Your good play made me lose!

Last Week in Weird

Letter of the law

Breach of contract, n.: failing to perform any term of a contract, written or oral, without a legitimate legal excuse.

The contract is the cornerstone of civilization, and I would argue that the civil suit for breach of contract is the thing that separates free men from barbarians; in a free society, failure to live up to the terms of a contract is brought before an independent tribunal that judges the merits of the case and determines what punishment, if any, is appropriate. In a barbarous society, failure to live up to the terms of a contract is punished directly by the aggrieved party, who takes the law into his own hands.

Admit it. You’re expecting me to say that the modern United States is barbaric because of the government court monopoly. That’s where you think this is going. Well, your Christmas present is that I saved a spooky Holiday reverse from Halloween and I’m bringing it out now.

A federal judge has ruled that poker star Phil Ivey and a friend must repay $10 million they won at the Borgata in 2012 while employing a technique called edge-sorting to improve their odds.

The damages include $9.6 million they won edge-sorting while playing baccarat during four visits, plus $504,000 Ivey won at Craps with his winnings from Baccarat.

U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman had ruled in October that while Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun did not commit fraud, they did breach their contract with the casino and were liable for damages.

Surprise! The issue in this case is that the government of New Jersey has apparently decided to enforce nonexistent, imaginary "contracts." I suppose I should be less harsh; a truly humble narrator would confess that it’s entirely possible that Ivey agreed to be bound by this bizarre contract. No casino I’ve ever set foot in required that I accept a contract promising not to win, though, and it seems strange that Ivey would agree to that, but, hey!

"Edge sorting," for those not in the loop, is a technique that revolves around the fact that the cards the casino were using had very slightly asymmetrical backs. The "breach of contract" is that Ivey and his partner paid attention to the backs of the cards so they would have a better idea of which cards were high and which were low. That’s right, friends: according to the state of New Jersey, paying attention to the cards at a casino and attempting to beat the odds is a civil infraction. You think I’m exaggerating?

The breach was their failure to abide by the state’s Casino Controls Act, which prohibits marking cards. While they did not physically mark the cards, they noticed and used tiny inconsistencies on the backs of the cards to tell whether high- orlow-valuee [sic sic sic dear lord sic] cards were coming up, the judge said. [Emphasis added, syntax disaster original]

Only in the wild world of government law could somebody be convicted of marking cards while the court simultaneously acknowledges that he didn’t mark the cards. The best part?

After Hillman ruled that Ivey and Sun violated their contract with the Borgata, the casino filed a brief suggesting two different ways the damages should be calculated.

One called for Ivey and Sun to pay another $5.4 million on top of the $10.1 million, based on a theory of what the casino would have won if the odds had not been adjusted in the players’ favor.

I don’t believe you barbarians understand what contracts actually are.

Served and protected

Drunk driving laws are among the very worst laws on the books in the United States. I wish I could write that nobody denies that, but, sadly, the American people have been so thoroughly propagandized that very nearly everybody denies it. That’s "everbody" as in "especially the Solano County, California district attorney’s office," which apparently believes that the law doesn’t go nearly far enough.

After being pulled over on 5 August 2015, [Joseph] Schwab was charged by the Solano County district attorney with misdemeanor driving under the influence of a drug…

Shcwab was driving home from work when he was pulled over by an agent from the California department of alcoholic beverage control, who was driving an unmarked vehicle. The agent said Schwab had cut her off and was driving erratically.

The 36-year-old union glazier was given a breathalyzer test which showed a 0.00% blood alcohol level, his attorney said. He was booked into county jail and had his blood drawn, but the resulting toxicology report came back negative for benzodiazepines, cocaine, opiates, THC, carisoprodol (a muscle relaxant), methamphetamine/MDMA, oxycodone, and zolpidem.

Let’s stop right here. Don’t worry, don’t worry, we’ll get to that — but before the comedy reveal I’d like to point out that the government’s uniformed money-snatchers were so desperate to pin some "crime" on Mr. Schwab that, after he defeated their pseudoscientific breath-crime detector, they kidnapped him anyhow, then forcibly sucked the blood from his body and tested it for a plethora of other sinful substances. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, friends, but this is disgusting.

Okay, fine. It’s time for the comedy bonus:

Almost 18 months later, Schwab is preparing to go to trial. The only evidence the DA has provided of his intoxication is a blood test showing the presence of caffeine.


