Kill ‘Em All

So my trivia answer of the day: Abbot Arnaud Amaury. I’m sure you’re wondering what the question is now, aren’t you? Who was the guy who first coined the immortal phrase “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out”? I've already told you the answer. Actually, what he said was
Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.
For those of you not up on your Latin, this translates to “Kill them all! The Lord will recognize his own.” While not the exact wording popular in the modern era, the sentiment remains the same. The Abbot was a papal legate during the Crusade against the Albigensians during the early 13th century. His comment precipitated the massacre of the residents of Béziers. Isn’t history fun?

In other fun papal-related facts, did you know there was a Pope Cletus? I eagerly await a pope who chooses the regnal name of Bubba, although I am unaware of a saint with that name.


Happiness and Pants

Will Wilkinson is reading books again, this time about happiness and paradox and why we’re no happier if we’re so much better off. I’d make comments as to his substantive points, but I don’t have any. Instead, I’m going to tangent off this:

Because happiness is just one of the good things that makes a life go well, not the thing that makes a life go well. Being happy is like having a good pair of shoes. They'll take you lots of places. But you still need somewhere to go. And you still need pants.
Really, doesn’t the correct choice of destination remove the need for pants? Or shoes, for that matter? I mean, yes, you’d be pantsless and barefoot, but in some places that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I go pantsless and barefoot around YPS Manor frequently. There’s no real need to put on shoes and pants just to get ice cream out of the fridge at 2 in the morning, which arguably improves my happiness. I think his metaphor for shoes and pants is somewhat flawed.

Honestly, I think I just wanted to use the word pantsless. A more substantive comment might be that happiness is a result of a life going well, not the inverse. If I felt like being even more substantive, I'd point out that material well-being has never been considered a prerequisite for happiness. Why is the failure of happpiness to pervade our lives just because we have stuff particularly noteworthy or paradoxical?


Baseball Is Over!

Okay, let me start by saying that I don’t give a flat rat’s ass about Major League Baseball. Pick your favored analogy for unexciting events – paint drying, grass growing, brain death from oxygen deprivation– and however little you care about that choice, I care about baseball even less. I’m going to use this opportunity to rant about baseball related behavior, instead.

My first objection is all the people that magically show an interest and become Astros "fans" because they finally made it to the series. I’ve seen more Astros gear in the past week than I have in the previous year. The johnny-come-latelies are the worst about assuming that everybody else has succumbed to the madness of the crowd and hopped on the bandwagon with the rest of the lemmings. I didn’t care about the Astros last week and I don’t care now. No, I will not be watching on TV. Do not end every conversation with "Go ‘Stros". Take off that ugly shirt you got at Academy and go back to work. Honestly, if you showed no interest when they weren’t going, why does it matter now? I don’t get it and all you damned lemmings are annoying.

My second peeve about the whole series is the apologists. "Well, they got there, that’s enough for me." I started overhearing this line of crap after the second game. I don’t get this attitude, either. The only team I follow is the Texas Longhorns. I fully expect them to be capable of winning the National Championship when they finally get there again in January. Nobody on the ‘Horns has ever been in the Championship before. So what? The people talking about how the Astros have never been and blah, blah, blah need to shut up. As a team, the Astros have never been. But damn, some of their people have been multiple times and have the rings to show for it. Why apologize for these people? They get paid absurd amounts of money to play the game. You can sure as hell expect them to be competitive. Don’t expect them to show up for the game with the attitude of worked hard enough, time to coast. Screw that. I’m not even in touch with the whole "Second place is the first loser" mentality. I spent too damn long in the Army, where second place is the first casualty. If you’re gonna be in it, be in it to win it. Otherwise, why are you even bothering?

Anyhow, I’m glad all this nonsense is over so I don’t have to hear about baseball again for the foreseeable future.


Tasty Kool-Aid

At least it must be, because David Brooks apparently drank gallons of the stuff.
Bush hasn’t abandoned conservatism; he’s modernized and saved it.

Okay, refresh my memory. Isn’t Brooks the guy that used to be a liberal but saw the light? Or did he used to be a conservative, went liberal to get laid more, but came back to the cause of righteousness when the GOP took the White House? Or is he the guy that was conservative until the statute of limitations ran out, and then became liberal? I can’t remember, nor can any see any reason why I should bother. Can you say "sycophantic suck-up", boys and girls? I knew you could! Really, with lines like this:

Despite all the mistakes that have been made, it is nonetheless true that Bush has ennobled and saved American conservatism.

