It's Friday -- Let's Get Out of Here

Random Friday Morning Thoughts

Ten years ago yesterday there was a heck of a grass fire
around Rhome during high winds. Fox 4 put up a live helicopter feed, and I basically ran a live blog posting photos as they came in. 

  • Yesterday marked the unofficial beginning of the Covid Shutdown, so I went back and looked about how I reacted to it. That post is here. It was the first time had a bullet point which included a chart about the spread of the virus. I was pretty shocked when I saw it: The U.S. hadn't yet hit a day which had cracked 300 cases. Here is what it looked like on 3/12/20:

  • President Biden addressing the nation last night felt so good simply because it felt so normal. 
  • Let's check out how Fox News handled it:
    Look at  the chyron

    This is amazing: At one point they had a Tucker Carlson "reaction cam"
    in the corner of the screen during the President's address. Watch it in action. This is real.

  • Weird sight yesterday at Lake Bridgeport: A helicopter was hovering over the water as it lowered some object into the water. The object (not a person) stay submerged for at least five minutes before it was raised back up and the helicopter flew away. 

  • Forensic hypnosis might be the dumbest "science" ever used to convict people. When I was DA in Wise County in the 1990s, I had one case where it had been used during the investigation. When I saw the video of the witness "hypnotized", I cringed. And then I laughed. It was ridiculous. The hypnotist would have been more credible if he had pulled out a watch, waved it back and forth, and said, "You're getting sleepy."   Fortunately, that witness couldn't remember anything new because of the "hypnosis session" so it wasn't a factor in the case. 

  • DPS is trying to promote a kinder and gentler presence on Twitter.

    • The other images aren't quiet as tender:

  • People are getting a head start by signing up for the March Madness Liberally Lean Modified Scoring System Pick 'Em Tourney. You can, too. Here is a very funny entry from yesterday: Edit: Link fixed.

  • If you are a prosecutor or judge who has your name and address blocked from appraisal district websites (that's a perk you get if you avail yourself of it), you might find out that your property taxes last year weren't paid from your mortgage escrow account.  It's happened in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties.  The problem was caused by a company named CoreLogic who is a "company hired by mortgage companies to pay property taxes for them." (Now how exactly this screwup happened is unclear because the story in the Dallas Morning News was written by Dave "The Watchdog" Leiber. He has frustrated me before. )

  • Dak Prescott's girlfriend made a rare appearance with him at the Wednesday press conference to announce the contract extension. I was looking for a picture of her from it, but instead discovered that she posted this last Halloween. 

  • Star-Telegram front page story: Prosecutors "presented false testimony" that lead to man spending 25 years in prison. (The background story from last fall is probably better.)

  • Time which has passed since the Wise County Sheriff's Office has failed to solve the murder of Lauren Whitener in her home at Lake Bridgeport: 616 days.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Thursday Morning Thoughts

That bullet point isn't that exciting, but it is just an example of lots of bullet points I was making 10 years ago about the Texas school funding crisis. You may not remember it, but schools were actually laying off teachers left and right because the real estate mortgage crisis/scandal had caused property values to plummet and, consequently, the ad valorem taxes which fund the schools had taken a hit as well.  Now 10 years later, skyrocketing property values and skyrocketing property taxes have made school funding issues a distant memory. 

  • The Stimulus Package passed the House yesterday with not a single Republican vote. It's an interesting political dynamic. The majority of Americans (70%) support the bill. But with only 41% for those who identify as Republican supporting it, not a single Republican representative budged. I call it interesting because those 41% of Republicans didn't garner a single yes vote to represent their position.  Maybe that's the way it should be. I don't know. 

  • Maybe the Messenger covered this but, if so, I missed it. 

  • But the official state vaccine map shows the only doses available in Wise County as of today are 200 of the Johnson and Johnson type at "Wise Health Community Health Center" in Decatur and 90 doses of the same at Brookshires in Bridgeport.  It didn't even list Walmart as one of the five option locations. Bottom line: You can find the vaccine somewhere, you just have to work at finding it. 

  • The Rangers caused quite the blowback yesterday as they went full throttle by announcing the new ballpark will be at 100% capacity on Opening Day. They say they will require masks but there is absolutely no way that will be enforced. 

