Saturday, May 30, 2009

Garlic Zilla!

Behold! A garlic grown so large it spans the four-seat table on our patio!

A garlic so powerful it gives all who eat it Deadly Atomic Breath!

And ... a garlic so cheap and easy (and cheap) to plant and harvest in a tiny, tiny space: just a pot of dirt it shared with several other plants!

As I blogged earlier, I simply bought ONE garlic, split it into its TWELVE constituent cloves, pushed them into the dirt, and called it a day. Sunshine, water and biology did the rest!

The test of course is actually eating the thing. I chopped up the first fruit of my garlic experiment with some tomatoes (store-bought), and chives & cilantro (also from my patio pot garden. They were just as easy to grow as the garlic.) The result: Holy Cow!

I had been disappointed because the garlic had not grown into the massive bulb I saw in the store. But what I didn't realize, but soon discovered, was that this garlic was growing, not for show, but for dough. It was so powerful I had to cry, and I don't mean from emotion. The greens alone were as strong as the bulb of an ordinary, store-bought garlic.

I can highly recommend garlic for lazy-man's-gardening, but BE WARNED: check with your wife before consuming!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Making a Living or Making a Life

Food to eat, something to drink, a place to sleep, and so on: we all need a way to make a living. Enough money or other resources to live on is a simple necessity of life, and fortunate is the person who never has to think about getting it.

In my part of the world, making a living is typically done through work. Most of my friends are employees, and some of them are sufficiently satisfied with their work that they might choose to do it even if not paid. Most, however, make a living through means they would not consider employing but for the pay.

This latter group of people have some free time with which they try to make a life. Fun, family, partying, friends, drinking, arts, leisure, crafts, music, creativity and so many other elements go into the making of a life, as opposed to the making of a living. Fortunate are those who make a happy life.

My situation is a bit unusual in that I have few enough material needs that I can make a living bookselling, and I enjoy bookselling enough that it is part of making of life. Most fortunate am I that bookselling takes so little of my time that there is enough left to make a life, through family, friends and project.

Of my family, my wife is what really counts; I hope I don't offend mother, siblings, mother-in-law and other in-laws by relegating them to a distinctly secondary position. I'm fond of them all but they are more like friends, elements of a life but not so major an element. I'm just being honest here; I don't expect anyone to read this anyway.

The other part of making a life ( distinct from making a living...) is creation. At the joke goes, there are 10 kinds of people: those who use binary and those who don't. In my experience, some consume, others create; there may be those who enjoy both equally but not in my circle. I don't really care about consumption at all; so long as it is reasonably nourishing and tasty, a one-dollar meal is the same at a hundred dollar meal. After all, they come out much the same in the end. (* rimshot *)

I am very fortunate in that technology and society give me opportunity for a great many interesting projects. Here's a few I am working on now; since this is a scrapbook I don't feel the need to put them all done first time out; I'll just update this post as I think of new ones.

Projects for Making a Life

Lawyers for Warriors (L4W)

L4W centers on the idea that no member of the warrior community (servicemenbers, veterans and their families) should lack legal services. The reason is simple: they have paid into the preservation of our Law and should not be disadvantaged thereby. Of course, no one should lack legal services but it helps to have a focus. Since it is noone's job to ensure this is done, noone is ensuring it is done. This makes the project especially worth doing.

  • Lawyers for Warriors blog: the first purpose of L4W is to catalog existing resources in support of the warrior community, so these can more easily be accessed. Some other topics get addressed as well.
  • Lawyers for Warriors listserve: this was my first attempt at setting up a L4W community. It hasn't flown very far or widely; it's interesting to contemplate why.
  • Lawyers for Warriors Facebook cause: this has the potential to build a community, but is in its early stages. We'll see.


Continuing Legal Education is a necessary and expensive part of law practice. Keeping costs low helps lawyers focus on doing their job well, instead of profitably. Free CLE can also be a helpful way for offerors to attract lawyers to their interests, e.g. providing pro bono help. However, communication between offerors of free CLE and attorneys looking for it is very poor; non-profits in particular are terrible at marketing their services. A clearinghouse of information on free CLE in general would be useful.

