THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: October 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

On Overdue Incarcerations - Part 1

I guess we won't be hearing too much or too often from The Game for awhile. At least not until he posts bond. Those abs (not to mention the 'do) should be pretty popular in the big house.

Friday, October 28, 2005

On the Separation of Powers - Part 2

Ron Paul has filed yet another important report highlighting the manifest misunderstandings attending the role of the federal judiciary in America.


These sentences explain the reasons the judicial nomination process occasionally devolves into an outlandish spectacle include:
  • Federal courts ... have become unelected, unaccountable purveyors of social policy for the entire nation. Bitter partisan fights over Supreme Court nominees are inevitable simply because so much is at stake.

That is simply the truth. Of course that doesn't answer the question why? As in, why have the federal courts become purveyors of social policy for the nation? Somebody else has written about this reaching a similar conclusion, although I don't remember who and I can't find where, but I think there are two primary reasons this is the case.

The first reason goes back to Marbury v. Madison (at least I think that is true; remember, you are reading an analysis of the structure and history of the government of the United States as written by a person who earned a C- in Constitutional Law in law school). You see what happened was:

The people who put our government together generally had an agreement that there would be checks and balances whereby: (1) the extent to which the group that spends far too much time writing laws could screw things up for the general populace would be limited by (2) The Big Dog at the top of the heap who can decide whether to reject laws presented and (3) the group that was supposed to compare the substance and breadth of the laws enacted by the busy-bodies and the implementation and enforcement of those laws by The Big Dog to the limitations imposed by the founding (constating?) documents of the country.

But Supreme Court Chief Justice Marshall understood that out of that scrum whoever got to go "last" would have something of a dominating position. Recall the aphorism: he who laughs last laughs loudest. So in Marbury, he authored an opinion basically seizing the last laugh for the judicial branch. And in some bunch of other opinions that I can't identify (C-, remember), the federal courts decided to ignore the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution to the degree that many issues of local or state concern have been federalized during recent (and not so recent) decades.

(As an interesting (from this author's perspective, anyway) sidenote to this discussion, here is what current Chief Justice Roberts said during his confirmation hearings in response to a question about whether he thought Congress could, constitutionally, limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts by specific legislation (the relevant portion of the transcript is here):

"Well, I don't think -- on the question of
legislative attempts, I think my view is
the same now as it was 24 years ago, which
is that these are -- it's a bad idea. It's bad policy.

I was talking about the other question about
whether it's constitutional or not. And on that,
of course, I don't think I should express a
determinative view because, as you know,
these proposals do come up and one may be enacted.")

But I digress ...

The point of all this is that, rightly or wrongly, the federal judiciary is political. In no small part because the federal courts generally get the last say. So, one way to look at this is ... when a group of folks interested in living a particular way or having a particular rule be the law of the land lose their fight in one of what have now become the lesser venues (federal or state legislatures, federal or state regulatory agencies, state courts) , they take their fight to the federal judiciary. Accordingly, these groups of folks have a keen interest in the identity and ideology of the people who will be there to listen to them, to "hear their case" as it were.

This post was written before Harriet Miers withdrew her name from consideration for a Supreme Court position. That is an interesting topic in its own right. I'm annoyed at people asserting Ms. Miers wasn't qualified. Just because she wasn't a judge before. As Ron Paul noted in the article linked above, that's ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Or Maybe the Camera Adds Ten Inches ...

Now that is being fooled by the pitch.
Now that is guessing wrong.

The bat swung by this player (a Houston Astro to be named later) during tonight's game 4 of the World Series is at least two feet away from the baseball. Hell, it's more than that, I guess, since it looks like the bat made it through the impact zone while the pitch was still several feet away from home plate. I guess you've just got to tip your cap in this instance to this pitcher for the Greatest Baseball Team Ever (the Chicago White Sox).

I sure am glad the White Sox are my favorite baseball team!

Duck, Duck ... Poop

A thoughtful farm kid sent me this helpful link to an FAQ regarding bacteria in water. I'm sure you can't wait to read the rest of this entry after that introduction.

Anyway, I would like to call your attention to one bullet point in particular which gives this duck treasurer marginally significant pause.

  • QUESTION: How can local residents and visitors help keep bacteria out of surface waters?

