We’re number 1! We’re number 1!

November 21st, 2017

Texas leads the nation in Thanksgiving cooking fires.

Obit watch: November 20, 2017.

November 20th, 2017

Man, it was a weekend, wasn’t it? Sorry I didn’t get to some of this yesterday, but I spent a large part of the day foraging for food in Westlake (Why is it so hard to find a restaurant that’s open on Sunday in that part of town?) and then on an expedition to Pflugerville to visit the new Aldi grocery store. (The natives are wary, but I think we started to win them over.)

Anyway: Malcolm Young, AC/DC co-founder. I feel a musical interlude coming on, but I think I’ll do a jump first.

Mel Tillis, who sang both types of music: country and western.

He even went so far as to make the nickname Stutterin’ Boy, conferred upon him by the singer Webb Pierce, the title of his autobiography (written with Walter Wager and published in 1984), and to have it painted on the side of his tour bus. He also named his personal airplane Stutter One and referred to his female backup singers as the Stutterettes.

Dr. John C. Raines is dead at the age of 84. This name is probably not familiar to you, but the story is interesting.

Dr. Raines, along with seven others, broke into a FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania on the night of March 8, 1971 (during the Frazier-Ali fight) and stole a large number of FBI internal documents. They later released those documents to the press and to members of Congress.

The burglary, and subsequent lawsuits by NBC and others, prompted a groundbreaking investigation in 1975 by the so-called Church committee, a special Senate panel led by Senator Frank Church of Idaho. The committee revealed details of the F.B.I.’s secret Cointelpro, or counterintelligence, operation, which included illegal sabotage of dissident groups deemed to be subversive.

The NYT obit gives a pretty good summary of the whole affair. But, if you’re interested, I recommend The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger: it gives a detailed account of the planning, the execution, the aftermath, and what happened to the principals (as of 2013-2014).

Last, and definitely least, Charles Manson is burning in Hell. NYT. LAT. Lawrence.

I’ve felt for a while now that we would be much better as a culture if we all agreed to ignore Manson, beyond providing him with basic human needs (food, shelter, medical care). No publicity, no interviews, no cover versions of his “music”: we should have just let him rot silently.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, they’re all together spooky, the Manson family.

Mr. Manson was a semiliterate habitual criminal and failed musician before he came to irrevocable attention in the late 1960s as the wild-eyed leader of the Manson family, a murderous band of young drifters in California. Convicted of nine murders in all, Mr. Manson was known in particular for the seven brutal killings collectively called the Tate-LaBianca murders, committed by his followers on two consecutive August nights in 1969.

I do like that paragraph: “semiliterate habitual criminal and failed musician”, indeed. This one, too:

Manson was a pathetic, cowardly con man & should be remembered for that alone.

Time for a palate cleanser. After the jump, musical interludes.

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Your loser update (plus bonus firings): week 11, 2017.

November 20th, 2017

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:


San Francisco had a bye this week, so they remain at 1-9. And shockingly, the New York Football Giants actually won another game. (Against Kansas City, in overtime, 12-9. That must have been another titanic offensive struggle.)

I think that’s going to mess up their shot at a high first-round draft choice. Sorry, Infidel.

Firings: Jim Mora fired as head coach at UCLA. After six seasons. On his birthday. “Happy birthday. Here’s your present: it’s a pink slip.”

But don’t cry too hard:

UCLA announced it would honor the terms of Mora’s contract, which included four more seasons and a buyout of roughly $12 million, using exclusively athletic department-generated funds. That money, secured in part from lucrative television deals and the recent mega-apparel contract with Under Armour, will preclude boosters from having to write a large check.

Mora compiled a 46-30 record at UCLA, including four bowl appearances, a Pac-12 South Division title in 2012 and 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014. But his teams have gone 10-17 since late in the 2015 season.

Marcus Satterfield out at Tennessee Tech. 6-16 over two seasons.

Edited to add: This seems to be official now: Denver fired offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. The team is 3-7 and has lost six games in a row.

Obit watch: November 16, 2017.

November 16th, 2017

Ferdie Pacheco, Muhammad Ali’s fight doctor and later television boxing analyst.

“When Ali wouldn’t quit the exciting world of boxing, I did,” he wrote in “Muhammad Ali: A View From the Corner” (1992), one of several books he wrote. “If a national treasure like Ali could not be saved, at least I didn’t have to be part of his undoing.”

Firings watch.

November 15th, 2017

Jeff Long out as athletic director of the University of Arkansas. Football coach Bret Bielema seems to have a job for now, but there’s widespread speculation he will be the next to go.

The Razorbacks are 4-6 overall and 1-5 in SEC games this season and have a program-record five losses of 20 points or more.

Stretching the definition of firing a wee bit: if you are a college football player, try to avoid punching one of your assistant coaches in the head twice.

Because that behavior doesn’t just get you benched: it gets you thrown off the team and expelled from the university.

TMQ Watch: November 14, 2017.

November 15th, 2017

Right at the 5,200 word mark again. It really does seem like Gregg Easterbrook has an editor. Maybe. But we’ll get into that.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Headline of the day.

November 13th, 2017

These crabs can grow up to 3 feet, but did they eat Amelia Earhart?

Firings and obits: November 13, 2017.

November 13th, 2017

Butch Jones volun-told to leave as head coach of the Tenessee Volunteers. He was 34-27 over five seasons, and 14-24 in the SEC. The team is currently 4-6, with all six losses being to other SEC teams.

