Bad Assumption

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was visiting with the Smallholder a few weeks ago. During the visit the subject of nationalized health care came up. The Smallholder made a point that your Maximum Leader has now heard at least twice more from others in discussion.

As it stands, there are bureaucrats in the health care process. They exist in private insurance companies, hospitals, and other for-profit health care providers. For the private insurers the job of the bureaucrats is to enforce policy and keep down costs to maximize profits.

Your Maximum Leader is not disputing this point here. But this is where the comments by Smallholder and others come into play… Their point is this: If there are already bureaucrats involved in the healthcare process; then why not eliminate the maximize profit part of the equation and have a bureaucrat who will be more responsive to the needs of the patient.

Your Maximum Leader more clearly articulated his objection to this premise today than he has before. So he will post it here. The problem with the premise being put forth here is that the government bureaucrat will in fact be more responsive to the needs of the patients. The assumption is that the current functionary’s job is to deny (needed) procedures in the interests of maknig more money for the company. Why does one assume that a government functionary will approve procedures differently? Regardless of who is running the program the job of the bureaucrat is to enforce rules and contain costs. The government will have to maintain a budget for healthcare. (One presumes…) It can’t just approve any procedure for anyone at any time. Additionally, there will be rules (as there already are in Medicare and Medicaid as well as in the private sector) to be enforced. The rules will state what procedures will be covered at what time. It is wrong to assume that the rules will be more favorable to patients than those extant today.

It is an assumption many people make… And it is a wrongly reasoned one.

Oh… You should also check out FLG’s post on power and the left in the context of health care.

Carry on.

United vs Musicians

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know if you happened to catch this article about travails of Dave Carroll and the Sons of Maxwell.

Apparently the baggage handlers at O’Hare played catch (poorly) with Dave’s guitar. United didn’t want to pay up for damages…

Dave is a musician… So he wrote a song about the ordeal.

They also made a video (that you can watch here as it is too wide to embed here).

Good on you Dave Carroll and the Sons of Maxwell… Way to stick it to the legacy carriers…

Carry on.

Two great things that go great together…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader directs you to America’s finest news source for this wonderful story: Baseball Fans Delighted by New Between Innings Fuck-Cams.

As you can probably tell from the link itself… The language is sort of saucy… So be aware if you have people reading over your shoulder…

Of course, one of the reasons for directing you to the link is that the ballpark used to roll-out the fuck-cam was your Maximum Leader’s own beloved National’s home field, Nationals Park.

While your Maximum Leader feels that the baseball product on the field in Washington ranges from “OMG they stink!” to “Nauseatingly incompetent” to “They just can’t catch a break can they?” he isn’t sure that pornography on the HD jumbo-tron is the answer…

It may be AN answer but it is not THE answer to the National’s woes…

THE answer would be a bullpen… And some better defensive players… And a one more guy with some speed… And…

Okay… Porn might be THE answer.

Carry on.

Setting the DVR

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders if it is more common to say that one “tivo’ed” a program on TV or “DVR’ed” a program; regardless of the recording platform one owns. He says that he “tivos” programs, even though his recording device is a DVR… Curious… To use “tivo” as a verb is much more fluid sounding than the tongue-tied “setting the DVR to record.” But should we use the product-related invented verb even if we don’t own the product itself? Well… Your Maximum Leader does…


Your Maximum Leader must thank and curse FLG for a TV recommendation. FLG recommends “The Ascent of Money” on PBS. The thanks come because your Maximum Leader is something of a Niall Ferguson fan and is genuinely interested in the program.

The curses come because in order to make room on the DVR for the program your Maximum Leader is likely going to have to erase some older episodes of Two and a Half Men, How I Met your Mother and Burn Notice. He thinks that by erasing the sit-com’s he’ll be okay… He’s watched them all anyway…

Of course he could erase “Outland,” “Clerks,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” and some episode of NOVA about butterflies that Mrs Villain recorded if he chose…

In fact… He might just erase all that stuff (except Burn Notice)… It is time to clean off the DVR…

Carry on.

True Confessions

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has never read “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Nor has he seen the film.

That is all.

Carry on.


Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been spending time with Mrs Villain as she is picking new appliances and flooring for the Villainschloss. Last night your Maximum Leader spent his quality bloggy time at Sears trying to get that elusive extra 10% off of a front-loading washing machine.

