Monday, January 26, 2015

Richland County Lawyer Arrested: Alleged Motive - To Get a Discount on Gym Membership


When I saw the headline that a Columbia-area lawyer had been arrested, my first thought was, "Damn. Probably another lawyer drinking and driving." To my shock, I clicked on the story and read that the guy was arrested for allegedly lying to get a discount on a gym membership.

Wait. What?

I can understand bad decision making. We've all done dumb things. I can understand getting a little carried away and doing something over the line, but I just don't understand petty little crimes of dishonesty. I mean, you go to law school, bust your butt, pass the bar exam, probably have a ton of student debt, and you (possibly) throw it all away for a discount on a gym membership?

Is honor so cheap?

I don't know what ODC will do with this guy, but I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court comes down harder on issues of character than they do on other issues - as they should. I hope that he doesn't lose his licence over this, but I'm afraid that's a possibility.

"The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy."

                                                                                                     - Robert E. Lee

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oysters This Weekend? Why Not?

I can see the weekend from here.
No blogging yesterday, I was dealing with a sick child. Nothing serious, just routine being sick. In any event, Happy Friday!

If you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, why not check out the City Roots 2nd Annual Oyster and Pig Throw Down? I wrote about oyster roasts in Fig awhile back. If you're interested in the throwdown, you can buy tickets here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

State of the Union - I'm Probably Not Watching It

So....the President is going to deliver the State of the Union address tonight. On one hand, I could watch it and see the President talk about...stuff.

Or I could go in a completely other direction and have a nice evening.

Who's with me?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Movie Review: American Sniper


Over the weekend, I saw American Sniper. I got to the theater a few minutes before it started, and boy was that a mistake. Almost every seat in the entire theater was taken, so I had to sit in the very front and slump down in the seat and crane my neck to see the giant screen which was mostly straight above me. Luckily, the movie was so compelling I forgot myself.

The movie is based on the real-life story of Chris Kyle, a highly-decorated Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq and became the most lethal sniper in American military history. Normally, you would think that a movie about his war experience would be a traditional summer blockbuster that would come out around the Fourth of July. It would have lots of explosions, lots of big battle scenes, have generic and gruesome violence.

Well, director Clint Eastwood took that story and made a movie that focuses on how war changes men. The contrast between Kyle in combat and at home is the real story. With each successive tour, Kyle withdraws further from his wife and family, unable to escape the battlefield. Kyle has not so much of a character arc as a character circle.

You see Kyle near the beginning of the film as a relatively green solider, albeit a Navy SEAL. After graduating from sniper school, he's asked something like "What will you do when you have a real live person in your crosshairs?" and his response is essentially that he hasn't thought about it, but he just hopes that he can do his job when that time comes.

And do it he does. In his first assignment he's forced to decide whether or not to shoot a mother and son who are possibly attacking some Marines. It's clear that he doesn't want to shoot them, but once he does, he doesn't dwell on it too much beyond commenting on how evil they were.

Over the course of the movie, he is drawn deeper into the fighting, both physically and emotionally. The pull for Kyle is not killing the enemy so much as it is protecting the Marines on the ground. The successive tours of duty are interrupted by brief stints back at home. However, it's clear that "home" for Kyle has become the battlefield and the men that he feels a duty to protect.

At one point, he's with his wife, and they're driving somewhere. He's zoned out and not really listening to her complain about how weird he's been acting. She confronts him and accuses him of not being making time for his family. His response is telling. He says that all the stuff at home can wait, but the soldiers over in Iraq cannot wait. He feels the obligation to be on the battlefield protecting the men on the ground so strongly, it's a waste of his time to be at home "driving to the mall" as he puts it, while men are dying.

