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.