But they will not succeed unless they absorb the essential lessons that are George W. Bush’s best legacy.

Ennobled? Best legacy? I guess the old grape stuff is passé. Whatever flavor they’re serving up at the White House these days is even yummier. I’m gonna go off somewhere and laugh myself silly now.

But before I go, according to all sources I’ve read, the metaphor shouldn't be Kool-Aid. It should be this. But I'm sure Jel-Sert would rather people forgot about that whole nasty business.

Fire! Fire! Fire!

So there’s an update to the Gallery of Regrettable Food and it includes this wonderful stuff. Now this is a product with potential market. Lileks is right when he says that every man alive wants some. Flammable shaving cream! How cool is that? Damn you, CPSC and liability lawsuits! The coolest stuff goes away because of them. I miss my lawn darts, dammit.

BTW, it helps if you imagine the Beavis voice and laugh while reading the headline.


Spontaneous Combustion

Dale Franks has a post up on some of the differences between various strains of conservative. I get amused, as always, when the guys at Q&O try to explain their views of libertarians and libertarianism in general. It’s especially amusing in the context of discussing the various flavors of conservatism. The part that I really find funny is the bold statement:

Libertarians will also probably spontaneously burst into flames when I say that Libertarianism is essentially anti-state conservatism
So there are various flavors of conservative, but only one kind of libertarian? This is the kind of comment that make other folks wonder if the gentlemen at Q&O understand libertarianism as a political philosophy. Yes, you could probably put some (not anywhere close to all) libertarians under this banner. It hews pretty closely to the political philosophy at Q&O, but fails to adequately address the entire spectrum of libertarian thought. Conservatism is not the defining libertarian thought, guys. Take the implied hint from the name. The emphasis with libertarians is on individual liberty. Oddly enough, this leads directly to an anti-authoritarian worldview, the state being included. What, if anything, is conservative about this viewpoint? Individual liberty is not now, nor has it ever been, the status quo that one supposes conservatives would aspire to protect. The things that conservatism wants to protect are simply diffuse authorities that stifle individual liberty. Some individual libertarians may be okay with the weight of tradition and history serving as a means to keep man's baser impulses under control, but many would not.

I don’t think the comment is going to make anyone spontaneously combust. It might make them spontaneously erupt in laughter, though.


Vampires and Guns

Okay, so Anne Rice has apparently been holed up overlooking the Pacific Ocean writing a book about Jesus. I eagerly await the next volume of the series when the baby Jesus battles vampires for the soul of humanity. Perhaps she wouldn’t consider that to be "for the Lord", so maybe the plot will vary slightly from my synopsis. We’ll have to wait and see. I confess I’m baffled. I’ll just do what I always do, which is to take her newfound religiosity on face value for the time being. If I were a cynical old curmudgeon, I might think that the sales on the vampire stuff have been steadily declining over the years and she needed a new shtick to prop up sales numbers. However, that would be ungracious of me. I’ll leave it to the rest of the world to reconcile the vampire goth-porn godmother with the biographer of Jesus, since they are now one and the same.

In other completely unrelated news, Brazil kicked an anti-gun referendum to the curb. The attempted ban was notable mainly because it got slapped down 64% to 35%. That’s a pretty staggering defeat in a democracy. The Fox article quotes some asshat from California thusly:

"Now, a lot of Brazilians are insisting on their right to bear arms, they don't even have a pseudo right to bear arms. It's not in their Constitution."
I shouldn’t be appalled at this basic misunderstanding of how rights work from a resident of our largest and silliest state, but it’s still annoying. Americans, above all others, should understand how rights work. A constitution only codifies rights, it does not grant them. Rights are, to borrow a word, inalienable. Governments are instituted among men to secure these rights, deriving their powers from the consent of the governed. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Have you heard this somewhere before? If you missed this basic point in civics class all those years ago, maybe you shouldn’t be trying to convince the rest of the world what rights they should or shouldn’t have.

Dave Kopel has more thoughts on the Brazil issue, as does GWA.45.

Red What?

I really thought Texas Tech was going to step up this weekend and play a football game. I guess I was wrong. At this point, if Texas keeps their head together, we’ll be going to the Rose Bowl again. The only game I see left on the schedule that has the potential to be difficult is A&M. If we are still undefeated going in to Thanksgiving, the Aggies will do everything they possibly can to be the spoilers for the season.

I don’t think it’ll work, though.


