mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Moore meets the RNC

Micheal Moore has his first USA Today column from the RNC up, and,well,he's no Jonah Goldberg (the NRO author who took the USA Today spot after they kicked Ann Coulter out).

What Moore does in the column is create a straw man - what Republicanism means - and then says that because most Republicans disagree with at least something in that platform, they are all really closet Dems, or should be.

I asked one man who told me he was a "proud Republican," "Do you think we need strong laws to protect our air and water?"

"Well, sure," he said. "Who doesn't?"

I asked whether women should have equal rights, including the same pay as men.

"Absolutely," he replied.

"Would you discriminate against someone because he or she is gay?"

"Um, no." The

The problem is that all these things have no solid description. Many Republicans might agree with "strong" laws regarding water cleanliness, but they have different definitions of strong, as well as clean. Republicans are smart enought to do cost-benefit analysis instead of picking an arbitrary arsenic level that is expensive to achive with no actual safety effect, and then accusing their opponents of poisioning kids. They are all for equal rights for women, but realize that women will sometimes use those rights to take lower-paying jobs, thus causing the raw numbers for salaries to tilt in favor of men. And they don't feel that not necessarily supporting gay marriage, which no matter what you feel is a change from several centuries of tradition, makes them guilty of discrimination.

Another Moore technique -pretend that the world is the way that we wish it was, not the way it actually was, and pretend that reflects politics, not dreams.
Throw in some statements that aren't actually true, and you have a Moore paragraph. Like this one:

, they are quite liberal and not in sync with the Republicans who run the country. Most don't want America to be the world's police officer and
prefer peace to war. They applaud civil rights, believe all Americans should have health insurance and think assault weapons should be banned.

I don't know about the assault weapon part, and I would guess that those who complain about assault weapons don't realize that there is no real non-cosmetic
difference between assault weapons and many other guns. As far as health insurance, while many republicans might agree (the rest probably realize that some
young healthy people would rather spend their money on other stuff), they don't want the government to control it. I don't think Republicans are against civil rights. But the worst of it is the "prefer peace to war" line. Everyone prefers peace to war. However, sometimes you have to use war to obtain peace, as Lileks said so well a while back. Republicans aren't out to kill people because they enjoy killing people, but rather they kill terroists and tyrants because it's the only way to obtain peace in the long run.

Republicans, like Dems, have differing views on many issues. Moore likes to pretend that everyone thinks exactly the same as the radical-right way that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Co. have defined Republicans. Aside from the fact that I wouldn't consider many of Bush's policies are all that far to the right (think education), it seems odd that Moore thinks Bush and Dick share the exact same agenda, when they don't even agree with each other on everything.

And then their's Moore on economics:
I asked my friend on the street. He said what I hear from all RINOs: "I don't want the government taking my hard-earned money and taxing me to death. That's what the Democrats do."
Money. That's what it comes down to for the RINOs. They do work hard and have been squeezed even harder to make ends meet. They blame Democrats for wanting to take their money. Never mind that it's Republican tax cuts for the rich and billions spent on the Iraq war that have created the largest deficits in history and will put all of us in hock for years to come.

Those tax cuts for the "rich" are one of the best things that can happen to the economy - poor people don't start businesses or hire people or create jobs. But the Dems also have a habit of defining anyone with a job as rich and raising their taxes. As far as the deficit, if we have to incur some debt to fight terrorism, it's worth it. It's like getting a mortgage to buy a house, only instead of a condo we get fewer terrorists.

Moore ends with this:
The Republican Party's leadership knows America is not only filled with RINOs, but most Americans are much more liberal than the delegates gathered
in New York... As tough of a pill as it is to swallow, Republicans know that the only way to hold onto power is to pass themselves off as, well, as
most Americans. It's a good show.

Never mind that the Democrats did the exact same thing with their convention -pretending they were more conservative than they really are. And many of the things that Moore sees as controversial in the Republican party - abortion, gay marriage, ect - are controversial to Democrats too. Heck. Kerry can't even make up his mind about most of the issues - how can you expect everyone in a party to agree?

Moore and his ilk want the U.S. to embrace big government in every aspect except the one that matters - defending ourselves against terrorism. I doubt that's how most Americans - Democrat or Republican - feel.

Rudy, you had me at hello...

I don't watch the speeches, but I have to say from skimming the text of Guliani's speech, he gets it when it comes to terrorism.

The part I'm most impressed with is where he looks at the history of terrorism, poking a finger in the eye of those who like to say that the U.S. brings
terrorism on itself, or that the actions of the U.S. is responsible for the acts of terrorism against us. The fact is that Radical Muslims have wanted to
destroy the U.S. for years, and will no matter what we do. 9/11 wasn't the first terror attack on us, but it was the first one that was big enough to make us
realize that there are people out there who want us dead.

Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It had been festering for many years.

And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. And the pattern had already begun.

The three surviving terrorists were arrested and within two months released by the German government.

Action like this became the rule, not the exception. Terrorists came to learn they could attack and often not face consequences.

In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro and murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer.

They marked him for murder solely because he was Jewish.

Some of those terrorists were released and some of the remaining terrorists allowed to escape by the Italian government because of fear of reprisals.

So terrorists learned they could intimidate the world community and too often the response, particularly in Europe, was "accommodation, appeasement and compromise."

And worse the terrorists also learned that their cause would be taken more seriously, almost in direct proportion to the barbarity of the attack.

Terrorist acts became a ticket to the international bargaining table.

How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize when he was supporting a terrorist plague in the Middle East that undermined any chance of peace?

Before September 11, we were living with an unrealistic view of the world much like our observing Europe appease Hitler or trying to accommodate ourselves to peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union through mutually assured destruction.

President Bush decided that we could no longer be just on defense against global terrorism but we must also be on offense.

He also manages to get in a few good punches at John F. Kerry:

But it is important to see the contrast in approach between the two men; President Bush, a leader who is willing to stick with difficult decisions even as public opinion shifts, and John Kerry, whose record in elected office suggests a man who changes his position often even on important issues.

When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, John Kerry voted against the Persian Gulf War. Later he said he actually supported the war.

Then in 2002, as he was calculating his run for president, he voted for the war in Iraq.

And then just 9 months later, he voted against an $87 billion supplemental budget to fund the war and support our troops.

He even, at one point, declared himself an anti-war candidate. Now, he says he's pro-war. At this rate, with 64 days left, he still has time to change his position at least three or four more times.

My point about John Kerry being inconsistent is best described in his own words when he said, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas -- one where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against the same thing.
Yes, people in public office at times do change their minds, I've done that, or they realize they are wrong or circumstances change.

Even if you don't agree with everything Guliani has done, he understands terrorism - and knows how to express the reality that most on the left would like to ignore.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Put the scarf on, or they die...

Andrew Stuttaford of NRO sums up the kidnapping of two French Journalists over France's headscarf ban as the ultimate proof for those who say that the U.S. brings terrorism on itself by, you know, having the nerve to defend it's own interests.

France stays out of the war and protests it, but still gets it's citizens kidnapped over a law passed in it's own country. News flash to those who think that the U.S responding to terroristic force with carefully aimed justice is creating more terrorists - terrorists aren't rational, and they will stop at nothing until anyone who disagrees with them in the slightest is dead.

Feed your need for news...

NewsFeedOnline is a great news source. And they offered me a t-shirt for pimping their site.

Seriously, it's a great site, and I've gotten stories for this blog as well as NewsAmuse from it. Think of it as the Drudge Report with more stories and no annoying popups.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Are you a blogger who wants a gmail account?

Wizbang featured a link to SayAnything, who was giving away invites to GMail, Google's invite-only email system that's currently in beta.

I've got 6 to give away, and aside from one coworker, all of my friends either already have one or don't want one. So I turn to the blogosphere.

But being an evil captitalist, I don't give stuff away. So here's the deal. The first 6 people to add my blog to their blogrolls and forward me the link as proof will get a gmail invite (as well as added to my blogroll).

Just send a link to your blog and your email address to

Guess Michelle doesn't want to cuddle..

Michelle Malkin is making fun of cuddle parties. OK, people putting on pajamas and hugging people they just met is a little wierd, but whatever floats your boat. And when it includes things like An exotic dancer, Jade Patten, 25, massages the hand of a 28-year-old Web site developer named Robbe Richman I can see the appeal - it's not every day you get to jump into bed with a stripper for $30, even though there is no nudity or anything beyond kissing allowed.

Michelle ends with this line: Have you heard of anything so self-indulgently 9/10? What will it take for these people to grow up?

Gee, I didn't realize we weren't allowed to have fun anymore. Obviously, we are a terror target, and people should be viligant in their daily lives, but we still go on with our lives, and we can still enjoy ourselves. Besides, I can't think of anything that would piss radical Muslims off more than men and women wearing pajamas touching each other.

