Archive for February, 2007

Rear Upstairs Window

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

I’ve written a little before about the comings and goings of my upstairs neighbors. Something weird has been going on lately, but I didn’t want to get all Rear Window over it. However, maybe being cooped up here during my recent illness made me identify with Jimmy Stewart’s character in the Hitchcock film. Sadly, I didn’t have a Grace Kelly coming to visit and tell me I’m crazy.

The basics: a guy and a girl about my age live above me. I run into them occasionally, but it’s not unusual for me to go weeks without seeing them. A couple of weeks ago, I realized I hadn’t seen the girl in a very long time. And then, once I started paying attention to it, I realized she left kind of late a couple of nights — like 10:30 or so — carrying clothes to her car, and not returning (at least not that I heard). So I figured she was moving out.

But then, a week or so later, I realized that not only had I not seen the guy in even longer, I hadn’t seen his car, either. I almost always saw it when I came home from work. But now it was gone. And then, last week, the kicker: I came home one night and there was a note taped to my door!

The note was from the girl, signed just by her. It said that she (not they) was having a party on a certain night, and if it got too loud, to call her cell phone. I responded by taping a note to her door, telling her that I’m sure it wouldn’t be a problem, and that I wouldn’t even be around that evening, and that I hope to run into her again soon.

I did notice, on the night of the party, the guy’s car was there, early, and left soon. So, I went from thinking he killed her, to thinking she killed him, to now just being pretty sure he’s moved out. But nothing’s confirmed. I’m not ruling out a Vertigo scenario.

"All Lopsided for the F***in’ Holidays!"

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Astute readers will recognize this post’s title from the hilarious David Sedaris essay “You Can’t Kill the Rooster.” The Rooster is Sedaris’s brother Paul, and he laments his appearance after getting into a fight right before a family holiday dinner, the fight having left his face the aforementioned “all lopsided.” Well, I know how the Rooster feels. I’ve been battling a minor illness the most annoying symptom of which has been some facial swelling. Quite attractive, of course. Anyway, I have not been in much of a blogging mood, so please help get me back in the groove. Let’s make this an ALL-REQUEST WEEK. If there’s anything you want me to blog about, fire away.

Seen Around the Interweb

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

1. A clarification re: the astronut. Obviously, the diaper thing has been the memorable detail. But I’ve heard comedian after comedian make a joke about how Lisa Nowak drove 900 miles wearing diapers (implying she wore one diaper the whole way), but noting that she must have stopped for gas at least once along the trip. Well, duh. According to the police affidavit (via Slate), Nowak stopped at a hotel along the way from Houston to Orlando. So, I imagine she wore the diapers for the driving portion of the trip, and probably took them off during stops.

Also, weirdly, Nowak paid cash on her trip, presumably to avoid a “paper trail,” but then saved the receipts. They were found in her car! Why pay cash if you’re going to keep the receipts? What, is she going to write the expenses off on her taxes?

2. Speaking of Slate, ever since their latest redesign, I’ve been peeved by their use of the multi-page format for many stories. (An example; scroll to bottom.) I understand: it’s all about ad revenue. But, the “jump” doesn’t seem to have any correlation with the length of the story. If I’m going to click to a second page, I want it to be worth it. I don’t want to get a measly paragraph or two for my trouble. It’s ridiculous to act as if you couldn’t cram that onto the front page of the story. So, I often skip the second page just out of spite. Sometimes, I use the “view as single page” option, which is a nice touch. But I have two minor problems with that feature. First, I have to scroll all the way down to the end of the text to find that option. I might as well read my way down. They should make that option available at the top of the page, before I begin reading. That would tip me off it’s a longish story, and would allow me to avoid the second irk. That is, if I do scroll down and click on “view as single page,” the page I see starts in media res, at the point of the jump. So I have to scroll all the way back up to the top to start reading the story. Arg! That makes no sense. Either use a popout if you have to (like Volokh does sometimes, although not ideal for these purposes), or give me the option of seeing the story on a single page at the top, before I wear out the scroll button on my mouse. Here endeth the rant.

3. This is a sad story, but I predict it will get even sadder. A Duke student reported over the weekend that she was raped at an off-campus party. It’s not known whether the suspect is a Duke student as well. While this case should be evaluated on its own merits, I have no doubt it will get tied into the ongoing Duke lacrosse mess. I’m sure there will be lots of second-guessing no matter how Durham D.A. Mike Nifong handles the case, and his track record indicates that such skepticism is well-founded. Let’s hope justice prevails here as well.

4. Speaking of justice and how it gets denied sometimes, The Economist has an interesting story about the Japanese judicial system. Some 95% of people arrested confess to the charges, and cases end in convictions 99.99% of the time. “Prosecutors are ashamed of being involved in an acquittal and fear that losing a case will destroy their careers. Judges get promotion for the speed with which they process their case-loads.” Critics say that many confessions are obtained via coercive tactics. I don’t expect the Supreme Court to cite this example of international law in its next Miranda decision.

5. Finally, sigh.

Random Thoughts

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

1. Via Mickey Kaus, I saw this odd item reporting that the Congressional page program has gotten more interest after the Mark Foley scandal. Hey — drinking, sex, computers, powerful suitors…what’s not to like?! It really does seem to prove the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. I wonder if that same phenomenon is at work with the Duke admissions applications numbers. And, probably, the psychological phenomenon that people will foresee experiencing the good aspects of an event (whether paging or matriculating at Duke) but none of the bad (getting pursued by a lecher, being accused of rape). A.k.a., That won’t happen to me! According to the news story, the pages report that for the most part it’s a pretty cool experience. And I’m sure that, aside from the whole sex crime thing, life was pretty good for the lacrosse team at Duke.

2. At the Right Coast, this post led me to this neat story about Ernst Leitz, founder of the Leica camera company, and his efforts to save Jews from the Nazis. See also this story, which some blog led me to a few months ago but now I can’t remember which. Anyway, it’s a very nice story about Leitz. On Friday the ADL will recognize him with an award.

3. A lawyer in Corpus Christi, Texas, says he has the power to heal and has been doing so in services. It seems like it would be helpful in personal injury suits.

4. Coke ran a Super Bowl commercial the other night relating a few milestone moments in black history, side-by-side with contemporaneous Coke bottles. The obvious implication is that Coca-Cola has marched hand-in-hand with the civil rights movement. A new book, The Real Pepsi Challenge, argues that it was in fact the Pepsi-Cola Company that had a more progressive approach. Sure, Pepsi marketed to black consumers primarily as a way to sell more soda pop, but in the process assembled one of the largest contingents of black executives in (white) corporate America. The book accuses Coke of supporting segregationist leaders. (An aside: Coke’s general counsel, John A. Sibley, chaired the commission implementing desegregation of Atlanta’s schools in 1960, but it wasn’t exactly a profile in courage.) Anyway, Coke recently donated land in Atlanta for a civil rights museum, so I don’t want to imply that Coke’s corporate attitude hasn’t changed at all. But it seems dodgy at best for Coke to suggest that it stood alongside Martin Luther King or sat alongside Rosa Parks. (It’s not enough to make me switch from Coke to Pepsi, though.)

5. The mayor of Macon, Georgia has announced he is converting to Islam and changing his name. In my continuing quest to figure out why Southern Appeal shut down, I’m going to assume Feddie had something to do with this.

6. Finally for now, GTHC and good luck to the Blue Devils as the North Carolina Tar Heels come to Cameron to take on Duke tonight. To get myself in the proper state of mind, I’ll remind myself of probably my favorite game I saw in person, one Duke managed to pull out with a tremendous comeback. I’m in this throng somewhere.