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Meditations - ta eis heauton

Location: Austin, Texas, United States

I'm a software engineer / partner working for a young company in Austin, Texas, USA. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends and family, eating out, and partying in the Warehouse District. I should spend more time working on my house....

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wow, that sucks

Cesar Garcia was trying to help a lady move her car out fo the middle of the road. He was pushing the car from behind and she was steering it. An SUV driver (accidentally?) slammed into the back of the car and sandwitched him in between the two cars. He is in critical condition. His wife is eight months pregnant, they have a 14 month old daughter.

The Austin District of the Texas Department of Transportation has set up a fund to help Garcia's family pay medical costs. Send checks to the Caesar Garcia Fund c/o the Texas Department of Transportation, 7901 Interstate 35 North, Austin, TX 78753, or call 832-7000.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Excellent coverage by Knight-Ridder

An excellent bit of news analysis by the reporters at Knight-Ridder helps breakdown some of the confusing he-said she-said going on between the White House and critics of the president and the war in Iraq.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Hawkish Democrat says we should pull out of Iraq

Representative John Murtha (D-Pa) has serious credibility in military issues and will be hard to ignore when he says that the US needs to redeploy all of our troops away from Iraq in the next six months.

Some interesting paragraphs of note:

"It is time for a change in direction," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. "Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region."


In recent days, President Bush and other top administration officials have lashed out at critics of the war and have accused Democrats of advocating a "cut and run" strategy that will only embolden the insurgency.

Vice President Dick Cheney jumped into the fray Wednesday by assailing Democrats who contend the Bush administration manipulated intelligence on Iraq, calling their criticism "one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city."

Murtha, a Marine intelligence officer in Vietnam, angrily shot back at Cheney: "I like guys who've never been there that criticize us who've been there. I like that. I like guys who got five deferments and never been there and send people to war, and then don't like to hear suggestions about what needs to be done."

Referring to Bush, Murtha added: "I resent the fact, on Veterans Day, he criticized Democrats for criticizing them."


Murtha voted to give the president authority to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2002 but in recent months has grown increasingly troubled with the direction of the war and with the Bush administration's handling of it.

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Murtha said.

Here is a transcript of the press conference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


An editorial in today's NY Times really lays out why (IMHO) Democrats should be working much harder to block Alito from getting on the Court. He is a wolf (wingnut) in sheep's clothing.

Right to Privacy

A very nice op-ed in the NY Times today about adding a Right to Privacy in the constitution. The author makes the very good point that since much of the foundation of various legal precidents that most Americans hold dear rely upon finding this right in the constitution it should be added explicitly in an amendment.

Problematically, however, a right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. The majority in Griswold held that it was among the unenumerated rights implied by the Constitution's "penumbras" (which sound like something a sodomy law might keep you away from). The Griswold case didn't settle the matter, and the right to privacy quickly became the Tinkerbell of constitutional rights: clap your hands if you believe.

Liberals clap. We love the right to privacy because we believe adults should have access to birth control, abortion services and pornography as well as the right to engage in gay sex. Social conservatives hate the right to privacy for the very same reason, as they seek to regulate private behaviors from access to birth control to masturbation. (Think I'm kidding about masturbation? In Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, he wrote that the majority's decision called into question the legality of state laws against "masturbation, adultery, fornication.")


If the Republicans can propose a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, why can't the Democrats propose a right to privacy amendment? Making this implicit right explicit would forever end the debate about whether there is a right to privacy. And the debate over the bill would force Republicans who opposed it to explain why they don't think Americans deserve a right to privacy - which would alienate not only moderates, but also those libertarian, small-government conservatives who survive only in isolated pockets on the Eastern Seaboard and the American West.

If done correctly it could be an elegant way of attacking conservative ideology. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ticking time bomb excuse for Torture

Kevin Drum over at Washington Monthly does a nice job (with help from Alex Tabarrok) of taking down the argument that is the ticking time bomb scenario as an excuse for legalized torture. Basically the argument is that in that extreme scenario the president could use pardon power (and a jury would probably acquit the torturer regardless).

Interestingly I think John McCain said essentially the same thing in a Newsweek opinion piece..

Monday, November 14, 2005

Instant library

I don't know if it was coincidence or if he had just read a related article, but my best friend mentioned the idea of buying the entire Penguin's classics library from Amazon last night (as a joke since the 1,082 title collection costs $8,000) and then today I read this article in the NY Times about a woman whose husband bought the collection for her when her personal library was destroyed by a forest fire.

Foundation Communities

The Statesman has a long article about how some victims of Hurricane Katrina are rebuilding their lives in Austin. The article highlights a great local charity I had never heard of Foundation Communities. Primarily focused on affordable housing the organization has all kinds of other programs to help low-income families. Check it out if you have a few extra bucks lying around or want to Volunteer.

Gerin oil

On my way through reviewing the winners of the Prospect poll of top public intellectuals and related articles I found an interesting article by Richard Dawkins about the dangerous drug Gerin oil. A disturbing and fascinating read. :-)