Sunday, November 06, 2005

Hyde Park Restaurant Renaissance?

I haven't seen Hyde Park in a few months, but I ran across this post by Daniel Drezner indicating that culinary changes are at hand. Not that a Potbelly isn't a renaissance of its own.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Route 66

Thanks to Tom for the parting hymn. Turns out Nat (or the guy that wrote the song for Nat) knew what he was talking about - I went through all of those towns. Conspicuously absent from the lyrics, however, is my favorite stop - Santa Fe, NM. Reminded me of a less-commericalized Santa Barbara. I found both New Mexico and Arizona to be a welcome breath of beauty and culture into the trip.

Northern Texas was completely blah. Stopped off in Amarillo, thinking that a town I've heard of must have some kind of food to eat downtown. Boy was I wrong. Ain't nuthin' goin' on in main street Amarillo at 4:00 pm on a Thursday. I used my car's navigation system to find a Thai restaurant, which turned out just to be an office space with a few tables in a pseudo-living room. Interesting. But hey, a big plate of pad thai was $5.00. It was edible.

More surprising was St. Louis. Ain't nuthin' goin' at 4:00 pm on a Wednesday there either. That downtown was as dead as the Hypercolor T-Shirt Movement (that's very dead in my book - remember the arm pit accents?). "FOR LEASE" signs everywhere, hardly a person on the street, hardly a single decent spot to eat. Maybe I was missing something - are the hotspots in these South/Mid/West-ish towns in the periphery? I know that was sort of true in Atlanta. That's basically true in LA. Kinda true in DC too, though downtown at 4:00 pm would be lively in the latter two places regardless. Seattle and Chicago would be packed. Anyway, St. Louis left me nonplussed and a little disappointed. But the arch was cool.

Oh, and Tulsa, OK - no thanks. Can't comment on Oklahoma City, as I only gave it a drive-by.

A stat: total number of Acura TSXes (my car) seen on the entire trip: 1. Where? 110, downtown LA, in the last 20 minutes of the 4-day tour. In my first few days in Santa Monica, I've seen a half-dozen more. TSX's are not a hot-ticket item in the heart of Route 66 country, I guess.

Speaking of the car, let me recommend to all who might see a cross-country trip in their future: buy an XM radio if you can. Channel 133 - NPR, uninterrupted, across the country! 47 - Savvy rock selections, unedited, nonstop! 175-189 - every baseball game! Some random channel - an exclusive hour-long interview with Rush! Oh, and the navigation system on my new car was incredibly useful. I know they can be pretty expensive, but I'd still recommend one if you A. Love maps, and like to know where you are and where you're going at all times; B. Like to price shop. Yep, that's right - I'd call ahead to all hotels in a given town (the Nav system has all of them and their phone numbers), and then pick the cheapest. Worked like a charm. You can do the same thing for gas too. You can tell yourself that you're making up for the XM/Nav expenses with savings. Just stick with the system for 50-odd years and it'll be like you turned a profit!

And with that bit of business wisdom, I'm off to join the corporate world. Wish me luck. Clearly I'll need it.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Sunday Feature, Slightly Belated

M'pologies for the delay, but I've been helping my sister and her fiancee with suggestions for music for their wedding and reception. Pity that the Church has restrictions on what songs they can use, else I might have been able to talk them into using "Procession of the Nobles." In any event, this weekly selection is for Brian. No, it's not a Rush song, but instead Nat King Cole's "Route 66," in honor of his departure from the Windy City:

If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that's the best.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.

It winds from Chicago to LA,
More than two thousand miles all the way.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.

Now you go through Saint Louie,
Joplin, Missouri,
And Oklahoma City looks mighty pretty.
You see Amarillo,
Gallup, New Mexico,
Flagstaff, Arizona.
Don't forget Winona,
Kingman, Barstow, San Bernandino.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip,
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.

Won't you get hip to this timely tip:
When you make that California trip,
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.
Get your kicks on Route Sixty-Six.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Leaving Chicago (with random thoughts)

Today is my last day in Hyde Park. Very sad. Not that I've been around much - I've logged almost 40 days of travel since the end of June. But I'll still miss the place greatly. Next up: Santa Monica, via Historic Route 66.

I felt somehow compelled to place "Historic" before the "Route 66." I think that's because all of the ads for taking the Route call it that. Whenever an epithet is consistently used to describe something, I'm always highly skeptical of the description's truthfulness. I think the technique is invoked by those with something to prove. Alexander wasn't that Great, and King Richard wasn't all that Lionhearted.

