July 8th, 2016

I went to bed pretty early last night (after a frustrating attempt to deal with Wells Fargo) and didn’t find out what was going on until 5 AM this morning. (Great and good friend of the blog RoadRich texted and emailed us, but we were sound asleep when things started breaking.)

I really haven’t even had a chance to look at the news yet, and don’t have any profound thoughts. But I wanted to get something up. Consider this an open thread for discussion and updates.

Dallas Morning News coverage.

Please keep in mind:

In a semi-related vein, this is an interesting thread from Reason’s “Hit and Run”. Part of my answer to this is: the author is asking this question less than 24 hours after the incident took place. All the facts were not in, and probably still are not in even now. Why should the NRA (or any other organization) be making public statements until we have all the facts?

Edited to add: Been tied up. Apologies. The reports I’m seeing now pretty much all state that the dead gunman was killed by a breaching charge attached to a police robot. The temptation is great to make Asimov jokes, but the situation is too serious, so I’ll just link to this Statesman article which quotes the “executive director of a nationally recognized police active-shooter training facility in San Marcos” as stating it was “unprecedented but perfectly legal.”

You know what Kentucky needs?

July 6th, 2016

Strict burrito control.

(Also strict knife control, but mostly burrito control.)

(I have no joke here, I just like saying “deadly assault burritos”.)

(Insert your own “deadly assault burrito” joke here.)

Firing watch.

July 4th, 2016

Why not drop your news on one of the slowest news days of the year?

Sheryl Swoopes was fired last night as head coach of the Loyola University women’s basketball team. Chicago Tribune. Chicago Sun-Times.

Her record over three seasons was 31-62, and 14-16 last season. But the problem doesn’t seem to have been her record:

Five more players transferred after the 2014-15 season, and the university granted requests from 10 of the 12 returning players from last season’s roster to be released from their scholarships.


Five former players told the Tribune in April that Swoopes was extremely difficult to play for, frequently threatening players with the loss of their scholarships, and that her unusual coaching style led to the player exodus.

Players said Swoopes cried during halftime of games and during practices while imploring the team to play better and stormed out of the gym during practice several times, frustrated at their lack of execution. At one practice, multiple players said, Swoopes sat on a chair in silence the entire time.
Swoopes also shared with teammates personal information told to her in confidence, sources told the Tribune.

Ms. Swoopes termination comes at what is apparently the end of a three month long investigation by the university, though no details of that investigation have been released yet.

Obit watch: July 3, 2016.

July 3rd, 2016

I’ve been running flat out for the better part of the past two days, and haven’t been near a real computer, so I want to get these up before I crash.

I really don’t have anything profound to add to the flood of Elie Wiesel appreciations. I haven’t read Night, though I know I probably should at some point.

Michael Cimino. I also haven’t watched a single Cimino movie, though I do have the Criterion director’s cut edition of “Heaven’s Gate”. I do plan to watch that at some point, but we watched “Spartacus” (also the Criterion edition) recently and thought that was long: “Heaven’s Gate” in the director’s cut is about 30 minutes longer. A/V Club.

Finally, Robin Hardy, director of the “good” (or maybe just “not batshit insane”) version of “The Wicker Man”.

Happy 3rd of July.

July 3rd, 2016

Even though it is full of the usual anti-fireworks crapola we hear every year around this time – the same anti-fireworks propaganda that has been ruining the holiday and the country ever since I was in the single-digit age range – I wanted to note the NYT‘s “A History of Fireworks Mayhem on the Fourth of July” because:

A lazy man’s quick historical note.

July 1st, 2016

Tam is eloquent.

WeaponsMan is factual.

Today in journalism fraud.

July 1st, 2016

Noted author Gay Talese (“Frank Sinatra Has a Cold”, The Kingdom and the Power) has a new book coming out.

The Voyeur’s Motel is allegedly based on the diaries of a man named Gerald Foos. Mr. Foos owned a motel in Colorado, and claims that he constructed special walkways above the ceilings of some of the rooms so he could secretly watch his guests having sex.

Except there are some problems with the Foos story:

Foos sold the motel, located in Aurora, Colo., in 1980 and didn’t reacquire it until eight years later, according to local property records. His absence from the motel raises doubt about some of the things Foos told Talese he saw — enough that the author himself now has deep reservations about the truth of some material he presents.


