Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why I Drink: Stinking in the Suburbs Edition

Yeah, so, I'm up in Lake friggin County (land of not quite enough flooding, unfortunately), house and cat sitting for my parents while they're back east on their annual visit to see my dad's side of the family. The kittens are pestering their old cat, eating his food, playing with his toys. He's not too happy about it. I'd prefer to be elsewhere, myself. This is my least favorite part of the summer. I can't stand the suburbs. I did some grocery shopping at a "Super Wal-Mart" in Waukegan this afternoon and I wanted to break into one of the shotgun cases and Hemingway (Cobain?) myself. Hellish. Nothing's within walking distance, all the cars are gigantic, and everyone drives 900 miles an hour -- badly. The people are all super-sized, too, as if someone injected them with a huge syringe full of brine, like a cheap ham. Not just fat -- big. Necks bigger around than my waist -- and I have a pretty fat waist. Calves like beer barrels. Goddamn military crewcuts on their leathery, huge heads. And the men are even worse!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Feline Engineering Disasters

Episode 1: Fresca Box Tunnel breached by pesky sister.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Argh: In which a rant about FISA devolves into a strange sports metaphor and then ends ... simply ends

Two things I can't sit through without the word "bullshit" playing in my mind over and over for the duration are: a church service (any church service) and a House floor debate on C-SPAN.

After watching Nancy Pelosi this morning, I may be unable to eat for the rest of the day. My appetite has seceded from the Union. My entire digestive system is now calling itself The Free Alimentary Canal Zone of Occupied North America.

I wonder how my old crim law prof, Wayne LaFave, feels these days. LaFave is the country's leading expert on Fourth Amendment law, and his treatise on search & seizure is recognized as the leading work on the subject. I don't want to ascribe any particular political leanings to him -- because I, frankly, don't know for sure what his political opinions are -- but I have to imagine that it must be weird for him that the entire span of meaningful Fourth Amendment protection has fit within his entire professional career.

LaFave's writing was, it can be argued, instrumental in the development of search & seizure law as we knew it. One thing they don't teach the heck out of in high school civics and history classes is that the Bill of Rights didn't have a lot of practical value for ordinary citizens until relatively recently. Depending on which right you're talking about, none of the "rights" in the Constitution really existed until some point in the 20th Century. The Fourth Amendment was not applied to state governments until 1961 -- before that, it had no effect on most criminal prosecutions. The "reasonable expectation of privacy" test for search and seizure -- which has become at least somewhat familiar to most reasonably well-educated Americans -- didn't exist until 1967. Even the exclusionary rule -- without which, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures was essentially meaningless -- wasn't established until 1914.

After the Warren Court expanded search and seizure protections into something approaching practical reality, the Burger and Rehnquist Courts began taking a whittling knife to the Fourth Amendment. Exception after exception was adopted throughout the Reagan-Bush-Clinton years. The Bush Two administration has made tool upgrades to an axe, a chain saw, and an Acme®-brand Wile E. Coyote-style TNT demolition device. The Roberts Court seems likely to accelerate the process.

The NSA approached telecoms with its plan for comprehensive citizen surveillance six months prior to that Big Boom-Boom Day that's used to justify all subsequent legal erosions to our civil liberties. Everything from FISA to Daley's lust for CCTV cameras convinces me that "privacy rights" existed only as long as it was too technologically unfeasible or expensive to spy on everyone. Now that the technology is capable and cheap, all bets are off. Total exposure to government monitoring now seems inevitable. Why? Because they can.

For a brief time -- well shorter than the average span of a human life -- the Constitution rose slightly above mere "piece of paper" status. It is now, to borrow a phrase from the baseball stat nerds, "reverting to the mean." The Constitution is like a pitcher who had several lousy seasons in his early career, then broke out and won 20 games for a couple of seasons and a Cy Young Award, and then blew his arm out.

Yeah, that's right, I just implied that the Constitution is like Steve Stone. Which indicates to me that this rant has run its course. In closing, as Lenny Bruce would say, "Emmis."