I was going to call this clearing house something obvious like FreeCLE dot com, but that name was preempted by an early advocate of free CLE; therefore I took up "4freeCLE". At present, it consists of
  • 4freeCLE listserve: I  post announcements of free CLE as I come accross them. I had hoped to build a community, as list members contributed what they found too, but so far, no luck. I should ponder why that is.
  • 4freeCLE blog: This is new as of this month, and I think it's a more attractive way of presenting basically the same information. For example, I can put it on my blogroll (look to the right of this page).
  • 4freeCLE twitter: Yet another new way to present the content. I use twitterfeed to populate this from the blog, so it's really no added work. If I could figure out how to link the blog & the listserve, I'd be even happier, that is to say, even lazier!

Green Spirituality

The more I look into what spirituality is, the more I think that it has to start with how we life. Pick up your trash; don't bust other people's stuff; move like a part of a billion-year stream of life. I don't believe in mystical whoo-whoo stuff, but knowing where I really am in the universe both feels good and leads to projects that are necessarily "green".

Pro Bono & Legal Aid in General

This is turning out to be an interesting project but I'm running out of energy at the moment ...

More projects

I'll add more, but this should suffice for now. Sleep is part of life!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Judicial Activism by the Numbers

Let's compile objective information on "Judicial Activism". I'll add more information as I find it (...this is a scrapbook, after all...) but for now, I have two sets of objective numbers:

  • Rate of Overturning Legislation
  • Overturning Executive Decisions
None of this address whether or when judicial activism is a good or a bad idea; these numbers are just about who does it.

Rate of Overturning Legislation

"Declaring an act of Congress unconstitutional is the boldest thing a judge can do. That's because Congress, as an elected legislative body representing the entire nation, makes decisions that can be presumed to possess a high degree of democratic legitimacy.

In an 1867 decision, the Supreme Court itself described striking down Congressional legislation as an act "of great delicacy, and only to be performed where the repugnancy is clear." Until 1991, the court struck down an average of about one Congressional statute every two years. Between 1791 and 1858, only two such invalidations occurred.

Of course, calling Congressional legislation into question is not necessarily a bad thing. If a law is unconstitutional, the court has a responsibility to strike it down. But a marked pattern of invalidating Congressional laws certainly seems like one reasonable definition of judicial activism.

Since the Supreme Court assumed its current composition in 1994, by our count it has upheld or struck down 64 Congressional provisions. That legislation has concerned Social Security, church and state, and campaign finance, among many other issues. We examined the court's decisions in these cases and looked at how each justice voted, regardless of whether he or she concurred with the majority or dissented.

We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices appears below.

  • Thomas 65.63%
  • Kennedy 64.06%
  • Scalia 56.25%
  • Rehnquist 46.88%
  • O’Connor 46.77%
  • Souter 42.19%
  • Stevens 39.34%
  • Ginsburg 39.06%
  • Breyer 28.13%

One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more "liberal" - Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens - vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled "conservative" vote more frequently to do so. At least by this measure (others are possible, of course), the latter group is the most activist."

--- So Who Are The Activists? by PAUL GEWIRTZ and CHAD GOLDER

Rate of Overturning Executive Decisions

Another study of several thousand cases studied the frequency in which an unelected judge voted to overturn the decision of the elected executive. A high score shows high deference to the elected executive branch; a lower score shows more judicial activism:

Justice Rate of upholding agency decisions
  • Breyer 82%
  • Souter 77%
  • Ginsburg 74%
  • Stevens 71%
  • O’Connor 68%
  • Kennedy 67%
  • Rehnquist 64%
  • Thomas 54%
  • Scalia 52%
--- Judicial Partisanship Awards by Cass Sunstein

Monday, May 25, 2009

June CLE for Attorneys Assisting Citizen-Soldiers & Families

Attorneys Assisting Citizen-Soldiers and Families (AACF) invites Washington State legal professionals to our June 2009 Volunteer Attorney Training, co-sponsored by the WSBA Legal Assistance to Military Personnel(LAMP) Section.


  • June 12, 2009: Tacoma Armory, 715 South 11th St,Tacoma, WA 98405
  • June 17, 2009: Yakima Readiness Center, 2501 Airport Lane,Yakima, WA 98903
  • June 18, 2009: Spokane Readiness Center, 1626 N. Rebecca St., Spokane, WA 99217

CLE Credits: 3.0 Credits (2.5 General Credits and .5 Ethics Credits)


More Information on this and other training is at

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Building Salvage Up, as Economy & Values Change

Deconstructing buildings, which salvages most of a building's materials for re-use, grows in popularity as the industry figures out techniques to make money while saving the environment.

read more | digg story