More thoughts, now that the Sazerac has worn off…

* Bill Simmons made this point well, but – what if the Miami Dolphins had chosen to sign Drew Brees over Daunte Culpepper? The Saints run doesn’t happen, Nick Saban probably doesn’t take the Alabama job, Peyton Manning probably wins another Super Bowl off the back of three Brett Favre interceptions and Texas probably beats Florida for the NCAA title this year, while the Tide fires Jim Leavitt after three mediocre seasons and some allegations of player abuse. And the Saints are probably the San Antonio Saints.

* King cake may be nature’s perfect food. When they invent bacon king cake, we will be able to say as a civilization, “All done.”

* Talk about regression to the mean. Peyton Manning, despite the best efforts of the NFL and its media concubines to force him down our throats as The Greatest Quarterback Of All Time Ever, is – in the final analysis – a .500 career playoff QB who luck-boxed his way into one Super Bowl win three years ago against a Bears team that was lucky to be there. Very pretty numbers, impressive regular-season figures, a regular berth in the playoffs (in a division that couldn’t be more sad-sack – I mean, two expansion franchises and the Titans post-McNair?) but when the big moment comes…a whoopsie-daisy.

* Best actual Super Bowl game since the Rams and Titans. Although last year was not bad. The figures bear it out, too – these last two have been the most-watched Super Bowls ever. And last night’s game was the most watched program ever on American television – even beating the numbers of the M*A*S*H finale some twenty-seven years ago. (WHIMPER. Hold me.)

* That absinthe’s a hell of a drug.

* If nothing else, New Orleans deserved to win because you KNOW that they will celebrate in a manner befitting the accomplishment. They may as well close the state of Louisiana for the week.

* The Skins will always be my #1, tragically, but if the need ever arises, Who Dat Nation – I’m yo’ huckleberry. 😉

Who. !-ing. DAT.

It’s not even my team. And yet.
I’m not ashamed to say I was blubbering like a hospital scene in a Mexican soap opera. They say the sign of maturity is when you’re able to be happy for others – well, I have never been this happy for the outcome of a Super Bowl in my entire hyperventilating life, including the Redskins’ last win in 1991-92.

Libertopia and its Discontents

Plenty of ink has already been spilled about the impending societal implosion of Colorado Springs. At least they have the Air Force Academy, so you know where the guns are.

The phenomenon of modern libertarianism never fails to amuse me. Down South, it basically stands for “the government should only be concerned with paying me my Social Security and killing brown people.” Everywhere else, it boils down to “I got mine, fuck you.” A bunch of people go out and read Ayn Rand and get in their heads that somehow they are the chosen few, the elect of society, and that it is only by their magnificence that humanity carries on.

(The exercise of how vital investment bankers are to the benefit of the American way of life is left as an exercise for the reader.)

What it boils down to is that these people want to live in the Wild West. They want to go armed all the time, because they want to have to go armed all the time, because they want no more restraint on them than can be resisted with the wave of a pricey custom 1911 chambered in .357SIG (which any idiot could tell you is nothing but hopped-up +P+ 9mm anyway). And if left far enough out in the woods, they could be let to do that. The problem is that the Senate gives the same representation to one-cow-one-vote square states that it does to places like New York or California, and the Senate is bound by weird and archaic rules that somehow make 59% a minority…but I digress.

The bigger problem are the ones who want to bring their libertarian paradise to the suburbs – or worse yet, the city. And the problem is that in the 21st century, there is a minimal level of government that is absolutely essential to urban life. In order to prevent the tragedy of the commons, or to facilitate a minimal level of public safety, somebody has to take responsibility for things like running water and trash collection. If you want to take a flight, you want to make sure the plane can take off and land – so there’s the FAA. If you turn the tap, you don’t want rat piss and cadmium coming out – and there’s the EPA. You can quibble about the cost or efficacy or whatnot, and no doubt some of the arguments will have merit, but the practical upshot is, you can’t run a 21st century society on 19th century rules.

This is part and parcel of why I think it will ultimately come down to shooting war – because the differences are being sorted out. Big blanket categories like conservative vs liberal, religious vs less so, rural vs urban, Republican vs Democrat, Dixie vs Everybody Else – the red vs blue divide is getting less purple with every passing year. This is why there’s no bipartisanship – because all those years of “bipartisan” legislation were brought to you by Boll Weevil Democrats and Gypsy Moth Republicans and people like Jacob Javits, who would never be a Republican today, and a whole lot of Southern Dems who either switched parties or retired and were replaced.

