It Wouldn't Be Much of a God If It Couldn't Be Resurrected, Now Would It?

Silent for nearly a year -- he was last seen savaging some of Camille Paglia's more dubious views on poetry, the ease of doing which probably bored him nearly to death -- Aaron Haspel has returned today with a refurbished edition of God of the Machine.   He explains all here, in a post that encompasses E.M. Forster and Spinal Tap.

It appears that the gentleman has de-linked me in the process of toning and trimming his sidebar, which puts him in good company: big-time cultural and lit'ry bloggers the likes of Terry Teachout and Ron Silliman* have exercised that same privilege, when I have either lost their interest or shifted my attentions away from their preferred topics.  *sniff* 

In any case, get thee hence and welcome Mr. Haspel back to the land of the webliving by adding your visit to the Instalanche he's been granted by Megan McArdle.


*  Per what I see on Technorati today (8/2/06), either I was mistaken in my statement above or else Ron Silliman has restored me to his blogroll.  I took no offense when I/when I thought I had disappeared from it before, given that Ron's list focuses pretty exclusively on poetry weblogs -- it probably represents the most comprehensive list of poetry weblogs that is to be had -- and further given that the frequency of poetry posting hereabouts has gone down significantly in the past year or so.  Pressure's on now, I suppose, for me to reinvigorate the poetic percentage in the content mix.  Some among you (you likely know who you are) may consider yourselves warned.

I'll Take "Bad Luck Streak in Journalism School" for $1000, Alex

Thanks to Ken Layne and Sploid, I now know why there has been a sudden resurgence of traffic to my old, old item on mighty Jeopardy! mega-champion Ken Jennings: Ken J is in the news again, on account of certain Professional Newswriters who can't actually recognize news, or a joke.  Per the deadly serious Mr. Layne:

Quiz-show hero Ken Jennings is in hot water for writing a humorous blog post that confused and angered the idiots who work for the New York Post, Associated Press, USA Today and other media.

Jennings, who won more than $3 million on "Jeopardy," posted the satirical "Dear Jeopardy" essay on his website.

In the easy-to-understand fake letter, Jennings claims host Alex Trebek died in a car crash and was replaced by a robot.

Ken Jennings' joke is not for everybody -- it will be most amusing to longtime Jeopardy! fans -- but it is Very Obviously a Joke.  Very Obviously, that is, unless you work for the New York Post or the Associated Press.

The lesson is: don't believe anything you read anywhere, anytime, unless it is written by someone named Ken.


Given Ken Layne's yeoman service in keeping the record straight on this and many another earth-shattering story, I am hoping that some sympathetic buyer will be found now that overlord Nick Denton has gone and put Sploid up for sale

Attention domain name shoppers!  Past Jeopardy! Champions agree:

The inimitable voice of Ken Layne must not be stifled.  The Internet will be meaningless, without form, void, and really really dull if he is silenced. 

And no, I'm not just saying that in the vain hope of scoring one of those precious review copies of the new Ken Layne & the Corvids album.   Howard Owens has one.  (I liked the first one a whole lot, including the reference to a certain affordable but Potent Potable.)


P.S., Vaguely Topical Musical UPDATE [072606]:

A constellation of weblogging luminaries including the aforementioned Ken Layne, Colby Cosh and tony pierce (who is editing LAist these days) are hanging about in the comments to this post from Matt Welch about the life-altering effect of seeing Prince & the Revolution perform "Purple Rain" on the American Music Awards lo some many years ago.  Matt has the YouTubean evidence.  In the course of the colloquy, Mr. Layne and mr. pierce generously provide links to some extremely fine live performances by The Clash from around 1980.  Jeopardy! is not mentioned.

Well, My Blogroll is on the Left

To quote Hermia (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act III, Scene ii):

I am amazed, and know not what to say.

