Begging The Question

Saturday, January 08, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Hank, giving Luanne instructions on Ladybird's care while the Hills go to Japan: "I'm only going to read this once: 'Hi, my name is Ladybird. I like long walks, my arthritis medication, and two cups of kibble a day. I'll try to outsmart you and get three cups, but I know you're too clever for that, Ms. Platter.'"
Luanne: "I don't know, Uncle Hank. She did write this letter and everything."
Hank: "Trip's canceled!"

Friday, January 07, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Dale: "Perhaps the Colonel will delight us with a war story? Personally, I'm in the mood for an eye-gouging."
Cotton: "No! I don't want to talk no more about the fitty men I killed!"
Hank: "Well, that's weird. My Dad loves telling his war stories. Usually we're pulling him off whatever sorry sap he's got playing Admiral Tojo."
Bill: "That's how I ripped the other pair of pants I used to have."

All-Request Weekend: The BTQ Casting Call
Colonel Rhombus requested a general post about the people who comment on BTQ, a who's-who of BTQ, so to speak. To comply, I sorted through the last 300 comments and compiled this list of people who commented 3 or more times. Without further adieu, allow me to present a murderer's row of BTQ contributors:
Milbarge - federal law clerk, confirmed bachelor, songsmith, and proprietor of BTQ - not that there's anything wrong with that
Fitz-Hume - slow-witted government attorney, plays Robin to Milbarge's Batman
Soupie - law student in East St. Louis, owner of the Daycare, genius behind the JB posts, and the brother I never had
Col. Rhombus - BIGLAW whore, carnivore, oeniphile and bon vivant
Mr. P - BIGLAW whore (but not for long), frequently drunk, frequently hopped-up on cold medicine, is to news of the weird what Bashman is to the law
Wadsworth - another law dude (but on the GC side), UNC fan, lover of "Clue"
feddie - puts the "southern" in Southern Appeal, fan of the fightin' Irish, moderately ultra-conservative, all-around good sport
TP - Texan by way of South Africa, BIGLAW whore, ninja, proprietor of the neglected blog Trivial Pursuits
Centinel - BIGLAW whore, boots on the ground to feddie's ideals, runs one of my favorite blogs
Larry the Longhorn - Soupie's classmate at Kentucky Fried School of Law and Equity, scary smart, but a little too focused on school to devote the appropriate amount of time to her blog
Dylan - he's a little hard to pin down; he's funny yet dark and for some reason he reads Leiter and Publius; he's in love with a hot Italian broad
thehotlibrarian - Hmm. . . the name pretty much says it all; oh, and she's the Frida Kahlo of MS-Paint
E. McPan - Texan, y'all; the drawl comes through even in her blog posts, and I love it
Energy Spatula - law student blogging from somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, wears pink, jewel-studded Chuck Taylors, crochets like a fiend, drinks like a fish and cusses like a sailor
NDC - What would happen if George Carlin had a blog
Scott - comment killer extraordinaire, the "progressive" half of L-cubed and the man responsible for our most popular post
Sebastian Haff - If you sponsored an anti-Communist rally in college and you're from Montana, you might be Sebastian Haff
OLS - alt-rock aficionado and government lawyer in the land down under; I may or may not have a crush on her, err, I mean on her blog
kmsqrd - overly apologetic engineer and blogger (and a darned fine writer)
Heidi - cool blog, photos, pictures, and a title ("And all my underwear, too!") that captured Milbarge's attention and has never let it go
Mr. FunBall - the mixtape man, lawyer, blogger, and roundball fan
Frolics & Detours - I like her blog, she seems really cool, and she did not remove her "Drink Liberally" button because of me
Coob - Texan, 1L, has one of the coolest blog names (Send Lawyers, Guns, and Money)
Kristine - a 1L to be, just accepted into GW Law and Northwestern (congrats!), and I like her blog in spite of the dig at the Sooners
Are those descriptions too general? Well, in an effort to help you put faces with the names, I've decided that the best method would be to imagine that I made a movie about BTQ and then list who I would assemble for the cast of my vanity project:
Milbarge - Kevin Smith channeling Bill F. De la T. Dauterive
Fitz-Hume - Nicolas Cage (but more Raising Arizona than The Rock)
Soupie - Eminem gettin' all intellectual with glasses and shit
the Colonel - the Continental
Wadsworth - Gary Cole (suspenders optional)
feddie - George Clooney as Ulysses Everett McGill (with the rest of SA filling in as the Soggy Bottom Boys)
Larry - Jennifer Garner (but dressed like this)
Centinel - James Garner (but dressed like this)
thehotlibrarian - Kate Beckinsale in full Van Helsing attire (especially the big hair)
E. McPan - Amy Poehler (Milbarge's suggestion) in a Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleader uniform (my suggestion)
Energy Spatula - Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
TP - David Carradine
NDC - this guy
kmsqrd - Elisabeth Shue in a lab coat (she played a very convincing scientist in The Saint)
Mr. FunBall - John Edwards, son of a mill worker
Scott - Vince Vaughn as Trent Walker from Swingers
Mr. P - Steve Hytner, or that pederast Hanrahan
Sebastian Haff - Bruce Campbell, in full Serving Sara regalia
OLS - Nicole Kidman from back in her Days of Thunder days
Dylan - John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything, except that he never boards the plane
Heidi - Jennifer Love Hewitt (with her blog title it's the only choice that makes any sense)
Coob - Milbarge says Johnny Depp as George Jung in Blow - Lawyers? Check. Guns? Check. Money? Check. Penelope Cruz? Check.
Kristine - Janet Leigh as Marion Crane - oblivious to the danger of law school lurking on the other side of the curtain. But not for long.
F&D - the quiz said Trisha, so who am I to argue with that?

