The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Would you help me to carry the stone?

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately, what with being off my meds and all. I've come to the conclusion that friendship is an odd concept. Odder even than love. I mean, in love you're at least in the same room with the whole sex thing. Let's face it, if men could only achieve orgasm with, say, vacuums, we'd have massive electric bills but we wouldn't even speak to anything with breasts.

But that doesn't explain friendship, or why we're friends with the people we are friends with. Or even if we are even friends with the people we are friends with. For instance, what's up with that guy at work who always tags along when you and Jim and Steve go to T.G.I.F. for lunch? You know, Marc from accounting. He seems to be tight with Steve, so he's always there when you are. You would never call Marc on your own, because, well, the guy's kind of a tool and has the social skills of a drunken grizzly, but because he's friends with your friends, you have to be friends by proxy. What is that?

I mean, it's not like you are friends with Jim and Steve, anyway, right? Oh, sure, y'all eat lunch together all of the time, and every now and then you hit Hooters after work to have a few beers and check out the talent, but if you could find a job where they didn't treat you like crap, you'd be out the door and ol' Jim and Steve would be a distant memory within minutes.

My "friend" Paul introduced me to the proper name for these individuals: location friends. Roughly translated, these are people that you would never be friends with but for your forced co-existance -- they are co-workers, generally, but they may be your neighbors or people who hang out at your favorite bar. There are times when they resemble friends, perhaps when you even think they are your true friends, but they are no more your true friends than that stripper who's begging you for a lap dance is your date.

At least you always have your true friends -- you know, those true-blue few who have seen you through thick and thin. You went to college together, laughed together, got arrested together -- these are your compadres, your amigos. Of course, you only see Billy at Christmas ever since he took that job on the West Coast, and even though Brian is in town, y'all never hang because he's got 2 little girls now. You should probably call more or make a special effort. I mean, a friend would, wouldn't they? Of course, the phone works both ways . . . dicks.

Well, what about your girlfriend/fiance/wife? Didn't you marry your best friend? Face it, if you weren't attached to a penis the only way your wife would let you in her house would be to fix the cable. Besides, could you ever be close friends with someone who thinks "Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance" is the title of a boyband album?

Elvis, Mitzy, or Snowball? If you fell down paralyzed and alone with them, they would eat you eyeballs first. Probably within the hour.

Well, what about co-bloggers? They know the real you, not the fake one you show to people in the so-called "real" world. *cough*blowjob!*cough* Yeah, quit posting, cowboy. Within 3 weeks, your closest internet friends will be going "Larry who?"

Face it, Mark Twain was right when he said,
Life itself is only a vision, a dream. . . . Nothing exists . . . (not) God, man, This World, the stars ... all a dream . . . Nothing exists except empty space and you-and you are not you-you are but a thought-a vagrant thought, a homeless thought-wandering forlorn among the empty eternities.
Damn, I gotta quit drinking bourbon and listening to Pink Floyd. Or should I say, my friends bourbon and Pink Floyd.
Centinel 10:00 PM # | |

Saturday, June 25, 2005

So much for our reputation as hard on crime.

If you're rich and/or and want to commit a crime, go to California. If you're not, you may want to consider Ft. Worth, Texas where it is possible to plead "guilty" to a crime and still have a jury find you "not guilty."
Centinel 8:47 PM # | |

Friday, June 24, 2005

Tom Cruise, Ph.D. in Psychohistory

You know, I always thought Tom Cruise was a bit of a nutball, but after his interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, I'm firmly convinced he's just an idiot.

So, what did we learn? First, we learned through his incessant mantra that he is right because knows "the history of psychiatry," that he will accept the word of anyone who claims knowledge of an issue.

Second, we learned that Mr. Cruise lacks the mental tools to distinguish logical fallacies. Note the following exchange:
TOM CRUISE: Matt, but here's the point. What is the ideal scene for life?

TOM CRUISE: Okay. Ideal scene is someone not having to take anti-psychotic drugs.

MATT LAUER: I would agree.

TOM CRUISE: Okay. So, now you look at-- and you go okay. A-- a departure from that ideal scene is someone taking drugs, okay. And then you go, okay. What is the theory and the science behind that, that justifies that?
His comments appear to assume that a perfect person would not take anti-psychotics, and therefore anyone taking them would be moving away from perfection. That is logically similar to saying that, since the "ideal" would be not to have a puncture wound on your body, therefore people shouldn't have tracheotomies. Sure, taking anti-psychotics would be bad if you're in an "ideal" situation, but those taking the drugs are far from an ideal place in their lives.

