Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I guess it's better than a sharp stick in the eye.

I saw the doctor today, and it looks like this is not going to be as easy as I had hoped.

During the summer of my first year of law school, I had a cornea transplant in my left eye. After the surgery, I had to wear a metal "eye shield" for about 6 weeks to keep my eye from getting bumped. I was able to take some classes during the summer because I could still see out of my right eye.

In the intervening 14 years, my right eye has gotten considerably worse, and it's now much worse than my left eye was prior to the surgery. It has also been discovered in those intervening 14 years that a cornea transplant isn't good for life, as was thought back then, but actually has a life span of about 20 years at the outside. Mine worked well for 13 years, but started falling apart about 6 or 8 months ago. It's gotten to the point now where it is painful to read for more than a few minutes at a time. And that requires closing one eye and squinting.

When I saw the doctor a couple months ago, he was hopeful that he could do what they humorously call "relaxing cuts" to flatten out the cornea. Can you imagine the kind of sick mind that calls sticking a knife in your eyes "relaxing" cuts? Anyway, the tests they did today revealed that the cornea has deteriorated to the point that I need transplant. He was looking for a cell count of 1000-2000, and mine was only about 500. I feel so inadequate.

After the operation, I will not have any use of my left eye (since it will be covered by a metal eye shield), and my right eye is already practically useless. During the recovery period, I might be able to read, but only for short periods and with considerable eye-strain. I'm figuring this will get me some time off work. And it's about damn time. I haven't had a real vacation in years. This might get me a whole month off. And all I had to do was let someone stick a knife in my eye!


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Not so much a review as an impression: Titus

Powerful. Disturbing. Intense. Fascinating. It's one of those rare films that's not over when it's over. It is Julie Taymor's Titus.

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I've seen Shakespeare done very well, as in Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V. And I've seen beautiful interpretations, as in Akira Kurosawa's Ran, (an adaptation of King Lear). But more often than not, when I've seen Shapespeare, I've seen it done badly. Stilted, wooden, boring exercises in "art" or "culture."

But here, we have an anachronistic confusion of chariots and motorcycles, men in Romanesque armor and Goths with SPAS-12s, and no regard whatsoever for the story's place in history. And it works.

And then there's the play. Pretty much as Shakespeare wrote it, with all the murder, mayhem, rape, adultery, cannibalism, and most of all, revenge. A darkly comic, morally ambiguous, nasty, bloody mess. That all fits together perfectly.

And it makes you think too.

And all that kind of stuff.

A comment on the human condition, or something.

And it's definitely not for kids.


Friday, August 20, 2004

A modest proposal.

In contemplating the stunning choices of candidates presented to us in this election, I have to question the wisdom of our founding fathers in having Congressional elections in the same year as Presidential elections. And I'll tell you why. And even give a relevant example.

The why is easy. Divided government is good. "Gridlock" is good. As Thomas Jefferson is said to have said, "That government is best which governs least."* Mark Twain is said to have said "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." Whether they actually said them or not, they were unquestionably right. And when we elect our President the same time we elect our Congresscritters, we don't know what we're going to get until it's too late. All too often, the President's coattails sweep into power members of his own party in Congress, much to our sorrow.

And as an example, I give you William Jefferson Clinton. Elected in 1992. Handed a crushing defeat in the 1994 midterm elections. And why? Because he tried to do what he wanted to do. (Remember the "Assault Weapons" ban? Nothing like a completely stupid and useless piece of legislation to energize the opposition. And how about "Hillary Care"?) The remainder of his presidency was spent battling a Republican Congress and fighting off impeachment. He was completely ineffective. All his "achievements" were scaled-down Republican programs. Whet did he accomplish? Meaningful welfare reform and a semblance of fiscal responsibility.

And then there's another example-- Our current Commander-In-Chief. A Republican President with a Republican Congress and what does he do? Every bad thing that Republicans accuse Democrats of doing-- profligate spending, centralization of power, and an obnoxious foreign policy. What ever happened to low taxes, limited government, and avoiding foreign entanglements?

I only wish that our third President named George would heed the words of our first President named George in his Farewell Address. It's a damn shame. We are once again cursed with a George III, but this time we don't have a George Washington to take his place. Not even a Benedict Arnold. Dark days indeed.

But if things were different-- If we had the opportunity to consciously select divided government or gridlock or whatever you want to call it. If we already knew what we had in the White house when we voted for Congress (or vice versa)....

How different things might have been.

Edited to add: Although Jefferson is often said to have said it, it appears that Thoreau is known to have said it in "Civil Disobedience," or something quite similar. "That government is best which governs least" appear to be his exact words Still, it seems like a pretty damn Jeffersonian sentiment.


My new favorite periodical

Sorta bein' from Texas and all, I'm naturally suspicious of anything from New York. But the New York Press is about the best thing I read in years. Their reviews of John Kerry's convention speech and of George W. in general are spot on priceless.

I can understand how someone could base his (or her) vote on the "devil you know" principle. I can also understand how someone could base a vote on the "fool me once shame on you" principle. And, of course, the "lesser evil" goes without saying. I can even understand the "our side versus your side" thing. But I am mystified, dumbfounded, even, that anyone could actually support either candidate. I never thought I'd long for the days of Dole and Clinton....

But anyway....

I've always thought of Georgie-boy as a Lesser Evil, but I think I'll probably vote for Nader as a protest vote. Maybe I'll write on Carter. Or maybe RWR. Does the 22nd Amendment reset on death? Not that it matters, given the fact that I live in Texas and the outcome is a forgone conclusion.

Call it a hunch, but I don't think I'll be getting that federal judicial appointment that I've been wanting. Not anytime soon anyway. Maybe Ron Paul will run for President again. Maybe monkeys will fly....


Okay, so now I have a blog. What next?

What next indeed. Let's start by talking about work. Not that I expect anyone to have even the slightest interest, but I created the blog, so I figure I ought to post something. So here goes---

Despite the silly blog name, I do have a serious job. I am a lawyer. A civil appellate lawyer, to be precise. For plaintiffs, to be more precise still. And it's been a big week in the appellate courts. Three cases decided by three different courts over a period of seven days in which the briefs were written by yours truly:

We start with a win in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, no less, in Gaddis v. US, wherein we learn that ad litem fees can indeed be taxed against the Unites States government. Not much money at stake, but apparently the government thought the principle was important. I love it when they lose.

Next we have less happy results from the Beaumont Court of Appeals in Entergy Gulf States v. Isom. I guess the court thought almost fourteen is just too old for the attractive nuisance doctrine to apply. Darn them.

And finally, we have a win in In re Redi-Mix, a mandamus action that should never have been filed. At least that's what the Fort Worth Court of Appeals seemed to think. You can't tell from the opinion, but it was a case of sour grapes from some defense lawyers whose forum-shopping scheme ended up getting them sanctioned.