Begging The Question

Friday, July 01, 2005

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

I was going to write "Milbarge, J., concurring in the judgment," because I think the possibility exists, but I wouldn't believe in alien life for the same reasons Cruise does. Still, without having looked deeply into the science of it all, I'm more inclined to believe it's a great big cold empty universe, and our existence is the freakiest of accidents.

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

Far be it from be to assert fashion expertise. One thing I would like to see go away is women wearing tank tops or something with visible bra straps. It's one thing to have it occasionally peek out, but it's another to wear a racerback-style tank top with a bra with thick straps. It just looks so un-put-together. Make a little effort, ladies. For coming back, I don't know. It would be cool to go into court wearing robes and wigs. Of course, I don't know if judges could handle being called "Milord" and "Milady," since the House Minority Leader already invests them with God-like authority.

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

Well, every time I'm in Atlanta, I'm convinced that one day people will look through a history book and wonder how it got the 1996 Games. During the Cold War, we should have had the Olympics in Vegas. The athletes from communist countries would be so distracted that we would have cleaned house. I think San Diego would be a nice spot, with the water nearby, the temperate weather, and we could have the pole vault over the fence at the border.

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

I have been to the Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C. a few times, and always love it. I hate crowds, but I suspend my anti-social nature long enough on that day to take in that perfectly American scene. It's a real blast to meander along the Mall for the Folklife Festival and check out the museums and monuments. And the firworks that night are top-notch. One year I was with some friends and we decided to watch the fireworks from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial. It was less crowded than the Capitol or Lincoln Memorial areas, and the view was wonderful -- a straight shot of the Washington Monument and the White House, with the fireworks reflecting in the Tidal Basin. Anyway, we picked out our spots, and I and a friend were dispatched to go get water from the nearest concession stand. There was supposed to be one near the FDR Memorial, but it was closed, so we had to walk all the way around to the Lincoln to find one. Let me note that it was blazing hot that day...something like 95 and high humidity. So we were roasting. And we had to wait in a very long line at the concession stand. We stood there for about an hour behind this older fella. When he finally got to the window, he asked for coffee. Coffee! The perfect sipping beverage for 95-degree weather! The girl in the booth looked at him like he was nuts, and I just stood there laughing at him -- I couldn't help it. I think about that every time I see someone drinking coffee in extremely hot weather.

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

The Ten Commanments of Blogcrushes
1. Thou shalt have a blogcrush. After all, what else are blogs good for?
2. Thou shalt have a blogcrush on Milbarge. Hey, I don't write these rules, I just relay them from a higher authority.
3. Thou shalt reveal thy blogcrush. Preferably in a long, meandering post. Unless thou art married: thou wouldst not want a blog post admitted into evidence at the dissolution hearing.
4. Thou shalt not be a blogstalker if thy blugcrush is not mutual. There art plenty of blogfish in the sea.
5. Thou shalt email and chat with thy blogcrush. Ideally, this is so you can drop cutesy inside jokes on each other's blogs.
6. Thou shalt not freak out if thy blogcrush links to other blogs. It's not like we're talking about open marriage, H.I., so grow up.
7. Thou shalt realize there is more to thy blogcrush than appears on their blog. Bloggers are people too.
8. Thou shalt like thy blogcrush for their blog first, and not just because thy blogcrush is hot. There are lots of reasons for this, but number one is that thy blogcrush might not actually be hot just because thy blogcrush is called hot. Have a little depth, you superficial jerk.
9. If thou end up meeting thy blogcrush, be careful how much thou blogs about it. We don't need all the details, dude. Thou wouldst not want to maketh us vomit.
10. If thou ends up calling thy blogcrush boyfriend or girlfriend, put a goofy little heart on thy blogroll. It's like the scarlet letter for nerd love, so revel in it.

All-Request Odds and Ends
I'm not going to be able to make a full post about some of the responses to my recent all-request post, so here's some miscellany for you.

First, "Frequent Citations" asks: "[H]ow do you feel about going to the barber? Do you like to chat or would you rather have peace? Do you go to a fancy salon or the cheapest guy with clippers you can find?"