So, he believes anyone with apparent knowledge and he has trouble with logical reasoning. Hmmm, can't imagine how the Scientologists got this guy.

My advice to Mr. Cruise is that he should study "the history of psychiatry" a little less, and "the use of rhetoric and logic" a little more.
Centinel 4:57 PM # | |

Friday Spies ©: In Lieu of Actual Content Edition

From the BTQ boys, long may they ride:

1. What's your favorite season?

Easy. Baseball season. What's not to love about summer??? I mean, besides the humidity, scalding temperatures, and mosquitoes the size of model airplanes. Summer is sunny days at the beach/lake, playing league softball, barbecuing, chicks in bikinis, sunlight until 9 p.m., no school, etc.

2. Do you have a green thumb?

Quite. I have plants all over my loft -- even hanging from the sprinkler system 15 feet in the air. I am quite attentive, and for that reason I can grow most anything but ferns, which I tend to kill by overwatering.

Unfortunately, my skill don't transfer to people. I've killed several roomates by not giving them enough sun or burying their roots too deep.

3. What is your favorite sport to watch? What is your favorite
sport to play? Do you have a sports hero?

Unlike 99% of the world, I can sit and watch baseball all day, yet rarely do because I'm running around. I miss the days when I had time to catch a couple of games on a Saturday.

The best sport to play is rugby, hands down. I was introduced to the sport in law school and played some after graduation with a local team. I'm not a great rugger, but damn is it fun. It's like an organized adult league of "Kill the Man with the Ball."

My sports hero is Dale Murphy from when I was young enough to have a hero. I grew up in Atlanta watching Murphy and the rest of the Braves lose season after season. Even 20-odd years ago, sports stars were beginning to look decidedly human (as compared to today, when the love of the game has been all but replaced by greed and ego), but Murphy was a fantastic role model. He was a great player, he was a team player, and he is a good man. Hell, in Georgia he was so clean that he did milk commercials. I wish we had more like him playing today.

4. Which would you rather be: Mayor, Governor, Senator, or President?

Tough call. I worked in politics for years, both federal and state, but my heart has always been in the state capitals or "laboratories of democracy." Being mayor is a pointless and thankless job, unless you're the mayor of a major city, while being President is just too much stress. That narrows the field down to Governor or Senator. I would certainly prefer to be a legislator than an executive, so Senator is looking good, but I really don't like living in D.C., which throws the race back open. If I could choose my state, then I would prefer to be Governor, but if I'm force to run here in Texas, I think I might as well move on to the U.S. Senate.

5. What are ten must-own items for single men and single women?

Hell, I'm not qualified to give advice to single men, much less single women. But that never stopped me before, so . . .

Men should have the following:
  1. A good set of pillows - I've known too many single guys who are using the same pillow they did as a child, and it is now brown, flat, and just generally nasty. Invest $20 in a decent pillow, you cheap bastard.

  2. A good set of towels -- See #1.

  3. A grill -- the single guy's stove.

  4. A well-worn baseball cap -- I see too many guys wearing new caps that make them look like they couldn't tell the business end of a Louisville Slugger from a wombat.

  5. A pickup truck -- what are you a girl? Get out of that Maxima.

  6. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon/Johnny Cash's The Sun Years -- there is plenty of good Johnny Cash, but this is my favorite collection. There are many albums that should be in every guy's collection, but this sets the minimum for acceptable.

  7. A copy of Atlas Shrugged -- mandatory metal, baby.

  8. A decent pocket knife.

  9. A bottle of decent wine -- because some chicks won't drink beer

  10. A good right (or left) hook -- because sometimes life gives you lemons

What single women need (now there's a loaded question):

  1. A gun

  2. A six pack of good beer in the fridge -- because some guys won't drink wine.

  3. F*ck-me pumps.

  4. A toolbox (preferably with tools).

Ill put others down as I think of them.
Centinel 3:40 PM # | |

Thursday, June 23, 2005

10 minutes with : PBS

NPR has been doing a running report on new ideas in nursing homes. While this is a tremendously vital area when it comes to improving the quality of life for many of the nation's elderly, it totally puts me to sleep. Therefore, I must draw upon other news sources, and since I watched about 10 minutes of The Daily Show last night, and since Jon Stewart the same level of neutral objectivity as do the journalists working for Morning Edition, I thought his show would be an appropriate substitute.

