The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Random news quotes

"Watermelon, back in the days, was a good food for African Americans, according to the Bible, but at the same time, it had an attachment with slavery and bondage ties," the Rev. Carl Johnson said.

"Butt-shark! Butt-shark!"

"It took me and the rest of the family almost three minutes to get the cow off him."

"The written informed consent of a minor's parent or legal guardian... must be obtained prior to providing body waxing on or near the genitalia."

"I was stripped naked and some guys wearing chemical suits were spraying water over me."
Centinel 3:54 PM # | |

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A night in the life

Saturday night. Dallas, Texas. My wife's out for the evening with friends watching Willie Wonka. The original plan was for me to hole up alone and read my responsibly pre-ordered and newly arrived Harry Potter book. It turns out that Amazon is not as magical as the material entrusted to it, and Mr. Potter was unable to attend our confab. Instead I sat for an evening of leftist scare tactics dressed up as an action movie entitled The Day After Tomorrow. Surprisingly, if you are able to picture in you head all the morons who actually got all hot and bothered by this pish, it became quite an enjoyable film.

TANGENT: I don't want to ruin the film "experience" for any who have missed this movie, but part of the plot requires that Mexico start taking in a good portion of American citizens. It's a pretty self-satisfied moment that the director plays with finesse by having some newsman note the irony that Americans must go to Mexico, you know, for the 3-year olds in the audience that didn't catch it. Of course, they continue to push the idea that we beg for assistance rather than acknowledge that it is likely that, upon deciding that America would become inhabitable, the U.S. military would be occupying most of South America within weeks. /TANGENT

The movie ends, the world is once again safe thanks to Dennis Quaid, and it's time to think about heading out. A change of clothes and 15-minute walk later and I'm sitting at My Bar drinking a Fat Tire draft.

There are two bartenders working tonight: the owners' son, Jimmy, and the new guy, a former metal roadie, Jake, who is fairly cool with his cute Scott Ian beard and "rock and roll" cowboy hat. Jim is a huge fight fan and is bitching about missing the Hopkins/Taylor fight. Jake has been sneaking around with his best friends girlfriend, Susan, while still trying to get together with his old girlfriend, Lauren. Susan is sitting at a table in the back and Lauren comes in and sits down next to her and they start talking a laughing. Jake gives me a look that says "this is going to turn horribly wrong very quickly." I laughed.

Beer two. My buddies Billy and Shawn come in separately. Billy does the lights for a local small concert venue and is stoked because it has been leased out to a local law firm to hold a clerk event. Very odd for a place where the average paying customer looks like this who are listening to music by this. He's stoked to be making double his rate off the rich numbnut lawyers who are brave enough to make there way to his layer of hell. Shawn works for a company inspecting gas stations, is a bit of a pretty boy/roughneck (I know, odd mix). He's dating a local waitress who wants to move in with him -- and he evidently went to see a movie earlier that night with Jake's old girlfriend Lauren. Jake is not pleased.

Beer three. I get grabbed by the arm from behind, and turn around to find Missy and her considerable breasts, which are being lifted and separated in my face. Missy is sort of a perennial screw-up. She's moderately attractive (worked the tables in a strip club), but aging rapidly. She has a tremendous smokers voice, is perpetually drunk, and is crazier than a possum in a burlap bag. I haven't seen Missy in a month or so, she hints at problems and then informs me that she's bought a local bar, and the Dallas Observer is doing a piece on her as the youngest bar owner in town. I wonder who gave her the money.

After 10 min., she begs me to walk her 3 blocks to get a check. Evidently, she's too scared to walk 3 blocks on her own, even thought there are 15 policemen sitting in an intersection on the way. I, being insane, agreed. She informs me on the way out that her bar-funding source is a local 50ish (gay?) guy who still hangs out in the area and that he's being a crappy silent partner because he can't remain silent. The bar we're making for is the local biker bar and is managed by a friend of mine who is former army security for Gen. Tommy Franks. Not to be messed with. We get down there and get patted down for weapons at the door. Not a good sign. The have the Hopkins/Taylor fight on pay-per-view. Signs improving. Rough crowd. Signs confused. Beer four. Signs happy.

