I Dined for Your Sins



To paraphrase a disgraced ex-leader, “…I am not a food fanatic.” At the same time, as this picture illustrates, the right meal at the right time makes me very happy. Having just returned from an interstellar galactic cruise of several days without proper food shortly before this photograph was taken, it’s fair to write that this was the right meal at the right time.

This looks like a gigantic pancake, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s silver dollar sized! This Big Bear establishment actually is a front for a Cal Tech lab. It’s a deceptively small place, but they manage to squeeze dozens of people into the joint by rearranging their atoms in a more compact form. In other words, they make the customers smaller!

Scientists contend that the best way to solve the overpopulation and global hunger problems is to shrink everybody to roughly 20% of their original size. That way everybody would require far less food. So far the technology only works on a very small scale, but you’ve got to dream big – or in this case, dream small!

This Big Bear science lab/restaurant also doubles as an ultra-modern, new-age house of worship. For an extra 75 cents, each pancake can be transubstantiated into a special communion food product that will absolve the eater of sins. The bigger the serving, the greater the degree of absolution.

Let he who is without sin please pass the butter!

Happy Fourth of July

Protecting America?

To Celebrate America, let’s meditate on the words of James Madison, our fourth President and Father of the US Constitution:

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.

In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals….

No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

Contracts Hypothetical

The bar examination is at the end of July. If you’re preparing for the exam, why are you fooling around on-line instead of doing something useful? Nevermind.

For those of you who aren’t veterans of what passes for a legal education today, here’s a bit of legal lingo for you. We study the law in part by looking at hypothetical stories, where the facts present legal issues. We call these stories “fact patterns” because it makes us feel better about spending a fortune to go over simple stories word-by-word, kind of like first graders.

Got it? “Fact pattern” = little story with legal issues. Cool.  Here’s today’s Contracts Fact Pattern!

Mama goes shopping and scrutinizes everything. Here is how her shopping went.

Mama: “I don’t like the looks of this whitefish.”

Merchant: “Lady, for looks you don’t buy whitefish, you buy goldfish.”

Mama: “Oy, and this chicken, it has a broken leg.”

Merchant: “Look lady, you gonna eat it or dance with it?”

Mama: “And before you weigh the meat, take out the bones.”

Merchant: “Lady, I buy with bones, you’ll buy with bones.”

Mama: “I don’t pay with bones.”

Merchant: “All right, no bones.”

Mama: “Thank you, you are a gentleman. Now put the bones in a separate bag for soup. And never mind the meat. I don’t like your meat anyhow.”

1.  Have the parties formed a binding contract? Discuss.

2.  Assume for the purposes of this question only that Mama is a “merchant” under the UCC. Would that make it more likely that Mama and Merchant entered into a binding contract? Discuss.

If elite law schools did more good than harm, John Yoo wouldn’t be a free man, much less a faculty member at a fancy law school…but don’t think about that. Instead, think about fact patterns.

Looking Up

2009_0622_carmel_valley_balloonCarmel Valley is in North County San Diego. Mostly it is a horrid plastic suburb, but there are enough open spaces left to allow air balloons to thrive. I love watching them. See the fire? You’d be surprised how loud it is.

Do you want to ride in a balloon? That’s great. Not me. They’re beautiful – but I feel gravity is a force not to be toyed with. I’m pleased that other people like to climb into these fine examples of 18th century technology and pose for pictures.

Piano Wrestler

The United States Navy has got one of the best and most entertaining “safety first”websites. You can spend the better part of several working days going through these pictures, and their literate, charming captions. Below the image is the US Naval Safety Center’s caption. Great job, sailors!


Yes, we know it is so tempting. Pianos are heavy and so darn awkward, and given the looks of this semi-demolished house, the stairways may be questionable. But honestly, is this the best you can do—a half-Nelson and poor footing on a moving piece of machinery? Why not just tie the darn thing on and let it take its own chances?

On the plus side, nice hat.

Here’s another of their images, which they entitle:

Location, Location, Location


Summer’s Almost Here

Buy AmericanChrysler and GM are in US Bankruptcy Court. That’s not a surprise to anybody who has been following the industry during the last few years. Last year I published a video on the car industry, called “A Bridge Loan to Nowhere.”

