Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Even Cinderella Gets Dumped

It's been a bad night for some readers of Alico Dreams.  The bottom half of the Western Conference bracket is set: San Antonio Spurs v. N'Awlins Hawnits.  I confess--I rooted for the Hawnits, but not because I was hoping the Spurs would play them in the semifinals--I was rooting for the Hawnits because they're this year's Cinderella.  But even Cinderella gets dumped.  The Spurs will trounce all over Chris Paul & Co. on their way to the Lakers.  (Sorry Jazz/Rockets fans.  It's just not in the cards.)  But even if not, then I'll root for N'Awlins to beat the NBA's Yankees on their way to sweeping the Pistons in the finals.

It looks like it's gonna be a good summer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

It Takes Time

Right after we got married, I found a job at a hardware store working from 7:30 to 5:30 Monday through Saturday.  That's about 60 hours a week, which, thankfully, is less than 65:

It is not possible to have a successful marriage if you work 65 hours a week.

Wow.  Not possible.  Those are pretty strong words.  I only worked there for 6 months.  I know that a few of my readers have been in the real world.  Did any of you work 65 hours a week?  How did it impact your marriage?

Monday, April 28, 2008

You can't win'm all

But at least you can have class:

[Suns coach Mike] D'Antoni drew two technicals and was ejected with 3:38 to play and his team up 104-80.

So reports ESPN in its recap.  The video highlights add that D'Antoni was arguing about who had possession of the ball after it went out of bounds.  He was probably mad that the Spurs had cut the deficit from 30 points to just 24.  Maybe he was afraid we might still win it.

Congratulations, Suns, you didn't get swept.  See you in San Antonio.

Go Spurs Go!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Famous Last Words

I read one of the greatest last lines ever the other day:

Underground, the story continued.

-Richard Adams's Watership Down.  What a great way to say "And they lived happily ever after."

Friday, April 25, 2008

Watership Down

I’ve just finished Richard Adams’s Watership Down. In the words of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Astonishing . . . Everyone who can read English should read it.

I concur wholeheartedly. I picked it up because I heard that it heavily influences the writers of LOST, but I finished it because it’s just so good. Pick it up. You won’t regret it.

My shelf of books to read is now down to just 126 books.

I like math problems, too

I read a fascinating article this morning about the psychology of stereotypes:

Past research has shown that a particular region of the brain’s frontal lobe becomes active when we detect conflict in our thinking—between an easy stereotype, say, and a more reasoned and complex view. But actually overriding stereotypical thinking requires another part of the frontal lobe. [Belgian psychologist Wim] De Neys basically wanted see if stereotypical thinking is a detection problem or a self-control problem.

. . . .

De Neys watched volunteers’ brains as they puzzled through this and similar problems [pitting statistical probability against stereotypical conclusions]. He found . . . that the brain’s stereotype detector lit up regardless of whether the subject answered stereotypically or rationally. So apparently we all detect the stereotype and recognize that it is out of sync with reality. But the brain’s inhibition center—the part of the brain that says, “No, I am not falling for that simplistic idea”—lit up only when the subjects . . . overrode the stereotype and made a calculation based on probability. Apparently some of us find the ready caricatures too tempting and use them anyway, against our better judgment.

Fascinating.  We can get past our stereotypical thinking, we just have to learn how.  Knowledge is power, eh?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Go Spurs Go II

Please forgive me.  I'm trying not to be a sore winner, but I've only rooted for a winning team once.  But my team . . . woo!!  102-96 puts us up 2-0!

I apologize to Suns and Mavs fans, but . . . I was rooting for the Raptors, the Flames, and the Capitals.  Not mention--cough, cough--the Rangers.

So the way I see it, my (sports) life sucks more than yours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What's your favorite book? is trying to figure out the world's favorite book, London's Guardian reports:

Scoffing at parochial attempts to find Britain's favourite book, is aiming to establish the world's number one books, films and albums - and to use a bigger sample than any previous taste survey. The target is 50,000 top fives by July, and there are strenuous efforts underway to get it built into all the most popular social networking sites.

I'm signing up tonight.  Let's show the Brits what real lit'rature is.

Monday, April 21, 2008

That is so 400 years ago

Some people think they want to be a pirate.  That can be more than a pipe dream or a day in September when you say arrr.  To make your dreams come true, just take a boat to Somalia:

Piracy was up 20 percent in the first three months of 2008, and attacks show no signs of subsiding in April. As usual, the waters off Somalia’s coast are a hot spot . . . .

You'll probably get impressed

Or if you'd rather be Sir Francis Drake, the Dutch Navy is escorting UN aid ships while the French and Spanish Navies are working on freeing hijacked ships.

You, too, can live a life at sea, where every one of us has all he needs.  Sky of blue and sea of green . . .

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Go Spurs Go

SanAntonioSpursABAlogoWe were playing a card game at my in-laws' last night, and my wife and her brother were being sore losers.  No big deal, but it got me thinking about how long-time Rangers fans don't have a choice but to learn how to be good losers.  We make fan-lives out of "maybe next time."

