Monday, December 31, 2007

Poker: A Metaphor for Life

Teddy Roosevelt and the Square Deal:
A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards. More than that no man is entitled, and less than that no man shall have.
He would later expand on this idea:
When I say I believe in a square deal, I do not mean to give every man the best hand. If the cards do not come to any man, or if they do come and he has not got the power to play them, that is his affair. All I mean is that there shall be no crookedness in the dealing.
This is about as close to my personal political philosophy as any 100-year-old quote can come. And just for good measure, here's some more TR:
Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Most Excellent

Edit: You know, if you're going to have a "Commercials" tag, you might as well use it. Also, this commercial is about 6 months old.


I'm not sure what's going on here,

but I want to be a part of it.

As longtime friends know, Big Jim and I spent the better part of our college years playing the original Super Smash Bros. If the Wii version were available during that time, let's just say there would have been blood shed.

"Get in the fray!"

Friday, December 28, 2007

A word of caution

If you don't care for the song "Frere Jacques," you probably shouldn't have a child.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Who's up for some Christmas late night election discussion?

I know I am!

Actually, I'm on late night guard in case my son wakes up. He may or may not be sick and is definitely teething, so he's hurting quite a bit.

Let's start with a look at the Democratic field.

Here, there are three names that merit any consideration: Hillary, Barack, and Edwards. Edwards is at an immediate disadvantage, since he must suffer the indignity of being identifiable only by his last name.

Hillary's advantages and disadvantages are almost universally known. Pluses: Strong name recognition, a competent and professional organization, a large lead in national polls. Minuses: a vitriolic hatred from nearly half the nation, significant past scandals, a cold demeanor. If she wins Iowa and New Hampshire, she will unquestionably win the nomination. If she fails to win those states, she'll still likely be the favorite, but the race will become much more interesting.

Obama's strength lies in his compelling stump speech, his unprecedented fundraising skills, and his ability to market himself as the candidate of 'change.' His formidable talents, however, have not translated into strong debate performances or a surge in national polls. He does have considerable support in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. To win the nomination, he's going to have to close strong in Iowa to convince Democratic partisans that he is (1) experienced enough to lead the country and (2) strong enough to fight off Republican attacks.

Edwards is an interesting case. Four years ago, he rode his boyish good looks, inoffensive speech, and southern charm to give John Kerry his only real opposition in the primaries. This time around, he's the unapologetic, fire-breathing populist liberal who hasn't found a rich person he can't disparage. He has many weaknesses as a candidate, foremost the contrast between his rhetoric and his lifestyle, but he appeals to the Angry Left. He has very little support after the early states, so to have any chance at winning the nomination, he's going to have to win Iowa convincingly and ride a wave of free media coverage into the other states. Anything short of a large Iowa victory will not be enough.

Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, and Dennis Kucinich are irrelevant. Having said that, I think Biden's been spectacular in the debates I've seen.

On the Republican side, there are six (Six!) candidates worth discussing.

Rudy Giuliani has long been the national frontrunner. For more than a year, he's led virtually every national poll of Republicans, based on his strong name recognition and great support as New York City's 9/11 mayor. The question a year ago is the same question he faces today: How will his liberal social policies affect his chances? As the first primaries become closer, it appears that the answer is "Considerably and negatively." Though Rudy has done an admirable job on the campaign trial playing up his national security and low-tax credentials, his denial of the pro-life segment of the party has begun to hurt him. To win the nomination, he simply has to do well enough to get to February 5th with enough credibility to carry states like Florida.

Before Giuliani was the frontrunner, most observers expected John McCain to be the party's 2008 nominee. However, over the past 18 months, McCain's campaign imploded and appeared on the verge of ruin. It's only been over the past few months that conservative voters have given him a second look and decided that they might like what they see. His weaknesses (a maverick reputation, a good relationship with the media, and his age) aren't going away, but McCain appears to be positioning himself as the second choice of many voters. To win, he'll need to replicate his 2000 success in New Hampshire and convince enough conservatives that he is the least of several evils.

Of the major contenders, only Mitt Romney has run a traditional Republican campaign. Romney has spent millions more than anyone in Iowa, campaigned aggressively in New Hampshire, and touted his conservative credentials. Those credentials, however, have come into question because of Romney's changed position on many issues. It's expected that candidates will position themselves effectively to win elections, but when a politician changes his position on abortion, stem-cell research, gun rights, immigration, and a host of other issues, it leaves voters wondering what the man really believes. For Romney to win, I believe he must win Iowa. Given the time and money he invested there, anything other than a victory will inevitably be portrayed as a failure.

