and 2009 which saw him splitting time between the majors and AAA, Frankie has returned to the form that made him a contender for the 2006 Cy Young and rookie of the year.

Liriano's high-90s fastball and devastating slider make him the only real power pitcher in the Twins' rotation. He has been the surprise of the Twins starters as Opening Day Starter Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn, both sinkerballers, have struggled to keep the ball low at times and have let a lot of pitches end up in the left field bleachers.

Although he shows no signs of waring down, Liriano has never opened thirty games a season. If the Twins are to make it past the first round of the playoffs, they will need Liriano to continue his dominance throughout the summer and down the stretch.

An interesting note of Twins trivia, many of you may know this, Franchiso came to the Twins as a minor-leaguer from the Giants as well as all-world closer Joe Nathan and erstwhile starter Boof Bonser in exchange for half of a season of A.J. Pierzinski's catching and hitting services. This is just part of the Twins' long history of stealing through trades. See generally the demise of Chuck Knoblauch vs. Eric Milton/Christian Guzman or Carlos Gomez vs. J.J. Hardy.