All-Request Weekend: Diner
Soupie writes in with a request for advice on eating in diners. It's true that I like eating at a greasy spoon. A big reason for that is that I like eating breakfast foods like waffles and omelettes, but I'm not usually very hungry during breakfast hours, even on those occasions when I'm awake during breakfast hours. This started in college, when we used to go to a 24-hour diner a lot, and the breakfast stuff was often the only decent thing on the menu. That's one piece of advice I have: don't order something that's likely to have been sitting around for a while, like that time Sebastian ordered a salad at Waffle House. (To be fair, it came with the t-bone steak, which I wouldn't have ordered either, but Seb did eat the Waffle House salad, which they had to dig out of the cooler's depths.) It's also helpful to know the best pork product to order in a diner. Sometimes the bacon is too fatty, or you might prefer link sausage while the diner only offers patties. That's just trial and error. I also like diners where I can go into Nighthawks mode and keep to myself and not be bothered. I like to go into a diner and read, and I don't want to chat with the lonely night waitress, I'm sorry. Another essential feature of good diner fare is a low price -- avoid those trendy pseudo-diners where everything is super-kitschy. And, finally, go to a place where they make authentic milkshakes. Anyway, that's all I've got to offer. I'm willing to eat a lot of different things, but you'll never go wrong taking me to a good diner. How's that, Soup?

All-Request Weekend: New Federal Holiday
Long-time Friend-of-BTQ Sebastian wonders what kind of federal holiday I would create. For inspiration on timing, I draw from Centinel's post on January 4 titled "Let the Games Begin" (get some permalinks, dude!). Cent. points out that for you unlucky non-federal employees, there are no holidays between New Year's Day and Memorial Day. So, I would create a holiday roughly in the middle of all that, say mid-March or so. As for what it would celebrate, I harken back to an event I always used to cherish when I was in school: that first warm stretch in the spring when the nubile young coeds would emerge from winter coats and don their sundresses. So my holiday would be called "Sundress Day." The tradtion would be that the ladies dress in their springy best and let everyone know that, whatever that groundhog said, winter is over. Naturally, many would shorten it to "Undress Day," and I'm fine with that. Maybe it's not as traditional as planting a tree in your living room or shooting off fireworks, but I have a feeling it would catch on pretty quickly. Anyway, write your congressional representatives and let's make Sundress Day a reality.

All-Request Weekend: New Kate Update
Frolics & Detours writes in with a request for an update on the New Kate situation. (See the latest update here for a summary.) There's not much to report. We chat every once in a while, but I think the spark is gone. She has finished her master's degree program, but is still looking for a job, so she doesn't have much to talk about. And you know me well enough to know that I don't either. But it's the little things in the big silences, and you can ask Fitz to verify this, because I got it on the record with him some time back.

For example, she asked me a few weeks ago if I had seen any movies recently. I told her I hadn't, but I wanted to see Sideways. New Kate: "Never heard of it, but I really want to see National Treasure -- it looks great!" Look, I'm not a movie snob, but consider if those were the options if we went on a movie date. I'd be miserable, or she would. That's just symbolic of the kind of compatibility problems we have. (This week she raved about Meet the Fockers, which I have no desire to see, but got roped into going to tonight, so at least we'll have it in common.) I guess the easiest way to explain it is that things are just...stale. There's simply not a lot of desire to meet her anymore, and she hasn't said anything about it either.

Another thing. About a month ago we were scrounging for something to talk about, and I asked if she had any suggestions. (I think it's a bad sign to have to force it like that anyway.) She said, "What about sex?" And before I could gather my thoughts and say anything, she dropped a "Just kidding!" on me. Look, I'm not obsessed with sex [pause for laughter], but that's just not fair. First of all, that was the closest we've come to even hinting at sex in the whole time we've been talking. Again, it's not something I feel a need to talk about right off the bat, but I usually expect it to come up sometime within the first year. Her reticence on that issue has been a big red flag for me the whole way along. I can understand someone thinking that she doesn't want to talk about that to some loser on the internet. But we've gotten to know each other pretty well, and it's been surprising that it hasn't even come up at all. I'm not trying to impugn her -- it may just be that her attitude about sex is different than mine. But I think that's another big incompatibility.

I do like talking to New Kate, and I hope we can stay friends, especially if we end up in the same city if and when we both get jobs. But I don't see it ever becoming anything more than that. I'm not giving up and joining a monestary, though. I was browsing craigslist and was struck enough by two ads that I sent emails to the posters. Both were women a couple of years older than me, but both sounded at least interesting enough to have a chat with sometime. We'll see if they even reply. Also, my friend here in town is working on a fix-up, but I have yet to receive details. As alwyas, I'll keep you posted. By the way, rumors that I've cooled on New Kate because I would prefer to pursue certain bloggers may be addressed privately.

