Eminent Domain

Basically, Thomas Sowell [*1] has it right:
What “eminent domain” laws mean in practice is that politicians have a right to seize your property and turn it over to someone else, in order to gain campaign contributions and win votes.

Comment (0)

Of Winning and Losing

When it comes to college basketball, I slavishly follow my alma mater, South Dakota State University. My favorite teams also include the Kansas Jayhawks and the Duke Blue Devils. Because of my Snookums, I also now root whole-heartedly for the Tennessee Lady Vols (unless they’re playing the Lady Jacks).

South Dakota State University is in the first year of the five year transitional period moving from NCAA’s Division II to Division I. A weird thing about the NCAA is that in year one of moving up from D-II to D-I, you count as a D-II opponent for D-I teams, and count as a D-I team against D-II schools. So, basically, nobody wants to schedule you. Next year, year 2 of the transition, you’re a D-I “counter” which is good, because the NCAA only allows you to play two non-D-I schools, but year 1 is a real challenge.

SDSU’s Lady Jacks are having an excellent year, 20-6 so far, including a 7-5 record against D-I schools, and wins over the likes of Alabama, Kentucky, and Oklahoma State. Pretty heady for a newbie D-I program. SDSU’s women have as much talent as they’ve ever had, and that includes a D-II national champion team a couple of years ago. Some computer ratings [*1] have them as high as 56th in the nation, which would put them in the Big Dance for women’s basketball (unfortunately, they’re not eligible, and won’t be for quite a while). Still, not bad at all.

The SDSU men have not had the same experience. Their best player never suited up this year, victim of a mysterious illness, which was variously diagnosed as mono, Lyme disease or the dreaded shrugged shoulder syndrome. Their point guard bailed out and transferred to another D-II school a couple hundred miles east. Another key player, struggling with a foot injury, quit basketball. A sharpshooter signed from junior college (this was the guy who broke Kirk Heinrich’s high school scoring records) never made it to campus. And then the season started.

The SDSU men’s coach, Scott Nagy, is a good coach. You don’t compile a record of 210-59 in nine years by being a bad coach. But moving from D-II to D-I is difficult enough. Nagy put together an extremely challenging schedule this year. Of the 13 D-I schools on this year’s schedule (all games on the road, by the way), 10 have winning records.

Did I mention that of the three seniors on the SDSU men’s team, they came into this year with ZERO starts between them?

Undermanned, the Jackrabbits were playing a schedule that was probably over their heads. One night, playing D-II Southwest Minnesota State, it happened. The Jacks quit, and got run out of their own arena by a team which had never beaten SDSU before. When you’re at the bottom, you can stay there, or you can start working your way out.

The Jacks have been working their way out. Tonight, playing yet another D-I school, Central Florida, SDSU was competitive for the entire game. They finally lost by 10, but Coach Nagy was effusive in praise for his team’s effort.

They didn’t quit.

Sometimes, not quitting is victory enough.

Israel Approves Gaza Pullout

Israel approves Gaza Pullout
Palestinian officials were unhappy with the measures, which they view as an attempt by Israeli leaders to draw borders unilaterally.
It’s astonishing to me that the Palestinians are putting up a fuss about this. Would they really rather quibble about a couple of square miles than accept success at last? Maybe . . . long range strategic thinking does not seem to be an Arab strength.
“It’s not an easy day, it’s not a happy day,” Sharon said at the beginning of his marathon Cabinet meeting Sunday. “But it’s a critical move for the state of Israel.”

This is a leap into the dark for Israel. Will the extended hand of peace finally be accepted, or will it again be slapped aside? Stay tuned.

Million Dollar Baby

Orson Scott Card says it better than I can, but . . . [*1]
I succumbed to the hype (and Snookums’ birthday wishes) and went to see Million Dollar Baby. Ugh. One star out of five. There are some amusing moments, but not nearly enough of them. Overall, I came away from the movie feeling unclean. OK, here’s the deal. I go to movies to be entertained. I do not enjoy spending two hours watching suffering, a taste of success, and then have everything come crashing down. That’s what this movie is, however. Million Dollar Baby is also glacially slow at most points, to the extent that you’re sitting there wondering what Clint is trying to do in a particular scene, rather than being fully engaged in the movie.

And, the ending. Oh, the ending. If you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading here.

Spoiler warning.

Last chance.

OK, here’s the “surprise” ending. The boxer girl Maggie has finally reached the World Championship match. The current World Champion is the queen of dirty boxers. After the bell rings for round #2, Maggie turns and goes to her corner, is sucker punched by the champ, falls into the upturned stool, and breaks her neck, leaving her a quadraplegic. OK, I’m still with the movie at this point. I’m asking myself, how is Clint going to make this good? Well, the short answer is, Clint doesn’t. After forty-five excruciating minutes (but not for the reason Clint wanted, they were just s l o w), Clint decides to send Maggie to the great beyond. Takes off her breathing tube, then squirts her with a syringe full of adrenaline. Then Clint just vanishes. Goes away. That’s it. End of movie. Roll the credits. Collect the awards. Feh.

I’m not that worked up about the whole euthanasia thing, really. It’s just that this movie is so slow and ham-handed in how it approaches the final coup de injection that all emotional punch is lost well before the final moment. Sorry, critics, this is just bad movie-making. Bad. Bad, do you hear? BAD!

Hunter S. Thompson Shoots Himself

Hunter S. Thompson fatally shoots himself [*1]
“For the whole point on this picaresque is that the American-style rogue-hero must not merely tease or insult the Silent Majority, but abuse it, outrage it, twist it, hurt it, smash it,” he once wrote.

I’ll admit, I’m not a big HST fan. But, he was an icon of antiauthority and the founder of “gonzo journalism” which subsequently metastatized into Dan Rather, Steve Irwin (the “Crocodile Hunter”) and reality TV. His passing, by self-inflicted gunshot wound, was probably predictable.

Welcome Home

De Smet keeps busy preparing for return. [*1]
DE SMET – There’s a sense of relief and excitement these days among the 1,100 residents of De Smet. The relief comes in knowing that members of the 153rd Engineer Battalion are in Kuwait, a much safer place than they spent previous months while serving their nation in Iraq.

Welcome home, we’re proud of you. The Anheuser/Busch Super Bowl ad was for you.