Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Art Open Thread

I'll be away from my desk for the rest of the year, so blogging will likely be sparse. I may scare up some art and/or music for some short open threads.

Thomas Cole, 1837: View of Florence from San Miniato

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Death of Gratitude

"For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required..." Luke 12:48

Victor Davis Hanson has a wide ranging piece on how the virtue of gratitude is dead in the younger generation today.

Unfortunately, our modern "me" generation has forgotten gratitude and replaced it with the art of victimization. Contemporary Americans prefer blaming others -- parents, ancestors, their country, the world in general -- for their own unhappiness while patting themselves on the back for anything that goes well.

He's not wrong.

I see people who are put through college completely by their parents, and they then graduate with no drive to succeed in the world because they've had everything handed to them. We all know someone like that.

It's someone who's been handed everything, and as a result, they think that the world owes them everything. These people go around looking to blame others when they don't feel appreciated or loved enough, and they love to tout their own successes.

There's nothing wrong with having a strong family support network, but it becomes a toxic cycle if you don't appreciate what you're being given from your family or other benefactors who came before you, and you constantly demand more while not every stopping to think about where the source of the largess originates. It's a lack of gratitude, as Hanson says.

Each generation strives to succeed to a degree that their children will be better off than them or have more opportunities than them. We've come from so far from hardscrabble farmers scratching a living out of the soil or people who packed all their belongings into a wagon and headed west, it's almost like we're now reaching a state of diminishing marginal returns.

One of the most important intellectual aspects of maturity is an awareness of history and having respect for those who helped it happen. There are lots of good things about history that are willfully ignored. The focus seems always to be on how people living two hundred years ago don't share the same enlightened values of some 22 year old kid attending Oberlin.

Sure, there is plenty of bad, but when you weigh it against the good, there is a clear progress, and the whole narrative changes.

I'm going to do everything that I can to ensure that my children don't want for anything and have every opportunity to succeed in life, but even more important than that is instilling the virtue of gratitude and humility in them.

Gifts fade, but virtue is perpetual.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Art Open Thread

I'm going to make more of a conscious effort to broaden my horizons with regards to art. Here's one that I found today that I quite like:
Childe Hassam:  La-Val-de-Grace (1888)
The wet cobblestone roads remind me of Columbia today.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Writing more and talking less.

After today, there's only one more Monday left in the whole year. So at least we've got that going for us.

I know that I've been sort of phoning it in on the blog over the last few...well for a while now. I have thoughts on a lot of different issues, but it's hard to find time to sit down and get my thoughts down in a coherent manner. Writing is certainly harder than just sitting around and arguing/complaining with your friends about something. It is for me, anyway. However, it also helps me sharpen my ideas and figure out what I actually think. It's similar to how the written appellate brief is more significant than the fun of oral argument.

Accordingly, one of my New Year's Resolutions is to put out some longer pieces on a more regular basis. Don't worry, there will still be regular posts on trivial things, too. We can't take ourselves too seriously.

In the meantime, I'll put some nice music here that I like to listen to when I'm writing at work. No, it's not seasonal, but it is good.

Let's all try to think a little more, listen a little more, and talk a little less.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Darth Trump

Since I have a "diverse" blog, I thought it would be appropriate to put up this video where someone has dubbed Trump over Darth Vader's lines.

You know how people always say "LOL" in response to funny things on the internet? This video actually made me laugh out loud. It's probably the funniest thing that I've seen in months, and I see lots of funny things. Seriously. Stop what you're doing and watch this.

Kudos to whoever did this video. It blows my Trump/Hitler video out of the water.

[h/t to Charles C.W. Cooke for this] By the way, if you're into Second Amendment rights issues, Charles is a great follow on Twitter.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Open Thread: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Has everyone been enjoying this nice weather lately? I feel like maybe we're getting some weather karma after all the horrible rain over the last few months. In any event, I'm not complaining about it being nice outside. I know some of y'all are, but you know what they say about gift horses and such.

I had a productive day at work today, which means I didn't scour the interwebz to find you interesting things. I know, life is hard. Be of good cheer. It's Christmas.

Gerard van Honthorst “The Childhood of Christ”

Monday, December 14, 2015

Top 5 Tom Hanks Movies (and my favorite scenes in each)

You call that a list?
Today, someone made the statement that The Da Vinci Code was one of the worst movies that Tom Hanks ever did. It got me thinking about Tom Hanks' best five movies. So, Hi-Fidelity style, here's the top-five movies with Tom Hanks at his best.

