Thursday, November 30, 2006

Modest Proposal

Well, here’s something crazy…I’m considering a jaunt in Iraq to help pay for law school. I can go for four months with option to extend. I am determined to get through law school debt-free, and this looks like the only plausible way to make that happen.

I can do it this way, or I can potentially borrow and/or run up credit cards during school and start practicing law at age 40 with a crapload of debt. AND the bar often looks very unfavorably on bad credit—they figure if you can’t be fiscally responsible, you likely won’t make such a great lawyer. I do not want to put myself in the position of limiting my practice of law to the highest-paying option out of the need to repay debt.

Patience now will pay big rewards in the long run. And I’m not just talking smack when I say that going over there as a civilian is a whole different ballgame. The job they’ve offered me is something I teach and have a great deal of expertise with—I could do it very well, make a strong contribution to the effort.

Throw Imama from the Plane

I read an article today about the Imams ejected from the plane in Minneapolis/St. Paul (and the entire airline, turns out) after "an anti-American remark and ostentatious Muslim prayers just before boarding the plane," (as it was reported) and how they've hired lawyers in hopes of effecting a great public outcry about their civil rights. I didn't pay the story much attention until we began discussing it in the office, and did a little research. *Caveat*: I know, the internet is a mixed bag when it comes to reliability, as is any medium.

And something I found astonishing—turns out, according to the police report, they didn’t just say a little prayer, stand up, and quietly queue up to board the plane. No, they changed their seats to a pattern that would aid in a hostile takeover, requested superfluous seat belt extenders (which could be used to choke a victim), shouted anti-American, anti-Iraq war slogans, and made a big, loud production of the prayers—which is completely contrary to my experience with the Muslims I know who don’t want us all dead...which is 99.99%. Prayer is a more private affair, certainly not something for ostentatious display in that setting. Why would someone behave this way, knowing how it looked, the risks involved? It’s like joking about bombs as you go through security. It just isn’t done by anyone sane. So then you have to question motivations and possible desired outcome(s).

It seems the likely scenario here was that the whole thing was absolutely deliberate, for one (or all) of the following reasons: 1) They wanted to make an issue of it, get the airline in the hot seat, so that others might be more reluctant to remove suspect Muslims from the plane in order to avoid the profiling/racism charge, 2) It was a reconnaissance effort, meant to probe reactions of airline officials, fellow passengers, and our media as part of the planning phase of an attack, or 3) The most benign of the three, they wanted to make noise for the sake of making noise. Hence the follow-on protests…unless that also ties into reason 1. Note that before the plane even landed in Phoenix, these gentlemen's lawyers were already talking to Jesse Jackson and the press.

Now, granted, I understand that of course profiling was at work here. If a white dude hollered out some “Praise Jesus,” told everyone around they were going to hell, and loudly protested the war in Iraq, chances are he would’ve boarded the plane. But until a zealot Baptist blows up a plane or executes suicide attacks on civilians, that dynamic is reality. Yes, yes, Tim McVeigh…but that was a tiny group of wackadoos and we’ve not seen that type attack happen before or since. Hence, isolated. And that same behavior in a Muslim country? A day spent answering questions would be the least of your concerns, daddy.

Not all Muslims are terrorists—in fact, the vast majority doesn’t entertain the possibility. But in this particular point in time, the terrorists hell-bent on mass-murdering Westerners are Muslim. And all the media coverage, cultural sensitivity, and propaganda to try to “win hearts and minds” falls on deaf ears—once someone has reached that point in their hatred for the West, there is no going back. Period.

Kudos to the airline for standing firm, to the passengers for raising their concerns, and to the employees who had to make the tough call, at the risk of being labeled racist, xenophobic, etc.

And to anyone who would put this PC bullshit over the lives of American citizens: keep that naïve attitude until another mass attack takes place on our soil. We live in an era when the effective application of security measures will cause some folks to get offended because their civil rights are compromised.

You know what offends me? Dead Americans.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


My biomom’s (I was adopted as a baby and found them back in ’96) family in Tennessee is a hoot. My bio-uncle and aunt, Ed Neil and Carolyn, drove over on Friday for (my second) Thanksgiving dinner. The discussion turned to a hill near where they live that’s one of those illusory hills, where you can put your car in neutral and roll uphill. Carolyn expressed amazement, all wide-eyes and raised eyebrows.

“I declare, you roll right up that hill. Wonder how they do that?”

Someone said, “It’s an optical illusion.”

“Why, no it’s not, you’re really movin’!”

I hope she didn’t think I was laughing at her.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Driving all over northern Mississippi (or Misipi, if you're a native) taking care of business for my law school application turned out to be a revealing little slice of my home state.

1) Drivers are exceedingly courteous here. If you're making a left against traffic, it will not take long for some kind soul to stop and wave you through. Same with backing out of a parking spot into the street. And then there's the Finger you pass an oncoming vehicle on a small road, there is this funny little one or two-fingered salute from the hand on the wheel. Hey, howya doin'.

2) The convenience stores do not carry half-and-half, you know, to use for coffee creamer. I stopped at five last night as I drove in...not one had it. That's the exclusive perview of the grocery store, whereas in NY and AZ, every convenience store carries it. I don't care to speculate about "what it all means."

3) There is no DMV. To change over my license and registration, I went to two distinct offices--the "driver's licence" office out on the highway, and the tax assessor's office downtown. While a bit inconvenient, would anyone lament the demise of the DMV?? Long lines, screaming kids, "take a number"...I didn't wait at all in either office.