  • ANSWER: Avoid feeding geese, ducks and seagulls. Bird feces can be a significant contributor to bacteria levels. High bird populations can compound the problem.

This is correct. It happens. Look at those little poopers (in the above picture) getting down to business. (The above picture was not taken in my backyard. Though I still treasure those ducklings.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

On Things That Are Difficult - Part 1

It is very difficult to throw away an old trash can. Think about it.

You put it out on the curb for the garbage collectors. They pick it up, expecting to find trash in it that they are supposed to dump out ("collect"). If it's empty, they might be confused, they might be pleased (less work!), but I would bet dollars to donuts that they wouldn't toss the empty garbage can into the truck.

They wouldn't think the empty garbage can itself is trash.

From the garbage collector's perspective, he's likely to think about the situation from the point of view of self-preservation. (Aren't we all?) That is, he's faced with at least three reasonably likely possibilities. First, this empty trash can could actually be "garbage," in which case he should pitch the empty can into the truck and move on. Second, it could be that this particular customer put the empty garbage can out by mistake. And third, it could be that this particular customer just never got around to taking in the trash can after it was emptied by these garbage collectors the last time. In each of the second and third cases, the garbage collector would be making a significant error if he threw the empty garbage can into his truck (and he would also probably be risking considerable hassle and headache back at headquarters; the customer might call to complain).

Even if you put a sign on the unwanted garbage can that said "THROW AWAY" or "GARBAGE" or something like that, you're still going to have problems. In this situation, I'd say the garbage collector would be perfectly justified believing that the sign was intended for the customer. Or that, in the case of "THROW AWAY," the intention was to command the garbage collector to throw away the contents of the garbage can, not the garbage can itself.

You could also put the unwanted garbage can inside another garbage can (perhaps a newer one to try to give the correct impression that the old one is unwanted). Here, however, you have the problem of the garbage collector thinking the customer just never got around to taking in the trash cans from the last pick-up.

The only method I've thought of that seems to be pretty much guaranteed success is for the customer to physically drag the unwanted garbage can to the garbage truck and throw it in herself. I have actually thrown some of my own garbage into a garbage truck (once when I was too late when they came by my house but I caught 'em on the other side of the street). So it can be done.

Any other ideas?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Duck, Duck ... Poultry

Are ducks poultry?

Some non-creative, brief googling produces mixed results. Some websites talk about "ducks and poultry", leading me to believe that the authors thereof would distinguish between ducks and poultry. And some websites flat out refer to ducks as poultry.

Some breeds of duck are properly classified as poultry. Some breeds of duck are properly classified as waterfowl (and are not properly classified as poultry). The logical distinction appears to be whether a particular breed is domesticated.

The ducks pictured here are classified as poultry, according to this website. In other words, people farm them.

Incidentally, that picture was taken in my backyard. So yes, I treasure those ducks.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Madalaine by Winger ... is the worst song ever.

I defy you to name something worse.

It is unfortunate, for ears everywhere, that Winger didn't reflect on these lyrics from the chorus (before releasing this tripe):


In yet another clear sign of the impending apocalypse, one of these reviews included this sentence (quoted from a review voluntarily captioned, by a sentient human, I'm afraid, "Overlooked and Underappreciated"):
  • "Apart from the major hit, 'Seventeen,' which has some of the funniest lyrics ever ... we get to hear the awesome song writing skills and guitar playing of Kip Winger on tracks like the single, 'Madaline,' as well as 'State of Emergency,' 'Poison Angel,' and 'Headed for a Heartbreak.'"
    (emphasis mine)

Friday, October 21, 2005

On Stuff From Simpler Times - Part 1

A white person speaking jive, if done well and if done sincerely, is one of the most reliable ways to get laughs. Consider Barbara Billingsley with her "just hang loose, blood" from Airplane. Solid.

That is humor that stands the test of time (i.e., it's still funny, twenty-five years later).

Well, back in more recent simpler times, when everybody having email in their offices was relatively new and institutions had not yet erected the firewalls and enacted the policies and generally otherwise become reasonably successful at disrupting their employees' efforts to fritter away their work day, somebody made this Delta "Jive" Commercial. (Click to enjoy/listen.)

