The Deadman Night Rider

A forum for evening students of the SMU Dedman School of Law and other outlaws..

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

42 Reasons Alito will make a great Justice

Akaka, Hawaii; Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Biden, Del.; Bingaman, N.M.; Boxer, Calif.; Cantwell, Wash.; Carper, Del.; Clinton, N.Y.; Dayton, Minn.; Dodd, Conn.; Dorgan, N.D.; Durbin, Ill.; Feingold, Wis.; Feinstein, Calif.; Harkin, Iowa; Inouye, Hawaii; Kennedy, Mass.; Kerry, Mass.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; Lieberman, Conn. (WTF??); Lincoln, Ark.; Menendez, N.J.; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Nelson, Fla.; Obama, Ill.; Pryor, Ark.; Reed, R.I.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.; Sarbanes, Md.; Schumer, N.Y.; Stabenow, Mich.; Wyden, Ore.;Chafee, R.I. (Idiot);Jeffords, Vt.(Idiot^2)

Friday, January 27, 2006

A tankard of grog for every man-jack! !

The Deadman crew is on double rations until further notice. We won one, boys. Burn 'er down to the water-line!!

"Ships sure ain't built for harbors..."

Heard that this morning in a Max Stalling tune while, once again, stuck in traffic and it struck a chord. I am so damn sick of brake lights and second gear that I can't stand it. What's the opposite of homesick? Wanderlust? Whatever it is, I've got it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Interesting stat

Sometimes you read an article and some little detail jumps out that seems more important than the real thrust of the piece. Check out this article in the New Republic on a proposed EU speculation tax. A tax on financial transactions is interesting and all, but here is what leapt out:

[O]nly about 18 percent of Europeans invest in the market (compared to 40 percent of Americans).

I'm sure there are alot of reasons for this, but probably one of them is a lesser need to save for retirement and so on due to the wider social welfare net. What this means, though, is that less than a quarter of Europeans have any direct financial stake in economic decisions their politicians make that affect the market. Anyone looking for 'root causes' of political differences between the States and the EU might want to start here...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Test your sense of humor-

If your sense of humor runs like mine, you'll get a kick out of this article on the possible tax ramifications of online transactions that take place in massive multi-player online games like Everquest and UltimaOnline.

You have to love an article that includes this quote from the IRS:

I don't think we're recognizing Dungeon and Dragon currency as legal tender.

The author has an interesting point, though--I have known people who ran thriving businesses on these games making crap like beer, black-leather bustiers, etc. Sure, they only rack up virtual gold pieces or whatever, but as Ebay shows, some of these virtual commodities translate right into real-world money value.

I've always thought this would be a fertile field for academic writing: these virtual worlds always seem to quickly develop real world problems like crime, racism, gangs, even prostitution. A guy in several of my accounting classes at UTA played Ultima (his wife was the one who specialized in making the black-leather outfits online) and always complained about the Japanese gangs that would rove around killing indiscriminately. He and a couple of other players had went in together to buy a house in the capitol city (a major purchase, but it allowed them to store more things). That was great until somebody came up with a way to 'break in' to the virtual mansions and loot them.

I guess when you think about it, tax/law geeks aren't all that far removed from D&D geeks after all.

PS--I couldn't resist. I just brought up Ebay and got a quick spot rate for Ultima's online currency. As of 10:45AM, 20 million in gold pieces had an auction bid of $112.99, while 10 million had a bid of $58.99. This obviously shows that the forex market hasn't quite developed, since the 20M bid is lower than the 10M per gold piece, but still they are remarkably close!! As a sideline, the Deadman may start tracking this stat.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hitting close to the mark...

An anonymous poster left this message concerning the previous post on heroin programs in Iran:

Gosh, all of talk about Iran and heroin junkies makes me want to pack up my bags asap and get back over there where the real action is!

While I'm pretty sure my mystery poster was kidding me a bit, there is actually alot to this--if there was one spot that I could magically put myself right now, Iran would be it (or as close as US citizens can get). Iran has the potential this year to overshadow Iraq as the major crisis spot in the world--here's some background.

Another angle that makes this more interesting for me in particular is the role Russia and China play in all of this, and the impact it will have on the energy markets for the next several years. Not just in politics, but even in finance, Russia and Central Asia are where the action is--check out this article on IPO's set for the London Stock Exchange this year originating from the area. We usually associate Iran with the Middle East, but it is actually more accurate to classify it as a Central Asian country since it shares long borders with the Former Soviet countries. If a reliable commerce circuit could open up through Iran, these countries would no longer be landlocked, so there is potential there as well.

Anyway, to sum up, maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea, but there's alot going on in that part of the world just now, and I'd be there in a heartbeat if I could. Maybe in just a couple more years...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

New heroin abuse program

Here's a Yahoo! article on a revolutionary heroin abuse program developed in Iran using a needle exchange program and methadone treatments.

I really think this program could work here, too.

If you're addicted to heroin and just can't kick the habit, we'll send you to Iran for methadone and clean needles.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

More Rose Bowl perversities

Perversity is a great economic term. When a policy or incentive has the opposite effect of what was intended--that's a perversity. An example is when minimum wage increases put people out of work.

It's the first thing I thought of when I saw UT quarterback Vince Young sitting behind a desk on ESPN today giving a press conference. I didn't even need the sound turned up to know the upshot: cashing in on the Rose Bowl hype, he's going to forego the irritating formality of a senior year and turn pro now.