Missy starts irritating everyone in sight, including the doorman who looked like he eats steak made out of nails. I flip my friend, the manager off, and settle in to watch the fight, which is now in the 6th round.

Beer five. Still watching. Hopkins is not looking too good. Beer six. Hopkins is looking better. For that matter, so is the 40-year old sitting next to me. Beer is good. The fight ends and I grab Missy and we bail back to My Bar, where she drives off into the night.

Susan and Lauren are still sitting at the back table talking and laughing. Jake looks close to hyperventilating. I tell Jimmy the fight result, and he goes completely ballistic because I didn't call him to come down and watch. He tells random customers the rest of the night that I am a dick for not calling. I am, but generally for other reasons. I would be offended, but Beer Seven salves my wounded heart.

I sit down at one of the bar game machines and start kicking names and taking ass at Funky Monkey and Trivia Master. I lost count of beers.

Next thing I know, it's closing time. Out, out, damn spots. Nothing left by the chosen few, who continue to drink as the crew cleans up. Soon, Jimmy takes off and the lights go off to provide the illusion of emptiness. Johnny Cash sings "When the Man Comes Around" though the stereo. As Lauren took off earlier, it's now me, Jake, and his illicit love hound, Susan. Susan and I begin discussing classic literature. Jake begins complaining about our discussion of classic literature, his specialty being alternative metal music recorded from 1998-2005.

Jake gets a call on his cell and says "Cool, I'll be here." When I ask him who's coming, he said "special guests." The guests, who were in the studio working on their new album, showed up and did a couple of shots. The guys were pumped and incredibly cool. After they left, I bailed for home and the comfort of my bed.
Centinel 3:36 PM # | |

Thursday, July 14, 2005


As I've mentioned recently, we are in the process of buying my first house (closing = 8 days). People have told me that this time will be a rollercoaster ride of excitement, and they have been dead on the money. They've described the anticipation, the worry, and the constant waiting with bated breath for something to happen. Hell, I've been experiencing it all. The mixed excitement and nervousness, the lack of focus and sleep, and the general feeling that this is the calm before the storm. It's moments like these that make you really feel alive, you know?

The house has been on my mind a bit, too.
Centinel 1:28 PM # | |

An idea who's time has come. Or is it "that's time has come"?

Feddie over at rock-ribbed Southern Appeal is working on creating a t-shirt with a phrase of his coinage: "Stare decisis is fo' suckas!" If you are a big fan of "The Man" Justice Thomas and/or you think Wickard v. Filburn was the worst decision since Boston traded the Babe, then this is a must have. If you are a conservative-type preparing to enter law school, you'll definitely want one of these if just to piss off your ConLaw prof.
Centinel 11:27 AM # | |

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

I just got a letter from plaintiff's counsel in one of my cases stating that he had looked "thru" my discovery responses. I would make fun of the guy, but I think in West Texas that may be an acceptable spelling of the word.
Centinel 4:18 PM # | |

Left hand, meet right hand.

Exerpt from Article #1 dated 7/13/05:
A speech by Sen. [Hillary Rodham] Clinton in January in Albany, N.Y., led to a flurry of speculation that she was shifting slightly to the right. In that speech, she called abortion a "sad, even tragic choice" and said her husband's administration had done a great deal to reduce the number of abortions in the United States.

Conservatives and abortion-rights foes portrayed the speech as a sign that she was edging toward the middle with an eye toward the 2008 presidential campaign. Her supporters, however, said she was simply repeating positions she had stated since her 2000 campaign for the Senate.
Exerpt from Article #2 dated 7/13/5:
A team of Senate and House Democrats today are planning to introduce legislation today aimed at significantly increasing size of the U.S. Army.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) airland subcommittee, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a SASC member, and Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), both members of the House Armed Services committee, are pressing for the passage of the United States Army Relief Act.
If you don't think Hillary Clinton is shoring up her right flank in a run for the presidency, I have some oceanfront property in Ft. Worth I'd like to sell you.
Centinel 2:43 PM # | |

10 minutes with : Run for the Border

I haven't been commenting on NPR lately because I just haven't had time between work, my in-laws coming to town, and doing the home-buying thing. Another reason is that they haven't been yanking my chain lately. Most of the reason for this is likely due to the fact that I've been leaving for work earlier, which forces me to listen to the local news instead of the national commentary.