For your enjoyment, the preceding paragraph presented by Gizoogle:
  • W-to-tha-izzell, back in mizzy recent bitch times, wizzy everybody mobbin' email in they offices was relatively new n institutions had not yet erected tha firewalls n enacted tha policies n generally otherwise become reasonably successful at doggy stylin' they employees' efforts ta gangsta away they wiznork day, somebody made this Delta "Jive" Commercial .

Now back to our regular programming ...

Peep Delta.


Yes, those were the dayzazzles.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

iTunes a little iNNoying ...

Is it just me or does iTunes update the software about as often as I update this blog? I use iTunes to organize my music collection. I use iTunes to listen to music at work. It seems to me that perhaps every other day when I try to turn on iTunes to listen to some music, up pops the little communiqué from Apple saying: "There is a new version 231.3 of iTunes available. Would you like to download it now?"

This is very disruptive.

Plus, so long as I'm ranting, the iTunes jukebox looks ugly in the last three or four versions. All these new versions of the software a blight upon the face of civilization.

On Admitting To Mistakes - Part 3

Boy it sure does feel great to me to have my favorite baseball team of all-time beat the St. Louis Cardinals and make it to their first ever World Series. Holy Cow, as the famous announcer for one of my other former all-time favorite baseball teams would say.

This morning while I was driving in to the office, the heavens glowed a gorgeous Astros maroon as our brightest star started its climb into the sky in a vain effort to keep up with the fortunes of Astros Nation. At the same time, the pallor of failure and the detritus of despair descended upon that fabled Arch City in middle America. Go ahead and tear down that stadium, boys. It won't erase the pain of this devastating defeat at the hands of the Greatest Baseball Team in History.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

On Simple Concepts - Part 1

Earlier today, the term "pole shed" came up in a conversation between two homegrown Iowans (as a non-native Iowan, I was eavesdropping). One of these fellows is what you would call a "farm kid."

He spent his formative years (through high school) in rural towns in Iowa; maximum population of any town he lived in during those years was maybe 1,400 and the minimum population was about 350. The other one is a city kid. He lived in probably the best place to get a meth fix in Iowa - one of the "cities" along the Mississippi River side of Iowa. Those river towns in Iowa are great places to get tattoos.


Anyway, the farm kid knew all about pole sheds. He knew what they were. Hell, he probably spent time making out in one in junior high school. But the city slicker didn't.


So I looked up some information on "pole sheds" on the internet. Fascinating topic. Read all about it here. Yes, friends and neighbors, it is true. For $35 (plus shipping and handling), you can own a book called "How to Build a Pole Building."

On Headgear - Part 1

I don't have a pith helmet, but I wish I did. People who wear pith helmets for recreational activities (e.g., golf) are underrated.

On Confessions - Part 1

My favorite ZZ Top song is Rough Boy.

I can fade the heat.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

On Admitting To Mistakes - Part 2


Monday, October 17, 2005

On Admitting To Mistakes - Part 1

Everybody makes mistakes. And accidents happen. We spend a lot of time repeating these truisms to our three-year old daughter. Hoping to avoid making her overly fearful of error. To err is human, right?

Well, this baseball season I finally identified a serious error I've been making. Prior to today, the world has known me as a Cubs fan.


That's right. Prior to today. You see, I only used to be a Chicago Cubs fan. During easier times. I was nuts for the Cubs in 1984. I was proud to proclaim myself one of their biggest fans in 2003 after they won National League Central Division and then beat the Atlanta Braves 3 games to 2 in the 2003 Divisional Playoff series.

But then I felt that allegiance starting to dribble away. The waning began at about the time that Steve Bartman knocked that foul ball away from Moises Alou, causing the Cubs to lose the National League Championship Series to the Florida Marlins. The drip, drip, drip of my diehard Cub blood picked up speed in 2004, when the Cubs played modestly well, but were just not an inspiring franchise. (That is, they did not make the playoffs.) This year, the Cubs finished with 79 wins and 83 losses, 21 games back. Hell, the Cubs finished 2 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers, the best Triple-A franchise out there.

Fittingly, given the direction my loyalties and fanship have flowed, the Cubs' last loss of the 2005 season allowed the Houston Astros to clinch the National League wildcard.

