Friday, March 21, 2008


One of the things we promised to write about in the intro to our blog was restaurants, but we have not done so thus far because we've been sticking to our favorites the past few months - Thai, Indian, and sushi. But tonight we decided to go on a date, and finally tried out the BYO right down the road in Bryn Mawr, Sola. The yellow stucco interior, wine cork motif, and dim lighting supplemented with candles created a nice atmosphere.

The bread wasn't really worth it, and the amuse-bouche of hot-smoked salmon on a mini toast was decent, but nothing special.

We both ordered appetizers off of the daily special list: a rabbit, arugula, pancetta, and fingerling salad and a brandade (a cod cake) with slaw and stewed tomatoes. We enjoyed both, the brandade was like a gourmet fish stick, which to me (S) is a good thing.

The entrees were very rich, refined, and filling. The venison rack came with a horseradish spatzel (a German pasta and one of Des' specialties). Venison is usually a little too lean and gamy for Steve's taste, but the rack was tender and flavorful. Our other entree was a pork duo. The excellently tender tenderloin (served medium over a sweet potato puree and wrapped in bacon) was superior to the shoulder served with glaze and caramelized onions.

At the bottom of our bottle of zinfandel, ignoring the protests of our full stomachs, we ordered tea and dessert. The cherry tart on the menu was replaced with a pear tart served with homemade vanilla ice cream and a baklava cigar. Homemade maple-walnut chocolate chunk gelatto was served in what looked like a tea light holder with berries and dark cocoa sauce, and would have been amazing on an emptier stomach.The mint green tea was a good way to end and settle us. We probably could have split a dessert, and regretted eating a little too much during the walk home. Luckily, we had a 20 minute walk there and back, so we were able to walk off a bit of the fullness. We didn't end up stopping at Roach and O'Brien's Bar for a drink as intended, and made it home to find the cable still malfunctioning.

S & D

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A royal suprise?

According to our countdown (see left-hand panel), the Tudors shouldn't be back on for a new season for 9 days. But today, while searching on Showtime on Demand, we found that episode 1 of the new season is already out there. So if you just can't wait the 9 days left until the official broadcast, you are in luck!

By the way, the cable still doesn't work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive

Week 6: A close call

Week 5: I got my birthday wish!

Week 4: Oompa Loompa

Week 3: Sexy Drinks and Home Invasions

Week 2: Top Chef Goes to the Zoo!

Week 1: Top Chef Chicago

Top Chef goes to the Zoo!

Edits: For spelling and grammar because JSum is a nag.

Much jubilation in this camp as our kiwi favorite Mark won immunity during the quick-fire despite leaving his lettuce at the market. Maybe it was his sideburns. The quick fire challenge itself seemed a little uninspired this week. A visit to the farmers market had a lot of potential, but the rules limited each dish to five ingredients without any other guidelines to shape the outcome.
The chefs next faced a zoologically themed elimination challenge, which combined two of my favorite things, zoos and food. Teams of three were each given an unlikely animal totem (vultures, penguins) to emulate the diet as they catered hor doeuvres for the Chicago Zoo staff. I think Chef Collicio came up with the challenge concept considering his beaming inquiry of how the chefs enjoyed it.
Desiree's favorite spaz Andrew won the elimination challenge with a penguin-themed squid dish (although he got caught cheating during the quickfire). Somehow, an anchovy dish almost gave Mark his second victory of the episode, making converts of everyone's favorite judges, Padma and Gayle. (Well, they're my favorite judges.)
Valeri, who we didn't see or hear enough of to care much about, took the long hike after making blinis 24 hours ahead of service, but it looked like there were others just as worthy to go with her. It looks like tensions are beginning to build with some teams close to implosion by service time.
My early pick, Richard, had a lackluster performance (I had high hopes for the eucalyptus) even with a fellow student of molecular gastronomy as a guest judge. I still stand by my prognostication.

The Ardmorons Top Chef Archive


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

On Arms

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments today for DC v. Heller about the right to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment. DC wants to uphold its strict gun control laws that don't allow residents to have guns, and Heller says this ban is unconstitutional.

Lucky for you, yesterday I presented an oral argument in my Constitutional Law class about this. I took what is essentially DC's side - that the 2nd Amendment does not give individuals the right to bear arms, and even if it does, restrictions are reasonable. Obviously, DC's lawyers present arguments that are more concise, more detailed, more numerous, and that are better overall; and as I don't really have time to listen to the 75-minute recording of the actual oral arguments on C-SPAN, I cannot say that what I write below is their argument - but here is my argument that I presented (and that I got the best grade possible on!).

The Amendment - it is a little hard to figure out:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

This gives "collective rights" to bear arms, not "individual rights" - meaning the amendment gives states the right to arm their militia (now the National Guard).

There are two clauses in the Amendment - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State" and "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed".

The first clause is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment - and the purpose it conveys is that the State, as opposed to the country, needs (needed) to have the ability to protect itself though military.

Militia means military - not, as opponents will say, any independent group of men who are able to fight for their state. It means a state military because of "being necessary to the security of a free state". Originally, the framers were going to have this phrase say "the best security of a free country". By changing from "country" to "state", the framers were assuaging the fears of anti-federalists (who did not want a federal government) that there would be federal tyranny and the states would not be able to protect themselves - so, the Amendment is saying that states can protect themselves. Second is the phrase "well-regulated". As the 2nd Amendment was enacted shortly after Shay's rebellion, we can take "well-regulated" to mean trained and regulated by the state, as opposed to mere ability to use a gun.

The 2nd clause is the substantive portion of the Amendment. Generally, "bear arms" refers to the military being able to bear arms. Opposition will say that "bear arms" has no military connotation, but when you read this 2nd clause in light of the first clause, you see that as the 1st clasue was speaking of a state-regulated military, so "bear arms" has a military connotation here. Now, "keep...arms" does not have any sort of military connotation here, but you have to read "keep and bear arms" together - otherwise, people could keep arms but they couldn't do anything with them... and what is the point of that. So "keep and bear arms" has a military connotation.

Now we have to read the two clauses together, or else the 1st clause wouldn't really mean anything. The 1st clause would just be a statement that doesn't convey any rights - and you can't interpret the Constitution in a way that makes another part have no meaning, because why would the framers have included a phrase that means nothing when they had to exclude other things due to the fact that the Constitution is written, therefore limited? So read the clauses together, and the most plausible construction is that the 2nd Amendment seeks to ensure effective state militias and states have the right to arm their military - the 2nd Amendment does not guarantee gun rights to individuals.

Today, more and more people and courts are interpreting the 2nd Amendment as giving individual rights to bear arms as opposed to collective rights. But even if that is the case, governments can still impose some reasonable restrictions on these individual rights, as long as the restrictions are not inconsistent with the individual right to keep and bear guns - we already restrict felons, infants, etc. So in this case the question is whether the restriction that doesn't allow DC residents to have guns is reasonable. Here I am not sure. I can validate a restriciton on gun ownership that just limits small groups of people who we cannot trust with guns, or limitations on the numbers or types (machine guns!) of guns individuals can own - but I'm not really sure whether a total ban on guns in a city is reasonable.

Overall, the 2nd Amendment does not confer individual rights to bear arms - it just gives states the right to arm their militias. If, however, I am wrong, and it does confer individual rights, then a reasonable restriction on that gun ownership is valid -- to determine whether the regulation in this case is reasonable, I need more facts, which I don't have time to research because I am in law school and just wasted 20 minutes re-writing an assignment that I already presented...


Sunday, March 16, 2008

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