Lawful Commerce

So, are we all aware by now that Congress has passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms act? We are? Good. Oh, wait. I note some of you in the back have blank looks on your face. Even my lovely and esteemed co-blogger had no idea what I was talking about this morning before I left for work. Of course, I don’t have coffee until I get to work so I’m more than usually incoherent. Here’s the short version of what and why.

The Brady Center, in conjunction with certain excessively liberal jurisdictions, has been pushing lawsuits that are aimed at putting gun manufacturers out of business. Alternatively, the lawsuits are aimed at effectively making one jurisdiction’s laws a national standard by threat of lawsuit. DC comes to mind as having some particularly egregious actions in this regard. The theory is that gun manufacturers are liable for the misuse of their products by criminals. No other manufactured item that I am aware of is held to this standard. Even if the lawsuits aren’t won, fighting a lawsuit takes an enormous amount of money, which many smaller manufacturers don’t have. The avowed intent of the lawsuits is to horrendously abuse the legal system to incorporate by lawsuit restrictions which cannot get passed through the legislative process.

So Congress, with a little prodding, passed a law that says you don’t get to sue gun manufacturers unless they have a defective product or are negligent. If the manufacturer sells a product with no design or manufacturing flaws, is not negligent in the course of selling the weapon, and the weapon is later used to commit a crime, you don’t get to sue the manufacturer. Dave Kopel has a post explaining why he thinks the law is constitutional. I tend to agree with his points, although some of them look a little weak to me.

I am deriving a great amount of twisted amusement reading the comments. I am once again amazed by the number of people who, quite simply, either didn’t read or didn’t understand the bill and proceed to bitch about how it’s wrong. There is nothing in the bill that shields the manufacturer from being sued on the grounds of actual negligence. If there is, somebody needs to point it out to me because I’m missing it. I must have got confused by all the sections that say negligence is exempted from the provisions of the bill. So maybe all the asshats who didn’t RTFA should go back and work on reading comprehension before spouting off about how horrible the bill is.

I am also amazed by the people that are completely unable to draw any sort of rational distinction between a gun and any other tool. The idea that guns are somehow intrinsically more dangerous than all other tools is laughable. I am going off memory here, but the three tools responsible for the largest amount of serious injury in the home are table saws, chain saws, and circular saws. Yet somehow, guns are "ultra-hazardous" despite the fact that cars kill way more people annually. Any attempt to classify guns as more dangerous than other items runs into a brick wall of statistics sooner rather than later. If guns are so dangerous, why are more deaths caused by other things? You have to drill down pretty deep to find any sub-group where the rate of death by gunshot is higher than a multitude of other causes. If guns were indeed so damned hazardous, wouldn’t you expect the reverse to be true? The claim that guns are ultra hazardous is belied by actual mortality statistics. What can you fall back on? The nebulous idea that guns are designed to be dangerous? Here’s a hint for you: all tools are dangerous in theory. In actual practice, they turn out to not be so dangerous after all.

Another interesting claim made by one of the posters is the sale of guns imposes costs and these costs should be placed on the manufacturer. Somebody doesn’t understand how to differentiate between sale and use. Somebody also doesn’t grasp how externalities work. The mere existence of a gun imposes no external cost on anyone, any more than the existence of a screwdriver does. The lawful and responsible use of guns imposes no costs on society in general, with noise pollution being a possible exception. The illegal and irresponsible use of guns does impose external costs. In that case, why hold the manufacturer liable for the costs? I fail to see how that’s justifiable. The person who commits the proximate act which imposes the cost should be held liable. The only way involving the manufacturer is remotely legitimate is if the item itself is intrinsically flawed in some way. Some people actually think guns are intrinsically flawed, tying closely to the "ultra-hazardous" idea above. These tend to be the same people who think guns are evil and nasty and horrible. Since I think inanimate objects are not possessed with moral qualities, I can’t buy that argument. Guns are not in any conceivable fashion actors. Any gun requires the conscious intervention of a person or persons before it does anything. Said people are responsible for everything the gun does or fails to do, not the manufacturer located 2,000 miles away.

Equally as bizarre is the assertion made about how the bill subverts personal responsibility. Since, after all, once I make something, I’m responsible for what every asshat from now until eternity does with it. Does anyone see the flaw in this argument if generally applied? Way to destroy all manufacturing of anything remotely dangerous or subject to misuse. Oh, wait, we already did this once. The light aircraft industry no longer exists in America because of that exact same argument.