On Monday, however, the forces of the universe aligned to bring about something only slightly rarer than full solar eclipse, an interesting NPR story that I, generally, agree with. I say "agree" because NPR's "news" commentaries are generally just liberal viewpoint reporting. However, today, NPR hit an issue that is red meat to the America First crowd: illegal immigration. Specifically, they tackled the problem of OTM ("other than Mexican") illegal immigration out of Mexico.

Let me state on the record that I'm not all paleo-conish when it comes to the issue of illegal immigration. I'm certainly for enforcing the laws we have on the book, but I also believe that immigration is a necessary component of continued national strength.

That said, NPR's reporting on OTM immigrants was an eye-opener. They stated that under current regulations, border patrol agents return Mexican immigrants to the border after they bust them trying to sneak into the US. It is a somewhat futile gesture, the Mexicans just try again until they taste freedom, which, as everyone knows, tastes awfully similar to Cherry Garcia ice cream. OTMs, on the other hand, are not kicked out but are given a ticket and a "permiso," which instructs them to show up before an immigration court on such-and-such a date. They are then set free, what border patrol agents refer to as "catch and release," and their permiso gets them past other checkpoints. The reasoning behind this, according to the Border Patrol, is that they simply don't have the manpower to detain these illegal entrants until their trial.

OTMs have recognized this loophole in the system and are exploiting it like a carney ringmaster with a 2-headed cow. It appears that illegal immigration from OTMs is doubling every year to where it's estimated that 71,000 OTMs illegally crossed into the US this year. That's 71.000 Brazilians, Hondurans, and Chinese (yes, the Chinese are sneaking across the Rio, too) that are given a free pass to roam. Homeland Security, indeed.

Perhaps the least shocking statistic of the weeks show that a whopping 2% of the ticketed OTMs actually show up for their court dates. This is probably the same 2% from which they draw the celebrity jury pool -- those too dumb to get away. Judges read off charges and findings to virtually empty courtrooms while the defendants themselves are trimming the judges' hedges on a landscaping crew.

I could comment on how asinine it all is that we are struggling to control our borders, yet we are letting thousands of potential terrorists and cabbage pickers into our country on their own personal recognizance, but, really, what more can I say.

I can, however, salute NPR for their courage in broadcasting on such a controversial topic. They are an inspiration to us all.
Centinel 11:04 AM # | |

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drillin' rights on that man's head.

So I'm walking through the farmers' market checking out the goods, when this guy walks up next to me, points to the basket of peaches in front of him, and says to the seller, "Are these peaches from Texas?" To which the seller responds, "No, they're from Georgia." Making a dismissive gesture with his hand, the guy says, "Keep 'em -- I only eat Texas peaches" and walks away.

This to me symbolizes one of the problems from being a Texan. Clearly, this guy either (1) felt that Texas peaches were superior to Georgia peaches or (2) recognized that Georgia peaches may be superior to Texas peaches, but wasn't willing to buy them because they weren't from the great, by-God State of Texas. I'd like to give him a break and assume the former is true and he is just ignorant, but after spending a couple of years in Texas I strongly suspect the latter best covers the situation. As I've often said, Texans will buy urine in a bottle if you slap a "Made in Texas" label on it. How else do you explain Shiner?
Centinel 3:51 PM # | |

Monday, July 11, 2005

Irony: Getting killed by the "No Standing" sign you're standing in front of

For those of you heading to law school (or for those of you in law school, considering law school, or fondly remembering all the alcohol you drank while in law school), I present you with the current ranking contender for future exam questions in torts: the "No Standing" sign homicide.

