Monday, March 31, 2014

Taking Notes By Hand Is Better than Using a Laptop

Basically, the idea is that when you take notes with a laptop, you can almost take down verbatim notes without really having to process the information, whereas taking notes with a pen and paper requires you to distill the information into more concise bits.

There's definitely something to this. In law school there were students with laptops who took down such detailed notes in class, the notes probably resembled a transcript of the lecture. Looking back, that's not the best way to learn.

I had a laptop in law school, and I would have probably done better if I had ditched it for a pen and pad.

Opening Day 2014

Yes, there have been some MLB games that have already been played, that technically count, but I don't hold with that sort of nonsense. Today is Opening Day. It's one of the High Holy Days of the sports calendar, up there with when college football officially kicks off and the Kentucky Derby.

My MLB team is the Barves. Because I enjoy cheering for a team that always has sky-high expectations and then crashes and burns each year. If you'd like to see the Sporting News preview, here you go.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Afternoon Cocktail Open Thread

I don't know about y'all, but it's been a long day.

I've been extremely productive today, so I'm going to go ahead and give myself the rest of the day off.

Now, if we could do something about this rain...

Additional Analysis on the Hobby Lobby case

Happy Friday.

If you were interested in the Hobby Lobby post from yesterday, here is some additional analysis from a person who isn't a dummy.

In non-legal news, it's time to clean your outdoor grill. Here's how.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Hobby Lobby Case and Jeffrey Toobin Continuing His Hackery


Awhile back, I wrote a post called "Jeffrey Toobin Is a Hack". I was reminded of this when Ann Althouse wrote a post today on a similar topic: Toobin's Hackery. Althouse calls his piece on the Hobby Lobby Oral arguments "embarrassingly bad" I commend it to you only to demonstrate that my opinion of Toobin's hackery abounds all over the internet.

Anyway, you don't come here to get bad analysis, so if you want some actual, good analysis of the Hobby Lobby case, I am going to send you over to SCOTUSblog

My short and sweet thought is that an employer's failing to pay for an employee's preferred form of birth control is not a denial of that employee's ability to use that form of birth control. The employer not preventing the employee from using the birth control, the employer is simply saying they won't pay for it.

And that's fine.

But now you have a law (Obamacare) that says employers have to provide basically every type of birth control. And to be really technical about it, the actual law doesn't say that. HHS is issuing regulations that say this because Congress didn't explicitly want to take the heat for mandating the birth control requirement. This is an important issue, because regulations issued by HHS can be HHS. Regulations aren't as strong as federal statues.

So now, you have an employer (Hobby Lobby) that claims a sincere religious belief would be violated by complying with the regulation promulgated under the law, but claiming protection under a federal statute.

And so now you have a complicated problem. You have to balance the employer's religious beliefs against the compelling government interest (the regulation). Also, you've got to deal with a federal law (the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) passed in 1993 that basically says you have to apply "strict scrutiny" to laws that burden religious views, even if the law is religiously neutral - which is what we have here.

Note, the government's position concedes that the RFRA applies to for profit corporations, but they're basically asking the Supreme Court to ignore that.

Strict scrutiny is basically a death knell for anything that has to pass through it, so my guess is that the Court will apply the RFRA and issue a very narrow decision allowing Hobby Lobby an exemption based on religious grounds.

One big problem for the government is getting out from under the RFRA, and Toobin doesn't even mention the statue in his stupid little write up!

Also, It's not going to help the government's case that so many other waivers have been granted. It's hard to argue that there's a compelling government interest in this specific case when the government itself has given other entities a pass.

But that's just me.

Guns for Yee, But Not for Thee

If Barry from Championship Vinyl was making a top 5 list of hypocrisy, this story has to rank right up there near the top:

Leland Yee - So anti-gun that he decided to be an international arms trafficker.
Famously anti-gun California State Senator, Lelland Yee (Democrat), was arrested and charged with bribery and corruption.

Oh, wait. There was one more teensy little charge: international arms trafficking.

It really sounds like the plot of some kung-fu action movie, right? Hard-charging gun control advocate is secretly taking bribes from the Triads (California Organized Crime) to facilitate the import machine guns, grenades, and rocket launchers from the Philippines into California. 

Seriously, you guys. There is a 137 page affidavit from the FBI undercover officer about this, but my summary above is basically it.
The affidavit charges that the $2 million worth of weapons to have been secreted into the country from the Philippines included rocket launchers and machine guns, some of which Yee himself had fired while on Mindanao. A portion of the weapons Yee conspired to bring into the U.S. through New Jersey were to have been forwarded on to North Africa via Sicily.
How anti-gun was this guy? Senator Yee is quoted as saying, "It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear, there is no debate, no discussion."

