Why Colonel Sartoris?

Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nat'l Championship = F-ing TRAVESTY

I might not even watch this year.  What a flippin' SHAM of an event.  If the same Alabama team were in any other conference, they would not play in this game.  They are undoubtedly a good team--but the biggest reason they're in this game is that they're in the SEC.  And if anyone's paid any attention to the SEC this year, 2011 is not one of the best vintages.

It makes me sick.  OSU is a very, very deserving team.  Aside from sportswriters' misguided opinions as to who's a better team in actuality, WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD WANT TO SEE THIS SAME MATCHUP AGAIN?????  This will be almost as bad as the Park Cities Holiday Open House that I went on today.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Joe Pa's Putative "Federal Charges"

People who know me hopefully understand this one thing about me: I have a very, very low tolerance for people who form opinions without any information, people who just spout chatter and act as authorities on the subject with almost no knowledge of it.  Phrased more colloquially--I have a very low tolerance for people's bullshit.

This was a very, very common problem in law school.  To some degree, I think that the law requires this: attorneys are made to speak authoritatively on not only the law (which is usually static from case to case) but also the facts--which change with every case.  They basically have to convince people that they know more than they do by gaining enough knowledge to sound authoritative, but not actually be authoritative.  But this problem is not confined to law school and "big" issues--it's all the time.  Case in point: my dad's friend who insisted that, because there was no East Coast team in the World Series, no WS games would be on primetime.  Poppycock; I call shenanigans.  Anyway, I digress.

Well, this pet peeve recently surfaced in a discussion of the biggest story of the day: the "federal case against Joe Paterno."  As the rumors have rapidly mounted with every radio broadcast, tweet, and blog post, people are now throwing about a federal investigation involving Joe Paterno, Penn State, and/or Sandusky.  I got into several discussions that went something like this: "And I hear that the Feds may start investigating."  [Who "the Feds" are is always a mystery: the DOJ? Some Federal agency?]  That didn't sound right to me, that the Federal government (through whichever law enforcement entity) could just prosecute Sandusky, or Joe Paterno, or whomever for not calling the police.  So I asked, "What would be the Federal charge against Joe Paterno?"  And I never got an answer.  Or, I would get "Failing to inform!"  My first thought is "Federal government, state charge????  Wait a minute."  Maybe that wouldn't puzzle some, but it did me.  The reason is a brief recap of 6th grade civics, with some constitutional law mixed in.  Let me give it a shot.

In order for the Feds to prosecute a person, that person had to have broken a Federal law.  And when I start to consider the Penn State case, I start to wonder "Wait--which Federal law did Penn State/Joe Pa/Sandusky break?"  That question is an interesting one, because the Constitution does not allow the federal government to pass whatever legislation it would like.  If it did, the machinery of government would be a mess (imagine Federal government deciding to take over a particularly accident-prone intersection inn the city of Dallas; overnight, traffic tickets would become a "Federal offense."  It doesn't make sense for a massive national government, trying to solve national problems, to be involved in traffic tickets.)  Thus, the Constitution doesn't give the Federal government free rein to intrude on every area where a state or a municipality might legislate.    It emphatically does NOT give certain powers to the Federal government---for example, the States have the job of prosecuting regular, plain-vanilla crimes like murder, rape, arson, etc., and (for the most part) regulating school districts, enforcing traffic laws, and promulgating zoning ordinances.

But the Constitution DOES give the federal government a fairly broad set of powers.  Those powers consist of those specifically laid out in the Constitution (i.e., "making treaties with foreign nations, and with the Indian tribes" or "the power to coin money"), as well as certain powers that are "implied" by some section of the Constitution--for example, the power to regulate interstate commerce necessarily implies the power to regulate interstate transportation, the artery of interstate commerce (goods ship, etc.).  Incidentally, the "commerce power" is by far the very broadest of congressional powers; it has been interpreted very broadly by the Supreme Court to give the federal government the power to regulate almost any area that interstate commerce has affected. 

So perhaps Joe Pa/Penn State/Sandusky broke some law promulgated under the very broad Commerce Clause.  That is a sensible answer, but it is unlikely.  At one point, Congress sought to criminalize the possession of a gun in a school zone, and it passed the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990.  Congress claimed that the Commerce Clause gave them the authority to do that: they reasoned that guns in schools would eventually hurt a local economy, which would in turn hurt the national economy.  Seems like a stretch to me, and it did to the Supreme Court, as well.  In a case called United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when it passed the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1990 (recall that states have always regulated education, and that they have always regulated crime; Congress knew it might have been overstepping).  The Supreme Court found this causal argument way, way too attenuated--guns in schools really aren't an "economic" problem; thus, the Commerce Clause can't justify the law, and it's unconstitutional.  So the possibility that Congress has passed some law about mandatory reporting of child abuse--remember, an arena of State concern--is pretty unlikely.

Now, there ARE, aside from explicit grants of authority in the Constitution, ways that the Federal government can influence state decisions--dollars.  The Federal government can condition the acceptance of monetary grants on compliance with requirements.  The Supreme Court has placed certain restrictions on cash-for-compliance programs, but they're usually pretty logical.  For example, if you accept funds for campus security, your security force has to meet certain requirements; or if you receive money to maintain interstate highways, you have to maintain certain signage or enact DWI laws.