Ultimately, a lot of these arguments boil down to the conviction, unassailable by logic or evidence, that guns are in a special category requiring heightened liability and excessive caution. Unfortunately for people with this viewpoint, the special category guns fall into is a constitutionally protected one.


Gun Control Is Bad, MMKay?

Someday, someone should explain to me how John Stossel still has a career at ABC. I can’t imagine he goes over well with the people that run the newsroom. I guess if you keep putting up ratings, that’s all that matters, huh?

While I disagree occasionally with Mr. Stossel, he’s nailed the issue with his column on gun control. He reiterates what has been pointed out repeatedly: gun control does nothing but disarm the law-abiding. Criminals are not inclined to obey the laws on gun control any more than the laws on robbery, theft, or assault. He also went and interviewed actual criminals, who, shockingly enough, don't go and buy guns from legal channels of distribution. I know I'm shocked. The charming individuals interviewed also don't like the idea of ordinary citizens having guns. It bothers them, which is reason enough to have a firearm.

Besides, Mr. Stossel quoted our favorite court opinion. We like people smart enough to agree with us.


Spending Makes the Baby Efenant Cry

Well, for those of you that are a) fiscally conservative and b) Republicans, Reason asks the unanswerable question and provides lots of data for you to contemplate while you think about your answer.

I don’t think the RNC has a grasp on just how irritated the base is getting. Between no meaningful immigration reform, no fiscal restraint, no end to entitlement growth, and no spine on judicial appointments there are a lot of disgruntled efenants. I don't think any mass shift in party loyalty is going to happen, but the leadership on both sides seems to be out of touch with the base. Neither side is doing a good job at appealing to the middle. It's time to forge a third party consensus!

Or not. After all, it's worked out so well in the recent past.



I haven’t blogged much about the ridiculousness of the Tom DeLay indictment. Given what I know of the facts, it looks like Ronnie Earle is on crack and Tom DeLay is going to walk. The fact that Ronnie Earle spent 3 years on this case and came up with a BS indictment alleging an imagined violation of law was bad enough. He also had to shop his facts to three different grand juries to get an indictment that wasn’t facially invalid. So far, it ain’t looking good for Mr. Earle.

Now, I’m having flashbacks to CBS and "fake but accurate". According to the Comical, a list of candidates claimed as evidence by the prosecution doesn’t actually exist. Instead, the DA’s office has a "similar" list. Similar? Is that the standard these days? Hell, I'm gonna try presenting a similar lottery ticket and see what I can get.

Why does the word "witchhunt" keep running through my head? I’m waiting for Ronnie Earle to dredge up a witness claiming Tom DeLay turned him into a newt. The desperate attempt to find some violation of law has gone beyond pathetic and moved on into embarrassing.

Fat, Fat, Fat

Well, the Ren Fest is in full swing up in Plantersville. Once again, we made the arduous trip. I was disappointed because J ordered me a fabulous item of clothing to wear. Alas, it did not arrive in time, so I fell back to a shirt that still makes me giggle when I pull it out of the closet. The shirt was a big hit amongst many of the vendors at the fair. I did have one moron ask me what it meant. I think he thought he was being clever or something.

The preferred shirt was definitely necessary. Once again, I plead with my fellow Americans. Nobody wants to see your chunky cellulite encrusted self in the almost altogether. Recognize this and accept it. If you want to run around and wave your flab at people, do it in private where the rest of us don’t have to watch. Seriously, few of us have the kind of physique that is attractive enough for public display, so don’t.

Anyhow, we went and ate and drank mightily. The batter fried sausage on a stick was consumed again this year, but was not as good as years past. I think the underlying sausage was inferior. When deep frying a battered sausage, a quality sausage is essential. The sausage was a little rubbery and not very juicy, in addition to being bland. Also on the menu was the fried mushroom on a stick. The shrooms had a worse batter this year. It had a grittier consistency and was not up to my exacting standards for stick-borne fried comestibles. It seemed to be more of a cornmeal batter than the usual (and superior for mushrooms) flour base. We also had a steak on a stick, which was fine, if a little bland. The winner of the fried food on sticks competition this year was a pork tenderloin, pounded thin, battered, staked, and fried. Nice and tasty. The batter complemented the juicy pork quite well. All in all, the staked pork was the hands-down winner.