I complained about haircuts here before, but I'm too lazy to stroll through the archives. I go to the cheap chain hair cutting place nearest to my house. I have the kind of hair that you can't do much with but also can't screw up too badly either. So it's all I need. I used to go to a barber growing up, and also when I was in law school. I liked that service and professionalism, but I always felt a little rude because I don't like to chat while I'm in there. Maybe that dates back to when I was a kid and would go whenever Dad got his hair cut, so Dad would talk through his hair cut and mine. But mostly I just zone out for the ten or fifteen minutes it takes. Fitz said something to me the other day about a "new haircut" (I haven't seen him in about eleven months *sniff*), so I can't speak about whatever voodoo he do.

Likewise, I will refrain from telling a "law school horror story" (Citations's other request) for now, because the subjects of the first one to come to mind are getting married this weekend! Just kidding, guys -- good luck!

Next, Sebastian asks us to "[d]iscuss the pros and cons of professional wrestling, specifically as it relates to my ability to see hot women in skimpy clothing." First, I doubt Seb has much trouble with that goal. Second, I don't recall watching any wrestling since at least back when Seb and I were college roommates...almost ten years ago! Ten years! Ten! Years! Ten years! /Piven. I'll let Seb tell the story about the time back then when he was hoisted into the air by Goldberg. The funny thing is how many wrestlers from back then are still at it. And by "funny," I mean "sad."

kmsqrd asks, "Crunchy/creamy peanut butter?" I'm taking that as a query about preference. I suppose creamy, although it's been a long time -- at least a few years -- since I bought any peanut butter. I do like it in stuff, like certain cookies or sometimes ice creams. I just don't eat it out of the jar.

Soup asks, "If you could change one physical and one non-physical thing about yourself, what would they be and why?" I think I agree with THL's suggestion that this has been asked somewhere before, but again, I'm in a no-archives mood tonight, so you might get some recycling. Anyway, I don't consider myself a vain person, but all the men's magazines, bloggers, and informational television programs have finally convinced me that I am worth less than pond scum and twice as ugly if I don't have the abs of a Greek god, so I'll take a set of those if you're handing them out, Soup. As for non-physical, I guess I would eliminate that annoying voice in my head that tries to tell me that women should love me for my mind.

PG asks, "What would constitute professional success for you?" That's a tough one. If she means to ask what my professional goals are, I just want to keep doing appellate work until I have sufficient credentials to teach. I have also been thinking some about eventually getting into politics, like in a policy/advisor role, but I'm either not quite passionate (read: partisan) enough about it now, or else I just haven't found the right star to hitch my wagon to. So I don't have dreams of being the King Bee or anything. As for "success" within those goals, I don't know. Competence, I guess. Respect and admiration and trust from those whom I interact with. I don't think I could judge success by cases won or dollars earned or hours billed, so I may not really be cut out for it. I haven't really thought about it, so maybe I'll know it when I see it. At this point, I would consider merely finding employment to be a success story, so I will update if and when my definition changes.

Centinel's request is too goofy not to give a lot of thought to, so I will post separately on that this weekend. I have already posted a reply to Sherry's request for "two truths and a lie." I'll reveal the answer after Sherry takes a guest; she gets dibs because she asked. I think that accounts for all outstanding requests. Additional requests are still welcome; I've got all weekend. And thanks for these!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Two Truths and a Lie
Per request from the multi-talented Scheherazade, I present three statements, two of which are true and one of which is not. You guess which one is false, and I will reveal the answer later.

1. I once dated sisters.

2. I did not have a black person in my home until after I moved away for college.

3. I did not attend, and was not invited to, my Mother's second wedding.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Two posts in one day - it must be some kind of record
So, this grey suit is my most recent acquisition. I'll be wearing this to the wedding rehearsal (not mine - someone else's wedding!) and any other formal events which require my presence this weekend.

I know this won't count as a real post in Milbarge's log book, but I like playing with my camera phone and I'm flat out of substantive topics (what else is new?).

UPDATE (6/30/05): So I returned to the store to retrieve the suit post-alterations and noticed that it is now on sale. I inquired with the saleswoman and expressed my desire to exercise my UCC-given right to the discounted price. She replied that it would be no problem and proceeded with the transaction. Well, the suit was discounted 25% for the sale, but it came up in the computer at 40% off. The saleswoman pointed out the discrepancy and just remarked, "Well, it came up in the computer this way, so I figure it's Macy's problem, not yours. I'll give you the price it came up in the computer." Score!