You know, I'm used to politicians being corrupt, but this just boggles my mind.

In other news yesterday, the Democratic Mayor of Charlotte was arrested by federal agents for run of the mill corruption and extortion charges. No international arms trafficking that we know of.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

College Football Players Can Unionize

This is just...weird.

Here's a basic list of what the players are asking for, and it's not that unreasonable. The problem is the NCAA has had it's head up it's rear for so long, the players are finally trying anything they can to get what they want.

Also, an important note, this ruling only appears to apply to private universities.

So, I don't think this is a "sky is falling" kind of thing that many people are making it out to be.

Loud + Weak = War

Remember "Walk softly and carry a big stick"?

It kind of seems like we're doing the opposite now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

"Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors..."

Excuse me, but Russia isn't simply a "regional power". They have a whole bunch of ICBMs. Also, if you've ever looked at a map, you might have noticed that Russia stretches across many different regions.

Washington Redskins Team Owner Announces New Foundation

The Perpetual Outrage Industry has been wailing about the name of a football team for a long time. I haven't been following this fake outrage, mainly because I don't follow fake stories and I don't really care about the NFL.

However, it appears that team owner Dan Snyder has basically told everyone to go pound sand, and predictably, he's been vilified. But recently, he's made a move that might make it harder to cast him as a villain.

"I believe the Washington Redskins community should commit to making a real, lasting, positive impact on Native American quality of life — one tribe and one person at a time," Snyder wrote. "I know we won't be able to fix every problem. But we need to make an impact. And so I will take action."
This is actually a pretty clever move.

The criticism (as far as I can tell) is that the team name is a bad symbol, it hurts people's feelings, and that the name is racist. Even assuming for the sake of argument that people are getting their feelings hurt, the damage is...let's call it indefinite.

However, it appears this new foundation will be doing actual, concrete work to make people's lives better. Will this stop the Perpetual Outrage Industry? No. They won't be happy until they've stamped the name out of existence, and my guess is that they'll get their way eventually. My guess is that the NFL will likely allow Snyder to keep the name as long as he owns the team, but the NFL will condition the sale or transfer of the team on the name changing.

This will keep Snyder from passing the problem to someone else, but  might also have the effect of depressing the value of the team by a few hundred million.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Disney and Human Nature

Happy Monday, y'all.

I can safely say that no actual turkeys were harmed in the making of this past weekend. So, if you were worried that I might have killed an innocent turkey, you can breathe easy. Oh, and for the record, they aren't as innocent as they look.

To start your week off right, here's a piece about what goes on behind the scenes at Disney-World and it pretty much covers everything you need to know human nature.

You really don't want to know what's inside these trunks.

I'll try to have some more newsy stuff up later today, depending on how the day goes.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gone Hunting!

Happy Friday!

See y'all on the flip side of the weekend. I'm going turkey hunting.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Was Your First Tweet? Here's Mine

I joined Twitter in March of 2011, and since then I've generated 7,143 Tweets. To celebrate it's 8th birthday, Twitter has now com up with a site that allows you to see your very first Tweet. It's called First Tweet.

In the three years that I've been on Twitter, it has really grown on me. I love the fact that it's whatever you make of it. I honestly couldn't remember my first tweet, but here it is:

I think it holds up to the test of time quite well. A solid cheer for my favorite college team.

And the best part is that you aren't limited to finding just your own first tweet. You can type in anyone's username and find their first tweet. It's a neat little way to show you that the internet is forever.

What was your first tweet?

Best and Worst Things About Each State

You can see the maps here.

I'm not sure that the best thing about South Carolina is "lowest gas prices", and I definitely call bullshit on Georgia's best thing being "best urban interstate conditions".