And here's where we can return to Joe Paterno: the Federal government can't prosecute him, or Penn State, or Jerry Sandusky for failing to report child abuse.  Remember, a "Federal charge" does not mean "same song, second verse, but this time fortissimo!"  It means that the Federal government is investigating the violation of a Federal law--NOT a state law--that necessarily had to have been enacted pursuant to some Constitutional authority.  The Federal government can't just choose to step in a prosecute a murder just because it's got a really juicy set of facts--some federal law had to have been violated.The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania COULD choose to prosecute all of these entities under Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 6311 et seq., which mandates that certain teachers and educators report these things to the police.  Again, this is a PENNSYLVANIA, and not a Federal statute--thus, the federal government CANNOT prosecute Joe Pa for failing to report.  Pennsylvania could; "the Feds" can't. 

So could a Federal investigation ensue?  Yes.  And, as a mater of fact, the Department of Education has already launched it.  The DOE is trying to determine whether Penn State broke a federal law called the Clery Act, a law passed in 1990 after a brutal muder/rape at Lehigh University.  The Clery Act is one of those cash-for-compliance pieces of legislation I talked about a couple paragraphs above--the Federal government gives States grants of money to improve their campus security, conditioned on that campus security force and the university on which they serve meeting certain requirements contained in the Act.  And the Clery Act mandates that such a university receiving federal funds MUST do three things: (1) maintain a crime log of crimes committed on campus within the last 60 days; (2) publish an annual Campus Security Report; and (3) provide students timely warnings of risks to their safety.  The DOE right now is investigating whether Penn State in fact did meet all three requirements with respect to Sandusky.

So, yes--there is a Federal investigation, but it is totally unrelated by Joe Pa's failure to contact the police.  But the DOE investigation, as I see it, faces some problems.  How, for example, do we define "crimes"?  Just prosecutions resulting in conviction?  Because Sandusky was only recently indicted.  He was investigated in 1999 by University Police, but he was never charged with anything.  Moreover, it doesn't seem that Sandusky necessarily posed a risk to students at Penn State.  He certainly posed a risk of a most reprehensible crime to children, but apparently not to Penn State students that would be informed by Campus Safety Report mandated by the Clery Act.  So, to me, it looks like the DOE has its work cut out for it.

The whole situation is a mess.  Initially, the facts saddened and disgusted me, particularly Joe Paterno's lack of fervor in disposing of his ex-assistant.  But I would like to hammer  home this point: "the Feds" will not prosecute Joe Pa for failing to call Happy Valley Police.

Herman Cain: later

So I obviously did not write my promised Herman Cain post.  I have several thoughts on the matter, among them his ability to adjust and respond; how he is actually in a position to continue to deny allegations (regardless of their veracity); and his own public image.

Other stuff happened, though (I got a job, bar results came in, traveling, etc.), and I moved onto another subject.  This WILL be updated, probably tomorrow, but I just wanted to check in with my loyal readers and say that my Herman Cain thoughts will be aired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So, the $600 I paid to TAKE the exam apparently wasn't enough . . .

So I passed the bar and got sworn in on Monday.  And apparently the first thing I need to do as a new lawyer is PAY MORE MONEY.  Apparently, the $600 I paid to take the exam didn't quite cover the cost of me practicing law.  I have to shell out another $250 or so just to join the bar--even after taking the exam.

Of further annoyance is the stupid letter that the State Bar sent us.  There's only one letter that's mailed to new attorneys, but it apparently is way, way too simple to say "You owe 259.69.  Here's what it includes."  Instead, you have to read over arduous notations like "In 1995, during the 74th session, the Texas Legislature amended Subchapter H, Chapter 191 of the Tax Code requiring the Supreme Court to administer and collect the attorney occupation tax."  After a few lines, it tells us the amount ($200.00), but then takes another half a page to tell us it's pro-rated and that November-licensed attorneys (the ONLY ones who would be receiving this letter in teh first place) need only pay a fraction o f this.

I, even with my nascent lawyering skills, know to put the important stuff first in a document; "heavily front-end load the content," Professor Muller said to me.  The first sentence should tell me, "You need to write a check for $259.69."  THEN it should continue, "Here's how it breaks down."

Stupid lawyers . . .

Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman's Hijinks

So Herman Cain has been labeled as a sexual harrasser.  Not good.

This has Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings written all over it.

I really like Herman Cain.  ColSartoris has obviously not given its official endorsement to any candidate, yet, but Cain's forthrightness, energy, and biography all really excite me.  These penile peccadillos, however, do not sit well with me.  I would like to throw my weight behind a candidate who doesn't require discretion to hide his boorishness or his blunders.  I would like a candidate who is morally upright; that is not something too hard to ask for, so I certainly hope that these rumors aren't true.

Beyond my own predilections, however, is the question whether Cain can (not should) continue on with his campaign.  Apparently, the American public will forgive Bill Clinton for this, so Herman Cain's candidacy may still survive.  But this charge comes at perhaps the least opportune time.  He's had great performances in recent debates.  And, to the extent that polls can accurately measure a candidate's "performance," they have told us that his presence in debates has translated into higher support among Republican voters.  Indeed, Cain, in the last two months, has surged noticeably in the polls.  This news, then, comes at a very bad time for him.

