Begging The Question

Friday, November 26, 2004

King of the Hill: QOTD
"I'd rather be on a losing football team than a winning soccer team any day."

-Bobby Hill

Thursday, November 25, 2004

File-Sharing Bleg
I mentioned not too long ago the mix CD exchange program Taunting Happy Fun Ball is running. Well, in trying to make mine, I seem to have run into a bit of a problem. I'm still at the learning stage for all this music-mixing (remember, after all, that my most recent compilation effort was on tape). As it turns out the file-sharing program I have been using to pull songs from the internet (without admitting any copyright violations, of course) isn't working too well for me. The funny thing was that I'm pretty sure it delivered, along with all kinds of music, a host of nasty viruses. So, eventually I had to go get a virus software program and clean things up. It looks as if it worked all too well. Now, my file-sharing program won't hardly work for squat. The downloads are incredibly slow, if they happen at all. It seems as though those viruses greased the skids, or something.

So, anyway, now I think I need a new program. The one I had been using was called Ares, which I got at, and I originally used it on my old computer because it's a small file and that computer didn't have a lot of room on its hard drive (in fact, I eventually filled it up). My new one should have plenty of room.

So I put myself upon the country, seeking help. I need a file-sharing/downloading program. I want something that will find even obscure songs for me, and let me download them quickly, and is user-friendly, and easy to work with a burner. And, if it's not too much to ask, I'd like something that doesn't send me a million viruses or illegal stuff instead of music. I'm willing to pay a modest fee, but only if I never have to worry about the selection.

Any suggestions? Thanks much.

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
I love the show "King of the Hill," and for Fitz, it's like a whole sitcom about his in-laws, I tell you what. And today, the FX network is running a KOTH marathon, so it's all good. For a while, I've been bugging Fitz to start a "King of the Hill" Quote of the Day feature, but in light of today's "Hanksgiving Day" marathon, I'll get the ball rolling with a few gems.

From the episode where Dale becomes a human resources VP:
Dale: "How long have you been with Stik-Tek?"
Employee Louis: "Uh, it'll be fourteen years next week."
Dale" "No it won't. You're fired."

From the episode where Hank unwittingly becomes a pimp:
Hank: "I'm the mack daddy of Heimlich County. I play it straight, yo!"
Dale: "Don't turn me out, Hank! I'm no good! Ask anyone -- ask my wife!"
Hank: "The only woman I'm pimping is sweet lady propane, and I'm tricking her out all over this town."

I don't know if I'll have the motivation to keep this going, but stay tuned for at least a semi-regular KOTH:QOTD.

Press Box Buffet Table Turkey
One of the best things about the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend is the glut of sports on television to fill the time. I'm not watching mediocre NFL teams today (or any day), but this is the heart of rivalry time for college football. Well, just remember that the folks bringing you those games, from the tv crews to the teams' staffs, are working hard and not loafing around on the couch like the rest of us. I have a college friend who is working for the athletic department of a Big Ten school, and one time he got me press box access for a game. The food they laid out for the assembled media wasn't bad, but I wouldn't want it to be my Thanksgiving dinner. (Since I mentioned buffets, that gives me an excuse to link to my post about "beating the buffet," which was one of my favorites but didn't make Fitz's list.)

I was thinking about all this because the new WV Law Dog Blog, run by a law student in West (By God) Virginia, was previewing today's "Backyard Brawl" between WVU and Pitt, and reminded me of the great Beano Cook. If you don't know Beano, there's a picture with this column, but that's a pretty flattering picture; Beano's not too good-looking. Beano is a long-time football analyst for ESPN, and a real character. He's responsible for two of the funniest moments in ESPN history: one when he dressed up in a devil costume for something or other, and cracked up the studio guys, and the other when everyone thought they were having communication problems while Beano yelled "Tell him I can hear!" over and over. It's one of those you have to see to enjoy, I guess.