And here’s the kicker: almost three-quarters of Senate Republicans are only there since the Gingrich Revolution. They never read Sinclair or Oppenheimer or Fenno or “Folkways of the U.S. Senate” – and they are not particularly committed to any of those folkways. And they’ve been a lot less reticent about using the arcana of the Senate to their advantage, and you see what happens – clowns like Dick Shelby asserting a “blanket hold” on 70 – SEVENTY! – Presidential appointments.

The moral of the story is that the current American political institutions were not meant for a pole-seeking two-party system, similar to what they have in Britain or other parliamentary democracies. They were designed around two center-seeking parties with a degree of overlap in geography, ideology, and the like. And when you try to fit a 19th century system onto 21st century world, you shouldn’t be surprised when it creaks and groans – and ultimately doesn’t start up in the morning.


I’m getting close to doing away with the moral dilemma about selling my old firearms – or rather, my dad’s old firearms. My qualms about taking advantage of other people’s bigotry and ignorance for financial gain are being overwhelmed by the more pressing credo of “GIT MONEY,” and I think I’m pretty much OK with that.*

Of my remaining guns, two are the sort of beginner thing one gets at Western Auto or similar, a single-shot 20-gauge shotgun and a very old .22 which should probably be left for the Alabama nephews for when their father decides to take them hunting. Two more are going to be sold, and the last I’m keeping – a seventy-year-old Browning repeater shotgun that my maternal grandfather left to his son-in-law, which passed to me when he died.

I anticipate realizing a windfall in excess of a thousand bucks selling the two that I want to sell. Which is not a bad little extra to find in your bank account. The problem is, though, I don’t want to waste it, especially given the perspective – after all, that Sweet Sixteen is older than either of my parents, and the pistol I’m selling is basically a downsized version of the same gun Browning sold to the Army as the new standard sidearm in 1911.** If you want to know what kind of engineer John Moses Browning was, consider this: the armaments he designed for the US military in the WWI era were still in standard use into the 1980s, and a pistol he first designed in the mid-1920s (the Browning Hi-Power) is still the standard issue sidearm of about 50 countries to this day, just now starting to be replaced.

So I say that to say this: I don’t want to sell these things and trade the money for something that’s going to be gathering dust in the back of a drawer in four years. Which is not an idle comment – my personal laptop and home desktop computers have both cacked out; the former is no longer functioning (bad motherboard) and the latter is a pre-production design with a bad hard drive that cannot be replaced. The kinds of things I tend to sink money on – laptops and cell phones – are not the sort of thing one can buy and use continuously for twenty years, let alone seventy-five.***

It begs the question, though…what, in the modern world of 2010, can you buy that lasts until the next Olympics? Clothing, I guess, though I have enough DMs and outerwear to last me the rest of my natural life, and the tuxedo gets so little use I can’t imagine needing another one. Nor a suit for that matter; I have my one suit and it does for funerals and some weddings (this being California). Automobile? I have one, and even so, unless you get something superb, are you going to be driving it in twenty years?

Furniture, I suppose. Jewelry? Maybe.**** I could put it on the mortgage and say it’s part of the house, but that hardly feels like accomplishing much when it’s not even a whole month’s payment. Maybe invest in a new washing machine? (Hardly trivial since I do the laundry, but…not really what I had in mind, you know?) It begs the question…are our lives nowadays just that transitory? Are we permanently wed to this sense of impermanence? And is that lack of permanence the very kind of thing that provokes and worries the kind of people who have half a dozen guns?

* Well, maybe not OKAY okay, but I’ll live. Probably kick a hundred bucks to the Human Rights Campaign or something just to salve my conscience and poke a thumb in Cousin Pa’s eye.

** A Colt Government .380, if you must know. It amuses me how many gun-nut types consider the .380 ACP an inadequate cartridge for self-defense. My thinking is – you know what, I’ll take three shots at you with a .380, and then you can spend eternity bitching about how you can’t be dead because you were shot with a wimpy bullet. The “mouse gun” in my pocket trumps the custom match-grade .45 you left at home in a drawer by the bed.

*** To me, this is one of the ultimate indictments of our industry – at best, you can expect something you buy to last eight to ten years, because even if you have spare parts and extra batteries and take care of it, the technology will leave you behind in a decade. A laptop from 2000 might be feasible, if you had the presence of mind to pick up extra batteries and make sure to have the Wi-Fi option installed AND make sure it can run Ubuntu or something so you have a modern browser. A cell phone from 2000 might work IF you were on Powertel or Verizon or Sprint, and you’re in the right area and can get by on one frequency and no data, but if you have an AT&T wireless phone from 2000, you own a brick. I guess the moral of the story is if you want timelessness and permanence, major in history.

**** At this point I have given up on spending it on myself, as the only jewelry I would ever get at this point would be if somebody inexplicably voted me a championship ring. Which I don’t see happening. Then again, there’s always the tattoo option…