Cain spoke at the National Press Club today in Washington.  I liked what I saw of his speech there.  Hopefully, I can digest some of the criticism/evaluation of his speech there tonight, and I hope to be back tomorrow with a more thorough, thoughtful reflection on this issue.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tony LaRussa tells an odd story

So LaRussa claims at the post-game press conference that he "didn't see Motte warming up; I called down there again . . . ."

Here's what's odd about that: Tim Kurkjian said in his post-game recap last night "You cannot see relievers warming up in the bullpen here from where you sit in the third base dugout."  So why would LaRussa expect to have seen Motte, instead of Lynn, warming up?  That story just doesn't seem to hold up.

Kurkjian---and the rest of the media---apparently doesn't see this conundrum or is trying to save Tony LaRussa face.  If it's the latter rationale, for shame.  Why they'd want to save the manager's reputation versus crediting some players is beyond me.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wait. A JD allows me to do . . . THIS????

Of my close friends from high school, I am the only one who has gone on to practice law.  A few are doctors; several work in typical business stuff.  For them, from what I've heard, when they go in on the weekends, it's typically a lower-key, less intense day.  Now, I don't have a ton of friends who have been practicing law for a long time, so I don't have a ton of reliable secondhand knowledge of lawyer work on weekends.  My firsthand knowledge, though, indicates that work has yet to begin until the weekend.

This past weekend, standing on its own, would indicate that I have a 48-hour period in which to cram about 30 hours of horrific boredom, futility, and purposelessness. Now, I typically don't like to rely solely on my own experience to forecast or paint an accurate, unbiased picture of something.  Thus, I'm a little loath to predict that every weekend for the next few years will consist of tedious, mind-numbing tasks dressed up as "legal" work.  Am I being too hard on this stuff?  I don't know; y'all be the judge as I recount this weekend's absurdity.

On Friday, I had two-hour lunch with an attorney at Hunton & Williams in my slowly widening net of contacts to secure employment.  It went great, but during my absence, I missed an announcement back at work--from this day onward, we had to clock in for at least 12 hours each day.  This came as somewhat disappointing news.  It became somewhat bitter news, though, when I got invited to a box at the Rangers game that night, specifically for the purpose of meeting some "bigtime Dallas lawyers."  I asked my boss whether I could leave, and he replied "The expectation is that you work 12 hours."  When I attempted to explain the situation further, he elaborated that "the expectation is that you work 12 hours."  Uhhh . . . hmmmm . . . what duhh . . . wait--huh?  I know he's a huge Rangers fan . . . does that mean . . . ? HUH?  DAMMIT.  I'm f-ing broke, they'll fire me in a heartbeat; dammit.  I guess I should probably stay.  DANG IT.  I settled into my chair, tested my friend, and went back to coding documents until 8:45.

As I slowly stewed in my own annoyance, my boss made a further announcement that he would "need some people at the Ft. Worth site tomorrow.  It'll just be for the day.  I'll take volunteers, and I need 10 people."  After getting 7, he threatened to just choose people, so I volunteered so that people with families and such didn't have to spend an extra hour in the car.  "Oh, Jackson; thanks so much!  It's just for the day, and it shouldn't be too bad."

Saturday morning, I pulled into the parking lot at the client's corporate headquarters.  After waiting for a few minutes in the lobby with a co-worker for security to let us in, we finally got whisked upstairs to the workspace.  For the first few hours, we did exactly what we would have done in Dallas.  I left for lunch, came back, did the same thing, but then FINALLY got put on the specific task for which I was assigned there.  That task was organizing the 150,00 pages or so of documents that we had declared as "privileged."  By "organize," I don't mean "group thematically." No; fail.  Our task was to take the printed documents, punch holes in them, and put them in binders.

But here's the rub (to quote Hamlet): said client hired us to save money.  Client thought (and assumed correctly) that we could do this better/faster than a bunch of overpaid junior associates at Dewey Cheatham & Howe.  Fantastic.  We didn't count on, though, client being so f-ing broke that it wouldn't buy us office supplies.  So we did this: we taped labels to harder cardstock that they already hard.  So people could look at this and identify as "practicing law."

Is this sad?  Unemployment here is 10%; I am very grateful to have made money.  But is this what my education has entitled to?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NYT: Giddy over GOP Gaffes

So the lead story on NYTimes.com is "Attacking Democrats, but Not Without Errors."  I was a little intrigued.  One of the things that has always bothered me about debates is that there is no fact-checker at them.  Candidates often spew whatever partial fact they can recall in their semi-conscious, spotlight-drowned state.  So candidates often mangle facts, and there's no objective source to call them on it.

Tonight, we had no such process in the actual debate, but we did have the trusty watchdog media, the lion of the press, the alpaca of the print, the New York Times to point out factual errors that the Republican candidates made during the debate.  I searched the website, and I found no instances of where the NYT had before reacted to a partisan debate in such a manner.

