Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jerry Jones, Cowboys Stadium, AT&T, Arlington, and Eminent Domain

I was in a great mood, despite having to work most of the day Saturday.

I was going to come home, relax, sit on the deck with liquid refreshments and read.

But about an hour before leaving work, I went to the convenience store across the street and saw this headline in my beloved Star-Telegram:

Dallas Cowboys think 'AT&T Field' has a nice ring to it
Star-Telegram staff writers

Well, there went those plans. Jerry Jones and the City of Arlington have used Eminent Domain to kick people out of their homes, and that has made me a little nuts on this subject.

The Dallas Cowboys are in serious discussions with AT&T Corp. to name their new $1 billion stadium AT&T Field, according to a document obtained by the Star-Telegram.

If there were any justice in the world, AT&T would stand for "Arlington Targeted & Taken".

The deal would include "media rights," which would allow the Cowboys and AT&T to almost exclusively distribute Cowboys content on local television, radio, Internet and wireless devices, according to the document. The dollar value and length of a potential deal were not specified....

Partial disclosure: When wireless home telephones first came on the market (20 years ago?), we bought one from AT&T. Approximately 15 minutes after the warranty expired, the #9 button stopped working on the phone unless you hit it at a precise angle. If you didn't press #9 properly the first time, you had to disconnect and start over. It was infuriating. If there was a 9 in the phone number, I would sometimes call friends who didn't have a #9 in their number and ask them to dial the number and have the person call me.

AT&T's phone stores refused to give me a refund.

But this was during the glory days of phone deregulation, and we got tons o' calls from AT&T after we dropped their excuse for phone service. Any time their telemarketers called, I would ask for an $80.00 refund for my phone. They would claim that phone sales were a different branch of the company. Like that matters.

Mrs. Whited Sepulchre gets frustrated whenever I bring it up. It was, after all, 20 years ago.

That year for Christmas, our in-laws had pity on us, and got us a new phone. Also made by AT&Freakin' T. Within one year, the #9 on this one stopped working.

(The reason why is explained in detail by Henry Petroski in his excellent book "To Engineer Is Human". The numbers we dialed the most had 9's in them, and if the design is inadequate, it's logical that #9 will fail first.)

But, as usual, I digress. Back to the Jerry Jones/AT&T scam:

Sports marketing experts have estimated that the Cowboys could generate $10 million to $18 million per year for a 30-year agreement. As part of the team's lease with the city of Arlington, the city will receive 5 percent of any naming-rights deal, up to $500,000 a year.

That 5% is appropriate, since Arlington is paying for somewhere between 35-50% of the cost of the stadium, depending on cost overruns. There is a long history of shafting taxpayers in these stadium deals, and Arlington should be mindful of that tradition. Throwing a 5% bone to the dogs is appropriate and adequate.

The stadium, under construction in Arlington, is expected to open in the fall of 2009.

I've made no secret here of my love of gambling. I clean up every year by betting that the Cowboys won't win a playoff game. (My theory is a complicated one, involving God, the ego of Jerry Jones, Nemesis, and Hubris....)

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said he has not been told that a name has been picked. But he said he had "heard some time ago that they were talking to AT&T and Verizon for naming rights."
If it is AT&T Field, Cluck said he was "OK with that. AT&T is a solid company."

As long as you don't buy their dang telephones. I know, I know, it was more than 20 years ago. I should get over it. But this feels so good. I think the psychologists and talk-show hosts call this "closure".

Industry experts have been watching for a Cowboys naming-rights deal, speculating that it could rival the most expensive deal to date: the New York Mets' 2006 contract with Citigroup that totaled $400 million over 20 years. Adding media rights into the mix enhances the value of a potential Cowboys deal....

Does anyone besides me see a deeper meaning in the significance of AT&T sponsoring the stadium? A meaning that might only be visible to degenerate gamblers?

According to the document, the Cowboys will use "reasonable efforts" to have a street near the stadium named AT&T Parkway.

AT&T Parkway.....Gag me with a dirty diaper.

Ok, here's my theory. AT&T, Arlington, and Jerry Jones are going in together on this huge stadium in Arlington. If there is any justice in this world, all of them will be punished with another disappointing Cowboy season. Jerry Jones and Arlington have stolen people's homes, AT&T sells phones whose #9 doesn't work. This is my year to make a small fortune betting against The Cowboys.