Here I am, a socially liberal, tax-disliking, minimal-government-preferring, insurance-company-representing, libertarian-leaning registered Republican attorney.   Does it make any sense that my weblog would be linked -- favorably, no less -- on that bastion of foaming activist progressivism, Daily Kos?

Sensible or no, it is true: this Fool garners a link in this comment attached to a post asking the eternal question, "What Blogs/Websites Are You Reading?

Thank you for your endorsement, Mr./Ms. bumblebums.  Good taste is timeless.


Please Bear With Me

So, you may ask, where is the promised review of the closing Los Angeles performance of Grendel, to top off the world's largest single online compilation of Grendeloperalia?  Still in process, I am sorry to say, due to the press of other business.  Patience, patience, those two or three among you actually awaiting it.

Meanwhile, best pal Rick Coencas has returned from vacation in the Great Northern Tier of our Great Nation, and has restarted posting at the Futurballa Blog, with the photographic tale of some bears going over the mountain.  He promises more.  (Please, sir, may we have some moose?)

To encourage Rick, and to welcome him back to blogging, here is a totally unnecessary electrotechnofied remix of perhaps his all time favorite Roxy Music song:

[Rixy remox via Spoilt Victorian Child and team9.]

All Have Won, and All Must Have Prizes:
Brandy Karl Hosts Blawg Review #54

Brandy Karl, one-time law student and present-day solo intellectual property practitionist, is proprietrix of "bk!: Brandy Karl's IP blog ," which this week provides a home to Blawg Review #54.

As should perhaps have been expected of one whose law-student weblog was the Alice-centric "a mad tea-party," Brandy has adopted a Blawg Review theme built around the benign and whimsical influence of the Rev. Charles Dodgson, aka, Lewis Carroll and the chapter titles from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (with a guest appearance by Tweedledee and Tweedledum from That Other Alice book). It is well worth a visit, and I'm not just saying that because Ms. Karl has given her Official Bostonian Imprimatur to my Easter saga of squirrels and colonial copyright infringement as, of all things, "the best post of the week." 

"Pshaw!" sez I.  Nevertheless, I am blushing.

Katrina [w/ Updates]

New Orleans lawyer Ernest Svenson's weblog, Ernie The Attorney, was one of the pivotal inspirations for my launching my own pair of weblogs.   Ernie attempted to leave the city in advance of Hurricane Katrina, managed to travel less than 15 miles in four hours and turned back to ride out the storm.   He made it, even managing a handful of posts, but as the city continues to fill with water he is making a break for it.  Here's hoping that he, and all those affected throughout the region, will see their way through this no more scathed than they already are.   No doubt it is much easier to be an optimist from thousands of miles away than it is in the thick of the destruction.

Given its speed and success in rallying donations in the wake of the September 11 attacks and last year's Asian Tsunami, I am surprised that Amazon has not yet launched a page for Hurricane Relief donations to the American Red Cross.   The Red Cross' own servers seem a bit slow just now -- perhaps precisely because of an upsurge in Hurricane Relief donations -- but here is a link to their Online Contribution page.


[083105]: Ernie has made it out of New Orleans and is now able to post again on his own behalf.   He has even found the mental and emotional wherewithal to take an initial run at waxing philosophical over the long-term implications of the past few days' events.   He suggests that "[t]his catastrophe will change America and we don't yet grasp how that will happen."   He is almost certainly right.

Despite the helicopters and other high-end contemporary equipment being brought to bear in the initial phases of rescue and recovery, this disaster feels like something out of another era -- pre-industrial, almost medieval in some sense.  Evan Schaeffer reports on crossing paths with a New Orleans solo lawyer whose escape path led him to St. Louis:

He said that his office had been demolished but even if it had survived, it wouldn't have mattered very much: his practice wouldn't survive in any case.  He said he doubted that some portions of New Orleans would even be rebuilt.  He talked about the refugee camps that would have to be established in other parts of the state.  He criticized the local government for not planning well enough for the disaster and not ordering an evacuation soon enough.  Very angry about what had happened, he mulled over possible causes of action as we talked, more out of frustration than anything else.