Oh the thrills…

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t have much to say about the major stories of the day… But here are a few quick thoughts…

First off… Your Maximum Leader has grown weary of the Michael Jackson tributes. He doesn’t plan on watching any of the tribute today. Indeed, he’ll miss as much as he can and is able to given the huge amount of news coverage. Your Maximum Leader feels pity towards Michael Jackson. With the preponderance of news coverage given to the story his pity is turning to disgust. He doesn’t want to feel disgust towards Michael Jackson…

Secondly… Sarah Palin. Your Maximum Leader has never been a strong bandwagoneer for Governor Palin. He thought that with some time and more experience she could be the type of politician that he could support. She was not ready for the spotlight of a national campaign when John McCain selected her to be the VP choice. He had hoped that she would finish her term as Governor and move into getting different policy experience. (Job at a think-tank. Roving ambassador. Something.) Then she would be ready to more seriously campaign in 2012 or 2016.

That doesn’t appear to be plan now. Your Maximum Leader can’t get himself past one word now with Sarah Palin. That word is quitter. She is a quitter. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t care what the pressures are on her. She was elected to be the Governor of Alaska. She has a duty to serve out her term. If your Maximum Leader were an Alaskan citizen he’d be spitting mad. As it is, he is just done with Sarah Palin. (Not that he was ever with her in the way that so many are.) He can’t get past the quitting. Sure she’s been dealt a bad hand. The press loves to go after her and it would be hard to just “go back to being Governor.” But that is what she needed to do. Your Maximum Leader would be angry as hell if he were Palin given how her family is being mistreated in the press. But the solution is not to quit but to hunker down and do the best job you can as Governor and then move to the next stage of your career. If you can’t handle the horrible attacks on your person and family that comes with national politics, just finish your term and quietly fade away. Someone with half a brain should have told her that if she has any aspirations to higher office then she do the right thing - which she didn’t. Sorry Sarah, but your Maximum Leader doesn’t approve.

Thirdly… Your Maximum Leader’s beloved Washington Nationals Baseball Club are showing some signs of life and improvement. He thinks that they are better now than they were a few weeks ago. They still suffer from a crappy bullpen. But even there some minor improvements can be seen. He hopes that his predicition that the Nats will lose fewer than 90 games will come true… But it is likely that the Nats will be in the 95-105 loss category this year. That is an improvement over losing more than 120 and becoming (officially) the worst team in history…

Carry on.

Robert McNamara - RIP

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wakes up every day now and wonders what other famous person is going to be found dead, die, or be killed. There seems to be someone new every day…

Today comes the news that Former Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara died yesterday in Washington DC, aged 93. The Washington Post has a comprehensive obituary posted for him.

Your Maximum Leader, starting in the late 1990s, started to feel sorry for Robert McNamara. He was a man condemned to live his life in the knowledge that he engineered the policies of the Vietnam War. Those policies resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of American lives and much treasure. In the end one can say that the statistical know-how that had well served McNamara until 1961 and there after was the key to his failed Vietnam policies. The statistics and analysis that he so wanted to lead to a dispassionate application of a rational policy was in the end doomed to failure for not being able to quantify the human factors of the war.

Your Maximum Leader hopes Robert McNamara has found his peace now. It seemed as though it was too elusive in life.

Carry on.

Who is generous?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has to ask something of his readers. As you all know, your Maximum Leader recently had a birthday. And although he’s mentioned this tidbit a few times, he was not trying to blatantly solicit a gift from any of his readers…


A box from an related retailer came in the mail last week. It contained a book that your Maximum Leader desired. Alas, the book contained a packing slip; but the packing slip did not contain the name of the party that ordered the book. Your Maximum Leader called a few of the usual suspects to see which one bought the book. But none of the ususal suspects purchased the book. Mrs Villain threw away the packing slip, so he cannot call the retailer and try and back-track to discover who needs to be thanked for the kind gift.

If anyone out there sent your Maximum Leader an out-of-print book off his Amazon wish list and hasn’t received a thank-you note yet… Please let him know. He would like to thank you personally.

Carry on.

July 1.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reads on Robbo’s blog a wonderful little piece on Gen. John Buford and the opening of the Battle of Gettysburg. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t think much of the US Civil War, and thus didn’t think about yesterday being the annivesary of the beginning of the famous American battle.

On the other hand…

Your Maximum Leader did think about, and was reminded by his good friend the Air Marshal, that yesterday was also the first day of the Battle of the Somme in the Great War. Your Maximum Leader, when he thinks about the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, remembers the number 57,000. Fifty-seven thousand. He should remember the number 57,470. That huge number is number of British casualties on the first day of the battle. Of the 57,470 who became casualties, 19,240 were killed or died of wounds suffered that day.

Think about that for a moment.

19,240 British soliders killed in one day.

Let us compare that number to some others for a moment.

The number of American dead in Iraq: 4,323 (according to an anti-war group, your Maximum Leader didn’t find the Pentagon number).

The number of American dead in attack on September 11, 2001: 2,974.