All-Request Weekend: Duke All-Time Starting Five
Mr. Fun Ball requests my all-time Duke starting five, in honor of the 65th anniversary of the legendary Cameron Indoor Stadium. This is one of those things that could be either really easy or really hard depending on how invested one is in, say, Jeff Mullins or somebody. And I don't really want to spend all day poring over statistics and trying to make detailed comparisons. This is essentially a gut-level list, but I also wanted to have what could be a starting five, rather than simply the five best regardless of position. So, I would take Bobby Hurley at point guard, Johnny Dawkins at shooting guard, and then essentially a three-forward line with Christian Laettner, Grant Hill, and Shane Battier. My top criterion was team success, which is why Battier got the nod over Mike Gminski (probably the closest call for me). Battier had one more Final Four and a championship over Gminski. You might also note that NBA success mattered for naught in my calculus, because as far as I'm concerned that league might as well not exist. I think this fictional starting five would win a lot of games just by not letting the other team score -- there's something like half a dozen defensive player of the year awards represented there. I'd be interested to see Fun Ball's starting five, but there's mine. Too bad the current roster is so thin that the starting five may be the only five they have for some games.

All-Request Weekend: Star Wars Episode III
Attack of the Writer/Director/Creator whose massive ego and disconnect with reality have ruined a cinematic treasure

To answer Colonel Rhombus, the chances that the final Star Wars movie will be worth watching are nil, if by "worth watching" you mean "a quality movie experience resulting from a well-written, well-acted, well-directed project worthy of the fondness many of us have for the original trilogy." That won't stop many people from seeing Episode III, though, if only to complete the painful experience of watching Lucas butcher the franchise. Plus, some people are curious to see how and why Anakin Skywalker turns from good to evil. Perhaps it is revealed that George Lucas leads the Rebellion, because that would make anyone want to don the black cape and helmet and work to restore order to the galaxy.

The only fitting end to the prequel trilogy would be George Lucas and Jar Jar Binks literally speeding over a cliff Thelma and Louise-style. Sadly, I expect Episode III will only figuratively fall off a cliff with Lucas none the wiser.

All-Request Weekend: Don't Feed the Children
The lovely kmsqrd (of Quo Vado? fame) wants to know what food that I love would I hesitate to give to any future children I might have?

I love food. But the foods I love the most fall into these general categories: meat, potatoes, chiles, cheese, bourbon, beer, soda, heavy cream sauces, salt and pretty much anything that's fried. Don't misunderstand me - I love fruits & veggies, fish, pasta, legumes and pretty much anything else that's put on my plate. In fact, about the only foods I dislike are the non-meat parts of animals (tripe, brains, kidneys, livers, hearts, tongue, etc.) and raisins.

But in the event that I sire any heirs to the Fitz-Hume fortune, I would certainly do my best to keep them away from snack chips, french fries, and soda. There is nothing healthy about those foods, yet they are tempting and delicious. Dr. Pepper was once my dark master, but I have been able to break its grip on me. I still drink sodas, though, averaging about 4 per week. I really think it is the sugar that tempts me more than the caffeine. But empty calories (do NOT even mention the revolting diet sodas) and carbonation so conflict with a healthy lifestyle that I would do everything in my power to keep kids away from it. Not to mention that all that sugar can contribute to cavities.

Chips and fries are also scrumptious, yet unhealthy treats. Salt (high blood pressure) and sat fats (heart disease) - 'nuff said. My consumption of these products is much easier to control than my lust for soda, but I still eat a fair amount of tortilla chips and french fries - more than I would permit any child of mine to eat.

Everything else in moderation, I suppose. I would of course advocate fresh foods over processed foods and emphasize the central role a grill should play in one's life.

All-Request Weekend
Okay, folks, it's time for another ALL-REQUEST WEEKEND here at BTQ. You know the drill: we'll write about any reasonable request/question/suggestion. So feel free to lob those softballs into the comments box, or email us, and we'll see what we can do for you here at BTQ: All blog, all the time. (I thought about remnaming the place like a real radio station for the weekend, but it turns out there is both a WBTQ, a good-time oldies station in West (By God) Virginia, and a KBTQ, which I think is an Hispanic hip-hop station in Texas. So consider us to be like that pirate radio station Christian Slater ran in Pump Up the Volume, and I'll be waiting for my Samantha Mathis.)

Thursday, January 06, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
From the episode where Dale and Nacy are renewing their vows, and Dale gets in a fight with his Dad (whom he proposes to fight with "the deadliest of the martial arts -- monkey-style!"):

Dale, telling the story of his falling out with his Dad, whom he saw trying to kiss Nancy at their wedding (flashback): "It was the most lavish potluck wedding the neighborhood had ever seen. (to the guests) 'Thanks for coming! I'll let you know how the deflowering went!' ... [Dale goes to use the restroom, but sees Bill in there throwing he heads to the kitchen sink...but in the kitchen, he sees his Dad grab Nancy and kiss her.] (/flashback) I loved my Dad like a father, but he betrayed me like a betrayer!"

Random Thoughts
1. I have an idea for a reality tv show. Maybe Kevin could talk to someone about this. My idea is to have a couple (husband and wife, or whatever pair bond works well in the focus groups) switch jobs for a week or so. Each spouse would get a better appreciation of what the other does, and a little break from the daily grind. The ones I would like to see: A hotshot executive who doesn't help out around the house has to cook and clean and take care of the kids, while his stay-at-home wife gets to run the company; a blue collar man's man has to work at, say, the wedding dress boutique; Donald Trump has to be a supermodel while his wife gets to say "You're fired!"; a Lucy Ricardo-type has to work as a brain surgeon...well, maybe not. But you get the idea. A celebrity couple would certainly help things. All of you married folks, imagine doing your spouse's gig for a while and imagine the hilarity and touching insight that would ensue if someone filmed it. Somebody get to work on that, and I'll be waiting for my royalty check. Of course, I don't watch reality tv, so for all I know this show has already aired.

2. One of my email addresses is still on the mailing list for an anti-death penalty group. I signed up for it years ago, in my idealistic days, and now I just delete them without reading them. But the subject line of one caught my eye: "Serial Killer's Henchman Goes Before Congress." It took me a few moments to realize they were referring to Al Gonzales. A piece of advice, folks. I know you're sincere about your cause. And I know you're preaching to the choir. But that's not helping things.

3. I saw Dennis Hastert will swear in VP Cheney at the inauguration later this month. Usually, a Supreme Court Justice does that, but not always. Then again, my guess is that many people watching will think that Hastert is on the Supreme Court. Remember, Hastert is third in the line of succession, and he was a wrestler in his younger days. Anyone think he'll say "Here's my chance!" and put Cheney and Bush in full-nelsons until they resign? For the unintentional comedy lovers, there will also be a performance of John Ashcroft's "Let the Eagles Soar."

4. I saw the headline "How to ask him out," and thought, "What a waste of space." There's really not a wrong answer to that. Sure, he might not be that into you, but your odds are good. Trust me. And if you don't believe me, ask me out and find out for yourself. Truly, though, it's not a matter of technique or tips. Caveat: This advice does not necessarily apply for men, so don't comment with a bunch of pot/kettle crap about my dating woes.

5. Line of the day: "Personally, I love NASCAR about as much as I do hockey. The only thing that would get me to watch a car race on TV would be if they ran over a hockey player every couple of laps." That's from Roy Blount, Jr., in the new OA.

6. Brian Peterson points to an interesting suggestion: banning ATMs from gambling parlors. I don't know how much good this would do if they still allowed for credit card purchases, but maybe the thinking is that the folks they're looking to protect don't have credit. I previously commented on a similar phenomenon, spending money in strip clubs. Strip clubs are similar to gambling houses in that ATMs are available when you run out of money but think you're just a few more dollars away from getting lucky. And of course, your odds of winning against the house are virtually nil. Anyway, it also reminds me of the Chris Rock bit asking "Do you ever take a couple hundred dollars out of the ATM at four in the morning for something positive?!" and suggesting that the ATM screen flash a psychiatrist trying to talk you out of it. I didn't mean for this post to turn into an advice column, but the best approach for going to a casino or a strip club is to only take as much cash as you're willing to lose, and even if you have to leave your ATM card at home, don't get any more when you run out. Of course, I have broken this rule myself, so it's really more of an aspiration.

7. I was going to have a post about the baseball Hall of Fame elections of Wade Boggs and Ryne Sandberg. I lost whatever motivation I had. I will say that I think Dale Murphy and Goose Gossage should be in the Hall. And I was pleased to see that this year Pete Rose got the fewest write-ins he's ever received.

8. I think I've decided to give up sweet tea, for a little while. I mentioned this before, but I wasn't really serious then. But now I want to see if I can do it. This is a big decision for me, and I'm partly doing it to see if I really have any will power or not. I drink a lot of sweet tea, and not a lot of other beverages. I mean, I don't drink many different beverages. It's sweet tea, water, Coke, apple juice, and that's about it. The occasional beer or liquor, and a Pepsi if I'm parched and have no choice. In the last six months I've probably also had a glass of orange juice (it was either that or coffee) and one or two of egg nog. Several years ago, I gave up Coke for Lent, and that broke me of a serious habit. Now I might average one every few days. So most of the time I'm either drinking water or sweet tea. Anyway, I'm going to finish the pitcher I have now and see if I can go a month without it. I may try to give up Coke again, as well. I foresee withdrawal problems, but we'll see how it goes. I'm at the front end of a bell-curve of busyness at work: things are starting to pick up, should get crazy-busy in a couple of months, and then will slowly simmer down. I may need all the caffiene I can get, so I'll give myself a one-month limit on the sweet tea swearing-off.

9. The other day I lamented that I hadn't seen much worth mentioning on other blogs. I stand corrected. Via Soup, a very amusing interview story, and a post (and link) that is simply beyond my descriptive powers. Behold, and enjoy.

10. I've decided to jump on the blog-wagon (that's for you, THL) and take the Fifty Book Challenge. I think I first saw it via Amber. Anyway, the deal is that you try to read fifty books during the year and talk about them on your blog/journal/skywriting plane/whatever. I'm already on a good pace, because I'm counting my book on cd. Also, I'm going to count two books I read last month and want to talk about sometime. That will make it fifty-two for me, which makes the math per week. I won't promise full-fledged reviews, but keep an eye out and I'll keep the meter running.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Peggy, when working as the bilingual customer service representaive for Alamo Beer: "All of these calls are from Mexicans. Now, their Spanish wasn't great, but I was able to gather that they got sick after drinking Alamo beer."

Country when county wasn't cool
My father-in-law gave me a mix CD over the Christmas holiday and what with all the interest lately in mix CDs I thought you might enjoy a peek into the mind of my father-in-law, who just so happens to be the intellectual and philosophical twin of Hank Hill (and he wears white t-shirts with wranglers when he cuts the grass so he also bears a striking resemblance to Hank).