4) At the "driver's licence" office, in huge, hand-scrawled letters on the wall behind the ladies processing your forms: "PUBLIC PROFANITY IS A MISDEMEANOR. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED!" I must've been there on a good day, no one looked like they were fixin' to cuss the ladies.

5) I love barbeque. I miss barbeque. It's sloppy, it smokes for hours, it runs down your chin...I adore it.

6) Southern hospitality is not a myth. Everywhere I went today, everyone greets everyone else, even the cop at the social security office took the time to get me pointed in the right direction.

I can't wait to permanently finish up with Arizona and get back to Oxford without having to leave all the time. I always dread coming back out here--Arizona's just not home.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Made My Bed

Joe stood up, glared at me, and stomped out, slamming the door behind him. He'd already declared that he would never play in another hand against me again--he's a good player, but I always seem to have a slightly better hand when we end up in a pot. It's not that I'm a better player, it has just worked out that way every time we've played--I've taken him out every game for the last couple of months. It happened twice last night--the first hand of the night, he went all in, and I called...I had a pocket pair that made for a full house on the flop. Why the hell wouldn't I call? He also had a full house, but mine was higher--I had eights over tens, he had tens over fours. I don't know how that computes, but there you have it. And then it happened again later, when it was too late to rebuy--that was when he stomped out. He's a good guy, I don't take it personally, but he really hates to lose, especially to the same amateur player, every damn time. So now he hates me. Or not me, per se, he hates playing against me.

Wow. I took first place last night in the Poker League tournament...the one that's generally much tougher, where I just made it to the final table last week for the first time. Pretty nice little pot of money, too. This was an especially gratifying victory because I was down to nearly nothing TWICE and came back to win it. The guy who took second had a veritable mountain of chips all the way to the end--I managed to whittle away at it when we got to the final table. That's the thing about No-Limit Hold'em, why players maintain a love/hate relationship with it--fortunes can reverse in just a few hands, for better or worse.

Of course it's fun. Anything you're good at is fun. And when there's money involved? Even funner. Hard to believe I just started playing in August--now it's a big part of my life, I play at least once a week. I look forward to it all week.

And I'm convinced that being a woman can be a huge advantage at the table--we had a new player last night, some old guy who apparently wins at casinos all the time--who tried hard to bet me out of a huge pot. I had a feeling he was playing bully--when someone bets huge with 4,9,7 on the board, they are either bluffing or holding a high pocket pair. And in the case of a pocket pair, you wouldn't want to bet enough to scare the other player out--you want them to call, so you'll get their money. So I called and sure enough, my little pair of 7's held up. I really think many guys naturally assume you're a weak or timid player if you're a woman. It doesn't work anymore with the regular players--only when someone new shows up. The regulars have all played with me enough to know I'm more likely to call a big bet than walk away.

I hope I'm right about that. But I can't help but notice that there are never any women at the final tables at the World Series of Poker, and they have a separate "Ladies' Event." It's not that women aren't allowed to play in the main event, there just aren't many who do, and then make it that far. I watched the WSOP Ladies' Event and quickly decided I don't care to play in those tournaments--these bitches hissed at each other the whole time. The commentators kept referring to a "catfight." Talk about insulting and demoralizing.

I'd rather win as a poker player than as a Female Poker Player, in any event. And why a ladies' event in the first place? Poker isn't like running or doing pullups, there's no advantage that would necessitate separating the genders.

Like the question posed last night: Can Siamese twins play in the same poker hand? It shall remain a mystery.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My entire crew moved away in the span of six weeks. Shannon just called to tell me she's leaving for Tampa tomorrow morning--so I went to her house with the birthday present I got her and said goodbye. So she, Gus, and Bob constituted the only three people in town I cared to hang out with regularly, and they all abruptly moved to Tampa. The bright side of it for me is, I'll always have a place to go on vacation where I'll be 100% guar-aan-teeed a good time. Which will certainly come in handy during law school. But in the meantime, this drab little town just became that much moreso. *Sigh* I'm glad I don't live here year-round...those three people made it fun to be here. Without them, it's just work.

It's a good thing I started playing poker--I'll hit it with a vengeance once the LSAT is out of the way on December 3. I'll even start playing weekend casino tournaments, see if I can learn enough to sock away a little cash here and there. Mostly, though, it's just fun. Last week I took out one of the Grand Poohbahs of the venerable Saturday night game (the one I never win, the level of play is much higher). I'm starting to figure out how to read people and the play a bit more accurately, and to take more chances, call more big bets...which is how I took Rob out last week, I called his all-in and beat him with a pair of 5's. He was NOT pleased. Funny, these guys beat me and send me packing all the time and I laugh about it, figure that's the game, it's not personal. But when I win, they all immediately tell me they'll be gunning for me next time. It happens every single time I take someone out.

I've been watching World Series of Poker reruns, and there is one side of poker I really do not like--that juvenille, shit-talking, playground bully dynamic that often comes up. I've only played friendly home games, and I've even seen it there from time to time. I think women draw that reaction at the table was disturbing reliability--there are many men who immediately think the way to behave toward the token chick is to bully. Or try to. I vow that when I do start playing at the casinos, I won't take the bait. I won't make an ass of myself responding to some sophomoric trash talk. Taking someone's chip stack seems like the best response, and if you lose, at least you leave the table with your dignity.

Dear John Kerry--

Please, I beg you, SHUT UP!! Go home, go away, you've done enough damage to the Democratic Party over the last two years to last us all a lifetime.


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