Archives for September, 2007

“Rods from God”

A few months back, Thomas Sowell speculated wistfully about the possibility of a military coup. His latest column suggests brightening up those live TV car chases by having snipers in police helicopters whack the driver [h/t SN!]

When there is a police helicopter overhead, a shot straight down would have little chance of hitting some innocent bystander. Maybe the speeder is just someone out joy-riding but that does not make a reckless driver any less dangerous.

Moreover, this would not have to happen more than a few times before leading the police on a high-speed chase would lose a lot of its attractions — and some of those hundreds of innocent lives lost every year as a result of high-speed chases could be saved.

Now, maybe you read this and thought, how sad. This is the guy who wrote A Conflict of Visions and Knowledge and Decisions and other great books. But that wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was, this would be even crazier and more entertaining if he’d said we should take care of this problem with TUNGSTEN RODS dropped from OUTER SPACE!

Which in turn reminded me of possibly the funniest Trekcentralstation article of all time. And perhaps the funniest blogpost ever:

Jon Kyl [Mona Charen]

Sen. Jon Kyl is giving a speech right now at Heritage and it’s on C-SPAN radio. He’s discussing space weapons. Draft Kyl for President?

01/29 12:28 PM

Hey, why not, at this point?

Posted on Sep 13, 2007 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Reading Is Hard

Back in the day, a credulous reporter bought JFK’s assertion that he read 1200 words a minute, and apparently no one else questioned the young prince’s supergenius powers. Sure, why not? And then in his spare time, like Mao, he went out to instruct the nation’s surgeons on better technique.

I was reminded of that story when I read Slate’s excerpt from Robert Draper’s new book on GWB. In a late 2006 interview, the president brags that so far he’d read 87 books that year.

Is there any American with an IQ above room temperature who actually believes that? I am a fast reader. I’ve only gotten faster since law school. I like to read more than is good for me. When I come across that old bon mot that “some people say life is the thing, but I prefer reading,” I inwardly giggle nervously. And I’m reasonably sure that most years I have more uninterrupted reading time than the president of the United States. But I don’t think I’ve ever read 87 books a year, even when I was doing mostly fiction.

It’s odd when you think about it, that it was Al Gore who got in trouble for all the little innocent “I rule” sort of white lies.

Posted on Sep 9, 2007 in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

My Avatar Is So Rude

I just checked my long-half-dead hotmail account. I guess somehow a few years ago in a moment of weakness I signed up for a Linkedin account, which is free, and which, as I understand it, is for people who want to “network” in a professional sense, instead of post risque pictures of themselves online and announce that “Kirsten is feeling chartreuse today,” or meet for some virtual toetapping in that Great Airport Bathroom of the Cybersphere or whatever it is that you goddamned kids do. In any event, if I haven’t responded to your Linkedin invitation, it wasn’t because I think your pixels smell or because I thought you were too puny to help me achieve my dreams of Real Ultimate Power. It was because I don’t check my hotmail and the whole Linkedin thing was a mistake.

Posted on Sep 6, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Craig Cop, Cont.


An offhand line by Yglesias makes me think of the French Connection (Maybe it’s supposed to). Dave Karsina as Popeye Doyle: “Do you tap your feet in Minneapolis? Hey! Do you tap your feet in Minneapolis?? You did, didn’t you? You sat in that stall and you tapped your feet in Minneapolis!”

Posted on Sep 5, 2007 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

This Is Not My Beautiful Life

It may be the last vestiges of my former identity as a Republican sympathizer, but I feel very sorry for Larry Craig. Of whatever nightmares he harbored about exposure of his double life, this has to be the worst, and he and his family are living it.

I don’t feel sorry for the cop exactly. He’s engaged in a practice I find about as noble as scoping out New York City bars to see if anybody’s left out an ashtray in violation of the Bloomberg Codes. Can you really feel good about yourself after a day spent arresting and humiliating people who represent less of a threat to the social order than the squeegee guy? (Maybe this is the broken-window theory of policing.)

I don’t want to see or hear anybody having sex in an airport bathroom, but police procedure in this case is pretty aggressively preemptive. When I have to visit an airport bathroom, I’m generally more worried that there will be enough urine on the floor to make my shoes stick than I am that somebody may hit on me, let alone in a code I was unaware of until last week. Rather than spend tax dollars on this, can they get an extra guy to push a mop?

Be that as it may, there is a certain pathos to arresting officer Dave Karsina’s situation as well. On both ends of this arrest, this is a story about the many disappointments life may have in store for you. From the police report:

at about 1200 hours, I was working a plain-clothes detail involving lewd conduct in the main men’s public restroom of the Norhtstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal.

That is just about the worst job I could imagine, and I’ve spent time as a big firm lawyer. Most of us do all we can to avoid spending more than a couple of minutes in an airport bathroom standing up, to say nothing of sitting there all day, busting foot-tappers. What exactly did Karsina do to convince his superiors to foist the shit detail on him? Even Serpico wasn’t punished like this.

I’m reminded of Dana Priest’s groundbreaking story on the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, which reveals that:

Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip.

Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution had some fun with the story when it first came out, in a post called “The Part They Don’t Tell You about James Bond.”

And you do wonder: did the guy who made his career in the Agency, who worked his way up to a prestigious covert action spot–did he have other dreams? Was his head filled with John Le Carre and Ian Fleming as he made the sacrifices necessary to get that job? All to end up in a Ninja suit carrying a warm rubber bag. “When I heard about wet work, I didn’t picture this, goddamnit.”

And what inspired Dave Karsina to join the force as a young man? Did he do it to Serve and Protect, and occasionally administer rough justice to a perp who had it coming? Was he inspired by countless cop shows and movies where the grizzled lead guy is ornery, unorthodox, and yes, sometimes brutal–though goodhearted and loyal under it all–and gets called out on the carpet by the pencil pushers who run the precinct? Did the theme from “Hill Street Blues” echo through Karsina’s head as he sat there in the main restroom of the “Northstar Crossing” at Lindbergh Terminal in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, listening to other people crap? Or was there instead a silent scream: “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?

Posted on Sep 2, 2007 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments