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Light Spinach Side

July 31, 2005 at 4:30pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Here’s an easy side dish using fresh spinach as the base- serves 2 and takes about 5 minutes-

Bag of fresh spinach, washed
Garlic, 1-3 cloves
Thai style chilis (the little green or red ones), 2-3
Fresh half lemon (if you like sour)
(salt to taste - or salty substitute)

OK Sautee your garlic and chilis (both spliced or chopped up) in olive oil under medium hot heat for a few minutes. The garlic will start to turn dark and the chilis will get bright in color after a few minutes. Pour in the entire bag of spinach. Remember - this reduces extremely fast. Using a pair of tongs and a spatula, or some similar combination, rapidly stir the spinach so the oil, garlic and chilis are spread around the spinach. The spinach should be done in no more than 60 seconds. Remember, you want them briefly sauteed so they retain some body as opposed to the mushy and stringy stuff you get from a can.

Sprinkle lemon juice to taste on the spinach and enjoy.

I made this this morning using some variant of chilis courtesy of Mr. Wilson’s garden and it was pretty good. Note: I am extremely sensitive to overly salty food unlike many people, so you will probably want to use a bit of kosher salt as well although I did not use any. I actually put on some fresh cut romano cheese I normally use for chicken to give it an added flavor. In a lot of asian countries, the salt flavor would be provided by using fried or dried anchovies or salted baby shrimp (the latter of which you can get in asian or mexican stores in the US).

This dish is for people who like flavor - with a nice contrast between the garlic, chilis, lemon, and salt (if you like) flavors intermingling. Using too much garlic or chilis can make it too overpowering however. This goes great with fish as a main entree, or some other seafood.

Pressing issues of law and policy

July 29, 2005 at 12:55am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

A humorous take on a groundbreaking recent decision out of Ohio:

“In this case we are called on to determine whether a cow is an uninsured motor vehicle under appellants’ insurance policy. We hold that it is not.”

Kudos to Kimbo for the story from A Criminal Waste of Space.


July 26, 2005 at 3:57am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

It is the bane of all MMORPGs: Noobs. Yes, the noobs have hit Guild Wars enmasse. This was evident in my rather poor groupings in the Underworld and Fissure of Woe these past few days. I classify them into several groups:

“Rambos” - Warrior types who charge mobs without notice or without waiting for casters to regain energy, hence pulling groups of mobs to your party for certain death. Usually these are jr high/high school boys living at home with their parents (You can tell because they say stuff like “My Mom’s being a jerk right now.”)

“Leavers” - Any class - You’ve been waiting at the Temple of Ages for 20 minutes to get a team pulled together and finally enter the mission, after a death within the first few minutes, the leaver suddenly states “you guys suck, fuck you” and quits the mission - gotta love those guys. The other type of leaver is the one who joined the group, and five minutes into the mission, suddenly “remembers” that his work shift or class starts in 5 minutes and he has to leave, thus weakening the entire pary.

“Monk Leavers” - A special sub-class of the “Leaver” types - these are healing monks who know that they are a rare and in demand class, and when they think the team play isn’t going exactly the way they would like, suddenly quit the party without notice to go back and join another party.

“Know it alls” - Again, these guys tend to be warriors for some reason - They like to castigate other players for not doing exactly what they think is the right tactic, and back that up with statements like “STFU and stare at my 15k armor - I come here every night.” Even when the party is dead they msg you with “see I told you so” or “you should have done what I said bitch” statements.

“Totally incompetent” - OK everyone has to start somewhere, but when you are going into elite areas like the Underworld, you should avoid people who don’t know simple answers to questions

that they could have easily googled on the internets, like “which guy do I pay to get in?” and “who has favor now?”

Hmmmm. I am hoping this doesn’t become a trend at the Temple of Ages. It may be that this is the bane of Guild Wars as the downside of a non-grinding MMORPG where the experienced players stay in. I am waiting to see if the D&D or Middle Earth MMORPGs offer anything new. 

Terror in the UK

July 19, 2005 at 2:15am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

For those of you familiar with the law review world, you know that the journals pick up the hot topics of the day. When I was a former law review editor but a mere three and a half years ago, I must have reviewed dozens of articles on the then hot topics – Bush v. Gore, Napster, the debate over China’s accession to the WTO, the SCOTUS boy scout’s homosexuality discrimination case, etc. A few years ago while doing research on European human rights law, I picked up on a neglected area of research – the European Convention on Human Rights – and specifically how it relates to the UK’s human rights law in regards to actions taken against terrorists, real and alleged, with cases like McCann and Others vs the UK, Brogan and Others vs the UK, and others, focusing mainly on the UK’s war against the IRA.

