Tuesday Tidbits 7/24/12

  1. If it walks like a duck ….
  2. Taxing innumeracy.
  3. The NCAA is shocked, simply shocked.
  4. Social entropy.
  5. What’s a pious Olympian to do?


I think of him almost as a terrorist. He wanted to take away, not just the people in that theater but from the country, our ability to enjoy life. To go to a movie theater, which for most of us is a refuge where we can get away from the rest of some of the pressures of life.

(Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, “Meet the Press” Sunday.) I thought much the same thing when I heard some national figure (FBI, I think) holding forth that the Aurora shooter wasn’t a “terrorist.”

If it sows fear and suspicion, and thus makes us hesitate to go outside our homes, it’s functionally terrorist. And to say otherwise, it seems to me, tends subtly to conflate terrorism and “Islamic terrorism.”


$2.37 per person per week is, shockingly, substandard (comma placement intentional).

Business interests in Indiana are convinced that, with proper pimping management, the Hoosier Lottery could be taxing innumeracy more than twice as heavily. Woohoo! (Image from Indiana Business Journal front page.)


The NCAA is shocked, simply shocked, to learn that a university would get caught exempting a legendary sports program from trifles like Conduct Becoming Humans. They demonstrated it Monday by reeling around like drunken running backs on Saturday night, but randomly firing a sawed-off a shotgun of sanctions instead of beating up co-eds.

It is the last part of the punishment that really confuses people, “vacating” wins. Basically the NCAA will pretend (and ask everyone else to pretend) that Penn State football didn’t win those games. Consequently, we must pretend that Joe Paterno is no longer the college football coach with the most wins. And that is supposed to make everyone feel good about themselves.

This kind of pretending is the perfect punishment in a society where quantifiable “merit,” however manufactured, must count for everything. It is as if you found a high school senior drinking booze with a freshman girl and then retroactively lowered his math SAT scores in order to protect the high school’s reputation. It is stupid. Worse, it pretends that justice can be done through a memory-hole.

The NCAA will not allow us to hold two thoughts in our head simultaneously: that Joe Paterno was grossly indulgent with a known child-predator and that he was the winningest coach in NCAA history. So now we’re changing his report card. Take THAT, Joe. Now you’re only the fifth winningest coach in NCAA history. On paper. Not like real life or anything.

(Michael Brendan Dougherty)

Robert Siegel of All Things Considered also did a pretty decent job of penetrating Mark Emmert’s self-aggrandizing double-talk. Sielgel asked Emmert to reconcile the professed desire not to harm current young people with the four-year ban on bowl appearances. Emmert replied that they wanted to say:

For the next four or five years, Penn State, don’t worry about going to the Rose Bowl. Worry about getting your culture right. Worry about finding the right balance between academics and athletics, reintergrating your football program into the full body of the University. This needs to be about more than just trying to get to a bowl game.

Siegel asked if that wouldn’t be an appropriate goal for “who knows how many” universities where football is king. I didn’t hear the answer over my gales of delighted laughter. Re-listening confirmed that it, too, was unmemorable double-talk.

My attitude – that sports has been too big for its britches in Division I for a very, very long time – is why I probably shouldn’t blog more about this. But this bizarre punishment, not so much excessive as surreal, will surely produce a lot more keen comment that will be irresistible to pass on.

Like Deadspin, if you can stand gratuitous obscenities peppered in with some good, anti-NCAA lines like:

I [gratuitously obscene expression of disinterest in] what happens to the football team—dress them in white unitards and make them a French mime troop, for all I care—but there’s nothing more ridiculous than watching the NCAA parade around its values and make frowny faces on national television, months and months after the scandal broke (and years and years after evil was allowed to take root). Blowing up Penn State gives perfect cover for every other big football school that is now, to use NCAA president Mark Emmert’s phrase, “too big to fail,” which describes all of them, and which describes the NCAA, too, while we’re at it. It creates the illusion that everything is on the up-and-up again, and that other schools will see Penn State and totally get it now (they won’t). In its own stupid way, it’s the perfect end point for the Penn State scandal: rotten institution punishes institutional rot.


Last week,

the England and Wales Court of Appeal held that a dispute over who has the power to name trustees of two Sikh Guwardas is not justiciable because it would require the court to resolve a dispute grounded in religious faith, doctrine and practice. At issue are trust deeds that give the express power to remove and appoint trustees of the Guwardas (one in Birmingham and the other in High Wycomb) to the First Holy Saint and his successors.  The parties to the litigation disagree over whether whether the 9th claimant, Sant Baba Jeet Singh Ji Maharaj, is “the Third Holy Saint” and whether he is “successor” (via the Second Holy Saint) to the First Holy Saint.

(Religion Clause blog) I post this not to incite ribaldry, but because I have had more than a few religious clients in my “day job” over the last 30 who wanted to create legal documents including religious concepts that Caesar’s court might think it understands, but is powerless to enforce in our legal system.

Helpful hint: if you want, say, to create a trust “for the perpetuation of the true Reformed Christian faith,” you’d better set up and fund a system of private arbitrators to figure our what the “true Reformed faith” in case when a dispute arises.

But what if the arbitrators go awry?

Have you heard of Social Darwinism? There’s a social version of the law of entropy, too. Get over it.

Or get into a Church that has survived, doctrinally and liturgically intact, things far worse than not having the government’s courts enforce their orthodoxy.


Whaddya get when the Ramadan Fast meets the Summer Olympics? Apparently, when the sun goes down, some Olympians will be chowing down instead of Gettin’ Down! Presumably, the Venn diagram would show no overlap.

The grand mufti of Dubai thinks Muslims should emulate Eric Liddel, while a British Imam settles for some good old fashioned indulgence-mongering. (More)

Muslims are not the only Olympians whose faith observes a fast during the Olympics, by the way – though the extremity of the Ramadan fast makes it annually newsworthy, and that’s okay.

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Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.