We interrupt this silence to bring you a post, though I don't recommend you read it
As per usual, Milbarge is fretting, fearful that BTQ will sink even further in the esteem of the "cool" bloggers ("cool" being a relative term, of course) just because we've had very little content up lately. Honestly, I think the guy worries too much. He should just be happy that we manage almost a hundred hits a day from people looking for pictures of Nicole Kidman. If it weren't for them and the sympathy links from Howard and Southern Appeal, I'd worry that the 'Barge might fling himself off a blog bridge. Or worse, regale us with another heartfelt, deeply thought provoking post on the philosophy of blog rolls. Besides, isn't there some merit to the idea of "quality over quantity?" Hmm, on second thought, maybe we do need more content.

I've been trying to write a post about what was probably the coolest job I ever had. I just cannot seem to find a point to the tale, nor can I really tie it into anything else. The post would tentatively be entitled "The Clinique Cowboy rides again!" and would describe my job as armorer / gunsmith to a wealthy Oklahoma oil tycoon. I would have posted a screen capture of Joey from Friends dressed as a cowboy and offering store patrons an opportunity to sample the fragrance "Hombre!" Alas and alack, the post will probably never quite come together. Here, for your amusement and critique, is what I have so far:
Back in the day, while Soup was still attending the one-room school house in BFE Missouri and Milbarge was studying Canadian history at UNJ-Durham, I was drinking my way through college at the University of Oklahoma and would often find myself in need of cash. To supplement my meager scholarship stipend, I obtained employment with an oil tycoon in Oklahoma City (let's call him Boss Hogg, for he was not dissimilar in appearance to the beloved television character). My job was to manage Boss Hogg's gun collection. Without a doubt, being Boss Hogg's hired help was the coolest job I've ever had.

I handled pistols chambered for just about any cartridge you could imagine - .22, .38, .38 special, .380 auto, 9 mm, 10 mm, .40 cal. S&W, .44 cal., .44 magnum (Says Dirty Harry, "the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off"), .45 cal. (Model 1911 - my favorite handgun in the world), the .50 cal. Desert Eagle, and the .454 Casull (Says Fitz-Hume, "the most painful handgun in the world"). But the boss had more than just a pistol fetish. The man also liked big, powerful, high-capacity weapons. He had a formidable collection of submachine guns, rifles, carbines, and certain weapons referred to by some people as "assault rifles," including AR-15s, Soviet AKs and Dragunovs, MP5s of various sorts, G36s, Uzis and mini-Uzis, Steyr Augs, MAC10s (which I suppose is really a machine pistol, but let's not quibble), and M-1s and M-14s, to name but a few. Add to that a whole helluva lot of other military and sporting rifles, shotguns and Boss's fetish weapons - military-issue sniper rifles from around the world (to say that the boss man had a thing for sniper rifles doesn't begin to capture the extent of his obsession).
See what I mean? There's nothing to this post except the opportunity for me to tell you how cool I am because I've fired a lot of weapons in my day. Oooh, so cool. Does it mitigate going to a hair salon? Not exactly. Does anyone really care (besides Soupie, who is probably packing his bag and heading for Oklahoma City even as we speak)? Doubtful. I feel like Del Griffith right now and I keep telling myself "This post needs to be interesting. It needs to have a point." Frankly, though, that's just not in the cards.

I've also had a couple of other post topics floating around in my head, but I can't quite turn them into anything. I'd like to write up something about the certain class of guys that really drives me crazy, the guys who fuel my anger management issues, the guys who think it's cool to walk up to a girl's car while she's in the drive-thru lane at Taco Bell and start hitting on her simply because she's pretty. The kind of guy who feels like it's okay to grope his waitress and make lewd suggestions to her about "service after the sale." The kind of guy who just cannot figure out that when a girl (no matter how hot you think she is) doesn't answer your phone calls, when she doesn't return your phone calls, when she does her best to ignore you, that means she's just not that into you. It means leave her alone. If you persist, it means you're a creep and other, decent guys suffer for your transgressions. That whole guilt by association thing. Anyway, I don't know where to go with the topic other than to suggest that we guys need to have a meeting and desperately need to set some of the club members straight on what is and is not acceptable behavior vis-a-vis the fairer sex. Imagine it as an intervention writ large. An intervention featuring a lot of face punching.

