The Deadman Night Rider

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

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little reverse homesickness

Feeling the yen especially keenly this morning for some reason, so I noodled around for some photos, and found these from Aktau. I've heard it's become a nice little resort since I was there years and years ago. The tradition is to take a bar trip after the exam, so maybe I'll treat myself to two or three weeks in KZ this summer.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A glimpse of things to come

WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - U.S. economic and political clout will decline over the next two decades and the world will be more dangerous, with food and water scarce and advanced weapons plentiful, U.S. spy agencies projected on Thursday.

The report predicts that the dollar will lose its place as the premier currency of the world, and

Global wealth [will shift] from the developed West to the energy-rich Gulf States and Russia, and to Asia, the rising center of manufacturing and some service industries.

Meanwhile (my prediction), we will remain slaves to our houses, cars, and credit card bills. I'm constantly berated for saying that the real opportunities for the next several years lie well outside the States, but the evidence is finally mounting. Wishing it weren't true is not going to stop it, friends and neighbors. I just wish I was still in a position to capitalize on it, or that I can find a way to recapture that chance.

Deadman Heroes of the Week

The Indian Navy:

"India's navy sinks pirate ship"

Note to the rest of the world: go on ahead with out us

Scrap the bail-out and the economic stimulus plan--let's just pull the plug right now. It's obvious we're going to remain a nation of idiots for some time:

In a state where football is king, students who pass, kick and tackle will soon be able to get more credit toward high school graduation.

After lengthy debate that pitted coaches against some school reform advocates, the State Board of Education approved a plan Wednesday to give football players – and other high school athletes – twice as much credit.

The proposal, which could go into effect as early as next school year, would allow four years of sports to count as elective credits toward graduation instead of the current maximum of two years.

The board's 10-5 vote followed often emotional debate, with both Dallas members – Republican Geraldine Miller and Democrat Mavis Knight – voting no.

Supporters said the move would keep kids in school and spur them to do well in academic courses. Critics charged that the plan would de-emphasize academics and return to the days of "football comes first."

This is especially poignant given this column from Leonard Pitts in yesterday's Dallas Morning News that raises an excellent question about the Obamas' choice of school for their children to attend in DC (almost certainly a private school): if our public schools aren't good enough for the President's children, why are they good enough for any of our children?

Let me jump off on that point--since there's an even chance that at least one of Obama's daughters will be in high school by the time he leaves office, do you think the high school that she will attend will give four years of credit for athletics? Or do you think maybe it might eschew that choice in favor of rigorous math/science, arts, and foreign language requirements? You think that school will give a damn about students whose goals and motivations are so upside down that they need to be lured into a classroom with a damned toy? Given all that, you think maybe we should make our public schools look more like the kind of schools our elites send their kids to, instead of less??

Alright, I know I'm just whizzing into the wind on this one. Just like gardening and giving a damn what color the kitchen is, I've tried to understand this deal--watch the games, read the stats, listen to ESPN radio--and it just ain't in me. Someone who does understand it--enlighten me: are sports really so damn important that we have to send everything else to hell over them?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The sickness of houses continues

It's entirely possible the YouTube lady was right that she no longer has to worry about paying her mortgage. Under this new plan, if you're underwater or close to it, you can get your payment cut to around 38% of your income (through haircuts on the interest rate, re-fi over a longer period, or even principal write-offs):

Peter Schiff, president of Euro Pacific Capital, predicts that many homeowners who have little or no equity will stop paying their mortgage and then reduce their income to get the biggest payment cut possible. They could stop working overtime or, if two spouses work, one could quit. After the modification, they could try to boost their income again.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Schiff says. "People are going to feel like complete morons if they don't participate. The people getting punished are the ones who never made an irresponsible decision to buy a house they couldn't afford."

The government is offering loan servicers $800 for every homeowner they get into the plan.

Understand me any better now when I say I wish I'd never left Aytrau??

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Some things you just can't say in English

Every once in a while, as I'm scanning through the radio, I'll hear a song on one of the Spanish language stations that must play mostly pop music from Spain that sounds really cool. Today was one of those days--if I'm lucky, I can snatch out just enough of a phrase to type into Google to find it. Today I was in luck. Of course I didn't know what she was singing until I could read the lyrics and parse it out, but when I did, man, what a kick in the gut. Those Spaniards sure know how to write a song!

Here's the link to YouTube if anyone wants to see it there.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

A little culture

The painting is "A Knight at the Crossroads" by Viktor Vasnetsov, from 1878. Pretty cool, huh?

Alot of the Deadman's companions are standing in front of that stone right now, and I've definitely stood there myself. Stand fast, my friends!!


A couple of people, like Andria, have looked around to see what the stone says, and found the inscription "If you ride to the left, you will lose your horse, if you ride to the right, you will lose your head." I have also seen it as "If you go straight, you will lose your life, left, your horse, right, your head." Based on one of the words I can barely make out on the stone, I think this last one might be it, but I can't tell for sure.

Anyway--a little more culture: one of recurring the themes of Russian literature seems to be the struggle between fatalism and free will. (For example, the last chapter of Lermontov's A Hero of Our Times). I think that puts a neat spin on the conundrum. For fatalists, the choices do look pretty grim--life, horse, head. True, the Russians have a penchant for the no-win situation.

But, if you reject the idea that all outcomes are necessarily foretold, the stone simply gives an indication of the nature of the dangers that lie ahead. In that case, straight and left seem to be hardships like penury and privation (maybe even slavery), things that can only be endured. On the other hand, the right hand road seems to indicate a violent battle with a physical enemy--one who possibly could have weaknesses, and perhaps can be defeated. I hope that I would turn right.

But the last thing that I like about the painting is the skull of the man and a horse on the ground in front of the stone--maybe a traveler who simply couldn't decide? Recognizing my own weaknesses, this is the one that I find the most disturbing...