1. Big. This is the classic Tom Hanks comedy. You have to love the premise of a little boy in an adult's body and Hanks pulls it off perfectly. Best scene (keyboard scene)

2. A League of Their Own. If you don't like Hanks as an over-the-hill, recovering drunk MLB player who is forced into coaching girls, then you don't like Hanks.  Best scene (the hard is what makes it great)

3. Saving Private Ryan. Hanks carries the movie as the enigmatic Captain who is tasked to find Ryan amid the D-Day invasion. Best scene (duty as soldiers and the way to gripe)

4. Apollo 13. Hanks is the cool and collected Jim Lovell amid an all-star cast in a great movie that actually happens to be a true story. Best scene (just breathe normal, fellas)

5. Turner & Hooch. Yeah, it's a late-eighties comedy, but when your main co-star is a dog, you have to be a pretty good actor to carry the movie. Hanks succeeds in a great film I still love to watch when I want to see Hanks at peak manic-cleanliness. The scene where he uses the mini dust-buster to the other cop when he gets into his car is hilarious.  Couldn't find that scene, so you get this one (Rules)

* Honorable Mention: Sleepless in Seattle. I didn't think of this one until my wife reminded me about it. Yeah, it's probably classified as a "chick-flick", but Hanks plays his role well. Best actor is probably the young boy who plays his son. Best scene (I cried at the end of the Dirty Dozen)

Planet Saved Over the Weekend!

This might have slipped past you over the weekend, but we saved the planet on Saturday. So, you know, problem solved.

Glad we got that all done. I, for one, will sleep better at night knowing that the planet has been saved from the blight of carbon dioxide. Truly our betters have come through for us in our hour of need. Who are we to deny them their first-class flights to and from the climate summit? They've earned them.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Army-Navy Game Day (GO ARMY! BEAT NAVY!)

Today is one of the best days in college football. Today, the United States Military Academy at West Point plays against the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in a friendly game of football.

Army-Navy Program Cover from 1944
The seniors or "First Classmen" playing in the game today are all likely playing their very last game of organized football. Next year this time, they'll be out serving in uniform, possibly in harm's way.

Everyone out there is playing football for the pure love of the game and to represent their school. In an era of million dollar coaches, players leaving early to go to the NFL, and a game that's rapidly becoming all about money, the Army-Navy game is a time-capsule that allows us to enjoy a game of football the way it used to be.

All my family is Army, so hopefully this year is the year that Army can snap the thirteen game losing streak to the Midshipmen.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Frivolity - Hitler Finds Out Trump is Still Leading The Race

Happy Friday, campers.

Last night, I made one of the now ubiquitous Hitler parody videos about Hitler finding out Trump is leading in all the polls.

Look, if you can't laugh at politics, you're doing it all wrong. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The 2015 Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog

A good friend of mine brought this to my attention yesterday via Twitter. If you haven't seen this before, it makes fun of the ridiculous things that you can buy in the Williams-Sonoma catalog. Here's one of my favorites:

Item #91-193594 - COOKIE PRESS ($34.95)

The 2015 Hater’s Guide To The Williams-Sonoma Catalog6
Copy: “Our cookie press is a baker’s dream come true. Just fill the barrel with dough and pull the lever.”
Drew says: COOKIE GUN. Fuck yeah! Load me up and I will take out an entire cookie swap with that fucker. PEW PEW PEW 50 snickerdoodles right in Priscilla Purrington’s grill. YOU CAN TAKE MY COOKIE GUN FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS. That’ll teach her not to have a grosgrain table runner.
By the way, it’s obviously insane to shell out $35 for a cookie bazooka when you can achieve a reasonably similar result using a stupid cookie cutter. The cookie gun will go right into your dustbin along with the infamous waffle batter dispenser and cracker spinner. The truth is that to have a functional kitchen, you only need a few items. A cookie cannon is not one of them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Thoughts on Will Muschamp from Auburn's Perspective

Muschamp wasn't my first choice, but this sounds like an endorsement to me.

Changing the culture requires more than some Oklahoma drills, however. It requires unwavering attention placed upon how you're devising next season's roster. Johnson and his staff emphasized aptitude and statistical markers on the field. They sought statistical legitimacy. Muschamp instead focused almost solely on two indices: Willingness to hit and competitive fervor. He can deal with a lack of size, a lack of speed, short arms, maybe even a little extra weight. He cannot deal with players who will not engage when it's time to engage. He feels like that cannot be taught.

I like the idea of a defense that hits hard, and I agree that you can't coach competitive fervor. Maybe we'll see a tough defense here at Carolina under the Muschamp regime. I'd be okay with that.

Monday, December 7, 2015

How to talk about guns with people and why terminology matters.

Popehat has a very good post about how we can all (present company included) talk more respectfully on this issue with other people. I know that I can certainly do better. I recommend the whole thing to you if you ever talk to people about gun control from either side of the issue. However, one part of the piece perfectly captures why people like me go on all the time about  using the right terminology.

Me: I don't want to take away dog owners' rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.
You: So what do you propose?
Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.
You: Wait. What's an "attack dog?"
Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.
You: Huh? Rottweilers aren't military dogs. In fact "military dogs" isn't a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?
Me: Don't be ridiculous. Nobody's trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn't own fighting dogs.
You: I have no idea what dogs you're talking about now.
Me: You're being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.
You: What the fuck.
Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I'm not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don't need to own.
You: Can we?

Parents: Here's how your child can get a letter from Santa.

It will even have the North Pole Postmark on it.

Totally doing this.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Gun-Control Proponents Aren't Big on Due Process

Apparently, this really confounded some people, and I was confronted with the following question:

"Can someone explain why the senate today voted down a bill to ban people on the terrorist watch list from purchasing a firearm????????????????????"

