And Two Minutes for Charging

A tragic accident occurred in Atlanta. A promising young hockey player, just a year or so removed from Rookie of the Year and scoring a bucket of goals in the All Star Game, runs his Ferrari into a wall at 80 mph. It’s not as tragic as it could have been; he’s only got a broken jaw, but his passenger is in critical condition with a fractured skull. They’re lucky to be alive, and with any luck they’ll remain so.

But here come the prosecutors….

    Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley was charged Tuesday with reckless driving for veering off a road and slamming his sportscar into a wall at about 80 mph — a crash that left him with a broken jaw and teammate Dan Snyder critically injured with a skull fracture.

    Heatley was also charged with serious injury by vehicle, a felony, and three other misdemeanors — driving too fast for conditions, driving on the wrong side of the road and striking a fixed object, according to the police.

Striking a fixed object?

Once again, the legislators in their attempts to do something! about crime have given prosecutors bolts of felonies and swatches of misdemeanors to properly accessorize every ill event. Instead of double jeopardy, we have a larger charge accompanied by an exploded view of its component parts. Common sense would indicate that reckless driving comprises driving too fast, leaving your lane, changing lanes without use of the directional signal, and then striking a fixed object, or maybe just narrowly avoiding a fixed object which is a undoubtedly a lesser charge. But before the myopic eyes of the law, these are all crimes in and of themselves.

Kind of like when an estranged husband shoots his wife and gets murder one, using a gun in the commission of a murder, using bullets in the commission of a felony, disturbing the peace, and failure to pay future child support. Slap enough coats of felony on anything, and it will look guilty.

So in addition to having to live with the emotional consequences of his actions, Heatley’s now eligible for a Gordie Howe length career in the penal hockey league. Prosecutors will say that these tough laws will make kids think twice about believing they’re immortal and driving fast. Because kids have already discounted their own deaths and the crippled and crushed bodies of their friends and have have dismissed the deterent within those threats; a couple years in jail? That’s real to the young.

Criminey, the first person to run for office with the stated goal of eliminating three quarters of our redundant and superfluous laws earns my indentured servitude. I am getting tired of having my personal attorney preceding me everywhere and identifying each and every infraction I might commit and running the complex multiplication necessary to determine my total sentence if I jaywalk and cross outside a designated crosswalk at the same time while walking an unlicensed bike.

A Toast

To the Chicago Bears, for keeping up your end of a noble tradition and losing gracefully to the Packers.

You guys played your guts out. Unfortunately, you didn’t have many with which to start.

Sorry, Pejman, but it was foreordained.

Book Review: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

No, I have nothing better to do than to read Russian short novels, which run about 150 pages of translated, well, Russian writing. And I don’t just mean the Russian language.

Notes from the Underground starts out with a 20-30 page commentary on the nature of man, at least as perceived by a Russian narrator, or more to the point, a Dostoyevsky narrator. John Galt’s speech, it ain’t. This particular narrator breaks down the fourth wall, so to speak, and addresses the reader of his notes directly and patiently builds a case that madness really is the only possible way to defend free will. For if scientists can eventually describe the means by which each man and woman will act in his or her own preceived self-interest in each situation, the outcome is always predetermined by the individual, the perceptions, and the situation. So madness would be the only random number generator (my words, not Underground Man’s and not Dostoyevsky’s nor his translator’s).

I can see how this appeals to college students. On the other hand, I am no longer a college student, so I have little time to sit around saying, “Whoa.” Nor am I driven any longer to explain the use of the first part of the novel as a means of discrediting the double-effect narrator who then goes on to rationalize his particular Soren-Loves-Regina, Soren-Spurns-Regina (that’s Kierkegaard, you damn kids!) episode. Fortunately, though, I don’t have to write those sorts of papers any more, and I don’t have to feel guilty for wishing there was just one double homicide with a missing witness that the hero, a down-on-his-luck former police officer turned security guard (with Kirk Guard, maybe) must track down. But I would settle for some narration for crying out loud. Maybe a plot, Fyod?