Boy howdy, does he love iTunes.
The Father-in-Law Mix
Jerry Reed, "East Bound and Down"
Tanya Tucker, "Pecos Promenade"
Keith Carradine, "I'm Easy" (doesn't this song doesn't remind you of Dylan? -- ed.)
Loretta Lynn, "Coal Miner's Daughter"
Glen Campbell, "True Grit"
Willie Nelson, "Everybody's Talkin'"
Waylon Jennings, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys"
The Judds, "Cow Cow Boogie"
Ronnie Milsap, "Cowboys and Clowns"
Dolly Parton, "Cowgirl and the Dandy"
Charley Pride, "Burgers, Fries and Cherry Pies"
Statler Brothers, "Class of '57"
K.T. Oslin, "Younger Men (Are Startin' to Catch My Eye)"
Statler Brothers, "What Ever Happened to Randolph Scott?"
Unknown artist, "El Paso" (acoustic instrumental version of Marty Robbins' classic)

Do or do not. . . there is no try.
Or Why I'll Never be a Real Writer

This Slate piece entitled Beauty and the Beast by Matt Feeney makes me want to have Centinel hit me in the belly with a baseball bat. It's not that Feeney's article is good or bad. Rather, it's that I wrote about this very topic 6 months ago. That is to say, I wrote a draft blog post on the same subject as Feeney's article, including the same references and same sense of bewilderment, but I did not follow through, complete the post and hit the publish button.

The original title of my post was "Television's Greatest Lie" and I saved the draft on July 7, 2004. It was the result of an idea that had been bouncing around in my head for some time. But in this, as in most other aspects of my life, I half-assed the project and then quit once it got hard. Turning a bit of html code into a couple of paragraphs and a dozen comments I can do. Turning a good idea into a serious post I believe I can do, too, I just chose not to - and to my everlasting chagrin. It just goes to show you that slothfulness is not the route to publishing success. But for my laziness, I could have written a post worthy of becoming a Slate article.* In the interest of wallowing in self-pity, I have reproduced in full the contents of my original incomplete draft:

Television sitcoms perpetuate a cruel lie that I fear ensnares many men. Anecdotal evidence suggests that even men who do not watch TV sitcoms are affected by the notion that dumpy, selfish men end up married to gorgeous women. Would that it were so. Although sitcoms paint a picture of life as "hot wives and dumpy dads" I consider it to be one of the greatest lies ever told.

Consider but a few of my favorite examples. First, there is According to Jim, which features Jim Belushi (balding, fat and self-absorbed) married to knockout Courtney Thorne-Smith. To top it off, she's mother to three kids! In King of Queens Kevin James is a fat delivery man with a speed limit IQ, yet he's with Leah Remini. Everybody Loves Raymond presents Ray Romano, shlumpy, selfish and cruel (at least he's not fat) shacking-up with Patricia Heaton (Yeah, I know, Deborah's bitchy, but she's easy on the eyes). In Still Standing fat, whiny Mark Addy snagged longtime hottie Jami Gertz, who happens to be have three kids (including 2 teenagers!) and still looks great. Ditto the now defunct Ladies' Man which featured doughy Fred Molina married to Sharon Lawrence.

There is more - the guys are fat AND bad husbands and/or dopes - they play Larry to the wives' Balki.

Why do sitcoms do this? It's not because fat guys watch these family shows is it? Do wives who watch the shows identify with the onscreen wives because the husbands are so bad?
As you can see, my post still needs some work. Nevertheless, the idea was there and I think the ability to finish the post and tie it together is there, too. All that was lacking was the motivation. To see that someone else took that idea, worked hard, and followed through with it just makes me a little ashamed. A little jealous, too.

*For the record, I am not accusing Matt Feeney of copying me, nor do I seriously believe that I was the first person to ever raise the issue of fat guys and hot chicks in sitcoms, nor am I suggesting that I would ever have a realistic chance of publishing an article on Slate. I'm just lamenting my failure to take a good topic and do something with it. As the preacher might say, I feel convicted in my laziness after reading Feeney's article. And that feeling really sucks.

UPDATE: This passage from Andrew Sullivan may be exactly the thought that would have tied my post together:
If women weren't so damn forgiving of slobbiness, if they weren't prepared to look for the diamond buried in the rough of a man's beer-belly, men might have to shape up a little. The only reason gay men are - on the whole - better turned out than straight men is because they have to appeal to other shallow, beauty-obsessed males to get laid, find a mate, etc. The corollary, of course, are lesbians. Now there are many glamorous lesbiterians, but even the most enthusiastic Sapphic-lover will have to concede that many are not exactly, shall we say, stylish. The reason? They don't have to be to attract other women; and since women find monogamy easier, they also slide into the I'm-married-so-what-the-hell-have-another-pretzel syndrome. When straight women really do insist on only dating hot guys, men will shape up. Until then, it's hopeless.
I think he is on to something there.
(Sullivan quote via Prof. Althouse via my blog aggregator)

UPDATE 2: THL echoes Sullivan in her comment below, and inspires me to ask why women tolerate a world where what Sullivan and THL describe is the norm?

I am the smartest man alive¡
Due to the growing popularity of sarcasm on the internet and the growing popularity of a new punctuation mark used to indicate sarcasm, I have decided to provide a public service to those who wish to jump on the sarcasm bandwagon.

If you want to include the sarcasm point, represented by an inverted exclamation point set below the line of text (like so: ¡), in your blog posts or comments use the following code:
[sub]& iexcl;[/sub]
Despite what you see above, there are no spaces before the brackets or between the elements of the code between the tags. Also, remember to change the open brackets ("[") to the less-than symbol ("<") and the closed brackets ("]") to the greater-than symbol (">").

No longer must you fear that your readers will miss the subtleties of your biting wit¡ No longer will your readers wonder "is he being funny or is he just an asshole?" No longer will they ask "why is she so bitter?" From now on, you have the power to fully express your sarcasm without fear of misinterpretation. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Apparently Haloscan does not recognize the subscript tags.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Hank: "When we were setting up camp, you said that in your opinion, kindling is the best wood to start a fire."
Peggy: "Well, isn't it, Hank?"
Hank: "Of course it is, but it's not your opinion, it's a known fact!"