Since this individual had used up their weeks' supply of question marks, I could tell this was something that they felt very strongly about. Accordingly, I did my best to answer his question.

It wasn't well-received. Apparently, due process is some sort of dodge. I tried again, but as someone once said, "You can't reason a person out of a position they didn't reason themselves into to begin with".

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Entire police force in in South Carolina town resigns in protest

Apparently, they didn't like who got elected mayor.

The article doesn't say exactly what the issue is that brought about the resignation of the entire police force. My money is on a dispute over what kind of barbecue sauce is best. Those are fightin' words around these parts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Five Points has more parking now...if you're into that sort of thing

Say hello to the new center of Five Points: Some Parking Meters
I took this snapshot with my camera while stopped at the light going Northbound on Harden Street this afternoon. What you're seeing as an empty parking lot with little green meters is what used to be the old Exxon Station. Needless to say, I'm...underwhelmed.

I never really thought that parking was a huge problem in Five Points to begin with, so adding more parking spots seemed like a solution in search of a problem that didn't exist. I eat lunch at The Gourmet Shop every once in awhile, and I never have problems finding parking. I go to Five Points for the "Fridays after Five" at the fountain, and again, I don't have problems finding parking. But maybe the rest of y'all are having problems, who knows? And we're talking what, maybe 16 spaces from the look of it? Okay. Is that really going to make a big dent?

In any event, I'm never going to be convinced that the highest and best use of a central piece of real estate, on a corner, in the central hub of a place like Five Points is just a parking lot. It could have been a restaurant, a bar, retail, whatever. Heck, you could have made it some sort of green-space, and I probably wouldn't have a big problem with that.

But parking? Come on.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Gamecock Football Season is (mercifully) Over

My feelings on Gamecock football this year.

You know how there's all those different "stages" of grieving? After the Citadel loss, I went into acceptance. I think I had previously been at bargaining, but the loss to Citadel drove me into accepting the fact that the Gamecock team was dead this year.

Accordingly, I didn't go into the Clemson Carolina week all fired up. I wasn't sad. I was just more "meh" than anything. It's hard to get all fired up for a rivalry game (or any game) when there no realistic hope of winning.

I will be mildly interested to see who ends up coming to Columbia to figure out how to deal with the team and try and move from a pretty bare cupboard to something resembling a team with talent. Maybe Carolina will go out and get a young guy looking to make a name for himself after the last two coaches were certainly guys who had made their mark elsewhere.

Mostly, I'm just glad the season is over.

In other college football news, the Athletic Director at the University of Georgia has lost his everlovin' mind, because he fired Mark Richt. All Richt did was keep them just shy of winning National Championships and he won the SEC East every once in awhile and won the SEC title twice.

Oh well, I guess Georgia folks demand to win every game they play.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Fighter Jet

I assume that Turkey's status as a NATO member will be enough to protect it from Russian retaliation, but with Putin in charge, who knows? If the Russians retaliate, will NATO ride to the rescue? If the United States isn't going to help, I'm not sure how motivated NATO will be.

I could see Russia responding by hitting the villages around where their jet was shot down, with ground to ground missiles/rockets.  Any Turkish planes near the Russian border might get shot down.

In response, the Turks close the Bosphorus to Russia. In response, any Turkish planes that violates Syrian air space are attacked by the Russians.

Now what?

I'm not saying that's all going to happen. However, I'm pretty sure that Putin is going to respond with something more than a social media campaign to #BringBackOurMigs.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Col. Ralph Peters has a fever, and the only prescription is total war

Remember my prescription for ISIS? No, it's not more cowbell.

Apparently, Col. Ralph Peters agrees. Smart guy.

Our military has the resources to shatter ISIS, but political correctness has penetrated so deep into the Pentagon that, even should a president issue the one-word order, “Win!,” our initial actions would be cautious and halting. We’ve bred a generation of military leaders afraid of being prosecuted by their own government for the kind of errors inevitable in wartime. Instead of “leaning forward in the foxhole,” our leaders lean on lawyers.

If lawyers had had to approve our World War II target lists, we couldn’t have won. War is never clean or easy, and the strictures imposed on our military today just protect our enemies. Collateral damage and civilian casualties are part of combat and always will be. The most humane approach is to pile on fast and win decisively — which results in far less suffering than the sort of protracted agony we see in Syria.

The generals who won World War II would start by leveling Raqqa, the ISIS caliphate’s capital. Civilians would die, but those remaining in Raqqa have embraced ISIS, as Germans did Hitler. The jihadis must be crushed. Start with their “Berlin.”

Kill ten thousand, save a million.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obama, Syria, and Moral Preening

Obama’s own policy decisions—allowing Assad to convert peaceful demonstrations into an increasingly ugly civil war, refusing to declare safe havens and no fly zones—were instrumental in creating the Syrian refugee crisis. This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn. For him to try and use a derisory and symbolic program to allow 10,000 refugees into the United States in order to posture as more caring than those evil Jacksonian rednecks out in the benighted sticks is one of the most cynical, cold-blooded, and nastily divisive moves an American President has made in a long time.