A few are funny.
  1. Colorado's best thing is "lowest obesity rate", but it's worst is "highest cocaine use". I'm not sure, but doesn't cocaine use lead to weight loss?
  2. Delaware's best thing is "highest standard of living", but it's worst is "most prisoners per capita". I guess you're likely to be in prison, but don't worry, prison is really nice.
  3. New Jersey's best thing is "highest median family income", but it's worst is "highest property taxes". Good thing y'all have money, cause you have to give it to the government.
Some are really a stretch, like they couldn't find anything nice in a state:
  1. Michigan's best thing is "Most fabulous state reptile (painted turtle)". Really? That's the best thing you can say about Michigan?
  2. Maine's best is "Best state for cat owners". Huh? How do you measure that? I would have gone with cheapest place to get lobster, but that's just me.
Now that I go through it a little, I don't think this map was very well thought out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

"We need to talk, we need to communicate, and then come together and sign something of this nature and present it to our public that we represent,"

The whole idea of this "civility pledge" seems very middle-school student government to me. I can't believe that grown-ups we put in charge of the City of Columbia are doing civility pledges. It's not that I'm anti-civility. I just don't think a pledge is how you achieve civility.

You're either going to have rational, constructive debate - which at times can be pointed - or you're not. Signing a little pledge isn't going to make someone "civil".

To me,  it all seems like theater. I want to see City Council debate issues, have the public weigh in, and then make decisions. All this nonsense about civility pledges is a waste of time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Best Ad for a Sewing Machine Ever

It's a Singer 4525 Deluxe sewing machine. What makes it deluxe? Hell if I know.

Restaurant Owner In Clemson Doesn't Like Guns

As you may recall from my earlier breakdown of the new CWP law, bars and restaurants in SC who don't want patrons to carry concealed simply need to post a standard sign to prohibit CWP on their premises.

The legal sign you need to post looks like this:

That's the legal sign. In fact, it's the only sign that carries any legal force. Any deviation from this sign renders the sign ineffective. It's also pretty straightforward. Not a lot of editorializing.

However, the super-genius running this place in Clemson decided to post this sign:

Not a legal sign. Also, weapons-grade stupid.
Now, I have no problem with folks who want to prohibit carry in their establishments. Freedom of speech, freedom of association, it's all good. This guy is fine to do whatever he likes with his business, just as I'm free to go where I want - or not go.

The good news is this guy is going to get a very good real-world example of how the free market works. People on the left love to say that the free market needs to be regulated. Well I have a little secret for them - it is.

The free market is not regulated by a few people in some office in Washington, DC - it's regulated by everyone. My guess is that the free market in the upstate of South Carolina is going to deal with this restaurant, and this guy will either take this offensive sign down, or he'll go out of business.

On another note, where this guy goes terribly wrong is his intolerance about the whole CWP issue. I'm sure this guy is a stereotypical leftist who thinks that tolerance and diversity are great things -- except when your thoughts are not Approved Thoughts. There's no room in this guy's world for people who disagree with him on an issue. They're "losers" and "douche bags" not deserving of his tolerance.

This happens all the time with the left. Thoughts that aren't Approved Thoughts™ are de-legitimized and  mocked, but are never dealt with on the merits. For example, if you don't believe in man-made global warming, you're a "Denier" who doesn't believe in "Science". It goes on and on.

The left is all about tolerance and understanding until you step out of their Approved Thought Group and have an independent thought of your own.

But please, tell me more about how the conservatives are the ones who are so close-minded.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin Knows How to Get People to the Polls

Every election here in the US, whether it's local, state, or national, I always hear the same thing. It's going to come down to voter turnout. So the politicians hire strategists like Karl Rove and David Axelrod to try and come up with a plan that gets their voters mobilized, energized, and out to actually vote.

With about half of the precincts reporting, 95.5% of the people of Crimea have voted to be join Russia. We here at the Permanent Press Decision Desk™ can now officially call this election for Russia.

Our sources on the ground in Crimea say that Putin really mobilized his base of ethnic Russians. Alsothe all important block of swing voters comprised of soccer moms and people who didn't want to be shot broke for Russia at the last moment.

Vladimir Putin's Campaign Staff
 In his post-election victory speech, Putin praised his uniformed staff for their efforts leading up to this crucial election.
"I thought about sending my staff door-to-door before the election to let people know our message, but I figured that I would just let all the voters know that we would be going door-to-door after the election if it didn't go our way. We saved a lot of time and energy with this strategy".
In an exit poll survey, 99% of the people who ended up voting for annexation to Russia cited "Not wanting to face the business end of an AK-47" as their main motivating factor.

In a related note, several voters praised the efficiency of the voting system, as compared to the Richland County Elections Board in Columbia, South Carolina. One voter in Crimiea said "Hey, at least we didn't have to stand in line for three hours to vote like those poor people in Richland County. Our ballots were actually pre-marked for us. We only  wait in long lines when we want to buy bread."

Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day Weekend

Happy Friday, you crazy kids.