Your just a woman with a brain a third the size of us men. It's science.
Joanne Williams, PhD with Australia's Centre for Community Child Health at the Royal Children's Hospital and Murdoch Children's Research Institute spent three years of her life on a research study which led her to conclude that life sucks for fat kids. Specifically, that "[o]verweight kids have a tough time. Their self-esteem suffers and they can't keep up with the other kids." Really? That's hard to believe¡

The study is featured in the current issue of JAMA in case you need to see the data for yourself. It's a startling conclusion to be sure, so I can understand your reluctance to accept it on face value. Trust, but verify, as they say.

(link via FOX News)

Federal Jurisdiction, Invasion of Privacy, and Upskirt Photos
This is one of those situations I'm interested in, but not enough to go find out the answer. So I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I saw in the U.S. Law Week that both houses of Congress have now passed the Video Voyeurism Prevention Act, which criminalizes "the videotaping, photographing, filming, or recording by electronic means of any nonconsenting individuals in situations in which they have a reasonable expectation of privacy." I think it's worth discussing exactly what expectations of privacy people have when they're out in public. I'll spell this out even though I fear what sorts of web searches we'll show up in because of it, but my understanding is that the bill was designed to prevent things like "upskirt" photos, wherein someone with a hidden camera takes pictures, well, up skirts. Not having worn a skirt, I can't say for sure, but I would think there are known, and assumed, risks inherent in wearing them. If you assume the risk that someone might peek under there (say, as you ride up the escalator at the mall), do you also assume the risk that the peeper will memorialize that moment via photography?

I'll leave that issue open for now, but I might come back to it. What interested me reading this (other than learning that the sponsor of the Senate bill was Mike Dewine (R.--Ohio), former employer of the infamous Washingtonienne) was that the law would only apply on federal property. I'm glad that Congress isn't trying to make a general criminal law against this, but where is the jurisdictional boundary on photography? What if I'm standing outside federal property and photographing someone within it? Am I violating the law because the subject is on federal property, or could I argue that if the crime is the making of the photograph, I'm not doing that on federal land? What if it's the opposite -- I'm standing on federal property and shooting a picture of someone outside it. While the making of the photo takes place on federal grounds, the person whose privacy I am allegedly invading never stepped into the jurisdictional bubble. And imagine a situation where U.S. land abuts foreign jurisdiction (embassies and military bases come to mind) -- the purported victim might not even be in the United States at all. Or, what about this one: What if both I and my subject are outside federal property, but in order to take a picture, I have to shoot through federal property (for example, over land that is a federal park, but not very wide, or I have a zoom lens)? An illustration:


xxfederal landxx


In that case, can the law apply because I've done something with federal property? It's not like I could remove the federal land from that picture -- it's the very ether between me and my subject.

I know this is the kind of post that could lead to all sorts of inane comments. And that's fine, if that's what we get. And I am being plenty toungue-in-cheek here. And I have no intention of actually going out to the borders of federal jurisdiction with a concealed camera. But I'm also curious about some of the issues this law raises, and I'd love to know what you think. I do have to mention this quote from Dewine: "The act will prohibit both filming and taking compromising pictures of people in places where they expect privacy the most." You know you're inside the Beltway when you "expect privacy the most" on federal property!

Monday, January 03, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Hank: "For God's sake, Bobby, what nationality are you?"
Bobby: "American."
Hank: "Then why are you holding your cigarette like some kind of European Nazi in a movie?"
Bobby: "Why does it matter? I thought smoking was bad."
Hank: "That's not the right sort of attitude for you to have. Whatever you do, you should do right, even if it's something wrong."

I am the Great Gas Head (a 2005 predictions post)
When one has a gift for prognostication like I do, it seems a waste not to share that gift. Therefore, I present the following predictions for '05. I guarantee that there is a 100% chance that at least some of these predictions will come to pass. It's a slam dunk.

1. Tara Reid will get married; J-Lo will get divorced; Britney will get pregnant, then divorced, then remarried.

2. The world will find new reasons to hate America besides Iraq, Israel, McDonald's and tsunamis.

3. Drilling in some areas of ANWR will be approved.

4. The federal sentencing guidelines will remain, and the Supremes will find a way around the correct result in Raich.

5. Milbarge and I will not be featured in the NY Times, nor any newspaper for that matter.

6. Michael Moore will not win the Oscar for best director or best picture. Nor should he, if the word "best" means anything at all.

7. US Airways will survive, though undeservedly. US Airways should go down in flames, metaphorically speaking, but they won't.

8. I will get audited by the IRS and survive.

9. The BCS will survive, too.

10. However, no new sitcoms from the big four networks will survive the year.

In Store for '05
Without further time-wasting, here are my fearless predictions for 2005. I disavow any reliance.

1. Sadly, both Lady Birds will leave us -- the one on "King of the Hill" and the one who was married to LBJ. (I hope I'm wrong.)

2. The Supreme Court will outlaw the death penalty as applied to those who were minors at the time of the offense, and at least two states will enact moratoriums on their death penalties.

3. As promised, my prediction on who will be the next Chief Justice: Clarence Thomas.

4. A sports team travelling for a game will be involved in an air crash.

5. We will struggle to comprehend the stardom of Paris Hilton. She will be bigger than Oprah and Madonna combined. She'll be the Elvis of our generation. Bono will pay money to see Paris in concert, and Paris will speak to the United Nations. The city of Paris, France will win the 2012 Olympics based on its pledge to rename itself "Paris Hilton." Statues of her will be erected, and there will be a movement to put her image on the ten-dollar bill, which will be seen as symbolic, since it is the table-dance bill.

