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“With intent to cause public inconvenience”

November 30, 2005 at 4:17am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Now this seems to be a little overzealous prosecuting/lawmaking - from Wyoming:

Bar’s banner brings obscenity citation

Star-Tribune capital bureau

CHEYENNE—Life, sometimes, can be a real (rhymes with witch).

Lois Tobin found that out when she was cited for disorderly conduct because the banner hanging outside her Lingle tavern reads, “The Bitch’s Corner Bar.”

Specifically, Tobin was charged on Wednesday with violating the small eastern Wyoming town’s obscenity ordinance, which states that a person is guilty of disorderly conduct “if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or carelessly creating a risk thereof, he or she ... utters profane or obscene language in any public street or other public place, or place to which the public is invited.”

Suddenly I feel very very tired.

Non-fun Holiday

November 23, 2005 at 2:00pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Tomorrow I’m going to drive out to Central Iowa to do the holiday thing with the parents of my brother’s wife. I have gone to their house many a time for Thanksgiving since I used to live a stone’s throw away from them for several years when I was in school. Its not as if I actively dislike them, but at the same time, the experience isn’t festive at all. Case in point, her mom’s (the mom of my brother’s wife) cooking is pretty dreadful. I’d say I like about 10% of her cooking. She makes this awful salad composed of jello and shrimp every year. The first time I was like WTF jello and shrimp? They like to eat turkey that is so dried out it’s almost like beef jerky. Instead of making a home-made gravy from the turkey’s juices, they buy those packages of pre-made “gravy mix” from the store which is the only thing to put on the super-dried out turkey to moisten it. Plus her mom is an ultraconservative maniac who hates gays. She is like a broken record. One out of every three conversations she manages to somehow work in how evil gays are and what a horrible abomination homosexuality is. In the meantime I am thinking the true abomination is her horrible cooking and gravy/jello and shrimp salad.

Plus, they don’t like to watch sports or even the news on tv (surprise surprise). For years they didn’t even have a basic cable tv subscription. In other words the only thing they received on their tv was fuzzy signals of at best 2 of the 4 networks. They do, however, like to watch old re-runs of G-rated comedies that are decades old, like “The Pink Panther.” The point I am trying to make is that you can’t really escape from them by zoning out on the tv. You are basically forced to listen to the mom talk about how evil gays are in between praising her for her “fine cooking.” Thank God its only one day a ye

ar with them. Luckily I’m going to be visiting an old friend of mine as well down in Iowa City. It gives me a legitimate excuse to cut and run from their place as soon as the meal is over.


I am going to have my friend from Iowa City give me a call on my cell phone several times during the day (I will turn the ring volume way up) so it looks apparent that I need to leave their place and get down there as soon as possible. 

Addendum 2

I just spoke with my brother’s wife and she tells me that her parents finally bought a DVD player recently (congratulations for making it to the 90s!) and that she is going to bring several decent DVDs over so we can watch them tomorrow.  Thank God this gives me an excuse to spend most of the day watching TV while I am at their house.

From the “Oh Hell No, Please Don’t Make a Sequel” Files

November 22, 2005 at 5:00am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

OK I liked the first one, and the third one, but they’re going to have to break out the oxygen tanks for this sucker. It might make for an interesting James Bond type of franchise if they go with other actors. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing someone turning the whole idea on its head and having Denzel Washington or Chow Yun Fat in the Indy role. But would it ever happen? Nah.

A Darn Good Steak

November 17, 2005 at 2:50am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

I wanted to follow-up on in a way to Mr. Wilson’s recent listing on overrated Lincoln restaurants, particularly after an experience I had at Misty’s downtown location a few days ago. I went there for dinner and paid around $20 for a rib-eye steak. Yes, the steak was certainly good and made to the order I requested. The accompanying salad and bread was good. The service, I guess, good. But I have finally concluded that the place is very much overrated as Mr. Wilson mentions. Not so much because it’s a bad steak house per se, but because making a good steak at home is so damn easy and wayyyyyyy cheaper.