Imagine my surprise as Stewart brought out paleoliberal hack/"journalist" Bill Moyers to discuss, of all things, the evil Republican attempts to bring some degree of balance to the public airwaves. Lemme repeat that, Stewart brought Bill Moyers -- a committed left-winger and former PBS personality -- to discuss the objective nature of PBS. This is roughly equivalent to inviting a casino owner to discuss the pros and cons of gambling. Hell, even the World Socialist Web Site has his back on this issue.

The interview itself made me wonder, if I often do, whether some liberals are evil or just incredibly deluded. Being the great person that I am, I'm willing to give them the benefit of a doubt and call it the latter. From what I can tell from the interview, Moyers thinks that journalism is objective if (1) it takes a position counter to the "government line" and/or (2) journalists get both sides of a story.

The former assertion is almost too silly to address. Certainly, there wouldn't be any objectivity if the administration directly reported the news, but to assume the opposite is true is a logical fallacy and would result in a similar lack of objectivity. If not, then we should all be reading the New Socialist for accurate, unadulterated objectivity.

As for the latter assertion, Moyers (and the fawning Stewart) were just being downright disingenuous. There are many ways to influence the news other than just reporting one side of the story. The easiest way to influence content is by choosing to only report stories that are unflattering to a certain political viewpoint. Put another way, while an NPR listener would be likely to hear plenty of stories about some Bush action that is allegedly harming the "poor and disenfranchised," but good luck hearing stories about how some Democrat supported regulation is strangling small business or about how some new tax is killing economic growth.

Moyers, Stewart and their partisan ilk can continue to complain all they want that the Administration is attempting to turn PBS into an organ of the Republican Party, but until it isn't an organ for the Democrat Party their credibility will be a tad strained.
Centinel 12:49 PM # | |

We're using the power of rock and roll to change the world! Woo!

Noel Gallagher takes time off from his latest bender to speak out on the chances of Live 8 concert having any real effect on the G8 Summit:

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15 minute break at Gleneagles (in Scotland) and sees ANNIE LENNOX singing SWEET DREAMS and thinks, 'F**k me, she might have a point there, you know?'

"KEANE doing SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him... we should really f**king drop that debt, you know.'

"It's not going to happen, is it?"

If you agree with an idiot, does it make you an idiot? Or are you just riding the percentages? I'm so confused.
Centinel 7:43 AM # | |

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag, and there is nothing I cannot do.

In the spirit of public service, NDC reminds us that Miles Kendall is a douche.

Addendum: And he could never get into the Portland Yacht Club Racing ("PYC") in a million years.
Centinel 3:36 PM # | |

Willie and Jesus and Me

So I'm sitting in a bar around midnight last Saturday, when the owner of the place/bartender comes in to tell me that Willie Nelson is down the street. I, of course, called bullsh*t, but he was insistent that it was Willie.

So I walk out and look down the side street where he is pointing, and about 50 yards away is a guy standing next to a van who does look a hell of a lot like Willie. "That ain't him." I say, only slightly less sure of myself. "Go close an look," he replies.

So I walk down the road, but before I can get close enough, I accidentally wander into a group of young Christians intent on saving souls in the bar district (you gotta go where the sinners are). Fortunately, they were too busy casting a demon out of some black guy to screw with me. They've got him pinned to the wall of the bar and are laying hands on him, praying loudly for the demon to get out, while this guy's looking skyward with his eyes rolled back in his head. Realizing I'm in a weirdness zone, I immediately take a few steps forward in order to determine that, while he is the spitting image of the Red Headed Stranger, the man in question was not Willie, and then I high-tailed it back to my bar stool.

So I walk into the bar, and the bartender is grinning from ear to ear. "That wasn't Willie," says I. "I know, but did you get your soul saved out there?" he replied. The bastard had set me up. "Nope, they were too busy using the side of your restaurant to cast the demons out of some guy." "What? There'll be no saving souls on my property!" he said running out the door.

I guess I know where Jesus and Willie stand relatively with the man who pours my beers.
Centinel 11:32 AM # | |

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Here's the line, and here's you.

OK, so you were involved in years of contentious feuding and one of the great ethical battles of this decade -- I can understand that you'd be pissed off. However, now you're just being a dick.

Addendum: After writing the above and making comments, I went back and re-read the linked story. Since the time I posted on this, the story has been rewritten with more of an emphasis on the husband's reasoning for his actions. It appears that the parents were notified regarding the burial after the fact. The re-write definitely places the husband's actions in a better light, but I still believe that he could have been the better man here.
Centinel 12:30 PM # | |

Monday, June 20, 2005

Support Local Music

A friend of mine is the lead singer in a band called Shanghai 5 who just released their first album, Under a Tent, Under the Full Moon . . ., this weekend. I normally wouldn't shill, but the stuff is really impressive. The group mixes smoky jazz, lounge music, and vaudeville for a really unique sound. Good stuff. If you're looking for something new, check out some clips here (I recommend Your Drama and Dead Man in a Motel Room).

