31 January 2008

If the Bed's a Rockin', Don't Come a Knockin'

Vomit bucket, optional.

The Audacity of Dope (Part 712)

(via Drudge)

The Washington Times has dug up a video clip of Sen. Obama speaking to a crowd of college kids back in 2004, and he weakly assents to the possibility that marijuana should be decriminalized (but not legalized).

I've always found that position asinine. Either something is legal, or not. Decriminilization is a dodge, sets people up for selective prosecution or fines, and makes the job of police and prosecutors more, not less, complicated.

But why is this post, The Audacity of Dope (Part 712)? Googling the exact phrase, "the audacity of dope" turns up 711 hits. Hopefully after this post hits blogger, this will be added to the list. Also, the posters above comes from the post that currently sits atop that search. It's good design, but probably not helpful to Obama. It's far too reminiscent of communist agitprop posters(see the blog, A Soviet Poster A Day, for examples), with a vague hint of that famous Che image. The artist in question (manifesto here) probably thinks that's a good thing, and hopes the kind of progress The Obama (he will wash away our sins) will lead us to will be an eventual workers' paradise.

I made some obvious changes to the above photo, I think my version works better on many levels...

30 January 2008

The Real Reason Many Folks Watch the Superbowl (For the Ads, and Adriana Lima?)

SpotBowl.com is a website devoted to the commercials played during the Superbowl. Here's the link to their instructions on how to throw a SpotBowl Party. They've got a list of most of the ad buys already up, so you can know what to expect. Fox is getting paid with ads featuring lots of beer, lots of movies, an anti-drug spot from the government, and for the first time in a few years, Victoria's Secret (starring Adriana Lima).

This might be one of those years where the ads are more interesting than the game, feels like a blowout in the making, but maybe the Giants can pull off one more big game (and they did play well when they faced New England in the last game of the season).

Haven't decided if I'll do a Superbowl commercials post yet, I suppose it's an annual tradition now, so I'll whip up something, but it probably won't show up till Monday or Tuesday.

And for your edification, above, YouTubeage of Adriana Lima pictures set to the sweet baritone of Barry White, just because.

Re-Ordering An Ordered List From Dec 17th, 2007

Way back when, I gave an ordered list of my preferences for presidential candidates. The voters in the states that have voted so far, seem to have disagreed with me pretty strongly. Here's the old list:

1)Fred Thompson
2)Rudy Giuliani
3)Mitt Romney
4)Hillary Clinton
5)John McCain
6)Barack Obama
7)John Edwards
8)Mike Huckabee (yes, he's that contemptible)

Now, the revised list:

1)John McCain
2)Mitt Romney
3)Barack Obama
4)Hillary Clinton

Why the revision? Simple, McCain is bad in many ways, and has all the habits of someone who spent too long in the Senate, but that doesn't mean he would be a bad president. Romney would still be a fine GOP candidate, and most likely a fine president, but I have come to accept that McCain wouldn't be nearly as bad as I feared back in December. McCain is better positioned to shrink government, appoint justices who believe in the consitution, and fight an aggressive war on terror. As a Senator he was always the "Maverick" Republican that the pressed love to get soundbites from trashing his fellow Republicans. As a party leader, and president, the press won't like him much anymore, and he'll probably govern more conservatively as an executive than he did as a legislator (at least that's my hope). If "shamnesty" does pass under McCain, that won't be a disaster for this country, we can absorb another wave of laborers from Mexico, and given the heat he's taken during the campaign, the next iteration of the McCain-Kennedy bill will likely be much tougher with regards to enforcement, so it won't be all bad.

Romney is still an attractive candidate, though something of a cypher. In that way he's similar to Obama. Romney 'looks' presidential, and a lot of times, that's been enough to get folks elected. There's no doubt that he'll work hard, bring an active intellect to the job, and find ways to work with people on both sides of the aisle. He would also be a stronger candidate to oppose Obama, should Obama manage to get the Dems nomination, but I think either GOP candidate will easily defeat either Dem candidate, so electability shouldn't enter into the argument.

Obama, is still The Obama, he that will wash away all our sins. That may be enough to grab the nomination away from Clinton, but it won't be enough to win the general election. The Obama is everything you want him to be, and nothing. He'll be your mirror, only he doesn't reflect back who you are, he reflects back who you wish you were. But from a policy standpoint I still get a strong, that Democratic president from the 70s who shall not be named vibe from him. And that should be enough to scare anyone. Add to that all the Kennedy talk, and he embodies all that is wrong with the Democratic party, and suggests he would be a disaster as president. Despite all that, he's still preferable to another Clinton administration.

Clinton has slipped behind McCain and Obama in my rankings for one main reason, her husband. It is becoming clearer with every passing week, that they have every intention of being a co-presidency again. It's a horrible idea, will further divide this country into two polarized camps, and make a mockery of the constitution. She'd mix all the paranoia of Nixon, but with an even extra large dose of maternalism/paternalism. On the plus side, if she were to be elected, she'd tear her party apart, on the negative side, she might also rip the country apart in the process. She's the biggest risk to our security and prosperity over the next eight years. It didn't seem that way a few weeks ago, but that seems pretty clear to me now.

Thankfully, Huckabee has fallen off the map, his win in Iowa hasn't been followed up anywhere else, and he won't be a factor after Super Tuesday. I'd still rate him behind Clinton if I were to bother including him in the rankings.

28 January 2008

The Decision-Making Skills of Folks Hired for Entry Level Construction and Maintenance Jobs, Isn't Always What You'd Hope It Would Be . . .

. . . the Cleveland Cavaliers v. LA Lakers game at Staples Center was delayed 12 minutes in the first half while they tried to figure out how to handle dripping water on the inside of the arena. The assumption was that it was a leaky roof causing the problem, but that turned out not to be the whole story.

Given a history of leaks, and the first big week of storms in close to 18 months, Staples Center wisely contracted a roofing company to inspect the roof. The roof doesn't leak, so their inspection (and or repairs) did the job, but the crew they sent up there made one small error.


Not a phi beta kappa move there.

On top of that, the home team lost.

Giving "Turn Me On" a Whole New Meaning...

(via Gizmodo)

From a NewScientest.com article:
A radio-controlled contraceptive implant that could control the flow of sperm from a man's testicles is being developed by scientists in Australia.

The device is placed inside the vas deferens – the duct which carries sperm from each testicle to the penis. When closed, it blocks the flow of sperm cells, allowing them to pass again when it is opened via a remote control. The valve could be a switchable alternative to vasectomy, the researchers say.

Funny (No Need to Die, But Family Guy Still Sucks)

"I'm not used to having my professional credentials questioned"

(above is a bit from the negotiating table between WGA and AMPTP, as scripted by Seth McFarlane. He's a potty mouth, so some NSFW language)

27 January 2008

Bringing Back the 70s One Bad Idea at a Time . . .

. . . are 100% polyester leisure suits far behind? Parapsychology might be making a comeback. Add to that the recent proliferation of UFO shows on cable TV, and it seems that all the bad silliness from the unskeptical 70s is making an ill-advised comeback.

Leonard Nimoy is still around, is a whole new batch of "In Search of..."s far behind?

Not Just Wrong, But In the Annals of Utterly Wrong Statements It Will Likely Achieve a Place in the Hall of Fame . . .