Put down the shovel and step away from the dirt...

WSJ's OpinionJournal has a great article about a guy who may go to jail for 10 years for moving dirt on his own land. This stems from wetlands regulations - the guy was trying to fill in some drainage ditches that were on the property. Yup, drainage ditches - meant to keep the supposed wetland dry.

I have a big problem with wetlands and other similar environmental regulations - which says that you can't do what you want with your land that you bought. It takes what is arguably a public good - environmental preservation and/or preservation of extinct animals and plants - and places the cost on one landowner, who has paid money for land that he or she can't use. To me, that's theft - the government is taking your land, usually people's biggest asset.

The one person who has said something reasonable is the judge in the case:
Now it's Mr. Rapanos's turn. At his original sentencing hearing in 1998, the same Judge Zatkoff highlighted the absurdity of the situation when he pointed to a drug dealer he'd sentenced that day in the same courtroom. "Here we have a person," Judge Zatkoff said, "who commits crimes of selling dope and the government asks me to put him in prison for 10 months. And then we have an American citizen, who buys land, pays for it with his own money, and he moves some sand from one end to the other and [the] government wants me to give him 63 months in prison. Now, if that isn't our system gone crazy, I don't know what is. And I am not going to do it. I don't believe he got a fair trial."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Burn this!

In it's usual way, Slashdot is making a mountain out of a molehill. The are discussing the ALA's list of most frequently banned books. Except for the fact that they aren't actually banned books, but rather challenged books - which means that someone has asked that they be banned, not that they are. I can ask that the the olympic dance team mud wrestle, but it's not going to happen.

From reading the ALA's website, you notice that the people who most often challenge books are parents. To me, that seems to make the ALA's cry of censorship, of book challenges as some sort of attempt to keep unpopular political ideas down, ring false, as does a look at the actual list. There are a bunch of books on their that parents wouldn't want their kids reading, or wouldn't want them to read at a certain age. The impression I get from the ALA is that they feel they know better than parents what kids should read.

The funny thing is that all library books are on some level censorship - chances are the people who order books at the library are going to order more copies of books by authors they like and by people they agree with, and aren't going to order books by people they dislike. That bias gets passed on to the readers. My guess is most librarians tilt left, which is why most libary books seem to as well.

One other interesting thing from the ALA website - one of the most challenged books of 2003 - number 4 - is one that I would argue is exactly the kind of book that should be challenged. It's Michael A. Bellesiles' Arming America, a book that was literally made up and passed off as serious reseach, which got the author fired from Emory University. More info here, here and here.

Separating law from politics...

Ramesh Ponnuru over at the National Review Online talks about a suggestion David Frum had - that Giulianirun on a platform that's pro-choice but anti Roe v Wade..

I'm less interested in the Giuliani part than the legal issues mentioned in this sentence:
Now one can certainly be pro-choice and anti-Roe. I can think of several journalists and the odd legal academic who take this position. But examples of practical politicians who take it are hard to come by. Most politicians seem to think that being against Roe is a harder sell, politically, than being generically pro-life, and tend to downplay their anti-Roe stance, in part because many people are under the mistaken impression that getting rid of Roe means prohibiting abortion.

I think that most people in the U.S. don't grasp the idea of judicial restraint and having a narrow interpretation of the constitution. It's possible to like the effect that certain cases had - like Roe V. Wade - and still think that they were bad law, that the interpretation of the constitution used to produce those outcomes strays from what the founders intended.

I think the best example of this is Robert Bork, who didn't get the Supreme Court nomination because of a twisting of his belief in judicial restraint. He had criticized the law behind Roe v Wade, Griswold v Connecticut (the case that gave the Constitutional "right to privacy" that Roe expanded on), and even Brown v Board of Ed. The last got him labeled as a racist. But while Bork is pro-life, he wasn't pro-segregation - he just thought that the reasoning in Brown was inconsistent with a strict interpretation of the constitution.

I think people tend to look at court cases ideologically instead of from a legal perspective, and if the outcome is one they agree with, they assume the legal interpretation is acceptable. I think the constitutional interpretation issue is too complex for many people, and thus even though it doesn't strike me as odd to have a pro-choice person who still thinks Roe V Wade is bad law. I don't have a problem with at least some legal abortion, but I think Roe was based on a very contorted reading of the constitution, one that assumes rights that don't actually exist.

Friday, August 27, 2004

The naked truth about AIDS...

I've blogged on the funny side of the naked NY AIDS protesters on newsamuse (complete with pics!).

But I want to look at the serious side of AIDS. The protestors featured body paint with the words "stop AIDS" - which would seem to suggest that there is somewhere a counterpoint of people pushing for the spread of AIDS.

I'm all for finding drugs that help reduce the effects of AIDS, and I know that there are people who have caught it from blood transfusions and the like - although that is getting less common.

But I take issue with people like rapper Jadakiss who throw out lines like Why they ain't give us a cure for aids/ AIDS is caused by HIV. HIV is a virus. There are no cures for viruses. The drugs that are out there make lives longer and better for people who have AIDS or HIV, but they aren't going to cure it, because it can't be "cured".

I also have to wonder about the fact that groups like ACT UP put so much emphasis on the role of the government in AIDS. AIDS spending by the government per capita is much higher than the amount spent on other diseases per capita, such as cancer and heart disease. Furthermore, going after the government takes away from what they should be doing - encouraging prevention.

The fact is that you are much more likely to get the HIV virus if you participate in certain high risk behaviors - namely lots of unprotected sex, especially with people you don't know and the use of injected drugs. We know this, and the best way to decrease HIV is to emphasize this. But ACT UP would rather get naked and complain about Bush rather than encourage people to take responsibility for their lives and take reasonable precautions that make them much less likely to get AIDS.

More college PC sillyness...

an interesting article on WSJ/OpinionJournal aboutUNC derecognizing a Christian frat for saying it would not accept non-Christians. Note that it wasn't delisted because it refused to admit a non-Christian who wanted to join, but rather because it refused to sign a form saying that it would not discriminate based on religion. So it's not that anyone even claims to be harmed yet.

How far does this go? If a campus has a Catholic group on campus, will the government require that they give non-Catholics communion (which is against Church teachings)? Why would a non-Christian want to join a Christian frat to begin with? (My guess is a lot of Christians wouldn't want to join either - when I think Frat, I don't usually think religion).

Sometimes diversity, especially in terms of religion, means not everyone does the same thing. That's true diversity.

In mourning about getting up in the morning...

Well, I found out today that I will be moving to day shift starting Monday. And not just any day shift, but 7:15-5pm. Not a big deal for most people, but it is for someone who has worked 1pm-10pm for the last year and a half.

For the most part, I like working nights - I've never been a morning person, and I like not having to go to work until 1pm. If it wasn't for grad school, which I'm starting in another week, I would stay working nights. I'm hoping I can get up on time, and worried what happens if I don't.

There are good things about this - I can actually run errands after work, I get to interact more with my coworkers, and in terms of learning skills and making a good impression on higher-ups, it's definitly easier when you are around other people.

It feels wierd to know that over the course of a weekend, I'm going from a night person, a person who holds an unusual time slot with all it's pluses and minuses, to just another "day job" drone. But we'll see how it goes...

Attack of the nanny state

Via Professor Bainbridge comes this article about GM pulling an ad with a kid dreaming about driving a Corvette. It was protested because- get this - safety groups complained that it would cause kids to drive their parents cars. Because little boys don't like cars and never dream about driving them until they see this ad.

When I was a kid my parents (who were pretty strict) would let me sit behind the wheel of their cars - which at the time were a 1972 AMC Gremlin (yellow) and a 1978 Dodge Aspen wagon (white, with woodgrain)- while they were parked in the driveway or garage. Guess it never occurred to them that this could lead to wild joyrides.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Getting chipote-laid...

I had my first Chipotle experience today, and I have to say that I'm impressed. A Chipotle opened not too far from where I work, and they had their pre-grand opening today (burrito and drink $5, benefits Citizens on Patrol).

I'm pretty fat, but I have to say the burrito was pretty darn filling, and quite tasty. I went with the steak, pinto beans, with tomato salsa, corn salsa, and quacamole. Very good, and very filling.

The Chipotle website is pretty interesting. Check out the ad section - how can you not like a resturant that runs an ad that says "usually when you roll something this good, it's illegal"?

Interestingly enough, Chipotle is partly owned by McDonald's. Seems like a good move on their part... it's surprisingly good, and the prices are reasonable for the amount of food you get.

Dude, where's my vote?