So, the Cubs were then. And this is now. This is Astros time. And, to try to head off those among you who would hurl the "Fairweather Johnson" epithet my direction, accusing me of switching horses in midstream simply because I thought I had identified a team with better prospects for success, I wanted to hurry up and declare my true feelings now before the Astros make it to their first ever World Series.

Like so many things in life, choosing which professional sports teams to follow is difficult. Like so many of us struggling to find our way along the murky path of life, I have been blessed to have friends. About this same time last year, one of these friends officially announced that he had abandoned the only baseball team (and football team, but I digress) that he had ever followed. For the Red Sox. Prior to his declaration, I was a little confused. I'd always thought that true allegiance to a sports franchise was like a good yeast. I thought true allegiance had to grow organically, starting small and then, incrementally over time, developing, if the conditions were proper, into something beautiful, meaningful, and lasting.

But that's clearly not the case. As he showed so brilliantly last year, you can become a diehard fan of a World Series Champion overnight. All it takes is for you to declare that you have seen the light (note that it works better if you can say your switch was the product of some inspiration other than a won-loss record, but the true, true fan takes what he can get).

Said another way, many sports teams head out down the road to Damascus every year. If you wait until the lot of them are pretty much at the end of the trip to identify your chosen franchise, you've got a significantly improved chance of backing the best. So I'm proud to root for my all-time favorite baseball team of forever and a day here in 2005, your Houston Astros.

I was wrong to like the Cubs more than the Astros at the beginning of this baseball season. I made a mistake. I can see that now; my error couldn't be more clear. The teams' results speak for themselves. Allegiance invested in the Astros has paid off significantly. Allegiance invested in the Cubs has once again been wasted.


("'Stros' is the nickname we true believers use; it's short for "Astros".)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Invitations That Should Have Been - Part 1

We here at The Committee To Invite The Appropriate People To The Weblog Named Whatever The Author Decides To Call It From To Time are aghast. Consumed with regret. We realized, finally, that back in the beginning, when things were just getting started around here, when the fax machine had no toner and the suggestion box was dry, that we made an omission of epic proportions.

In those darker days we inadvertently forgot, to our present dismay, to invite Our Dear Friend ...

  • The Big Man

... to join us.

In the spirit of reconciliation and in the hopes that we will all, in the future, be the beneficiaries of his wit and charm, we offer this post. Big Man, won't you forgive us and join the team and come on in for the big win?

Friday, October 14, 2005


Veselin Topalov will be the next FIDE World Chess Champion. We here at The Weblog Named Whatever The Author Decides To Call It From Time To Time offer our heartiest congratulations to the Bulgarian Brawler.


Time for Vladimir "The Pusillanimous" Kramnik to step into the ring. Last Man Standing wins eternal glory in the eyes of chess fans everywhere.

All Hail The New Hero, Veselin Topalov!!

On Colorful Expressions - Part 1

Inspired by a commentor asserting she "wouldn't scare a bulldog off a meat wagon," we are pleased to introduce a new segment here on the blog glorifying colorful aphorisms (particularly those that seem southern in provenance).

Without further ado, then, here is the ...

  • That'll attract 'em like buzzards to the gut wagon.

* * *

I would not have enjoyed employment as the driver of a "gut wagon," whatever that is. Sounds like a pungent occupation. Also note - guts and livers are probably about as likely as feces to attract flies. And yes, to my knowledge, the cow in that picture is dead.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

On Property Rights - Part 2

Returning briefly to our primary mission - spreading the word that governments are unproductive and in many respects quite dangerous enterprises, we are pleased to present to you the following report ...


Apparently paying your property taxes isn't even enough to keep your local or state government from taking away your property. Since there are lots of situations where a third party may be able to use property you thought was yours for something that will generate more property tax dollars than your use.

Of course there is the Kelo v. New London case (where Connecticut authorities used eminent domain power to take property from Private Party A and given to Private Party B). The next instance I've heard about is this one in Daytona Beach, Florida. The article in that link is from mid-July 2005; it was written before the court decided on August 20, 2005 that the taking was permissible. So some guy that owned an Oyster Bar and some people that owned a go-cart track (apparently) have to sell their property to the city so that the city can sell the property to some other private party who wants to build a residential development on it. The city's decision being based, apparently, on the idea that the residential development will generate more tax dollars for the city. And probably also on the idea that the unwanted use was a bit of an eyesore or otherwise didn't reflect the contemplated grandeur of the municipality's future.