Unfortunately, the band doesn't appear to be selling the album online at the moment, but if you're interested, shoot me an email and I'll set you up.
Centinel 10:23 AM # | |

Friday, June 17, 2005

Friday Spies ©: Spring has sprung edition

1. Which relationship will last longer, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ("Brangelina"), or Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ("TomKat")?

I think anyone who knows their Bible can answer that question.

Hezekiah 2:1-5

1: In the latter days one shall rise from the ranks of a false god who wrote bad fiction. He shall be short and his nose big, but he will be beloved of many women and sodomites for the intensity he brings to the screen.
2: And lo, he shall take a much younger, cuter but less talented woman as his wife, and from her loins shall spring the Evil One.
3: And they shall name the Evil One, Hubbard, and he shall grow straight of teeth and short of stature.
4: Verily, the Evil One shall bring upon the earth 1,000 years of pain, suffering and misery, for during that time, flies will feed upon the flesh of the innocent, their noses will often run with mucus, the knowledge of daylight savings time will be lost from the minds of men, and many will forget their own phone numbers.
5: The parents of the Evil One will live long and shall spread the venom of their false god to the stupid and susceptible like seeds are sown among the cow turds.


2. Less importantly, which will have nuclear bombs first, North
Korea or Iran?

I think that the competition will be fierce in this battle between two top competitors. In the end, however, I believe that North Korea will be the first to get a nuclear weapon, and think it will most likely come air mail from a silo somewhere in South Dakota.

3. What is your dream car? A silver 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing. With mounted machine guns and booster rockets.

4. What book have you read the most times?

Hell, it's probably something like "The Little Engine that Could" or some other kiddie book that I read 600+ times a day for about two months when I was 3, until I moved on to sticking things up my nose. I don't often reread real books because, well, I've already read the book and there are a googolplex of literary masterpieces out there I haven't yet consumed. That said, I have read Watership Down 4 or 5 times since I was 7ish, and the LOTR series 6 or 7 times during that period. I also no longer stick things up my nose. Mostly.

5. Are you a matchmaker?

More of a flamethrower, actually. Before this year, I would have said "no" due to my strict policy of not involving myself in the personal lives of myself or others. Unfortunately for my policy, I accidentally introduced one of my oldest and best friends (male) to one of my closest law school friends (female), and now they decided to haul off and get hitched. They want to give me the credit for this turn of events, but I don't want it because with it comes the responsibility when they get a divorce down the line and they are feuding over who gets the stupid wagonwheel coffee table.
Centinel 1:12 PM # | |

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

No man is esteemed for gay garments but by fools and women.

Those who work with me know that I like wearing a tie about as much as cats enjoy wearing a leash. I guess when every guy starts working his first professional job, he enjoys putting on a suit for the first couple of months. You look good, and you feel like money. For those of us who don't give a crap about things like "advancement" or even "making a good impression," the thrill quickly fades as we realize that wool, even at it's thinnest, is both itchy and prone to cause spontaneous combustion on hot, summer days or at least make you sweat like a 10-year old at Neverland. What? Too soon?

Before I took up lawyering, I worked for a public policy organization in the greater Washington, D.C. disaster area. Our legal foundation was on the floor above us, and they hired this tool about my age to handle their P.R. He not only wore a suit every day, but had French cuffs with cufflinks cast with his fraternity letters. If this jackass had been any bigger a douche, he would have had to pay royalties to Massengill. Unfortunately, this part of my story has a sad ending. Although it has been nearly 6 years since I left the morally and, most important, financially bereft world of politics behind, Mr. White-collar-with-a-blue-shirt has still not been forcibly sterilized. As far as I know. I remember him suggesting to me that we should emulate rich people because they wear suits. Right. I'm sure Bill Gates spends his days and evenings in a a good three-button, poly/wool blend.

This all comes to mind because I am anticipating a swing in the general work casual/full armor pendulum this year. Every few years, one of the bigger law firms will decide to change their dress policy and, law firms being what they are, everyone else follows suit. Currently, Dallas is populated by casually dressed and slightly less irritable attorneys, but it only a matter of time before some white-shoe firm decides that its clients want their attorneys chained to their desks with silk ties, and then we all gotta take the wool out of mothballs.