Here is my tried and true method for a great, inexpensive steak:

Take thick CHUCK steak cuts. Yes, chuck. This is considered to be one of the best tasting cuts and is also super inexpensive when compared to the ridiculous prices they charge for T-bones, NY strips, etc.. Throw the steaks in a plastic bag and marinate with BUTTERMILK. Remember, citric acid-based marinades will literally cook the steaks without heat treatment just like seafood ceviche. Dairy-based lactic acid, however, will not cook meat to the same degree, nor flavor (ie ruin) a tasty chuck in an overpowering way. A pure buttermilk (or whole milk) marinade will tenderize the meat as it is supposed to do so – by breaking down and loosening the meat fiber. Throw in the refrigerator and marinate for 24 hours. This milk marinade will tenderize the relatively tough chuck cut but maintain its natural flavors.

Prior to cooking, you have two choices after removing and washing the milk off the steaks. One, you can either cook it as is, rubbing some kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

in and letting it sit for a few minutes (remember, kosher salt sticks and absorbs better since it’s a flake and not a granule). Two, you can do a brief, completely homemade and fresh marinade to flavor. Now if you’re going to do this, one of my recent favorites is 1) olive oil base; 2) fresh chopped garlic; 3) rounded spoon of brown sugar; 4) a few drops of balsamic vinegar – too much will ruin the steak; 5) soy sauce or kosher salt for salty flavor. Skip the pre-made marinades and stuff composed of crap you can’t pronounce. Marinate for no more than an hour.

When it comes to cooking, the key is to carmelize the outside of the steak to retain the juices. Briefly pan-fry the steak on extremely high temperature to blacken (not in the Cajun use of the term, but fry until cooked for a minute or two) the outside on both sides. Depending on thickness and your desired preference, the pan-frying itself could be enough to cook the steaks to your taste if its thin and you like steak rare as I do. However, if it’s a thick cut, you’ll likely want to throw the steak in an already heated oven (like 500 degrees) for anywhere from 2-3 (medium rare) to 6-8 minutes (hockey puck), again depending on thickness on to what degree you like your meat cooked.

In the meantime, you’ve got broccoli or asparagus steaming (God asparagus is so expensive now) and also your favorite starch is ready to go. 

I have been using this method now for years, and its easy on the taste buds and wallet. I wouldn’t recommend it, of course, if you’re going to go all out and invest in a better cut, but for chucks, its great.   

The Big Red Experience

November 17, 2005 at 2:08am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

A few thoughts from people about our mother-ship: UNL.



November 9, 2005 at 3:45am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Looks like we’re still in Kansas.

Someone call Tipper Gore and Joe Lieberman

November 6, 2005 at 5:57pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

According to the family media guide, which current movie contains the following:

Mind alteration. Mind control. Transmogrification. General injury depicted by unconsciousness. Physical threats of bodily harm, biting, cutting, stabbing, gunshot, and explosion-related injuries. Destruction by negligence, explosion, unidentified means, vehicle, and willful blunt force.

No, its not another Takashi Miike flick or “Saw II” – its Wallace & Gromit.

Central Intelligence?

November 4, 2005 at 6:09pm By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Much uproar has occurred about the recent disclosure that the CIA has been operating secret detention facilities in Europe since 9/11. My prediction is that European Court of Human Rights precedent will have direct application. Specifically, last year’s Grand Chamber ruling in Ilascu v. Moldova and Russia.

The Ilascu case originated from facts directly related to Moldova’s civil war, where the breakaway “Moldovan Republic of Transnistria” declared its independence and allegiance to Russia. The MRT, with the help of “volunteers” from the Russian federal army, set up a virtual independent nation within Moldova. Moldovan forces – for obvious reasons - simply could not stand up against the combined forces of MRT separatists and the Russian army. As a result, Moldova found itself in the classic position of being sovereign de jure but lacking jurisdiction de facto. In the MRT, separatist forces detained Moldovan loyalists in prisons, where they weren’t exactly treated like distinguished guests. The prisoners went on to sue both Russia and Moldova for multiple violations of the ECHR and won.