At best, America’s unipolar moment lasted through the 1990s, but that was also a decade adrift. The post-cold-war “peace dividend” was never converted into a global liberal order under American leadership. So now, rather than bestriding the globe, we are competing — and losing — in a geopolitical marketplace alongside the world’s other superpowers: the European Union and China. This is geopolitics in the 21st century: the new Big Three. Not Russia, an increasingly depopulated expanse run by Gazprom.gov; not an incoherent Islam embroiled in internal wars; and not India, lagging decades behind China in both development and strategic appetite. The Big Three make the rules — their own rules — without any one of them dominating. And the others are left to choose their suitors in this post-American world.

There is much wrong with this NYT Magazine piece from Parag Khanna, but I think you can single out the above paragraph as the wrongest of the wrong.

Where to start? The EU will never be a true superpower as long as they defer to the United States in military matters. They can only project power through erecting barriers to trade and instituting ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles to trade (both internal and external). That's no way to be a superpower, add to that the demographic collapse of Europe (their next 2 decades will be just as bad as Russia's past 2 decades, so to deride the shrinking of Russia while not acknowledging the future shrinking of Europe seems odd), and you don't have an entity prepared to play a leading role in the first half of the 21st century. As far as China, they are an incident or two away from a major civil war. Western China is restive. Southern China bristles under control from the North, and Tibet remains an issue of contention. China's ascendancy is not assured, it's not as a homogeneous society as it is often perceived, and as long as they are ruled by a small cabal of communist leaders, their economy will not be what it can be, and the threat of bloody internal conflict will remain. India with all its corruption, confusion and problems, is actually in a much better position to thrive over the next three decades than China, plus their economy is more open to foreign investment, and that openness will help India shoot past China as the #2 world economy by 2040. As far as the USA goes, we will be the number one economy in 2010, and 2020, and 2030, and 2040, and beyond. Not only will we be the number one economy for the foreseeable future, but we will remain the only entity/country capable of projecting its military might to any corner of the globe on either the small or large scale. Our current challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf won't change that, if anything the experience of these current conflicts will hone our military for the challenges to come. Last, but far from least, while Khanna dismisses out of hand the mischief that Islamist can cause globally, they remain a real and present threat now and over the next few decades. It will only take one or two really spectacular acts, or a long series of less spectacular acts to put a drag on our economies and force a bloody counter-reaction from the places targeted. If we retreat from our responsibilities, expect things to get far worse before they get better (and we can't expect China or the EU to step up any time soon).

Later on in this lengthy article, the author unleashes this beauty,
The self-deluding universalism of the American imperium -- that the world inherently needs a single leader and that American liberal ideology must be accepted as the basis of global order -- has paradoxically resulted in America quickly becoming an ever-lonelier superpower. Just as there is a geopolitical marketplace, there is a marketplace of models of success for the second world to emulate, not least the Chinese model of economic growth without political liberalization (itself an affront to Western modernization theory). As the historian Arnold Toynbee observed half a century ago, Western imperialism united the globe, but it did not assure that the West would dominate forever -- materially or morally. Despite the "mirage of immortality" that afflicts global empires, the only reliable rule of history is its cycles of imperial rise and decline, and as Toynbee also pithily noted, the only direction to go from the apogee of power is down.

I don't know what to say. I doubt that China will continue to succeed in growing their economy without liberalizing its political system, for the first two decades or so of their economic renaissance they've gotten away with not liberalizing, but that's going to change. Because Mr. Khanna, for whatever reason, strongly resists the notion that economic prosperity and political liberalization are intrinsically linked, he ignores the problems present in China. It's a fatal flaw in his argument (in my opinion).

The whole piece seems designed to comfort those that hope a decline in our influence will force our political system to become more and more European-like. You could look at Sarkozy in France, and the more American-like and less bureaucratic economies of Eastern Europe as a sign that Europe will become more like us, rather than the other way around. Khanna dismisses Sarkozy and Merkel and suggests they are momentary lapses in EU anti-USA contrarianism, but I think the EU countries that cling to their anti-Americanism are the outliers. There's really no way to prove or disprove his argument, other than to wait and see what happens. Same with his assertion that the EU doesn't need to expand its military presence if it wants to be a co-equal rival to the United States. I think it's an absurd notion to be an equal partner while relying on a 'rival' for military protection. It gives us tremendous leverage against them if they ever push this rivalry too far, and the expense and turmoil of creating a real military will be a further drag on their status as true rival. Either they build up, or accept 'junior partner' status. I think they'll stay junior partners, play the backstabbing 'diplomatic' games, but when push comes to shove, if they push us too hard, we'll give them an offer they can't refuse.

The question isn't how wrong this article is, but why does the NYT devote so much space to an article like this at this time? My guess, is they want to convince Super Tuesday Democratic voters that given the reality of a shrinking hegemony, it doesn't matter whether you pick Obama or Clinton, so go with the one that makes you feel better about yourself, rather than the one you think will be respected more worldwide. Even though the official endorsement was for Clinton, it seems like the Op-Ed writers, and the slant of the news articles are pro-Obama, or at least make it seem as if choosing Obama (admittedly untested, inexperienced, and unknowable as to whether he will shrink from, or grow to the challenge of being Commander-in-Chief) at this time in history won't put us in any undue risk.

Back to the article, even though I disagree with just about all his analysis of the current situation and where things will go, I pretty much agree with all three of his main recommendations for any future State Department. The USA should emphasize global interests when speaking publicly, even while pushing self-interest behind the scenes. We should "Pentagonize the State Department", and get State and Defense working more closely together. The biggest failure of Iraq wasn't military, but the lack of a coordinated effort from State in assistance to our military. It will probably take a wholesale restructuring of our diplomatic corps, it has long been a place to stuff semi-competent cronies and fostered a self-protective culture rather than one designed to implement policy. His third suggestion is to expand the diplomatic corps. He's right, but for the wrong reasons, I think it makes more sense to have a diplomatic corps that supports our businesses, it's our corporations that will best spread our 'hegemony' not our diplomats. We need diplomats who don't view businessman as rivals, at the moment we don't have that. We don't need Peace Corps to expand, we need to use our diplomats to help tear down economic barriers to free competition, that will go a long way towards building our national 'brand' and spreading our influence in a way the EU and China, or India can't match.

26 January 2008

What Person Born in Idaho Uses the Word, "Knickers"?

An article in the Telegraph about foreign women in Britain complaining about their disappointment with British men attributes the following to Jennifer Rohm of Idaho, America:
'British men are certainly witty and charming,' says Jennifer, now 39 and a cell biologist. 'In fact, I'd say they were witty and charming to the point where they're a bit in-your-face. But then you ask them out and they run a mile. Basically, they charm the pants off you but then they run away when they see your knickers.'

Maybe the use of the single quote is an admission by the author that she is paraphrasing Jennifer's actual words. I really can't imagine someone who has lived in the United States up to the age of 29 (presumably, it states in the article she's been in the UK ten years) ever using the word "knickers" even after living in the UK for the past decade. Unless their name is Madonna.

There are more passages like that where the writer mixes in personal observations along with statements from foreign women with single quotes and unlikely Britishisms to cross the lips of women not native to Albion.

But that's just my over developed sensitivity towards authorial shenanigans in cutesy life and style pieces, I guess.

The rest of the article is your usual life and style piece about nothing in particular drawing broad conclusions based on a handful of anecdotes.

This Would Never Happen Under Hillarycare or Obamacare . . .

. . . Doctors in (not so) Great Britain are already rationing care, or recommend rationing care.

Unsurprising, if the state is in charge of health care, then it is in the state's interest to limit care to those that 'deserve' it (and people who are very elderly, or who make poor life-style choices, don't 'deserve' more than basic health services).