Scenario: Thug shoots at car, hitting driver, who runs into street sight, that then falls and hits bystander who is thereby killed.

The police are seeking the thug above for murder. I'm no expert on NY criminal law, but this is probably a felony murder case, that is, a case where an accidental death occurred in the commission of a felony.

Torts professors will likely have fun getting their students to channel Cardozo in answering some question regarding the civil liability of the shooter under Palsgraf. My advice, should you be facing a torts exam, would be to email this scenario to Milbarge, wait for him to answer, and then use said answer as the basis for any potential tort question.
Centinel 9:34 AM # | |

Friday, July 08, 2005

Friday Spies ©: Widescreen Edition

1. Tropical Storm Cindy and Hurricane Dennis are causing trouble in the Southeast this week. Share a natural disaster story.

Hundreds of years ago, when I was in college, Hurricane Hugo struck in South Carolina and began working it's way up the coast. My school was in the Virginia mountains, but the rest of my family were in Charlotte, NC, which ended up being directly in the storm's path. I remember getting ready to hit a party and having my mother call to describe tall trees bent so far that their tops were touching the ground.

After leaving Charlotte, Hugo headed right for us. Classes were cancelled early (for no apparent reason) and my fraternity actually planned a Hurricane Hugo Party, with a banner and everything. Alas, it was not to be. Hugo bounced off the mountains and headed back toward the coast, and we were left to party in a mild drizzle.

I remember going over to a friend of mine's house the next morning, and he had the TV on. The station had planned to show a seniors' golf event from Charlotte, but couldn't due to the devastation. I can still see the camera shots of huge trees laying across the fairway. It wasn't until that moment that I realized how badly Charlotte had been nailed. My parents went without electricity for several cold weeks, and were really unable to leave the neighborhood for some time due to the fallen logs.

Ok, so that was more a boring, vicarious natural disaster story. Sue me.

2. What is your favorite work of art?

Just kidding. I generally love anything by Van Gogh:

3. Do you squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle or the

From the middle, I guess. I'm not really OCD like that.

4. What is your favorite "cult" film?

I have to pick a favorite??? How about a few of my favorites?

OK, I lied; this is my favorite:

5. Would you go into space if given the chance? Where would you

I don't know. I guess it would depend on how you got me up there. I mean, if I were in a rocket, I suppose it would be cool, but if you just tied me up and sat me on a huge catapult that would blow. Especially since I bet it's cold in space. And no one can hear you scream.
Centinel 3:16 PM # | |

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I'll take my stand.

For your reading pleasure, here's a damn interesting article on the dulcet Southern dialect, its origins and future. As the author eventually notes, many of the words that were used in our agrarian past are gone, but I recognize a few from my grandparents (I don't use "snapbeans," but contrary to the author's implication a "mosquito hawk" is not a dragonfly, my friend). Of course, none of the article can explain to me why my dialect is generally undetectable, unless I'm talking to someone with a Southern dialect (or am angry). My wife points out that I sound like an extra from the Dukes of Hazzard when I talk to my mom, but as soon as the conversation's over, the honey falls from my tongue.

The author notes that, in places such as Dallas, the fine distinctions in how Southerners pronounce their vowels are fading away under an onslaught of foreigners, both foreign and domestic. Part of me accepts that this is the way of things. Contrary to the beliefs of the Southern Agrarians, there can be no return to our landed past. Urbanization is more than a fact, it is, I believe, a cultural absolute -- we can no more return to our rural, communal past than we can undiscover electricity. Another part of me, however, remains melancholy for what we lost in the trade. Gone are the sense of community, control, and belonging of our past, replaced by convenience, abundance, and action.

As I mature, I find that I miss the safety of the known, the quiet, and the secluded more and more. For this reason, my wife and I have decided to quit living in downtown Dallas and remove ourselves to a near-rural community 25 miles away. While I dread the commute I will have to face, that dread is more than outweighed by the thought that I will have nearly an acre of land and be able to hear crickets at nights and june bugs during the day. I want to have my children, should I ever have any, have the benefit of not being raised in the city. I want to have my weekends feel like I'm a million miles from work.