Now if you haven’t read the Ilascu case, know that it is an extremely fascinating decision – also apparently the longest Strasbourg ruling ever – and much of the debate focused on whom to impute liability to for violations of the ECHR. On Russia it was a no-brainer. Russia &#8

211; not exactly a paragon of virtue and defender of international human rights - had directly aided the MRT militarily and financially. The difficult question revolved around Moldova’s obligation to article 1 of the ECHR: “The High Contracting parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined . . . of this Convention.” As a matter of immediate impression, it strikes one as being somewhat unfair to impose an obligation on little Moldova to protect individual rights of persons detained in a breakaway region by separatists aided by the Russian army. The Court, however, ruled that Moldova was liable for the mistreatment of the prisoners, even though they had been committed by separatists in an area they had no control over. The ruling makes sense, in my opinion, for sake of consistency in application of law let alone the literal reading of article 1.

Now comes the secret CIA prisons situation. As a matter of customary international law, ships, embassies and military bases overseas usually retain jurisdiction of the home nation over actions committed within those spheres. However, unless there is somehow some agreement between the US and the European host nations to contract out human rights obligations (which I kinda doubt), Ilascu indicates that the host nation or nations are going to face the Strasbourg Court and its not going to be pretty for them, and rightfully so.

I might add, on a purely personal level, this whole thing makes me wonder – who was the Einstein at the CIA who decided to locate secret prisons in Europe of all places? I mean come on guys, if you’re going to outsource secret detention facilities and/or torture, at least outsource all of it to corrupt, debt-ridden or US aid-dependent countries with crappy human rights records like Egypt or Pakistan. Sheesh!

Strasbourg Court - Where are you?

November 4, 2005 at 6:41am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

This really doesn’t look very good. I dream of…. ECHR violations....  USA….meet Russia, Turkey and the UK….You have now joined the privileged in being party to intentional violations of universal human rights (on their turf).

Mr. Wilson Fails!

November 4, 2005 at 3:10am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

Today Mr. Wilson tried to get me to go eat pancakes with him for lunch (unsuccesfully I might add).  Pancakes: heated dough smothered with butter, sugary gel and whipped cream. That is just unnatural and against God.

ACLU v. Schundler

November 2, 2005 at 3:38am By: Mr. T Posted in Mr. T's Den

I finally had a chance to read over the Schundler case that everyone is talking about, and I don’t see what the big deal is in terms of following the recently established precedent (which is really based on only two cases). Long story short, Alito basically seemed to echo O’Connor’s endorsement test – which I always considered to be the de facto majority rule on the Court’s splintered (and still chaotic) establishment clause analyses - given that she was the decisive vote on both the Lynch and Allegheny cases.

Am I missing something here? I read it like this: In the Lynch case, the display at issue was a Santa Claus house, reindeer, candy-striped poles, various other Christmas season-type figures, and a crèche, which was found permissible (5-4 with O’Connor) because the religious crèche was neutralized by secular figurines.

In the two displays in Allegheny, the crèche (standing virtually alone) was ruled a violation of the establishment clause (5-4 with O’Connor) because it was alone, but a menorah with a Christmas tree, was found permissible (6-3 with O’Connor and Blackmun) because the tree neutralized the religious menorah.

Reading the facts in the Schundler case, the display at issue was a creche, menorah, kwanzaa symbols, a Christmas tree, and Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman figures, which the court found permissible. In very deliberate statements, the Schundler case clearly points to O’Connor’s analysis as the driving precedent, but without noting her “endorsement of religion test.”

Let me point out that, personally, I tend to agree more with the Brennan and Marshall dissent in Lynch, but the O’Connor test I feel is a better test anal

ytically than the messy Lemon-test, and in my opinion preferable (philosophically) to the (less stringent of government establishment) coercion test which – if memory serves me – was actually devised by “moderate” Kennedy and supported by Rehnquist.

In reading Schundler, I also did note that the Alito court didn’t emphatically come out to specifically support the endorsement test over the coercion test, which I imagine gives him flexibility in establishment clause cases to either 1) stay with O’Connor’s endorsement-test; 2) side with Kennedy and the coercion-test; or 3) go all the way over to the Scalia/Thomas wing.

This is the kind of silence that I imagine keeps hardcore first amendment civil libertarians awake at night.

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