OK, it's a couple days old, but I couldn't resist posting about John Kerry being the stoner's pick for prez (scroll to last item).

I like the quote that OpinionJournal used:
Walter Duncan, a 32-year-old graduate student and a Kerry supporter, decided to pick up a clipboard and sign up voters because "this is going to be a close election . . . and this would be a good place to find" Kerry supporters.

Yup, a 32 year old grad student. Assuming he went to grad school straight out of college, he would have been there for 10 years. A career student, if you will. Boy, Kerry supporters are sure those hard hat wearing blue collar workers who MoveOn tells that Bush is not on their side.

Patriotism? What Patriotism?

See, that title is me questioning your patriotism. Because, as you know, I'm a Republican, an all we do is question people's patriotism.

At least that's what you would think from the media. I was reading this article on Max Cleland's tacky little Crawford stunt and noticed this line at the end:

Cleland lost his own 2002 bid in Georgia for re-election to the U.S. Senate after a bitter campaign in which Republicans questioned his patriotism.

Yup, that's Reuters for you, fair and balanced, not like those evil neocons at Fox. Not "ran a contriversial ad" or "ran an ad that accused him of not doing enough to fight terrorism" but instead "questioned his patriotism".

Michael Crowley of the New Republic (a magazine not known for it's sympathy to Republicans)has written an excellent analysis of the Cleland saga a while ago.

The key paragraph:
But that's not what happened. The ad, though sleazy in its use of Osama and Saddam, didn't question Cleland's patriotism. It questioned his political courage and judgment. It focused narrowly on his behavior in office and his actual votes against the Homeland Security Department. With images of Bin Laden and Saddam flashing onscreen, a narrator declared that, "As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead." The ad then listed Cleland's votes against the Homeland Security Department and said he was stalling "the president's vital homeland security efforts." It concluded: "Max Cleland says he has the courage to lead, but the record proves Max Cleland is just misleading."

Interestingly, the person in the Slate article who is quoted saying that the Republicans were questioning Cleland's patriotism is John F Kerry. But Reuters presents it as a known fact rather than a politician's opinion.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

MP3's, porn, and priorities...

I admit it, I'm one of those crooks who steals stuff off the internet (eMule and WinMX mostly).

So when I see headlines like this I wonder if I'm going to come home and find my door kicked in and my computers confiscated by the feds. (None of the places mentioned are in MD, so I think I'm safe)

The article includes a quote from Ashcroft that "p2p doesn't stand for permission to pilfer" and that "the justice department doesn't stand by when theft is being committed" (in that case, John, go find my wheels).

I usually don't have a problem with Ashcroft. I think the whole boob and statue thing was overblown - I wouldn't want to give press conferences with a giant pair of knockers hanging over me, because I know everyone would be looking at the funbags and not at me. I don't think that he's crushing any civil liberties in fighting terrorism, and I think that the PATRIOT act is a reasonable set of laws that gives the government powers necessary to defend our country against those who want

But when I hear Ashcroft using the Justice department to go after file sharing or to crack down on porn, I can't help but cringe. If the RIAA and MPAA want to go after pirates like me, let them sue them. It isn't important enough to involve the federal government. As far as porn, if consenting adults want to watch other consenting adults do stuff, let them. Go after the kiddy porn pervs, but stay out of the rest. Use the Justice department resources for going after terrorists who want to blow us up, not computer dorks sharing mp3's.

That's a mighty big tent you've got there...

The Republican party is still hashing out it's convention platform. Groups like the gay Log Cabin Republicans are hoping for a more broad platform while social conservatives are hoping that the platform stays socially conservative.

Personally, I think going more conservative on social issues would be political suicide for the Republicans, and a more broad or open stance on them is only going to help them. Think about it - if you are a stereotypical southern conservative, and the Republicans move a little to the center, are you really going to vote for Kerry, who is way further to the left?

I think that there are a lot of "Dennis Miller conservatives" out there - people who want fiscal conservatism (ie lower taxes) and a government that's strong on defense, but are more liberarian on issues like abortion and gay marriage. These are exactly the swing voters that the Republicans need to attract to win this election.

When you look at the how much sucess the pro-life movement has had since Roe v Wade - they can't even get things like partial-birth abortion, which has few supporters, banned, it seems unlikely that anything is going to happen no matter what the party platform. And we all know what a failure the federal marriage ammendment has been. Since these are political losers anyway, it doesn't cost the Republicans much to abandon these things, and they may gain some new voter in the process.

Crushing the dissent... of conservatives

An interesting article via Drudge on the Swift Boat Vets book.

Apparently, book store chain Barnes and Noble have faced criticism from both sides for the book - from the right for being out of stock of it and from the left for selling it at all.

It strikes me as ironic that the left always claims the right is crushing their dissent, but they are quick to jump on any outlet that the conservatives have to get their points across, even when it is the only one of it's kind. Nobody gave a crap about AM radio for years until Limbaugh turned talk radio into a viable media, now you hear talk radio refered to by the air america bunch as some sort of conservative plot hatched in smokey back rooms. Cable news was liberal until FOX News came along, and so started to try to get the FCC to make them change their slogan. And now you have books.

As Lileks described so well in the opening of this column, a trip to the political section of the local chain bookstore is enough to make any conservative feel like he or she is about to puke up their $4 latte. Piles of "George Bush eats children, tourtures puppies, and is dumber than my shoe" on prominent display, with one or two conservative books buried somewhere if you're lucky - and with dirty looks from the goth cashier if you buy one. And now a book comes along that could arguably help conservatives, and Dems want them to sell it because they don't like it's message.

Who is crushing whose dissent?

Stuff blowin up in my own backyard...

An article I found very interesting from NewsFeed - Hamas leader arrested videotaping the Cheaspeake Bay Bridge. More info in the Baltimore Sun (via LGF.

A guy who was a leading financer of the Hamas terrorist organization was found taping the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a 17 mile bridge (complete with it's own gift shop and resturant) that connects the Eastern shore of Maryland with Virginia. The guy was pulled over when they noticed him videotaping the bridge. He said he was at the beach, but couldn't name what beach, and his video consisted of lots of close-ups that aren't the kind of pics tourists usually take.

The fact that terrorists appear interested in blowing up bridges is interesting (especially to me when they are in my state) and I think it says something about the fact that the war against radical Muslim terrorism is and will be ongoing. But it's also interesting that this guy was Hamas. You will find lots on the left who defend Palastinian terrorism as just Palastinians fighting for a homeland, and claim that the terror attacks against the Israel are justified act of war. Here, however, is something that suggests that Hamas seeks to go beyond blowing up Jews in the middle east for, you know, wanting to exist, and wants to blow up Americans too. Think about that the next time someone says that the US shouldn't support Israel or that the Palestinian terrorists are freedom fighters - they want to kill you too. Not because you directly have done anything, but because you want to drive to the beach with your kids.

Great McJob, guys... (AKA scenes from McDonalds, part 1)

I usually try to avoid McDonalds, but I was in a hurry at work, and I had coupons for their new chicken selects, so my coworker and I went there for dinner.

My coworker orders. Conversation goes like this:

McGuy: What kind of sauce do you want?

Coworker: Ranch.

McGuy: Ok, no sauce then.

Coworker: Huh?

Guy then gives me my food. Since I seem to get shorted something every time, I open the bag. I had a coupon for a free chicken select. Open bag. No chicken select. I ask him about it and he indignitly goes "well, it's over there" - pointing to the food prep area - as if it was some unreasonable that my food be placed in the bag and not left on the other side of McDonalds.

I always go to McDonald's (especially that particular McDonald's) with low expectations, yet it always turns out they were too high.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

What soldiers really think..

You hear a lot of people on the left, like Michael Moore and anti-war protestors say that they are pro-troop, that the troops don't want us to be in Iraq, that people in the Military will never trust America again, ect. And then there is the idea that troops are all just people too poor and dumb to do anything else.

That's what makes This NYT(!) editorial written by a soldier so interesting (h/t Instapundit). Seems pretty intellegent to me, and doesn't seem too unhappy with US policy. He also provides excellent insight into what's actually happening on the ground (and in the air) there.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Scenes from work, part 8...

(talking to a coworker about this product that turns the corner of you monitor into a touchscreen)

Me: That is possibly the most useless thing I've ever seen. It makes the knob look useful.

CoWorker: Hey. The knob was popular. It was sold out for months when it came out. They even made special editions.

Me: But that's because it was targeted at Mac owners. Mac owners will buy anything. I could poop in a box and call it the iShit and Mac owners would pay $99.99 for it.

Coworker: (speechless)

disclaimer - I own both a mac and a pc.

If the shirt fits...

I got an email from old navy pushing their vintage fit line of clothing - with a new tighter fit.