While we have taken in any number of displaced persons from abroad over the course of our history, internal refugees is not something we're used to in this country, at least not since the era of the Dust Bowl.   One has to suspect that these events are enough of a blunt force to set our societal tectonic plates to shifting, and that the process is probably already at work, if only imperceptibly.   Where and how those plates will reach a point of rest is beyond my own meager predictive skills.

Don't forget to click through the Red Cross link above before you go.


FURTHER UPDATE - Relief Links [090105]: Amazon -- a bit slower than expected, but better late than never -- now has a direct page for Donating To The American Red Cross.   The extreme slowness of the Red Cross servers over the past few days has been relieved by a new donation site -- linked on the Red Cross home page -- provided by Yahoo.

A growing list of other routes for aid is also accumulating in this post at Instapundit.

Hey Joe, Where You Goin' With That Cheap-But-Drinkable Merlot in Yer Hand?

I have made many mentions of the Trader Joe's Markets, principally in connection with the phenomenon of "Two-Buck Chuck" and other inexpensive wines.  Today, via Jeff Jarvis (who, true to form, sees it as harbinger of a trend toward "individual blogs keeping a watchful eye on individual companies"), I learned of the existence of "Tracking Trader Joe's," a new weblog by Mike Kaltschnee devoted to -- wait for it -- tracking Trader Joe's.  Why?  Mike explains in his initial post:

I wanted to start another blog, and I was looking for a company that was growing in a competitive market, had a lot of passionate customers, and was doing something very interesting.  Trader Joe's is all of this and more.  It also helps that I shop there several nights a week.

He also reveals that I will soon have to stop mocking New Yorkers and their backward, Joe's-free ways: they will eventually have their very own TJ's store on Union Square, possibly by year's end.


UPDATE [1237 PDT]: Extra thanks are due to the Tracking Trader Joe's sidebar for including a link to, of which I had previously been unaware.   "winejoe" is Joe Coulombe, the "Joe" in Trader Joe's, who founded the company and ran it until 1989.   His site is devoted to posting his reports on his trips to wine-producing regions around the world over the past several years.   The current edition covers Northern Burgundy, where the wine is not cheap, but is often very very good.   He'll return to Australia in September, I see.

Answering the question "Who is winejoe?", Mr. Coulombe reveals the origins of the namesake markets' wine strategy -- and the secret to extracting the best from those low-priced wines:

During my years as Trader Joe, I tasted at least 100,000 wines.  Most of them were not terrific, but on the other hand most samples were submitted by vintners who were desperate for money.  That's how Trader Joe's got those low prices.  That's also how I learned that a lot of wines that are marginal can be very good--if served with the right food.

Nothing to See Here, But If You'll Just Step Into the Adjacent Gallery . . .

Dear me: quite the little gap between posts on this weblog, isn't there? 

While you wait for something fresh, you might consider taking a gander at my recently re-configured legal weblog, Declarations and Exclusions, where topics have lately included the limitations of physical force as a tool for dispute resolution and the tragedy of SLS: Selective Literalism Syndrome

Also, we're serving waffles.

Fashion Sense

This will be happy news in certain circles: Alice is at long last back to weblogging in Texas.   Here, she combines clothing advice and a Big Picture Historical Perspective:

If I knew where to find factories to make them, I would set up my own Dignified Clothing company right now, starting off with swirly cooling kaftan dresses for the Texas summer.  There are many advantages to covering up when the temperature is high.  Lawrence of Arabia would not have got as far as he did in a pair of baggy shorts and a t-shirt, because sunburn, heatstroke and various snake and insect bites are not good things to have in the desert.

Sensible shoes were also among Lawrence's secret weapons.  Or so I have heard.

