Joseph Epstein on Grandfatherhood
April 28th, 2015

Commentary has just published the great Joseph Epstein’s chapter from The Dadly Virtues. It’s about the fashions of parenting and the experience of being a grandfather and it’s just beautiful. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you haven’t pre-ordered the book already, this should nudge you along because the whole book is really this good.

Also, a reminder: You need to register for the May 11 AEI event if you’re planning to come.

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Dept. of Understatement
April 23rd, 2015

Here’s Jonathan Chait going after Hillary Clinton as hard as polite society currently allows. It’s very reasonable. Though, for me, one line stuck out:

Their experience running the actual government, with its formal accountability and disclosure, went reasonably well.

Yes, yes. Except for the impeachment, of course.


Early 2016 Theorizing
April 23rd, 2015

For whatever it’s worth, my working theory of 2016 is that the closest electoral parallel is 1992. Which would mean Rubio as the nominee and Walker as his VP, since Bill Clinton’s theory in picking Gore was to double-down on his electoral proposition–young, future-oriented, a new Democratic party–rather than trying to “balance” the ticket.

So Rubio-Walker really would be Clinton-Gore. Not that any of those four guys would like the comparison.

(Would this analogy make Jeb Bush the 2016 Mario Cuomo–but the Earth 2 version who decided to get into the race against Clinton?)


The Decline and Fall of Variety
April 21st, 2015

I’ve mentioned before that Variety increasingly feels like it’s being run by Gawker rejects, rather than no-nonsense industry nerds like the great Todd McCarthy. Here, then, is their review of Avengers: Age of Ultron, which contains the following passage meant, I think, to praise the film:

Having apparently resolved that one failed Earthly invasion is enough for one millennium, Loki is nowhere to be found in “Age of Ultron,” but even minus his caustic wit, the new movie is a sleeker, faster, funnier piece of work — the sort of sequel (like “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,” “Superman II” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” before it) that shrugs off the self-seriousness of its predecessor and fully embraces its inner Saturday-morning serial.

It’s difficult to catalogue all of the wrongheadedness in that single ungainly sentence.

* Neither Wrath of Khan nor Superman II are “funnier” or less “self-serious” than their predecessors. But both are superior movies to them.

Temple of Doom is much less serious than Raiders, but nowhere near as funny.

* Calling Raiders “self-serious” is ridiculous.

Temple of Doom is vastly inferior to Raiders. I defy you to find one movie critic–or even ten people, anywhere on the internet–who say it’s a better movie.

Then there’s a juvenile and nonsensical shot at Israel–comparing Ultron to the Iron Dome system.

And finally it hints that the Whedon Clint Barton might be gay. Sigh. If true, I’ll dutifully chase this stick off the porch. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.


‘The Dadly Virtues’ Update
April 20th, 2015

So first of all, the site is pretty much done. Far and away the nicest it’s every looked. I don’t even miss the fleur de lis from the original Still monkeying with the type, though, to make it more readable.

Second: I ought to remind you that the dad book is less than a month away. Not that I really need to sell you: Matt Labash on giving your kids the sex talk. This thing sells itself.

Third, if you’re in D.C. on Monday May 11, you should come over to AEI for our little book event. It’s going to be great. Jonah Goldberg, P. J. O’Rourke, Steve Hayes, James Lileks, Tucker Carlson, and Rob Long will regale you with war stories and offer advice. There will be alcohol. You just have to RSVP in advance, which you can do here.


Boston Marathon Stuff
April 20th, 2015

1) You can watch the livestream here. Which is awesome all on its own. But I’m pretty sure Al Trautwig (aka the J. K. Simmons of sports) is doing the call.

2) This piece on the 1982 marathon is amazing. One of my favorite pieces of sports writing ever.

Update: In case you missed it, highlights included:

* Americans simultaneously leading the men’s and women’s races, deep into the course.

* An unheralded American man (Dathan Ritzenhein) running the race of his life.

* The winning move coming from a counter-move around the 24-mile mark.

So awesome.

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April 16th, 2015

Years ago when we lived in Old Town Alexandria, our condo complex had a towing company that patrolled the lot for people without HOA stickers on their windshield. One night they towed my wife’s car. Which did have a sticker.

I called the company about this the next morning and politely asked them to bring the car back. They refused. They refused, even, to release the car without us paying the tow charge. They insisted that if the car had been towed, even if it had been towed in error, we still had to pay to get it out of the lot. They were not pleasant about it. Or even apologetic. I got the distinct sense that this was not a customer-oriented industry.

You can see why that might be true. A towing company has customers only in the very loosest sense. They have contracts with the controlling entities whose property they patrol, but these contracts typically involve very little money. Instead, the contracts merely act as a kind of letter of marque giving the towing companies the ability to make money from the people they tow. So the towing companies aren’t responsible to the parties with whom they interact most intimately, and are only vaguely responsible to the controlling parties, who tend to be institutions and not individuals. You can understand why towing companies behave as if they are a law unto themselves.

My story only has a happy ending because I was president of the HOA at the time. I had our management company’s GC call the towing company to inform them they were in breach of contract. At which point they relented on forcing us to pay to get the car back. But they still insisted that my wife had to pick it up.

So she goes out to Arlington to get her car and the asshat running the lot is, well, let’s just say it’s a very unpleasant experience. My wife is a saint who just wanted to get out of the situation. Any normal person would have gone somewhere in the vein of #TeamBritt.
A couple weeks later, the company started towing another car from the HOA lot, which also had a properly displayed sticker. But this time the owner came out and confronted the tow-truck diver as he was in the act. The guy refused to put the car down–he insisted that “company policy” dictated that once a car was hitched to the truck, it could not be released for any reason. They nearly came to blows; fortunately someone had called the cops and the police showed up and forced the tow-truck driver to release the car, telling him that was he was doing was essentially stealing.
Our HOA killed the towing contract at our next meeting.
So maybe Britt McHenry was being unwarrantedly abusive and vile. Or maybe she was responding to some deeply unpleasant people who had caused her material harm with total impunity.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
April 16th, 2015

I’ve tried to withhold, I really have. And the last trailer left me completely cold.

But this one makes me feel kind of funny. Like when we used to climb the rope in gym class.

So fine. Just take my money. I give up.