My money says the shift back to business dress will begin happening this year. Not during the summer, because of clerks and heat, but likely when things cool down. I guess I should look into getting some ties.
Centinel 8:30 AM # | |

Monday, June 13, 2005

Good Housekeeping

  1. If you are simple enough, life can be reduced to a mathematical formula, and I'm one simple bastard whose formula looks something like this: work + sleep + drink + blog = life. Unfortunately, I have seen my "work" scores rise dramatically in the past couple of weeks necessitating me to cut from something. Tough call. In other news, I haven't been blogging much lately, yet my hangovers are as common as ever.

    On the downside, I haven't had the opportunity to keep up with my blog reading as I'd like, either. My philosophy has been to read a few blogs often instead of a lot of blogs infrequently. I would rather find a few blogs I like and develop a close, intimate relationship with the writers than be a cheap one-night stand all over the interweb. I feel like I'm not keeping up my end of the relationship, and I just want you to know that I can change, Baby. As long as it doens't take too much effort.

  2. I haven't mentioned this, but I've added a "What I'm Listening To" section to your left. I know it's been there for weeks, but "Efficiency" ain't my middle name. Which is good, because "Mr. Efficiency" doesn't get the ladies hot. I'm in what can only be described as a heavy music phase, man, and I've decided to let you in on what I'm grooving to. Lately, I've been drawn toward, "classic" country, acid rock and early punk, but I have been dabbling all over the place. I only have one rule, I won't put an album up unless it's kid tested and mother approved. If there is something I should be kickin' live, give me the down lo, baby, and I'll dig it up.

    Addendum: You can, of course, click on any album and be magically transported to more info.

  3. I finally upgraded my home PC thanks to some prodding and spending by the Missus. I have replaced by '57 "Getoutandpush" Desktop with its 5k modem and crank-start hard drive with a sleek laptop and a cable modem. I'm not getting anymore blogging done, but my porn consumption is rising like the price on a barrel of OPEC dinosaur juice.

  4. I don't talk about my job much, what with Jeremy Blachman covering most of the high points and all, but last week was a doozy. I flew all the way to Odessa for a deposition, got to the attorney's office to find that neither he nor his client were there . . . and I didn't hear from him until about 5 HOURS after the deposition was scheduled to start and I was back at the airport getting ready to turn in my rental car. He had a hokey excuse about misreading the notice, but his secretary had shown me his calendar so I knew he was full of crap.

    Then I deposed another guy who admitted to taking methadone 15 minutes before the deposition started! Despite the soothing effects of this and some other narcotic he had taken a hour before, I still managed to unintentionally piss the guy off so much during the depo that he started clinching and unclinching his hands on the table. I actually took a break 20 minutes in the damn thing because he was clearly thinking about coming over the table at me. I had 50 lbs. on the guy, but I don't want to appear in front of a judge and explain why I beat the crap out of the opposition party with the 2005 Edition of the Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules That said, you can only imagine how informative that deposition was. I swear he said, "I don't remember" over 500 times.

    The best was when he tried to get a rise out of me. I'd been asking him about his ability to work (he's a former laborer now on social security disability) and at the end of the line of questioning I asked him what jobs he felt he could do. He gave a harsh laugh, looked at his wife and said, "Maybe I could do yours." What, and trade away a fulfilling life of sitting at home on disability watching "Hawaii Five-O" marathons and eating frozen pizza?

  5. I watched the Dukes of Hazzard for the first time in probably 20 years last week. How the hell did they take such a simple cast in such a simple backdrop and keep that show fresh and original? I mean, it was the same damn plot every damn week, but it was always done in such a way to keep it interesting.

    Also, I forgot how many times they jump the Gen'l Lee each episode. They must have spent a Donald Trump-ransom on Dodge Charger suspensions.
Centinel 4:08 PM # | |

Friday, June 10, 2005

Friday Spies ©

1. What is the earliest movie you remember watching in the

I don't watch movies in the morning. Maybe, like, 2:30 p.m.?

Oh, oh!!! I remember! The earliest movie I ever remember watching was at 3 a.m. I was out drinking in law school, when a friend of mine came in the bar. She was dragging some guy who was drunker than a monkey. Turns out that the guy worked at the local movie theater that was currently playing the first Harry Potter movie. Since we both wanted to see it, we convinced the nearly unconscious theater worker to let us in and start the movie . . . but not until after last call, of course. We ended up picking up 2 first year guys, 3 drunk undergrad chicks, and a bottle of rum on the way. One of the girls got sick before the movie started, and her friends took her home with the guys following the trail like bloodhounds. My friend and I sat in the theater alone, drinking rum and Cokes and watching the movie. I remember when I left the theater the sun was rising on a peaceful Thursday morning. Damn, I sometimes miss law school.

