Friday, October 07, 2005

The 2 or 3 people who actually visit this site might have noticed I have been playing musical templates the last day or so. I like this one all right; the last one didn't show the hyperlinks well, so I changed it.
It's no great news that I went to the Tennessee-Ole Miss game last weekend. What was cool about this game was that I got to sit in the East Skyboxes. Here's an exterior view of the structure. For the well-heeled (and lucky hangers-on like me), they set out a heckuva spread here both before and during the game. We're talking lamb and beef tenderloin, lobster ravioli, shrimp etouffee, and a delightful white chocolate mousse for dessert that cleaned the pallette jusy right.

My assessment: it was OK, and quite plush, but considering the thick glass separating you from the game itself, there still is a disconnect feeling about sitting there. Don't get me wrong, though: if asked, I would attend there in the future!

Interesting coincidence: the last [and only other] time I was in a skybox was in 1984, when my friend Glenn had an invite from UT Chancellor Jack Reese to come up to the Chancellor's box. Who were we playing that day? Ole Miss! Oh, and we won that day, too.

UPDATE: The Skybox links above don't work right. However, just click on the links in the page you are directed to, and you will see some interior photos.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not only is Ann Coulter crazy and dangerous, she's a snob, too.

Don't get me wrong. I honestly don't know whether this Harriet Miers would be a good Supreme Court Justice or not. I do know that there is nothing in the Supreme Court Justice job description that says, "Must have attended elite university, such as Harvard, Yale, et al." Coulter's reasoning is insultingly forced ["I think we want the nerd from an elite law school" remarkably denigrates "nerds" and non-nerds at the same time], and is fundamentally flawed.

I think there is too much academic in-breeding in the federal judiciary anyway. Why SMU? Why not SMU? Or Tennessee [home of my friend Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds]. Or American University's Washington College of Law [my alma mater]. Where a lawyer went to school has no impact on what kind of mind that lawyer has, or what kind of judge he/she would make. I say that a little diversity would be good for the Court, and the country.

Now, I guess I'm not too surprised at Coulter's ranting about Miers's background. She went to an "elite" undergraduate school [Cornell], an "elite" law school [Michigan], she was an editor of the law review, she clerked for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and she worked for Floyd Abrams's "elite" law firm in New York City [highly-paid, hundreds of lawyers, most with pedigrees such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Virginia, Michigan]. Coulter's looking for a bird of a feather, and appears to take an immediate dislike to an appointee who has the wrong color feathers.

One thing I've figured out over the last 20 years or so: legal elitists tend to a pack mentality; they are most comfortable with people who have similar backgrounds. If I had been top 5% at American University, I might have gotten an interview with Coulter's former firm, had I been so inclined. It's unlikely they would have made me an offer, however. I'm just not in the same club, so to speak.

And at the end, that's what's got Coulter and the other elitists, "liberal" or "conservative," upset. Miers is not in the right club. She doesn't belong.

If we're going to judge this appointee on whether she's "fit" [whatever that means] to sit on the Supreme Court, we should have a reasoned discourse on her qualifications for the job. Maybe she doesn't have the gravitas to deserve the job, but where she matriculated should have nothing to do with the debate.
A lawsuit by the widow of a policeman who was killed when bullets penetrated his bulletproof vest has led to a federal lawsuit and criminal investigation against that manufacturer. Turns out the allegedly defective vests were used by Secret Service, the President, and the First Lady:

Prosecutors have gathered documents showing that Second Chance was alerted as early as 1998 by the Japanese material maker, Toyobo Co., that Zylon had trouble maintaining its protective properties.

By 2001, Second Chance's research chief, Aaron Westrick, was pleading unsuccessfully with his company's president to replace the vests after his own tests showed them degrading, the memos show.

"Lives and our credibility are at stake," Westrick wrote then-Second Chance president Richard Davis in a Dec. 18, 2001, memo. "We will only prevail if we do the right things and not hesitate. This issue should not be hidden for obvious safety issues and because of future litigation."

Westrick urged Davis to "immediately notify our customers of the degradation problems," let those with pending orders cancel them and cease all executive bonuses to save money so the company could pay for a replacement initiative, the memo shows.

But Second Chance customers were not alerted to the problems until September 2003 _ after a California police officer was shot to death wearing the vest and a Pennsylvania officer was seriously wounded.

In the interim, the Secret Service paid $53,000 in 2002 to Second Chance for body armor, enough to equip the president and the security detail that protects him and other VIPs, federal procurement records show.

Legal professionals and government officials familiar with the inquiry confirmed Westrick's account about the Secret Service and Bush. They said the criminal investigation is in addition to a Justice Department lawsuit filed last summer that accuses Second Chance and Toyobo of fraud. The officials spoke only on condition of anonymity, citing grand jury secrecy.
While the purpose of lawsuits is to get compensation for the wronged, this situation illustrates how legal action can force changes -- or at least investigations -- that serve the greater good.
W.R. Grace to asbestos victims: You're not so sick:

Most of the 870 people under a medical plan for Libby-area residents sickened by asbestos exposure have been sent letters saying they no longer have asbestos-related disease, or may not be as sick as they thought.

About 700 people received the letters this month from HNA/Triveras, administrator of a medical plan for W.R. Grace & Co., which operated a vermiculite mine here until 1990. Some health authorities blame the mine for killing 200 people and sickening one of every eight residents.
Apparently, blue is green and red is purple, according to W.R. Grace.