It puzzles me in a world where Americans are getting fatter and fatter, Old Navy, a strictly middle-class, middle America kind of retailer, is pushing tighter clothing.

I'm one of those fatter Americans - as wide as I am tall. I accidently bought an XXL button down shirt a while ago from Old Navy that was vintage fit. It was tighter, and not terribly flattering to my giant beer belly. I prefer my shirts loose, one step below a mumu from the vast waistband.

I'm no clothing designer, but I think that anyone who buys a shirt that is XXL probably doesn't want a tighter fit. What the heck is Old Navy thinking?

Bought a fat new laptop...

well, not exactly. It has a 75mhz pentium processor, an 800 meg hard drive, and runs Windows 95. But it's also insanely tiny. It's a Toshiba Libretto, a tiny portable palmtop made in 1997 that is about the size of a vhs tape.

I paid $82.50 plus shipping, which is a little lower than most of them seem to sell for, and it includes the port replicator. I figure it might be fun to use with a wireless card for wardriving, as well as just to have as a historical example of technology. Until I get enough to buy a vintage corvette, I'll have my vintage Libretto.

The one thing wrong with it is a locked BIOS password, but I found someone else on eBay who sells a dongle that can be used to unlock it - there are instructions online to make it yourself, but that's too much work for my lazy arse.

The auction is here

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Drudge lists some old stuff. Developing...

I was kind of surprised to see that one of the Drudge Report's "breaking" news is "The arrival of minty fresh TYLENOL!... Developing... ".

I saw this and thought "didn't I see coupons for that weeks ago? I'ts even on Tylenol's website. Real breaking there Matt Drudge.

I took a screen shot for when it goes away, or "develops".

EDIT - the article now links to a NY Times article. Still, it's hard to imagine anyone was eagerly waiting for that.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Going overboard about overtime...

A recent department meeting at the collge I work at discussed the new federal overtime rules. These are the rules that illustrated in their ad with a guy wearing a hardhat and an voice saying that Bush wants to eliminate overtime pay and is not on your side.

Except for the fact that the protections cover a much smaller group of people than 8 million, and the kind of people who it exempts from being required to pay overtime aren't the kind of people who wear hardhats. Angry Red at examined this a while ago.

One reaction I had was that even if the government didn't require people to pay overtime, some employers might choose to keep paying workers overtime. I figured I was one of those people - I consider myself a computer professional, but I work a ton of overtime providing support to a remote campus on Saturdays. I'm not a big fan of getting up at 6:30 on Saturday mornings, but for overtime I'm there, and it's helping me reach my goal of buying a house in the next year or so.

When I look at the actual DOL rules for computer people I don't think that they could actually pay me salary if they wanted to - the definition is very narrow, and pretty much limited to programers and analysts, not tech support drones like myself. It also says that anyone paid under $27.63 an hour or $455 a week has to be paid overtime.

Yup, the nerve of Bush taking away the overtime of computer programers who make at least $28 an hour... and based on the moveon ad, apparently wear hardhats to work.

One interesting thing I learned at the staff meeting where I work is that schools are trying to figure out how to catagorize certain jobs, such as sports coaches and student life employees who live in dorms. Call me a crazy, but when I think college coach, I think of a job that a lot of college athletes would love to have. I don't usually think oppressed blue-collar workers wearing hardhats. But they may be covered under the new DOL rules.

Looks like Bush is in fact on my side, as well of the sides of perky lacross coaches.

Fun with collge rankings...

US News has come out with their best collge rankings. Of course, they are generating some controversy in the blogosphere. Their methodology isn't exactly clear, and I've heard complaints in the past that it's partly based on surveys of college professors and administrators - which would make it more a measure of people's perceptions of colleges than anything else.

What confuses me most about their rankings is how they seperate colleges into catagories - their classification seems arbitrary and not terribly useful to the average high school student looking at colleges. Curious how my alma mater ranked, I checked National Universities, Liberal Arts collges, and comprehensive colleges before finding out that it was in Northern Universities - masters. I have to say that when I was a prospective undergrad (and my guess is that most of the readers of these things are), I couldn't have cared less about masters or phd programs, but that's how US News divides colleges.

My favorite college rankings have to be The Princeton Review, which surveys current students and ranks them in various catagories. Looking at what they have for my beloved green and grey, they seem pretty on target - nice dorms, crappy library, lots of booze, good (although expensive) food. While I don't think choosing a collge based on these rankings is a good idea, it does give a good perspective on the collge you are looking at from the perspective of actual students, not from stats ranking colleges in incomprehensible ways.

Insuring higher rates...

Eugene Volokh is excited by the prospect of pay-as-you-go insurance. I'm not.

The thing about insurance is that the more data you get, the closer you can estimate the likelyhood that someone is going to file a claim and charge accordingly. But if you could perfectly estimate the likelyhood of claims, there would be no reason to have insurance, because the cost of insurance would equal the cost of claims.

I'm no statistical expert, but my guess is that the stats that insurance companies use are pretty broad - for every person that they charge higher rates to who files a claim, there are probably a bunch who pay higher rates but don't file claims.

I'm also really apprehensive about the idea of using speed as a means of judging people's insurance rates. I've gotten exactly one speeding ticket in my life (while driving a collge owned 15 passenger van to a debate competition when I was in college, on RT 29 in Virginia). My insurance rates didn't go up, because it was my first 2 point ticket, but I did lose a safe-customer discount when I moved and switched insurance companies. If you aren't familiar with 29 South, it's a giant speed trap and revenue maker for the little towns along the way. At least 3 other people at the debate also got tickets.

But if someone else had been driving the van that day, I would have a perfectly clean driving record. Speeding tickets are a horrible judge of driver safety - they are more a judgement of the unluckyness of the person who got it.

I suppose one could argue that knowing the driver's speed via the proposed devices would be fairer. But I think it would just result in higher rates to everyone.

I drove most of the way to work today at 80 miles an hour. I don't think that was an unsafe speed at 7:15 in the morning on a 6 lane interstate, with almost no traffic around - but I bet Progressive would disagree.

The funny thing is that Progressive has tried this before. Patrick Bedard looked at this 8 months ago and has some excellent analysis.

Darn those rich.... democrats

PowerLine points to this interesting list of the largest contributors to 527 organizations. 527's are tax-deductible organizations that are basically a loophole around campaign-finance reforms (and a great example of the stupidity of restricting campaign finance) that allow people to donate unlimited amounts of money for campaigns as long as it isn't directly connected to the candidate. Examples include (who have not, in fact, moved on) and Swift Boat Vets for Justice.

Anyway, it's interesting to look at the list, because out of the top 25 contributors, 24 are Democrats. The loan Republican is Carl Linder. The list is interesting. Aside from well-known Soros, it also includes founders of tasty smoked turkey vendor Boar's Head and godawful software company RealNetworks.

So the next time that someone tells you the Republicans are the ones with the ties to big money, the people who have undue influence over the political process, and the source of negative campaign ads, point them to this list.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Can you hear me now?

NYC police are practicing for disruptions during the DNC, and also will be using an incredibly loud accoustic sound machines that can be heard from four blocks away.

Quote from our friends at united for peace and justice:

United for Peace and Justice, which has planned a massive anti-war demonstration on the eve of the convention, called the sound system "a potential Big Brother nightmare."

Because when I think of oppression, I think of loud sound systems directed at groups of protesters whose stratagies include bomb threats, tying up 911, and tripping police horses to be a horrible act of suppression. I mean, the Chinese run over their protesters with tanks, but that is nowhere near as bad as loud speakers.

If loud speakers are a form of crushing of dissent, I'm guilty of repressing my parents for most of my high school years with my giant tower speakers. Sorry, Mom and Dad, didn't mean to keep you down like that.

Dude, she was so hot.. and totally titpaved...

I was playing e-scrabble against BSOM last night when he mentioned that he wished that Titpaved was a word, because he would then get a massive amount of points.

I've decided that my new goal in life is to get titpaved into the general lexicon, and also the scrabble dictionary. My thought is that it could be used as a replacement for words descibing extreme drunkenness, like shitfaced or smashed. As in, I got totally titpaved last night.

I'm guessing it could also be used as an explative, as in "titpave you, you titpaving titpaver".

I encourage you to help me get Titpaved into the popular lexicon. Use it when talking with friends, when sending emails, and especially when posting in your blog. And maybe someday we can all celebrate it's inclusion in the scrabble dictionary by going out and getting totally titpaved.

You weep for Santiago, and you curse the marines. You have that luxury..

According this article from SI (h/t The Corner), the Iraqi soccer team is complaining about the U.S. being glad about the fact that they are liberated and not tortured by Uday anymore.