From one standpoint, that's fine. People drop out of school to go to work all the time. It's not usually perceived as a good thing, though, especially when the dropout had fabulous amounts of scholarship money lavished on them and still can't make it across the stage. That's the perversity here: athletic scholarships are supposed to create degrees, not superstars (although, I read an article the other day that suggested athletic scholarships were originally created by the Ivy League to keep the number of Jewish students in check--I know that sounds like a joke, but it's not). Every taxpayer in Texas subsidized Young's entry into the NFL--I hope he remembers us when that first paycheck rolls in, but I wouldn't jump right out and tell Carol Strayhorn to be looking for a check.

In this day and age, can anyone out there tell me why in the world we use our public university system to operate a semi-pro farm league for the majors in the big sports? It's definitely not the money, at least from the school's point of view from looking at the books--even the most successful sports programs only break even, and there's definitely not a school out there that depends on ticket sales to pay professors. And it sure ain't to give poor deserving folk a chance at a degree: the NCAA dropped the idea of limiting bowl games to teams that have a record of graduating at least 50% (half!!) of their players when they realized NO ONE would qualify.

I would just brush this off if weren't for quotes like this:

Texas coach Mack Brown said Young will be missed but has "done as much for the University of Texas as any single student athlete in any sport has ever done."

What? What is that exactly?

Bonus question: can anyone tell me what Young's degree would have been in?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Another reason I'm not much of a sports fan...

Well, UT won the whatever Bowl last night, so Dallas is awash today in orange, while the usual OU and A&M gear is nowhere to be found. The Deadman actually saw some of the game last night since it was on at the gym (I am a Longhorn, after all). If the other folks working out last night ever got that worked up over a national election or jury duty, we might one day have a functioning democracy.

Anyway, check out this article from Slate on what happens to all the T-shirts, caps, and other crap that got printed up in the event of a USC win. There's something about this that's vaguely...wrong. It's like that scene in 1984 where they're having the big Hate Rally against Eurasia, then in the middle of the speech the guy reads an order from Big Brother telling them they're now at war with EastAsia instead, so they start tearing down all the signs, convinced they've always been at war with EastAsia and that spies put up all the wrong banners and posters (as a teenager, I thought this was a great simile for pep rallies). Then again, I've always been amazed at the number of grown men I've known (some of them highly-paid executives) who have good days and bad days based on the outcome of college football games. I mean, I like CSI Miami, but it's all the same to me whether the methed-up, secretly-pregnant hooker got killed by the aspiring rap star or the white-collar criminal in his SUV once the show's over--you let it go.

It seems a little patronizing to ship off-champ product out to the boonies, like they don't have satellite TV or newspapers. Gather 'round little childerns, Uncle Homie's got some Cotton Bowl caps for ya's! The folks back home wouldn't wipe their fat asses with 'em, but they're good enough for you! After all, it ain't like you can read or anything.

The flip side of this is that to an American, a 10-cent silkscreen printed on the exact same T-shirt decides whether it's worth $25 or $0. Proof positive that the ability to read does not equate to intelligence.

Some Deadman resolutions

Well, the St. Mary's Diva posted some New Year's Resolutions, so in that spirit, here are some from the Deadman:

1. Never again sacrifice mobility and flexibility. The world is getting faster, not slower.

2. Do something--anything--each and every day to bring that plane ticket closer.

3. Wring every last ounce of value out of this law school.

4. Forestall the gradual wasting-away of Russian and try to improve Spanish (goes with #2).

2005 wasn't easy and I'm glad to see it go. Hear's to a better '06!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Like clockwork -

Well, they were back tonight. The Resolution crowd turned out at the gym in full force, just as they do the first week of every January. By Valentine's day they'll be gone, their prepaid dues beautifully subsidizing the cost of the rest of the year's workouts for the rest of us, but we'll have to trip over them for a couple of weeks at least. For the next month, there'll be a sustained run on 30-pound dumbbells and a spot in front of the mirror.

If there's anybody out there who wants to last longer than that, here are a couple of tips:

Always go to the gym at the same time--6 PM, 8 PM, whatever. You'll start seeing the same familiar faces of that time slot's "crew" and little by little you'll become a part of it. Start with head-nods of acknowledgment and move up from there to "hey, man's" and pretend-guns with the thumb and forefinger. The people in this crew are a great source of motivation and advice.

Speaking of advice--only listen to advice from someone who's hesitant to give it. If someone prefaces their comments with "I don't usually tell people how to work out...", listen up: you're about to hear something valuable. Corollary: don't give advice. Ever.

Never sit on a machine or bench in between sets. The damn trainers actually encourage this little breach of etiquette because they allow their clients to do it while they're training them. The rest of us hate this, and you will grow to hate it too.

Cable crossovers are only good for bodybuilding magazine photo-shoots--they are not a real exercise in the strictest sense. Worse, they block access to the cable machine for better exercises. Even worse, crossover fanatics are also multi-set fanatics. I've never seen a crossover man who could stop at less than 10 sets.

Shadow-boxing in the mirror, much like dancing, should be done in the privacy of the home. I used to see this only in Russian gyms, but now this disturbing behavior is popping up on this side of the ocean.

Even if you don't feel like going, go in and do one exercise. The default fallback is the bench press. It's better to come in for 20 minutes, do a lackluster workout, and keep your consistency up than to create gaps in your workout regimen. If you can make it to the end of March, you've got it made--you'll be hooked by then, and next January you can bitch about the Resolution crowd like a grizzled veteran.

Can't stop the signal...

Over the holidays, the Deadman and his wife became Browncoats. If you haven't seen Serenity or the Firefly series, do yourself a favor. Great stories, characters you really care about--it's all there. I never saw the series when it came out, and now I'm glad I didn't as I would have been really upset when it got canceled after 14 episodes (some of which never even aired). I didn't even enjoy Angel this much!