6. At this time next year, we will struggle to comprehend why televised poker was so popular.

7. The year in blogging: Juan Non-Volokh will be outed, and the President will utter the word "Wonkette." (Yes, I'm trolling for links, but if it happens, you heard it here first!)

8. American troops will fight within the borders of Iran.

9. Duke will win the 2005 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship. (Hey, even I gotta have faith in something!)

10. I will get married to a woman who reads BTQ.

Milbarge at Large: "I'm 37?!" Edition
What I am doing at work: At the moment, trying to stay awake. I was here late last night and early this morning. This is what I get for procrastinating when the Judge told me he wanted something by this morning. Then again, it was Christmas/New Year's, so I don't feel terribly guilty about not working much last week. I'm in the middle of a stack of bench memos for an upcoming oral argument session. I'm looking forward to being at the arguments a lot more than I'm looking forward to helping the Judge get ready. In many ways, though, the bench memos I'm writing are a lot like the memos I wrote to panels as a staff attorney: I summarized the facts, outlined the arguments, marshaled some law, and made a recommendation for disposition. So to some extent, the only tough thing is getting a sense of the style my Judge wants, as opposed to the familiar form we had at the staff attorney's office. Perhaps once I get a few more under my belt, I'll post a bench memo primer for future clerks. The other weird thing is that it is perfectly clear here who is doing which case on the calendar, so it's easy to get a little resentful if a co-clerk has a stack of easy cases when I end up with some diversity case involving, say, state surety law or something.

Another thing, although I know in advance that this will sound super-dorky. A couple of the cases I've got now are habeas cases, and it reminds me of an idea for a book I once had. I was going to call it "The Respondents," and it would be a view of habeas corpus through the eyes of wardens and state corrections officials, who are named as respondents in habeas cases. I would love to have had a chance to talk to folks with names we recognize from Supreme Court cases -- names like Cockrell and Taylor and Zant and especially Wainwright. I wonder -- did they take a personal interest in the case? After all, they were named only because of their title, and the cases were defended by state attorneys. Did they have any contact with the AG's office about the issues in the case? Were they even aware of all the lawsuits technically filed against them? How were they served? On an institutional level, how did they manage the filings from prisoners in such a way that preserved access to the courts? What was it like when a prisoner won habeas relief and was either moved from death row to the general population, or freed altogether? My guess is that these folks had less to do with the actual litigation than Dick Cheney did with the recent case that bore his name. But the idea intrigued me, and if anyone wants to go interview those folks, I'd be eager to read what they had to say.

What I am doing at home: I got a houseplant for Christmas, a Norfolk Island Pine. It's really nice and looks even better than the one in the linked page. So I'm trying not to kill it. It's funny how a little thing like that can make a place look so much more homey. I've never had a houseplant before, and always figured it fell within my general unease about having living things depending on me for survival. We'll see how it goes. I'm also taking a stab at decorating. I got a matching shower curtain and bathmat, so suddenly my bathroom looks nicer than when I was using the cheapest of those items that Target had to offer. I think my Mom is sort of taking pity on me, because she's the one who got me all that stuff. It's funny how different my Mom and Dad are (they've been divorced about fifteen years), but how much I feel that I'm like both of them. My Mom and I have very similar tastes, and we talk movies and books and I help her finish the crossword. She was married to a coach for long enough to know a lot about sports, and she's a bigger sports fan than my stepfather, so I talk sports with her, too. I haven't lived with her since about seventh or eighth grade, but we're still very close and I enjoy hanging out with her when I get the chance. When my Dad visits, we really just hang out -- guy stuff like watching tv and ordering pizza and shooting the bull. When my Mom visits, though, I go to the museum and the aquarium and out to restaurants and I have to get out a little. I think she worries more about my love life than my career prospects, both of which are dismal at the moment. When I was at her place for Christmas, she asked me, "Do you ever see any girls there that you'd like to date?" Yes, of course, I answered, but they're either already dating someone else or they don't want to date me. Still, Mom's not pushy about grandkids -- I don't think she wants to feel that old. I call her sometimes with questions like "I've got some chicken -- how long do I need to bake it and at what temperature?" and she always has good suggestions when I need to take food to a party. She's nice and sweet and southern, and will wait for me to open doors for her. But she doesn't suffer fools well, and can be tough when necessary. All in all, she's pretty cool, and it was nice to spend a week with her. Back at my house, there's really nothing going on, so that's about all I had to tell you in this section.

What I am watching: I guess I've been watching more tv during my time off, but I've also taken the trouble to note some of it, so it might seem like more than usual. I watched Bad Santa, which I saw in the theater and still makes me crack up so much. Very, very funny. I watched Welcome to Mooseport, which did not make me howl with laughter, but is probably okay if you really like Ray Romano. As did THL, I watched Snowball Effect, a little documentary about the making and selling of Clerks. (This edition's title is, of course, a classic line from Clerks.) I liked the show (which is included on the anniversary dvd), but I wish there had been more about the distribution of the film and the ratings battle, given the insane amount of cursing in the movie. From what I recall, that was a hell of a fight with the MPAA, and I would like to have heard that story. I have a new movie-crush, and it's Molly Parker, whom I have watched recently in such varied roles as a drug-addicted single mom in England in Pure, the wife of Hitler's art dealer in Max, and a necrophiliac in Kissed. I'm quite keen on her. Speaking of keen, I watched most of the talky Whit Stillman film [isn't that redundant? -- ed.] The Last Days of Disco. I liked that one, even better than Metropolitan. I'm not the Kate Beckinsale-worshipper of this blog, but I really liked her look in Disco. Also, Bull Durham, which is as good as it gets. There is nothing wrong with that movie, including Robert Wuhl, so don't start with me. (I love seeing the breath of the actors, as they filmed that movie in the baseball off-season, even though it's supposed to take place in the summer.)

