Last night Sarah and I had an interesting discussion about the capture of Saddam Hussein.  News sources were reporting that Hussein would be tried in a "civil court."  We debated exactly what sort of civil court could try someone like Hussein for crimes he committed.  Clearly, all current Iraqi civil courts derive their authority and mandate directly from the US military.  What sort of laws are currently being enforced in Iraq?  Federal law leaves most of what we consider crimes (murder, theft, rape, assault) in the hands of the state.  Are there special Federal laws for unusual circumstances (like foreign nations that have been captured by US forces)?  Certainly, we can’t try Hussein under laws that have just been created.  The US seems quite clearly wedded to the idea that laws can’t be created criminalizing past behaviors.  Will that policy be chucked overboard in Iraq?  Hussein committed crimes against humanity, but those crimes really ought to be tried in an international court.  Of course, the US couldn’t control all the actors on a stage like that, so the chances of that trial ever happening are none and less than none.  So, in the end, it doesn’t matter what court has jurisdiction over Hussein and his crimes, the Bush administration will punish him however it sees fit.

There is no water supply shut-off valve for the toilet in our basement bathroom.  To turn off the water to the toilet, a shut-off must be turned in the room next to the bathroom.  Unfortunately, that shut-off did not have a handle on it.  So, I bought a handle and tried to install it yesterday.  The handle went on quite easily.  I turned the water off to test the handle and shut-off.  All was well.  I then turned the handle again to restore cold water to the bathroom.  All was not well.  Water came spraying out around the shut-off handle at a reasonably fast rate.  So, I turned off the water again, and cursed cruel fate.  At this point, my knowledge of water shut-off valves had been exhausted, so I turned to my handy-person encyclopedia:  the Internet.  Ten minutes of reading about water shut-off valves later, I knew about the valve packing nut, where it was located on the shut-off, and how to use it.  Some small application of a crescent wrench, and the basement bathroom was back in business.  Obviously, the wily water shut-off valve did not reckon on the speed and breadth of the Internet when it tried to drown me in spray and hassle.

Christmas decorations have been overtaking our house slowly, but relentlessly.  Sarah has been digging them out of boxes in the basement and putting them up all over the house.  I expect to come home one of these days to a fully functional recreation of Santa’s North Pole Workshop and Factory Outlet.

Saturn dealers will happily put Mobil1 Synthetic oil in your Saturn at a cost of $6/quart (about $30/vehicle).  The Saturn web site specifically recommends not using synthetic oil in a Saturn.  Is this profit motive winning out?