That is what you were asking, right?

2. If you could strike one word from the English language, which
word would you choose and why?

"Flatulence" should be dispatched forthwith, so that forevermore the soothing southern sounds will be referred to by one and all as "farts."

3. If you were a superhero, what would be your kryptonite?

Housework. Every time I'm asked to do housework, I suddenly get tired.

4. Would you rather win an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, Golden Globe, Oscar,
Pulitzer, or Noble Prize? What work would you win it for?

Alright, I'll cede to you that those up for an Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe, or Oscar have much greater access to high quality, um, companionship from members of the opposite sex, but that would only be a selling point if my wife hasn't forbade me from, um, companioning with other women. I'll also grant that Tony nominees have much greater access to high quality, um, companionship from members of the same sex, but [author ponders tasteful way to finish this sentence, fails, and moves on hoping no one notices].

That leaves the Pulitzer and the Noble (sic). Now we have an interesting competition. I could never see myself winning a Noble (sic) for any scientific endeavor or economics, because then I would be condemned to a lifetime of nerdom, wedgies, swirlies, and doing dumber people's homework. The Noble (sic) Peace Prize sounds cool, but when you see that people like Yassir Arafat and Kofi Annan, it's clear that any idiot can get one. As for the Pulitzer, I wouldn't want to win one for journalism, because, although I am a lawyer, there are some things even I don't want to be associated with.

That pretty much leaves us the Pulitzer and Noble (sic) prizes for literature. Both are pretty prestigious and would, I'm sure, look good on the average mantle, but as I am a man of principle, the choice is easier. We live in a time where we need to be thinking globally. If we expect to grow morally and intellectually as a people, we need to embrace the oneness of man. Therefore, the international recognition of the Noble (sic) Prize for Literature is preferable to the American-centric Pulitzer Prize.

Really, the fact that the Noble pays $1,327,790 while the Pulitzer is worth a meager $10,000 has absolutely nothing to do with my decision.

5. What is your catch phrase? Don't have one? Then make one

OK, I considered "Big Bucks, Big Bucks, No whammies, STOP!," "Champagne Wishes And Caviar Dreams," and "Up your nose with a rubber hose," but I settled on "F*ck me running!" No, I don't know what it means, but it always makes me smile.
Centinel 2:49 PM # | |

10 minutes with : Dissolution Solution

Today's story dealt with the Unorganized Territory ("UT"), the unincorporated sparsely inhabited area of northern Maine. Incorporated towns in the region are choosing to dissolve their corporate identity and join the UT due to rising taxes. In doing so, these communities are abandoning local self-government and relying on state legislature to act in their behalf.

The state government provides all government services for UT residents for much less expense because the costs are spread out among all of the residents of the UT. The irony here is that the state legislature is the main culprit behind the dissolution of these towns. Recent laws have contributed to the raising of taxes by forcing towns to hire for such positions as animal control officer and code compliance officers. While such costs could be easily diffused among 10,000 people, they provide a serious burden on 100 taxpayers.

Way to go, Maine. It's not often you get to see a state government regulate it's own history out of existence. I would attribute this whole thing as an attempt by the state legislature to make a grab for more representative power if it weren't for the following 2 things: (1) having towns dissolve brings no real benefit to the legislature but it does provide additional administrative headaches and (2) I have never known a state legislator forward-thinking enough to plan for this eventuality. Nonetheless, Maine's legislators should feel a little bit chagrined for regulating these towns out of existence, even if it was an unintended consequence.

It's the people of small-town Maine who I feel sorry for. By dissolving, these thinly-populated areas are losing a bit of their communal nature. However, I can't fault them for making a rational decision considering the lure or cutting property taxes by 1/2 to 2/3.

I guess taxes and regulations do have real world effects. Shocking.
Centinel 2:41 PM # | |

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

10 minutes with : Covenants not to molest

The local NPR affiliate had a quick story on a developer in the Lubbock area who is developing a "no sex offenders" community. According to the report, the houses will sell with a covenant that forbids sexual predators from living on the premises. Evidently, the developer will also perform background checks on all the buyers.