Another topic I have had some thoughts on is exploring how blog personas match the authors' real personalities. How are our perceptions of the people behind the blogs shaped by the things we project onto them, by reading between the lines, by things as simple as topic choices, blog layouts, and even photographs? Again, it's not a topic that I've been able to do much with, but I think it is interesting. Consider, for example, the uproar when it was revealed that "the Hot Abercrombie Chick" was not (1) hot or (2) a chick. Nope, just some short, stocky, slow-witted bald libertarian trying to boost traffic to his site, trying to foist his inane deep thoughts on an audience deceived by thoughts of the perky blonde in the baby tee espousing such insightful views. I can look at aspects of my own blog, too, for examples. I censor myself to a significant degree, and though I get the sense that what people perceive as "Fitz-Hume" is fairly close to who I really am, it's obviously a heavily edited version of me. The real me peeks through now and again, but...And at this point the post kind of peters out, as I don't know where to go from here.

I've been going to the gym for about two months now and I have just about given up hope that it will produce anything worth blogging about. All the archetypal gym characters are there, but none of them are sufficiently bizarre so as to merit a post. My workout is certainly not blog-worthy, except to note that my trainer experiences uncontrolled fits of laughter when I stretch my hamstrings. I suppose I could talk about my food diary, but that's more navel gazing than even this blog can handle. I've yet to have any missteps or accidents, so nothing there to report either.

The only other topic that I've got anything to say about is that my brother is scheduled to deploy to Iraq in August. I hope to have better communication with him during this tour than was the case during his stint in Afghanistan. I really wish he didn't have to go, but Rummy didn't ask for my opinion on the matter. Anyway, I hope to provide frequent updates from BTQ's embed, as I like to refer to him.

And with that, I'm spent. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging silence already in progress.

All-Request Post: Do My Job For Me
As you can see, it's been pretty quiet around here. I think I saw a tumbleweed roll by. I'm sorry about that. I am working through some personal and professional issues (the personal are knottier than the professional), and haven't had a lot of time to spend on blogging. But that should change soon, and certainly in time for the long weekend.

Plus, it's not like I don't want to blog; I just feel like I don't have anything to blog about. So I'm making this an ALL-REQUEST WEEK. Help me out. Send me a comment or an email with a topic I can write about. I will do my best to honor all requests by the end of the holiday weekend. I won't make any promises on Fitz's behalf, but if you're more eager to hear his take on something, I'm sure he wouldn't mind hearing that. And it's not like I would get jealous or anything. After all, what's Fitz got for me to be jealous of? ;)

Thanks for your help.

Coalition for Darfur: Conflicting Priorities
[The following post is a weekly update from Feddie and Eugene, the authors of the Coalition for Darfur blog]

For more than two years, the international community has done little to stop the violence in Darfur or provide security to the millions of displaced victims. And the closer one follows the world's response to this crisis, the clearer the conflicting priorities of the major actors (the US, the AU, the ICC and the UN) become.

Though former Secretary of State Colin Powell declared the situation "genocide" in September 2004, the United States has more or less ignored the Genocide Convention's legal requirement that parties to the convention "undertake to prevent and to punish" it. This can be partly explained by the fact that the administration played a key role in ending the decades long war in the South and does not want to risk upsetting it by directly confronting Khartoum over Darfur. It can also be partly explained by the fact that the CIA has developed significant ties to the regime in Khartoum, which has become "an indispensable part of CIA's counterterrorism strategy."

The International Criminal Court has just recently become involved in the conflict in Darfur, taking up an investigation and warning that Khartoum must cooperate with its investigation. The ICC is a relatively new body that has yet to try a case and is still working to establish itself as a viable international body. As such, the ICC is proceeding slowly and cautiously, attempting to stay within the bounds set by the ICC statute and avoid an embarrassing and potentially damaging showdown with Khartoum should the genocidal regime refuse to cooperate.

The AU faces many of the same problems. As a relatively new organization, the AU hopes to become the key to providing "African solutions to African problems." Over the last six months, the AU has only been able to supply 2/3rd the number of troops it initially mandated and will, in all likelihood, be equally unable to fill the size of its expanded mandate. As a fledgling organization, the AU does not possess the clout or support necessary to demand an expanded mandate to protect civilians in Darfur and has been reluctant to seek outside logistical or financial assistance for its mission, perhaps out of fear that doing so will highlight its inadequacies and undermine its credibility further.

While the US, ICC and AU all have a genuine interest in stopping the violence, it is clear that they also have internal concerns that are restricting their effectiveness in Darfur.