Part 2, the second movement of the novel, takes us into an example of the narrator’s boorishness. As if the first half of the novel didn’t. The second part has other characters, to whom the narrator can act as a boor, and then the narrator ends up in bed with a prostitute he might love, but to whom he must be a boor and then whom he ultimately rejects so he can pursue his scholarly life, which seems to be perfecting the art of boorishness. Personally, I only made it through the thing because I’d read Crime and Punishment previously, so I wasn’t sure whether this guy would snap and kill his former classmates, his man, or the prostitute. Maybe two of them at once, and then the cobbler on the corner would see it and flee to a retreat on the Caspian Sea….. Never mind.

With this book, I think Dostoyevsky’s making fun of academics, but the ultimate irony is that only academics read this mockery of academics.

I spent over a week trudging through this short novel. I’ve gotten the satisfaction of having read something normal suburban types in middle America don’t read, so I flout the stereotype laid upon us by academics. I wouldn’t recommend it as a read for everyone, though, unless you want to severely put off your friendly informal book club by recommending it and then cribbing some of the lines from this piece (think it over, El Rojo).

Book Review: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

No, I have nothing better to do than to read Russian short novels, which run about 150 pages of translated, well, Russian writing. And I don’t just mean the Russian language.

Notes from the Underground starts out with a 20-30 page commentary on the nature of man, at least as perceived by a Russian narrator, or more to the point, a Dostoyevsky narrator. John Galt’s speech, it ain’t. This particular narrator breaks down the fourth wall, so to speak, and addresses the reader of his notes directly and patiently builds a case that madness really is the only possible way to defend free will. For if scientists can eventually describe the means by which each man and woman will act in his or her own preceived self-interest in each situation, the outcome is always predetermined by the individual, the perceptions, and the situation. So madness would be the only random number generator (my words, not Underground Man’s and not Dostoyevsky’s nor his translator’s).

I can see how this appeals to college students. On the other hand, I am no longer a college student, so I have little time to sit around saying, “Whoa.” Nor am I driven any longer to explain the use of the first part of the novel as a means of discrediting the double-effect narrator who then goes on to rationalize his particular Soren-Loves-Regina, Soren-Spurns-Regina (that’s Kierkegaard, you damn kids!) episode. Fortunately, though, I don’t have to write those sorts of papers any more, and I don’t have to feel guilty for wishing there was just one double homicide with a missing witness that the hero, a down-on-his-luck former police officer turned security guard (with Kirk Guard, maybe) must track down. But I would settle for some narration for crying out loud. Maybe a plot, Fyod?

Part 2, the second movement of the novel, takes us into an example of the narrator’s boorishness. As if the first half of the novel didn’t. The second part has other characters, to whom the narrator can act as a boor, and then the narrator ends up in bed with a prostitute he might love, but to whom he must be a boor and then whom he ultimately rejects so he can pursue his scholarly life, which seems to be perfecting the art of boorishness. Personally, I only made it through the thing because I’d read Crime and Punishment previously, so I wasn’t sure whether this guy would snap and kill his former classmates, his man, or the prostitute. Maybe two of them at once, and then the cobbler on the corner would see it and flee to a retreat on the Caspian Sea….. Never mind.

With this book, I think Dostoyevsky’s making fun of academics, but the ultimate irony is that only academics read this mockery of academics.

I spent over a week trudging through this short novel. I’ve gotten the satisfaction of having read something normal suburban types in middle America don’t read, so I flout the stereotype laid upon us by academics. I wouldn’t recommend it as a read for everyone, though, unless you want to severely put off your friendly informal book club by recommending it and then cribbing some of the lines from this piece (think it over, El Rojo).

Eminent Domain Abuse on 60 Minutes

Reason magazine’s Hit and Run reports that the television news magazine 60 Minutes is going to run a piece about eminent domain abuse.

Reason also ran a story called “ Wrecking Property Rights: How cities use eminent domain to seize property for private developers“.

As some of you know, eminent domain abuse is one of the particular pet peeves of mine. So go read these pieces and arm yourselves for when your municipality comes for your house for a strip mall.

Maintaining Proper Tequila Quality Assurance

Tightly Wound / Big Arm Woman discusses the United States / Mexico trade dispute over tequila, and she correctly describes tequila:

    It is designed to be drunk as quickly as possible, and to have its taste completely obscured by combinations of salt and lime. Tequila is anti-freeze with a twist.

