mad anthony

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

Monday, March 26, 2012

I (early) voted...

So on Sunday morning, I voted in the Maryland primary. Which may seem odd, since the Maryland primary isn't until April 3. But Maryland passed early voting, and there are now 6 days before election day when you can vote.

Now, on principle I don't much like the idea of early voting. I think voting should require some sacrifice. I mean, if people in Iraq and other countries are willing to risk roadside bombs to voice their opinion, is it too much to ask Americans to roll out of bed a few minutes early to go to the polling place on a specific day? If that's too much for you, maybe you shouldn't have a roll in determining who runs the country. But since it's there, I might as well use it, and one of Baltimore County's 6 early voting places happened to be very close to me. It was painless, except for avoiding the one person politicking near the "no politicking beyond this point" cone. I'm not a big fan of human interaction, especially from strangers about politics.

It was cool to actually vote in a primary that sort of mattered. I grew up in NJ, where primaries aren't until June, and the last 2 presidential races haven't mattered in Maryland, since GWB was uncontested and McCain had enough delegates in 2008. Maryland doesn't seem to getting much publicity for it's primary - Wisconsin's is the same day - but that might be because MD is viewed as a foregone conclusion, with Romney widely expected to win.

I skipped the senate and congressional races, since I had no real preference, and since the odds of a Republican winning those in Maryland is only marginally higher than of me being drafted by the NY Knicks (I'm 5'5").

So who did I vote for? Like a lot of Republicans, I reluctantly pulled the lever (ok, clicked the touchscreen) for Romney. Sure, I would have loved to see someone else in the race - specifically Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana. But you go to war with the army you have, and Romney strikes me as the most likely to win. I don't believe the Newt/Santorum argument that we need someone more conservative. Presidential elections are decided by swing voters in swing states, and swing voters are by definition moderates. I'd like to see the country move to the right, especially on fiscal issues, and a Republican needs to win for that to happen. And as much as I like Ron Paul on a lot of stuff, from drug legalization to being the only candidate to actually defend free trade and the idea of comparative advantage in a debate, his foreign policy - or lack of - scares me. I think America has a role in the world, both in terms of promoting our interests and promoting good, and thus I can't really support him.

So I voted for Romney. At least he has a cool secret service name. He could have picked a worse AMC car, like Pacer or Gremlin.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Car Talk

I'm in the middle of a major #firstworldproblem right now - namely, I want to buy a new car. Despite the fact that I don't actually need a new car. And I've got too many to choose from.

Right now, I drive a 2006 Ford Ranger - purchased new, now with about 88,000 miles on it. It also happens to be bright yellow. Aside from an annoying tendency to attract cops, it's been a great vehicle - the only non-wear item I've had to replace was a temperature sensor It's gone through plenty of tires and brakes, but this may have more to do with the fact that I drive like a cross between a crazy taxi driver and the Duke boys.

The Ranger has it's minor annoyances, though - it's a bit lacking in creature comforts - cloth seats, a stereo that still sports a tape deck, and the squeaks and wear that a vehicle that's approaching 100k tends to show. The other thing about a pickup is that it is awesome for hauling big stuff or large loads of stuff - but not particularly well suited to the smaller stuff, like taking a couple bags of groceries and 12 packs of Diet Mountain Dew back from Target.

I've always been a bit of a car nut, ever since I was ramming Matchbox cars into the base of the glass-topped kidney-bean shaped coffee table in my parent's living room. So I've been looking at new cars ever since I bought this one. In that time, I've gone through a ton of possibilities - everything from used Range Rovers and Lincoln Navigators to new Toyota 4Runners or Nissan Frontiers. I've also toyed with the idea of keeping the Ranger for hauling duties and buying a sports car - an early 2000's MR2 or a Porche Boxter or an Infiniti G37. Or maybe something vintage, like an early-90's Bentley.

My current thought has been a 2006 or newer Audi A6 Avant wagon. It would be fun to drive, comfortable, and unique. Sure, I couldn't haul some of the big loads I've hauled in the truck, but I could probably count the number of times I've hauled more than I could fit in a wagon on one hand - especially if I equip said wagon with a roof rack and a turtle top. And they are 4 wheel drive.