Should be a nice weekend, weather-wise. The Five Points St. Patrick's Day Festival will be in full swing, but you'll have to pay again if you leave and want to come back. Seems like a reasonable way to cut down on people drinking off site. 

If paying $15.00 to go drinking in Five Points isn't your scene, you can go watch the USC Baseball team put their 16-0 record on the line as they step into conference play for the first time this weekend against the Ole Miss Rebels. I'm predicting the Gamecocks take two out of three.

Other than that, it's business as usual around here.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Hog Splitter - Ultimate BBQ Weapon

In addition to blogging here, I also blog for Fig Columbia from time to time. If you didn't already know, Fig is a magazine that is geared towards local events and happenings in Columbia. If you're interested in the latest and greatest in Columbia, you might want to give Fig a look.

Anyway, since I'm one of their bloggers, they were kind enough to invite me to their party celebrating the release of their Spring Magazine. I had a chance to meet Reed Moore, who is the cover story of the Spring Magazine.

Reed is the owner/operator of Red Forgeworks, which is a blacksmith shop in Timmonsville, SC. Reed makes wonderful knives in an old-world style way - by hand. The knives are so impressive, Reed has started to earn some serious accolades. Just recently, he won the Garden & Gun - Made in the South "Outdoors Category" for his knives.

I was browsing his website, and although I haven't actually held one of his knives in my hand, I thought I would toss out a recommendation. One of the coolest things on his website is the "Hog Splitter".

I love the description: "This knife is basically a cross between a cleaver and a sledge hammer." I mean, who doesn't sometimes need both a cleaver and a sledgehammer? Seems like something that a movie villain would have in one of those classic slasher movies.

The Hog Splitter. Get it for the guy who does whole-hog BBQ...or someone who's looking to get into the slasher-villain industry.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eastern Europe Is Begging for Help

The Eastern European countries are begging for help from the USA.
European officials who want to reduce their dependency on Russian gas also have seized on the situation to mount a major lobbying campaign in Washington for new legislation to ease regulations on American LNG exports. Some of these countries, including Bulgaria, Sweden and the Baltic states, rely on Russia for 100 percent of their gas supplies, and Moscow has shown repeatedly it is willing to crimp supplies for leverage in political disputes.
We have the ability to help Eastern Europe be less dependent on Russia. This is what the USA is good at. We could out produce them, sell Eastern Europe all the fuel they could pay for. It would increase our exports, help our allies, and diminish Russia's influence. Will we do so?

Given the track record of our current President, it seems unlikely we will make this move.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

It's Because I'm Black, Isn't It?

I came across this the other day in my internet meanderings, and I thought it was pretty funny:

Try not to judge a rifle by it's color.

In related news, the CWP modification law has been on the books for a little while. Has there been any "wild west" shootouts around South Carolina at bars or restaurants? Maybe I've missed the news about that.

I seem to remember all of those folks saying that it would be "open season" for shooting people, and that there would be shootouts in pizza parlors.

I guess not so much, huh?

I'm prepared to accept your apologies now.

Michael Crichton on Environmentalism as Religion

Last night the Senate Democrats had an all night talkathon in which they burned the midnight oil to discuss climate change. (See what I did there?)

In response, I'd like to share a piece that author Michael Crichton wrote in the Hawaii Free Press several years ago. It holds up very well today.
I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people---the best people, the most enlightened people---do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious. 

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths. 

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
Go read the whole thing.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Garden and Gun Fried Chicken Recipe

Since the inception of this blog, one of the most viewed pages of all-time is my Top Five Places in Columbia for Fried Chicken. Hey, what can I say? People like fried chicken.

To carry on with the fried chicken theme, I thought I would share this recipe from Garden & Gun for fried chicken:

The first thing that caught my eye was that the recipe had sugar in it. My wife has told me that her great aunt always put a little bit of sugar in things that she pan-fried, and it was some of the best food she's ever had.

I might have to give this recipe a try, because that finished product looks delicious. Anyone else have a favorite homemade fried chicken recipe?

The Well-Regulated Militia, Chuck Norris, and Global Warming

Happy Monday.

Glenn Reynolds (a/k/a Instapundit) has an interesting essay on the origins and decline of the militia.

Also, it's Chuck Norris' birthday today, so you better watch yourself. I kind of just figured that Chuck Norris was the militia.

To recap the weekend, USC Baseball swept Brown University to improve to 15-0 on the year. We'll see how the team handles their first SEC games this weekend when the Gamecocks play host to Ole Miss for three games. My guess is that the Gamecocks take two out of three.