For the record (I’m a little behind. Sorry.): John “Howard Johnson” Hillerman. You know, I had no idea he was a native Texan…

And speaking of other Texans who have died: Liz Smith, notorious gossip columnist.

Your loser update: week 10, 2017.

November 13th, 2017

NFL teams that still have a chance to go 0-16:


I’m somewhat conflicted over this.

On the one hand, I’m disappointed that we don’t have two teams contending for the Owen-16 trophy.

On the other hand, I still think the Browns have a good chance of losing out. (The next game that I think they’re in real danger of winning is December 3rd against the Chargers.)

On the gripping hand, we could have a situation where there are three 1-15 teams contending for high first round draft picks: the New York Football Giants, the 49ers, and the Browns. I’m not sure how the NFL determines precedence in this situation, but friend of the blog Infidel should be happy that there’s at least a chance…

TMQ Watch: November 7, 2017.

November 8th, 2017

One thing we’ve noticed about new TMQ in the light of recent events: Easterbrook hasn’t had anything to say in the column about recent mass shootings, especially in regard to “reasonable gun control”. Easterbrook hasn’t been shy about this before (and we’ve called him out on his bolshie bushwa before, too), so the absence of this in his Weekly Standard TMQ columns seems unusual. Almost like someone is editing him.

Not that we’re complaining: the less time we spend pressure-testing our cerebral arteries, the better we feel.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Obit watch: November 8, 2017.

November 8th, 2017

Roy Halladay, former pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, was killed in the crash of his small plane yesterday. Tampa Bay Times. Miami Herald.

There are a few things in these articles that are…interesting. The plane was an ICON A-5:

The A5 is a single-engine, high wing aircraft that seats two people. It’s amphibious, so it can land on solid ground or water. It’s unique in that its wings fold to allow towing.
The plane is a light sport aircraft, meaning it falls below certain weight and maximum speed thresholds. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates fewer hours of training for light sport pilots.

Here’s a run-down of the sport pilot requirements from the EAA. But this is interesting because Mr. Halladay was pretty well trained:

Halladay said last March that he had accrued about 800 hours in the air. He had received his instrument rating and multi-engine rating. He was working toward a commercial rating.

(The A-5 also has some interesting safety features: it isn’t absolutely clear to me that the $389,000 “Founders Edition” comes standard with the parachute, but for that money, I’d expect it to come with everything including a full IFR panel and Otto Pilot.)

Halladay did not file a flight plan Tuesday, according to flightaware.com, which tracks aircraft movement. The National Weather Service reported clear skies and unlimited visibility in the area at the time of the crash.

So it sounds like he was flying VFR in CAVU conditions. RoadRich or someone else with more light aircraft experience can correct me, but the way I understand it, it’s perfectly normal not to file a flight plan for VFR flights.

No recording devices were recovered in the wreckage, according to the sheriff.

Of course, light sport aircraft and small planes aren’t required by FAA regulations to have recording devices.

Halladay is not the first Major League player to die piloting a plane, joining former New York Yankees captain Thurman Munson in 1979, the Chicago Cubs’ Ken Hubbs in 1964 and most recently Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who crashed a small aircraft in New York City in 2006. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ Roberto Clemente also died in a plane crash, as a passenger on a mission to deliver aid to Nicaraguan earthquake victims in 1972.

I’m not sure why they threw in the reference to Roberto Clemente, since he wasn’t piloting the DC-7 that crashed, and (from what I’ve read) that was just a completely f-ed up situation.


November 6th, 2017

You may have noticed that I didn’t make my usual happy Guy Fawkes Day post yesterday.

I was a little tied up in the morning at Wurstfest. Though I got home in the afternoon with plenty of time to make a post, by that point I’d been overtaken by events. It just didn’t seem right to make that post.

However, I ran across this article last night (by way of the Hacker News Twitter) and thought it was worth sharing. Especially this part:

Ottery St Mary goes one step further. As well as the traditional West Country style carnival procession and a bonfire, they also burn tar barrels. The hardy competitors – who have to have been born in the town – don’t roll the barrels through the streets, a tradition suppressed in other areas in the 19th century, but run with the burning barrels on their shoulders until the heat becomes too unbearable or the barrel breaks down.

“Let’s carry burning barrels of tar through the streets on our shoulders! What could possibly go wrong!”

From Ottery St. Mary’s website for the event (note the URL):

This event becomes very crowded and you are in close proximity of fire and burning tar barrels. If you are scared by flames and do not like being in crowded areas then this event is not for you!

I’m not making fun of these people: the event sounds like a lot of fun to watch from a safe distance. I would love to see this in person some day. And you have to like any event that says, “Don’t get dressed up: wear sensible clothes and shoes.”

4. You must watch the barrel movement at all times, the barrel could change direction at any given moment.
5. Do not attempt to run from the barrel as it approaches just take a step back and lean away from it, attempting to run away will cause a crowd surge and could cause injury to fellow spectators and the participants.
6. Do not attempt to touch the lit barrel as it passes. You may cause yourself and others serious injuries.

7. Do not taunt Happy Fun Burning Tar Barrel.

Mike the Musicologist mentioned something to me last night that Charles C.W. Cooke supposedly said, though I haven’t found a link to it yet:

If he was alive today, Guy Fawkes would be a member of ANTIFA. Discuss.

Edited to add: And you may ask yourself, “Is there video of the running of the tar barrels in Ottery St. Mary on the Internet”?

Of course there is. This is from 2012.