The sample was screened a second time by a laboratory in Pennsylvania, according to documents provided to the Guardian, where the sole positive result was for caffeine — a substance likely coursing through the veins of many drivers on the road at any given time.

Words fail me. Swear words are working fine, but this is a family-friendly blog (as sometimes I must work hard to remember), and I’m out of ammo in that regard.

California vehicle code defines a "drug" as any substance besides alcohol that could affect a person in a manner that would "impair, to an appreciable degree" his ability to drive normally.

Making that case with caffeine would be difficult, Zehnder said, because the prosecutor would have to show that impaired driving was specifically caused by the caffeine and not any other circumstances.

Now you people are just making my head hurt. Furthermore, you’re doing it on purpose.

A royal pain

I love Hans-Hermann Hoppe, and I’m quite sympathetic to his argument that monarchy is superior to democracy. If there’s a vaild counterargument, it could only be that Prince Charles is an intractable moron.

Prince Charles said religious hatred was on the increase, leading to a rise in refugees fleeing persecution.

"According to the United Nations, 5.8 million more people abandoned their homes in 2015 than the year before, bringing the annual total to a staggering 65.3 million. That is almost equivalent to the entire population of the United Kingdom," he said.

Who wants to be the guy who has to tell the wailing prince that those refugees aren’t fleeing religious persecution? Ain’t gonna be me, because I’m too fixated on his next bon mot:

The prince urged listeners this Christmas to remember "how the story of the Nativity unfolds with the fleeing of the holy family to escape violent persecution".

Maybe if and when Chuck ever gets to be king he can "punch up" the official Anglican book of Luke, but the normal one actually says they were following a government edict to comply with a census. In case you think that’s the only clueless thing the prince has to say, well:

The prince recalled meeting a Jesuit priest from Syria. "He told me of mass kidnappings in parts of Syria and Iraq, and how he feared that Christians would be driven en masse out of lands described in the Bible," he said. "He thought it quite possible there would be no Christians in Iraq within five years."

He continued: "The scale of religious persecution around the world is not widely appreciated. Nor is it limited to Christians in the troubled regions of the Middle East." He then cited a recent report that found an increase in attacks on minority faiths.

Which one of you volunteered to explain reality to the prince? You’re also responsible for explaining to him that the refugees generally aren’t Christians, and that Christians are in fact a "minority faith" throughout most of the middle east. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Headline of the week

"Turkey’s Erdogan is Turning Into a Strongman."

Runners-up: "The War in Iraq is Turning Into a Mistake," "Werewolves are Turning Into Imaginary Monsters," "Prince Charles is Beginning to Sound Like an Idiot," "Popular Music is Becoming Unbearable."

Game is you, comrade!

CIA director John Brennan made headlines this past week when he was a bit too candid about the Russian hacker non-situation:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Oh, oops, that was actually Joseph Goebbels. Sorry, wrong quote. Or was it? Or was it?

Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan has warned the U.S. government against a tit-for-tat response to Russian hacking during the presidential election.

"I don’t think we should resort to some of the tactics and techniques that our adversaries employ against us. I think we need to remember what we’re fighting for," Brennan told National Public Radio in an interview that aired on Friday.

"We’re fighting for our country, our democracy, our way of life, and to engage. [sic?] And the skullduggery that some of our opponents and adversaries engage in, I think is beneath this country’s greatness."

Far be it from me to suggest that Brennan is attempting to "shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie" by dialing-down the red-baiting just a hair before the shooting war actually starts. Far be it also from me to suggest that perhaps CIA director John Brennan is probably not a man who should be trusted to take a principled stand against interfering with foreign elections. Oh, speaking of which:

Brennan also predicted that despite the fall of eastern Aleppo to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there would be no end to the violence there.

"Aleppo’s fall, to me is not a sign that there is going to be an end to this conflict because I am convinced that many, many of those oppositionists, the ones who are trying to reclaim their country for their families, for their neighbors, for their children, will continue to fight," he told NPR.

Never mind that Goebbels guy. Here, I’m going with Arcann.

2 thoughts on “Last Week in Weird

  1. While I certainly wouldn’t dispute that Prince Charles is an intractable moron, I suspect he was referring to the post-Nativity flight to Egypt as told in Matthew. I suspect that “corrupt political authority murders large numbers of people to prevent one of them from possibly threatening his power in the future” is a closer match to what’s actually happening in the Middle East than the nebulous “religious persecution.”

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