Oh, the Sun Goes Dark for Them Ol' Kentucky Blawgs

In both proposal and practice, regulation and restriction of weblog activity is seemingly everywhere recently.  China is reported to be cracking down on weblogs, the better to avoid "seriously poison[ing] people's spirits."  In Washington, the Federal Election Commission continues to flirt with the notion that weblogs that comment on political issues -- there aren't too many of those, are there? -- may have to be regulated as a form of political spending/campaigning.  Now, via my online friend, regular reader, commenter, haiku purveyor and all 'round legal ethicist David Giacalone, comes word of this dismaying decision:

Ben Cowgill is fighting for the life of his Legal Ethics Blog and for the future of lawyer weblogs in the State of Kentucky.   As insane as it may sound to the rest of the legal community -- and especially to webloggers -- the Kentucky Attorney's Advertising Commission has taken the position that a weblog is an advertisement.  That's particularly deadly to the existence of a KY weblog, because Rule 7.05 (b) of the KY lawyers' code requires a "A filing fee of $50.00 for each advertisement" and for every change in the advertisement.  [A pretty good excuse for turning off the Comments section!]

I encourage you to read David's post in its entirety, as well as to look at the numerous thoughtful remarks of others linked in his trackbacks and in David's follow-up report of this morning.

I have long been of a mind that attorney advertising in general is over-regulated, but this sets a fresh standard for misguided do-goodery.  Some of my random thoughts on Kentucky policy:

  • The policy may well have consequences beyond the borders of Kentucky itself.  Consider, for instance, the situation of a weblogging attorney from some other state who is admitted in Kentucky for purposes of a single case.  KY Supreme Court Rule 3.030 provides in part: "A person admitted to practice in another state, but not in this state, shall be permitted to practice a case in this state only if that attorney subjects himself or herself to the jurisdiction and rules of the court governing professional conduct . . . .", presumably including the advertising rules. 
  • Or consider this: The rules apply (see Rule 7.01) not only to advertising that "originate[s] in the Commonwealth of Kentucky", which is Ben Cowgill's problem, but also to advertising that is "directed to residents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky".  How much of a stretch would it be for the regulators to conclude that any statement on the Internet, being freely accessible by the citizens of the Commonwealth, should be deemed to be "directed to" Kentuckians?  This would pose a particular problem for large, so-called "national law firms," whose firm-sponsored weblogs are by their nature seeking an audience in many states, Kentucky among them. 
  • A more extreme hypothetical stretch: Might not the posting of so much as a mention of law-related events in Kentucky -- this post, for example, or David's original report -- by an attorney not admitted to practice in that State -- myself, for example, or David -- be deemed equivalent to the unauthorized practice of law in the Commonwealth?  Be wary, these slopes are slippery ones.
  • Given that the core definition of the act of advertising (see Advertising Rule 7.02) is "to furnish any information or communication containing a lawyer's name or other identifying information", can Kentucky lawyers evade the rule by posting anonymously?
  • What of the case of a Kentuckian who maintains a weblog on primarily non-legal topics, but who happens to be an attorney?  On this site, as opposed to my other weblog, legal topics are not the primary point, but they do come up when they relate to some other subject -- current affairs, wine, internecine kennel club disputes, etc. -- and I do refer to myself by name in the banner as "an attorney practicing in Pasadena, CA."  Can a culturally-inclined non-anonymous attorney practicing in Lexington or Louisville or Bowling Green so much as mention his or her chosen profession on an otherwise non-law oriented site without running afoul of the advertising rules? 
  • It is hard to say whether this sort of thing should be deemed to be advertising in any case, given that some broad-minded attorneys are convinced that a wide-ranging weblog actively drives business away.  Say. . . here's a thought: if your Kentucky weblog is actually counter-productive to generating legal business for your firm, can you insist that the Kentucky Bar pay you $50.00 per post?

All kidding aside, the Kentucky precedent is a disturbing one with serious implications for free expression, and the spread of useful information, even by non-lawyers.  Read up on it at the links above and, if you are so inclined, add your own to the voices of Opposition.