Mike Huckabee has come from nowhere to be Romney's most credible challenger in Iowa. The former governor of Arkansas has used a strong emphasis on religion as well as a unique brand of working class populism to appeal to a large segment of primary voters who had been dissatisfied with the slate of candidates. Since his meteoric rise in the polls, Huckabee has faced increased scrutiny over his tenure as governor and inconsistencies within his positions. Like Romney, Huckabee probably needs to win Iowa to have a realistic shot at winning the nomination. He faces an uphill battle because he lacks Romney's fundraising revenues as well as Giuliani's and McCain's name recognition. Consequently, free media coverage is a key to his campaign.

Fred Thompson is the last of the major Republican candidate. A year ago, no one considered him as a possibility, but six months ago, he was viewed as a potential savior in an otherwise weak field. Like most political messiahs, Thompson has underwhelmed. (See also Clark, Wesley.) Thompson has shown little desire to do the kind of retail politicking necessary in Iowa and New Hampshire and has instead seemed content to rely on his fame to earn him the nomination. Thompson's best shot at winning the nomination is a muddled early race that leaves no clear frontrunner but several candidates bruised. At that point, Thompson would need to perform well in the southern primaries and emerge as a compromise choice among voters.

Ron Paul will not win the Republican nomination. Still, he deserves to be mentioned because he has really tapped into a mine of anger among a distinct core of supporters. He has translated this support into more than $12 million in donations in the fourth quarter. This is absolutely uncharted territory for a argely unknown Congressman from Texas. Depending on how Paul decides to use the money, he could go a long way to determining who wins the nomination-indeed he could help decide the presidency if he runs as an independent candidate.

I have to confirm with Big Jim, but I'm pretty sure our editorial endorsement will be coming out soon. Perhaps surprisingly, I think we're on the same page.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007


Though I suspect Big Jim's opinion of himself is exaggerated.


Well, Rico, how about you?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

My confession

Since I've been on break, I've been watching as much Walker, Texas Ranger as possible.

I find the show oddly compelling, plus Walker is a great role model for Jake. Since my wife is an only child and I have just one sibling, Jake doesn't have much going for him in the way of aunts and uncles. Consequently, I've decided that from now on, we're going to call Chuck Norris 'Uncle Chuck.'

To top it off, the show has the greatest theme song of all time:
In the eyes of a ranger,
The unsuspecting stranger
Had better know the truth of wrong from right.

Cause the eyes of a ranger are upon you,
Any wrong you do he's gonna see,
When you're in Texas look behind you,
Cause that's where the rangers are gonna be

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A friendly reminder

The following is a public service announcement from all of us here at Whatever Happened to Crazy? to Christian rock radio stations everywhere:

Christmas music, especially the religious variety, is a sacred thing. Many of these songs have been around for decades, entertaining us, but also inspiring us and reminding us of the true meaning of Christmas. With that in mind, the music should not be altered beyond recognition. Specifically, "O Holy Night" does not need a drum solo. I'm looking at you, 105.3 The Fish.

Eleven months out of the year, most of us are happy to ignore your silly genre. But in December, do us all a favor and leave well enough alone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blame Canada?

What the hell's going on? Really. From Ezra Levant in the National Post (not exactly a bastion of Conservatism):
The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) is taking Maclean’s magazine to a human rights commission. Their crime? Refusing the CIC’s absurd demand that Maclean’s print a five-page letter to the editor in response to an article the CIC didn’t like.

It may shock those who do not follow human-rights law in Canada, but Maclean’s will probably lose.

Forcing editors to publish rambling letters is not a human right in Canada. But that’s not how the CIC worded their complaint, filed with the B.C., Ontario and federal human rights commissions. Maclean’s is “flagrantly Islamophobic” and “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and contempt” according to a CIC statement. “I felt personally victimized,” said Khurrum Awan at the CIC’s recent press conference. All this because Maclean’s dared to run a column discussing the demographic rise of Islam in the West.

It’s a new strategy for the CIC, which in the past has tried unsuccessfully to sue news media it disagreed with — including the National Post — using Canada’s defamation laws. But Canada’s civil courts aren’t the best tool for that sort of bullying. In a defamation lawsuit, the CIC would have to hire its own lawyers, follow the rules of court, and prove that they suffered real damages — and the newspapers would have truth and fair comment as defences. Launching a nuisance suit against Maclean’s would result in an embarrassing loss for the CIC, a court order to pay the magazine’s legal fees, and it would deepen the CIC’s reputation as a group of radicals who don’t understand Canadian values. (Three years ago, Mohamed Elmasry, the CIC’s Egyptian-born president, declared that every adult Jew in Israel is a legitimate target for terrorists).