You can read a short summary noting the decision here.
This ominous trend continues.

There's one thing that's important to keep in mind here. From a point of view that favors local government and state court decisions on matters of local issues and state laws, there is definitely a reason to be happy that Supreme Court didn't overrule the Connecticut state courts in the Kelo case, even if you are wildly upset that the government took property from Private Party A to sell it to Private Party B. Here is a good explanation for why this is the case.

So long as Americans are free to move from one place to another, it's appropriate for states to have different standards about this sort of thing. If people decide not to move to Connecticut (or decide to leave Connecticut) or decide to ask their local or state government to take some action to alleviate the nasty, nasty aftertaste of the Kelo situation, freedom wins.

Speculation in real estate continues apace, in regards to both the purchasing and selling of real estate and as to whether we are in the midst of a real estate bubble. And one interesting possible outcome to the offensive eminent domain thievery outlined above is that the "higher and better use" that the victors intend to employ may turn into vacant residential buildings, financing losses, and plummeting local tax rolls. Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

On Secret Weapons - Part 1

The adjacent photo of an Ovaltine Decoder Ring answers a lot of questions. Anonymous used it to solve The Riddle Of The Sum Of Thirteen. It was his secret weapon. What is yours?

From another angle ... why would Ovaltine create a Decoder Ring in the first place? And what is that funky alphabet all about?

On Fuzzy Math - Part 1

I determined that Wednesday equals 100.

I counted it myself.



    How many is Saturday?

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    On Channeling John Denver - Part 1


    Look at that gorgeous picture.
    Gravel roads and wire fences.
    Telephone lines and brush.
    Blue skies and harvested fields.

    Put all this talk about Poweshiek County, Iowa over on my friend Chris Hagenow's blog together with that incredible picture and the John Denver music oozing out of iTunes on my office computer, and you've got a recipe for reflectiveness. Look at that picture. Click on it so it expands to its full glory. Revel in it. Talk about evoking nostalgic feelings. Talk about going home again. The sky. The fields. The feeling of distance. Very special. Very moving.

    Almost heaven, Wyoming, Iowa,
    Take me home, down country roads.
    I get a feeling that I should be going home.
    Take me home, down country roads.

    John Denver's original name was Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.

    Did you know that according to a coroner's report filed in Monterey County, California, John Denver had more than twice the legal limit of sunshine on his shoulders at the time of his fatal plane crash into Monterey Bay?

    Say what you will about the rustic backwoods charm and hillbilly sensibilities of southern Iowa, but for pure scenic loveliness you just can't do better - within the geographical confines of the great State of Iowa, that is - than the natural splendor that is Poweshiek County, Iowa. Our Chief Poweshiek knew what he was doing, at least in terms of choosing a place to live.

    Please give a big shout out to everybody's favorite longshoreman, The Velvet Fog, for creating that gorgeous picture that inspired this missive. It was taken, rumour has it, just outside of Wyoming, Iowa. Not the place I'd expect to find a sailor, but hey.

    Monday, October 10, 2005

    On the Little Green Men and Global Warming

    I saw this intriguing heading on a recent post on the Two Plus Two Forums hosted by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth (two famous poker authors): "Martian Failure to Sign Kyoto Could Lead To Their Destruction."

    Apparently Mars is experiencing some global warming of its own. Read about that in this article. Very interesting. And I would think to the extent the assertions about Mars' climate change are accurate, that constitutes significant evidence that assertions about the human factor in climate change on Earth are grievously overstated.

    Extrapolating from that to a much broader topic ... I've got two sort of gut-reaction thoughts on the environmentalist movement. Confession - I'm considerably uninformed on the scientific aspects of the debate. My assertions (to follow) are based on political reading and independent thinking about the topic.

    1. People are more important than trees, rocks, water, and so forth (although, of course, I recognize people need trees, rocks, water, and so forth to thrive and probably survive).
    2. We, as a species, are lying to ourselves, are wildly arrogant, and are dramatically overestimating our power and importance where the ecology of the Earth is concerned.