Quote from the article:

members of the Iraqi Olympic delegation say they are glad that former Olympic committee head Uday Hussein, who was responsible for the serial torture of Iraqi athletes and was killed four months after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003, is no longer in power.

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"

News flash, guys. There isn't a way to have the benefits of a dictatorship-free Iraq without some violence. If you want an omlet, you have to break some eggs. Like anything, you have to weigh the costs (Iraqi and coalition lives lost, property damage) against the benefits (one less crazy dictator tourturing his citizens, threatening and invading his neighbors, amassing weapons of mass destruction, and providing a safe haven for terrorists). I think those benefits were worth the cost, although some don't. But don't be greatful for the benefits and bitch about the costs, because you can't have it both ways.

And then there is this money quote:

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq.".

Right. Because you know that the when the U.S. is fighting, we make sure to first take out the civilian contractors who are guarding food deliveries, and we make sure to gut them, set them on fire, and string them from a bridge, because that's a good way to win a battle. And that's what nice people do.

BTW, the title is a reference to A Few Good Men.

Florida supplies law of suppy and demand...

Floridia has announced that it is going to be going after people who are "price gouging" in Florida after huricane Charley. Price gouging is going to be based on the average selling price of goods before the hurricane.

News flash to the People's Republic of Florida - there is a little thing called the law of supply and demand. When the supply of something stays the same and demand increases, prices adjust upward in order to allocate scarce resources for those who are most willing to pay for it.

The article includes this quote: That might be reasonable and that might not, but there's no way of knowing," she said. The price could drop after a wait, Kusnetz acknowledges, yet a delay could bring more damage to her house.

That isn't price gouging, that is what people like to call a rational decision. The benefits of not having her house further crushed by trees was more than the cost, so she paid for it.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

This stuff gives me gas...

I've noticed a ton of Toyota Prius (priuses? what the heck is the plural of prius?) around Baltimore. I suppose it is the perfect car for the treehunger hippies of Baltimore. But Priuses and the whole hybrid car thing are starting to get on my nerves.

I've noticed that every Prius I'm behind has some sort of sticker on the window touting how much better than me they are for driving a more environmentally conscious car than me (52mpg, eat my voltage, ect). I've also noticed from being behind them that they are slow as heck - and I drive a PT Cruiser (with the original normally aspirated 150hp 4-banger).

Most of the gas milage numbers are exagerated - the first Car and Driver test of one registered 35 miles per gallon. The most recent one pegged it at 42 - not bad, but still less than the EPA numbers or the claims on the back of hippie's windows.

It seems odd to me that Prius owners should get a break - tax breaks, use of carpool lanes and free parking in some places, ect - when other cars (Geo Metro, Jetta TDI, ect) get better gas milage. And what happens when companies start introducing hybrid SUV's and trucks? Should someone in a hybrid Hummer get more perks than someone in a gas-powered car that gets better gas milage?

And then their's Ed Begley's non-stop talking about his Prius interupting blogger hottie moxie on the Dennis Miller Show.

Fighting for the right to rape and murder..

a california court has accepted the legality of DNA tests for convicted criminals but the guy is planning on appealing to the supreme court.

Should the government keep a DNA bank of everyone in the country? No. But is it reasonable for them to get the DNA of convicted crmiminals? I think so. These are people who have commited crimes, and thus given up some of their rights. I have no sympathy for them, and if it might help them catch rapists and murderers, I'm all for it. The only thing that the DNA could be used for is catching rapists and murders, and that's a good thing. It's something worth taking away the "rights" of people who have already demonstrated they don't deserve them.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

All speech is equal, but some is more equal than others...

Via Slashdot comes this article about people trying to DOS the Republican National Convention.

See, the internet is supposed to be the ultimate democracy, where nobody knows if you are a dog, ect. But if you dare hold certain views, like the U.S. should defend itself against terrorists, or people should get to keep more of their income, your voice doesn't matter and it should be shut down.

I think and hope that this kind of thinking - that certain viewpoints should be crushed - is not a mainstream liberal position. However, it seems fairly common for professors to be against conservatives on college campuses as well as those trying to get Instapundit fired for their lack of a sense of humor.

If they do try doing this, I hope that they have the full force of the law brought against them. Denial of service attacks are the technological equivilant of burning down a building, with the added issue of supressing speech.

Crime and punishment...

Via InstaPundit, TCS has this excellent article on crime and security.

I've always thought that goverment should do more to prevent and punish property crimes. The general response to theft, theft from vehicles, mugging, and other low-dollar crime seems to be "oh well, insurance will cover it". I've been unlucky enough to be a property crime victim twice - I had the windows smashed on my first car while it was parked in front of my parent's house and I had the wheels stolen off my current car a month after I bought it. The reaction from the cops both times was basically "sucks to be you".

I think there is a certain amount of truth to the broken window theory of crime prevention - the idea that preventing nusance crimes and keeping a neighborhood up prevent crime. But I think they also need to address things like property crimes that are a step up from loitering but still frequently ignored by cops.

I'm not sure I agree with the TSC author's suggestion that the Federal government should get involved and fund this kind of thing, but I think it is a huge issue. Ownership of property is something that our country was founded on, and people won't work hard if they know their stuff isn't safe.

I can think of a few things that would reduce crime - without more federal spending:

-states should issue will-issue concealed carry permits. As John Lott demonstrated so well in his book More Guns Less Crime, concealed weapons can reduce crime. If you are a thief, do you want to rob someone if there is a chance they might have a gun on them?

-Cities and towns should move police officers from speed traps to neighborhood patrols. It amazes me how frequently I see a cop poking out from behind a bush on some stretch of road where the speed limit is set way below what a safe speed on that road is, and how infrequently one sees cops patroling neighborhoods. Speed traps are nothing but a tax on people unlucky enough to be driving in the wrong place at the wrong time. Visible police patrols are an effective deterant of crime.

-Other areas that cops can stop tying up taxpayer resources - marijuania enforcement and underage drinking. Yes, if they are driving drunk or stoned, throw the book at them. But I resent the cops raiding a bar to catch some 20 year old drinking a bud light while someone is unscrewing the wheels off my car.

I swear, that's really me...

Why do some people find the stupidist things to complain about? Slashdot has this post in support of a Sun engineer who is suing to not show ID on flights.

I have to show my ID to get into certain bars, to buy beer, to pay by check at almost every retail store, to return items at some stores, occasionally to pay by credit card at some stores, to get an educational discout at the Apple store, and probably a ton of other places. Getting on a method of transportation that can and has been used as a weapon to send thousands to their deaths somehow seems the least unreasonable of any of these.

The slashdot article mentions that the author doesn't understand How mandatory ID even prevents terrorist attacks is also not clear to me; all the 9/11 hijackers had valid government-issued ID.. Umm, actually no, CommanderTaco. They had fake versions of government issued ID.

Checking to see that a person is who they say they are (and that they haven't bought a ticket under someone else's name to avoid a watchlist) seems pretty reasonable to me. Less than 3 years ago we had thousands of people die because of an attack using planes, and this guy wants to reduce the security on planes. He wants to put the lives of thousands at risk so he doesn't have to pull out a piece of plastic with a crappy picture on it.

The thing that scares me is how many people on Slashdot agree with this. Better have a tiny amount more "privacy" than save lives.

I'm not sure what privacy this is. It's not like the person checking ID's is going to remember you. If you value PRIVACY so much, why are you taking PUBLIC transportation where you will be seen by hundreds of people?

The other thing is that I bet if the government dropped requiring ID's tomorrow, I would bet no airline would stop checking them. An airline that didn't check ID's and was hijacked would suffer huge financial losses - both in terms of the plane and in terms of legal liablility - as well as fewer passengers who just wouldn't feel safe.

Tip to those who want to travel anonymously - take a car. You will be seen by way fewer people, and you will only have to show ID if you get pulled over. And the rest of us will be better off too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Teaching the world to sing, verse 2...

Continuing my complaints about the Olympics, I discovered this oldish post on Cox and Forkum about the China/Taiwan relationship and it's effect on the Olympics.

More and more, I realize the Olympics is just a sham, just a bunch of hippies pretending the world is ideal and ignoring all the evidence that there is some deep seated hatred.

Although some of them are also really hot

You wanna die? We can help you out with that.

The Najif standoff continues, producing fun quotes from Iraqi terrorists.

From this article we get this quote:

I will lie on the ground in front of the tanks, or I will kill the Americans to defend Sadr and Najaf," said Fadil Hamed, 30

Really? I hope you go with the first one... I'm sure we would be more than willing to help you out.