That's why I've come to love the Spurs this year.  I first liked the Spurs because I love the city of San Antonio.  But it doesn't hurt that they actually win games.  Like today's game.  I can't often refer to games in which my teams play as "heartbreakers" and smile.

By the way, I look forward to the Spurs beating the Hornets in the quarters.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Deadball Era II

There's something strange going on in Major League Baseball this year.  I haven't done the math, but it really seems like a lot more pitchers are throwing complete games.  That's probably because they're throwing fewer pitches per game, which probably has something to do with the Mitchell Report.  Now I'm just spitballing here . . .

Last night had a great game.  Rockies 2, Padres 1, after 22 innings:

Let's play 2½!


Colorado and San Diego did just that Thursday night and into Friday morning, slogging through a 22-inning game that was the longest in the majors in nearly 15 years.

Elsewhere in the recap, it notes that the game lasted 6 hours and 16 minutes.  That's the longest in Padres history by innings (it missed longest by time by one minute) and the longest in Rockies history anyway you count it.

Since I love pitching, it looks like it'll be a great year!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

I try to follow Waco politics, especially who represents the 17th Texas in D.C., but I have just now learned the name of Chet Edwards's opponent in November: Rob Curnock*.  Today, we learned that Edwards is leading Curnock in funding by about $1,221,999.  As of that posting, Edwards had raised $1,288,190 to Curnock's $6,191.  I learned in my undergrad poli sci classes that experts call that an "uphill battle."  But that's OK with Mr. Curnock:

"If my opponent wants to ignore me all the way through November that is fine. That is perfect,” he [told Waco Trib reporter David Doerr]. “We’re doing what we’re doing and he can do what he does, which is bring in all the money he brings in and to do his thing. But we are going to be an issue based campaign and that is what we are going to base the campaign on through the fall.”

I'm not really sure what that means, but Republicans are sick and tired of a Republican president being represented by a long-time Democrat.  Wait--that won't be an issue in November.


*Note to self--When running for Congress against a 9-term congressperson, make sure Wikipedia is not the first site Google returns.

$ = (: ?

Abso-stinkin-lutely crazy.  A Wall Street Journal blog reports that a new study by economists shows that, even if money can't directly buy happiness, it can buy you the things that make you happy:

While research has also found that some of the things that make people happiest — short commutes, time spent with friends — have little to do with higher incomes, the article points out money can facilitate such things. It can allow trips to see relatives not seen in years or places never visited. (I’d say it could also help with commuting, allowing a comfortable home near work or taking a cab instead of bus, for example.) When you’re richer, the article says, you can decide to work less — and spend more time with your friends.

Doesn't this go against everything you've been taught at school and church since third grade?  It makes me question John & Paul's famous lament: "I don't care too much for money 'cause money can't buy me love."

But then I remember that I trust John & Paul more than I will ever trust an economic study to light the hall to happiness.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Credit Is Due

The Master of Ceremonies of my Secured Transactions class published an article cited by Vernon's Texas Codes Annotated after section 9.335 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code.  "Certificates of Title in Texas under Revised Article 9," by Larry T. Bates, can be found at 53 Baylor L. Rev. 735 (2001).  Some of you may or may not be aware that this very same Larry T. Bates occasionally goes by the moniker "Prof. K" or "Dee Jay § 9-324."

Did you get my pun?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Yes or No

I read recently that the essence of leadership is deciding. Good leaders decide, whether their decisions are right or wrong. That decisiveness, in the long-run, serves everybody better than taking too long to make sure you make the right decision. The Washington Post agrees:

It is time to stop playing games with judicial nominees. As senators cross swords and point fingers, seats remain empty, sitting judges get swamped, and cases drag on. Those who pay the highest price are the plaintiffs, defendants, crime victims and businesses relying on the courts to resolve disputes and dispense justice.

President Bush deserves blame for not naming nominees sooner and for ignoring the advice of home-state senators. But that does not relieve senators of their duty to evaluate those who have been nominated. The Senate last week confirmed one Court of Appeals nominee and four U.S. District Court nominees; that should be only the beginning. In the past two years, the Senate has confirmed seven nominees to the Court of Appeals; 16 such nominees were confirmed during President Bill Clinton's final two years in office. It appears unlikely that Democratic senators will match that number, but they should at least give every current nominee an up-or-down vote and expeditiously process the nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, where five of the court's 15 seats are vacant.

We gave the Democrats a chance to turn things around 18 months ago, but they haven't done much but be petulant and childish. We're all worse off for it. Where are Daniel Webster and Henry Clay when you need them?

Monday, April 14, 2008

This just in: North = South

There are some things you never expect to hear.  Like this:

Our pitching kept us in the games but our offense isn't getting it done. We're not getting the back-to-back hits. We're frustrated right now.