Ok, maybe I'm being a little tough on Alexander because the movie sucked. And by the way, can we officially endow Oliver Stone with the Paul Verhoeven Chair in Being a Has-Been Director and Yet Somehow Still Conning Large Studios To Hand You Tons of Cash for Box Office Bombs? I will accept other nominations (Kevin Costner, maybe?). Why don't these guys suffer Michael Cimino-like fates?

Time for bed. Goodnight all. Goodnight Chicago.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Life Does This

For the past three years, I've lived in Hyde Park. It has a lot to offer if you dig deep enough, but no amount of digging led to the discovery of a Potbelly Sandwich Works. I've mentioned my love of Potbelly before. They're ubiquitous in the Chicago area, and yet UChicago's Potbelly needs were completely ignored. I have complained about this fact to many an unwilling listener since I arrived here. Well, this week Ben and I were walking back from the (far inferior) 55th St. Quiznos when we see something strange in the Co-Op Grocery parking lot: COMING SOON: POTBELLY.

Our prayers have been answered, right? Funny thing. That was Ben's last day in Hyde Park (he's a fellow Potbelly lover), and I leave for Europe on Tuesday, only to come back and immediately move to Santa Monica. In Santa Monica, heck, in the entire Western U.S., a Potbelly is nowhere to be found.

There's a joke there, but it isn't all that funny. I'll leave it.

Goodness knows I've tried to solve this problem. Awhile ago I began an email campaign - consisting of me - requesting that Potbelly start a single store anywhere in SoCal. I don't care where. I'll make pilgrimages on the 10, on the 405 EVEN, to get to it. Here was Potbelly's response:

***Hi, Brian! Thank you for writing us!

We're so happy to hear that you love Potbelly!

And, we appreciate your suggestion for opening a location in Southern
California. We're always looking for exciting new locations. We'll
continue to announce all of the details concerning our new store
openings on our Web site at http://www.potbelly.com/stores3.2.html.

Keep checking back and hopefully we'll be coming your way soon!***

"Hopefully we'll be coming your way soon!" If I received that response from a girl I'd asked out, it would be . . . disheartening, to say the least. No sir, that won't do it.

So, a call out to all of our displaced Chicagoan readers who love Potbelly and currently reside in the greater Los Angeles area: bug Potbelly until they bring a store out to us. Our massive reader base must contain scores of people fitting this profile, right?

I'm screwed.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back From The Bar

I just got back. Some numbers:

9 Days in California

3 Days of Bar Exam

6 Essays Answered

2 Performance Exams Taken (one very poorly, I might add!)

200 MBE Questions Answered

2 Days Studying Furiously at Cal Tech

4 Days Searching Furiously for an Apartment

30+ Apartments Visited

1 Lease Signed (on a place I found the morning of the last day!)

3 Movies Seen (Recommended: The Aristocrats)

1030 Miles Driven in a Rented Dodge Neon

Thousands and Thousands of Dollars Spent

Needless to say, I'm spent too. But don't cry for me. I leave for Europe next week.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Grokster

9-0 majority opinion, though not per curiam as I came to suspect it might be. Souter wrote the majority, and Ginsburg and Breyer wrote concurrences about Sony. Lots of analysis over at Picker MobBlog; I think Lichtman and Lior have it right. More tonight, probably, and on Brand X, too.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Grokster Prediction

Making a prediction on Grokster could make me look really good tomorrow, or confirm my foolishness. But hey, my McCain Feingold guesses worked out ok, so I'll take the risk. Here's my Grokster guess:

I can see three primary consensus points for the Court: 1. Sony is either adaptive or irrelevant, leaving room for a more refined rule of law. 2. Actual inducement is a useful theory for copyright law, and ought to be applied independent of Sony as a theory of secondary liability. The case will be remanded for determination of this issue. 3. Innovators must not be stifled while their creations are in their infancy. This is true even if they aid copyright infringement to a significant degree, so long as the product has a capacity for non-infringing uses.

On the fringes are two issues that will likely receive some attention in the opinion, but may be glossed over for the sake of consensus. Both Justices Souter and Scalia made clear that Judge Posner had the better argument in the willful ignorance debate—turning a blind eye will not bar a contributory infringement claim. But it is far less likely that this theory will lead the court to impose the Chicago “affirmative duty” regime upon content creators. Not only did this theory receive virtually no attention at oral argument, but seems to be too large a departure from Sony.

Secondly, the Court may make some mention of the role Congress should ultimately play in how the law approaches copyright in the future. Justice Ginsburg’s “rebuttal” to the respondents’ congressional deference theory, that “the Court is now faced with two apparently conflicting decisions,” indicates that the Court sees a need to take a first crack at the problem for harmonization purposes. But it would be odd for the Court to ignore that the policy issues inherent in balancing corporate profits with incentives for innovation are primarily the province of the legislature.

