Thursday, January 25, 2007

Rising Star, Part the Second

Regular readers might remember my mentioning a young violinist several months ago. As it turns out, I recently happened across a flyer indicating that the talented Tai Murray will indeed be playing here in Minneapolis. How cool is that?

As you might imagine, I'm looking forward to the concert :)

"Pigs' Ears"

Since I'm taking Admin Law this semester*, I thought this was an interesting aside on earmarks (regarding the President's SOTU reference thereto), statues, agencies, and the business of enforcing the law:

"[O]ver 90 percent of earmarks never make it to the floor of the House and Senate-they are dropped into committee reports that are not even part of the bill that arrives on my desk. You didn't vote them into law. I didn't sign
them into law. Yet, they're treated as if they have the force of law."
They're treated as if? That is to say, earmarks do not have the force of law, since "committee reports" are not part of the statutes passed. So who exactly treats them as though they were legal mandates? Why, the executive branch agencies whose funds Congress is appropriating in each spending bill. In other words, the officials who (in general) answer to the president in actually spending the money Congress appropriates-they're the ones who are treating nonstatutory earmarks "as if they have the force of law." Which they don't have.
Could the president then take unilateral action to ignore earmarks and spend the appropriated funds on other agency purposes consistent with each agency's statutory authorizations? It sure looks that way. What keeps presidents from doing this is not any constitutional principle supporting the earmarks practice (and by the way, when did "pork barrel" become "earmarks"? can we call them "pigs' ears"?). It's relationship maintenance between the branches of government, loftily called "comity," which presidents are loath to violate. And agency heads especially hate the idea of ticking off members of Congress.

"Pigs' ears!" Hmmm. Interesting. I'm only two weeks in, but that sounds all right to me. I admit that until the speech the other night, I was unaware that earmarking practice included extra-statutory insertions: I had oh-so-naively assumed Congress only sneaked them onto bills and the like. Silly me. Although--is extra-statutory placement of earmarks a constitutionally permissible practice?

Regardless, methinks Mr. Franck makes a good point with his final remark.

The end Bush seeks may be frustrated by the means he has recommended. If every earmark gets a vote in Congress, it gets put in the text of the spending bill, and henceforth has statutory protection from executive nullification, since there is no line-item veto, and there won't be one any time soon. If, on the other hand, the president
undertook to spend every dollar appropriated on executive-branch priorities in each agency, ignoring all nonstatutory earmarks, then after the howling died down we might well see some reduction in the magnitude of the practice.
Indeed :)

* If you're interested, my other courses are International Intellectual Property; Law, Biomedicine, and Bioethics; Advanced Human Genetics; and professional ethics for grad students/future researchers.

Welcome, Little One

A warm welcome into the larger world to the littlest Myers--who I hope didn't give his mom too hard a time of it--and a big congrats to his mom and dad!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Driving Dunaway

I don't watch The Apprentice, nor am I likely to do so this season even if it has moved to warmer climes, but I would definitely consider watching if the tasks were more like these (including the comments). Hehe.

I have a sneaking suspicion the Nomad Little Bro & Friends might line up to participate, too...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ye Mighty

Is there any topic under the sun for which there is no blog or other species of website? One has to wonder. Just now, during a virtual foray regarding a completely different topic, I stumbled across an Egyptology Blog...oh, and there are others, The Eloquent Peasant, for example.

There was a time I wanted to be an Egyptologist, and like so many others, every encounter with the artifacts of that past civilization (including breathlessly narrated television programs) still tugs at my insides and probably always will. If you are also one of those folks, well, enjoy the links!


Cool. Alack, if only 'twere not so expensive.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Baby Tiger

Is it possible to be cuter than a baby tiger? Yes...if you're a sleepy baby tiger.

Thanks to CO, of course.

You don't say

Though I saw it here, I enjoyed Flea's "It is almost as if the press has inexplicably chosen not to hold them to account for their own clearly stated beliefs and convictions" so much on this cold, windy morning that I just wanted to add my own little bit of linky love.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dear Congress, Please Go Home

I think the Nomad Little Bro, a certified econ and finance enthusiast, will find this item particularly interesting. Behold, investment returns from when Congress is in session compared with those from when Congress is out of session.

Hmmmm. Ouch. Surprising? Not very. I can't help but wish law students and law professors were clued into these sorts of things, though. I worry that all too often "regulate!" or "legislate!" is their very first impulse. So she says as she heads to day 1 of Admin Law...

Thoughts from a walk home

It's interesting, the things that pop into your head during a cold, late walk home as you try to ignore the fact that you can feel your face slowly freezing. For instance,

What would happen if a woman had absolutely nothing and no one to henpeck?

I can only imagine that to be an extremely frustrating state of affairs. :)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Those Benchtop Blues

Courtesy of KBee...not only do Ph.D. students have a comic strip to humorously depict our plight*, we apparently have an unofficial theme song as well (or perhaps an epic lament lacking only a hound dog): Ph.D. Blues.

Ph.D. Blues (Prins/Wilhelm)
I'm a Ph.D. student,
I'm working night and day.
I'm writing a dissertation,
and get a lousy pay.

I thought I'd be in business,
but I could not decide.
I waited and I waited,
and ended up in science.

Getting a degree.
If you don't know what to do.
I was looking for adventure
I was looking for the truth.

I started out with reading,
all pieces I could find.
Spent two months at the xerox,
till I was half blind. [Which is what I should be doing. -Ed.]

[...] RTWT

Happily, I'm not yet at jaded and bitter :) That seems to be a later stage of grad student development.

*Yes, yes, I know we chose it. Nevertheless...

Friday, January 12, 2007

For the billionaire, spelunking, BASE-jumping crowd...

...there will be more!! Probably the rest of the world knew this, but I didn't, so I'm going to bounce around enthusiastically anyway. However, memo to Absolutely Everyone Involved with Said Movie: please don't kill it, please? Batman Begins was almost uniformly good and it would be a shame if the sequels didn't live up to that standard, not to mention a waste of some excellent cast members as well. However, I do have faith...after all, Batman went to Princeton.