How do I know this will be yet another failed season?

Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo's jersey number?


And he just got a huge contract extension.

This is the year for their #9 to stop working.

The Beijing Olympics Logo, Tibet, Chairman Mao, and Counting Cats

Cause for celebration:
Samizdata's serial commenter "CountingCats" now has a blog. Been up since March.
Get thee hence. Go. Learn. Laugh. Rejoice that you live in the same decade with this person, and that both of you own a computer.

Begin here, with an examination of the food riots in Haiti. The Haitian government is seriously considering lowering the taxes on food imports ! How freakin' humane ! (Hillary, Barack, take note....This would profoundly irritate Iowa caucus voters, but it would help the poor.)
Plus, the current Anthropogenic Global Warming hysteria comes in for a well-deserved thrashing. (Let's use food as an expensive substitute for fuel....)

And I don't know where the Counter of Cats got this logo, but it's a good one. Almost as good as the cartoon I posted here.

I suspect the numbers are roughly equal.

Friday, April 11, 2008

People Worth Reading, Part 2

A couple of months ago, I started posting links from Zebby's Libertarian Blog Place.
Here are a few more. My goal is to have all of these folks linked and into the blogroll within a year.
It ain't gonna happen. Oh well. That's why God invented the year after next.

The Austrian Economists are a group of living and breathing economists who know what they're talking about, and they've written the books to prove it. (The 1920's and 30's Austrian School of Economics, and this is a gross simplification, believed that government should stay out of the economy lest we get into situations like....the one we're in now. If I'm mistaken, I'm sure one of the five contributors to the AE site will soon beat me about the head and shoulders with a Clue Stick.)
Many of the articles go about 6 inches over my head. Almost everything in the comment fields goes over my head, because it's mostly students of these people trying to show off.
My favorite posts are the ones that Chris and Steve have done in defense of Wal-Mart. I've attempted that myself a few times, and it's lonely work. But these guys explain why Wal-Mart is like the Coast Guard instead of FEMA. They offer yet another rationale for Wal-Mart's eligibility for the Nobel Prize. And the next time I get into an argument about the merits of that particular company, these guys are getting a call.

Back To The Drawing Board is an interesting place, and I wish the author would put up an extended "About Me" link. After looking around there for a while, you want to know more about who put it all together.
You may have heard of Pascal's Wager - mathematician Blaise Pascal's theory that we should believe in God because we have everything to gain from that belief, and nothing to lose. Mr. Back To The Drawing Board makes a comparison to Pascal's Wager and Global Warming. Worth your attention. He's got an entire category devoted to Climate Change Skepticism.

Next is the Brit who runs Blognor Regis, who makes fascinating comparisons between Winston Churchill's warnings against the Fascist State and current problems with trash collectors. This would be funny if it weren't so typical. And I haven't watched it yet, but he links to a video of Mark Steyn speaking on multiculturalism. (Steyn is the journalist who got Canada's "MacLean's" magazine in trouble with the despicable Alberta Human Rights Commission.)

It's April, and I'm not even through browsing the sites that begin with a "B".
For the True Believers out there, Zebby's Libertarian Blog Place is like too much candy.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The meter on this device might drift rightward if things don't get easier at work.
Consider yourselves warned.
The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

I found this widget at Alan K. Henderson's Weblog, now permanently listed to your right. Good libertarian site, and he lives in Irving, Texas.

You say Massagonistic, I say Misogynistic

I like to go to the Google Trends site now and then, just to see what people are looking for. Google Trends simply lists the top Google searches of the last hour.

The word Misogynistic is number eight, out of 100 words and phrases listed. Why?
Because of a comment made by Sir Elton John during a Clinton fundraiser.

The British singer, who, of course, is not allowed to vote in this country, played his hits "Border Song" and "Your Song," adding: "I'm amazed by the misogynistic attitudes of some of the people in this country. And I say to hell with them...I love you Hillary, I'll be there for you."

One might just as easily argue that opponents of Obama have racist attitudes. Or that opponents of Dennis Kucinich have a deep and abiding hatred of the mentally disabled. Or it could be that Hillary's opponents don't like her, I'm going to get off-topic if I don't settle down. Back to misogyny:

Define Misogynistic: "characterized by a hatred of women".