Who knows, maybe I'll even start talking like I useta could.
Centinel 4:55 PM # | |

There ought not to be a law

Years ago, I was doing some political work in Oklahoma for a pretty savvy political operative. In out time together, we would often wax on the state of the world, its ills and cures. One day over lunch he said that he had a perfect example of what was wrong in most legislatures.

In his younger days, my friend had been a campaign consultant on a number of state legislative races in Iowa. One of his candidates was a conservative politico who had never run for office, but was a committed and effective candidate. During the race, the candidate would often complain in speeches and appearances about unnecessary legislation and incessant government regulation. She stated that she was committed to getting government out of the lives of Iowa citizens and businesses. With the assistance of my friend, she rode this message to victory against a sitting Democrat legislator.

Fast forward a couple of months. The new legislature is now in session and my friend is reading his morning paper when he glances at an article about some bill that would outlaw the use of plastic holders for six packs. It seems the tree huggers were up in arms about the potential species-ending threat these 6-holed menaces were having on the local bird populations, members of which were apparently sticking their heads in the discarded holders and strangling themselves. My friend could only shake his head. More useless regulation that was going to drive up the cost of doing business for a sector of the economy, as well as the cost of buying a six pack of Coke or Bud Light, with no discernible benefit. Reading down he was shocked to discover that his winning candidate was the author of the legislation. In disbelief he called her office and asked her what she was doing. How could she, after passionately arguing against regulation, make her first bill such a useless expansion of red tape? Her reply: This is just a little bill that was a concern of some of my constituents, and I love birds and don't want to see them hurt.

This, my friend told me, was the ultimate undoing of the Conservative Movement in this country. Pet causes and good ideas often outweigh general principles. Many legislators claim to dislike regulation, but support individual regulatory bills because they are good ideas. Nobody wants senior citizens to go hungry, so as a result we have a creaking, over-burdened, and eventually doomed Social Security system. Next thing you know, we're forcing businesses to redo all of their packaging at a cost of thousands of dollars to save a bird or two. Legislators oven lament the problem, but are unwilling to do anything because, well, they need to be promoting new legislation because that's what they were elected to do, right? They need "Results" in flashing neon.

A small human interest story in today's news has me thinking about this problem again. Some hack Republican legislator, Rep. Tom Stevenson, in Pennsylvania is so desperate for new regulations that he is actually trolling his constituents for new and exciting ideas to grind the gears of individual freedom. He has created the wittily-titled "There Ought to be a Law" contest, whereby his constituents can vie to see who comes up with the prettiest piece of red tape.

And his constituents have responded. Well, at least one 11-year old has responded. It seems young Marc McCann is troubled by animals sticking their heads out of car windows that he wants the government to restrain their owners. It seems that Master McCann is worried that a sign might hit the animal in the head (well, I suppose it could be a giraffe) or that the animal, fighting millions of years of evolution, would jump from the speeding vehicle. Perhaps he recalls the wisdom of Jack Handy, who stated, "Better not take a dog on the space shuttle, because if he sticks his head out when you're coming home his face might burn up." Whatever the case, while there is no actual documented problem here that needs to be solved, Little Marc has a concern, Rep. Stevenson has a crusade, and it may end up that all Pennsylvanians will be forced to box up their pets before taking them for a nice drive to the doggie park, or will be required by law to try to put a seatbelt on their cat (a feat I would actually like to see performed).

The road to hell is well paved.
Centinel 8:52 AM # | |

Friday, July 01, 2005

Friday Spies ©: I hate question #5 edition

1. Is Tom Cruise correct that we're not alone in the universe?

I suppose that's safer that the question "Is Tom Cruise proof that we're not alone in the universe?" For the sake of discussion, I'm going to read the question to be asking about space aliens. The answer to the asked question is, as with most things said by Tom Terrific, "no."