Earlier this year, I co-wrote a short case brief with some very motivated UNL students on the Al-Skeini decision, involving the alleged detention and murder of an Iraqi civilian in Basra by UK soldiers, in which the High Court of England and Wales ruled early this year against the UK for violations of the European Convention, which the UK has adopted almost wholesale into its domestic law. Our article focuses on the extraterritorial reach of the ECHR and how it applies specifically to the UK in light of its intervention in Iraq and membership in the Council of Europe. In the article I analyzed other key ECHR extraterritoriality cases and how they related to Al-Skeini, specifically the Cyprus cases (Turkish military occupation of Northern Cyprus), the Bankovic case (NATO intervention in Yugoslavia) and the Ocalan case (Turkish abduction of a Kurdish leader in Kenya’s internatio

nal airport). 

Following the G-8 transit system bombings earlier this month, I have since been contacted again by journals asking me about this piece’s availability – which is no longer available since I accepted publication from another journal this spring. It is a sad commentary how the recent tragic events in the UK have spurred interest in this important facet of international law. In anycase, I am currently looking for advice/insight on updating my article before it goes to printing this fall. Comments are welcome on policy and law recommendations and predictions, as well as general discussion on this topic.

Another Great Guild Wars Weekend

July 19, 2005 at 1:41am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

I spent a good chunk of this last weekend playing Guild Wars – a new MMORPG that came out earlier this spring. GW, basically, is another swords and sorcery MMORPG. You get to choose a character from 6 different human classes, including the typical ones (warrior, monk, elementalist, ranger) and a few non-typical ones, such as the mesmer and necromancer. Unlike most of the other MMORPGs I have played (Asheron’s Call 1 and 2, Final Fantasy Online, World of Warcraft) you can actually multi-class your character. I chose to play a mesmer/necromancer. The mesmer is basically a casting class with spells designed to cancel out or negate other classes (i.e. cast a spell to slow down fighters) and the necromancer is also a caster with a variety of curse related spells, also intended to “negate” other characters. Why would I choose such a strange combination? Well, the game isn’t called “Guild Wars” for no reason – the heart and soul of the experience is in team PvP play – which makes it entirely different in structure from the usual MMORPGs.

Let me explain. Instead of typical grinding to level 100 or what have you, there is a skill cap of 20. I reached level 20 after only 6 weeks or so of gameplay on the weekends and some evenings. You proceed in the game by winning various missions that take you across the fictional world of Tyria, defeating NPC monsters and finishing quests. At any time during the game, you also head to PvP arenas where you can take on other real life players with your characters. Once you hit level 20, you don’t really gain any more levels or increase your attributes or skill levels, but you do earn hard earned “elite skills” specific to your class as well as unlock various ways to increase your character’s PvP abilities. My character is nearing the end of completing the storyline and exploring th

e entire game world. However, by defeating more people in PvP play, you gain the “faction points” that enable you to unlock the various elite skills and weapons/armor that will make your character stronger. The PvP play is addictive. You can form teams and take on others, or your entire guild can invite other guilds for battle, and both your character and guild gains fame for defeating enemies. Right now, the rivalry is entirely international with Guild Wars players playing in 3 regions: North America, South Korea, and Europe. The majority of the time, the Koreans own the “Hall of Heroes” – where the guilds fight each other – followed by N. America and lastly Europe. The thing is, whoever has “favor” in the “Hall of Heroes” – ie whoever’s guilds are winning the most battles – affects the non PvP play as well. So only if North America has favor can all people playing on the North America servers access certain zones and dungeons critical for character advancement. This is a unique facet of the game which sets it apart from all of the other MMORPGs I have played. This PvP play is intense, and makes the game more accessible. Instead of logging in to grind every night and finish missions that can take up to an hour to complete, you can head straight to the team arenas to fight against real players in brief “annihilate the enemy” or “protect your shrine base” environments pitting your team of 4 against another 4 players in fast and furious battles that last no more than 3-5 minutes.

I may write a longer review later, but suffice to say, Guild Wars has been an enjoyable experience for me. The graphics are fantastic, the interface is easy to use, and you don’t have to worry about “the grind” where you go to bed and wake up to find that everyone else (ie the high school kids on summer break) is level 999. Pretty much the majority of players are level 20 now and when it comes to fighting, the victorious are those teams who play well together and know their tactics. In this sense, the game is sort of a swords and sorcery version of Counter Strike.

One more important thing to add – there are NO monthly fees to this game. You pay your flat out $50 for the game and that’s it. will likely have an expansion out within the next 6 – 9 months or so (they gotta make money somehow), but its nice to have a game on that you know you aren’t paying for on a daily basis. This will give Guild Wars some staying power. It will be interesting to see how it fares when Dungeons and Dragons and the Middle Earth MMORPGs come out later (which I believe won’t be until Xmas or later).   

I imagine I’ll be playing Guild Wars solidly for the next few months. I do wish, however, that someone gets around to putting together another, more creative MMORPG that takes place in a non-swords and sorcery world. I have heard many negative things about The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies and Anarchy Online (sci-fi worlds) and dabbled briefly in the hideous Planetside (I removed that one from my computer about 2 weeks after purchasing it). My dream is for some developers to put together either an H.P. Lovecraft based MMORPG or something akin to “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” I also wouldn’t mind seeing a sci-fi MMORPG based in the “Star Trek” universe.

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