Guess what word is number 97?


Hit the link, and see how many times Massagonistic is used on sites and on weblogs.
Hundreds of thousands of people had to voluntarily type "Massagonistic" into Google to make this happen.
I'll admit to being a creative speller.
And I usually avoid the whole lie, lay, lain confusion in favor of "recline".
I throw commas everywhere except where they're needed.
But I try. Lord knows, I try.

Massagonistic? Massagonistic? Hundreds of thousands of people who can operate a computer searched for the term Massagonistic????? I fear for my country....

But maybe it's not a spelling thing.

Define Massagonistic: On most of the sites that use the word, it seems to mean "lack of respect for your (ahem) womenfolks". Did one rap artist spell the word this way in some liner notes, and it took off from there?

I could be wrong. I'm 46, and therefore I'm totally out of touch.

Please advise. Is this a spelling/education problem, and no one in our nation knows what Sir Elton John is talking about when he uses his fancy British words, or is massagonistic now another term?

The Law of Unintended Consequences is going to get this guy

This idjit in Arizona is sponsoring a bill that would blow the First Amendment all to pieces.

People who create or sell material that causes someone to commit a serious crime could be sued under a bill that faces a hearing today in the Arizona Legislature that is expected to draw a number of opponents from various industries.....House Bill 2660, which passed the House and will be debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee today, would make an individual or a company liable for civil damages if they produce, publish or distribute any dangerous or obscene materials that causes someone to commit an act of terrorism or a felony.

Rep. Warde Nichols, a Gilbert Republican who introduced the bill, said that for too long, the people creating or selling this type of material have not been held accountable. This bill would hit them in the pocketbook and serve as a deterrent, he said.

Here's some more info from Becky, The Girl in Short Shorts, Just Talking About Whatever....

House Bill 2660 would set up a three-part "test" that would allow juries to decide whether a book, movie, song or other media was a "cause" that prompted a convicted criminal to commit a crime. If it met the test, the jury could assess financial damages against the book's publisher, the movie's producer and/or the distributor on behalf of the crime victim.

Here's a situation that would make an interesting test case. A Chicago mother is charged with murdering her 6-year-old daughter. The little girl, Mom claims, was possessed by a demon. Granted, this bill is only in Arizona, the criminal case is in Illinois. But let's assume everything happens in Arizona.

I know which book taught me about demon possession.

If the mother is found guilty, can Bible publishers then be prosecuted?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Two Faced Baby Worshipped As Goddess

An Indian baby has been born with a rare condition known as Craniofacial Duplication.

Ok, I am SO going to hell for this, but....

A baby born with two faces has been praised as being in good health, and is now being worshipped as a Hindu goddess.

I'm going somewhere with patient.

Indian couple Vinod and Sushma Kumar last month gave birth to one-month old daughter Lali - with the girl born with two faces.Technically, the girl has two sets of eyes, mouths and noses but however appears in otherwise good health according to Doctors.Her family says that Lali eats with both mouths, and also blinks in time across all four of her eyes.Doctors say the rare condition is known as craniofacial duplication - where most facial features are duplicated, except for the ears.Doctors say that the child is breathing properly, and appears to have no need for surgery to remove the 'second face'.

Meanwhile hundreds of locals have flocked to see baby Lali - believing her to be the reincarnation of a goddess....

There are uncanny paralells between this unfortunate infant and a celebrity who may have had (botched?) surgery to correct Craniofacial Duplication. All the signs are there: 1) Like baby Lali, she's worshipped as a goddess by members of a primitive culture, 2) hundreds have flocked to see her, just like they do baby Lali, and 3) she's often accused of being (continue by clicking here)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

National Review, China's Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, Methodist Economic Sanctions, and other stuff like that

I've always enjoyed reading National Review.
Yeah, they're conservative, not libertarian, but there are only two decent newstand libertarian periodicals - Reason and Liberty.
Once you get past the obligatory anti-abortion paragraph on every 10th page (founder William F. Buckley was a devout Catholic), they've got some good stuff. And now that Mr. Buckley is pushing up daisies, National Review has gotten a little more lively. Or at least quotable.

Check this out, from the April 7th issue, on China's ultra-repressive socialists aping their yuppie socialist counterparts....