Then there is this line from Reuters:
But more and more Iraqis are signing up to the Mehdi Army hoping to become martyrs in a country where young men facing high unemployment have few options

I've been out of work, and I've worked some crappy jobs to make money, but I usually try to steer clear of the ones whose job requirements involve dying. And I love the way Reuters presents this as a rational choice - allow Iraq to become a democracy or die so you can take some other people out with you.

And I think it's absurd that people think we shouldn't attack the Mosque because it's a holy place - if it's so holy, maybe you shouldn't take your AK-47 in and shoot at your country's government.

And I'm sure the 9/11 hijackers took into account the chapel at the foot of the WTC when they attacked it..

Monday, August 16, 2004

Play this on the radio...

a pro-school voucher group supportive of Bush is running ads on the radio critizing Kerry.

The ads aren't endorsed by Bush, and a spokesman basically critizes them for not being positive enough. Still, it looks like some conservatives are following Jason Riley's advice in the WSJ.

Considering that Blacks vote overwellmingly Democrat, and Dems count on that support, any votes that go to Bush are a win. Ignoring the fact that I think many of Bush's policies benefit middle class people of all races, including Blacks, competition is always a good thing, in political parties as well as business.

The Boston Globe report contains a few interesting statements:

It quotes a Philly dem who says think you'd be hard-pressed to find a political analyst of any note who doesn't think Bush is in a lot of trouble," said Fattah, pointing to a BET/CBS poll from three weeks ago that showed Kerry leading Bush 8-1 among black voters.

That seems like a positive, considering this article
says this: Eight percent of African Americans voted for Bush in 2000 -- the worst showing among black voters by a Republican since Barry Goldwater in 1964. Though Bush has one of the most diverse cabinets in history, national polls suggest that only about 6 percent of black voters will support him in November. If Bush is getting 12% of Black votes, that's a huge increase from other estimates and from the past.

The Globe also says that Bush "snubbed" the NAACP by not speaking at their convention. Gee, I wonder why that would be when the NAACP runs such suppportive ads for Bush.

It also doesn't mention Bush's excellent speech to the Urban League.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

F*** this post!

I've started to become a fan of Penn and Teller's show Bullshit on Showtime. A bunch of the stuff they've covered reflects my own opinions (ie the episodes they did on PETA and recycling).

Yesterday they had a show on profanity. They found some fringe people to talk about how evil profanity is and make fun of them. They also complained about how the FCC has censored such performers as Howard Stern and Mancow.

As much as I dislike the hand of government, I have trouble getting too worked up over the government fining Howard and his ilk. There are so many forms of media these days - broadcast radio, satelite radio, broadcast TV, cable including premium TV, newspapers, magazines, direct to video, and above all the internet - that I don't really see removing a small amount of content from the most accessible of media. I have some sympathy for people like Lileks who want to be able to turn on the radio without their kid hearing certain stuff. As long as all these other mediums exist, it seems like a small cost to pay, as much as I worry when I hear policies promoted with the phrase "but think of the children!"

While I'm sure that most of people on the show wanted bans on cursing, I think they also wanted something that's more laudable - more polite discourse in society. I think there is a time and a place for certain language (if you have ever read the other blog I write for, NewsAmuse you know that). With friends, with coworkers who I know don't mind, and when I'm alone (espcially when there is someone I disagree with on TV), I curse all the time. But in work, shopping, ect, and on this blog that has a more broad audience, I try to watch what I say.

I work in tech support, and I have to say that I lose respect for people when they start off a conversation with a string of F-bombs. It certainly doesn't make me want to go the extra mile for them. Sure, if you just found out that you lost all your files, I'll grant you a few choice words, but when you start off a conversation by saying that you "can't log into your f'ing computer", I start to wonder about you.

I think that when dealing with strangers or customer service reps, a certain degree of politeness is expected. I also don't think that not letting Stern say the n-word on broadcast radio, when the web and satelite are available, marks aweful levels of dissent crushing. And if you don't agree with me, F*** you.

If I could teach the world to sing...

an Iranian Judo champion has dropped out of the Olympics rather than fight an Israeli. Then there is the matter of women from certain countries not competing lest they lead to massive lust. Guess Saudi Arabia won't be playing women's beach volleyball.

I used to just not care about the Olympics, because I don't really care much about sports. But articles like the above make me think move my opnion from apathy to dislike. The Olympics is the world as people wish it was, not as it actually is. It pretends that all countries are good, respect each other, play clean drug-free games for the love of the sport, ect.

It's the same as the UN. For a funny account of the UN, read the first chapter of PJ O'Rourke's CEO of the Sofa. For the more serious part, look at the way they treat Israel and the fact that most UN countries usually vote against us. And don't forget about the notorious Oil for Food program.

The problem with the UN is that it assumes all countries are equal when they aren't. Tiny Lichenstine and the United States each get a vote, despite size differences. It also assumes all countries are equal - suppress you women? Kill people of certain religions or ethnicities? Don't matter - you are all equal.

The same applies to the Olympics. It pretends that all countries are equal, that they can all just get in a circle and sing Kumbayah and everything will be OK. It won't. The Olympics represents an ideal, not reality, and every now and then that ugly reality pokes through

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Don't mind me, I'm just a homophobic meatball from NJ...

While I've lived on and off in Maryland for about the last 6 years, I grew up in NJ and still feel pretty close to it. I'm from a primarily Italian family (with a name like Anthony, who would have guessed?) from a small immigrant town in central NJ.

So it was interesting to read this NY Times Editorial on the McGreevy kerfluffle, especially the part that Jeff Jarvis outlined. You know, this part:

Yet perhaps the most important variable sealing Mr. McGreevey's fate was the setting for his drama. While New Jersey leans Democratic, these are not the Democrats of the Upper West Side or Malibu. These Democrats are still loyal to the "Three I's" of Garden State politics - Ireland, Israel and Italy. These are the union boys, the tradesmen, the enlightened professionals who remember their parents cut stone in Newark and stirred great vats of soup at Campbell's in Camden.

With the Three I's, one can weather corruption charges, as Mr. McGreevey did until this week. In Jersey politics, rolling with the punches of graft has long been a shibboleth of manhood. Being gay, however, is not. It's one thing for a governor to sell a political appointment. It's another for him to have sex with the guy he appointed.

Yup, that's us New Jerseys, or in my case ex- New Jersyans. Just a bunch of ignorant homophobic wops, mics, and joos, not like those fancy New Yorkers or Californians with all their fancy city learnin'. We don't care if you take our money, as long as you aint one of them homersexuals. We're just dumb factory workers and bricklayers.

First of all, McGreevy wasn't forced out, he resigned. He resigned most likely because he used taxpayer money to fund a position for a lover, and made that lover the director of homeland security in a target rich environment - think the Prudential building, Port Newark, and those shitty drivers licences supposedly carried by most of the 9/11 hijackers and every underaged college student from Florida to Maine.

Eric may actually live in NJ, unlike me, but he doesn't seem to like it much - he feels the need to mention it's smokestacks (nevermind the rest of the state) and casts it's residents as dumb ethnics with no tolerance, rather than intelligent citizens who know where to draw the line when it comes to corruption - and that line has nothing to do with sexual preference and everything to do with security and honesty.

Making the personal the political...

Is it me, or do liberals tend to interject politics into things to a greater degree than conservatives do?

I work for technology services at a fairly conservative college in a very liberal city. While the student body where I work leans right, the professors seem to lean left, as most professors do.

Twice this week, I've had people randomly interject their political beliefs into conversations. The assumption seems to be that liberal ideas are so common and correct that nobody can disagree with them.

The first incident was a professor returning a borrowed laptop, who asked me what I thought of electronic voting. I basically said that I thought it was a good idea, and he responded that he worried about recounts. I replied that I didn't think the recount issue was a big deal, considering that touchscreen voting is easier to understand, so there won't be the debate over hanging chads that there was with paper ballots, since you either selected a candidate or you didn't. He mentioned some conspiracy theory about Texas votes, and said he would feel better with a printed receipt of his vote. After he left, I thought to myself "what the heck would a receipt prove in the event of a recount? Is everyone going to have to come back with their reciepts? What are the odds people would counterfit receipts?

The second occured at my Saturday job. We had Fox News turned on in one of the labs with a report about the Florida hurricanes on (Fox news on a 14 foot screen... heaven). The reporter stated that Bush was promising that there would be funds to rebuild Florida, and a woman sitting in the back row goes "well, he better after we spent all that in Iraq for no reason".

I said nothing, deciding not to start a debate on the deterant effect and near-universal belief of WMD's before the war - plus it's not a good idea to start arguements with people who are basically your customers. Unlike professors, computer techs at colleges don't get tenure.

I can't remember ever interjecting my political beliefs in a conversation. Sure, I talk to coworkers about politics occasionally, but these are people I know well, and occasionally hang out with socially, not random people. I can't remember ever hearing a conservative interject politics into random conversations either.

Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe I'm just surrounded by liberals. But the incidents I mentioned above are not the only times this has happened to me, and I never really know how to respond. Are liberals more confrontational than conservatives, or do they feel everyone agrees with them, or is my perception totally wrong? And how do you deal with random interjections of opposing political views, especially in polite environments like work?

Feel free to post comments or email me.

Shut up and die already...

MSNBC has this article on a guy who got a liver transplant after putting up billboards and a website..

It ends with this money quote:

Officials with the United Network for Organ Sharing, and their affiliates, believe public pleas for directed donations, like what Todd Krampitz did, run the risk of bypassing the established allocation system and can create an uneven playing field for all individuals on the national waiting list for organs.

The nerve of Todd Krampitz, taking creative steps to get an organ and thus continue living. He should have just let the United Network for Organ Sharing take care of it, and instead died waiting for it. But better an even playing field than a life saved, at least if you are the United Network for Organ Sharing.

I've always been an advocate of organ sales, much to the derision of everyone I know. But right now the supply of organs is well below the demand, and when supply is less than demand, a higher price usually prompts more sellers to sell and thus pushes up supply, and eventually pushes down price. But it's illegal to sell an organ, so nobody can offer a price above $0, so supply never goes up.

Cato has good commentary on organ supply here. I like their conclusion:

While many feel that the distribution of organs is too important to be left to market forces, ultimately, it is too important not to be.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Mommy smells like smoke...

A Virginia woman has been thrown in jail for smoking around her kids.

I saw this story posted on a (non-political) forum I read sometimes, and everyone was in favor of it. I'm not.

First of all, the effects of secondhand smoking are unproven and overrated. Secondly, it wasn't that this woman was hotboxing with her kids every day. She smoked once with her kids in the car, and she tried to blog off the smoke by surrounding herself with plastic bags. OK, that might have been a bit half-assed, but should she go to jail for it?

She was barred from smoking by the cutody agreement she signed, so I guess you could argue it was voluntarily. However, jail still seems a bit extreme, and it makes one wonder what's next - will parents be jailed for having a beer in front of their kids? If I sit on my deck and smoke a fat cigar while my neighbor's kids are in smelling distance, will I be spending time in the pen with a guy named Bubba? When government starts regulating how people raise their children and what people can do in their own cars, I start to get nervous.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Ah, my old home slice...

When my coworker tod me that New Jersey governor Jim McGreevy had admitted he was gay and quit, I went, "what, are you reading the onion?

Of course, it turned out to be true.

The latest buzz seems to be that he was about to have a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former terrorism czar who he was paying $100 grand a year despite his total lack of experience.

For all those who would attribute this to some evil conspiracy against gays or democrats or both - keep that above statement in mind. He may well have been using taxpayer money to get laid and was willing to put that above the security of his state.

Reflections on Wal-Mart..

Via Always Low Prices, the internet's premier Wal Mart Blog, two interesting article.

The first is this rather pointless article on Costco and Wal-Mart as a reflection on Bush and Kerry.. The point seems to be that the CEO of Costco is a Democrat, and Costco shoppers are Democrats, and Costco has been doing well lately, so Kerry will probably win. Or something.

The author makes the point that Costco stock has been doing well the last couple years against Walmart. Which is true, but Wal-Mart is still doing incredibly well. More importantly, CostCo has a market cap of $18 billion while Wal-Mart has a market cap of $274 billion.

It would also be interesting if the author compared Costco to other wharehouse clubs, such as Sam's club, which Wal-Mart owns. Is Costco's success a sign of the sucess of wharehouse clubs in general, or Costco in particular?

There are also other stats that make one wonder - for example, the author points to the low shrinkage rates at CostCo as proof of their superior management. I wonder if it could have anything to do with it being hard to shoplift from a store that you have to show ID to get into and that sells items by the case? It's hard to fit 4 pounds of croutons down your pants.

The other interesting article is on a stupid LA law that requires cost-benefit studies be done before large stores can be built. If you've ever taken economics, or even made a major purchase, you know that cost benefit analysis can be swung pretty much any way depending on what the bias of the person conducting it is. Most future costs and benefits are estimates, so any calculation is going to be off the mark.

That is the beauty of the free market - resources automatically go to their highest uses, to the ones where they serve the most benefit. Government requiring cost/benefit analysis to build a store is a step away from socialism - it's government deciding what should be done instead of allowing people to make their own decisions.

I wish the Govenator, who is quoted in the article saying that "In most cases in America, the communities welcome them because you have cheaper prices and you have great additional employment," he said. "But in some communities, there's the argument: 'I like my little store, where they hand-make the ice cream and you still go shopping the way you did in the old days.' ". Well, if they feel that way, then they shouldn't shop there, and if enough people feel that way the handmade ice cream stores will survive. But people shouldn't stand in the way of rational economic decisions by their fellow citizens because they like their ice cream handmade.

Takin' stuff out of context....

Aparently people are making a big deal of the fact that that Porter Gross said he would be unqualified to be a CIA agent in footage for F 9/11.

This is the biggest taking of words out of context since the Dibold controversy, where the president of a company that makes voting machines said he would try to deliver his state to the Republicans. Of course, there is no way that he meant that as a personal statement seperate from his company, that he would donate money to Bush, to PAC's with interests similar to Bush, or anything else. Must be a dasterdly plot. People aren't allowed to have free speech rights to broadcast support for a candidate - at least not if they are Republicans.

The Gross thing seems, well, Gross-ly out of context. All Gross said was that he would not be qualified as an agent today, because the CIA is specifically looking for people with Arabic language experience and computer skills. That means that he's not qualified to manage people with those qualifications, it just means that he doesn't know everything. He doesn't need to speak Arabic languages to manage people whose job is to translate them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

She needs some time to just "be"

Drudge is carrying an article that Kerry and the missus had a screaming match yesterday and had to sleep in seperate hotel rooms.

Now, it's drudge, so you have to take it with a grain of salt, if not a huge pile of rock salt. But the interesting quote in the article is this:
Teresa Heinz Kerry has been confiding in staffers how the tour is just "nonstop movement" and how there "is no time just to 'be.'" .

She thinks it's bad now, imagine if her husband becomes president. What with the war and all.

Go shorty, it's your birthday..

Well, today is my birthday. Woop de freakin doo.

I'm 24. My thought on birthdays is that once you hit 21, it's all downhill from there. When you get old enough to get your learner's permit, or your license, or turn 18 and can buy porn and tobacco and lottery tickets and vote, or 21 and can drink legally, and buy beer wherever you want instead of from shady liquor stores with the words "cut rate" in the name, it's cool. It's a milestone. You are finally part of something that dramatically changes your life. As a 17-year old (in my case as someone who grew up in NJ) you get your license, and you get freedom. As a 21 year old, you can drink legally, which opens up your social life a bit. But after that, you're just getting older.

I guess the other part is that your milestones start to become independant of your age - the day you started your job, the day you got accepted to grad school, ect. The dates that matter become important because of something you did, not just because of socially decided rules for when you can drink or drive or vote. I guess part of growing up is moving from important dates being birthdays to being days where you accomplished something.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Fun with averages

Baltimore has been trying to get people who live in D.C. to move to Baltimore - after all, Baltimore is way cheaper, and the MARC can be convinient. One of the target neighborhoods they have is Resevoir Hill, my hood. They even have a nifty website set up for this. They even have nifty ads with pics of Resevoir Hill.

One thing that struck me as funny was the picture of several nicely restored Resevoir Hill brownstones, with the fact that the average selling price of a resevoir hill house is $182,041.

But not for one of the houses pictured - in fact, a few of the houses near the ones in the picture have sold for around $350,000 plus - and aren't exactly "restored".

Averages are great when you have a pretty even distribution. But the 'hill has lots of outliers - you have homes going for $550 grand but you also have houses going for less than the cost of a Ford Taurus. Since there are a fair number of homes like the second one in Resevoir Hill - shells with no floors, walls, windows, or all those other things people buying houses like - it pulls the average down, and makes using the average useless at best and dishonest at worst.

I don't know if baiting and switching homes on potential residents is a great way to sell the city.

Scenes from work, part 9

(during a game of e-scrabble)

Coworker: Mons, it's a word, look it up. It means genitals. (points to nuts)

Me: Stop looking over my shoulder.

Coworker: What, you don't want your letters to see my genitals?

Me: No, I don't want your genitals to see my words.

I hate these filthy neutrals Kif!

The general view on the outcome of the elections seems to be that it's going to come down to a few swing voters in a few key swing states (Florida, Ohio, PA, ect). Both parties are trying to tailor their messages and their ad spending to target these people. But what I can't figure out is who these people are.