25 January 2008

The Lovely Fruits of Non-Labor

(via Drudge)

Aren't government subsidies grand?

Regulators will probably prevent these farmers from selling their water allotment, or they'll threaten them with severe penalties that would eat up the potential profit from not-growing food and sending their H20 southward.

I've already stated time and time again, desalinating nuclear power plants along our coastline would be an elegant, technically feasible, easy to construct fairly quickly, and Gaia-friendly way to help end SoCal's water and energy dependence.

But fearmongering NIMBYs will continue to prevent a sensible solution like that. Maybe if we convince them that it would make us more like France, or Japan, that'd be the way to sell it...

"Dude, I Just Got Snaked by a Subaru"

Some fine video over at Jalopnik.

24 January 2008

The First Lady Problem . . .

Sad to hear Rep. Dennis Kucinich drop out of the race (OK, not really), a shame that his wife won't be first lady.

I say given the semi-official nature of the job, why not make it a job, and not just the de facto responsibility of the poor slob who happens to have had the bad luck to be married to a politician ambitious and crazy enough to run for President of the United States?

I'm sorry to see that Sen. Fred Thompson dropped out, also, but he'll make a fantastic Vice President to either Sen. McCain, Gov. Romney, or Mayor Giuliani.

If Sen. Obama wins, I think he should pick Oprah (if he hadn't already picked her as a running mate) to be his First Lady, his wife doesn't seem to have the temperament.

If Sen. Clinton wins, I think she shouldn't even think about unleashing her husband on the spouses of foreign dignitaries, and instead hold a reality show competition to pick her First Lady. Martha Stewart could host the show, it could be similar to her version of The Apprentice, but meaner (at the end of the show, she could pull a Dick Cheney, and after being tasked with finding the best candidate for the position, pick herself).

If Gov. Romney wins, though his wife seems like a fine enough woman, I think he should go with fellow Mormon Marie Osmond as First Lady.

If Mayor Giuliani wins, I think he should just show up to the First Lady functions in drag, he could be his own First Lady, or barring that, he'd need a woman that screams NYC, and what better candidate than hipster extraordinare and one third of Misshapes, Leigh Lezark (aka Princess Coldstare)?

If Sen. McCain wins, though his wife is a lean elegant woman with a fine helmet of hair, I think instead he should go younger and more famous and convince Sarah Michelle Gellar to take on the role. Buffy the Vampire Slayer as First Lady would be pretty awesome, and would help push the image of the McCain Administration as being young and vigorous.

OM, Indeed

Five US state senates to open with Hindu prayers

(I've got no problem with this, Hindus kick ass)

(and lest you think the tenet of ahimsa prevents Hindus from kicking ass, you are sadly mistaken, kicking asses that don't deserve ass kicking is prohibited, but kicking the asses of those who have earned an ass kicking is not only condoned, but heartily encouraged)

(You can practice non-violence without being a pussified pacifist pansies)

23 January 2008

Oh No! Your Team Just Schottenheimered

Dallas and Green Bay definitely Schottenheimered this year. Will the Pats become the NY Giants third victim and become the all time greatest Schottenheimered team in sports history?

Here's an ESPN Page2 piece about 18 almost immortal teams. Great regular seasons followed by ignominious playoff defeats mark each of these teams. The teams are rated on a five Schottenheimer scale. Last year's Dallas Mavericks earned themselves a full 5 Schottenheimers for losing to Golden State in the first round. Ironically, last year's San Diego Chargers only earned 4 Schottenheimers when Schottenheimer coached them to a 14-2 regular season yet were soundly beaten by the New England Patriots in Divisional Playoffs.

I Kind of Like the Mountain Man Meets Mafioso Meets Pimp Daddy Look . . .

. . . Randy Fugd

Consequences: Unintended Variety. Surprising?

(via Instapundit)

Anyone surprised by unintended consequences anymore?

Shouldn't be, but government subsidized corn based fuels becoming a drain on water resources and raising the prices of food really isn't an unintended consequence. In most ways, these are precisely the intended consequences if anybody did back of the envelope calculations on what it would mean to attempt to replace a significant amount of petroleum with corn.

But why let science get in the way of politics, or feel-good dogooderism?

I Was Looking Pretty Stupid Earlier Today . . .

. . . with the market down 300 points early today (after closing down more than 100 points yesterday), my prediction of 12,500 for Friday didn't look too smart.

But now I feel like a market genius after a 600 point intra-day swing (12,500 by close Friday still might not happen, though).

That's why you don't pay attention to the daily goings on of Wall Street, it's a long term market, timing is for crazy people.

Just ask all the people who thought they'd get rich flipping houses how well the strategy of trying to use a long term investment instrument (in the case of flippers, real estate) into a means of short term profits.

22 January 2008

Market Predictions

I meant to post this last night after reading all the doom and gloom stories about the big downturns in Europe and Asia, but here's my prediction for Dow Jones, it'll close above 12,500 as of close this Friday.

On top of that, by the end of February it will be above 13,500 again.

A lot of stocks are getting caught up in the downward frenzy, even when there's no reason for people to be down on a particular company. That means there are big buying opportunities, and there are enough buyers who will see bargains and take them. Some stocks will lose big over the next 6 weeks (based on the fundamentals of that company's business situation), but many more stocks will go up by 10% or more.

After plunging 400 points at opening, looks like the market may close about even or maybe even higher by the end of the day (there's even a chance for triple digit gains if the current trend continues). Best to ignore days like this and remember that the market is best thought of as a 20 year play, rather than short term gamble. If you want to lose your money on short term risks, then nothing beats sports betting, trying to time the market can only lead to trouble.

21 January 2008

The Best Written Document of the Last 50 Years (Again)

I posted this last year for the MLK holiday (which, though I appreciate Dr. King's work, I still don't think our government should have added another national holiday in his honor). I'm posting it again.

(in a few years I'll have to change this post to the best written document of the last 75 years)

Nothing else compares to that letter written from a Birmingham jail, in pencil, on scrap paper.

(but I think this holiday trivializes rather than honors Rev. King's legacy)

Here's one small key passage

It is true that they have been rather disciplined in their public handling of the demonstrators. In this sense they have been rather publicly "nonviolent". But for what purpose? To preserve the evil system of segregation. Over the last few years I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. So I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends. Maybe Mr. Connor and his policemen have been rather publicly nonviolent, as Chief Pritchett was in Albany, Georgia, but they have used the moral means of nonviolence to maintain the immoral end of flagrant racial injustice. T. S. Eliot has said that there is no greater treason than to do the right deed for the wrong reason.

It's hard to fathom writing this from jail, without reference materials, or in this day and age, google, and getting it into a comprehensive and comprehensible whole, and yet that's what he managed to do.

Also it contains one of my favorite author's notes

------- *AUTHOR'S NOTE: This response to a published statement by eight fellow clergymen from Alabama (Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter, Bishop Joseph A. Durick, Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman, Bishop Paul Hardin, Bishop Holan B. Harmon, the Reverend George M. Murray. the Reverend Edward V. Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings) was composed under somewhat constricting circumstance. Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to. leave me. Although the text remains in substance unaltered, I have indulged in the author's prerogative of polishing it for publication. -------
Here's a link to the letter by those eight clergy for which Rev. King was responding.

20 January 2008

Probably True, and Both Exciting and Depressing . . .

To stay sane, any consumer needs to think of digital technology as a subscription rather than a product. In the old days, you could buy a typewriter, television or a camera, and it might well last decades. Computers have been different. Once you buy a PC, you are really signing up to upgrade it on a regular basis. Now digital consumer electronics are the same. Your camera, video disc player, and even your television are now likely to become obsolete in just a few years.