ON A LIGHTER NOTE: But, hey, it's Crosstown Classic weekend! I predict the Sox will take two out of three at Wrigley, and sweep next weekend at The Cell. This could be good news for Friend of CBRAT, Mr. "Pat" Jacobson, who vowed a few weeks ago that he would give up his left nut in exchange for a Sox sweep of the whole kaboodle.

So, if you find yourself walking around in the Uptown/Andersonville Terrace area this weekend, and you hear a voice coming from a window somewhere -- yelling "Pat's left nut! Pat's left nut!" -- don't be alarmed. That will just be me.

UPDATE: PAT'S LEFT NUT LIVES: Well, we can put away the Burdizzo. Cubs win, 4-3. The Sox will not be sweeping the Crosstown Classic in 2008.

This update was brought to you by "Pat's Left Nuts on Clark," serving the Wrigleyville Community for nearly 30 snacktastic years.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Night Blog Meeting: Cats Named, Sox Good Again

After much deliberation and trial and error, I laid names on my crazy new furry buddies. I'm calling the boy Mingus, after Charles, my favorite jazz genius. Mingus the cat has some of Mingus the man's audacity. And Charles Mingus was tuned in enough with felines that he was able to teach his cat Nightlife to use the toilet.

I'm calling the girl Piper, not so much after notable girl Pipers Piper Laurie, Piper Perabo, or even Buzz Kilman's daughter Piper, as Rowdy Roddy. My favorite pro grappler. I know Roddy is a dude, but if you saw Piper the kitten wrestle, you'd get where I'm coming from. Piper is here to do two things: kill toy mice, and kick your ass. And all the toy mice are lost under the couch.

In other good news, the Sox pummeled the Pittsburgh Butt Pirates again tonight. I call them the Butt Pirates because they are butt pirates. Actually, I still have some nostalgia for the Pirates, because I attended game four of the 1979 World Series, at Three Rivers Stadium ... which they lost, but they came back to win the series. Steve Stone pitched in relief for the Orioles at that game, and now he's doing excellent radio work with Ed Farmer on AM 670, so it all comes back to the White Sox in the final analysis. I'm believing in them again. Don't let me down, you (pale) hosers.

And now for some YouTubes, cuz at least a few people seem to enjoy them. First up is a short biography of Charles Mingus, followed by a little "Hot Rod" Piper.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Personnel Announcement

I'm pleased to announce that today we added two new staffers to the CBRAT®-brand blogging family. Please join me in welcoming ... uh ... they don't have names yet.

On the left: unnamed girl kitten. On the right: unnamed boy kitten. Their interests include attacking my sneakers, falling asleep on my sneakers, and attacking my sneakers some more.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Don't you know / The Lord above / Created you / Just for me to love

At the risk of overloading this here CBRAT with Gugug (impossible!), I'm embedding up this YouTube video just 16 hours old, offered in tribute to Bo Diddley. This is a number I first heard on a collection I bought on cassette shortly after being blown all the way to the end of creation and back by Bo's set at the Chicago Blues Fest in June 1986. I still haven't stopped yammering about that performance. Changed my damn life.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Peter Meehan Is a Blithering Idiot

The NY Times "Travel" section today has an interactive map of ballparks, allegedly describing the best and worst food choices available at them.

What does dimwitted, water-headed, shit-for-a-palate "food writer" Peter "Wouldn't Know My Ass From a Hole in the Ground Except That My Ass Is What I Pull My Prose Out Of" Meehan have to say about U.S. Cellular Field?

I have a feeling that Meehan has never actually visited Sox Park. As long as I've been going to baseball games in Chicago -- which is over 30 years -- Sox Park has had far superior food to the ivy-covered urinal on the North Side. (At Wrigley, he recommended the Italian sausage and advised skipping the hot dogs, with which I can't argue. Except that I'd advise skipping the Italian sausage and the entire trip, as well. Nothing is good at Wrigley, unless you enjoy comparing your tackle with other mens' while pissing in a trough.)

Paper of record? To quote Lee Elia, "My ass."

POSTSCRIPT: For a more sensible review of U.S. Cellular Field's food, see this Sports Illustrated fan survey, in which Sox Park ranked 2nd best for eats, with 58.8% rating it as "excellent." (Wrigley Field -- 22nd best, with 14% excellence.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

So long, Bo