At the same time, the United Nations faces internal concerns of its own. The presence of Russia and China on the Security Council has stymied attempts to force Khartoum to reign in the Janjaweed militias and prevented the imposition of sanctions. Nonetheless, no amount of internal concerns can excuse this recent statement by Jan Pronk, Kofi Annan's Special Representative to Sudan.

While Annan was telling Khartoum that the violence "must stop," Pronk was praising Khartoum for setting up meaningless show trials designed solely to slow the ICC investigation
The government says its national trials will be credible and will be a substitute for the ICC, which announced last week the formal launch of its investigation in Darfur.

Pronk said those concerned about the credibility of the national court, which begins proceedings on June 15, should give the government the benefit of the doubt.

"If the government takes a decision to do something which it had been asked to do late, you only have to criticise that they are late, you should not criticise that they are doing it," he said. "So give the government the benefit of the doubt."
For two years, Khartoum has waged a genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur, taking the lives of an estimated 400,000 people. Under no circumstances does this government deserve "the benefit of the doubt."

Solving the crisis in Darfur is undoubtedly a priority for many in the international community. Unfortunately, it is not a main priority. And because of that, it is likely that tens of thousands Africans will continue to die over the coming months.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Because she said so, I'll give you a couple of confessions. You know, because there's nothing people want to read more than a list of my sins.

So, I confess that:

1. I stole an arrowhead from Alvin Wingo during first-grade show-and-tell.

2. It took me almost 15 years to forgive my parents for making me quit Boy Scouts and little league baseball.

3. There was a time when I had a bit of a mullet.

4. I tell people I live near Lake Tahoe rather than explain to them that I live in a hole in the desert 25 miles to the east of Lake Tahoe.

5. I have a secret blog that none of you know about.

6. I am a very jealous person.

7. I have anger-management issues.

8. I took a lot of pleasure in killing Dylan in Halo 2. A lot. I savored it. I still think back fondly on those days.

9. I handcuffed Stacie Salter to the jungle gym and tickled her until she peed herself. I was six years old. I was paddled severely by my teacher, paddled by the principal, and then my dad went to work on me when I got home.

10. I am the happiest I've ever been in my life.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Would Cruise Do?
As revenge for tagging THL with a music meme, I got hammered with a Scientology meme from her. Wow. I have learned my lesson: no more memes for her. I wish I had never done it. I'm sorry, THL! Anyway, far be it from me to be a meme-killer, but I'll be darned if I am going to search my soul for the answers to a bunch of uber-weird questions from some Brainwashing 101 seminar. Sorry. You'd have a better chance of finding out I'm a replicant by using the Voight-Kampff test from Blade Runner. So I'm passing the buck and seeing what the Magic 8-Ball has to say. After all, it probably has as much insight into my soul as I do. Here we go.

1. Have you driven anyone insane?


2. Have you ever killed the wrong person?


3. Is anybody looking for you?

"Yes definitely"

4. Have you ever set a poor example?

"Yes definitely"

5. Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?

"Outlook good"

6. Are you in hiding?

"Better not tell you now"

7. Have you systematically set up mysteries?

"It is decidedly so"

8. Have you ever made a practice of confusing people?

"As I see it yes"

9. Have you ever philosophized when you should have acted instead?

"My reply is no"

10. Have you ever gone crazy?

"Ask again later" (Upon doing so, "My reply is no")

11. Have you ever sought to persuade someone of your insanity?

"It is decidedly so"

12. Have you ever deserted, or betrayed, a great leader?

"Very doubtful"

13. Have you ever smothered a baby?

"Concentrate and ask again" (Upon doing so, "Don't count on it")

14. Do you deserve to have any friends?

"Very doubtful"

15. Have you ever castrated anyone?

"Without a doubt"

16. Do you deserve to be enslaved?

"It is decidedly so"

17. Is there any question on this list I had better not ask you again?

"It is certain"

18. Have you ever tried to make the physical universe less real?

"My sources say no"

19. Have you ever zapped anyone?

"Very doubtful"

20. Have you ever had a body with a venereal disease? If so, did you spread it?

"Better not tell you now"

So there you have it. I doubt I would be acceptable to the Scientologists, but maybe the 8-ball could get in. I really don't think I hate anyone enough to pass this along, but feel free if you want to tackle it. Oh, and if any dominatrices are reading this, feel free to contact me in relation to #16.

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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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