Saul Hansell in NYT from this week. Innovation is exciting, constantly having the stuff you buy get passed-up by newer, shinier, faster, and sexier models can get depressing (and really expensive if you want to stay current).

Building in obselence on a very fast timescale is part of the business model now. Durability doesn't pay the bills or increase your stock prices if you are a tech company.

Cellular service providers have gotten consumers used to the idea of "free" handsets that they 'gift' you with after a commitment of another 2 years of service. Will other consumer goods follow that pattern? Will a tech company gobble up a content provider and start offering "free" HDTVs if you promise to stay with 2 years worth of their premium HD package? Will EA offer to give you a "free" PS3 if you agree to buy 25 "Game of the Month" software items at full price (like the old Columbia House semi-rip-off)? These aren't new ideas in retailing, but the number of devices that are basically disposable seems to have increased exponentially.

It's not a good thing, or a bad thing, it's just a thing.

Dubious Conclusion Spun From Slightly Larger Sample . . .

. . . this time a NYT story with the headline "Pregnancy Problems Tied to Caffeine". That's an alarming headline, and suggests a cause for concern, but at the end of the article, they quote a sceptic of the study:
Dr. Li said he and his colleagues had determined that the risk from caffeine was real and could not be explained away by different rates of morning sickness.

Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and epidemiology, at Columbia University Medical Center, had reservations about the study, noting that miscarriage is difficult to study or explain. Dr. Westhoff said most miscarriages resulted from chromosomal abnormalities, and there was no evidence that caffeine could cause those problems.

“Just interviewing women, over half of whom had already had their miscarriage, does not strike me as the best way to get at the real scientific question here,” she said. “But it is an excellent way to scare women.”

She said that smoking, chlamidial infections and increasing maternal age were stronger risk factors for miscarriage, and ones that women could do something about.

“Moderation in all things is still an excellent rule,” Dr. Westhoff said. “I think we tend to go overboard on saying expose your body to zero anything when pregnant. The human race wouldn’t have succeeded if the early pregnancy was so vulnerable to a little bit of anything. We’re more robust than that.”

Nice to see the scepticism within the article, but why the alarming headline then? And when this story gets picked up by CBS Nightly News, and all the various local TV newsers, how much you wanna bet they leave out the scepticism?

So much more fun to freak out people without conclusive evidence.

Dubious Conclusions Spun From Tiny Sample . . .

. . . I should just make that a recurring post title.

Latest dubious conclusion spun from tiny sample:
Using a mobile phone before going to bed can damage your health, according to a major study.

A study of 71 people can't be considered conclusive of anything. I'd like to see the numbers, and I'd also wonder how long the study was, and whether or not they rotated which subjects got the radiation dose, and which didn't to try and factor out the possibility that some of the subjects normally had disturbed sleep.

This sort of stuff bugs me, if there's a real reason to be concerned, then follow up with a serious larger scale study, if this is just wild guesses based on a tiny sample, then don't cite a dubious study in a major news outlet.

Thanks, but No Thanks

Another article from the Daily Mail (What? Can't I read British papers while watching American Football?)
These ergonomic ErgoTec trunks are to be followed by another revolution in the male undergarment world - the elimination of the visible pants line.

The new pants will have a seamless design and are being made from material developed for women's lingerie.

One, true gentleman don't wear pants tight enough for a 'visible [under]pants line' to show. Second, if one were to wear pants where a visible line might be an issue, then one would be wise to simply 'go commando'.

Maybe He's Been Playing That Character Too Long . . .

. . . some hilarious pictures of Hugh Laurie on Daily Mail's website today. That's a fantastic scowl he's got on his face. Maybe he stepped in something the dog left behind, that's all I can figure, his wife seems happy enough, though.

He seriously needs to be a Bond villain at some point, that scowl would be perfect for the role.

Is Bush To Blame For This Housing Price Crisis, Too?

I'm sure there are some that would figure out a way to blame our President for the decline in housing prices, here as well.

He better offer them a stimulus package, too.

(and what's so bad about an inflated market letting a bit of air out of the balloon, anyway?)

I Call Shennanigans!

A snooty Brit snootily snoots about her snooty disdain for the city of Las Vegas. She's entitled to her opinion, and she admits to being anhedonic right there in the article:

When I told my friends I was going to Las Vegas naturally their first question was: why? Most people go there to have fun. And since I don’t have fun, it didn’t make sense. If you don’t drink, gamble, or swing on a pole, Las Vegas is an incongruous destination.

Clearly any vacation would just be another source of misery, but one to Vegas was extra trying for this poor soul. But that's not why I call shennanigans, this bit here:

All I wanted was to get upstairs to the room. But when I got there, all I wanted was to open a window – something I quickly discovered isn’t possible in Las Vegas. I called down to ask why my window wouldn’t open and was informed that too many people end up jumping after they’ve lost all their money.

First, it's not because of suicide that they'd not have openable windows, it's climate control, you are in the middle of a freakin' desert you git, if they had windows that opened, tourists like you would set their room AC to 20°C with the windows open on a 40°C day. I've stayed at older hotels with outdoor patios (The Sahara for one) even on upper levels. I bet most new hotels in places like Phoenix or Dubai also don't have windows you can fling upon. Doesn't she care about the environment? She wants to drive up the Mandalay Bay's energy usage, just so she can have access to a natural breeze. If that was so important to her, the Motel 6 on Tropicana has windows you can open, maybe she should have booked a room there, then she really could have had something to be really snooty about (the rooms aren't horrible there, just the usual slightly rundown Motel 6 quality you come to love and expect).

I seriously doubt that any staff member answering the phone at a resort style hotel like Mandalay Bay would give an answer to the question she posed that touched on losing money gaming, or suicide. Staff are trained never to mention losing, and to always wish you good luck, and frown in a commiserating but reassuring manner if you mention a losing streak you are on. These people are good at what they do, they wouldn't baldly state something like that (at least they shouldn't). Makes a great anecdote, but I suspect it's a baldface lie.

And Ariel dear, next time you come to Vegas, I'm pretty sure the Deluxe Luv Tub Rooms at the Imperial Palace have windows you can open, bring me along, and I'll cure you of your anhedonia (I like a challenge . . ., and those Luv Tubs).

(If I can manage to have fun in Vegas when I broke my leg on they way there, spending half a day in the emergency waiting room, and dealing with a temporary cast, I think you should be able to have a bit of fun getting pampered at a pretty decent resort like Mandalay Bay)

Clinton Cartoon From the UK (One With Which I Can Agree)

From TimesOnline (London Version of the Times) Comment Cartoon section, the above cartoon. Interesting perspective on our election from across the Atlantic, I suppose.

First, the artist does seem to match the comportment and dignity Pres. Clinton has shown as an ex-president during this campaign (in other words, redfaced, and pants heading towards ankles). Secondly, Morland captures the essence of Sen. Clinton's charming voice and political viewpoints in remaking her one of them homicidal, totalitarian pepperpots. Plus Morland manages to convey the complicated psychodrama of the twisted interpersonal relationship that most people sense as happening between these two political figures.

I doubt I agree with any of Morland's other political views, but as a fan of Dr. Who, and an unfan of both the Clintons, I can definitely agree with this cartoon (at least, once I looked up what the hell the word "expiate" meant).