I would not find this noteworthy, though, had not Rachel Maddow (everyone's favorite press bullwatchdog) not led off her (and the official msNBC) commentary on the debates with her own fact-checking of the supposed Republican reifications.  msNBC was the only channel I could find that had the Republican debates on, and thus Maddow's analysis, airing immediately after the debates' showing on its only channel, should bear particular scrutiny.

I have never seen the media engage in such a vociferous fact-checking of the candidates' figures.  Ever.  I fight my right-wing tendency to chalk criticism of the Right up to "liberal elitism," but these particular stories, more than anything, would support such a view.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bar Insanity . . . Over?

At the start of Ken Burns' masterful The Civil War, a letter, read by some deeply rich voice of one of Burns' all-star cast of narrators, employs the then-ubiquitous anachronism that most veterans used to describe their first taste of combat--the young man had "seen the elephant."  That phrase leapt into my mind on Thursday: walking out of the bar exam, I realized that I had indeed "seen the elephant."

I had seen the most nerve-wracking, harrowing experience that the law has yet thrown at me, and I somehow survived.  True, I have not yet received my results, and (I say as I offer up a silent prayer) I certainly hope I pass.  Realistically, I studied hard--and reckon I performed well--enough not to fail.  But walking out of the exam, I certainly felt like I stood a 50/50 chance at failing.  Chalk that up to my defeatist tendencies if you want to, but I would imagine that the person who did not feel that way was a freakishly rare exception.

Texas does not release bar scores until November 4th, so I must endure months of waiting until I get my results, and, hopefully, my fear of failure does not sit at the back of my mind, slowly sapping my sanity.  But the fear of studying, the fear of anticipation, the fear of not knowing, not being prepared, of not writing at great length or speed or with eloquence or any of the innumerable insecurities I can conjure up are finally gone.  Like many obstacles, I mystified the bar to an extent far worthier than it warranted.  And walking out, I realized that the bar is simply a test, that mere mortals can overcome this test without shouldering an olympian burden of knowledge.  The bar exam is not climbing Parnassus--it is simply cramming principles, like any other test.  It is important, but hardly insurmountable.  And I thank my friends and the Lord for getting me through.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Open Letter to Whomever Write the Multistate Bar Exam

NOTE: This letter will be updated as my frustration level rises with the countdown to the bar exam on July 26th.  This initial post serves merely to get some thoughts down as I study.

Hey, bar examiners: stop testing us on the LAW OF NOWHERE.  Newflash--we had that for THREE YEARS in law school.  The only laws we learned were fake ones, ones that were made up by eggheads (not practicing lawyers), or outdated common law.  This has its purpose in law school, but it does NOT on the bar exam.  I am ready to learn laws, not "how to think like a lawyer."  So stop having me memorize this multi-state hogwash.

FURTHERMORE . . . WHEN YOU TEACH THIS [F-ING ABSURD] LAW OF NOWHERE, AT LEAST TRY TO GET IT RIGHT.  WHEN YOU ARE AIMING TO TEACH A MAJORITY RULE, TEACH THE MAJORITY RULE, NOT A MADE-UP ONE!!!!!  Allow me to quote: "Most of the modern cases hold adverse possession titles to be marketable if [certain conditions happen].  . . . [B]ar examiners have yet to recognize this line of cases, [so] the modern view should be considered only as a fallback position on the bar exam." Barbri, Multistate 2011 98.  Nice work, O Writers of the Multistate. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I hope Ohio State gets the death penalty

Sports Illustrated's coverage of this issue paints the situation as a dingy, seedy, sordid mess.  Tattoo parlors, free drugs, infantile coddling and catering to players; it all coalesces into a disgusting nigh-Dickensian tale of athletes being content on thrones over a kingdom of ghetto street qualor, instead of reveling in their role as knights of the collegiate gridiron.

The last page and a half of the article detail how young kids trade away a piece of their accomplishment for corporal mutilation.  It's all really very nice.  In the grand scheme of things, tattoos are not torture, nor are trophies the actual triumphs.  They are simply symbols of accomplishments or visions.  But trading a jersey or cleats, a tangible representation of struggle and perseverance toward a wholesome, productive end, for a tattoo--a tangible representation that is, at best, meaningless and, at worst, offensive or blasphemous--simply blows my mind.  Labeling such a trade as "ironic" would certainly understate the difference in value of these two goods.

I myself am not that far removed from times in my youth where I regularly made "bad" (more accurately "impulsive, uninformed, and potentially dangerous") decisions.  These NCAA rules are not always set up to protect players, and modern college programs demand performances and commitment far beyond the conception of the 1950s student athlete; the scheme bears some updating, to say the least.  But the "no merchandise for trinkets" rule should bear little, if any, scrutiny.  Kids do not have the wherewithal to withstand the temptation to trade a Big 10 Championship ring for a tattoo.  One is a permanent reminder of a laudable accomplishment, justifiably praiseworthy in its own right.  The other is a fleeting, passing desire for temporary, ephemeral satisfaction.  The rule is in place to prevent kids from trading truly great, noteworthy items for base ones--whatever the item in question may be.