Anyway, if you know who Beano is, you'll appreciate this story. (I can't swear it's true, but it's one that gets told about Beano a lot. Even if it's not true, it's funny, and it sounds like Beano.) Well, way back in the day, before he went to ESPN, Beano was the sports information director at Pittsburgh. As he tells it, he was working late one night and was the only person in the office. The phone rang and a young woman was on the line. She said she was calling the sports information office because she wanted the names of every member of the football team. Beano was incredulous. "You're crazy! You call here in the middle of the night, looking for the names of everybody on the football team! I don't have time for this! And why would you possibly want all those names anyway?" She answered, "I'm just a huge fan of the football team, and to show my appreciation, I've decided to give every player [oral sex]." There was a moment of silence. Then, Beano says, "Have you got a pencil? Let's go numerically: #1, defensive end, Cook, Beano..."

What Some Folks Are Thankful For.... an acquittal on murder charges. Long-time readers might recall my review in February of Positively Fifth Street, a fun chronicle of a writer's entry (and success) in the 2000 World Series of Poker. The tournament that year coincided with the trial arising from the murder of the scion of the Binion family, the hosts of the WSOP. Ted Binion's ex-stripper girlfriend and her lover were tried for killing Binion by stuffing heroin down his throat, so they could make off with millions of dollars he had stashed around his property.

Sorry if this is a spoiler, but back in 2000, the pair were convicted of the murder (the poker stuff is really the more important part of the book, but the trial coverage is interesting too). Well, the Nevada Supreme Court later overturned the convictions and ordered a retrial. And yesterday, a new jury acquitted the two on murder charges, although it convicted them of conspiracy, grand larceny, and burglary for digging up Binion's money after he died. So, they still face some time in jail, but less than they were going to face.

On a final note, to Sandy, I know you're an ex-stripper and all, but you were out on bail, and maybe you could come to court wearing something nicer than blue jeans? Just a thought.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Another reason to celebrate today
Dan Rather has announced that he's leaving the news desk. It's about damn time. Hopefully people will finally stop besmirching the good name of Texas with references like this: "His hard news style was mixed with a folksy Texan style that led him to rattle off homespun phrases on Election Night." Man, nobody from Texas talks like Dan Rather. His little phrases weren't homespun, they were spun of whole cloth by a certain looney newscaster who happened to come from the Lone Star State. When people suggest otherwise it makes me madder than a wet hen.

(hat tip to Milbarge; link via CNN)

"Complete Abridged" is an Oxymoron: Side B
Fitz and I decided to compile some best-of lists to commemorate the anniversary, and I suggested we each pick our favorites from the other's repertoire. We didn't consult on it. It's interesting to see what he picked, and he'll probably think the same of my list of the Best of Fitz-Hume. (For comparison, here is the last post I did like this, with me picking for both of us.)

Here is the prescient and ranting Fitz, demolishing General Wesley Clark (three posts) and then turning on John Kerry. Here are two posts on the liberal media. Oh, and a lovely one on the United Nations and one on Sen. Fritz Hollings.

Here's the political Fitz on wildfire policy, and in what I think is a brilliant post, on President Bush's speaking style and ability to connect with people.

Here is the sporting Fitz discussing Texas high school football and Friday Night Lights, two posts on deer hunting with shotguns, and a helpful primer on buying shotguns.

Here is Fitz the gourmet explaining the difference between "griling" and "barbecue" and here telling you all you need to know about cooking Texas brisket.

Here is Fitz the mirth-maker, sharing various pieces of trivia about himself, talking about movies he thinks are better than the books they're based on, bravely revealing some movies he's ashamed to admit he likes (or maybe just ashamed to like, period). And, in an all-time crowd favorite, a profile of a gunner in our law school class. I'm leaving out a lot of his shorter posts, but a stroll through the archives is always worth it to find those little Fitzian gems.

Finally, one of the best things Fitz has brought to the blog is the connection to his brother, who is in the Army's Tenth Mountain Division. Fitz's interest and knowledge in military matters has been a great help to me in understanding some of the things going on overseas and has resulted in several memorable posts. Here is one about looted Iraqi gold, complete with pictures. Here is one about the war on drugs and Afghan poppy fields our soldiers leave unmolested. Here is one about Brother Fitz's experiences in Afghanistan, one with some pictures from Afghanistan, and one discussing the soldiers' take on the election. Fitz informs me that his brother will probably be going to Iraq in the spring, so let's all hope that getting temporarily blinded by flashbulbs while taking more pictures for us is the most dangerous thing he runs into over there.

