Friday, July 14, 2006

20 years: My Gain, Her Loss

It's official: The Gingerella-Munger union has now lasted two decades.

We went to Wrightsville Beach, stayed at Shell Island, and had a great time going for walks on the beach. Sunsets were fantastic:

And my wife....amazing. Two kids, married 20 years, and still hotter'n a two dollar pistol. You're the best, dear!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shotgun Mike Munger

I found an old letter from my Dad to me, when I was in college (late 1970s). In some boxes full of books and notebooks.

He mentioned they had gone to a drive-in (!), and had seen "Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Town."

In that movie, there is a character named (my dad swore) "Shotgun Mike Munger."

I had forgotten about the letter, and knew even less about the movie. But I went and checked, and darned if it isn't so.

In particular, this movie contains the following bit of dialogue:

Pa Kettle: I thought you might be a traveling salesman. A lot of them visit farms, you know.

Shotgun Mike Munger
: Yeah, I've heard stories about them.

I read a review of the movie. The review claims:

Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Town seamlessly picks up where The Further Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle leaves off.

Oh, those cliff-hanging sequels. No point starting in the middle. Now I have to watch the whole series just to see where "Shotgun Mike Munger" gets his motivation.

Now, it DOES get better. Shotgun Mike was played by Charles McGraw. And Charles McGraw played "The Preacher" in "A Boy and His Dog," one of the finest movies in history. So Charles McGraw had two highlights to his acting career: playing the Preacher, and playing Mike Munger. Who would have believed it.

Thanks, Dad. And thanks to Charles McGraw. Here, "Shotgun Mike Munger" is shown grabbing "Front Porch Anita Ekberg."

What are we to conclude from this?

From an email from Kevin Lewis, at Berkeley:

Relative Salary of U.S. Senators and Law Firm Partners

Year ........Senatory ...Mean law firm partner

1954.......... 12,500 .......10,258
1976 ..........44,600 .......55,000
2002 .........150,000 .......593,800

(nominal dollars; source: Journal of Economic Perspectives)

What does it all mean? I would say that it means it is better to profit from rent-seeking in terms of $$ than in terms of votes, if you like dollars. So rent-seekers who love money become law partners, and rent-seekers who love power sort into politics. But neither senators nor law firm partners get fired very often. The system works for everyone except the citizens...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Odds and Endings

1. Simon Spero wins the headline contest.

2. Materazzi admits he insulted Zadane. Defends self by claiming he doesn't know what a terrorist is, so he wouldn't have used THAT insult.

3. North Carolina's solons pass the "All Off You Vill Say Der Pledge, Unt You Vill Like It!" legislation. But not before elbowing each other out of the way, like pigs at a trough, trying to claim credit.

4. Kevin Morrison, one of our cool grad students in Poli Sci at Duke, publishes a very nice op-ed in the News and Observer. Good ON ya, Kevin!

Monday, July 10, 2006

State of Things: Biopolitics

Interesting radio show today, which I got to participate in.

But the interest was mostly from Jedidiah Purdy, at Duke Law School.

His article.

MP3 of the broadcast should be up here, soon. (I'm guessing at that URL, so bear with me).

I Pledge Allegiance to The Constitution....

...Which means I don't have to pledge allegiance to any flag.

I have been getting more than a little push back on my little letter to the editor of the N&O.

It started with big man Saunders's column. A little over the top, but sound on fundamentals, as Barry usually is.

Then, my letter:

A loyalty oath

There is an old adage in debating that you lose a debate as soon as you compare your opponent to Hitler. But your man Barry Saunders did it (column, July 4), and still won the debate.

The reason is that requiring a pledge, or a loyalty oath, really is at the core of what fascist, nationalistic or totalitarian regimes stand for. Saunders was dead right, so the Hitler comparison is not wrong.

I bet he didn't hear a lot of support for his view. So, let me say this. If there is going to be a patriotic hanging, let my body swing beside his on that hastily constructed, flag-draped gibbet. Requiring the pledge is the opposite of real patriotism, in a nation that values freedom.

Michael Munger
Chair, Department of Political Science, Duke University

I have been doing some local TV shows, on the strength of this radical view. Strange that this view is so rare, or radical...

Thomas Jefferson, in the Declaration, said this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...

How can we withold consent if we are required to pledge allegiance? How can government tell us what to think, but still be dependent on our consent? Answers: we can't, and it can't. Say the pledge if you want to. Burn the flag if you want to. The people should not fear their government. The government should fear the people.

Bourke's Corner Kick

Heartfelt props to Bourke Report.

My man B connected up my rant about TNR with my query about Materazzi, and provides an excellent link to boot (soccer joke).

Check this excerpt:
Just before the last period of overtime (before the penalty kicks) when I watched the game earlier on ABC the camera was focused on the stadium ceiling. But when I came home and watched the replay of the game on Univision right before Zidane goes back on the field it appears the French coach grabs his arm to tell him something, Zidane pulls it away and snarls something at him.

The reason I even mention this is that Zidane's timing seemed to be completely awful! A bit too awful. Zidane leads the team to the final, knows full well he is a premium penalty kicker, and head-butts the Italian player in front of the whole stadium right before the penalty shoot-out! He had to know he would get kicked out for that. He not only left France with a man down but also weakening their chances to score during a penalty kick situation.

I propose that the argument on the pitch was secondary. The real reason was because of some unknown altercation between Zidane and the French coach. Zidane was angry and decided to get back at the coach by getting thrown out of the game in a flamboyant way.

World Cup soccer differs from professional wrestling only in that no one pretends professional wrestling is real.

Hand of God, Headbutt of the Minotaur

From the media of France (via UTV), on Zidane's unbelievably dumb headbutt:

L`Equipe, whose front-page headline was `eternal regrets`, condemned Zidane`s act of violence.

`Zinedine,` they queried, `the most difficult thing this morning is not to try to explain why Les Bleus, your Bleus, lost the final of the World Cup which they could have won, but to explain to millions of children around the world how you could let yourself go to the point of charging at and head-butting Marco Materazzi.

`During the match in Berlin`s Olympiastadion where so many pages of sports history were written, you were Ali, the genius of the ring, the greatest.

`But not Ali, nor (Jesse) Owens nor Pele, men that you were about to join among the most brilliant sports legends, ever broke the rules the way you did.

`Why also, weren`t you on the pitch to console your friends Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez after the loss?

`You left them alone, just like the millions of kids who were inconsolable in front of their television set.

`Zinedine, you must be a very unhappy man this morning. You are also going to have to explain your gesture to your four sons.

`It was the last image you left as a football player, Zinedine. How could this happen to the man you are?`

Le Figaro called Zidane`s head-butt `odious`.

`The final of the World Cup against Italy symbolised Les Bleus` performance during the competition,` the paper added.

`First there was a shaky start, then an attractive performance before we suffered again a lack of offensive punch.

`Zidane`s gesture was unacceptable and sanctioned properly.

`Thuram spoke about a real suffering and pain after the match. The captain must feel exactly the same way as his exit looked even more sad than the defeat.`

Broadsheet Liberation called the defeat `cruel` while Le Parisien preferred to concentrate on Les Bleus` achievement of reaching the final, with the headline `Merci` splashed across their front page.

I had been rooting for France. This was dangerous; my Italian wife was not pleased. But when Zidane pulled that stunt....amazing. I want to know what Materazzi said....what COULD he have said? After the incident, I switched to France, but it was really all ruined. As Le Parisienne put it: "The blue angel turned into a devil." Say it ain't so, Zidane.

(by the way, "minotaur" is not a compliment....)