    As a general matter, I suspect that we, as a species, are incorrect to the extent that we, as a species, think that human beings have the power to change what will happen to the environment and the ecology of the Earth in a material way. The Earth is infinitely more powerful than we are. And of course more resilient. Dozens if not hundreds of times in the history of the Earth, stuff has happened to it which would destroy us. (I'm thinking here primarily of asteroid strikes as an external event which caused a devastation of the environment and living things. As it cycles through its process of birth and death and rebirth, the Earth has plenty of capacity to destroy us all by itself, but I'm talking here about the resiliency of the Earth, so I'm thinking of asteroids coming from space and striking the Earth.) And now, an unfathomable amount of time therefafter, here we are, with the internet. Read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson for details about asteroids, super-volcanoes, tectonic plates shifting and so forth.

    Here's a pretty good article by Lew Rockwell on some of these topics. My favorite paragraph in the article is this:

    • From time immemorial until the day before yesterday, Western man has seen nature as the enemy, and rightly so. It is dangerous and deadly. For the sake of our own survival it must be tamed, cut, curbed, controlled. That is the first task of civilization. The first step to civilization's destruction is the failure to understand this, or to call this attitude a sin.

    Kyoto and the greenhouse gas/global warming argument seems to me to be placing the (supposed and imagined) interests of Nature ahead of the interests of Man. And that seems to me to be ass backwards.


    The earth is an amazing, powerful, resilient thing. Humans are fairly amazing, powerful, and resilient as well. If governments stay out of the way and let the earth and humans work together in an environment where market forces guide behaviour, things will work out. None of this is intended to suggest that good stewardship of our earth is a bad idea or at all inappropriate. On the contrary. My argument is simply what my argument always is: governments, bureaucrats, think tanks, and "international organizations" are not the right outfits to be charged with implementing good stewardship. Private individuals enjoying private property rights is the way to go. Economic waste in terms of dollars spent today and in terms of progress thwarted today resulting from environmental activism is manifest. Organizations supposedly acting in the "public interest" are notorious producers of economic waste.

    And economic waste is bad.

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    Dew or Dew Not. There is no Sprite.

    Or at least sometimes I wish there wasn't. See, when you are in the mood for a Mountain Dew, a Sprite just doesn't cut it. Too sweet. Too fizzy. Not tropical enough. And apparently Subway stores serve Coke products. Has this always been the case? I have a memory of drinking Mountain Dew while eating Subway.


    Today's Subway visit did not enhance my Saturday afternoon at the office as much as I was hoping it would. They sold me a Sprite.

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    On Music Worth Enjoying - Part 1

    I recommend each of the tunes below without reservation (right click the URLs and it should give you the option to download and begin enjoying in minutes).


    For you headbangers, I would caution you that these are folk songs. Songs with words worth listening to. These songs will increase your libido or expand your horizons, not enhance your shooter jones.

    Finally, if you're sensitive about artists' property rights in their efforts and so on and so forth, rest easy (and congratulations). Each artist above has graciously offered each song above for public consumption in the locations specified.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005


    ... to bring you this important bulletin.

    Veselin Topalov is kicking some major ass and figuratively burning most of the current best chess players at the stake at the 2005 FIDE World Chess Championship. The raging Bulgarian is, in my opinion, far and away the most exciting chess player in the world at the moment (since Garry Kasparov retired from chess earlier this year).

    I have high hopes that he will continue his swashbuckling success until he has trampled the hopes and dreams of Vlad "the Impaler" Kramnik (who must be among the biggest of chickens of all of the acknowledged Chess World Champions down through history). Kramnik beat Kasparov fair and square in a 20-game match back in 2000 and then, as far as I could tell, did everything possible to avoid a rematch until Kasparov finally hung up his Sicilian and headed off to pursue political reform in Russia. (Here's hoping he isn't murdered before Topalov beats Kramnik.)

    An interesting factoid is that Topalov beat Kasparov at this year's Linares tournament in the last game Kasparov played before he announced his retirement from chess. At the time I was hopeful that that game signified a true passing of the torch of the style of uncompromising chess greatness embodied by Kasparov to Topalov. Topalov's current results at the present FIDE event make me optimistic this might be the case. It would be fun to have a chess player to root for again after Kasparov. (The situation in the professional chess world is similar to the situation in the NBA in some ways. After Michael Jordan retired, it was difficult to get excited about watching the sport. I am optimistic that LeBron James will make it interesting again in the same way I am hopeful Topalov inherits Kasparov's dominance and guts and competitiveness.)