In the category of things that will make you dumber for having listened to, Senate Democrats are going to hold an all night "talkathon" on Global Warming darn, I mean Climate Change.

I just don't get the Climate Change people. The earth has been warming up and cooling down in cycles for millions of years. It's just nature. Man probably cannot affect the natural warming and cooling cycles of the entire planet, and it's just folly to say that this temperature, right now, is somehow inherently the "perfect temperature" for the planet.

Anyway, that's enough for now. Everyone go to work.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cool Link of the Day: How Big Space Really Is

Space is big. No, it's really big. Normally, when you see a map of the solar system, it looks like this:

But the thing is, this isn't to scale. What this map fails to show you is all the space that's out there in space. If you want to really get an idea of how much empty space there is out there in space, check out this scale map of our solar system.

It takes a bit of time to scroll through it all, but there are some little bits of information in the empty space as you journey through the solar system. I would say that the first bit is the hardest, but the real hard part is once you get past Saturn. Our brains just cannot deal with such large numbers.

Busy Day: Indiana Jones Open Thread

No time for love, Dr. Jones.

I've got a lot going on right now, so you'll have to deal with an open thread until later this evening.

I'm kind of busy at the moment, so if you'll just sit tight, we'll be with you shortly. thread.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Columbia City Council Gives Initial Approval to Funding Ballpark

Morning, y'all.

My two-year-old son decided that 5:00AM would be a good time to start the morning today, so that kind of meant that I was also obligated to start the day at 5:00AM. As a result, I've been up and at 'em for about two hours now. Breakfast has been made, eaten, and cleaned up.

Columbia City Council Votes to Approve Ballpark at Bull Street Site. Go read the whole thing, but it  looks like City Council is moving forward to give some financial support to the baseball stadium in the form of a municipal bond backed by the hospitality tax.

Also, Carolyn Callahan at WIS had a very good Twitter feed of the whole council meeting. She's the most recent person I've added to my Twitter timeline for local Columbia news. If you're into that thing, you should check her out.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Are You Prepared to Do About it?

Russia has occupied the Crimea, and it is looking towards the rest of Ukraine. The West hasn't responded yet, and the longer the West waits, the weaker it looks. The weaker it looks, the more likely it is that Russia will take more.

The question to the West is: What are you prepared to do? I'm not sure any of our current leaders are prepared to do much.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Playboy's 2014 Sports Cars of The Year

Via Jalopnik, the 2014 sports cars of the year (as ranked by Playboy) are topped by the US built 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

The Corvette has always been America's sports car, but in the last twenty or so years, it's seen a drop-off in popularity relative to European rivals. Could this be the year that the Corvette comes back? Maybe.

All I know is that I like this Corvette. But not in a buy it and drive it around way. More like in the way a thirteen year old boy wants to buy a poster of it.

Ukraine Is Game To You?

Just easing into this week with a light-hearted Monday post.

Don't take yourself too seriously.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Thoughts on Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

I am not a fan of President Obama, but it gives me no pleasure to see him embarrassed on the international stage. He represents me. He represents the entire country.

Russia has invaded Ukraine. That's a fact. Does Putin give a rip about the speeches given in the West? No. He's going to respond with a version of Stalin's line of "How many divisions do you have"? 

Russian leaders, through time immemorial, respect strength and exploit weakness.

Does this bode well for the American hegemony that has dominated the globe for the last 70 years? No. Does this help the people of Taiwan, Tel Aviv, and Poland sleep better at night? No.

You don't think China is watching? Maduro in Venezuela? Khamenei in Iran? Even if you don't care much about the Crimea, it is much bigger than that. Our President says that he isn't looking at the world like a Cold War chessboard. I would say that this is chess and he's not seeing the whole board.

Deterrence works only on a track record. Every time you don't act, you invite the next, bigger crisis. Sitting idle and grumbling (as you say) is a mistake. It would constitute a signal to Putin that he would welcome. Even if you do not agree that free nations must defend other nations as a moral obligation, it is a practical one. Dictators always expand. This is a strongman claiming to "protect" those in another country with a similar culture. I think I've seen this movie before.

So let's say you don't want to go military, Fine. What could we do? Russia's economy depends on high natural gas prices. Economics works here. Europe should start fracking, and US should increase natural gas exports. Price falls. Also, all of Russia's natural gas pipelines go through Ukraine. Anyone ever seen Lawrence of Arabia? BOOM. Russia has less money for foreign adventures.