For no one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama. No one has committed more sins of omission, no one has so ruthlessly sacrificed the well-being of Syria’s people for his own ends, as the man in the White House. In all the world, only President Obama had the ability to do anything significant to prevent this catastrophe; in all the world no one turned his back so coldly and resolutely on the suffering Syrians as the man who sits in the White House today—a man who is now lecturing his fellow citizens on what he insists is their moral inferiority before his own high self-esteem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

About all the terrorism...Carthago delenda est

Yeah, I've been absent from the blogging recently. There's been a big crush of work, and when I haven't been working, I've been ferrying kids to soccer games and generally otherwise doing things that need to be done.

By the way, four year old soccer is pretty hilarious.

In any event, something that isn't so funny is all the bad news out of Paris. Obviously, ISIS has decided that it's not "contained". Apparently, they seem to be the opposite of contained. In the wake of the Paris attacks, we're now faced with the decision of what to do with these people.

It seems our President doesn't really want to go and, you know, fight these people. He's decided that sending in soldiers to fight just isn't something he's going to do. I know lots of people support this decision not to get involved in ground combat, given how poorly the Iraq war ended up going. I get the reluctance. I really do.

However, something must be done. These barbarians are not going to stop. In fact, ISIS gets stronger as it continues to have this aura of invincibility. These people need to be stopped. And stopping them means killing them. Sorry, but it does.

I don't think we need to go into Syria and topple Assad. He's a bad guy, but he's not the problem we're dealing with (now). Also, going in and deposing the leader of Syria is exactly a replay of Iraq, and that didn't go so well. So if you are saying that we have to get rid of Assad when we go in to destroy ISIS, then I'm probably going to vote that we just don't go in at all. I'm not interested in regime change in Syria. I'm interested in utterly destroying ISIS. That's it. As Michael Corleone said, "I don't feel like I have to wipe everyone out. Just my enemies."

I don't think we should build schools, roads, or do anything that actually could be construed as "nation building" in Syria and/or Iraq. That's not what the military is for. The military is a tool that we use to kill people and break things. So let's do that.

I would be willing to commit ground troops, air support, and all that goes with it to go into Syria, and kill everyone in the ISIS territory and destroy every building in ISIS territory. After that, I think we should sow salt into the earth.

Then we leave. Bye. Don't make us come back.

No building schools, no building roads. No helping people vote or imposing democracy. Just kill the people in the ISIS areas, leave not one brick stacked upon another, and then leave. (Oh, yeah, don't forget to salt the earth.)

It's not going to be a quagmire. We're going to go in, do the job, and then leave. Done and done. Total war. Complete and utter destruction. Not a proportional response. I'm talking about a disproportional response.

You don't like my plan? Fine. What's your plan? Are we supposed to wait until ISIS detonates a bomb in the US, or downs a US commercial airliner?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A soldier's account of the Western Front on November 11, 1918

Thanks to all the veterans for all the the sacrifice they have made by their service. Although Veterans Day is for all who served, it always seems appropriate first to remember the sacrifice of the men of the First Wold War. After all, the date of Veterans Day is taken from the Armistice Day, which marks the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.

Colonel Thomas Gowenlock served as an intelligence officer in the American 1st Division. He was on the front line that November morning and wrote of his experience a few years later:
"On the morning of November 11 I sat in my dugout in Le Gros Faux, which was again our division headquarters, talking to our Chief of Staff, Colonel John Greely, and Lieutenant Colonel Paul Peabody, our G-1. A signal corps officer entered and handed us the following message:

Official Radio from Paris - 6:01 A.M., Nov. 11, 1918. Marshal Foch to the Commander-in-Chief.
1. Hostilities will be stopped on the entire front beginning at 11 o'clock, November 11th (French hour).
2. The Allied troops will not go beyond the line reached at that hour on that date until further orders.
                                                                      MARSHAL FOCH
                                                                      5:45 A.M.
'Well - fini la guerre!' said Colonel Greely.

'It sure looks like it,' I agreed.

'Do you know what I want to do now?' he said. 'I'd like to get on one of those little horse-drawn canal boats in southern France and lie in the sun the rest of my life.'

My watch said nine o'clock. With only two hours to go, I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o'clock came - but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had-their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after their years of war, but unfortunately many fell after eleven o'clock that day.

All over the world on November 11, 1918, people were celebrating, dancing in the streets, drinking champagne, hailing the armistice that meant the end of the war. But at the front there was no celebration. Many soldiers believed the Armistice only a temporary measure and that the war would soon go on. As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

After the long months of intense strain, of keying themselves up to the daily mortal danger, of thinking always in terms of war and the enemy, the abrupt release from it all was physical and psychological agony. Some suffered a total nervous collapse. Some, of a steadier temperament, began to hope they would someday return to home and the embrace of loved ones. Some could think only of the crude little crosses that marked the graves of their comrades. Some fell into an exhausted sleep. All were bewildered by the sudden meaninglessness of their existence as soldiers - and through their teeming memories paraded that swiftly moving cavalcade of Cantigny, Soissons, St. Mihiel, the Meuse-Argonne and Sedan.

