Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summertime Open Thread (No Worries)

Today's open thread brought to you by chillin' on the beach without a care in the world.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Islamic Jihadists Storm French Church and Kill Priest During Mass

The JV team strikes again. 

It was also revealed that the Catholic church was on a terrorist 'hit list' found in the apartment of a suspected ISIS extremist last April.

Maybe it's time to let people and places know if they're on the hit-list. Protect yourself and your families.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lion Ted - Rising Above Partisanship

Godfather II opens with a scene in a small town in Sicily where a young Vito Andolini is driven from his home after his parents and older brother are both murdered by a local mafia chieftain, Don Ciccio. At the time, Vito is about six years old, and he goes to America to start a new life. But he never forgets what Don Ciccio did to his family.

Last night, Ted Cruz did something that we don't see very often in politics. Frankly, we don't see if often in life. He decided that he wasn't going to "go along to get along". He decided that he wasn't going to just back Donald Trump because he was the Republican nominee and that was supposed to be "his team". 

Lots of people have said that that Cruz refusing to endorse Trump was a "selfish" act. That's because the Cardinal Rule in American politics is that you support your party no matter what.

Supporting your party above all other things is what has led to such a partisan divide in American politics. For example, there are partisan Democrats who will refuse to admit that Hillary broke the law. It's not because they really believe that in their heart of hearts - they're just following the Cardinal Rule of: "Support your party no matter what".

The rationale behind the Cardinal Rule is that your party is better than the other party in matters of important policy goals, so you do whatever you have to do to win, because you can't govern if you don't win.

It's win at all costs, basically, and both parties are guilty. Just win, baby. It's why so many normal people hate politics. It's why I hate politics. It's why Brad Warthen hates parties.

Last night, Ted Cruz addressed the Republican party convened in Cleveland. Everyone who had already addressed the party had followed the Cardinal Rule and bent their knee. Christie, Walker, Rubio, Giuliani, McMaster, and countless other party members put their own principles aside in observance of the Cardinal Rule and endorsed Donald Trump.

When Ted Cruz came to the moment in his speech when he was supposed to kneel before the party and swear fealty to Trump, simply because he was the nominee of the party, Cruz broke the Cardinal Rule. Instead of saying "Vote for Donald Trump" he said "Vote your conscience." In response, the party faithful booed him off the stage. They didn't want this heretic in their midst. In the party's mind of group-think, the only satisfactory answer is unswerving, unyielding, unthinking loyalty to the party.

Last night, Ted Cruz showed why he's so disliked in the Republican party. It's because he's never followed the Cardinal Rule, and anyone who has paid attention to him over the years knows that. Last night, Ted Cruz stood up in front of the Republican party faithful and told them to "Vote their conscience" and all the men who knelt at the altar of the Cardinal Rule were revealed. Cruz's refusal to submit his principles highlighted their lack of principles. Hence the vitriol and the outrage.

An easy way to make someone mad is to point out their flaws and hypocrisies.

Last night, Ted Cruz took the principled path and put his personal beliefs above the party's. If you think that is "selfish" then you're obviously someone who believes in the Cardinal Rule.

Last night, Ted Cruz was a lion for his beliefs. He refused to meekly submit to the Cardinal Rule, and he retained his dignity. Maybe he'll be run out of politics, and maybe he'll be cast out of the Republican party. But he won't be a hypocrite, and he won't have compromised his beliefs. He was a Man of Respect.

I like to think that last night, Ted Cruz was a bit like the adult Vito Andolini who returned to Italy to confront Don Ciccio. Rather than simply submit to the old Don, Vito exacts his revenge and becomes a Man of Respect in his own right.

Last night, Ted Cruz stuck a knife into Donald Trump. Maybe it won't kill Trump like Vito killed Don Ciccio that day, but my guess is that Donald Trump is already a dead man when it comes to this election, which makes the fealty to him even more appalling.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lexington County Changes 911 System

One thing about this piece struck me:

What does this mean for a caller? For those suffering from emergencies such as a heart attack, officials say the system will save precious seconds and get an ambulance there more quickly. Those who call with what the system classifies as less urgent matters, such as the common cold or flu symptoms, will have to wait longer. (emphasis mine).

People are calling 911 with "cold or flu symptoms"? I mean, I know a flu can get pretty bad, but a cold? What are people doing?

DISPATCH: Hello, 911, what is your emergency?
CALLER:  Yes, [sniff] I have a really stuffy nose, and I feel really run down.
DISPATCH: Is someone attacking you?
CALLER: No, I'm just really feeling stopped up and my eyes are so watery.
DISPATCH: Are you in immediate danger?
CALLER: I really need some tissue. I'm all out of the lotion-kind, and all I have left is the really scratchy kind.
DISPATCH: We're on it. Kleenex will be there forthwith.

I can't imagine calling 911 unless (1) my house was uncontrollably on fire; (2) someone was having a heart attack or some other sort of instant, life-threatening issue; or (3) if there was some other sort of imminent danger.

When I have "cold or flu symptoms" I do what every other red-blooded American guy does - I complain to my wife about it and act like I'm five years old.

Read more here:

It's way past time for the good people to leave Chicago's South Side.

The good people who live in Chicago need to leave. 

The Chicago mother thought she knew when it was safe to take her children outside, that she could protect them by sizing up and avoiding the people whom trouble seemed to follow. Then a bullet fired from a gun that D'Antignay Brashear never saw pierced the cheek of her 4-year-old son, Kavan Collins. It fractured the boy's jaw and shattered some teeth before it went out his other cheek, all while he held his mother's hand.
Let the gangs have the South Side. Move. It's a free country. Move somewhere else where you don't have to worry about your child being shot in the face in broad daylight walking down the street.

