Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Henry Hudson Pub

Ale, man, ale’s the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world’s not.
And faith, ’tis pleasant till ’tis past:
The mischief is that ’twill not last.

-- A.E. Housman

Yesterday, after spending the day helping Nora get moved into her new apartment, we decided to find a pub close by. Let me say since I bought a house on the northwest side of town I have been disappointed in the quality of the bars & pubs in the area. All of them are neighborhood pubs where the local high-school graduates who still live at home can go to meet up with their friends and retain the insular cliques they formed back in middle school. The unwritten dress code apparently calls for jeans and a tee-shirt--if you wear something with a collar you might be putting on airs.

Henry Hudson's Pub sits nestled under the 290 and 1960 intersection. Henry Hudson the explorer, as you may recall, sought the Northwest Passage in 1609 and again 1610. So based on the name you might expect a New England style pub in the tradition of Cheers, or perhaps a nautically themed pub with ships' wheels and nets along the walls. And of course you would be wrong. As Yogi Berra might have said: It's just like the others, only more so.

We decided to stay for one drink. I have to say up front that the bartender was very friendly. He introduced himself and learned our names. How often does that happen? Around the bar gathered a loose confederation of twentysomethings. One of the more vocal drunks made sure everyone knew his brother was the owner, and that his sister (right there beside him) was off-limits. We were just about done with our drink when this fellow started pointing at me and yelling "Leo! Leonardo di Caprio!" I frowned at him. "You are very drunk," I pointlessly told him. "Leonardo!" he yelled again. Now everyone was looking at us. I don't mind if people get a little silly, but when you're not equally toasted, a drunk is as annoying as anything you can imagine, and I wanted him to shut up. "Look," I yelled back at him. "I'm not going home with you again!" That brought him up short. Having no response, he turned back to his friends and left us alone.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Summer Solstice

Today marked the summer solstice. "The first day of summer," announced the radio. There was a time when men need not have been reminded. Many diverse cultures venerated the day, marking the high point of the sun's power over darkness. Our paths have led us far from those agrarian stargazers, and today we measure out our time not with the gentle ebb and flow of rivers, or the steady march of constellations, but rather with atomic clocks and digital watches, and the same Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter which once reflected the eternal cycle of life now dispassionately demarcate baseball, basketball, football, and hockey seasons. Who now weeps for Tammuz? I cry out with Hamlet: "For oh, for oh, the hobby-horse is forgot."

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Father's Day

According to most web sites, the origin of Father's Day in the US goes back to 1909, and while it was celebrated in varying degrees over the next 60 years, it wasn't until 1972 that President Nixon signed a resolution that officially, permenantly established the third Sunday in June as Father's Day.

Sheridan got me the Peter Pan movie on DVD. Dad is out of town, so we plan to celebrate Father's Day by sleeping late and going either to the movies or a pottery painting place. (Her ideas.)

Friday, June 18, 2004

Things I wish I'd read before law school

If you're starting law school soon and anxious to get started reading, I have a few suggestions. These aren't required; I didn't read any of them (but sometimes I wish I had at least read Cliff's Notes versions):

- the philosophies of Locke and Hobbes
- as much economic theory as you can stand
- the Federalist papers
- at least a paragraph summary each on the big names, including current members of the Supreme Court, Holmes, Hand, Cardozo, and of course my favorites from the previous post, Posner and Traynor.

I think I showed my cards

Yesterday in law school I offered the Learned Hand cost/benfit formula as a parallel to the Mathews balancing test for due process. The professor brought up Posner's interpretation of the Hand formula and I injudiciously sidestepped it by mentioning another professor's assessment that Posner was the "worst justice of all time." Early this morning I replayed that scene and realized that professor had been talking about Traynor, not Posner. So this morning on the class message board I posted a retraction with the best excuse I could come up with for getting these two mixed up:

- both names begin with voiceless stop consonants followed by long vowels
- they are the same length (two syllables)
- the second syllables are homophonic

I expected an "Is that the best you could come up with?" But instead I got this:

Mr. Sharp's mastery of the English language is impressive, and I feel the need for a lesson in "voiceless stop consonants." Some basic web surfing revealed to me that the English language has three such consonants: P (which is bilabial), T (which is aveolar), and K (which is velar).

A "voiceless" stop is created by obstructing the oral cavity with the lips or tongue. When the mouth is opened, pressure is released, causing a sound. This can be contrasted with the "voiced" consonants B, D, & G. My problem is that I cannot distinguish the former from the latter, much less from other consontants that seem to have the same effect on the tongue and lips.

Would our linguist care to enlighten me?

Of course I took him seriously and replied with an explanation of voiced and unvoiced consonants and compared stops with fricatives and nasals. No reply. I think now he was being sarcastic and I've made myself out to be a dweeb.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Politically Incorrect

"Mean Girls" star Lindsay Lohan is accused of being, not quite mean, but insensitive. A group representing the mentally disabled wants Lohan to stop using the word "retarded." Lohan has used the word several times recently, saying that rumors of her getting breast implants were "retarded," her reported feud with Hilary Duff was "retarded" and a recent ambush by the paparazzi was "so retarded!" US Weekly says The Arc of the United States has written Lohan, telling her that the word is "deeply wounding" to the mentally disabled. --

Back in the 1980s, we were using this slang term exactly the way Lindsay Lohan does. It's got a 20+ year history of use--plenty of time to become entreched in the slanguage. Is it offensive? Maybe. But jumping all over a teenaged girl for using it seems me to be a bit excessive. Somehow I don't think mentally challenged kids all over the nation are feeling "deeply wounded" by Lindsay Lohan.

I wonder if the gay & lesbian community would write me to complain of hurtful language if I publically declared that the 1982 "Safety Dance" video by Men Without Hats was "totally gay." No one spoke out for all the hunchbacked children of the world when Disney thoughtlessly released their animated "Hunchback of Notre Dame." And how could Shrek II allow a character named "Puss in Boots" when 'puss' is a hateful slang term? Just think how all the wimps feel!

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Goodbye to the Gipper

I got a phone call this afternoon with the news that Ronald Reagan had passed away--the fourth President to die in my lifetime. From ages 10 to 18, he was the man I called President. We never really talked about him in my college history classes -- his administration didn't quite qualify as history yet -- just old current events. But what a history! If you're one of those Gen-Xers nostalgic for the '80s, you can't help but talk about Reagan. I remember "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Reaganomics. Doonesbury's Reagan-as-Max-Headroom strips. Calling Khadafi flaky. TV stations dusting off Bedtime for Bonzo and Knute Rockne. Nancy's "Just Say No" and the gossip about her astrology. Most of all, I remember his enduring popularity, even in the face of the outrageous Iran-Contra scandal. Criticize him? We might have. But in spite of it all we loved him, too. Mr. President, I salute you sir.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Back to the grind

Now that I'm back from the trip, I'm starting to fall into a routine again. Back to work, back to night school. Now the question remains whether to continue the weblog, and if so, where to take it next. I suppose I could shift gears and talk about law school. Maybe. In the meantime, I've added several more pictures to the text below for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Photo: Sheraton hotel pub, Damascus

At the Sheraton pub, Damascus. Omar, left, and that's me on the right.