What was to come next? They did not know - and hardly cared. Their minds were numbed by the shock of peace. The past consumed their whole consciousness. The present did not exist-and the future was inconceivable."

Monday, November 9, 2015

New study reports that the Medicaid expansion is going to, get this, cost more than previously estimated.

I'm shocked, shocked, to find out that a previously low estimate of the cost a government program is being revealed to be, like, um, completely wrong.
Illinois once projected that its Medicaid expansion would cost the state $573 million for 2017 through 2020. Yet 200,000 more people have enrolled than were expected, and the state has increased its estimated cost for covering each. The new price tag? About $2 billion, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Hey, they estimated $573 million, and it ends up being about $2 billion. No big deal. I'm sure they can just raise some taxes on just a few really rich people. Problem solved.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thursday Open Thread

Yeah. I'm being slack. Sorry 'bout that. I'll have content tomorrow after court.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Interesting new book challenges common knowledge of WWII

Looks like I found another book to add to my nighttime reading.
In my new book The War in the West: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941, first in a three-volume history, I am challenging a number of long-held assumptions about the war, many of which are based on truth by common knowledge, rather than through detailed and painstaking research.\

My Damascene moment came some years ago when I was being given a tour of the Small Arms Unit at the British Staff College at Shrivenham. I was glancing at a German MG42, known as a “Spandau” by the Allies. “Of course, that was the best machine gun of the war,’ I commented, relaying what I’d read in many books.

“Says who? Says who?” retorted my guide and head of the unit, John Starling. In the next few minutes, he proceeded to deconstruct everything I thought I knew about this infamous weapon: that its phenomenal rate of fire caused massive problems of over-heating, that it was widely inaccurate (for which having since fired one, I can now vouch), that is was incredibly expensive to manufacture, massively over-engineered and lacked certain simple additions that would have made its handling so much easier.
I love stuff like this. He talks about looking at the "operational" level of the war as opposed to the strategic or tactical level. It's all about the nuts and bolts of things, rather than the dynamic flair of personalities.

As someone famously said "Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."

Relaxing Sunset View

I saw this, and it made me think of how it now gets dark so early in the afternoon. You can just feel the darkness creeping in around you on this picture.

Switching back to "Standard Time" in the fall is something that I enjoy. It's one of the way we mark the passing of the seasons. The winter is cold, dark, and bleak. Summer time is warm, bright, and hot. Rather than complain about how "outdated" Daylight Savings Time is, I say that we embrace the difference in our seasons and enjoy the winter months.

Build a fire, enjoy a good book. Have some bourbon.


Monday, November 2, 2015

My Jack-o-lantern carving skills surprised even me.

"Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing." -Optimus Prime
I hope everyone had an enjoyable Halloween weekend. For our part, the kiddos had a good time doing the trick-or-treating deal, and we even managed to squeeze in some fall pictures at the Horseshoe.

I also tried my hand at making a jack-o-lantern on Saturday. Although I am not known for my arts and craft skills, I gave it a whirl. Since the eldest child is into Transformers, I thought I would go with the Autobot insignia. It turned out far better than I had hoped and the eldest child was thrilled.

Excellent dad moment. So I've got that going for me.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Did you think last night's GOP debate was awful? You're not alone.

There's an old saying that goes, "Most people talk about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it".

Well, everyone is talking about how awful the moderators were last night, and Dr. Ben Carson has decided that he's gonna do something about it.

In an interview shortly after the debate, Barry Bennett, manager of the Ben Carson campaign, called the session here in Colorado "unfair to everyone" and said the current debate structure should not remain in place. "I think the families need to get together here, because these debates as structured by the RNC are not helping the party," Bennett said. "There's not enough time to talk about your plans, there's no presentation. It's just a slugfest. All we do is change moderators. And the trendline is horrific. So I think there needs to be wholesale change here."

Bennett said he will call Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski Thursday to propose a unified call for change. "Corey and I talk regularly, so I will talk to him," Bennett said. "I will call Frank Sadler (Carly Fiorina's campaign manager), I will call those guys and say listen, we can choose our own network and our own format. We don't need to be led around like prize steers."
Good for Carson. Good for all of them. They don't need the networks. Way back in the day when the only way to get in front of people was to use television, the networks had the power. Nowadays, the candidates have a myriad of ways to get in front of people. The candidates are the draw. The networks need the candidates now.

I'm glad that someone is wising up a little. For starters, maybe we can get rid of morons asking their moronic questions of people seeking to be President.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Regarding the Spring Valley High School Matter

By now, I assume that you've seen the video of the Richland County Sheriff's deputy "removing" a Spring Valley High School student from her desk. If you haven't seen it, here's a link.

I've noticed that all of the comments I have seen flying around on FaceBook, Twitter, and the other parts of the web have fallen into two categories. The two categories are this:

Category 1: You have to respect authority, and a student who won't obey teachers and openly defies a police officer gets what's coming to her. She should have known better.