Perhaps a twist would improve Mexican beer. Perhaps a twist of habanero could cover it up.

Heather’s Conversion Progresses

I suckered my beautiful wife into going to Borders today so I could acquire a copy of Virginia Postrel‘s The Substance of Style (and hey, look, it’s right next to Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, I’ll take one of those, too!).

Where what to my wondering-if-I-can-snag-another-book-before-Heather-finds-me eyes appear, but Heather (which meant I could not snag another book that I needed to put on my to-read shelves until 2012 or thereabout). And she’s carrying Laura Ingraham‘s Shut Up and Sing.

“You’ve got a book by Laura Ingraham!” I said.

“Who’s she?” Heather asked.

I could not explain to her that we conservatarian men have a special Hot Conservative Chick Sense that tingles to identify attractive women who think right. I mean, sure, sometimes we get false positives (like Ann Coulter–someone feed that woman, I think she’s going mad from hunger), but for the most part, we’re dead on.

Or maybe I heard her Ingraham’s radio show once.

Still, Heather bought a conservative screed on her own!

Eminent Domain Abuse on 60 Minutes

Reason magazine’s Hit and Run reports that the television news magazine 60 Minutes is going to run a piece about eminent domain abuse.

Reason also ran a story called “ Wrecking Property Rights: How cities use eminent domain to seize property for private developers“.

As some of you know, eminent domain abuse is one of the particular pet peeves of mine. So go read these pieces and arm yourselves for when your municipality comes for your house for a strip mall.

Maintaining Proper Tequila Quality Assurance

Tightly Wound / Big Arm Woman discusses the United States / Mexico trade dispute over tequila, and she correctly describes tequila:

    It is designed to be drunk as quickly as possible, and to have its taste completely obscured by combinations of salt and lime. Tequila is anti-freeze with a twist.

Perhaps a twist would improve Mexican beer. Perhaps a twist of habanero could cover it up.

Heather’s Conversion Progresses

I suckered my beautiful wife into going to Borders today so I could acquire a copy of Virginia Postrel‘s The Substance of Style (and hey, look, it’s right next to Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, I’ll take one of those, too!).

Where what to my wondering-if-I-can-snag-another-book-before-Heather-finds-me eyes appear, but Heather (which meant I could not snag another book that I needed to put on my to-read shelves until 2012 or thereabout). And she’s carrying Laura Ingraham‘s Shut Up and Sing.

“You’ve got a book by Laura Ingraham!” I said.

“Who’s she?” Heather asked.

I could not explain to her that we conservatarian men have a special Hot Conservative Chick Sense that tingles to identify attractive women who think right. I mean, sure, sometimes we get false positives (like Ann Coulter–someone feed that woman, I think she’s going mad from hunger), but for the most part, we’re dead on.

Or maybe I heard her Ingraham’s radio show once.

Still, Heather bought a conservative screed on her own!

More Corporate Tax Breaks to Help Ease Those Pesky Budget Surpluses

Some group called the Multistate Tax Commission has issued a report saying that Internet Service Providers should shed some of their tax burden. Hey, I’m all for lower taxes, but I’m a little worried when they start given little perks to some industries, because then the next one wants one, and suddenly my sales tax is at 20% and my property taxes are about 10% annually. Flat tax the corporations on their profits, but let’s not have our governments play favorites.

More troubling, though, is this from the mouths of the aristocracy:

    “State and local governments understand that consumers need to get Internet access,” Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Loren Chumley said in a telephone news conference announcing the study. “The bill that was passed goes far beyond that. It has the potential to wipe out all telecommunications-related tax levies.” [Emphasis mine.]

Any time our Illuminated Leaders start babbling on about what luxuries consumers need, I tremble, for I see the future growth of the Great Society, paid for by….the taxed consumers!

Let no Child be without Broadband!

Rubbish! Now get back to work.

Even More Signs You’re Getting Old

If you’re a newspaper columnist like Neil Steinberg, you muse on how long you have been married, had children, and have lived in the suburbs.

If you’re a newspaper columnist’s fan, you think, has it been three years already since he moved out of Chicago?

I need to start measuring my life in more meaningful units. Like meaningful relationships between characters in Friends. Oops, too late.