Month: September 2015


A referee in a professional soccer match in Brazil pulled a gun out during a game last week because he was tired of being treated poorly by players and coaches. And then out of habit, several players fell down and pretended they had been shot.

China is now home to the world’s longest glass bottom bridge, which hangs 600 feet over a canyon. It’s a great moneymaker. Access to the bridge is free, but they charge $400 for new pants.… Read the rest

On Stalin


Presented without comment:

“Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature. He was simple, calm and courageous. He seldom lost his poise; pondered his problems slowly, made his decisions clearly and firmly; never yielded to ostentation nor coyly refrained from holding his rightful place with dignity. He was the son of a serf but stood calmly before the great without hesitation or nerves. But also—and this was the highest proof of his greatness—he knew the common man, felt his problems, followed his fate.

“Stalin was not a man of conventional learning; he was much more than that: he was a man who thought deeply, read understandingly and listened to wisdom, no matter whence it came. He was attacked and slandered as few men of power have been; yet he seldom lost his courtesy and balance; nor did he let attack drive him from his convictions nor induce him to surrender positions which he knew were correct. As one of the despised minorities of man, he first set Russia on the road to conquer race prejudice and make one nation out of its 140 groups without destroying their individuality.”

W.E.B. DuBois (link)… Read the rest



Could everyone do me a favor?

Be careful when you use the conjunction “as.” I just saw this last Sunday: “The Big Ten is making a comeback, as they have not had schools in the top two of the rankings since back in 2006.”

That’s terrible, simply terrible. It’s insipid stylistically and screams, “I can’t be bothered with crisp prose.” Just write, “The Big Ten is making a comeback: it has not had schools in the top two since 2006.” Let the reader supply the obvious conjunction, instead of you supplying a vague one.

The conjunction “as” also tends to be ambiguous. It could mean “because,” “since,” or “while.” It’s not always bad, of course. Strunk and White supply a few examples of proper usage: “Chloe smells good, as a pretty girl should.”… Read the rest


Miscellaneous Rambling

Okay, I’m a bad Catholic. I wasn’t able to muster hardly any enthusiasm for Pope Francis’ trip. I was looking forward to it, but then I turned on the EWTN coverage when he arrived. I saw him shaking hands and smiling with President Obama, the architect of a health insurance plan that has inflicted enormous costs on me, the supporter of Planned Parenthood (which no decent person can sincerely support after revelation of those tapes), the promoter of the gay lifestyle. I turned it off and never watched another minute of coverage. I’ve read various news stories and caught snippets on Catholic radio, but that’s about it. * * * * * * * Don’t get me wrong: Pope Francis really had no choice but to be cordial with President Obama. But it still nauseated me. * * * * * * * What exactly is Pope Francis’ prudential position on immigration? Surely he doesn’t want the U.S. to become the welfare state for the entire world, does he? He can preach leniency, mercy, and compassion–and he should–but a line must be drawn. We know Vatican City draws its immigration line at virtually zero (for good reasons, I’m sure). Isn’t it reasonable for us to draw the line at 1,000,000 legal immigrants a year (plus 1,000,000 illegals that take advantage of our half-hearted enforcement attempts)? * * * * * * * I realize, of course, that the Pope is not here as a statesman, with concrete–prudential–proposals. That’s not his role, but the mere fact that he keeps bringing up immigration indicates he thinks the U.S. is unreasonable at 2 million a year. … Read the rest



The Meditations: Confessions of a Roman Opium-Eater? I doubt it, but it appears the last of the Good Emperors liked a bit of opium: Ten Historical Figures Who Used Opium.

Marcus Aurelius was never a physically strong man. However, being emperor of Rome, he was expected to lead his army. Because of his frailness, he was often sick from various ailments, and the cold bothered him most. He could barely eat during the daytime and was said to only eat at night, eating very little even then. To combat his sickness, Aurelius’s physician Galen prescribed him a medicine called theriac. It apparently worked, because Aurelius could endure the rigors of war as a result.

Of course, the drug that Aurelius received was opium. According to records by Galen, Aurelius couldn’t take the drug in the daytime because it made him too drowsy, but he took it every night because he couldn’t sleep without it. At the very least, he doesn’t seem to have been hopelessly addicted to opium, since he managed to write Meditations during this time. He most likely only used the drug as a painkiller and sleeping aid.

Read the rest



Michigan got a new Liquor Control Commissioner a few years ago. I don’t know him, but he seems to be doing a lot of things right. Although I still dislike dealing with liquor matters because it’s a morass of absurd restrictions created by special interests and a web of what I call “bureaucratic common law” (rules created by state employees that you can’t find in the statute or regulations, but that nonetheless create real problems for clients and give lawyers ulcers), our new Commissioner seems to be doing his best to reduce the red tape. Plus, the Michigan legislature has over the past ten years implemented a few (though not nearly enough) liquor code amendments that are helping a bit.

And regardless of how bad things are in Michigan under the 21st Amendment, we’re better off than Pennsylvania. Since I started my once-a-week blogging about alcohol matters, Pennsylvania’s absurd liquor laws have cropped up on my radar screen more than the laws of all other states combined.

The most recent example: Pennsylvania v. 2,447 Bottles of Wine . It seems a man brought 2,447 bottles of fine wine across the state border. He says he bought it for his private collection. The district attorney said he was selling it without a license. They compromised: He was allowed to keep 1,047 bottles for his collection. The authorities now have the other 1,400 bottles, and they’re preparing to destroy them because that’s what the Prohibition-era law requires.

Wine lovers are in arms. They and some legal scholars are insisting the judge read the Prohibition-era statute in light of current conditions.

I disagree. It’s a shame to … Read the rest


New York City plans to deploy an extra 6,000 police officers to help guard Pope Francis during his visit. It’ll be the most protection a Catholic has ever used.

President Obama this morning gave Pope Francis a sculpture of an ascending dove made with pieces of the Statue of Liberty and wood taken from the White House lawn, as well as a key to the house of the first American-born saint. The Pope then said, “Oh, I didn’t get you anything” and quietly put a $40 Starbucks gift card back in his pocket.… Read the rest