Category 2: The police officer has no excuse whatsoever for his actions, and under no circumstances should force be used like this against children in school, who are just there to learn their ABCs in a safe space.

Not a lot of room for middle ground between those two lines of thought, is there? And it would be nice if life was simply a binary choice like this all the time. The answer is either A or B. Either the police officer is totally at fault, or the student is totally at fault. The thing is, life isn't this simple; it's complicated and messy.

Both the student and the officer contributed to this situation. They both made decisions that led to the ultimate violent outcome of the conflict. Both sides are wrong in certain ways, in my opinion. Let's take them individually.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ok. Very funny. Who's the joker who signed me up for "Team Hillary"?

So, I just got this in my e-mail:

Hillary for America
Thanks for joining Team Hillary -- we’re so excited to have you, and we hope you’re excited, too!
We have a LOT to do to make sure this campaign hits the ground running so Hillary can become the next President of the United States. Can you help?
  • Donate $1 or whatever you can to help put organizers on the ground right now.
  • Sign up to be a Hillary for America volunteer and meet other Hillary supporters in your community.
  • Tell your friends to join the campaign so they can be a part of this, too!
Thanks so much! Together, we can do this.
Hillary for America

You think this would be enough, right? But no, that e-mail was followed up by this:

Hillary for America
Hi Bryan--
Thanks for committing to volunteer for Hillary for America.
This grassroots campaign will only be as strong as its volunteers--we're thrilled you're going to help shape it from the beginning.
Stay tuned for organizing opportunities in your community. In the meantime, make sure your friends and family join you to say they're in for Hillary for America:
Thanks again,
Hillary for America

Say what? "Committing to volunteer"? I mean, I know that Hillary is feeling really good with Biden not running, and getting through the House Benghazi hearing, but this is probably an overreach. It's slightly too early for me to "commit to volunteer' for Hillary.

I think that my identity is being stolen, or that one of my more left-leaning friends is having some fun with me. Tell you what, come forward right now, and we'll forget all about this. Law school friends, I'm looking at you.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday Local News Roundup

Use your imagination to remove the B-25, renovate the place, and add a brewery.

Last night, I took the night off from the news, from blogging, and pretty much relaxed. It was a really nice evening. There was steak involved, there was some wine involved, and I may or may not have played a video game.

In any event, there are lots of things going on in the Capital City that merit at least a note:

1. Hunter-Gatherer is going to be opening up a brewery in the old Curtiss Wright Hangar at Owens Field. This is going to be a great event space if they do it (w)right. I'd love to sit on an observation deck on top of the hangar, drink a beer, and watch airplanes take off and land.

2. The baseball park where the USC Gamecocks play has a new name. No longer simply "Carolina Stadium" it is now "Founders Park". I like that the company ending up with the naming rights is a company with local ties to South Carolina, and doesn't have stupid name like "Smoothie King Park". Good job, Ray.

3. The Exxon in Five Points is going to become...a parking lot? Yeah, I don't really get this, either. This is probably the most "prime" real estate in Five Points. It's on the corner, across from the fountain, and fronts on Harden Street. I get that the existing shops, bars, and restaurants in Five Points want more parking for their patrons, but I really have to question two things.

First, I'm not sure why the City of Columbia paid so much. $100,000 per year (and going up each year) for a fifty year lease doesn't sound like my idea of a good investment by the City. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the City stands to lose money on this deal unless they park a whole lot of cars. 

Also, yeah, Five Points is tight with parking, but it's not impossible. I go to Five Points all during the week for lunches and occasionally on the weekends, and it's never impossible. There is parking available, but you sometimes have to walk. Accordingly, I just hate to see that the premier corner in Five Points turned into a parking lot. So many much better things could have been done with this lot, it's just staggering.

But hey, at least I'll be able to find really easy parking when I want to go to lunch at the Gourmet Shop.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Daily John Adams Quote

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two become a law firm, and that three or more become a congress.”

– John Adams
Not altogether inaccurate. Enjoy your Wednesday, and try not to be useless.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Star Wars Open Thread

So here's the new trailer: squeeeee!

This looks like it's going to be way better than the horrible, no good, very bad prequels that George Lucas did with all his overblown CGI, idiotic dialogue, and plots that made no sense. Basically, it looks like JJ Abrams might be the right guy to bring Star Wars back from the awfulness that Lucas drove it to.

It's kind of like coaching. Eventually, you have to fire the head coach who lacks the fire to bring in a young talent looking to re-kindle the program. JJ Abrams might just be the head coach that Team Star Wars needs. 

Also, forget that movie trailer. This looks like a better Star Wars promo. Yes, I'm a lawyer in his mid-thirties, but I would buy this game and play it for hours like a 12 year old kid, which is why I am not allowed to own a video game system.

And speaking of kids, it's going to be really fun to watch Star Wars with my four year old son, who si already starting to get interested in it. After going to Disney and riding on the Star Tours ride, he's been requesting the "Star Wars music" in the car on the way home from school.