But the tattoos certainly put the icing on the cake--or the ink on the page, as we have found here.  The needle and the damage done indeed.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I don't care about the Royal Wedding

You know the kind of awkwardness that you feel at a wedding of someone that you know fairly well, but you've never met their parents or any of their high school friends?  Yeah, we've all been there.

But what if you have never met the bride or groom?  Gee--that's really awkward.  I'd maybe that feeling described supra and multiply it by a lot.  And that's about how awkward people should feel about this absurd "Royal Wedding."

They won't even serve beer.  Nothing has ever called for a Miller High Life deliveryman commercial like this does.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ligers Pounce on Competition in Slugfest

It was one for the ages on Tuesday night.  The Ligers, previously winless during the regular season, came roaring out of the gate like a 6-cylinder Tim Lizzie to clobber the poor saps in the other dugout--the misappellated "Team of Destiny."  While the Ligers made some heads-up defensive plays, the real highlight of the night was the lineup, which churned out runs like ol' Dapper Duke Ellington churns out chart-topping hits.

The Ligers, as the visiting team, occupied the batter's box first, with two runs to show for it that inning.  After a scoreless first inning on the mound, due to the steady stream of sinking strikes thrown by Jeremy "Slick Willy" Wilson, the Ligers showed their mettle in the second inning, racking up five runs in eight at-bats.  Scotty "Skipper" Strickland pounded one into deep center, and "Tricky Dick McC" pounded in two runs with a stand-up three-bagger at the end of the inning.

In the fourth and fifth, the Ligers' gravy train stopped running, due to a change on the hill for the ill-named "Team of Destiny."  The ill-fated "ace" they put up on the hill fancied himself a regular Picasso, thinking he'd paint the plate the seams of his fastball.  The "control" that resulted in this star-crossed strategy was the namby-pamby decision to walk the male fence-hitters we had in the lineup.  This was probably the result of Dan "Liger Claws" Cowan htiting an at 'em ball right up the middle to Ol' Glass Arm (who naturally couldn't field it) and subsequently got on base--after which the Ligers launched another of his cupcakes into deep left.  But in spite of this tactic, William "Big Stick" Biggers had another plan.  Glass Arm wanted the Big Stick to dance the Charleston, but Biggers decided to go Jitterbug on him . . . and sent the next pitch to the moon.  Even though a rhubarb with the umpires resulted, Big Stick's tactic shattered the team's morale in what ended up being a total rout.

The Ligers play "Team Pharmacy" next, who no doubt will be trying to throw a curve-ball of a concoction at the play-by-the-book Ligers.  Let's hope they don't cook up any "juice" in their Bunsen burners before Monday.

Jackson Mabry is a freelance sports writer who lives in Chapel Hill, NC and Dallas, TX.  His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Weekly Standard, and The Atlantic.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


"A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes."  -- Proverbs 13:1

The word "heed" does not appear once in the New Testament (NIV translation).  In all of the Bible, it appears a mere twenty times, with fully half of those in Proverbs.  Ecclesiastes records four "heeds"; Ezekiel, 2; Psalms, 2; and Micah and Samuel both with one.  Were one to practice exegesis by sabermetrics, I guess you'd look to Proverbs--that's where it appears most; that's where it's significant.  As a student and teacher of ancient language myself, though, I'm tempted to examine every single usage in the original language.  That's a great template, but it proves problematic because my Hebrew skills, at this point, are precisely nil.

So I will examine the English text--a good, second-best option.  At the very least, the context around the words will help inform me of the meaning of "heed."  And I'll start with Proverbs, because it contains the most words, and, because it's written by a single author, its usage is internally consistent within the book, providing us a significant mass of usage to parse its meaning.

I put the verse above up to show the typical structure of a verse in Proverbs.  A correct, wise, and godly course of action is stated, and its counterpoint--the ill-advised, foolish, and sinful--follows.  It is a juxtaposition of both persons and their actions.  Thus, while we might readily understand the meaning of the words in the first clause, the second must necessarily sharpen that understanding.

Taking the first verse of Proverbs' thirteenth chapter, the verse holds out a son and his action in relation to some form of counsel--here, his father's instruction.  And the second independent clause holds out a "mocker."  It does not explicitly say "a son who mocks."  But these two independent clauses are juxtaposed in this sentence for a reason.  So let's look at the verbs used, the action of the sentence.  We see "heeds . . . instruction" and "not respond to rebukes."

"Heed," per Merriam Webster, means simply "to pay attention."  That definition does not necessarily hold up when compared to this verse, though.  For "heed" here is explicitly contrasted with "not respond[ing]."  In other words, there is not only an attentive component, one of notice, but also one of action.  "Respond" has, at its core, a component of adjusting one's own behavior, of correction.  When one "responds" to someone, one necessarily takes into account something else.  "Heed," therefore, must itself have a component of adjustment to it.

Adjustment does not mean "consideration" or "taking into account."  It means, instead, to alter a course of action.  I can consider many inputs before I change my decision.  But if I adjust my decision, I have altered it in response to some information I have received.  And THIS is the point of Proverbs--the wise man is not wise simply because he's privy to the correct, prudent course of action, that he hears what he should do.  Nor is he wise because he can divine what he should do.  He's wise because he does--he acts on--what he should do.

