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Archives for April 2009

The Perfect Car for the Coming Apocalypse

Does Chrysler’s bankruptcy mean I can get a sweet deal on one of these new Challengers? You can take the boy out of upstate New York…

Teetering on the Edge of Despair

For some not too obscure reason, the fact that John Cleese has both a blog and a Twitter feed makes me want to give up the former and never even attempt the latter. It does not, however lessen my desire to interview him about taking on what is perhaps the most diabolical of devil roles, C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape. Back in the days when I had a contract to write a book about the devil in the modern world, that was going to be one of my best bits.

10 Things From Your Twenties That You’ll Regret In Your Forties

Could someone tell me what an MILF is?

Glendon and the Laetare Medal, continued

This article was written in response to an opinion expressed that Glendon’s “diplomatic style seems to be less suited for U.S.-Vatican relations and more for U.S.-Cuba relations.” The whole article is worth reading, but here’s one paragraph in particular that really sets the record straight:

Professor Glendon was to have been honored for not only for her scholarship, but for her second career, her pro-bono work — ranging from the civil rights movement of the 1960s to the great civil rights issues of the present day — namely, the defense of human life from conception to natural death. Her concerns range from the aging and dying population to the unborn to the well-being and dignity of every life, regardless of race, religion, or economic status. Her outstanding work in this field has earned her the respect of the most brilliant minds of the international community, regardless of whether they agree with her position. So again, to see her merely as “strongly anti-abortion” instead of as a tireless defender of the dignity of life, is to reveal not only a lack of understanding of the subject’s work, but also the writer’s real interest in this question.

Furthermore, during his first 100 days in office, President Obama has worked tirelessly to undermine Professor Glendon’s lifetime of work; he is funding abortion out of the bailout package and planning to suppress the protection of conscience for health care workers.

Apprently Father Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, is now in search of an alternate recipient of the Laetare Medal. Would it not be better to just let the matter drop, and perhaps take it as an opportunity for meditating on what led to the impasse in the first place?


Today in Porn: Awesome Legal Edition

Many thanks to the Manhattan Lawyer, who passed along this best-ever legal opinion from The Honorable Richard A. Posner, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. It seems there was a scuffle between a couple of manufacturers of…well, take it away, Posner…”what the parties call ‘sex aids’ but are colloquially referred to as ‘sex toys.’ A more perspicuous term is ‘sexual devices,’ by analogy to ‘medical devices.’ The analogy lies in the fact that, like many medical devices (thermometers for example), what we are calling sexual devices are intended to be inserted into bodily orifices, albeit for a different purpose.”

So dry! And bonus points for the use of “perspicuous,” a word that has languished in many an uncracked thesaurus lo, these many years. And it only gets better. The disputed product was, according to the patent holder, a “sexual aid…fabricated of a generally lubricious glass-based material containing an appreciable amount of an oxide of boron to render it lubricious and resistant to heat, chemicals, electricity and bacterial absorptions.”

Posner goes to town: “By ‘lubricious’—a word whose primary meaning, appropriate for a sexual device, is ‘lecherous’—the patent means only ‘slippery,’ which is the secondary meaning of the word. The patent’s use of the word in that sense is confusing, because glass is smooth rather than slippery. But what is meant is that the glass, because it contains oxide of boron, is smoother than soda-lime glass and therefore becomes slippery with less lubricant than a device made out of soda-lime glass.”

At some point prior to this, all parties should have dropped the suit out of the potential embarrassment brought on by making a judge speculate on this or that device’s QLR (Quantity of Lube Required). But no. And so Posner rises to the occasion, and goes to the pertinent research (just imagine the lucky intern who got to go digging on this one):

“That glass has the properties that the patent claims for it, and one can see how those properties (even resistance to electricity, see M. Klintschar, P. Grabuschnigg & A. Beham, Death from Electrocution During Autoerotic Practice: Case Report and Review of the Literature, 19 Am. J. Forensic Med. Pathology 190 (1998)) might enhance the utility of sexual devices made out of it.”

(Good old Klintschar, Grabuschnigg, and Beham. All those jerks who made fun of them at the Medical Research Convention, who asked all those sneering questions about what exactly drives a person to investigate death from electrocution during autoerotic practice – where are they now?)

But getting back to the case in hand. Posner has little use for your “patented” lubricious glass, and cites KSR Int’l Co. vs. Teleflex Inc. to make his point: “If a person of ordinary skill can implement a predictable variation, § 103 likely bars its patentability. For the same reason, if a technique has been used to improve one device, and a person of ordinary skill in the art would recognize that it would improve similar devices in the same way, using the technique is obvious unless its actual application is beyond his or her skill.”

If this hasn’t been made into an episode of CSI by Fall sweeps week, somebody’s not doing his job.

Ed McMahon Drunk on the Carson Show

From the YouTube archives.

Your Argument is Invalid.

Area Baby Loses that New Baby Smell

Red Ink II