Ultimately, Kyle escapes from the whirlpool of the war after killing an enemy sniper. As he flees the swarming Iraqis that had his position surrounded a giant dust storm overwhelms the entire area in what is clearly metaphor for the fog that has been surrounding Kyle the entire time. He's running to catch up with the Humvee that will take him home, running from the whirlwind of dirt, death, and blood that is trying to catch him. He eventually makes it inside the safety of the Humvee, but not before dropping his rifle in the dirt, leaving it behind. It was the bookend to a scene in the first few minutes of the film, where a young Kyle is admonished by his father "Never to leave your rifle in the dirt." Kyle never leaves his rifle in the dirt until he leaves it forever.

The movie is about how PTSD affects men, how war brings it about, and how it can be overcome. You see Kyle's PTSD manifest itself in sounds. In one situation, Kyle hears an air wrench at a quick-oil change place that takes him back to a drill used to kill a child. Later he hears a playful family dog  takes him back to a rooftop in Iraq where he had an encounter with a vicious dog.

Eastwood and Cooper masterfully work together to show how the war affected Kyle without having Kyle really even talk about it. Circling back to what I said about the "character circle" (see what I did there) Kyle ends up back where he starts. By the end of the movie, Kyle finally is able to get the war behind him and can enjoy his family and peacetime again. He's not an emotional victim of the war and he's not a chest-beating killer with insatiable blood-lust.

In many ways, Kyle reminds me of Dick Winters, who went through WWII, and then wanted nothing more than to claim a small plot of land and live out the rest of his life in peace. Both men went through war, excelled at it, were changed by it, but eventually left the military and retuned to peace.

Even if you were against the Iraq war and think President Bush is horrible, try to compartmentalize that and focus on what is actually in the movie. It's not a political movie. It's not a justification for the war, and it's not an indictment of the war. Eastwood pointedly avoids the entire issue because it's irrelevant to the story he's trying to tell.

My only criticism is that I would have liked to see more, but I think Eastwood was constrained by time limits. I'd love to see what was left on the cutting room floor.

Five Stars.

I Wasn't Treating My Husband Fairly, And It Wasn't Fair

Found an interesting article today. I can't just quote the whole thing, but here's how it starts.
My "Aha Moment" happened because of a package of hamburger meat. I asked my husband to stop by the store to pick up a few things for dinner, and when he got home, he plopped the bag on the counter. I started pulling things out of the bag, and realized he'd gotten the 70/30 hamburger meat - which means it's 70% lean and 30% fat.

I asked, "What's this?"

"Hamburger meat," he replied, slightly confused.

"You didn't get the right kind," I said.

"I didn't?" He replied with his brow furrowed. " Was there some other brand you wanted or something?"

"No. You're missing the point, " I said. "You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20."

He laughed. "Oh. That's all? I thought I'd really messed up or something."

That's how it started. I launched into him. I berated him for not being smarter. Why would he not get the more healthy option? Did he even read the labels? Why can't I trust him? Do I need to spell out every little thing for him in minute detail so he gets it right? Also, and the thing I was probably most offended by, why wasn't he more observant? How could he not have noticed over the years what I always get? Does he not pay attention to anything I do?

As he sat there, bearing the brunt of my righteous indignation and muttering responses like, "I never noticed," "I really don't think it's that big of a deal," and "I'll get it right next time," I saw his face gradually take on an expression that I'd seen on him a lot in recent years. It was a combination of resignation and demoralization. He looked eerily like our son does when he gets chastised. That's when it hit me. "Why am I doing this? I'm not his mom."

I suddenly felt terrible. And embarrassed for myself. He was right. It really wasn't anything to get bent out of shape over. And there I was doing just that. Over a silly package of hamburger meat that he dutifully picked up from the grocery store just like I asked. If I had specific requirements, I should have been clearer. I didn't know how to gracefully extract myself from the conversation without coming across like I have some kind of split personality, so I just mumbled something like, "Yeah. I guess we'll make do with this. I'm going to start dinner."