So civil lawsuits won’t work. Criminal charges are a non-starter, too: Canada’s hate-speech laws are reserved for extreme acts of incitement, and charges can only be laid with the approval of the justice minister. And in criminal court, the accused must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. No chance there.

That’s why human-rights commissions are the perfect instrument for the CIC. The CIC doesn’t even have to hire a lawyer: Once the complaint has been accepted by the commissions, taxpayers’ dollars and government lawyers are used to pursue the matter. Maclean’s, on the other hand, will have to hire their own lawyers with their own money. Rules of court don’t apply. Normal rules of evidence don’t apply. The commissions are not neutral; they’re filled with activists, many of whom aren’t even lawyers and do not understand the free-speech safeguards contained in our constitution.

And the punishments that these commissions can order are bizarre. Besides fines to the government and payments to complainants, defendants can be forced to “apologize” for having unacceptable political or religious opinions.

An apology might not sound onerous, yet it is far more troubling than a fine. Ordering a person — or a magazine — to say or publish words that they don’t believe is an Orwellian act of thought control. The editor of Maclean’s, Ken Whyte, maintains his magazine is fair. But human rights commissions have the power to order him to publish a confession that he’s a bigot — or, as in one Ontario case, even order someone to study Islam. Even convicted murderers cannot be “ordered” to apologize.
What Levant never mentions is that the incomparable Mark Steyn was the featured author in most of those MacLean's articles.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just What McCain Needed

to bring him over the tipping point:


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ask and it will be given to you

"Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

On Thursday night, Big Jim asked me when Trevor Robinson was going to commit to Notre Dame. Less than 24 hours later, he officially committed.

Now I'm pretty sure Jesus was talking about going to God with your prayers, but I suppose asking me is the next best thing.

With that in mind, let's take a look at the recruiting chart. Notre Dame now has 22 commitments from high school seniors. Of those, 9 are among the top 100 players in the nation, and 18 are among the top 250. Simply a stunning job for a 3-9 team. As always, the absurdly subjective rankings courtesy of Rivals.

QB: Dayne Crist (#20)
RB: Jonas Gray (#56)
WR: Michael Floyd (#81)
WR: John Goodman (#221)
TE: Kyle Rudolph (#17)
TE: Joseph Fauria (#180)
OT: Lane Clelland (#125)
OG: Trevor Robinson (#97)
OG/C: Braxston Cave (#223)
OG/C: Mike Golic, Jr. (NR)

DE: Ethan Johnson (#29)
DE: Sean Cwynar (#160)
NT: Omar Hunter (#50)
NT: Brandon Newman (NR)
NT: Hafis Williams (NR)
OLB: Darius Fleming (#96)
OLB: David Posluszny (NR)
ILB: Steve Filer (#76)
ILB: Anthony McDonald (#198)
CB: Robert Blanton (#202)
S: Jamoris Slaughter (#122)
S: Dan McCarthy (#174)

One thing to note about this class is its great balance. One of the recurring flaws in Notre Dame's recruiting has been terribly unbalanced classes. See, e.g., Bob Davie's three quarterbacks in one year, Tyrone Willingham's woeful offensive line recruiting, and Charlie Weis' two-year failure in signing defensive linemen. This year, the only position where we would appear to have an excess of players is on the defensive line, where the team needs both quantity and quality desperately.

For those interested, we'll do one last recruiting wrap up after National Signing Day (February 5, 2008).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Seven Words I Always Say:

Rico's a bum for liking country music.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Eight words I never thought I'd say

I really like the new Bucky Covington song.

The chorus:
It's good to be us, good to be breathing
Day after night after day, this feeling
Feels the way it should
If this is as good as it gets, then good

It's better than best, yeah we got it made
In the shade, in the sun, in love this way - yeah
We got lucky baby, we've been blessed
Couldn't ask for more, wouldn't settle for less
It's good to be us, yeah, it's good to be us

My true calling

With finals over, I have a four-week break before school starts again.

This leaves me free to pursue my true calling in life: stay-at-home dad and professional blogger.