Yes, I've done well.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Interesting Viking Board Game

“I love the asymmetry in this game. To win in this game, you absolutely have to think like your opponent,” emails Kristan Wheaton, a former Army foreign area officer and ex-analyst at U.S. European Command’s Intelligence Directorate. “Geography, force structure, force size and objectives are different for the two sides. If you can’t think like your opponent, you can’t win. I don’t know of a better analogy for post-Cold War conflict.”
The game is similar to chess, but with several important differences. Instead of two identical and equal opponents facing each other, Hnefatafl is a game where one side is surrounded and outnumbered—like a Viking war party caught in an ambush.

Pretty cool. Wonder where I can pick one of these up. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Clean at last, clean at last!

The water is clean again, here in Columbia, SC.  I'm gonna go just run the taps and look at the sweet, sweet, gift of clean water. Seriously, it's nice to have clean water again. It's amazing what we start to take for granted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Spurrier Takes Himself Out of the Game

And just like that, he's gone. No farewell tour, no victory lap, just gone.

I tweeted about this yesterday evening when the story broke on Twitter, but this topic deserved an entire post.

First of all, anyone who is criticizing Spurrier for not staying until the end of the season has no idea what they're talking about. Also (and this isn't news for y'all who know anything about college football) Spurrier doesn't care what we all think about him.

He was the kind of coach who kept scoring as much as he possibly could, and if the opposing coach complained about him "running up the score", he'd just spin it back around and say that it's the other team's job to stop us.

He didn't follow the script as to coaching norms, whether it was calling plays on the field, saying what he thinks in the press conferences, or otherwise. When he got to South Carolina, he openly called for the Confederate Flag to come down. And that ways way back in 2007, well before everyone changed their minds after the Charleston shooting.

He did everything exactly like he wanted to, all the way up through the end, when he decided that he wasn't the best coach for the job here at South Carolina. As soon as he decided that, he called it quits, because in his mind, that is what was best for the team.

Spurrier is famous for taking struggling quarterbacks out of games midway through games, and putting in the back-up, only to pull the back-up out if he struggled. He always, always preached the gospel of getting the best guy in the position, no matter what. Even though the accepted conventional wisdom in college football is to kind of stay with the starting quarterback through struggles, Spurrier openly defied that and made no-bones about pulling a starting player if he didn't think he was going to be as good for the team as someone waiting in the wings.

He was no different with himself, in the end. He decided that even though he was the head coach, he owed it to his team to get the best guy in the head coach position, and he knew that it wasn't him.

It's fitting that he made the same decision about himself with the same objectivity. It would have been so easy to stay too long, even knowing that you were going to call it quits at the end of the season. Spurrier realized the he needed to take himself out of the game for the good of the team, and good for him.

The Steve Spurrier era has come to an end at the University of South Carolina. It's been a heck of a ride.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Open Thread for Monday, October 12, 2015

It's been a busy week and the work (legal and non-legal) continues. Accordingly, I'll put up some links for some stuff today.

1. Will Grier, the Florida Gators starting QB, has been suspended for the year after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

2. In what is an obvious attempt to squish the right-wing "Freedom Caucus" in the House of Representatives, the Chamber of Commerce is threatening to primary any member of congress who opposes Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House.

3. News of the strange: At UT Austin, anti-gun students are going to carry around dildos to protest a recently passed Texas statute that allows concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses. Right, because that's gonna change people's minds. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Conditions of Gills Creek Watershed

Here is the latest from the Gills Creek Watershed Association:

It has been a disastrous few days. Never before have we seen this much rain falling in one storm event, up to 20 inches of rain in some places. The effects of this rain were devastating - leading to the loss of several lives and hundreds, if not thousands, of homes. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in this terrible tragedy.

The conditions in the watershed are stabilizing and things are looking up. The information being reported about the lakes and dams has been shaky at best. Here is what we know for sure: 

Sometime Sunday morning around 7:30am the Cary Lake Dam AKA Arcadia Lake Dam failed. This was probably around the same time that Pine Tree Lake Dam failed (just below Windsor Lake). That surge of water rushed downstream, washing out Rockbridge Rd and overtopping the Spring Lake Dam. Forest Lake Dam and the Lake Katharine Dam were also overwhelmed and overtopped and that floodwater continued downstream along Gills Creek. 

Also Sunday morning the Semmes Lake Dam on Wildcat Creek (on Ft. Jackson) failed. This water came down Wildcat Creek which flows through Kings Grant and meets Gills Creek just below the Lake Katharine Dam near Shady Lane and Kilbourne. 

On Monday the Upper Rockyford Lake Dam failed sending excess water into Lower Rockyford Lake. Shortly thereafter the Lower Rockyford Lake Dam failed sending the excess water into Forest Lake. The Rockyford Lakes are much smaller than Forest Lake and by this time the Forest Lake level had dropped enough to buffer the excess water from Upper and Lower Rockyford. 

On Tuesday there were multiple FALSE reports from news outlets that the Windsor Lake Dam had failed. The Windsor Lake Dam is fine, as is the Upper Windsor Lake AKA Parliament Lake Dam. 

