Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Dish

Spent the last week out at Stanford, for the IHS "Social Change" workshop.

Best ever (I have done the workshop several times, though all previous incarnations have been at UVA-Charlottesville).

Wonderful time. If you are a grad student, sign up next year when the app comes up on the web site.

The highlight: for me, it was a four mile hike with David Schmidz, the best philosopher of classical liberalism we have in the world today. We hiked up around "the Dish" on a fantastic blue-sky-with-breeze-so-can-see-the-bay-and-the-coastal-range-with-fog-and-birds-everywhere. I learned things from David, I saw things, it was great. (He knows a lot about birds, in addition to CL).

(One downside: the dorms at Stanford are the worst place I have stayed in at least 25 years. Incredibly smelly, a unique cocktail of complex noisomeness. It smelled bad, but when they cleaned the thing midweek it appeared to disturb the ghosts of bathrooms past, and then it was much worse. It was offal. Reminds me of a Stanford friend I did NOT see this time. Buy me a beer sometime, and I'll tell you the story of AR and "the bathtub, the cow, and the chainsaw.")

I DID get to see a bunch of other friends. A partial list (if I left you off, I'm sorry!): Clark Durant (Clark showed me the Dish hike first, bless his heart), Chris Nelson, John Nye, Mary Shirley, John Tomasi, Barry Weingast, Terrence Watson, Will Wilkinson, and Paul Zak. And, of course, the inexplicable Nigel Ashford, one of my favorite people. And made a bunch of new friends. (In particular: Courtney, you are a crazy person. I hope the poop soup in the backyard was receded to manageable levels, and that your manly Indiana guy Radley figured out how to get Isabel and Harper walked even in the rain).

Wonderful all around. IHS is doing a great job with this program.

We Don't Get the Smart Ones

A heartwarming story of stupidity and justice (from the SJ Mercury News):

Man arrested after he returns to eatery for items

A San Jose man might have gotten away with not paying at a Denny's restaurant in Campbell, except for the items he left on the table.

Steven Michael Thomas, 19, of San Jose allegedly left the Bascom Avenue eatery without paying a $26 bill. But he was cited for suspicion of defrauding an innkeeper when he apparently returned to retrieve his keys and a traffic ticket with his name on it.

``We don't get the smart ones,'' Campbell police Capt. Russ Patterson said.

Thomas, Patterson said, had eaten at the all-night diner with a group of friends and walked out without paying.

The group returned to drop Thomas off in a back parking lot, probably, Patterson said, so Thomas could retrieve his things.


There are several questions I want to ask:

1. $26? Why would anyone risk a pretty serious misdemeanor charge for $26? You ought at least to get your money's worth. Go someplace nicer than Denny's, if you aren't going to pay.
2. A traffic ticket with his name on it? That probably means a car. Keys...ditto. But apparently he wasn't the driver in this criminal gang of Denny's check stiffers. What did he do, clean out his pockets? Were his jeans so tight he couldn't carry a traffic ticket in his pocket?
3. Why is Thomas the fall guy? After all, the group is responsible, presumably. At least, they are all equally responsible. Did Thomas tell the others he was going to pay, and then just walk out giggling? If so, I can understand how this might have worked:
Thomas, in car, after leaving: "Dadgum it! I forgot my keys, and that traffic ticket I had to take out of my pants because they are too tight."
Other person in car: "We'll just go back and get it. We are white people, and the staff at Denny's is friendly and helpful to white people."
Thomas, thinking quickly: "....um...okay." And then he walks into the Denny's, because he didn't want to admit to his friends that his tight pants had prevented him from bringing his wallet, which was why he didn't pay the bill he promised them he would pay.

Now, this last is JUST a reconstruction. So, we can't be sure. I'm just sayin'.