Bringing all of these strands together, I see a real potential for court-wide consensus in Grokster. I envision an opinion that begins by placating Judges Stevens and Breyer. I believe the Court may posture the case as a vindication of Sony’s concerns for promoting innovation. Substantively, however, the Court will limit the “substantial noninfringing use” safe harbor to situations in which either: 1. the primary uses are noninfringing; or 2. the product is in its infancy, perhaps less than a few years old. If the product has been on the market for more than a year or two and the primary uses are infringing, an actual knowledge/willful ignorance regime will apply. Thus, the contributory infringement rule will be expanded beyond the Ninth Circuit’s view. The secondary liability discussion will not be framed as an “affirmative duty” rule, though it may lead to that result in practice where the defendant can maintain control over the product. Alternatively, a “taking steps to mitigate infringement” rule may be fashioned by the Court as a secondary liability defense, or as a way of limiting damages.

Cutting across the Sony discussion will be a new copyright inducement regime. This rule will be completely independent of the refined Sony rule. The inducement rule will enable a plaintiff to assert a valid claim of bad intent regardless of the maturity of the defendant’s product. This will provide some comfort to the Justices concerned about more Groksters; in practice, all firms will adapt to avoid being so notorious. As Justice Scalia put it, “the inducement point doesn’t get you very far.”

Applying the new rule to the facts of Grokster, the Court will vacate the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, and remand the case to the district court for determination of 1. the breakdown of infringing vs noninfringing uses; 2. assuming a finding of primarily infringing uses, Grokster’s knowledge/willful ignorance of infringement; 3. Grokster’s intent for inducement purposes.

Or, you know, they could just punt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Note the Washington Post: Rehnquist is not Retired/Dead Yet

Funny thing, RSS news feeds. Ocassionally, a newspaper or blogger will post something, only to quickly remove or edit it. Often the feed remains, and the results can be interesting. Case in point: check out what my Washington Post feed via the brilliant Safari RSS gave me this afternoon:

**Chief Justice Rehnquist Retires/Dies

Charles Lane in washingtonpost.com - US government, national security, science and national news and headlines.

Today, 02:02 PM

When a grade-school teacher asked young William Hubbs RehnquistÖ what he was going to do when he grew up, the loyal son of anti-New Deal parents did not hesitate: "I'm going to change the government," he said. Read more…**

**Key Rehnquist Decisions
washingtonpost.com in washingtonpost.com - US government, national security, science and national news and headlines.

Today, 01:53 PM

May 27, 2003 Nevada v. Hibbs Rehnquist rules that state governments have to obey the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. * FindLaw Case Documents * Post Article: Justices Extend Family Act's Reach * Post Editorial: States' Rights Muddle &rvar29=April 1, 2003 Gratz v. Bollinger, University**


**Rehnquist: A Justice's Journey

Today, 02:10 PM

William H. Rehnquist was born Oct. 1, 1924, in Milwaukee to Margery and William Rehnquist. His father was a paper salesman. Read more…**

**Key Rehnquist Decisions

washingtonpost.com in washingtonpost.com - US government, national security, science and national news and headlines.

Today, 03:21 PM

Known as a conservative, Rehnquist was particularly influence in the areas of federalism and states' rights. Read more…**

Reminds me of a film that stands as a glaring omission from the silly AFI list:

MORTICIAN: Bring out your dead!
Bring out your dead!
[clang] Bring out your dead!
[clang] Bring out your dead!
[clang] Bring out your dead!
[clang] Bring out your dead!
CUSTOMER: Here's one -- nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
MORTICIAN: What?
CUSTOMER: Nothing -- here's your nine pence.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not dead!
MORTICIAN: Here -- he says he's not dead!
CUSTOMER: Yes, he is.
DEAD PERSON: I'm not!
MORTICIAN: He isn't.
CUSTOMER: Well, he will be soon, he's very ill.
DEAD PERSON: I'm getting better!
CUSTOMER: No, you're not -- you'll be stone dead in a moment.
MORTICIAN: Oh, I can't take him like that -- it's against
regulations.
DEAD PERSON: I don't want to go on the cart!
CUSTOMER: Oh, don't be such a baby.
MORTICIAN: I can't take him...
DEAD PERSON: I feel fine!
CUSTOMER: Oh, do us a favor...
MORTICIAN: I can't.
CUSTOMER: Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He
won't be long.
MORTICIAN: Naaah, I got to go on to Robinson's -- they've lost
nine today.
CUSTOMER: Well, when is your next round?
MORTICIAN: Thursday.
DEAD PERSON: I think I'll go for a walk.
CUSTOMER: You're not fooling anyone y'know. Look, isn't there
something you can do?
DEAD PERSON: I feel happy... I feel happy.
[whop]
CUSTOMER: Ah, thanks very much.
MORTICIAN: Not at all. See you on Thursday.
CUSTOMER: Right.
[clop clop]
MORTICIAN: Who's that then?
CUSTOMER: I don't know.
MORTICIAN: Must be a king.
CUSTOMER: Why?
MORTICIAN: He hasn't got shit all over him.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Raising the Price of Fame