I must admit, I'm of two minds about this, and both of them could care less if convicted sex offenders can find a nice place to live. The property rights part of me has a real problem with restrictions on alienability of land. If you own it, you should be able with it as you wish. Of course, by limiting the potential buyers' pool in this instance, the owners are actually driving up demand from those left, thereby increasing alienability. The freedom to contract side of me believes that you have the right to restrict your ability to take a future action if you want in order to get a concession you desire. Here the contract between neighbors is for a mutually beneficial action -- not letting in perverts (well, convicted perverts). Obviously, this would be a problem if perverts were a protected class, but they really haven't had much luck getting that legislation pushed through.

Letting my little mind wander, I wonder if this action would be possible on a larger scale -- say a town. Clearly, we are now wandering into constitutional territory, if only because enforcement of such a rule would have to rely not on an actual contract, but on the social contract therefore necessitating state action for enforcement.

A quick Google search, and I discover I'm certainly not the first one to think of this idea. It turns out that last month a New Jersey town took the unprecedented step of banning sex offenders from its borders. The ban is not express, it restricts convicted pedophiles from living within 2,500 feet of a school, playground, park, or day-care center. This half-mile buffer makes it all but impossible for a pedophile to find a residence in the town. To handle any takings issues, the town grandfathered in the current 46 sex offenders living in the buffer zone.

Interestingly, there is an argument to be made that these buffer zones, especially if done statewide, might actually lead to more problems because it makes it more difficult for pedophiles to re-enter society after serving their time.

I can also think of an inequity argument (this is, of course, a sign of the apocalypse). I would argue that only well-off neighborhoods/communities will have the knowledge and backgrounds to establish a no-pedophile zone. As such, sex offenders will be forced to move to less-affluent neighborhood/communities.

Although the ACLU is whining concerning the New Jersey case, I have not seen any compelling evidence that they have a constitutional claim against the town. My guess is that, barring judicial action, more communities will begin banishing their sex offenders (in direct proportion to the amount of child abductions on the TV).

The real question is who will be next on the banishment list. I vote for anyone who spends more on car accessories than they spent on their car. But I'm flexible . . .
Centinel 6:13 PM # | |

Monday, June 06, 2005

Gentlemen, it's party time, battalion style!

OK, here's the deal: I appreciate that you are just back to the world from Iraq. I personally would like to thank you for all of your efforts and buy you a beer. When I first saw you sitting at the bar in your desert camos I though, damn, now that's got to suck. Give a brother a Ramones shirt and some jeans, at least. Little did I know, that it was all part of your plan.

Like I said, I would buy you a beer, but you appear to be drinking for free. Not that I begrudge you that after months in the desert. In fact, I wouldn't expect anything less. I have only one small request. If you are going to hit on 21-yr old drunk chicks by telling them how you earned the nickname "Batman" and regaling them with stories of your heroism under fire in about the least subtle attempt to get laid I've ever seen, then please do so at the other end of the bar, Audie Murphy. I have enough trouble not wetting myself as it is.
Centinel 2:30 PM # | |

Friday, June 03, 2005

Lo, plain Lo in the morning, standing four-feet-ten in one sock.

Lately, I've had sex on the brain. Specifically, I've been thinking a lot about statutory rape (among other things). No, I haven't been contemplating committing said act, the thoughts were actually spurred by an interesting article published recently in the , thanks to recent articles I've read in the Dallas Observer.

I know you're busy, what with your social schedule and all, so I'll try to sum the thing up for you. The piece on the inequities within the statutory rape law here in Texas. The article's poster child was a guy who was prosecuted for statutory rape pretty much because his girlfriend missed her curfew one night. He was 19 at the time, and his girlfriend was 16. They'd been dating for two years, and had been having sex for half that time (well, actually, I think they had been "sexually active" for about a year -- having sex 50% of the time seems a bit excessive even for teenagers). One night they were out too late, and the girl's mother, in a fit of thoughtless anger, marched down to the police station and filed charges against the guy the next morning. To her credit, she did try to stop the case from going forward once her anger subsided, but by that time it was a state matter.

As the article notes, the law in Texas defines statutory rape as sex (or a sex-type act, I mean, what "is" sex? Really?) between anyone over 18 with anyone under 18 who is more than 36 months younger. (Oh, and according to the act, you can't expose your "anus" to a "child" either, so you may want to verify a recipient's age before you let them bask in the glow of your moonlight).

Anyway, since the guy's girlfriend was over the 36-month mark, he was, in layman's terms, toast. As in most states, here statutory rape is a strict liability crime -- for you lucky non-lawyer types, that means that if you had sex you're guilty. It doesn't matter whether she (or he, of course) told you she was 35, or that you met her in a bar, or that she begged you to play hide the sausage. If you "do it like they do on the Discovery Channel," the next sex you see will be face down on a prison bunk.