Of course, I still have to schedule a doctor visit for a cholesterol test. Maybe the festival of fried foods wasn’t such a good plan. Oh, well. Hopefully I drank enough to thin out some of the grease. I must admit, I’m a little disappointed that they weren’t selling Bass like last year. On the other hand, the tavern had Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic on tap and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout was available at random intervals throughout the place. They also had a wide enough variety of other alcoholic beverages to satisfy the somewhat pickier J. On a side note, when they say "Jack and Coke" flavor for the frozen drinks, they’re lying. It tastes like neither Jack Daniels nor Coca-Cola. It tastes more like supermarket brand cola with grain alcohol. I can’t in good conscience recommend anyone buy the fake stuff, because it was nasty. That didn’t stop me from drinking a half-yard of it, though.

As always, I encourage people to go if you happen to be within a reasonable driving distance. Since we frittered away the day drinking and lollygagging, we didn’t get to everything. This means we must go back, probably in November. When we go back, I’ll have my shirt on.



We went out for dinner last night, it being our anniversary. Houston Press called T’afia the best restaurant in town, so we figured we’d try it. Houston Press was wrong.

That’s not to say that T’afia is not a good restaurant. It simply isn’t the best in town. Frankly, in my opinion, it’s not even close. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three better restaurants. (Tour D’Argent, Mark’s, Aries, Rouge – wait, that’s four). The Press has always had this weird crush on Monica Pope. Back when she had Boulevard Bistrot, they raved about it, too. I just don’t get it. She does good work, but not nearly good enough to rate all the slobbery wet kisses she gets from food critics.

We each had soup and an entrée. I got a barley soup and the Niman Ranch flat iron steak with cheese grits and caramelized onions. J got the salmon and potato soup and the lamb curry with rice. The best out of anything was the lamb. It was falling apart fork-tender and had enough curry flavor to be interesting, but not so much as to completely overpower the lamb. The barley soup had an interesting texture, kind of gelatinous, but not enough flavor to make me pay attention. My entrée was good, but not so good it made me want to come back. For dessert, we split a chocolate bread pudding with sour cherries and crème anglais. Again, it was curiously understated. The sour cherries had more flavor than anything else. Maybe I’m not subtle enough to get the style at T’afia.

After some discussion last night, I tend to agree with J’s assessment. Monica Pope is heavily into the locally-grown, organic produce scene. The idea appeals to the people at the Press, so they tend to think the food is somehow better. I don’t see it.

Of course, the reader’s choice for best restaurant was Brennan’s and I know that’s a lie. For my money, the best food in town still comes from Aries.

Anyhow, it’s off to the Ren Fest tomorrow. A fried food report will be forthcoming on Monday, or when my arteries unclog.



Ah, pretentiousness. Truly, it is the stock in trade of the professional critic. Either that or verbose cluelessness. I’m not sure which is more defining. Today’s example is the high-falutin’ stylings of Peter Schjeldahl. He cranked out almost 3,500 words on the artistic value of graphic novels as a signifier in the war of youth on old age. Or something. My eyes glazed over a little bit so I missed some parts.

All I can really think is some pretentious art fuck has just recently discovered graphic novels and now feels qualified to tell the rest of us what to think. Ultimately, that’s the problem of critics like Peter. It’s not enough to tell us whether something is worth our time to engage, be that reading or viewing or listening. He must also tell us why it’s wonderful and why we should care. We have to read incessant blather on the meaning of art or the growth of the medium or the fantabulousness of dramatic thaumaturgy as demonstrated by complicated visual design. Whatever, art boy. I‘ve got college degrees, too, and can spit out big words to describe small ideas with the best of them. I can also determine meaning for myself. Just tell me if you think it’s worth me spending my finite time on, not where it sits in the pantheon of western culture or how it shapes history.

Damn. No wonder I never read the New Yorker. Or most criticism, for that matter.

Sometimes, WTF Is The Only Appropriate Response

Rick Moranis recorded a country album.

Yes, that Rick Moranis.

Blame Ces for this disturbing news.

Cops and Guns

Most people who care about the 2nd Amendment are aware of the upcoming attempt by San Francisco to strip away the rights of city residents. Via Paul and AlphaPatriot comes the interesting tidbit that the actual rank and file SF cops are opposed.

Wow. Cops in SF have some sense. Actually, I’ve noticed over the years that there are two kinds of cops when it comes to guns. The first category is the kind that seem to get promoted to positions of authority. They hold to the Dogbert position of not trusting citizens with anything more dangerous than string. The other kind are the ones that think all gun control does is disarm the honest citizen. They know good and well the goblins and thugs will get guns no matter what laws get passed. To broadly over-generalize, the first kind are the people that went into police work because of control issues and penis envy. The second kind are the people that went into police work to protect and serve.