I may not be posting much, but I do take requests. Alas, I think Brian got the thrust of Norman Augustine's opinion piece absolutely, totally 100 percent wrong. My take on his piece is that he's absolutely not making any sort of argument for limiting executive pay scales at all. Instead, he seems to be mocking what Congress has done, limiting companies' deduction for executive pay to $1 million, unless performance-based, and further limiting the compensation of chief executives of, say, defense contractors, like maybe Lockheed Martin, of which Mr. Augustine was CEO, to $473,318.

Now, the main problem with this "he's mocking Congress" idea is that the article appeared in the NYT; had it been in the WSJ, I'd be perfectly fine leaving my analysis at that. But the cause of CEO of defense contractors' pay wouldn't seem to be the sort of thing that would normally take up the valuable op-ed page of the NYT. So, why'd the NYT publish it then? Well, they might just have taken him at face value, as I think Brian did. Alternatively, maybe they're trying to branch out, and open their page to other viewpoints. Or maybe there's something else I'm not thinking of, since I'm not feeling very clever right now.

UPDATE: Going back and reading this post, I probably come off a lot harsher toward Brian than I intended. Really, no malice was intended at all. Really, I just laughed when I was reading the op-ed, and was in that mood of jocularity when I wrote the post, though I guess maybe it didn't come across very well. N.B. I haven't heard anything from Brian about this, so I guess this is mostly just a record correction.

Raise the Price of Fame?

The premise of Norman Augustine's opinion piece in the NY Times leaves me befuddled. Here's a snippet:

**The occasional good chief executive aside, how could anyone defend the extravagant compensation of Bernard J. Ebbers (who pocketed more than $400 million in salary and company-secured loans before WorldCom crashed); Kenneth L. Lay (who received more than $100 million in compensation the year Enron went belly up); or Richard M. Scrushy of HealthSouth ($125 million over five years).

Assuming that having Congress seek to influence pay scales in the private sector is good public policy, we must ask ourselves - even recognizing that chief executives are now about as popular as Attorney General Eliot Spitzer at a Business Roundtable picnic - why focus only on chief executives?**

And what public policy, exactly, does influencing private pay scales support? Augustine's public policy seems like a substantive unconscionability or "shocks the conscience" approach to compensation. If it's "just too much," we have to do something about it.

Why?

I want someone to come up with the best argument they can. "It's just too high" isn't an argument. Is it that corporate boards don't really care about shareholders, and just want to enrich their friends in management? Meanwhile, shareholders are too lacking in influence or lazy to do anything about it?

I want to know what makes a former CEO like Augustine think this way. Tom, maybe you know. It's completely beyond me.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

No. 9 Arizona 85, No. 14 Washington 93

I know I'm completely biased, but I think the Huskies have a great shot at the Final Four this year. They've often overachieved in the Tournament, and have some experience behind them now. Seattle basketball is really good this year. Later I think I'll opine on whether the Mariners can follow suit.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Three Random Things

It's always funny until someone gets hurt . . . then it's just hilarious.

-Faith No More, "Ricochet," From King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime

Be sure to check out Google Maps. It's awesome.

Lastly, this compilation of websites about LA is also fun. I like Yesterdayla.com, a pictoral history of LA using postcards.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Amber Alert: Dr. King's Legacy Reported Missing

Scappleface

Scott Ott's hilarious piece reminded me of the University of Chicago's recent King celebration at Rockefeller Chapel. Upon receiving the program schedule, it was obvious that this was not going to be a celebration of King so much as a celebration of being liberal, with a healthy dose of Bush-bashing for good measure. Here's a sampling:

Wading through a group of campus socialists in front of the Chapel, who were handing out their newspaper to the passers-by.

A reading from Qur'an that contained passing mention to the terrible fate that will befall nonbelievers (but that warm feeling inclusiveness gives everyone allowed the moment to pass).