He seemed relieved it was over and he left the kitchen.
Can any of y'all relate to this? The author goes on to make the point that the media contributes to the stereotype of the "dumb husband/smart wife" that is so prevalent in commercials, sit-coms, etc. In any event, it's worth a read.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Get This: John Kerry Brings James Taylor to France as a Message of Unity

Hard on the heels of not showing up for the big unity rally in Paris, John Kerry arrived in Paris to smooth everything over. But how exactly do you soothe the ruffled feathers of the sophisticated French society?


You know how in high school, when your girlfriend got mad at you, you would make her a mix-tape to apologize? Well, John Kerry was assigned to make a mixtape for France, since we kind of stood them up on the last date night, and they're mad at us.

I actually told someone about this at lunch, and they did not believe me. They thought it was so completely idiotic that John Kerry would serenade the French with James Taylor that I had to pull out my phone and show them the news. I'm afraid to report this is true.

I just question his taste in pop-culture music. Yeah, he's an aging baby-boomer, so I guess I could see how James Taylor appeals to him, but there were so many other ways to go. He could have brought the entire cast from Friends with him. He could have done the Randy Newman song "You've Got a Friend in Me", which I like better than the James Taylor selection. Or...just go with me on this because it's a little out there, but maybe get someone that has something to do with France! It's not all about you, America.

Everyone knows that when you make a mix-tape for your upset girlfriend, you don't put your favorite songs on there. You put her favorite songs on there. Jeebus. It's not all about you, it's all about her. Obviously, John Kerry needs to up his game.

And you know..all things being equal, I'm usually ok with needling the French, but that's just becuase the French usually act all superior, and, well, French. But when they've just suffered a horrible terrorist attack, it's not the time to mock them. They're not the enemy.

I mean, why not just go with Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" it you want to make it all about you. At least they'll get some eye-candy.

Also, I have one bone to pick with this piece from The Guardian:
Kerry will deliver some of his speech at the Paris city hall in French and then introduce the veteran American singer, James Taylor, most famous for the song You’ve Got a Friend.
Are you kidding me? "You've Got a Friend" doesn't even make it into the top ten of James Taylor's most famous songs. I mean, he's got some good songs.

Good Morning

Up and at 'em, campers. It's Friday.


Sometimes it pays to wake up early. You never know what you might see.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

School Principal: Let's Bring a Can of Soup to a Gunfight

Here, take one of these.

A school principal in Alabama has decided that the way to deal with an armed school shooter threat is to hit him with a can of soup?
As a result of school shootings through the United States and discussing with law enforcement on the best procedure to follow to keep our students safe, we are enhancing our procedure for intruders.

The procedure will be the same as we have done in the past with the addition of arming our students with a canned food item. We realize this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard. The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive. The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom.
I can almost picture the meeting where the principal came up with this idea. She was sitting there in the meeting, and then exclaimed: Hey, I watched a rerun of Crocodile Dundee on TBS last night, and I have a great idea! Let's throw cans of soup at any school shooter! It totally works, y'all!

Seriously? We're now "arming our students with a canned food item"? I guess it's the theory that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good student with a Campbell's Soup can.

This is what passes for smart policy in our public schools these days. If you want to make students feel safe, how about put an armed police officer in the school? And when I say "armed" I mean with a firearm, not with a can of Chicken Noodle.

It's too bad the school principal didn't watch The Untouchables.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thoughts on the National Championship and Playoffs


As much as I would have liked for Oregon to win, I have to congratulate Ohio State on overcoming some adversity and going through both Alabama and Oregon to win the first college football playoff. The BCS certainly wouln't have put Ohio State in the title game, but as they proved on the field last night, they were the best team. The playoff committee certainly was certainly vindicated by their inclusion of Ohio State as the number four team.

I was surprised at how well the young, third-string OSU quarterback handled himself in the three games that the started. It was clear that he has all the physical skills to be a great QB. Urban Meyer has certainly got himself a good thing going in Columbus, where he's turned Ohio State into a fast, tough team.