  • This coincides with a new ad featuring all former Presidents (except one) who urged everyone to get a vaccine. George W. Bush makes this oddly worded, and now interestingly timed, statement: "You know what I'm really looking forward to? Is going to opening day in Texas Ranger Stadium with a full stadium."

  • Right out of law school and in my first job, I had a senior associate criticize my draft of a client letter because I had begun a sentence with, "Interestingly," (i.e. "Interestingly, the witness in his deposition stated . . . .") The lawyer told me, "If it is interesting then you don't need to tell them that it's interesting."  I found that statement to be so stupid that I still remember it over three decades later.  We're lawyers. It's our job to tell clients what facts of the case are noteworthy. 
  • Part of the set collapsed on this ESPN Columbia segment, and I thought the guy might be dead. Video. But he is ok

  • I heard an ad for FindAHouseChurch.com on WBAP this morning. That made me curious since there's always someone trying to make a buck behind stuff like this. I haven't figured it out yet, but the website it is run by John Stewart Hill, the somewhat strange guy behind The Good Contractor's List. 
  • In reviewing old home videos, I found this shot of new Hall of Famer Drew Pearson signing autographs at the Grand Re-opening of the First National Bank in Bridgeport in 1996.

  • I was briefly in the video wearing a suit and sunglasses and looking like an obnoxious character from a John Hughes film. (And the wind was blowing.) 

  • All right, his is my proposal for a scoring system for the Upcoming Liberally Lean Tournament Pick 'Em contest. I want to make it where picking winners and upsets in the first two rounds might be enough to win the whole thing even if you tank after that. (The link to sign up should be here.)  Under the default scoring system which I changed, first round winners would get you 1 point even if it was an upset. 

  • The crazy trading of Gamestop stock is at it again. 

  • I watched the Netflix documentary on Jeffrey Epstein, and one brief part of it focused on how no one is really sure how he made his bizarre amount of wealth. For fun, here's a link to the the front of the mansion which just sold on Google Street View. (One fun thing for me is to use that map feature for dang near any address I see in the news.)

  • Legal nerd stuff: The federal judges on the Fifth Circuit are snipping at each other.  See this dissent vs. a concurrence

    Dissent above, Concurrence below

  • On the front page of the Dallas Morning News: Man released from prison after 34 years because prosecutors withheld evidence. How many times must stories like this be written?


Random Wednesday Morning Thoughts

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong. And, boy, was I was really wrong. From Wikipedia: "[T]wo adult males requested trials, and juries handed each defendant a 99-year prison sentence. Eleven other adult males pleaded guilty to the charges against them and received 15-year sentences in exchange. All seven juveniles entered guilty pleas and received seven-year probated prison-sentences. The twenty-first and last defendant pleaded guilty after a year long investigation whereby a DNA specimen identified him as being at the crime scene. The defendant received a reduced seven-year sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to indecently exposing himself to a child."

  • There are some folks getting their COVID vaccine basically on demand in West Texas. If you make enough calls you'll find a county that will say, "Just come on out right now and we'll give it to you."  
  • Someone suggested to me that the vaccine is more available in West Texas because the shipments sent there are not being used there by its residents. That is, the further West you go, the more you find people who are anti-vaxxers and Covid "hoax" believers.
  • Wise County schools going with no masks: Alvord ISD and Paradise ISD.
  • One year ago yesterday:

  • For the many of you who are curious about the silence from Bag of Nothing, I want to let you know I've communicated with him and he's OK.  He's going through some tough things, but he's fighting through it. 
  • Random church letter out of Tennessee: The short version is, "It doesn't look like you want us, and that's fine because we don't think you're good enough for us anyway."

  • It's like something that Michael would suggest in The Office, but in this case the staff didn't revolt. 

  • The Cowboys under Jerry Jones really have had remarkable stability at the quarterback position. But most of it was luck with Romo being an undrafted free agent, and Dak being a fourth round pick.

  • With Dak's signing of his $160 million contract, some have noted that Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys and Texas Stadium for $140 million back in 1989.