So there you have it, my version of the Best of Fitz-Hume. Maybe we should start celebrating an anniversary every week so he'll have something to post!

The Complete Abridged BTQ: Side A
To commemorate our first year of blogging and provide a digest of BTQ for any new readers out there, I have assembled the following collection of our better posts. Some are oldies but goodies, and others are new classics (I use the term loosely, much like TNT). Individually they are just some decent posts, but taken together they spell absolutely fantastic.

Blog Crushes. Just read it. You'll learn much about the guy who calls himself Milbarge. Much? Maybe too much.

Milbarge's Lamentation and Lamentation Redux - the posts that first made you wonder whether we should institute a Milbarge suicide watch.

A different lament from Milbarge, this time asking, Where's My Social Safeway?. The answer to that question could have been Barnes & Noble, but fate intervened, as explained in Missed Connection.

A post entitled Motion for life to stop sucking: DENIED that is, amazingly, unrelated to the posts mentioned above.

A rant, that despite the title Mediocrity Masquerading as Mastery, is not directed at me. Another rant that will have you howling with laughter, again not directed at me, was penned by guest-blogger and BTQ-favorite Soupie, in his Open letter to fellow gym members.

A classic question raised and the definitive answer given, in this post on In line versus on line. Another question raised, but without any easy answers, in the post entitled, If I like their race, how can that be racist?.

Searing legal analysis, and Milbarge's raison d'etre, presented in a series of posts on Locke v Davey - here and here, R. Kelly and the 4th amendment - here and here, the gun industry and lawsuit-immunity - here, the rule prohibiting citation to unpublished opinions - here, and a blawgosphere favorite - his Ten Don'ts of Appellate Advocacy.

Not wanting to be pigeon-holed as a one-dimensional intellectual, Milbarge revealed that he is a double threat - an intellectual and a creative genius. He showcased his artistic side in a series of music-related posts, like his song parodies the Ballad of Mike Price: Volumes 1 and 2 and his lyrical take on the Blakely decision, as well as his take on song dedications and mix tapes.

Incidentally, if mix tapes interest you, then guest-blogger Mr. FunBall's post on road-trip mix CDs is not to be missed.

Finally, one of my favorite Milbarge posts is this great post in which he effortlessly connected Ted Williams, the X-Men and the Ninth Circuit, and a post which is consistently noted as a reader fav is his post channeling SMP?.

I've Run Out of Clever Post Titles
Fitz has already broken the news that today is the one-year anniversary of Begging the Question. I agree with everything he says, and he ably describes the genesis of the blog, but, as is my wont, I'd like to add a few words.

[cue: tear-jerking montage music]

I could go on for a long time thanking all the folks who have helped us get this far, but I'm afraid I would leave someone out and bore everyone else, so I won't. Suffice it to say that I'm very thankful for all the bloggers on our blogrolls, who have been great inspirations to me, and a source of much entertainment and time-wasting. I do have to mention all of the folks who guest-blogged here when we needed a little help, because without them this place would have been pretty quiet at times. Thanks especially to them, but also to all the readers and anyone who has linked to us in the past year.


Unlike Fitz, I was fairly confident that BTQ would last at least a year, in some form. What I was worried about was a year of full of those days when we got forty or fifty visits, with half of them from me and Fitz. Instead, remarkably, we're getting way more visits than I ever dreamed of, from all over the place. What started as an easy way to email my friends has brought me new ones, and new crushes, and whole new outlet for my lunatic ramblings.

And that's what will keep me going. As long as I'm able to, I'll keep spouting off here. I know Fitz has a life, but I don't have many other demands on me. So I fully intend to be here next Thanksgiving, linking back to this post. I just hope someone's here to read it.

Here's the last thing I'll say. It almost goes without saying (and in fact, I did forget to say it when I wrote the first draft of this post) that BTQ would not be nearly as good as it is without my co-blogger Fitz-Hume. His posts may not be long...or even appear for weeks...but I really couldn't do it without him. What he does behind the scenes might not be apparent, but any readers who are bloggers know how much code crap goes into making a blog look good. That's all Fitz; he makes it so all I have to do is post. In addition, his emails and comments about my discursive thoughts make my posts a million times better. I won't say anything more for fear of his humble self deleting it, but I hope everyone who clicks this way knows that BTQ would be a lot less fun, for both sides, without Fitz around.