19 January 2008

NFL Picks: Conference Finals

San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots (-14.0) O/U 47
How could the Pats lose? Short answer, they can't. Everything is against the Chargers in this one, they're coached by Norv Turner, LT and Gates aren't healthy, Rivers probably won't play, and they are a warm weather team on the road playing in what's predicted to be frigid conditions. No upset in the making here, but scoring might be surpressed because of the weather, so this could end up a 24-3 game. Even the Pats might have some trouble scoring in the expected conditions, plus the SD defense has been played well most of this season, but they are predictable, and weak against slot receivers, which means Welker will go wild, even as Moss is contained. So my picks, New England -14.0, and Under.

New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (-7.5) O/U 41
If the conditions in the earlier New England game can be described as frigid, what can you call this game? Inhuman. 20 below zero when wind chill is factored in, that's insane. Bring on global warming, is all I can say. I don't see either offense operating at maximum effeciency in this game, but Favre has a lot more experience dealing with this insanity than Eli Manning, and that will make all the difference. Low scoring, possibly a shutout, I expect a 13-0 game here. So my picks, Green Bay -7.5, and Under.

And My Nemesis Bill Simmons™ has his picks, plus an epic lengthed mailbag.

Succinct Movie Reviews: Cloverfield, Plus a Special Bonus --- My Very Own Version of "Cloverfield"

Godzilla, from the tiny model's POV.

That's praise, not criticism, imagine redoing Godzilla, not from the omniscient narrator perspective more common, but instead from the 'bugs eye view' of the tiny little fake cars, tanks and people that the big rubber monster goes about crushing.

Do that, and you have Cloverfield. It's a visceral picture, moves quickly, and doesn't shy away from the thick and obvious 9/11 parallels. There's enough character development to care about these people, and somewhat buy their stupid choices, but mostly it's just a bunch of shakycam footage of things that go bump in the night.

I'm sure there are plenty of folks who will want to over analyze this picture as to its choice to destroy Manhattan, and its choice to make the existential threat dooming thousands if not millions of New Yorkers a fantastical monster and its spawn/minions rather than the real monsters that want to destroy places like Manhattan.

I'm sure there are plenty other people who will complain that the entire cast is made up of attractive young people, but they all played their (somewhat thin) roles credibly, so I have no problem that they happen to be easy on the eyes.

If you are susceptible to shakycam induced motion sickness then avoid this picture, or at least sit in the back of the theater, the less of your field of vision the screen occupies, the less intense the queasy factor will be.

That all brings me to a criticism of the criticism. A lot of the negative reviews mention the queasy factor, but anybody going into this picture knows it was shot handheld in its entirety, so don't send a reviewer who will get physically ill trying to watch this film, there's no way they can give this a fair appraisal.

Speaking of things that make you queasy, here's an excerpt from Manohla Dargis' review:

For a brief, hopeful moment, I thought the filmmakers might be making a point about how the contemporary compulsion to record the world has dulled us to actual lived experience, including the suffering of others — you know, something about the simulacrum syndrome in the post-Godzilla age at the intersection of the camera eye with the narcissistic “I.”

I'd rate that sentence (that's all one sentence?!?) a 1250 on the millidargis scale, but the overall review a mere 600 millidargis.

Waiting for YouTube to finish processing the "Cloverfield" video I made, I'll embed it below when it's available. It's Cloverfield in its entirety, and for the Cloverfied/Cloverfield connection, this Defamer post serves as good as any. Good thing JJ Abrams didn't used to have an office on Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way, I think if they called this picture "Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko", people would have been really confused (not that a biopic about the actual Thaddeus Kosciuszko would be such a bad idea).


Here's the video, by the way, how's the weather where you are at? Sunny and in the 60s here, suckers.

18 January 2008

When You're Right, You're Right . . .

(via Instapundit)

. . . Victor Davis Hanson takes aim at a few generations of California politicians, and lets them have it with both barrels.

At some point we Californians should ask ourselves, how we inherited a state with near perfect weather, the world's richest agriculture, plentiful timber, minerals, and oil, two great ports at Los Angeles and Oakland, a natural tourist industry from Carmel to Yosemite, industries such as Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and aerospace—and serially managed to turn all of that into the nation's largest penal system, periodic near bankruptcy, and sky-high taxes.

Both houses of our legislature are a mess. Things would be even worse if our state didn't have the habit of balancing the very liberal state legislatures with moderate Republican governors. When we had a liberal Governor combined with liberal legislators, well, that lead to some pretty serious buyer's remorse.

My solutions:
  • End the ban on offshore oil drilling
  • Legalize gambling statewide
  • Legalize marijuana statewide (and not just for medicinal use)
  • Might as well legalize prostitution while you're at it
  • Contract with Mexico to house Mexican nationals who commit crimes in California to do their time in California managed, but Mexican staffed jails in Mexico (could incarcerate them for pennies on the dollar, given labor costs down there)
  • Hefty school vouchers statewide for education and end direct state funding of public schools, make the current schools compete for those student vouchers
  • Blow up the redtape nightmare that make up our environmental, workplace, and tort rules and regulations, streamline that mess and you'd have trouble keeping companies out, rather than trouble keeping companies in
  • Become the national leader in good, clean, Gaia-preserving nuclear power, build 10 midsized coastal, desalinating plants within 10 years, between making money on oil drilling, and not having to use that oil to power our economy, we'd be able to take advantage of the price of energy, rather than getting taken advantage of, and add to that water independence as well as energy independence, this would be an expensive investment that would pay immediate and enormous dividends
  • End California only formulations of gasoline, cars engines are far cleaner than when those rules were drafted, the solution is getting people out of older cars, not driving up our gas price 20 to 30 cents above the national average (supply and demand at work, we can't tap into the same supply as everyone else, so oil companies have an easier time manipulating our supply, the California energy market is distorted because we require different fuel from the rest of the nation)

  • As Mr. Hanson points out, California has a scary amount of riches, yet our statewide governments are almost always pleading poverty. This poverty is not a result of our economy, it's a result of mismanagement of statewide funds. Government should be lean, mean, and only do what it's supposed to do. Every agency seems to feel the need to be an "agent for change" in this state. We have a bunch of dogooders trying to solve every problem with money that's not theirs to begin with. Tax the people and corporations of California less, give them only the services that are necessary for civil society to function, and stay out of their way as they build a rip-roaring and glorious future. It should be pretty simple, but instead we get a mess of crazed, politically correct, nanny-statist nonsense out of Sacramento.

    But I still say that Gov. Schwarzenegger has done an amazing job considering the legislature he has to deal with. We won't get so lucky after his term is up, I'm afraid.

    I Live in the "South", but I'm Rooting For the "North" in This Civil War, Too . . .

    Ed Driscoll points to the brewing Golden State "Civil War" between the tech heavy, entrepreneurial North (aka Silicon Valley) and the old school, labor v management, top down culture of the South (aka Hollywood).

    Even though there are as many far left wackos in the Valley as there are down here in LaLa Land, at least their far left wackos are also enamored of dynamism rather than statism and favor laissez-faire regulatory environments over corporate/government pseudo-monopolies.

    As If Flying Into Newark Wasn't Already Bad Enough . . .

    (via Drudge)

    Near miss between two planes landing in Newark, NJ.

    (sorry, 'bout the cheap shot Newarkers, but I bet y'all are used to it by now)

    17 January 2008

    The End of an Era

    (via Defamer)

    "I can't hit on a girl in public like I used to," so says Jack Nicholson in an upcoming AARP The Magazine interview.

    (and this post's title doesn't so much plagarize the Defamer post as it pays homage to it, that's my story and I'm sticking to it)

    "You Out of Yo Mind"

    Watching TNT's NBA coverage, it's halftime in the Cleveland versus San Antonio game, and the above quote is Charles Barkley referring to Kenny "The Jet" Smith.