Years ago I read Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos, in which he used math to look at interesting situations and theories, much like Steven Levitt did with economics in Freakonomics. In one of the chapters, Paulos explained using numbers and odds how astronomically small the chances are of sentient life developing on other planets and coming to Earth. As the last phrase denoted, the question being explored was whether we have been visited by space aliens, not whether they exist.

Logically, the latter is more probable than the former. Theoretically, life could have spawned on another world, evolved (if you believe that sort of thing), reached a level of technological knowledge far superior to our own, but the odds that they would have achieved all this and been at their civilizations zenith at this very moment, as opposed to 2 billion years ago, mastered faster than light travel, and came on over to make spirographs on a cornfield in Iowa is ludicrous.

Those who believe in space aliens have to use ignorance as their basis. Why have we never had a verified alien visit? Because, dude, they have, like, a cloaking device. Or maybe because we aren't "advanced" enough. The nearest star to the solar system is over 4 light years away. The closest planet is much farther than that. Why would aliens spend years to fly to Earth to anal probe some drunk redneck? Because, man, they have, like, faster-than-light drive and can get here in, like, seconds.

It's all crap. We're a freakish anomaly. Live with it.

2. What is a fashion trend that you would like to see go away, and what is a fashion you would like to see come back in style?

Go away? Where do I start? Right now, I'm stuck on the stupidity of the faux hawk. Or if that's not "fashion" enough for you, I'm looking forward to the death of idiots wearing basketball jerseys over t-shirts. What's that all about, anyway? Every weekend, without fail, I see a group of out of shape guys all sporting this "look" -- not to play basketball, mind you, but to hit a bar and, presumably, to try to score. I say, be brave. Quit hiding your feelings and start sporting that wife beater.

What do I want to come back in fashion? Daisy Dukes. And I'm clearly about to get my wish.

3. I was going to ask what city will win next week's vote on the host of the 2012 Olympics, but everyone knows it's going to be Paris, so I decided to tweak it: What city that you have visited (or lived in) would be a good Olympic host city, and why?

I want to see Daytona Beach land a Winter Olympics, because (1) sports are all about challenge and (2) I hate the friggin' cold.

4. Happy Canada Day to our readers in the Great White North! In light of that holiday, and our own upcoming Independence Day, tell us your favorite Independence Day memory. (And yes, those of you in other nations can use whatever national holiday you celebrate.)

I think it has to be the year that we rounded up all the British people in town and hanged them. Go America!!!

Actually, my fond July 4th memories concerned my family reunions at Lake Sinclair in Georgia. Good food, good family, skiing and bottle rocket fights. Isn't that what our boys froze their asses off for at Valley Forge?

5. The Supreme Court ruled this week on one set of commandments, but we want to hear yours. What are the Ten Commandments of [X]? Pick a topic and reveal its ten most important rules. Phrasings with "shalt" appreciated but not required.

Man, is it me or have these #5 questions been a complete asswhip lately? Yeah, this is going to have to wait. But as Zod as my witness, I will answer it!
Centinel 4:09 PM # | |

Come on in, boys, the water's fine.

The last election baked me on politics. I'm like the alcoholic who returns to the bottle, in that every couple of years I actually start paying attention to the political scene again only to wake up hungover. I know from experience that it's all that sweet talk. The GOP candidates are just using me for my body -- they'll tell me anything to get me into bed. But when the morning comes, they're out the door before the sun rises -- heading out to play kisseyface with the 40-odd percent who didn't vote for them in an attempt to win EVERY SINGLE VOTE next time.

For awhile there, I wondered if this time would be different. Maybe Bush is a good guy, I thought; maybe he will flower without the threat of an election. Yeah, and maybe if frogs had wings they wouldn't bump their asses when they hopped.

All those "conservatives" who lined up behind Bush did so for one alleged reason -- no matter how bad he was, we'd at least get solid individuals nominated to the SCOTUS. I told them they were only setting themselves up for a heartbreak, but they didn't believe me. Now the body of Sandra Day O'Connor isn't even cold, and they're already in full crisis mode concerning a possible pro-abortion Gonzales nomination.

Oh, well. Better late than never. It's going to be a long summer.
Centinel 3:12 PM # | |