The American dead from attack on Pearl Harbor: 2,350.

The dead from the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1864) on both sides: 7,863. (3,155 Union, 4,708 Confederate)

The dead from the Battle of Antietam (September 17, 1862) on both sides: 3,654. (2,108 Union, 1,546 Confederate)

The population of Mineola, NY (2008): 19,216.

The population of East Lyme, CT (2008): 19,022.

The population of Vero Beach, FL (2008): 16,982.

The population of Princeton, NJ (2008): 13,391.

The population of Vienna, VA (2008): 14,903.

The population of Lexington, VA (2008): 7,003.

Contemplating the number of British dead makes your Maximum Leader shudder. The thought is made the more difficult in the knowledge that many of the units suffering so badly were part of Kitchener’s New Army. Many regiments of the New Army were recruited locally, so small towns often learned of whole generations of young men being killed at once. It is terrible to contemplate.

Your Maximum Leader thinks he’s going to have to stop contemplating this and get himself a drink pretty soon…

Carry on.

Last weekend.

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has been meaning to write a little bit about his wonderful weekend with Mrs Villain. Alas, the minor flooding in the Villainschloss caused your Maximum Leader to write less than he wanted while taking care of the situation.


Last weekend your Maximum Leader and his loving wife, Mrs Villain, had a great visit to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Spa. This visit was to celebrate your Maximum Leader’s 40th birthday and our anniversary. Let your Maximum Leader tell you that Nemacolin is one of his favorite places. The accomodations are great. The food is great. The people who work there are superlative. There are so many things to do there that you’ll never be bored. He cannot commend it to you all enough. If you can, you should visit.

So, your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain arrived last Friday (mid-day). We settled into our room in the Chateau which was wonderful. (Mrs Villain booked rooms in the Lodge but thanks to a little Maximum Leaderly charm we got moved over to the Chateau.) Then we meandered over to the Shooting Academy.

Once we arrived at the Shooting Academy, we picked up our shotguns (Berretta 12 ga for your Maximum Leader and Berretta 20 ga for Mrs Villain) and went out and destroyed some clays. During a previous visit your Maximum Leader went after 100 clays and got 85 of them. He was hot that day. Alas, during this visit he was not as sharp. He did 50 clays this time and probably only got about 30. He had some real trouble at some of the stations. He didn’t hit one of the “mini” clays. (Which are, as the name suggests, about half the size of a regular clay and faster.) He also had trouble at the station with the “rabbits.” In case you do not know, when you shoot clays they are often released in a way that resembles the flight of an animal. Sometimes a pheasant, or pigeon, or even a rabbit. Your Maximum Leader had trouble picking up the rabbit as it skipped across his field of vision. It was disappointing. Perhaps it is a sign of age. Perhaps a sign of needing to check his eyeglass prescription.

After shooting clays we returned to the room and freshened up and dressed for dinner. We went to dinner at the one restaurant at the resort where we hadn’t eaten in our previous visits. We went to Aqueous. It is a steak and seafood place. We split a bowl of soup (a creamy mushroom soup that was a special that day) and some of their smoked salmon apetizer to get started. Then Mrs Villain had the Seasame Ahi Tuna (with shitake lo-mein, some tempura veggies, and yuzu). Your Maximum Leader had the New York Strip with a broiled lobster tail, with bearnase, aparagus, and their special Mac & Cheese.

Okay… Your Maximum Leader can absolutely hear Basil rolling his eyes from the midwest and declaring “Dear God! Mac & Cheese with dinner. What is Maxy now a four year old?” In his defence, your Maximum Leader wasn’t thinking of Mac & Cheese at first. But he remembered that during a previous visit he was told by a friend that the Mac & Cheese was fantastic and that if given the chance it should be gotten. Well… Your Maximum Leader can say for sure that this is the third best Mac & Cheese he’s ever had. The best is (of course) his own that he makes at the Villainschloss for the Villainettes upon request. The next best is the Mac & Cheese he’s had at both Nob Hill restaurants (the one in San Francisco and Las Vegas) The one at Aqueous was quite good. The chef used a mix of smoked cheeses that was very appetizing. So if you are dining at Aqueous, try the Mac & Cheese.

Oh yes… The view from our table across the golf course…
Clicken to embiggen in all cases…

The next day Mrs Villain awoke and got a spa treatment. Your Maximum Leader, not being much for spa treatments, went out for a little walk. He spoke to the tennis pro for a bit (about baseball actually) while passing by the lovely grass courts. Then your Maximum Leader went back to the room and waited for Mrs Villain to return. Upon her return we both went for a walk. We walked up to the menagerie and saw lions, elk, mountain goats, hyenas, and bison among others. In fact while we were walking by two of the bears decided to “get jiggy with it.” Photographic evidence:

The most interesting animal on the trip was the white Bison known as “Snowball.”