I don’t think the police opposition will do any good, but I like to see the cops standing up for the citizens’ rights. Kudos to the SFPOA for taking the good side.


Heavy Rotation

I’m not following much in the way of actual news right now. Well, actually, I am, but I don’t feel like writing about the events of the day. I have made my assessments, and have to see what comes out of things to determine if I am the new Nostradamus. I need to work on my quatrains if I really want the gig.

Instead, let’s talk about music. Monday night we went off to run a few errands and stopped by Best Buy. Best Buy is a den of iniquity and has horrible customer service. However, for new release CDs, they’re still the cheapest game in town. Given the demise of the CD Warehouse chain in these parts, they are sometimes the best of a limited set of choices. They are also convenient to the house, whereas Soundwaves, my preferred vendor, is not.

So currently on heavy rotation in the truck is the following:
Disturbed – Ten Thousand Fists
Orgy – Candyass
Saliva – Survival of the Sickest
Static-X – Wisconsin Death Trip
Audioslave – Out of Exile

The Orgy and the Disturbed were picked up Monday, while the other three have been there for a month or two. 4 are good, 1 is mediocre, but one runs these risks purchasing on the strength of previous albums. At least I have something to listen to when I drive out to Vidor after work tonight.


Die Smurf Die

I have no beef with Smurfs. However, someone in Belgium is redoing that old hippie anti-war slogan using the little blue people. Honestly, I’m thinking someone is resolving childhood issues here. I guess dousing your plastic figurines with lighter fluid and having a Viking funeral for Papa Smurf while Smurfette goes all suttee wasn't sufficient*.

I’m also thinking this is another manifestation of a classic lefty trick. Cartoons about dead Smurfs are not going to mean a whole lot to adults. Most people I know are going to find the idea comically macabre. Hell, this may be the party video for the remainder of 2005 in some circles. I’m guessing a certain percentage of children, especially ones overfond of little blue people, will be affected. The old tactic of raising the next generation to think "correctly" is back. Another manifestation is PETA, with a new comic on why daddy is a psychotic mass murderer or something. Nothing like using propaganda to turn children against their parents, is there? Hell, the government has been known to do it on occasion, so I guess it’s all good, right?

Of course, teaching kids to evaluate arguments rationally and draw their own conclusions might lead to undesired outcomes all the way around. A much better approach is to use cheap flashy visuals and emotional content to push the young ones in the "right" direction. Otherwise, the little sprogs might think for themselves or something equally as bizarre.

* Don't try this at home. At least not indoors, anyway. Remember, kids, burning plastic stinks and leaves a hell of a mess as well as a nasty burn. The neighbor's driveway is preferred over your own. For extra added fun, incorporate fireworks. Nothing says entertainment like a shower of molten burning plastic!


Regrettable Food Ahoy

Strolling through the aisles at Sam’s a week or two ago, I found a reprint edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Apparently, the people at BH&G get requests for the original 1953 edition quite often. I’m a sucker for a cookbook, so I picked one up. Upon a moment’s reflection, I called my mother-in-law L and asked her if she wanted one. She did, so I threw an extra in the basket. We have had a large time giggling over it since then.

James Lileks knows of what he speaks. The cookbook is a collection of things I wouldn’t even contemplate preparing. Furthermore, the entire staff of BH&G circa 1953 should be committed for examination. Anybody who tells you to glaze and oven-roast a can of luncheon meat is obviously deranged and not to be trusted with sharp items. Roughly one-half of the recipes are damn near nauseating. The other half are uninspiring, to say the least. As a practical cookbook, it’s completely useless.

However, as culinary history, it’s quite interesting. My biggest revelation is that 50 years ago American cooking was stupendously bland. I use more spice on a weekly basis than the recipes would call for in a year. I also enjoy the weird commentary about how to keep kitchen and house. The absolute conviction displayed on gender roles is comical. At no time did anyone ever consider during the writing and editing process the idea of a man reading the book. I am constantly bombarded with suggestions about how to feed the man of the house and the children. The writing style is also relentlessly perky and upbeat. I can see why Mom was popping Valium like breath mints by the early sixties. If everything aimed at my demographic was as cheery, I’d go nuts, too. Not to get all panglossian on everybody, but it’s just a happy reminder to me that I’m damned glad I live in the time and place that I do.

Incidentally, if the horrible things people used to eat are of interest to you, you should pick up The Gallery of Regrettable Food. It’s well illustrated with the horrors of years past, and the commentary is funnier than mine, too.