Time flies when you're having fun!
Today we celebrate the first anniversary of this humble blog. Frankly, I am surprised we made it this long. As the cigarette ad reads, "You've come a long way, baby." Indeed we have, but the jury is still out on the question of whether we've been able to achieve the level of quality to which we aspired (we will need some Peterson-jury style turnover if we're ever going to get the verdict we want on that issue). However, the fact that we are still here is something of an achievement in and of itself.

We started Begging the Question a year ago, though the idea had been careening through Milbarge's mind for months. In the fall of 2003, Milbarge, some former law-school classmates and I were involved in daily email discussions about (mostly) the war in Iraq. Also at that time, Milbarge was sending me links to case analyses from Bashman (remember those days?), which we would then discuss, but that was my only exposure to the blogosphere. Milbarge decided to cut down on his inbox clutter and just combine the two sets of emails into a blog. And that, I think, was basically the inspiration for what he hoped Begging the Question would become: a place where he could collect and expand on what were his law-related emails and a place where we could continue our conversations about current events without having to hit "Reply to all." He did not want it to be a solo project - he envisioned a blog with a conversational nature and fairly wide range of topics reminiscent of L-cubed - and for whatever reason asked me to join him (a quick shout-out to Matt and Scott - the first blog to blogroll us and a major source of inspiration for BTQ). I agreed to come onboard, but I was unsure of exactly what role I would be expected to play. I liked the idea of toying around with html code, but I had no plans to post my thoughts on the great legal issues of the day for all the world to ridicule (assuming, of course, that I had any thoughts on the great legal issues).

Fortunately for me, Milbarge placed no limits on topics or tone or even frequency of posting - even if he secretly hoped I would focus on the law. He probably regrets that now. Had Milbarge seen fit to apply his predictive powers to my blogging, he might have looked elsewhere for a blogging companion. My first post directed readers to a Chris Hitchens article on jihadism's war against Muslim states. My second post was a request for injectible turkey marinade recipes (a request that went unfulfilled, but a post which still generates a fair number of site hits), and my third post was a link to the Houston Texans' cheerleaders. Oddly enough, those initial three posts have turned out to be pretty accurate indicators of how I spent the last year at BTQ. *cluck, cluck* If only he had known.

I am surprised that I am still blogging after a year, and I have few regrets about the whole experience. In fact, I really only have three blogging-related regrets: (1) I regret spending so much time blogging and reading blogs (note: using a blog aggregator actually increases the amount of time you spend reading blogs), (2) I regret that I don't have more time to make BTQ a better and (visually) more appealing site, and (3) I regret not printing out a hard copy of Incompetent Associate's blog before he took it down. I really mourn the blogosphere's loss of IA - the guy was damned funny. This post from Milbarge will give you just a taste of what the blogosphere is missing. We have oft lamented that had we known he was going to stop blogging we would have printed out his archives. I thought that IA's post about the hot dog vendor wordlessly punching out the bike messenger who tried to lift the vendor's wallet was the funniest thing I've ever read (and that's not Ashcroft-style hyperbole either) until I read his post about the homeless guy on the subway - who obviously felt that IA was cockblocking him vis-a-vis a female commuter - yelling at IA "nobody's talking to you Eli Whitney!". Upon researching Eli Whitney, IA discovered that he indeed did resemble the father of the cotton gin. Gold, Jerry, gold.

Anyway, this post was meant to be my thank you to our readers, our guest-bloggers and my co-blogger for making my first year of blogging such a great experience (but a post without a little navel-gazing just wouldn't be right, now would it?). So to all of you, thank you for the last year. I hope you keep coming back, and I hope we can continue to give you reasons to do so.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A tale of two hunters
Owen blogs his first deer hunt of the season over at Boots & Sabers. No crawling around through the brush with his trusty double, but best I can tell he did use a shotgun (at least one of his hunting buddies did). Owen took an eight-point buck on his second day. Well done, Owen. Congrats on making a tough shot, and good job following up on the probable trail of your quarry, even when you thought you missed him. Too many people would have never gone through that extra step.