  • Here's the Wikipedia entry for that second headline from above where nine passengers were actually sucked out of the plane. The flight had just left Honolulu. 
  • I will open up Liberally Lean March Madness Tourney entries next week. But, like I intended to do last year before COVID derailed it, I'll trick it up with a different scoring system than others. I'll greatly reward upsets in the first two rounds and give less weight to picking the Final Four and ultimate winner. I'll get you the details. 

  • If said it before: Buying into the NBA Top Shot digital cards is stupidity. 
    • I understand the concept of "storing value" in gold or a Van Gogh painting or now even Bitcoin. They are all worth something because there is widespread and sustained agreement that they are a place to store our money/value.  
    • Heck, a $100 paper bill is worth $100 because we agree that the piece of paper is worth that. 
    • And these new digital trading cards are being marketed by the NBA machine as both a "collectable" and, by hyping terms like "blockchain", as a place to "store value." Neither are true (despite what Mark Cuban is trying to con you into believing.) 
    • They certainly aren't collectables (digital copies are exact copies) and, more importantly, people will soon quickly come to the agreement that it is not a safe place to "store value." Then the con and the folly will be revealed.  
    • It is exactly like the Beanie Babies craze. The only entity who made money from Beanie Babies was Ty Inc. who sold the fluffy creatures by the millions. The only people who will ultimately make money from Top Shot is the NBA which sells the initial digital cards in packs and then just sits back and watches.
  • Messenger: Above the Fold


Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

The family was that of Robert and Lisa Parr who would go on to win a $2.9 million judgment against Aruba.  The case came to an end in 2017 when the Dallas Court of Appeals overturned the verdict. They chose not to seek out a review by the Texas Supreme Court. “'I’m done. I don’t want to go through it again, which is sad,' said Parr, whose family appeared in the anti-fracking documentary Gasland Part II."

  • Job opening in Bridgeport:

  • Rightly or wrongly, businesses and events will start opening without COVID restrictions in a hurry over the next month. And I wonder if some events, especially those held outdoors, are rethinking their already announced cancellations -- Mayfest and the Main Street Arts Festival come to mind. 
  • I'm trying to get a handle on what Wise County schools are doing about masks. I've heard Paradise ISD is lifting the mask mandate effective tomorrow.  Bridgeport is keeping them. 
  • There's a lot of these videos, but this one made me want to punch the guy. He brought his kids along to educate them. 

  • Well, we got our Dak Prescott news as he signed a 4 year deal worth $160.  A ton of money? You bet, but that's just the going rate for a slightly above average NFL quarterback. But the expectations for him just skyrocketed.  People will now want to see more Pat Mahomes instead of  a fourth round pick. 
  •  "President Biden’s two German shepherds have been moved to the family home in Delaware after one of the animals showed ongoing aggressive behavior to White House staff." No indictment. No trial. No due process. That's no way to treat a good boy. (Then again, it's always a good idea to keep an eye on the Germans.) 

  • Grifters gonna grift.

  • Few things are as screwed up as the American health care system. 

  • Kansas's football programs just took another step back after going 16-90 over the last 10 seasons.  Coach Les Miles has been fired. While at LSU, he "attempted to sexualize the staff of student workers in the football program by, for instance, allegedly demanding that he wanted 'blondes with the big boobs' and 'pretty girls.'"  

  • Criminal justice news of Wichita County. "Jeffrey Tyler Sweatt, 41, is suspected of . . . soliciting sex and money from an assistant prosecutor in return for her dropping charges against him, according to allegations in court documents." Doesn't sound like a very good deal for the prosecutor. 

  • Funny.

  • I'm convinced at least one-quarter of the population is nuts. Example: Dr. Fauci was on the Meet the Press last month. Take a look at all the comments on Youtube about the interview. They believe it is an actor in a mask or is some type of deep fake. I mean they are convinced of it. 
  • Legal nerd stuff for Personal Injury lawyers:  State Rep. Jeff Leach, who I think is a con man, is supporting House Bill 19.  It's tort reform but only for cases involving commercial vehicles. Here's the text. There's a lot going on there, but I don't understand all of it since I don't practice that kind of law. Some of you guys email and tell me what he is up to. He's already being scorched in the tweet's comments

  • I still haven't got my Bill Gates Computer Chip Vaccine, but I'm on the list.