Beaver Dam (Boyd's Pond) off of Polo Road is experiencing erosion and is at risk of failing. Crews worked all day Tuesday to stabilize the dam and dug an emergency "controlled breach" around the side of the dam to alleviate pressure and move more water downstream. As of Wednesday morning, the Beaver Dam is stable and not expected to fail. 

The Spring Lake Dam was heavily damaged during the storm. It is still holding water and as of Wednesday morning appears to be stable. The Spring Lake HOA is working to drop the lake level 6 to 12 inches per day (the maximum safe amount) until the lake has been mostly emptied. 

Lake Katharine Dam and Forest Lake Dam appear to be in good working order. 

President Obama has declared Richland County a disaster area which means residents that were impacted by this storm are eligible for federal assistance. If you have experienced any sort of hardship or property damage as a result of the storm (flooding, tree falling, missed work, etc.) you need to file a claim at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

We are updating our Facebook page with accurate and timely information. Please like our Facebook page to get the latest updates and to see pictures from around the watershed.

This newsletter is only being sent to our membership and contact list so please help us spread the word by forwarding this email to everyone you know that's been affected. If you are not on our mailing list please email Erich to be added to the mailing list. We will be sending periodic email updates as conditions change.

Thank you,

Erich Miarka
Executive Director, GCWA

No, this isn't my cargo trailer....

...but it could be. This guy was right in front of me on Two Notch yesterday as  I left the rental car location. This is a picture of his cargo trailer.

It's hard to pick a favorite sticker, but if forced, I'd probably go with the one in white circular sticker in the top right that is the picture of gun sights that says "My peace sign".

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My car is disgusting.

Normally, that means I've spilled some coffee in it or something. This is entirely something else, though.

You would not believe how bad this smells.

My cup holders still had flood water in them a day later.

The flooding totally submerged my Honda Accord where I left it on Shady Lane, and what you're seeing is the muck and disgusting mess left inside. You can't smell it from the picture, but it smells awful. How bad? Based on the smell alone, you would total the car.

The dirt and muck is on every surface of the car, and the whole thing is dead. I can't even shift the car into neutral to push it anywhere, so it's going to have to get moved via a roll back truck whenever that happens.

Luckily, this is really my only big loss. My house is a few miles from Shady Lane, so it's fine. We're not as bad off as my parents, who are going to have to replace all of their flooring on the first floor of their house.

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive. Columbia, Forest Acres, and the Lake Katharine community has really been pulling together to help each other out.

Yesterday, while my family and I were moving all of my parents' stuff out of the first floor (to make way for demolition), the entire football team from my high school showed up and assisted in getting personal property either upstairs or into a moving truck. Totally amazing. They were going house to house, and helping people all over. The coach said we were the ninth house they had done at that point, and I know they did many more after us.

The whole neighborhood had been outside and taking care of each other in any way that we each can. We'll all get through this because of all of the people pulling together to help each other. As long as no more dams break (knock on wood) we should be rebuilding stronger than we were before.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Historic Flooding in Columbia (Shady Lane Still Cut Off)

My house is up on high ground, so I am able to provide a place for my parents to stay until the water goes down. Their house is ground zero for all the Gills Creek flooding, so they were rescued by boat.

Just tried to get back to their house this morning, but all roads to Shady Lane (Kilbourne, Quail Lane, and Woodlake) are all still impassibly flooded. Shady Lane is still cut off. Hopefully, the water will go down soon so we can get them back in there and start the process of drying things out.

Meanwhile, everyone is safe, dry, and in high spirits here at my house. Here are a few pictures from this morning. Here are two pictures from our attempt to make it back to Shady Lane, where we had to turn back.

Woodlake and Kathwood. You can't tell from this picture, but water is flowing with force.

Kilbourne Road bridge over (well, actually under) Gills Creek.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Apparently the New York Times thinks that "Modern Man" means "Consumer Obsessed Teenage Girl".

"A man may make a list. But he may not make a dumb one." -Jaqen H'ghar, probably.
The other day, some dopey guy at the New York Times decide that he was going to tell all us rubes about how to be a "modern man". Because we all know the NYT is where we go to learn about being real men, right? I'm not really even sure what a "modern man" is supposed to mean. Either you're a man or you're not. In fact, we men don't really talk about being manly. To do so...isn't. You just do it.

Frankly, the whole article is embarrassing - for the guy who wrote it that is. Apparently, all you have to do to be a "modern man" is to buy a few certain things, have certain fashion preferences, and (get this) have all the same behaviors as a liberal white girl living in downtown Portland.

Luckily, I'm here to correct the record. I'll put the New York Times list in italics, and my commentary in bold. Let's begin, shall we?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Donate to Greg Alia's Family

I meant to get this up earlier, but there have been some extenuating circumstances. As I'm sure you know, there have been tragedies all over America recently. However, if you're reading this blog regularly, you know I live in Columbia, SC and we've had one local tragedy here with Forest Acres police officer Greg Alia being killed in the line of duty on Wednesday morning. He leaves behind a wife and a newborn son.

The outpouring of generosity from the community has been overwhelming, but we can do more. If you haven't given yet, do so.