China's "liberalized" economy allows some market mechanisms to operate, but it is still dominated by the corrupt leadership of the People's Liberation Army and various tentacles of the Communist Party. So investors must have been scratching their heads when they read that Shanghai-based Industrial Fund Management has received government permission to launch China's first "socially responsible" mutual fund. Where will they invest? Taiwan?

I love it. Can't you imagine a pair of Communist Party Princelings sipping their Starbucks and discussing whether it's ethical to invest in South Africa?

Next up, the National Review moves on to our good friends, the Methodists.

When the United Methodist Church kicks off its general assembly this month, one of the notable items on its agenda will be a vote on economic sanctions against....

Ok, enough National Review. I'm gonna make you guess which nation they want to sanction.

China? For their repression of Tibet, and continuing crackdowns on political, religious and market freedoms?
Nope. China's not bad enough.

Cuba? For throwing dissidents into dungeons, welding the prison doors shut, and feeding political prisoners nothing but entrails for weeks at a time?
No, they're not going to sanction Cuba. (As if they could add additional sanctions to those already imposed by the U.S....)

How about the totalitarian nightmare of Kim Jong Il's North Korea?
No way. For all their crimes against humanity, all of these nations still pretend to be more or less Socialist, and therefore we in the U.S. have much to learn from their wisdom.

The country in question will be the first nation the Methodists have ever voted to sanction, as best I can tell.

Keep guessing. Put yourself into the shoes of a Give It All Unto Caesar, Big Government Loving, Interventionist Lobbying....aww, forget it.
Try drooling a little. Get totally out of character. Try thinking of places where, in the not too distant past, it has been illegal to be a Methodist.

Russia, with its Siberian gulags?
Cambodia, because of The Killing Fields?

No. You're not trying hard enough. The religious persecution hint was unfair. I threw that in to get you off track. The nation they're wanting to sanction has religious freedoms rivaling those of the U.S.

Bring some self-hatred to the task. Pretend to feel guilty for all that you own and all the freedoms you enjoy. Then transfer the rage to others with similar freedoms, despite being surrounded by enemies. Give up? OK, back to National Review:

When the United Methodist Church kicks off its general assembly this month, one of the notable items on its agenda will be a vote on economic sanctions against....Israel.

Briskets, Semicolons, Trial and Error,

Blogorrhea Steve has liveblogged a smoked brisket. (Different guy from the NASCAR Steve referenced two posts ago....) History has been made.

Halfway through the smoking process, punctuation concerns take over.

Steve wants to hasten the decline of the semicolon; I think they're handy.

Funny stuff.

Start here, and keep hitting "newer post".

Monday, April 7, 2008

Mark Penn, Jack Abramoff, and Anarchic Hand Syndrome

RealClearPolitics - Articles - Penn the Symbol of Clinton's Problems, says E.J. Dionne, who usually writes for The Washington Post.

He's referring to Mark Penn, The Clintons' chief campaign strategist. Mr. Penn has been helping Hillary Clinton oppose a Columbian trade agreement.

The Columbian ambassador has been paying Penn's public relations company to promote the same Columbian trade agreement.

Therefore Penn had to leave the Clinton campaign, although The Clintons seemed happy with his campaign work against the trade agreement, and the Columbians were happy with his work in favor of the trade agreement.

The way I see it, somebody was going to be taking all that Clinton and Columbian money, and it might as well be someone who could give them what they paid for. If we're going to have a system where our politicians are bought and sold like $20 crack whores, we might as well have them pimped out by people who know what they're doing.

This is a borderline example of what I'm now calling Anarchic Hand Syndrome. And I'll not rest until it's referenced in a Political Science textbook, a Thomas Sowell editorial, or linked on Instapundit. Either one will mean guaranteed immortality.

(Go ahead and hit the link above. It's a short post about the right hand having no control over what the left hand is doing, and it's a legit medical condition. And I believe that as long as decision makers are allowed to take money from both sides of an issue, we'll see examples of the same thing in government. You get to pay for tobacco subsidies and anti-smoking campaigns.)

The Mark Penn AHS episode is slightly flawed, or perhaps he's taken it to the next level and we mortals are too dense to perceive his greatness. It's imperfect because Mark Penn represents the right hand. He approved and controlled the contradictory actions of the left hand. And vice-versa. In a textbook example of political Anarchic Hand Syndrome, Mark Penn would have to be two different people independently working at cross-purposes in the same organization.
Greatness walks among us.