    The reason Smith has left his senses (according to Sir Charles)?

    He claimed that the LA Lakers are the best team in the Western Conference right now. I'd love to agree with Kenny, but with the abscense of Bynum for eight weeks, I think I'm going to have to agree with Charles, instead.

    The Lakers will still beat Phoenix tonight, though, they've designed the team around beating that team, and this year it seems to be working.

    (they probably should have designed their team to beat San Antonio instead, even with a healthy Bynum, they'll have trouble if San Antonio is at full strength in the playoffs)

    It's an Historic Occasion, I Agree with TWO NYT Eds Today . . .

    First, they're right, race/gender issues have no place in the discussion about Sen. Obama versus Sen. Clinton. Of course, both have used their uniqueness amongst previous serious candidates for the presidency as a major selling point. Identity politics and the Democratic party go together, whether they like it or not.

    Chickens. Home. Roosting

    (go ahead, make that some sort of veiled racial reference, I dare you!)

    Second, they're right, yet more expansion of Indian Gaming on non-Indian land would be a bad thing. Not for the reasons they state, though. I think this picking one tribe over another as to winners and losers is ridiculous, all these compacts, and deals, and treaties are a sham. Americans want gambling, they want it close by, but generally they don't want it down the street.

    The whole reservation system and the fiction that these "Nations" are sovereign within the United States is a comfortable fiction that serves a few interests well, but fails the majority of the descendants of our continent's first residents. End the whole sham now, in the long run that would be the best solution for this mess of convoluted laws, compacts and 'treaties'.

    I think I've made it pretty obvious that I'm pro-gambling, but anti-monopoly. People want to be able to gamble, state governments are addicted to gaming revenue, let's quit all the hypocrisy and open up the business of gambling to business interests and communities willing to come to an accomodation without some 'poor disposessed native group' fronting for professional gaming concerns.

    Maybe this wasn't so historic, I agree with their conclusions, not how they got there, their reasonings are as fuzzy and wrong-headed as always. But besides being a conservative/libertarian, I'm also a pragmatist, if a liberal newspaper is willing to agree to the results I'm also looking for, who am I to argue?

    Thought of the Day . . .

    . . . in anticipation of the upcoming CNN/Politico.com GOP debate from the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on Wednesday January 30th, I expect many of the candidates to envoke Reagan, and claim for themselves the 'Reagan Mantle'.

    I'd just like to state for the record right now that "Reagan Mantle" would be a great name for a female pornstar.

    (I think he'd approve, not of the porn aspect, but he had a great sense of humor)

    16 January 2008

    Couldn't Have Said It Better Myself . . .

    . . . strong praise for Pres. Reagan's vision from an unlikely source (via Althouse). An unsurprisingly negative response from the TPM crowd. I understand that Sen. Obama doesn't directly praise any specific Reagan administration policy, just acknowledges that he came along at an inflection point in history and lead us out of a decade in the wilderness.

    But even the recognition that Pres. Reagan's campaign and vision was transformative within the American political landscape is enough to be controversial amongst many current Democrats.

    On top of that, Sen. Obama not so subtly places Pres. Nixon and Pres. Clinton in the same sentence as presidents who had no transformative agenda or appeal.

    The Obama is saying he will be transformative, don't demand specifics now, just know that The Obama will transform our country, how other countries respond to us, and how we interact with each other across the political spectrum.

    If it was off the cuff, it was a dangerous aside, that could damage him with a constituency he still hopes to woo. If it was calculated, it may have been the most brilliant 30 seconds of seemingly casual political speech that you are ever likely to see.

    If he doesn't run away from this, it could be his Sister Souljah moment, he marks himself as a person concerned with America first, not progressive politics or the Democratic Party. He wants the votes of Reagan Democrats, and Reagan Republicans, he wants to assure them that he recognizes the failure of the big government programs of the 60s and 70s, and he won't repeat them. Plus he recognizes that in its way, Clinton's time in office was as destructive to the office of the presidency as Nixon's and during an Obama administration, he'd bring back the decorum and respect that Pres. Reagan had demonstrated.

    Or not, I might be over-parsing this.

    I was an English Major, I can do that with the best of them.

    And as far as calling him "The Obama" (just in case you are wondering), it's more about how people are reacting towards him than what he does (though he does nothing to discourage this reaction). Just as "The Oprah" is every white woman's bestest black girlfriend, "The Obama" has potential to be everyone's bestest and favorite Exceptional Negro (not a term I made up, that would be Undercover Black Man's doing).

    Electing Sen. Obama president will automatically be a transformative event for how Americans see themselves and relate to each other, even if he really doesn't do anything to deserve the transformative label. Even though electing a woman, Sen. Clinton, should also be a transformative experience, because she is who she is, it doesn't work that way for her. She's too tied up in the psycho-drama and divisions of the 90s to represent something new. She'd be Clinton II, not the first woman elected president.

    I personally don't think a superficial transformation of racial politics in America is enough of a reason to elect a big government liberal at a time when big government liberalism can do a great deal of harm. But I do recognize that a successful Obama presidency could heal a lot of still open wounds in this country. I'm not rooting for him, but it's hard to root against him.

    And the beginning where Sen. Obama slowly says, "I don't want to present myself as some sort of a singular figure...", is his way of saying, 'I can't say it about myself, but feel free to think that about me as you vote for me on election day'.

    Sounds Like a Jest Now, But Let Her Get Elected, and Then You'll See, She's Serious . . .

    "FAA regulations prohibit the use of cell phones, blackberries or other wireless devices that may be used to transmit negative stories about me," Clinton said.

    (via Instapundit) Sen. Clinton upon introducing her new HF1 campaign plane. If she was really committed to battling human caused climate change, she'd go old school and switch to whistle-stop, private railcar, based campaign transportation (be part of the solution and not the cause, and all that rot).

    Much less CO2 (assuming she hooks up to previously scheduled trains and doesn't monkey around with their schedules) going the train way.

    If it was good enough for Pres. Reagan in 1984, it's good enough for Sen. Clinton.

    Seth Green Can Get Away With ALOT . . .

    . . . but is a fullblown 70s pornstache one of those things?

    (You Make the Call)

    (definition for pornstache, here)

    This Steve Jobs May Be Fake, but the Hype Over the Macbook Air is Very, Very Real . . .

    Fake Steve Jobs fake blogging with fake statements about fake performance features of the very real Macbook Air:
    And then there is Air. I don't like to call it a product, because to me it's more than that. To me it's a vision. My vision. It's a statement. My statement. It's a no-compromise laptop that has the fastest processor ever invented, the most RAM available on any computer in the world, the best keyboard, the best screen, and the longest battery life of any laptop ever made, plus it's thinner and lighter than any computer ever created in all of history. How do we do it? How do we make the fastest, most feature-packed laptop but put it into a tiny package and give it such amazing battery life? I like to think of it as magic. And so should you. That's all you need to know. We did it. And it's magic.

    The ladies seem to love it (at least this lady, and this lady). I'd have called it the LL Cool Macbook, instead, and I'd offer it in pink as soon as possible. Purse-sized (and an arm-toning 3lbs!, that's a feature not a flaw), but still 13 inches of visual splendor, what every woman wants (in a laptop?).

    I'm not saying gender plays a part in reaction to the macbook air (why would it?), yet the more male dominated Gizmodo (and its mostly geeky male commenters) greet the device with considerable more scepticism, enough so that they've opened an official 'flame war' thread for people to bash (and praise) the device. Out of the 250+ comments so far, the bashers greatly outweigh the praisers.