The argument for "what he should do" equating to the truth is beyond my simple explication of Proverbs 13:1 at this point.  I may very well get to that later, but Proverbs, as a book, explicitly holds out a correct, wise, righteous course of action and thought, and a crooked, foolish, sinful course of action and thought.  Whatever the epistemological validity of a "correct" or a "righteous" course of action, it is worth noting that it does not prescribe "thinking about" something as wisdom--it prescribes doing as wisdom.  And that is a hard battle to fight, for sure.  But wisdom, of all things, is worth pursuing.

And Proverbs equates pursuit to action--and not just thought.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Presses Stopped after Ligers Roar

Tuesday, March 15, 2011
CHAPEL HILL, NC--Much of the Chapel Hill community was concerned with their team not hitting shots.  Off the basketball court, though, a small segment hit pretty much everything they looked at.  As the rain level started to rise, and the temperature started to drop, Chapel Hill's own Ligers, the CoRec Recreational League Softball team comprised exclusively of law students, bared their fangs and took hold of a softball game like Mary Ellen "Bucky" Bonner takes hold of a bad cite-checker.  The Ligers intimidated their opponents--the "Carolina Week," an all-journalism-major team-- . . . and then inundated them, not only at the plate, but also with heads-up defensive play and explosive base-running.

The Ligers emerged from hibernation a tad slow--the Carolina Week scored a total of four runs in the first inning.  The outfield, with Mary Ellen Bonner and Stu "Pottstown" Pratt at right, Skipper Scotty Strickland at center, and Mabes "Mudville" Mabry at left, let a couple runs get by on the slick-running astroturf that night.  And the Carolina Week's starting pitcher came out throwing some of the best junk balls that the Ligers will probably see all year.  Still, the Ligers, with Skipper Scott Strickland as third base coach, managed to grind out two small-ball style runs to keep them in it.

And then the deluge came.  Not only did the sky open up, but so did the Ligers' offense.  In that inning, they scored five runs, thanks to power-hitting by McCotter, Cowan, Biggers, and the rest of the lineup, and smart base-running.  "Yeah, I think it all began when I hit that ball through the gap," said Ligers' first-baseman R. "Tricky" Dick McCotter.  "After that, [the pitcher's] confidence was just shot."  And so it seemed, with the Skipper, the Hillary "Liger" Lyon, Dan "the Swatman" Cowan, Colin "Don't Call Me Fairness" Justice, and Bigglesworth Biggers (and even Mudville Mabes) all contributing to a huge five-run inning.

Making their last defensive stand in the pouring rain, the Ligers continued to play heads-up ball.  Jeremy "Slick Willy" Wilson continued the same steady, confident game at the mound that he showed all night, and he was able to throw together a strike-out and two fly balls to end the 5th.  Mudville caught a clutch fly ball to right, but the real web gem came when the Skipper, paddlewheeled in from deep center to lay himself out to catch a blooper that landed a few feet behind second base . . . and in his glove.  "Yeah, uh, I guess that my emotion just got a hold of me.  The drills--when you practice that stuff, you don't even think."

Ozzie-Guillen-style "smart ball" notwithstanding, let's hope the Ligers continue "not thinking" as the season wears on--it apparently translates to victories.

Jackson "Mabes Mudville" Mabry is a free-lance writer based in Chapel Hill, NC and Dallas, TX.  His work has appeared in The American Spectator, The Atlantic, National Review, Sports Illustrated, and The Sporting News.

Monday, March 7, 2011

House & Heels (and Texas)

No, this is not a new, alliterative magazine title a la Garden & Gayun.

Today is March 6th.  What happened then?  The fall of the Alamo.  Santa Anna  overwhelmed 180 heroic defenders of the by sheer numbers (almost 10:1), but, in doing so, clenched his own defeat.

A few weeks ago, I promised a followup post about Eddie House to my Tiger Woods diatribe.  I will summarize my thoughts on House as follows: (1) actions have consequences (corollary: when you act like a moron, you're treated as such); (2) when you work in a highly regulated, high-profile field, you know or should know that your actions are scrutinized; (3) thus, when you act like an idiot, don't be surprised when you get caught and face teh consequences.  Applying that rubric to House: don't act like an idiot and then cry like a wuss when you're told that you can't make lewd gestures on television.  And---even if you think the rules are stupid---show some respect for yourself and for your team.  You'll look better.  Even if you do . . . you won't look NEARLY as good as the University of North Carolina TARHEELS.

The Heels played with an unmatched level of grit, pride, and class.  I wouldn't have attributed these traits to this team back in November, but now I cannot think of a single team in the NCAA---at least within my memory---who better exemplifies these traits.  What I saw on Saturday night was, truly, epic.  First, I have to hand it to Roy Williams for molding these uniquely talented players into a team.  All we have to do is look at the box score: Seth Curry, 20 points; Nolan Smith, 30 points.  No big surprise---these guys put up similar numbers all the time.  But the Heels?  Harrison Barnes, of course, led us in scoring . . . but with EIGHTEEN POINTS.  That's only THREE more than Kendall Marshall, and only four more than Tyler Zeller.  John Henson came up with 10, and Dexter Strickland added eight more (although if crowd reaction somehow added additional points to a basket, he probably added, conservatively, an additional twenty or so).  That, gentlemen, is a team.  That is telling your players to set their picks and get the ball to the open man.  That is teamwork.  And that is Roy Williams.