The guy in the article eventually pled to lesser charges to avoid jail, but he was forced to stay away from his girlfriend until she turned 17, to seek professional counseling, and to register as a sex offender. While most sex offender laws require the guilty party to register as a sex offender for 10 years, in Texas it's for life.

Of course, you know the rest of the story. When the "victim" turned 17, she moved in with him, they got married, and now, 10 years later, they are still together and have three kids . . . and he will always be a sex offender.

According to the article, only 5-10% of sex offenders are "predatory." Many of the rest are guys who picked up a girl at a party and had sex with her only to find out later that the "18-year old" was really 14. Even sexual assault prevention groups feel that the current law goes to far, but they can't do anything about it because no legislator wants to be seen as pro-rape. So there you have it -- an extraordinary view of the limitations inherent in the system. It's wrong; it's easy to fix; and no one can do a damn thing about it.

I'm sure most every guy out there has a story of a friend or acquaintance who has committed statutory rape. For example, he summer after college, I spent a lot of time over at a friend's apartment complex hanging out. One slow weekday, he, his roommate, and I were hanging out at the complex's secondary pool, when this nubile, Lolita-wannabe joined us. She was as subtle as starting a chainsaw in a library, and couldn't have been more obvious if she was riding the pool ladder. She told us that she had just moved from out of town to live with her uncle and aunt, because her parents were going through a rough patch and, boy, was she bored. She wondered aloud if there was anyone who wanted to hang out with her. Of course, it took about 10 seconds to get her to admit that she was 15. Crisis averted.

Of course, that didn't stop my friend's roommate from rounding her up as soon as he had a day alone. It's probably appropriate that he became a cop.

My fondest memory of this sort took place in college. One of the groupies at my fraternity brought her sister her sister's friend to a party one night. Both girls were attractive, tall, well-built, and well dressed. I would have guessed them to be at least 18. Wrong. Turns out they were 14. I was against letting them stay (we could have lost our charter), but no one else seemed to care (we had an elaborate warning system if the cops or anyone else showed up), so they stayed. I spent much of the evening warning brothers, pledges, etc. to not even have impure thoughts around the girls. Anyway, the friend finally begins challenging people to drinking contests, so I cut her off. Then I spent most of the rest of the night explaining to guys why this "hot brunette chick" told them I was gay.

Fortunately, the sister turned out to be much more mature than her friend. When I discussed the situation with her, she understood the fraternity's problem and was very gracious. I was impressed and knew I wouldn't have to worry about her doing anything stupid. I found out that three weeks later she came back to visit her sister and had sex with a 20-year old who I had specifically warned that night.

What amazes me when I look back on it was how mature the girls seemed (both physically, one emotionally). I have to set that aside and remember that they were in the 8th grade at the time. I remember considering this and thinking that it was disturbing that anyone could have sex with someone 7 years younger than they were (I was 21 at the time). Now I find it mildly ironic that, at the time, my wife was the same age at these girls.

All this said (translation: "please overlook my lack of organization"), I'm not so sold on Texas's statutory rape law. I know that the logic behind it is that girls need to be protected and that a bright-line law is necessary. The justification for the law is that children cannot rationally consent to sex. Then why doesn't the statute cover anyone who has sex with a minor? The answer usually given to that is that older men use their wiles (translation: "alcohol") to trick young virgins into their boudoir. I'm sure there is some truth to this -- we do need laws to stop true sexual predators -- but I wonder if it's not blowing things out of proportion. To assume that most 16-year old girls don't know exactly what they are doing when they have sex with 20-something guys is laughable, and yet we will still throw the guy to the sharks for doing the deed.

I don't like the problem, but I don't think there's an answer.

Addendum: R. Alex makes a good point in the comments regarding the threat of a statutory rape charge by parents as a means to force their daughters to have abortions. As the article noted, it can also be used against the "rapist" to ensure he does the right thing by his pregnant "victim." Despite the apparent unfairness, I can see a logical reason for allowing parents to decide whether or not to press charges. In Texas, parents can consent to marriage for children as young as 14. As the statutory rape law has an exception for sex with your spouse, the transitive property tells us that parent can therefore consent to a Jack Nicholson sexing-up their junior-high age daughter, as long as there's a marriage license involved. If that's the case, I don't see logically (not legally, mind you) why they couldn't consent to the statutory rape of their child after the fact (as long as the child was at least 14 and didn't object to Jack's ardent affections).
Centinel 11:27 AM # | |