Monday, July 18, 2016

How to Make Perfect Ribs on the Smoker (Illustrated)

In an effort to branch out from the soul-crushing drudgery that is politics, I'm going to try and do a cooking-related blog post more often. I've always enjoyed cooking, as you have an actual, tangible result at the end. In that way, it's sort of like construction - you work with your hands to create something that you (and others) can enjoy.

Let's start with a classic American dish that everyone likes. Ribs. If you don't like tender, fall-off-the-bone, slow-smoked ribs, please discontinue reading this post. If you do, read on. I got you.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Happy Bastille Day!

Today in 1789, the French people stormed a government fortress to acquire arms and powder to use in their own revolution.

Also, one of my favorite paintings by Monet depicts a later celebration of the French Republic, so this is an appropriate day as any to share it.

Claude Monet, Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First Date Questions - Don't be a Pop-Quiz Queen

I mean, you signal what a strident feminist you are on the first date, and you are surprised that it "never goes well"? Fortunately, she's clearly doing most guys a favor by revealing this up front and letting them bail before the appetizers arrive.

If I had been asked this question on first date, I would have thought, "Boy, here's a real keeper! I can spend the rest of my life arguing with this harpy, or more likely, her lawyer. I wonder if I can kick out the window in mens' restroom and get out of here..." No one likes Pop-quizzes. It's not endearing.

Or, after I answer with "Harper Lee, Anne Frank, and Mary Shelley" I follow up with my standard first date question. If a girl doesn't get this right, you immediately know she's not the one: the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

CDC Study Shows Firearm Homicides at All Time Low From 1993 Peak.

The 10,945 firearm homicides in 2014 represented a 40-percent drop from the peak hit in 1993, when there were 18,253 firearm homicides in the country,according to CDC data.

You wouldn't know it from watching television, but there are actually fewer firearm homicides and more firearms than there were back in 1993. Weird, huh? It's almost like guns aren't the problem.

I bet if you took out all the data from large cities in the US, the rest of the country would have a firearm homicide rate similar to New Zealand or something.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Police Robots: Helpful Tools or a Precursor to SkyNet?

I don't really have any problem with the police using a robot to kill the Dallas shooter like they did. The guy was cornered, but still a threat to innocent people, and it would have been a risk to storm his position. Just waiting the guy out wasn't an option.

I'm not really concerned with how the application of lethal force is applied. I think we should be concerned with the decision in applying lethal force. Once the decision to use lethal force has been made, the manner in which it is applied seems rather inconsequential.

What's the difference between killing a guy with a sniper's shot, blowing him up with a bomb, hitting him with a drone strike, or just knocking him in the head with a big rock? Assuming you're only killing the target and there's no collateral damage, then all of these things are equal to me. Killing is killing.

I actually applaud the Dallas Police Department for their ingenuity in this tactic. It ended the standoff quickly, probably saving lives. If the guy had been barricaded in a house in the middle of the woods and wasn't an immediate threat to anyone, I wouldn't want deadly force used.

I just hope the weaponized robots don't become self-aware.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Five Police Officers Killed in Dallas - The falcon cannot hear the falconer

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Morning News Headlines 7/7/16

Just thought I'd put some headlines out there since I haven't done that in awhile. Here's the news that I've seen so far this morning:

1. No end to the Afghan war: Looks like the next President will be handed the war in about the same situation it was before.

2. Rare Thomas Jefferson letter discovered in family's attic: It's valued at over $300k and is from 1815. I'm amazed that it's survived. Very cool.

3. Drones reported flying over the Savannah Nuclear Site. I think this is against the rules. Hopefully, it's people just being extremely careless, rather than casing the joint for some sort of attack.

4. Another fatal officer-involved shooting. In Minnesota this time. Looks like a police officer shot a man who was legally carrying concealed. We've got to figure out a way to train police better.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Buying Guide to American Muscle Cars

Interested in buying an old American muscle car? Here's your primer.

Everyone wants a 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda so they’re very expensive. Meanwhile, a ‘Cuda powered by a 340 small-block V-8 will not only be much cheaper, but likely drive better than the temperamental Hemi. Don’t get hung up on a particular muscle model; that’s almost a sure way to get ripped off.

Buy what you like, and enjoy it. Don't expect to get rich off it, either. Personally, I wouldn't mind having an old Ford Bronco like this one:

1966 Ford Bronco

No it's not fast, and no it's no muscle car, but damn if ain't nice lookin'.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Random Quote of the Day: The Edge of No Return

I was talking to someone who had toured Gettysburg last week, and every time I think of that battle one of the links my mind brings up is this passage from Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust:

“It's all now you see. Yesterday won't be over until tomorrow and tomorrow began ten thousand years ago. For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it's still not yet two o'clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it's going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn't need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago; or to anyone who ever sailed a skiff under a quilt sail, the moment in 1492 when somebody thought This is it: the absolute edge of no return, to turn back now and make home or sail irrevocably on and either find land or plunge over the world's roaring rim.” 

Faulkner is such a master of capturing the history and ethos of the South.

NY Times Piece on the Law School Bubble

A law school classmate of mine brought this NYT article to my attention. It's an in-depth piece on the small law school that we went to back before the law school bubble burst.

Valparaiso was, in effect, caught in a deflating financial bubble, one most law schools were slow to heed because of the government’s role in financing legal education. Applications ultimately tumbled about 40 percent nationally between 2010 and 2015, and by a roughly similar percentage at Valparaiso.

Although the piece focuses on Valparaiso, it could have been written about any number of law schools around the country. Things that can't go on forever...won't.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Independence Day Weekend

Yeah, we'll be phoning it in Below the jump are some patriotic images (or just ones that I like for no particular reason).