A representative sample of King's writings: "On the Vices of Imperialism and National Hubris." No "I Have A Dream" or "Letter from Birmingham Jail" or anything like that. It's a little known fact that King's forte was international diplomacy. A completely unbiased choice by the event planners there.

An introduction to the keynote speaker by Cathy Cohen, director of the Center for Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. I don't really remember what she said, but I don't think she likes President Bush much - a cursory search of her literature brings up a lot of stuff about "oppression." One can only imagine who the oppressors are.

The keynote was by Kwesi Mfume. The Maroon described a portion of his speech this way:

"Audience members responded kindly to Mfume’s strikes against the Bush administration’s economic policy, whose emphasis on nation-building has ignored critical domestic problems. “Dr. King would want us to make the point that our country should be less concerned with building Iraq than our own country,” he said."

Actually, Mfume listed quite a few Bush policies King wouldn't like, including the partial privatization of social security. I had no idea King had staked out a position on that issue. Perhaps the organizers should've read that speech. I'm curious to hear what King thought about the Tsunami relief efforts and Randy Johnson's trade to the Yankees.

But even more vexing than Mfume's ability to channel King for insights into Iraq and the social security system is reconciling these views with Mfume's concluding remarks. The audience, after holding hands for a bit, were supposed to think of oppressed children everywhere living in fear and tyranny. Apparently we are supposed to care about helping children, unless they're in Iraq. Helping those children is just a pretext for getting oil. And what starving child on his deathbed wants to be saved as a pretext to enrich America? I'm sure the child appreciates the policy implications, and would rather just die. Let those Americans "build their own country" first - Chicago's impoverished South Side has a clear shortage of malls, for example.

And no King celebration would be complete without a shout-out to the "Counter-Inaugural Event" on campus. The event provides "an intellectual and physical space for reflection, analysis, and hope in response to the inaugural of George W. Bush. The events will have symbolic, political, intellectual, and moral import and are framed by two fundamental questions: What has happened? What can we do about it?" Sounds like a completely impartial intellectual endeavor.

What struck me about this whole event wasn't that organizers of a King commemoration would take such a tack on him - I'm sure many campus celebrations all over the country were similar. No, what disappointed me was that this happened at the University of Chicago. It's as if the organizers thought a King celebration couldn't go any other way, and that everyone in the audience would be receptive to the presentation. There was no reflection on the difficult questions King's "content of character" focus should provide to a true believer in diversity and multiculturalism as campus liberals understand them. There was no thought into the potential differences between Vietnam and Iraq, and how those differences might color King's views. Instead, we got a big gathering of people only looking to confirm their own beliefs and ignore the other intellectual half of the University. All told, it was a bit of an embarrassment.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

New Multiplayer Gaming Numbers

MMOGCHART.COM

I've posted on this subject in the past, and the industry continues to grow rapidly. Check out some of the charts at the link above - World of Warcraft, among other titles, is really making moves.

Monday, January 10, 2005

To Try to Net Killer, Police Ask a Small Town's Men for DNA

New York Times

Very interesting article on investigative sweeps that target everyone in a community who fit a broad profile - in this case, simply being a man. This is a topic we discussed at length in Criminal Procedure. Many of the residents of Truro want to sue, which is an understandable but likely futile endeavor.

In Brown v City of Oneonta, 221 F 3d 329 (2d Cir 2000), the police knew only that a black person committed the crime at hand, at least according to witness descriptions. The town's population was 2% black and most were college students. The police decided to question every single black student. The Second Circuit found such tactics constitutional because police may make racial classifications based upon available evidence. Moreover, no Fourth Amendment search occurred (thus triggering enhanced protections) because requesting that students answer questions was not a "seizure" within the meaning of the Amendment. Only when the police ordered students to talk to them did a potential seizure occur. This decision is backed up by the DOJ guidelines on racial classifications in criminal investigations - the police can act on specific information on race without more-specific individualized suspicion.

Of course, in the situation described in the article, the scope of the investigation is roughly 50% of the town's population, not 2% (though the raw number of people is similar - 300 blacks in Oneonta, and the town in the article has about 790 men). It is an interesting debate which number matters more - in a practical sense, it is probably only worth it to do protective sweeps where the universe of suspects is below the thousands. However, the percentage theory is a closer fit to our perception of individualized suspicion.

Perhaps the issue is of less significance for Truro, since gender-based classifications receive less scrutiny than race-based classifications. But the whole situation certainly doesn't feel right to those being subjected to the classification, and perhaps gives the men of Truro an insight into the stigmas racial classifications can impose.

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