Fortunately, Owen was not involved in this Wisconsin hunt-gone-horribly-horribly-wrong. Killing 5 people and wounding three others just because you did not want to give up your hunting spot is the wrong move, jackass. I hope Al Gonzales (heh, his initials match his soon-to-be title) writes your clemency memo. How can a deer stand possibly be worth that price?

I wanted to take a moment and say thanks to all the folks who have been kind enough to link to BTQ recently. I was very pleased with the interview with Scott, the first entry in our new "Twenty Questions for the Law Clerk" feature. We really want to keep this feature going, so hurry up and volunteer. And thanks very much to everyone who linked to it: Feddie at Southern Appeal; Centinel; Kevin J. Heller at Tech Law Advisor; Scott at Life, Law, Libido (typical); certain folks at the Greedy Clerks board and the Judicial Clerkships forum; and Howard Bashman at How Appealing. Thanks also to Howard for the suggestions for other interview topics, in particular, the cleaning staff in an appellate judge's chambers. The ladies who clean our offices are Serbian immigrants who bring us tasty baklava, and I'm sure would be interesting interviewees.

It was also nice of a few people to link my post spoofing Al Gonzales's clemency memos in light of President Bush's turkey pardon: Prof. Berman at the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog; Kris at Random Mentality; and Scott at L-cubed. Sorry if I missed anyone linking to BTQ recently; all the links are most appreciated. Update: Woops, I did forget one. Thanks to "Senator Spectator" at Nomination Nation for linking to my post on Judge Wilkinson.

In past business, thanks to Tommy at Carolina Law for his defense of Columbia, which was in response to this post of mine. Tommy's exam hiatus reminds me to wish all you law students reading this good luck on your upcoming finals.

Thanks to Soupie at the BBQ Daycare for discussing with Dylan of Slithery D my troubles with women (see question #6). Note that I don't really agree with all of Dylan's conclusions, but I appreciate the thoughts. Actually, there's a shred of news on that front. Well, come to think of it, can I call it a "date" if no date has been set yet? I have an "agreement in principle" with a woman to go out with me, but we haven't scheduled yet. Perhaps calling something a "date," by definition, implies a set time and place. Feel free to discuss that. I'll elaborate soon, don't worry.

Finally, I have volunteered to participate in the blog Appellate Law & Practice, which "provide[s] case summaries and links to articles on appellate advocacy." They have asked me cover the Fourth and Eleventh Circuits. I figure if I miss anything, Steve Minor at the Southwest Virginia Law Blog and Matt Conigliaro at Abstract Appeal will cover it better than I could. So we'll see how that goes.

Anyway, that's the latest news from this corner. We should have some more good stuff this week, so stay tuned.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Mail It to Me at P.O. Box, Blogosphere, USA
Partly in response to my post about my last mixtape, Mr. Fun Ball of Taunting Happy Fun Ball has decided to start a mix CD exchange. Scheherazade, naturally, has stepped up and actually started doing something about it.

I'm a big fan of this idea, and am excited to be in on the ground floor. Go to Fun Ball's blog to sign up and join the fun. I will get started on a new mix and wait for people more knowledgeable than myself to tell me where to send it. Of course, I'll have to use a re-mailer like those people who want their holiday mail postmarked from Santa Claus, Indiana or North Pole, Alaska.

I'm serious. I'm overly zealous about not revealing identifying details about myself, and sometimes I probably go a little overboard. I know it's not like anyone cares, but it's just my thing. At this moment, there's an episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on in which Larry David doesn't want to sign in at the hospital because he doesn't like his name on "lists." It's kind of like that. So, whomever gets a CD from Milbarge, don't draw any conclusions from the postmark.

I guess this may be an example of the inherent limits of the blogosphere as a community. Maybe with things like mix CD exchanges and credentials at the political conventions and video entries on blogs, bloggers can get a little more connected. We'll see. Anyway, the CD thing should be fun, so sign up.

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    The views presented here are personal and in no way reflect the view of my employer. In addition, while legal issues are discussed here from time to time, what you read at BTQ is not legal advice. I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice, then go see another lawyer.

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