    I Am Not X (I Am XWL)

    From the most recent Kausfiles blurb (can't direct link, so I'll copy/paste instead):
    Emailer X (or is it Y?)--who seems to know his GOPs--sends this usefully pithy analysis:

    I don't think the importance of SC can be over-stated now. If Huckabee wins, there will be panic in GOP circles. If Romney wins, the base will be very uneasy. If Thompson wins, everyone will be completely confused. If McCain wins, the base will be very unhappy. And Giuliani won't win.

    4:12 P.M.

    My preference is for confusion. Not because I want the GOP to be confused, but because Pres. Thompson would be the best possible President of those left running.

    Though, I still hold out hope that a good back up plan would be Pres. Giuliani/VP Thompson, or I could even stomach a Pres. McCain if he had VP Thompson lording over the Senate (and holding McCain's feet to the fire of conservatism, he'd act as a conscious preventing McCain from getting too 'bipartisan')

    If You Feel Compelled to Vote for Sen. Obama . . .

    . . . I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that Sen. Obama will win the Democratic party's nomination. I know that runs counter to current convential wisdom, but as this becomes a two person race, Sen. Obama's positives will become greater just as Sen. Clinton becomes swamped by her negatives.

    There's a huge segment of folks who feel compelled to vote for The Obama, for The Obama shall wash away your past sins of prejudice. I think that was one of the dynamics at play in Iowa (which was helped by the public nature of a Caucus), and this dynamic will strengthen rather than recede as the race goes on.

    Rather than counsel you against voting for The Obama, I won't challenge your need for feeling good about yourself, but I will ask that you do one small thing for the country should your compulsion to elect Sen. Obama overwhelm you.

    Please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar, a cherry, and a pink pony on top, please split your ticket. If you must give back the executive branch to the Dems, then for pity's sake ensure that both the House and Senate are controlled by moderate Republicans.

    If the Dems get a fillibuster proof Senate, plus keep the House, and add the executive branch to their spoils, then you can add the judicial branch over the next 20 years minimum to their prizes as well.

    In that scenario, expect Breyer, Ginsberg and Stevens to all retire before the 2010 election. You'll have 'progressive' jurists in their 40s or early 50s entrenched on the court, and with current life expectancies, you can expect them to remain on the court for close to half a century.

    Do we really want a "living constitution" to be the dominant view of the Supreme Court from now till 2050? If any of the current conservatives leave the court or fall ill over the next 8 years, then expect the entire judiciary to resemble the Ninth Circuit. Rather than a judicial body, the Supreme Court would become a supra-legislature, unelected, unresponsive to popular will (not always a bad thing, admittedly), and free to impose policy from the bench.

    Is that something that appeals to you?

    Enjoy it While it Lasts . . .

    A couple of screen caps from ESPN, first the Western Conference standings with the LA Lakers as the number one seed. I think the last time this has happened was either in 2003, or more likely 2002. It's a great accomplishment by a team not expected to do too much this year, plus it's also a testament to how tightly bunched all the good teams are in the Western Conference. If the Lakers go on a 2-8 stretch over their next 10 games, they could find themselves at the bottom of the playoff hunt, rather than on top.

    The next screen cap is from the playoff odds projections (going the screencap route cause the links for these pages always go to current standings, they don't do daily archives). With the loss of Bynum, a slide is to be expected, but Kobe Bryant being Kobe Bryant, and given the very real depth and progress made by the young role players at every position, if Kwame Brown can play well in Bynum's absence, the Lakers could still manage a 18-12 record in Bynum's absence, which should at least leave them as a 4 seed, plus you'll have a solid Kwame plus a rested Bynum come playoff time. Celtics-Lakers finals here we come!

    That's the Problem With Language

    Language is a slippery thing. Through outlets like Reuters and AP's refusal to call the terrorists terrorists, they latched on to a more 'acceptable' and romantic phrase to describe their attempts at thwarting Iraqi democracy and kill American soldiers. The term of art applied to the terroristic activities of terrorists was to call their actions "insurgency" and the actors "insurgents".

    Makes it a bit troubling then, when an ex-President uses the word "insurgents" to describe folks who support his wife's bid for the presidency, doesn't it?

    Is This a Good Thing?

    Of all the artists who I was hoping to see "entire catalog" available on Rhapsody, I wouldn't have put the Bee Gees really high on that list (or on that list at all).

    (I am about to listen to the Cat Power album that came out this week, though)

    15 January 2008

    Virtually Unopposed, Sen. Clinton still only managed 55% in Michigan.

    That's going to leave a mark. It would have been awesome if uncommitted had received a plurality of votes, but a pretty clear mesage as to the undesirability of Sen. Clinton, even amongst Democrats, was sent in Michigan.

    The people that are for her, are strongly for her, but the people that are against are twice as strong in their hatred (and for many it is outright hatred). That's not the formula for success in the general election.

    If she beats Sen. Obama, expect a lot of his supporters to sit out the general election, and a lot of people be motivated to vote against Sen. Clinton rather than for her opposition.

    You Don't Have to Be An Economist To Know This Would Be Terribly Wrong . . .

    Ann Althouse's note from her debate blogging:
    10:01: The pandering on economic issues is a huge turn-off for me. A 5-year freeze on interest rates? I'm not an economist, but that sounds terribly wrong. Yet there's not a word of explanation of why that might be a good idea (from Hillary Clinton).

    I'm no economist, but I believe in markets, and part of the reason we have a 'crisis' to begin with is meddling by the federal government in lending practices. A bailout isn't needed, the number of foreclosures isn't insignificant, but it's not particularly huge, either. Also, the 'worrying' about foreign investment in our banks was disgusting. If sovereign funds are willing to gamble on our economy, it's their money to win or lose. Having other countries being deeply invested in our prosperity can only be a good thing. To paint that as a failing of the Bush Administration is dishonest, and dangerous if they really mean to make it harder for foreign interests to invest in America.

    Their collective idiocy on the nuclear issue was equally disturbing. There was the weird dodges on the gun issue, they know it's a loser, so they decried the problem in the inner cities while saying people in rural areas can keep their guns. Nobody seems to notice that gun violence is worse where gun control is strongest, and gun violence is least where legal gun ownership is highest, but that's a bit much to expect from Dems.

    Lot's of bad answers to poorly stated questions tonight. That was one sucky debate.

    T:TSCC Observations . . .

    Didn't watch the second night of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles till tonight. Instapundit liked it, Alan Sepinwall was intrigued, but had problems (night 1 recap, night 2 recap).

    Me, I give it a solid meh. Could be better but not awful. What really has me puzzled is John Connor's behavior. If my future self sent my 15 year old self a smoking hot looking, fully functional and anatomically correct (implied by the scene with her munching a chip) robot, I think I might have added a little seduction routine to the mix (not that my 15 year old self would have required a whole lot of seduction).

    Also, it might just be me, but I got more sexual tension between Mom and Cameron (the killbot/potential sexbot), than between John and Cameron. For that matter, I got more sexual tension between Mom and John than I did between John and Cameron (ewwww). This isn't the first show with inappropriate sexual tension between actors playing mother and son, and it won't be the last. Part of it is they always cast moms too young and teenagers too old, so the perceived age difference is minimized, and it's hard for actors to play affection without it coming across as sexual. Same problem arises with many depictions of brother/sister relationships.

    That all brings me to a little betting pool.