What I am listening to: In the car, I've been listening to Edward Conlon's Blue Blood on cd. I had it for my drive home, and got through 19 of the 23 cd's. I love it, and will have a full review when it's finished. At home, I've been trying to decide what to put on my first mix cd (I promise, Fun Ball, I'll have it soon, even if I have to hire someone to do it for me!), and the most recent (2003) "Oxford American" sampler cd. Also, oddly, in my head lately I've been hearing Dwight Yoakam's "Little Ways." The odd thing about that is that I swear I haven't heard that song in years -- maybe as many as ten years. Here's how I piece it together. While driving, I stopped for gas, and on the speakers they were playing David Ball's "Thinkin' Problem." I never cared for that song one way or the other, but my ex-girlfriend Angie loved it. She also liked Dwight, especially "Fast As You," but I won't read anything into that. My guess is that hearing "Thinkin' Problem" reminded me of Angie, and it triggered a Yoakam memory, and there came "Little Ways," which I won't read anything into either. It's so strange how those associations work. But off and on for about a week I've been singing to myself: "Yeewwwwvvvvee...Gottt...Yeerrrr (ba-doomp) littleways to hurt me...."

What I am reading: Magazines, as always. Also, I should point out that I'm not still reading the books I link to in the B&N section of the right column. I got most of the way through Destination: Morgue before I lost interest, and got distracted from the Dufresne novel, but wll get back to it. But the B&N affiliate thing is down, so I can't post new little book icons just yet. I caught a few minutes of Deliverance on tv the other day, and that reminded me that I had Chris Dickey's Summer of Deliverance, the memoir by the son of the author of Deliverance. I am of the opinion that the film Deliverance did as much to harm bluegrass music, and in some ways the South in general, than anything else in the post-civil rights era. That's unfortunate, not only because there is much to be said for both bluegrass and the South, but also because the film is excellent and the book marvelous. Anyway, I wasn't in the mood for Dickey, so I dropped it after a chapter or two, and picked up Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, which is exactly what I was in the mood for. It is a study of fandom -- of why we care so much about the outcome of contests -- through the lens of Alabama Crimson Tide fans. The author, Warren St. John, writes for the New York Times and was an early disciple of legendary ["godlike" is not hyperbole here -- ed.] Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. So far, it's wonderful. The catch is that I found this copy at a used bookstore for $5 -- it's an uncorrected proof copy labeled "not for sale." They send those out to libraries and reviewers and the like, and somehow this one ended up in the used bookstore. I have already caught a few typos, and there are no photos, but otherwise it's a cheap way to get such a good book. It will probably also be worth reviewing. It has really hit the spot here at the end of the college football season.

What I am thinking about: My annual predictions post. I think I did pretty well last year, so I want to do at least that well, without totally succumbing to the urge to play it safe ("George Bush won't be impeached.") I'm not going too far out, though. ("Former President Gerald Ford will be mauled by lions.") I've got six or seven already, and the others will be dashed off when I can't stand to sit on it anymore. But it's kind of fun to look ahead and think I know the answers. Anyway, stay tuned for that.

What I am not thinking about: I thought for a moment about doing one of these bio posts for the whole year. You know, something like "What I did at work this year," and "What I read this year," etc. The trouble with that is I haven't kept track of what I watched or listened to or read. I could piece together some of it, but I gave away a few hundred books when I moved, so I'm sure I wouldn't remember a few I read in 2004. I thought about doing something similar to Fitz's good and bad movies of 2004 thing, but not only did I not watch a lot of new movies this year (I haven't seen any of the ones on most top ten lists), I can't remember all of the ones I did see. So, I decided to scrap that idea for 2004, but will try to keep better tabs on things for 2005. So wait till next year.

Etc.: I usually wrap up with a peeve of the week or a shout-out to stuff I've seen in the blogosphere, or some other suchlike. But I've been a bit behind in my blog-reading (yes, that's the reason your readerships are down), so I don't really have anything right now. So, I thought I'd let you know that I'm thinking about writing posts about "pseudo-intellectualism" (surprise: inspired by reaction to the Blachman thing), and one about Sherry's recent problems with a commenter -- I have some of the same questions, although I think I'm coming from a different place than that guy. So keep an eye out for those, and feel free to suggest anything else. My standards are low, folks. Oh, finally, I want to take a chance to publicly shame NDC into getting on the ball regarding that group project. Which reminds me, I probably ought to get bck to work myself.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

"King of the Hill" Quote of the Day
Three from Dale from a personal favorite episode, "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg."

Dale: "My Joseph better not be sterile -- I need my seed to live on. Certain plans of mine require additional Gribbles."

Dale: "That noise has been giving Nancy headaches all week, then yesterday her back broke out in scratch marks."

Dale: "Rematch? I thought we agreed never to discuss the horrors we saw on the killing fields of the Fun Center."

(Real posts coming tomorrow, including 2005 predictions, assuming Fitz is no longer snowbound!)

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    Milbarge Recommends

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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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