4th Point, Meet Head

Over at Dean Esmay’s blog, I find a hilarious little screed about how conservatives should just roll over and die because eminent domain is well-established and not a bad thing. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I were to convince the city council to condemn Dean’s house as "blighted" and ED the joint to give to a developer, he might see things differently. Hey, it’s not like it really needs to be a public use or anything, right, Dean?

As always, I preface my substantive points with a disclaimer: I think eminent domain is a hideous abomination and should be stripped out of the law. I can go on about this at length, but it would probably bore the crap out of most people. The argument that "there is no other way to get things done" has never been particularly persuasive to me. We live in a country where we ask for, and get, people to volunteer to die to protect and defend an idea. I tend to think we can get people to agree to lesser sacrifices in the name of the public good.

Anyhow, Dean’s argument seems to be three-fold. One is the somewhat bizarre assertion that because it exists in law going back to the Magna Carta we should realize that the power exists and isn’t subject to question. Nice straw man, Dean. Nobody doubts the existence of the power of eminent domain. Only me and the rest of the dogmatic property rights crowd are arguing for it to be eviscerated. Everybody else certainly can question what the limits are, and what they should be. By the way, referencing what the Magna Carta says is not a useful argument. While interesting for historical background in some cases, it’s about as relevant to a discussion of what the limits of government power should be in 2005 as a velociraptor skull is to a discussion of what I should feed my pet turtle.

Dean’s major argument seems to be the idea that because courts have consistently granted municipalities greater and greater leeway in the meaning of the phrase "public use", we should all just sit back and shut up. After all, the law is a complicated thing and I’m too dumb to understand the meaning of "public use". There might not be a bright-line test for public use, but an office park for Pfizer, a condo development, or a yacht club for millionaires sure as hell don’t qualify. The idea that we should allow immoral practices because they are validated by the courts and have extensive historical use is dubious at best and completely insane at worst.

Dean’s final bit of nonsense is the idea that the issue shouldn’t be in the courts. After all, our lawmakers and elected officials can handle the problem. So when the next restriction is written into law, a following set of politicians pushes the boundaries, and the courts roll over and acquiesce, what should we do? Tell whoever got kicked out so the next corporation can get rich that we’ll elect someone not corrupt in the fall? The courts are supposed to decide things in accordance with the law and some larger sense of justice where the law is unclear. The courts have become so divorced from reality a plain construction like "public use" can be interpreted to mean "possibly having some benefit to the government at some point in the future". Conservatives aren't entitled to get upset about this, according to Dean. After all, it's mentioned in the Constitution! As is slavery, so launch the ships and start up the markets again, Dean.

I think what Dean simply fails to grasp, and some of his commenters point out quite ably, is that Kelo removed any restrictions on the term "public use" and effectively wrote it out of the law.

I’ve been consistently amused by the fact that conservatives and libertarians were the only people that really got upset about the Kelo decision. Liberals were either fine with it, or gave a kind of pro-forma objection. Dean, who claims to be "defending the liberal tradition", finds the idea that there are no meaningful limits on the government’s power of eminent domain just peachy. At this point, I just have to ask: what liberal tradition consistently expands the power of the government at the expense of the governed while claiming it’s for the public good? I can only think of one.

H/t to Jeff Soyer.

Random Outdated Pop Culture Thought

So I hear from, well, everywhere that INXS finished their televised audition for their new lead singer a week or two ago. I was driving to work this morning and a thought hit me: did they ask all the candidates about proclivities towards autoerotic asphyxiation and heroin use?


Gillespie Channels Parker & Stone

I’m not complaining or anything, but the amount of venom directed at Canada over at Hit & Run lately is startling. Did somebody get a body cavity search coming back from Vancouver or something?

Fun Fact of the Day, Reptile Edition

I would like to thank the nameless internet browser who found us by searching for ‘snake noises’. Without the assistance, I never would have found this.

J occasionally reminds me that I am, at heart, nothing more than a 14 year-old head. I’m trying so hard right now not to go for the cheap and obvious jokes. I’ll refrain and simply point out once again: the universe is stranger than I can imagine.

Now that I’ve been as adult as it’s possible for me to be, I’m going to laugh myself silly and disturb my coworkers. Snake farts. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, bonus extra-special adolescent moment:
A large sphincter, for example, would produce initially loud noises but tire quickly

I think somebody should put that on a t-shirt. I'm sorry, I have to go snicker some more.