If you are a swing voter, it seems that you would consider voting for either candidate - so it would seem that you don't go for the Bush Lied/BUSH=HITLER/Halliburton conspiracy of the left, but you also have doubts about Bush.

Maybe it's just my view on the right, but the election seems pretty clear to me. Bush sees the world the way I see it - as a struggle for the very continuation of civilization, democracy and captialism versus radical Islamists who want to kill everyone who isn't a radical Islamist. This is a battle that they have been fighting with us for years (the '93 World Trade center bombings, Kobar Towers, USS Cole, Tanzania and Kenya embassy bombings, ect) but that we only realized we were fighting on 9/11. Kerry and crew don't see it that way - they think this is something that we can just ignore, something where making friends with France and Germany is more important than fighting for our survival.

On the domestic side, the division seems to be as strongly divided. The Republicans view of America is as a place where people generally suceed on their own merits, where people for the most part can be trusted to make choices. On the Kerry/Edwards side there are two Americas, and if you are sucessful, or want to have the opportunity to be sucessful, you are on the wrong side, and anything you have is taken from some little girl with no coat. The Kerry pie doesn't get bigger, it just that some people are taking other people's slices.

I'm guessing that the swing voters don't see the division so radically. But it seems like the only way you could do that is to ignore what's been going on in the world for the last 3 years - and it's kind of scary that those are the people who are going to be deciding who is in charge for the next 4 years is.

BTW, the title is once again a Furturama referance.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Get the digits, take her home...

Bill Collier hates registration and fears data mining.

The registration thing is a nuciance. I don't really have a problem with it - media has to pay the bills somehow, and it's easier to pay the bills with targeted advertising than untargeted advertising. I'd rather give up some personal info than pay for content. Although as a result of registering for certain websites, I get ads that are unrelated to me - the Minneapolis Star-Tribune emails me about local stuff there because I signed up to read Lilek's BackFence column. I get emails from a Jewish newspaper offering me discounts on Menorahs because I signed up to read an article a while ago - even though I'm not Jewish.

I'm more amazed that companies don't use all the info that they supposedly have at their fingertips. For example, I have never carried a balance on any of my credit cards, ever. Yet every day I get at least one ad for low interest balance transfers, despite the fact that I've never carried a balance and have no intent of doing so, and thus am an unlikely customer for such an offer. With all my financial info available to these companies, why can't they target their market a little better?

Sometimes the mismatch can be funny. My favorite is when I'm surfing the web on my Mac and get one of those fake popup Windows designed to look like a Windows system message telling me I have spyware. It's simple to find the OS of a computer - I'm surprised advertisers don't bother doing it.

One thing that is funny, though, is that like him I have someone else's grocery store membership card. Not out of some brilliant plan to decieve big grocery, but rather I somehow accidently switched cards with one of my roomates when I was in college. What is funny is that the roomate was a Dutch foreign exchange student, so Ronald saved $17 on sale items yesterday despite not having been in the country in nearly 4 years.

Me thinks you doth protest too much...

I've talked about how it seems interesting that the dems got a ton of security at their convention while a judge is restricting basic metal barriers for the Republican convention. This is especially interesting considering the stuff that the happy fun left wing has planned for the convention.

Obviously, I'm hoping that the convention doesn't get disrupted. But I'm also hoping that there is some media converage of the protesters, who feel that they were repressed by the media at the Dem's convention. Why? Because these people are freaks.

Take a look at the Protest warrior movie. Who do you think the average swing voter can relate to better - the righties, well dressed, well groomed, and civilized, or the lefty protestors who are stepping on flags, yelling incoherently, and look like they haven't bathed in a week.

Still not convinced? Take a look at the fine protest photoblogging of here, here, here and here.

When I read dems on blogs or see them on talk shows, they seem to be spitting rage on how much they hate Bush. I hope they continue to do that, because they are going to speak themselves out of any chance in winning. The election is going to be decided by swing voters, the people in the middle. The fact that these people are undecided means that they are thinking of voting for Bush. When they see coverage of the convention, and see Republicans going to the convention interspersed with guys who haven't shaved in 3 years screaming about how BUSH=HITLER, who do you think middle American swing voters from, say, Ohio, are going to relate better to?

Do the protesters represent the Democratic party? Probably not, but I think they have a lot in common, especially in terms of offering unsubstantiated charges against Bush instead of specifics on what they will do better. And when there are a ton of them at the Republican convention, especially if they are violent, compared to nearly none at the democratic convention, it will reflect badly on the dems.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Dems find the best-spoken spokespeople...

Unconventional Wisdom links to this article on the possibility of the Amish becoming a large voting block..

The article is interesting, but even more interesting is this money quote from a Democratic spokesman:

If I know Republicans and their grass-roots operations, they'll spend most of their time trying to phone bank the Amish," said Kerry spokesman Mark Nevins.

I'm going to give Mark Nevins the benfit of the doubt and assume he's intellegent enought to realize that the Amish don't use phones. So I'm guessing what he is saying is that the Republicans are too dumb to figure that out. Gee, thanks Mark. Very nuanced.

Up in arms over armpits...

Via Dave Barry's Blog comes this article blasting the Axe deotorant campaign.

OK, so I find the little armpit with feet a little creepy. But I think it's hard to deny that women generally like men with good grooming habits, and would probably not want to date a guy who didn't bathe on a regular basis, unless the woman is French. And I don't think it's any secret that men like to look at attractive women, and I don't think that makes them evil sexist pigs.

But does any stupid ad really call for this characterization of a product?

The ads are for a deodorant called "Axe," which is some sort of mass-produced cheap-ass Wal-Mart gag-reflex men's body spray that doubtlessly smells like a rank synthetic admixture of pine cones and road tar and Raid Ant & Roach Death, the scent of which will likely remind you of something your drunk mulleted cousin might've worn to the Spokane Auto Show back in 1984. Mmm, carcinogens.

Would it have killed the author to buy the product instead of assuming what it smells like? But god forbid, he would have to go to a Wal-Mart to buy it, and who knows what kind of great unwashed (or maybe great washed, if she's offended by the idea that women like guys who don't smell like a locker room floor after the big game) he might encounter. And what's wrong with mass-produced deotorant? Should I be buying my deotorant in small batches from the local perfumery instead of buying whatever happens to be on-sale-with-coupon this week? And of course, anyone who lives in Spokane, and not a real city like NY or LA must be dumb, especially if they would enjoy going to an auto show. I mean, auto shows are filled with vile, pollution belching SUV's. A cultured person would never go to an auto show, they would go to an opera or something. And they evidently wouldn't put on deotorant first.

Then there is this line:

offering up their sex to a giant hairy armpit as though it was a fat Republican senator and they were a cheap hooker.

Because only Republicans are fat and visit hookers. They probably use deotorant too, those materialistic bastards.

And then there is this:

every ad for the Gillette Mach 3 razor, for example, features roaring fighter jets and a skanky-hot girlfriend who slithers over to her hunky bulbous dork of a man just after he finishes shaving, and she strokes his smooth rugged manly GQ skin and coos and melts and shoots him a naughty glance that says she would like to be immediately stripped naked and bent over the bathroom sink and made mad grunting 1.7-minute love to before the second-half kickoff. You know, just like real life.

Because, you know, girls don't like guys who work out, which is why my giant hairy beer belly gets so many chicks. Also, girls love it when you don't shave, or when you shave badly. So Michael Moore must be getting mad play. Also, girls are never sexually agressive, or initiate sex, and no guy would want them to. Plus, no guy who would want a clean shave could possibly last for more than one minute and 42 seconds. At least not in the world of Mark Moreford, San Francisco Gate columnist.

The end of the story is possibily the craziest thing I've ever read outside of IndyMedia:

We say sure, here, just take a significant hunk of my brain, scrape it over the invidious Madison Avenue cheese grater, pulverize it and liquefy it and inject it with a thousand visual toxins and a million corporate logos and countless inane slogans and then reconstitute it and shove it back into my head.

And I'll just sit here and pretend like nothing happened, like everything's fine and that this endless barrage of surreal silly disgusting marketing swill isn't slowly leeching all the truth and beauty out of the sacred vaults of time and love and meaning. This is what we say. Well, some of us.

Because women don't really don't like guys who smell good, and guys would not enjoy looking at beautiful women, if it wasn't for the Axe ads. People don't buy products because they actually improve their lives, make them more enjoyable, and fulfill needs. We're all just following our advertising overlords, who aren't trying to make profits by selling people products that they want and can use, but rather trying to spread horrible myths like women would rather date a guy with the faint smell of deotorant rather than the strong odor of B.O.