Talese does note in “The Voyeur’s Motel” that he found discrepancies in Foos’s accounts. Foos’s earliest journal entries, for example, were dated 1966. But the author subsequently learned from county property records that Foos didn’t buy the Manor House Motel until 1969 — three years after he said he started watching his guests from the catwalk. “I cannot vouch for every detail that he recounts in his manuscript,” Talese writes in the book.

If you can’t vouch for details, why did you write the book? Shouldn’t this have sent up some warning flags?

In a series of interviews, he expressed surprise, disappointment and anger to learn about the transactions. He said he had not been aware of them until a reporter asked him about it on Wednesday.
“The source of my book, Gerald Foos, is certifiably unreliable,” Talese said. “He’s a dishonorable man, totally dishonorable. . . . I know that. . . . I did the best I could on this book, but maybe it wasn’t good enough.”

The odd thing is, nobody seems to be talking about pulling the book. Yet.

Edited to add: And now Talese is disavowing his disavowal:

In a statement from his publisher, Grove Atlantic, the 84-year-old author said, “Gerald Foos, as no one calls into question, was an epic voyeur, and, as I say very clearly in the text, he could also at times be an unreliable teller of his own peculiar story. When I spoke to the Washington Post reporter, I am sure I was surprised and upset about this business of the later ownership of the motel, in the [1980s]. That occurred after the bulk of the events covered in my book, but I was upset and probably said some things I didn’t, and don’t, mean. Let me be clear: I am not disavowing the book and neither is my publisher. If, down the line, there are details to correct in later editions, we’ll do that.”

If I were a betting man, I’d bet money that there’s going to be even more information coming out that throws doubt on Foos and his claims, and that this will end badly for Talese, the book, and Grove Atlantic.

Obit watch: June 29, 2016.

June 29th, 2016

So Cormac McCarthy isn’t dead.

However, Alvin “Future Shock” Toffler is.

“No serious futurist deals in ‘predictions,’” he wrote in the book’s introduction. “These are left for television oracles and newspaper astrologers.”
He advised readers to “concern themselves more and more with general theme, rather than detail.” That theme, he emphasized, was that “the rate of change has implications quite apart from, and sometimes more important than, the directions of change.”

(I’ve never actually read Future Shock. When it was first published, I was distracted by other things, like my binky: when I reached the age where I might have been able to appreciate it, it seemed…quaint. Perhaps I should fix this.)

I find this obit for Phil Parker oddly touching. Son of a Baptist preacher, drank for the first time in grad school at Harvard, ended up an alcoholic living on the streets of the Bowery, finally went to AA and got sober…

In 1974, just a few years after he stopped drinking, Mr. Parker founded a supported work program that over the next several decades would help countless other homeless alcoholics. And as the derelict population became disproportionately young and black, Mr. Parker, who was black, became a social worker himself, supervising the program at the city’s East Third Street Men’s Shelter just off the Bowery.

He stayed sober for 48 years. Cancer got him in the end.

Quote of the day.

June 29th, 2016

(Valuable context here.)

Happy Gavrilo Princip Day!

June 28th, 2016

I let Bloomsday get past me this year. (I swear, next year, I will do the “Happy Bloomsday” cards.)

I didn’t want to let this one pass without note, though it took the NYT to remind me that today was the day.

As always, we tip our hat in the direction of great and good friend Guffaw, the originator of Gavrilo Princip Day. May he and the rest of my readers enjoy the rest of the holiday.

(As for myself, I plan to celebrate in a non-traditional fashion.)

Obit watch: June 28, 2016.

June 28th, 2016

Bad day for sports.

Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee basketball coach. Knoxville News-Sentinel. ESPN.

She was only 64. Alzheimer’s sucks.

Buddy Ryan, one of the great NFL defensive coaches. ESPN.

Noted without comment:

Ryan later punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on national TV on Jan. 2, 1994, when both were assistant coaches with the Houston Oilers.

And an update.

June 27th, 2016

(Previously on WCD.)

Paul Tanaka was sentenced today.

Five years in federal prison.