The Audi has one thing that is both a feature and a bug - they are pretty rare. From a quick look at Auto Trader, there appear to be exactly 3 low milage examples in my price range within 300 miles of me, and one is at a very sketchy dealer. I do know a guy who knows a guy who might be able to find me one at a dealer's only auction, but I don't know what the odds of that actually happening are.

From a financial perspective, this is probably a good thing, because it makes it really difficult to actually buy one, and the longer i drive my current paid-off and heavily depreciated truck, the more I'm basically riding for free. Of course, one of the advantages of looking for a car before you actually need one is that you hope to get rid of your current ride before it develops some expensive problem, and I'm hoping that i don't wait too long.

But there's a pretty good chance I will. If I had to choose one thing about myself, I'm really not sure what it would be, but it might be that i'm indecisive, but maybe not. I tend to be reluctant to make big decisions, and tend to overanalyze them. In the grand scheme of life, buying this car will be pretty minor - but I'll still flog the decision to death. The odd thing is that some of the decisions I've agonized the most over or planned for years have turned out the worst, while some of the ones I've made impulsively have been the best.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Why pr0n and video games aren't to blame for immature guys...

Via Best of the web (last entry) comes yet another article about how guys are a bunch of lazy video game playing porn watching losers who live in their parent's basement instead of getting married and raising families like responsible adults used to do.

As Taranto points out, part of this has to do with the rise of women - which meant a decline in men. And I'm not sure about some of the article's conclusion. We are in a pretty bad recession, and it tends to hit entry level recent college grads worst. While the people profiled are at least partly voluntarily underemployed, some people living at home are clearly doing it because they don't have a better option. And it's worth asking if moving out is really a sign of maturity - there are some young adults who can afford to move out but choose to live at home for a few years to build up a nest egg. That's called deferred gratification - dealing with the inconvenience of living with your parents for a while - in exchange for being able to get a nicer place when you do move out. Rent and associated costs can easily eat up 50% or more of a paycheck, and living at home for a few years can mean that someone can bank tens of thousands of dollars towards, say, a down payment on a house.

The article also sites declining marriage numbers and later marriages as proof that guys are basement-dwelling porn addled losers. But part of lower marriage numbers is because of increased cohabitation - some of those guys aren't single, it's just become normal for couples to live together for years before tying the knot.

But let's accept the premise that there is a bunch of single, loser guys living in their parent's basements, and a bunch of women who are not too happy about that. Why? Is it video games and porn? I doubt it. I think the real answer is that the reason there are so many loser guys is that there are women who are willing to date them.

At least one of the single basement-dwellers in the article has had a string of girlfriends, despite possessing none of the traits that women supposedly find desirable, like his own place or gainful employment. Yet despite the fact that, on paper, I meet all those things that women are supposedly looking for - I own my own house, am gainfully employed in a decent-paying job, am in reasonably solid financial shape, and am looking to settle down and raise a family - I don't even get dates, let alone have relationships.

Sure, there are plenty of things wrong with me - I'm short, marginally overweight, I blog, I'm introverted, I have a strange and unsexy hobbies like going to auctions, and i talk to my cat. But presumably if women were formost concerned about financial stability and long-term relationships, at least some of them would consider overlooking these things and at least giving me a shot.

But they don't. Why? Because when women say they are looking for financially secure stable guys, they mean they are looking for tall, attractive, athletic, outgoing guys, and they would prefer that they be financially stable and mature. But when push comes to shove - when they have a choice of the attractive guy or the responsible one - they will pick the attractive one every time, even if he lives in his parent's basement and spends all day playing Halo. Which means guys have no incentive not to live in their parents basement and play video games, because it isn't hurting their dating all that much.

I suspect part of this is evolution - even though women - especially educated women - have become the dominant and more successful gender, they are still wired to look for the kind of strong, agressive guy who would protect them from bears and not the less the guy who can't kill a bear but can make sure the mortgage is paid.

And hey, women are free to date who they want and choose what they think are the most important things. But they should be honest about that decision - about the fact that financial stability and maturity and employment are all nice to haves, not must haves. And if they aren't happy about the guys they are dating, maybe they should blame porn and video games a little less and look a little more internally instead.