Here I am in my 2004 Chrysler Sebring Limited. I was pleased to read that President Obama is going to stand behind Chrysler warranties, until I read the fine print. It turns out that the President’s promise only goes to people who buy new cars from the company starting this month. Fine.  Maybe it serves me right for voting for Cynthia McKinney.

Oh well, with luck and proper maintenance my car will enjoy a long and comparatively trouble-free life and won’t require any service under the warranty. At least this car isn’t rolling probable cause like my big black Camaro. I still can’t understand why the po-po had to pull me over, as opposed to the thousands of other drivers doing 90 mph on the Hollywood Freeway. Probably it was some kind of invidious discrimination.  2009_0609_sebring_sunset

OK, whatever. Wait! It turns out that Fiat has been given the go-ahead to purchase Chrysler. Could it be that one of the few car makers with an even lower reputation for quality than Chrysler is going to be the new owner?

Let’s just take a step back and examine the situation from a So Cal perspective. Everything is cool. The car is luxurious and attractive. Why not take the top down and go to Sunset Cliffs for the latest sunset? Right.

That’s better. What’s not to like?

The Future of Vegas

Nevada is experiencing a dramatic budget crisis. Some have suggested balancing the budget with nuclear waste. Others have noted that there is a similar financial crisis on the Las Vegas strip. Job security is a thing of the past. At the same time, if present trends continue, Nevada’s prison population will increase by 61% by 2017.Terrorism as Entertainment

In a solution being described as “win-win” by a unique partnership among Egyptian and Israeli gaming interests, Nevada’s financial problems will be ended in one night of pay-per-view TV. Nevada prisoners will be allowed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bet their lives with freedom or death as the possible outcomes. Twin towers will be built in the Vegas desert, modeled on the Stratosphere Hotel.  Inmates will be placed in one or the other tower, based on a random lottery.

Inmates in each tower will report to the world as they savor a plush Vegas-style buffet that will be either their last meal or their first taste of freedom. At the set time, with the whole world watching, one of the towers will be destroyed by a missile strike designed to sever the top of the tower. Cameras inside the stricken tower will run until the moment the rooftop restaurant strikes the pavement. A separate lottery is proposed to select the person who pushes the red button triggering the air-to-ground missile strike.

Star Trek 2009 and 1968

Even Better Than The Real Thing

Alexis and I went to see the new Star Trek movie. We loved it. I went into the theater looking for a movie that would deliver the idealistic creative spirit of The Original Series – extra-terrestrial green-skinned belly dancers! When a nearly-naked green-skinned woman from Orion made her appearance early in the movie, I knew the people behind this picture understood Gene Roddenberry’s philosophy and were living up to its high principle.

For what it’s worth, I judge this new movie to be substantially better than almost all of the hundreds of episodes of TV and the many hours of movies that make up the Star Trek catalog. The cast in this picture is much better than the original. The script is better. Personally, I’d cut about 15 minutes of video game action sequences, but who am I to quibble with Artists who appreciate the value of buxom green aliens?

My mom worked on Star Trek from 1966 through 2004. This movie is the first Star Trek show to come out after her death. I’m sure she would have enjoyed it.

I got to hang out on the sets of The Original Series back in the 60’s, and my parents and I attended the Star Trek Christmas party in December, 1968. I was 10 years old. I got to sit in Captain Kirk’s chair and stand on the transporter pads. The whole cast was there, boozing it up and enjoying themselves in a melancholy way – the show had been cancelled (for the second time) and everybody there knew that this third season would be the last. If anybody at that party in 1968 had promised the group that the show would be more popular than ever in 2009, their car keys would have been confiscated.

James Doohan called me over to his table. “Well, young Scotty, I guess your mom is letting you stay up past your bedtime to be with us…”

The most memorable part of the evening, aside from walking around all of the sets, was being with the cast and crew as they showed the collected blooper reel on a projector and screen. I’d never seen anything like it. Although these three clips aren’t complete, they’re highly entertaining. Watch for yourself and enjoy!

Parts One Two Three

Why live in San Diego?

What did San Diego ever do for me? Isn’t it just one big military base, surrounded by hundreds of square miles of plastic suburbs? Isn’t it LA without what passes for culture up there? Isn’t the cool part of San Diego really Tijuana, now behind a new Berlin Wall?


Early spring days at the beach are a decent selling point, I admit it. The nice flowers aren’t too bad, either.  OK, San Diego isn’t perfect, but it’s got its share of nice qualities.

Tiny Pretty Flowers