Quoth the Ranger David Murphy.*  What?  Our pitching?  Our pitching hasn't kept us in games since the Kenny Rogers Era.  Maybe not since Kevin Brown won 21 in 1992.  But I can dig it.



*Ten points if you can name the allusion.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Texas Lawyer Blog: Rhyme and reason

I love poetic judicial opinions:

Don Willett, the newest – and youngest – justice on the Texas Supreme Court, must have had the new movie “Horton Hears a Who” in mind when he wrote a concurring opinion in April 11's Lewis v. Funderburk, a medical-malpractice case that deals with a plaintiff’s submission of a second expert’s report after the report submitted by the plaintiff’s first expert was deemed inadequate. According to Willett’s concurring opinion, an extension can forgive a deficient report, not an absent report. “If reports are missed, not just amiss, courts are remiss if they do not dismiss,” Willett wrote. Now that’s poetic justice.

Texas Lawyer Blog: Rhyme and reason

But Geordi LaForge Was Awesome

Geordi LaForgeI spent most of junior high either with my nose stuck in a science fiction novel or walking around the construction sites in my neighborhood making up my own science fiction.  But I'm no Trekkie, and finally somebody has figured out that not everybody who loves science fiction loves Star Trek.

Some of us loved Star Wars.

Why I recommend "You Can Negotiate Anything"

by Herb Cohen

Tonight, I finished You Can Negotiate Anything. I recommend reading the book for its countless minor lessons, but the two major lessons for me were:

(1) Everything that is produced by negotiation is subject to negotiation. Just because the store puts a sign up doesn’t mean you (or they) have to abide by it. The person with whom you’re dealing decides whether to do what you want—not the sign. So don’t be afraid to ask.

(2) Find the real problem. A lot of times when we’re negotiating, we think it’s just a matter of whose number wins, but it’s really a lot more complicated than that. Different people have different needs, and meeting both parties’ needs doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

At 255 pages, it’s not a terribly long book, and it reads pretty quickly. Cohen writes with wit and the lessons you learn make the time invested worth it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rabbit = Fabled Hero

I’m making headway on reading every book I own. Last night, I started Watership Down by Richard Adams. I’m not sure what the book is about, but the characters are all rabbits (so far). I’m reading Watership Down for two reasons. First, I hear that the writers of the TV show Lost allude to it a lot. And second, an old professor of mine taught Modern Political Theory using this book as his primary text. Since I love both Lost and policital theory, I decided to pull it off my to-read shelf and put it on my currently reading shelf.

Famous Last Words

The American Book Review has placed 100 novels on its shortlist of best last lines.  In response, the Guardian's books blog wonders why we memorize the last lines of movies and immortalize the last words of our heroes, but nobody talks much about the last lines of books.  That got me thinking about it, and I wanted to share the last lines from three books that I love.  Please let me know your favorite last lines in the comments.

If you loved the Oscar-winning film version of The Godfather (and who didn't?), then you will surely love the novel.  I turned the last page with the same relish with which I had watched The Exorcist's* credits scroll:

She emptied her mind of all thought of herself, of her children, of all anger, of all rebellion, of all questions.  Then with a profound and deeply willed desire to believe, to be heard, as she had done every day since the murder of Carlo Rizzi, she said the necessary prayers for the soul of Michael Corleone.

From that classic of freshman English, Great Expectations:

I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.

Finally, from one of the funnest books I ever read:

He glanced back at Beth and Harry.  They both looked tired.  Beth stared into space, preoccupied with her own thoughts.  But her face was serene; despite the hardships of their time underwater, Norman thought she looked almost beautiful.

"You know, Beth," he said, "you look lovely."

Beth did not seem to hear, but then she turned toward him slowly.  "Why, thank you, Norman," she said.

And she smiled.

Sure, you need a little context for that, but trust me, Michael Crichton couldn't have ended Sphere any better.

Again--if you've got any classic last lines, I'd love to hear them.  Put'm in the comments.


*The Exorcist is the most satisfying movie I have ever seen.  Maybe not the best, scariest, most exciting, or most heart-warming, but the most satisfying.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I'm Making It Official

I’m officially trying to read every book I own. I’m using two websites to help me keep track: and They also let you add widgets to your website if you have one. I’ve only got about 100 books to go . . .

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Why I recommend "I Am Legend (Full-Screen Edition)"

Will Smith is one of my favorite actors and one of the best actors of our generation. I Am Legend should be added to his proud shelf. He plays a military virologist trying to discover the cure for a cancer vaccine that ran amok and killed about 5 1/2 billion people and turned most of the rest into “dark seekers.” Now, he seems to be the last surviving regular human, with only his daughter’s dog as a companion—but even that isn’t guaranteed forever.

Some critics have said that the monsters just aren’t scary enough, but I say that the real monster is the isolation. This is more than just another “will science go too far” movie—this is a movie about six months after we’ve gone too far.

Saturday, April 05, 2008