More on Miers

I'm half-following the uproar created by the nomination of Harriet Miers. I say half because I'm not paying attention to the lefty side at the moment. The right side is so stirred up it takes a lot of time just to get a grip on the obvious displeasure there. From my seat, it looks like the President has managed to piss off everybody but himself and Harry Reid (D-Ineffective). Positive arguments all seem to boil down to "She's smart and you should trust Bush". As Paul points out, when someone like Hugh Hewitt, who has so obviously drank the kool-aid, is reduced to this argument, we have a problem.

Practically speaking, Bush has done two, possibly three, things off the top of my head that are worthwhile. He's done a pretty good job prosecuting the war on terror. He's done all right with tax cuts. As Virginia Postrel pointed out a while ago, the growth of regulation slowed somewhat under Bush. I don't rightly know if we can credit him with that one, though.

Of course, I can now list what I think he's done poorly on:
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Agricultural subsidies
  • Trade policy
  • Border security and immigration reform
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Government transparency

That's just a short list coming off the top of my head. I could probably keep going if I thought for more than thirty seconds.

The entire argument for confimation is based on the level of trust I have in the President. Well, here's a newsflash, guys. I don't trust him that far. Hell, J thinks she's flat unqualified, and I trust her opinion more than any elected official, ever.

Anyhow, for a more learned discussion on the failures of Ms. Miers as a judicial candidate, check out the conspirators. They're all over this issue. Start at the top and keep scrolling down.

Pity the British

The Brits are descending further and further into madness. How did the remnants of the Empire come to this? A city council has banned representations of pigs from the workplace because it offends Muslims. I think Mark Steyn has the final word on the issue:

Is it really a victory for "tolerance" to say that a council worker cannot have a Piglet coffee mug on her desk? And isn't an ability to turn a blind eye to animated piglets the very least the West is entitled to expect from its Muslim citizens? If Islam cannot "co-exist" even with Pooh or the abstract swirl on a Burger King ice-cream, how likely is it that it can co-exist with the more basic principles of a pluralist society?

Well, the short answer is that Islam cannot co-exist with a liberal, pluralist society in the current form of either. Given a choice, I‘d rather Islam changes. That is an argument for another day.

What’s amusing is the tactic of claiming offense and demanding redress didn’t originate with Muslims. We have the radical movement here in the West to blame for that load of crap. At some point in the not-too-distant past, claiming offense became a trump card in civil discourse. If something offended someone, it is verboten, never to be discussed again. Ask Larry Summers if you don’t believe me. Somebody got offended when he suggested a possible explanation for observed facts, and he had to eat shit and grovel before the whole world.

Eugene Volokh discusses the larger issues in his usual calm and thoughtful manner. He’s right, but is too polite to come and say what really needs to be said. What needs to said to people who get offended is have a nice cup of STFU. Of course, I’m in the small group of people who can’t normally be offended without physical violence, barring one or two issues. All the people that think the world has some obligation to care that they’re offended? They’re wrong. The world in general does not care, nor should it. Quit whining and go on about your business. I will bet money the kind of people who whine about being offended are, in their own right, just as offensive in many aspects of their personal behavior. In any event, I find that rule of thumb to be pretty valid around here. I can’t imagine Britian being too far removed from us in that regard.

Honestly, if a picture of a freakin’ cartoon pig causes enough distress to warrant complaining to the city council, the doctor needs to start upping the meds. The Prozac obviously ain’t working.


Hello, Visitors

So I’m reading my referral logs, as I occasionally often do when bored. I’m noticing a lot of referrals from Captain’s Quarters. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the visitors, but why? I’m a little baffled. I can’t find any links to posts, so is this driven by the Blogs for Bush link?

Of course, this presumes actual people are doing this instead of anonymous software agents. Agents would explain the general lack of comments. Well, agents and the fact that nobody cares enough about what I have to say to comment on it.


My future as a political prognosticator is obviously limited. Wow. Harriet Miers. Well, I guess she is almost completely a non-entity when it comes to constitutional interpretation. Is there anybody on the right side of the aisle who thinks this was an optimal choice? Or even a good one? The choice smells of cronyism.

I’m wondering how Bush and the RNC look to the small government wing of the party. I'm guessing not real good. That might be an issue come next fall. J, who pays attention to details, tells me the hard-core conservatives don't vote for non-conservative candidates even as a protest measure. They just stay home. I'm thinking getting out the vote is going to be a problem for the efenants here shortly.