After our walk we got an early lunch and then spent a little time by the pool. Then we took a little trip. Mrs Villain, knowing your Maximum Leader’s love of baseball took him away to Pittsburgh for the Pirates/Royals game at PNC park. Your Maximum Leader hadn’t seen a baseball game at PNC (although he had seen games at the old Three Rivers). We had great seats.
And not only that! The Pirates won the game. (Woo hoo! Way to stick it to the American League!) It was a great experience. Your Maximum Leader was reminded of how great the Pirates fans are. They know their team. They know the game. They were a great group of people to mingle with.

Since you might be thinking it… Your Maximum Leader has visited a number of ballparks. In his mind the ranking of the best ballparks goes something like this: 1) Wrigley; 2) Fenway; (both of these are highly ranked due to their history and atmosphere - if not the amenities of the park itself) 3) PNC Park; 4) Camden Yards; and finally 5) Nationals Park. (Okay… Your Maximum Leader admits that Nats Park only makes the top five because he is a fan and loves his team. If push came to shove he’d say that AT&T park is probably nicer… But Nationals Park is right up there.)

After the game there were fireworks fired off barges in the Ohio river. That was great. Then we drove back to the resort.

On Sunday after a wonderful breakfast we checked out and went to visit some of the local historical sites. This was your Maximum Leader’s fourth or fifth visit to Nemacolin; and he’d never stopped to see some of the very historical sites that are within 5 miles of the resort.

Robbo… Are you paying attention to this? Your Maximum Leader was thinking of you during these visits.

We first went to the grave of Maj-Gen Edward Braddock. We walked down the remains of Braddock’s road to the site were Braddock was buried by George Washington.
Seen here with Mrs Villain’s gams:
Then we walked up the hill to the current gravesite.
Some details of the plaques on the monument:

Here is a view from a distance away. You can see the current monument to the left of the photo. Your Maximum Leader is standing in the remains of Braddock’s road looking down the hill towards the site where Braddock was first buried. If you look carefully you can see the ruts of the road in the grass. Look to the bottom of the photo and you’ll see two wooden beams. These beams mark where the ruts were before they paved the path. If you follow them into the darkness you can pick up the roadway.

(NB to all embiggening clickers: Sorry for the crappy quality of photos. We forgot the good camera and were reduced to using your Maximum Leader’s cell phone camera.)

After the Braddock grave site visit we drove on down the road to Fort Necessity. We looked through the visitor’s center and then walked out to the reconstruction of the fort itself.



Your Maximum Leader was surprised during his visit. The fort was about as big as he’d always pictured it in his mind. He also remembers reading a letter of Washington’s describing the construction and size of the fort. What surprised him was the size of the meadow in which the fort was located. The US Park Service is has been kind enough to mark where the tree line was in 1754. In many cases the trees were a lot closer to the fort than he’d imagined. Thus, the meadow didn’t seem all that big. The Wiki article linked above says that the tree line was within 100 yards of the fort. This is a little tidbit that your Maximum Leader never remembers reading. He visualized that the tree line was well further than 100 yards from the fort. While the trees are now more than 100 yards from the fort, they weren’t in 1754. Now seeing the site your Maximum Leader has a better understanding of why Washington’s physical position in the fort was untenable (especially considering the rain and lack of supplies). Your Maximum Leader wouldn’t want to try and defend that position from attack…


After visiting Ft Necessity your Maximum Leader and Mrs Villain returned home. It was a wonderful trip. Again, if you happen to be looking for a great place to spend a nice weekend, you should give Nemacolin and the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania a try.

Carry on.

So I’ve got this pig head…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader mentioned the other day that he went down to visit his friend the Smallholder. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate the baptism of the Smallholder’s youngest son. In addition to baptism there was the roasting of a whole pig and much feasting and drinking.

So… If you are going to roast a whole pig you might wonder what would one do with the head of said pig? You could have the butcher dispose of it if you wanted.

Or you could take the pig’s head and feet, sit them on your lap in the truck, and drive them over to your friend Polymath’s home where he will turn the pig’s head into head cheese.

If you clicky here you can read (and see) all about Polymath making head cheese. It looks great. Your Maximum Leader wishes he could get down there to try some.

Oh yeah… Your Maximum Leader should mention that he still hasn’t gotten all of the bloody stains off his jeans yet from the journey. How’s that for a mental image for ye? Your Maximum Leader covered in blood with a head as a trophy… Quite manly isn’t it?

Carry on.

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