The only other example of this type of self-inflicted solo AHS would be Casino lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who lobbied against Indian casinos while lobbying for them in his free time, and got paid by Indians on both sides.

But if you accept the legitimacy of lobbying, you don't have much room to criticize guys like Abramoff and Penn for for using their talents to their highest potential....
Brief addition....the good people at are shocked, no, astounded to discover that small campaign donations go into the pockets of expensive consultants.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Texas Motor Speedway, Samsung 500, My First Race

"But did thee feel the earth move?" - Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls

This weekend, I went to my first NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Samsung 500.
The earth moved.
Someone named Carl Edwards won the race.

I've been around the world seven times, and to one black Pentecostal funeral.
But I've never seen anything like this.
It's a rare group of a quarter million people that I can step into and feel overdressed.
I've felt the earth move, my ears are still ringing, I've smelled the fuel burning and the tires smoking.
I didn't think it would be possible to get this many rednecks to stand in a circle without burning a cross in the center.
This thing should be the #1 Google search result for Bread And Circuses. (You either get that joke, or you don't.)

In your job, doing whatever you do, you probably work with ideas, people, or things.
Here's a stereotype that I think holds up pretty well:

In their free time, "idea" people probably like to go to plays or lectures, or they just stay home and read. They can experience the ideas of some of the brightest people in the world that way.

If you have a "people" job, and are a people person, you probably like to go to parties. The more people there, the better.

People who work with "things", changing the shape of things, making things operate properly, or moving things from place to place, those people go to NASCAR races. They go by the hundreds of thousands. So if you've ever wondered what the guy who changes your oil does to entertain himself, look no further.

At a NASCAR race, you get to see some of the most efficient machines in the world operated by the best machine operators in the world. It's exhilarating and terrifying.

And Oh my lord in heaven, the parties friend Steve and I bounced back and forth between campsites all Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. One group of our friends owns a used prison bus. They've stripped the interior and put in couches and bunk beds. There is a DishNetwork satellite hookup on the roof, connected to an internal projector. TV and/or movies and be shown on a pulldown screen in the middle of the bus. Unbelieveable.

Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, Jim Beam, beer, beer, some more beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, and when that gets low, go to the store and get some more beer, beer, beer.

We had race tickets through our friends at Roadway, and hung out with them quite a bit. Thank you Steve Johnston. For the tickets, and for the beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, Jim Beam, beer, beer, beer and beer.

I've seen grills that could cook everything in The Fort Worth Zoo. In the last two days, I think I've eaten the flesh of more than 40 different animals and not a single vegetable. But I've had plenty of beer.

There were campers as far as you could see, ranging from quarter-million dollar tour buses to popup campers mounted on the beds of pickups. Everyone was pleasant, more or less.

Some of the camping groups bring in their own bands. Loud live bands, all powered by generators, all with A Bigger Carbon Footprint Than Al Gore's HouseTM. There's an impromptu Mardi Gras-style parade that circles the largest campsite every night. Guys were lined up ten deep on both sides of the road throwing beads to the ladies in the back of the pickups. One pair of girls had almost topped off the back of a Ford F-150 with donated beads. All I'm going to say about the parade is that the last time I saw anything like that was back on the farm in Mississippi. And there were baby piglets firmly attached. I'm not criticizing, I'm just sayin'....

Steve and I slept in our trucks. Comfortable enough, with great weather.

Other than the earth moving, the biggest surprise for me about the race was how big a factor luck plays in accidents, debris on the track, and other delays. If there is a huge gap between your car and the person immediately ahead of you at the time of an accident, the gap is eliminated when everyone has to line up in order behind the pace car.

During the pre-race wagering I picked a driver named Casey Mears, who drove the Cheez-It/Carquest Chevrolet. Mostly because I liked the idea of a car sponsored by "Cheese" anything, and partly because I'm fiercely partial to Cheez-Its over Cheese Nips. Mears had to start in 22nd place and finished 22nd, which is more than all the Dale Earnhardt, Jr., fans can say about their guy.

I had a great time. If you've never been, you owe it to yourself to check it out at least once. I think I'm a convert.