Going into the game, the campus was packed tight with anticipation.  Even at the law school, people had a hard time talking about anything other than the Duke game.  I have never seen the campus so eager or excited about this game.  We lined up behind them, as if our conversations, angst, and hallway-banter might translate to hardwood baskets.  But who cares, because this IS Carolina basketball, and that's what we do.  We get behind our team, both before the game, and during the game.  The Dean Dome was rockin'.  I couldn't believe how loud it was.  I have been there before at games, and I am usually non-plussed.  But this time, I was completely taken aback by our enthusiasm and energy.  I'd like to think that it showed, but I don't cotton to that notion.  I want ALL of our players (especially our seniors)to at leats have th eoption to goet

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Tiger & Eddie

Rarely do I post on sports apart from college football.  In my mind, that is the greatest form of television known to man, and now, in its off-season, I find very little to post about, although an NSD post is in order.

Two stories have grabbed my attention recently.  First, a PGA Tour rookie had the nerve to say that Tiger wasn't playing well.  Second, the NBA fined Eddie House of the Heat for an inappropriate gesture.  Both deserve very little scrutiny in my mind.  So why blog?  Because they're controversial, for who-knows-what reasons.

First, Tiger.  Brendon Steele, a guy my age who has played in all of three PGA Tour events in his life, was paired with Tiger Woods.  Steele, when asked about Tiger after the round, had the nerve to speak honestly.  "I don't think he gave it ­everything today," Steele told a Sports Illustrated reporter. "Once it started going in the wrong direction, I don’t think it had his full attention."  I don't understand why this is news.  Tiger Woods has never--let me repeat again, NEVER--Tiger Woods has never come from behind to win a major.  He is an outstanding competitor, and obviously a golf phenom.  But, frankly, I think that serious golf fans have thought, and--oh goodness-maybe even said (oh my!) what Steele said publicly this past Sunday.  Tiger uses salty language, as many of us do.  And there's a good chance that no one would know, were the camera not on him all the time, I admit.  But Tiger can flat stick his foot in his mouth.  I would refer you to the period about a decade back when he said that he he "won the Byron Nelson with his C+ game."  Egad.  Really?  A lot of guys struggled out there, and you tell them that you triumphed over them with a sub-average game?  Inconsiderate at the very least.

And so this guy here makes an observation that is totally understandable.  He didn't say "Tiger is a bad player."  He didn't say "he's pre-occupied."  He said "it [presumably, the tournament victory] didn't have his full attention."  That is fine.  Steele went on to say "You could see him, after every swing, he's rehearsing things. He's working hard on the mechanics of it."  ANY golfer will tell you that if you've got a guy working on the mechanics of the swing after every shot, the round itself is probably not gonna fall into place.  Compare that to the Tiger we see on TV every weekend--he is not one to stay on the tee or fairway and take practice swings.  But at Torrey Pines, he did.  And Steele simply pointed that out to an audience.

Steele is not Tiger's teammate.  He's his competitor.  And he is completely welcome to critique other players who play with him if asked.  All of you know my views on the media, so I needn't repeat them here, but the same analysis applies.  If he didn't give it his "full attention" is the worst trash-talking we'll hear this year from Mr. Steele, I think we can rest assured that golf is still the gentleman's game.  Steele was asked for his comments and he gave them.  He needs to apologize for nothing.  A player was unfocused, and you said so.  Greg Norman called John Daly, after the lovable (hopefully former) boozehound of the PGA Tour hit 6 shots in the water at the 1998 Bay Hill Invitation (Arnold Palmer's tournament) "too good a player to do that to himself.'  Patronizing?  Maybe.  But more critical than a general, sort of "unfocused"?  Yes.  Absolutely.  When players call it like they see it, they don't need to get criticized.  Steele owes no apology.

Alright, Eddie House goes tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"Point person?"

This from the New York Times: "Mr. Wisner, who consulted closely with the White House, is expected to be the point person dealing with Mr. Mubarak as the situation evolves, and perhaps as the administration’s message hardens."

When did "pointMAN" fall out of style?  Does the inclusion of "man" so offend as to dictate a change in over a hundred years of usage?  Is  "Fore-person" or perhaps "right hand person" next?  Good gosh.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Penny & the Quarters

Blue Valentine doesn't haunt me, but it should.

The movie has no seams, no joints, no faults in its workmanship that can be seen.  Part of that is a function of the movie itself.  Its jumps back and forth between the current, dire distress of a marriage and its youthful, hopeful, ebullient beginning could easily derail it; it has to be perfect to pull this off.  But it is.  The movie shuttles between an emotionally turbulent day in the present and past scenes of a couple's romance.  It sounds like cinematic whiplash, but the past and present tightly dovetail to form a textured, poignant picture of their love story.  We don't know what happens at the end.  The couple may divorce, they may reconcile, we just don't know, but it's a very real, very gritty love story.