    Gotta love the Bulgarian so far!

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    On Words That Are True - Part 1

    The quote underneath the picture that follows is true, profound, and important. Of course, like so many things sharing some or all of those attributes, it is also difficult to implement.

    (Ironically, in this case.)

    Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

    Tuesday, October 04, 2005

    This is the Next Straw ...

    This morning I realized I hadn't changed the drinking straw in my water cup for a few days. So I replaced it with a new one.

    This water is so crisp and cool.
    Very refreshing.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    On the Separation of Powers - Part 1


    All the angst and back and forth and hem and haw and yee and yaw about Supreme Court nominations loses sight of a critical point. Which Rep. Ron Paul didn't miss (of course).

    His column (click it and read it. go on. do it.) explains simple truths which we all knew at one point (at least for the civics test in 8th grade). Congress has the power to grant (or withhold) the federal courts' jurisdiction. Congress is comprised of representatives elected by we, the people.

    Even this anti-government guy acknowledges (or believes, anyway) that if enough voters expressed enough opinions to enough elected representatives enough laws could be passed to render the U.S. Supreme Court fairly unimportant. I don't know whether this would be good, but it is certainly something to keep in mind. Remember, politicians like being politicians (the pay is decent and the perquisites of office make it worthwhile to keep the job). So it might even be possible to achieve political goals through the political process rather than through press conferences and non-profit interest group efforts. I'm just saying.

    Key sentences from the Ron Paul article:

    • Since many citizens lack basic knowledge of our Constitution and federalist system, they are easily manipulated by media and academic elites who tell them that judges are the absolute and final arbiters of US law. But the Supreme Court is not supreme over the other branches of government; it is supreme only over lower federal courts. If Americans wish to be free of judicial tyranny, they must at least develop basic knowledge of the judicial role in our republican government. The present state of affairs is a direct result of our collective ignorance.

    I think I heard new Chief Justice Roberts say during his nomination hearings at the Senate that he's not entirely sure Ron Paul's position on this matter is correct. I also recall being stunned but not surprised. It's logical for an aspirant to the Supreme Court to be reluctant to passively agree that the perks of his goal can be taken away by the "yeas" and "nays" of the rabble in the elected official ranks. Fans of Marbury v. Madison know what Justice Roberts may have had in mind; that Chief Justice Marshall sure was a clever one for understanding that going last may be more important than being right.

    (Disclaimer - regarding the above, I earned a C- in Constitutional Law during law school, so I am scarcely qualified to comment on these topics. That's blogging for you. You get what you pay for.)

    ... and a Bottle of Rum

    During a recent document review I noticed that the chief executive officer of a shipping company has a wonderfully nautical name: Marinus Quist.

    Say it out loud. Seriously. Go ahead.

    You can almost feel the wind in your hair, taste the salt on your skin, and feel the barnacles crunching under yer boots. Rough seas ahead. Swing her hard to starboard, ye bilge rats; I'm three sheets to the wind.

    Saturday, October 01, 2005

    Bureaucrats, Start Your Spendings ...

    Holy crap. Catching up on some old news, I just read this article. What the hell is going on up there in Washington, D.C.?

    This is Exhibit "[large number]" that the bureaucrats and politicians have become thoroughly disconnected from reality.

    The key sentence in the article (to me) is:

    • At the request of the Bush administration, Congress increased the credit line [for credit cards carried by federal employees] to $250,000 as part of a massive Katrina recovery bill approved last week.

    How many federal employees does this affect? Ah, I love symmetry.

    It affects approximately 250,000 employees.

    The article goes on to note that in response to criticism of the increased limit, the Bush administration implemented the following policy:

    • Purchases of more than $50,000 must be preapproved by a senior manager.

    What are any of these employees going to buy that costs more than $50,000 for a single purchase? With a credit card? I hope the answer to that question is "nothing." Fifty thousand dollars is a HUGE sum of taxpayer dollars to be able to charge.

    Executive director of the "watchdog group" Project on Government Oversight summarizes the problem thusly:

    • "[W]e have far too many people with far too much access to money without any organization or effective oversight," she said.

    No kidding!