With all the positives of the playoff, I'd still like to see the playoff expanded to eight teams.  I think TCU was certainly deserving of a spot in the playoff, and expanding the field to eight teams would probably be all that you need to do to bring in all the deserving teams. Of course, the number nine team would complain, but if you're number nine, you could have done better.

Oh, and can we get the crystal ball trophy back? The new trophy looks dumb and ordinary. The crystal football trophy was special. It was great to see the championship teams holding the crystal football.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Ferrari from "Miami Vice" Just Sold for $1.75M

Yes, the actual car. It's turned up at a pawn shop, and was auctioned on ebay today.

Crockett, Tubbs, and the 1986 Ferrari Testarossa

Looks like you'll have to settle for something else. If I could have a fictional car, I'd rather have Cameron's dad's car...before it went through the window. I always thought it had a little more style.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Welcome to Winter

Quit complaining about the cold. It's January. It's supposed to be this cold.


Go out and about despite the weather. Embrace it. The winter weather won't be here forever.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

CNN Has Decided the Murderous Islamic Terrorists Might Have a Point

The inspiration for killing people - a damn cartoon.

Go read this NYT piece from Ross Douthat about the terrorist attack today.  I'll give you a little taste, for fair use, but go read the whole thing.
If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more
Amen! The man gets it. The purpose of the attack today was to have us Westerners engage in self-censorship. That's the goal of these terrorists. Should we give in to people who are going to engage in violence to get what they want? NO!

Or...you could go the other way, and let the murderous terrorist-bastards win by adopting the policy that you shouldn't show cartoons of "The Prophet", like CNN has decided to do.

Either way, really.

"Gunmen hunted after 12 killed at Paris magazine"

The religion of peace strikes again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Obama Issues Veto Threat on Keystone Pipeline Bill...Or Does He?

Townhall.com is reporting a "Veto Threat", but I'm not so sure it's a veto threat.

Look at the language used:
"I can confirm that the president would not sign this bill," Earnest said at Tuesday's White House press briefing after being asked about House Keystone legislation fired earlier in the day.

"We indicated that the president would veto similar legislation considered by the previous congress and our position on this hasn't changed," Earnest said. "I would not anticipate that the president would sign this piece of legislation."
Do you see the difference?

Earnest isn't saying that the President would veto the bill, he's saying the President would not sign the bill. There's a big difference. If the President doesn't sign a bill presented to him within ten days, it becomes law if Congress is not adjourned.

Now, maybe I'm being a little too specific about what the White House Press Secretary said, but I think it's worth considering. After all, the WH Press Secretary is someone who is careful with his words, right? Could Obama take the position that he isn't going to sign the bill, but not veto it? That could be a possible middle ground for him. Could this be possible? Am I onto something?

Or am I just over-lawyering the Press Secretary's words?

Jim Beam Single Barrel Review


One of my Christmas gifts was a bottle of the newer single-barrel Jim Beam that was released just last year. Basically, this bourbon is different from regular Jim Beam (white and black label) in that Jim Beam's distillers only use the absolute best barrels for aging this particular bourbon. The result is a bourbon that is probably the smoothest Jim Beam I've ever had.

There is mild bit of warmth that you expect from a bourbon, but it's not a lot of heat, and it's certainly not a "burn". If you like your bourbon comparatively mild, you'll like this. I'm not a master taster, so I can't tell you about hints of vanilla or hints of whatever.

I can tell you that it's a good-workmanlike bourbon. If you're looking for a good go-to bourbon that's a step above what Jim Beam has regularly offered, this is a good buy. Its retail price of $34.99 is certainly higher the usual price point of the basic Jim Beam (about $15) so it's clear this is a step up in what you spend. All in all, I'd say it's worth the money, but this isn't a bourbon you're going to save for years.

If you're a bourbon fan that has shied away from Jim Beam as a "mass bourbon", I would suggest trying this single barrel offering. You'll be pleasantly surprised.