If only I could get paid for this.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Still the Man

GKC on pride and humility, from Orthodoxy:
In one way Man was to be haughtier than he had ever been before; in another way he was to be humbler than he had ever been before. In so far as I am Man I am the chief of creatures. In so far as I am a man I am the chief of sinners. All humility that had meant pessimism, that had meant man taking a vague or mean view of his whole destiny -- all that was to go. We were to hear no more the wail of Ecclesiastes that humanity had no pre-eminence over the brute, or the awful cry of Homer that man was only the saddest of all the beasts of the field. Man was a statue of God walking about the garden. Man had pre-eminence over all the brutes; man was only sad because he was not a beast, but a broken god. The Greek had spoken of men creeping on the earth, as if clinging to it. Now Man was to tread on the earth as if to subdue it. Christianity thus held a thought of the dignity of man that could only be expressed in crowns rayed like the sun and fans of peacock plumage. Yet at the same time it could hold a thought about the abject smallness of man that could only be expressed in fasting and fantastic submission, in the gray ashes of St. Dominic and the white snows of St. Bernard. When one came to think of one's self, there was vista and void enough for any amount of bleak abnegation and bitter truth. There the realistic gentleman could let himself go -- as long as he let himself go at himself. There was an open playground for the happy pessimist. Let him say anything against himself short of blaspheming the original aim of his being; let him call himself a fool and even a damned fool (though that is Calvinistic); but he must not say that fools are not worth saving. He must not say that a man, qua man, can be valueless. Here, again in short, Christianity got over the difficulty of combining furious opposites, by keeping them both, and keeping them both furious. The Church was positive on both points. One can hardly think too little of one's self. One can hardly think too much of one's soul.

Music Update

Favorite bits of Classical music at the moment:
1. 3rd movement to Mozart's Symphony No. 39
2. 2nd movement to Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 "Emperor"
3. 1st movement to Bach's Suite No. 4
4. 5th movement to Lalo's Spanish Symphony
and of course
5. 1st movement to Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
6. 4th movement to Mozart's Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter"
7. Holst's "Jupiter"
On a side note, I had forgotten how bad "Away in a Manger."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Math Can't Be Wrong

The Transitive Property of Football strikes again. From j9er on Cartier Field over at ND Nation:
Why the BCS Rankngs are Wrong and Notre Dame Should Be in the Title Game
**Notre Dame beat UCLA, Stanford, and Duke.**

1. Ohio State (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat Oregon beat Michigan beat Illinois beat Ohio State)
2. LSU (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia beat Kentucky beat LSU)
3. Va Tech (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia beat Kentucky beat Va Tech)
4. Oklahoma (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma)
5. Georgia (Notre Dame beat UCLA beat California beat Tennessee beat Georgia)
6. Missouri (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma beat Missouri)
7. USC (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC)
8. Kansas (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat USC beat ASU beat Colorado beat Oklahoma beat Missouri beat Kansas)
9. West Virginia (Notre Dame beat Stanford beat Oregon beat Michigan beat Illinois beat Wisconsin beat Michigan State beat Pittsburgh beat WVU)
10. Hawaii (only team in the country better than Notre Dame)

See you in New Orleans for Hawaii vs. Notre Dame.

Because It's Damn Good

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep.

Now I Get It

Finally, a grand theory of the Star Wars universe. Not that probably aren't eleventy billion out there already, but to create so elegant a synthesis of all six movies was truly a work of art. Truly Lucas has a uniquely singular and opaque vision to so cleverly disguise so fascinating a story. And under our very noses!

In the words of the immortal O. Sharp:
It all makes sense, that perfect kind of sense that only comes with excessive drinking.
I should probably warn you, gentle reader, that full appreciation of said theory is dependent (shudder) on having seen and remembered the events of Episdoes 1 through 3.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A New Triumph

Someone's only got 10 messages in his inbox. Never thought I'd see the day. Now if only my room were that tidy . . .

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

How Many Narrators?

The Evidence:
This Season
(Words and music by Kirk McLeod, arranged by Seven Nations)

Daniel closed his eyes as if it didn't happen
And he wondered why every time this season
Feel it in the air, see it in the lightning
And he wondered why it always felt so frightening

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down

Then he looked at me his eyes heavy with reason
And he spoke of how she never stopped to listen
When she got the news she wrecked her room in anger
Never looked at me, she telephoned the doctor

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down

Which way's on and on, his question fell
Like rain on the window like I never will
His face touched the glass, his finger traced
The path of the water
The lines on his face

I will remember you this way
As sure as the night divides the day
As sure as the sun goes down.
While the song is highly elliptical, the second verse effectively gives the game away. However, as the title of this post makes clear, it is not meaning but person that concerns me. In particular, who is the singer of the refrain? I highly recommend the song by the way, if for nothing else than the awesome (electric?) bagpipe riff.

One hour til Criminal Law

Am I ready to take this test? Let's just say I could step in tomorrow for Sam Waterston and nobody would know the difference.

As my wife pointed out, however, I wouldn't be nearly as effective selling robot insurance.