Quentin Tarantino gets it--a soundtrack doesn't make a movie, but a good one can really drive home the themes and emotions being acted out on the screen.  And this song emerged as the MVP of the soundtrack of Blue Valentine.  It's by some group called "Penny & the Quarters," and it has become a serious hit.  Strangely, though, no one, except perhaps the singers of this song, have any idea who sung it.  The unknown group recorded it, as well as two others songs, as a demo in Columbus, Ohio, some time between 1970 and 1975 for Harmonic Sounds Studio.  It was never released until 2004 by Numero Group, long after soul music's peak in popularity.  The song's popularity is just too weird to explain--part of me thinks this whole story is a hoax: "Long lost soul record becomes hit song in romantic drama."  But stranger, much stranger, things have happened.  But the song is perfect for the movie.  It is simple, poignant, and spare.  And real.  It's one female vocal lead, three or four male background vocals, and one accompanying electric guitar.  That's it.  The crackle of the vintage equipment gives it texture and authenticity, while the obvious youthfulness of its singers give it a hopeful, yearning quality.  The song wraps up all the movies themes--love, hurt, hope, uncertainty, inexperience, youth, expectation (and a ton of others, I'm sure)--and delivers them in about two and a half minutes.  It's incredible, and the movie, which is masterfully written, shot, and produced, absolutely benefits from its presence.

Yeah, Blue Valentine could be a tad depressing.  But the fact that the audience, coming out of the movie, cannot predict the fate of two people in a bad situation gives me, for one, considerable hope.  The two leads certainly could divorce (they both carry onerously heavy baggage of their own dysfunctional families), but they could just as easily forge ahead and grow stronger with each other.  It details an accidental marriage in a brutally realistic way, and for that, it is worth seeing.  And while the picture is not rosy, it is not bleak, either.  And that, for me, certainly makes it worth watching.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Live blogging the State of the Union

9:38 - ditto on the infrastructure.  Fully paid for?  Yeah right.  How does road-building attract private investment, though?  High-speed rail?  "Without the pat down" . . . wah wah.

9:40 -- don't really care about faster Internet.

9:41--tax reform will never happen.  Lobbyists are too powerful.  Still, 1986 Tax Reform Act gives a little hope . . .

9:43--reduction of red tape.  Is this Reagan giving the speech?  Ah, common sense safeguards = blank check to EPA.  No one's a fan of exploitation.  Wow -- all 9 Supreme Court Justices!

9:45--sweet deadpan "healthcare."  Good dual applause for bookkeeping burdens on small business.  Pre-existing condition, egh.  Oh gosh -- the personal appeals.  CNN cuts to presumed victim.

9:47--legacy of deficit spending, a true conservative's beef with Bush.  Nice thought, but goodness, what are the tactics that will implement this pipe dream?  Here it comes -- freeze annual domestic spending???  This is a Democratic idea?  Holy crap -- never thought I'd hear cuts . . . and Dennis Kucinich and his family claps for the "tens of billions in military spending" cuts.

9:49--Did the teleprompter break when he gave his plane analogy?  Hmmm.  Oh yeah, John Cornyn.

9:50--big on this tax loophole reduction.  Who is that woman?  Repealing health care law will add $250 trillion to deficit?  Huh?  Rare applause from Republicans on the med-mal lawsuits.

9:51--can't put at risk current retirees, but how do we not slash benefits for future generations? Whims of stock market . . . yeah, privatization might not have been the way to go . . . (although regulation presumably wouldn't have allowed investment in CDOs).  And AGAIN, tax code simplification.  Third time I've heard it.  Did Steve Forbes get ahold of this draft?  Oh yeah -- Tom Coburn and Schumer!!!!!

"Can't win the future with a government of the past!"  12 different agencies that deal with exports, 5 different ones that deal with housing policy.   My favorite example -- Interior Dept for freshwater salmon, Commerce Department when in freshwater.  Gosh, that was a bad joke about smoked salmon.  This is a conservative theme.

9:56--"open and competent."  Is this Wilsonian gov't accountability?

9:57--"no one rival superpower is aligned against us."  HELLO--China????  "America's moral example must always shine for those who yearn for freedom, and justice, and dignity."  Great line.  Obligatory standing ovation for troops, as it should be.  Iraq war coming to an end -- all agree it's a good thing. 

10:01--"We will not relent, we will not waiver, and we WILL defeat YOU."  Almost Bush-ean.

START Treaty.  Not a terrible idea.  China's nuclear arsenal is much smaller, though they're allegedly modernizing it.  "US is the only nuclear power that does not have a modernization program."  Dean Cheng, China's Nuclear Capabilties, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION, http://blog.heritage.org/?p=50387

10:06--RED MEAT FOR RED STATES.  "I call on our college campuses to open our doors to armed services recruiters."

Is that Kay Bailey Hutchison and Byron Dorgan?  Oh yeah.  Dorgan--you are clearly the winner in that seating arrangement.

10:09--Joe Biden fist pump (was wondering when it would happen).  And homage to Boehner . . . cue the tears . . . YES.  Definitely crying.

10:11--"Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things."  This is what drives our economy--small business.

Darn good speech, Mr. Prez.