    I'm giving odds on which of these 3 characters will be the first to make use of Cameron as a sexbot.

    I'd say it's about 2:1 odds that John gets robosexual (see: Futurama) with Cameron within the first 2 seasons of the show. (possible problem with depicting a presumptively underaged character engaged in sexual relations, that happens less on network than it did in the past)

    5:1 odds that Sarah gets robosexual with Cameron within the first 2 seasons of the show. (longer odds, may not want to open the whole robo- and homosexual can of worms in an action show)

    12:1 odds that FBI guy and Cameron get robosexual within the first 2 seasons of the show. (somehow he manages to capture her, then you get a whole she uses her sexuality to make an escape angle working)

    Most likely, there will be hints, and winks about some robosex, but they won't actually ever go there. Still, I'm pretty sure that my 15 year old self wouldn't have had any problems with a little robosexual action, if that makes me a pervert back when I was 15, then guilty as charged.

    14 January 2008

    Word of the Day (Unfortunately)

    Subluxation: n. Incomplete or partial dislocation of a bone in a joint.

    Had to talk about how great Andrew Bynum has been playing, D'oh! He'll get better, he's young, he'll stay as fit as possible, and he'll be back playing in mid-March.

    Lakers won on the road in OT over Seattle tonight without Bynum., Kobe went for a season high 48 points to get the job done. They'll have a tougher time of it against Phoenix on Thursday, they've got about 25-30 games to play without Bynum, hopefully they can stay above .500 over that stretch, if not, they'll struggle to even make the playoffs.

    Given What Everyone Knows About Him, "First Gentleman" Is Definitely Out . . .

    . . . Michelle Malkin points to some items from a Tyra Banks press release that excerpts some of her chat with Sen. Clinton to be aired this Friday. Here's the relevant part for which this post title is the punchline:

    TYRA: Now if you win, you are going to be Madam President or Madame?
    . . . He [Bill Clinton] has to have another name because . . . it would be your time.

    SENATOR CLINTON: Well, that is true. He will always be Mr. President but now we need to do a nationwide contest for a name.

    QUESTION: Like a reality show.

    SENATOR CLINTON: Like a reality show. This is good, because think about it; here are some of the things that have been suggested like First Mate. His Scottish friends say “First Laddy,” but we need ideas. I’ll just keep calling him Bill.

    Speaking of the gentleman who presumes to one day become "First Spouse" (rhymes with louse), Times of London (via Drudge) does a recap (10 years after) of the Clinton Perjury scandal (it wasn't about the sex, it was about the perjury, no matter what the Clintonistas insist). It's a slanted piece, as to be expected, but an interesting recap, nonetheless.

    And whenever I see the picture above, my first thought is, 'I totally would have hired the redhead as an intern, instead'.

    (not that Monica is unattractive, just that the redhead behind her is especially fetching, and not that 'hiring an intern' is some sort of code term for wanting to screw young women, but Pres. Clinton has made it so)

    I Demand a Hearing Before the Ontario Human Rights Commission !!!!

    My sensitivities have been attacked. An awful calumny has been directed to all citizens of the United States. If Ezra I. Levant (link goes to his YouTube page, and for more, here's his webpage) can be hauled before the commission for publishing the Mohammed Cartoons, then I believe Toronto Star columnist Rudyard Griffiths should be brought in and forced to apologize for the gross calumnies he's levelled at the people of the United States in this recent column.

    I task the commission with helping Mr. Griffiths discover in his heart the truth of how hurtful his words might seem to an American, and leading him to correct the error of his ways. Just as Mr. Levant has been dragged to your commission by a single interlocutor with a dubious claim of injury, I think I can show that my injuries are as real as those of Mr. Soharvardy who filed this complaint (PDF at link) against Mr. Levant.

    I don't think my status as a non-Canadian in any way should limit my right to appeal to this commission to address the hurtful actions of Mr. Griffiths, human rights are universal and as such do not respect borders. The commission should show their commitment to being a forward thinking and enlightened body by extracting an apology on my behalf regardless of my non-Canadianess.

    I realize on first read, Mr. Griffiths column may not be hurtful, but when examined further, I think I can clearly show that it is a dangerously damaging calumny against all Americans, and as such, should be apologized for with all due haste.

    Here are examples directly from his column:

    For starters, the Republicans and the Democrats are falling over each other to position themselves as champions of the ailing American middle class. In both camps of presidential hopefuls, this has meant more than just the usual populist attacks on greedy lobbyists and "special interests" in Washington, D.C. This time, however, there is a heavy dose of protectionist rhetoric not only in the stump speeches of the Democratic front-runners but among the traditionally laissez-faire Republicans. These relentless bipartisan attacks on NAFTA and the outsourcing of American jobs do not bode well for a Canadian economy that sends three-quarters of all its exports to the U.S.

    "What's wrong with this?", you may ask. Plenty, first he suggests that populist attacks are usual in our politics, and I object to that characterization vehemently. Our greatest leaders never resorted to populist class warfare rhetoric, whether it be Ronald Reagan, or even John F. Kennedy, or best politicians seek to rise the lot of all Americans and not pit one class against another. Even the very perception that there are 'classes' in America is a pernicious one. There are disparities between rich and poor, I'll grant that, but these are not based in a traditional class structure as such. Through self improvement anyone can rise, and through self destruction anyone can fall, as a people we transcend class, or founding documents do not mention class, and even though class may occasionally enter in to our politics, that's our business and should not be pointed out to us by outsiders.

    The next terrible passage I'd like to point out is this one:

    Canadians should also take note of the growing isolationist sentiment that is surfacing in both parties. It is not simply that a majority of Americans want their troops out of Iraq. Instead, at both poles of the political spectrum, voters are warming to candidates who espouse making deep cuts to foreign aid and either ending completely or scaling back overseas military missions so that more money and resources can be spent on U.S. domestic priorities.

    All I can say is, "take that back, Mr. Griffiths". That's a damn, dirty lie. Isolationism was a code word for nazi-sympathizers during the 30s, so any use of the term "isolation" or its variants with regards to American politics and its people is tantamount to calling us nazi-loving fascists. Whether or not this was Mr. Griffiths intent is irrelevant to the amount of hurt his words has caused me, or the legitimacy of my claim before the Human Rights Commission. Judging from the hearing involving Mr. Levant, it is clear that Canadians enjoy a "right" not to be offended by anyone in any way, I demand the same right as a fellow North American, and I expect that right to be recognized.

    One more paragraph to quote, I saved the worst for last:

    The buzzword in the U.S. primaries is change. If it occurs on the scale that the political mood of America today suggests, we can expect a significant and ongoing spillover effect in Canada in 2008. If only for the reason that many Canadians still believe that this country, not America, is destined to be the most progressive and forward-looking democracy on the continent.

    What vile words! What bile, what a disgusting turn of phrase. How dare you, Mr. Griffiths, even suggest that America was on the road to becoming "the most progressive" democracy on the continent. You know who else considered themselves progressives? Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Minh, mass murderers all, to suggest that we are headed in that direction is to suggest we will soon descend into statist totalitarianism. "Progressivism" always means a larger more intrusive state, and these states when not born of violence (they skip straight to full blown totalitarianism) start of with small erosions of freedom, but grow ever more intrusive and constraining of liberty as time goes on (the Alberta Human Rights Commission is a clear example of this phenomenon, they are both about as 'progressive' and 'totalitarian' as can be).

    If you refuse to grant me standing before the Ontario Human Rights Commission (I am assuming they'd have jurisdiction over Mr. Griffiths of the Toronto Star), then I call upon a Canadian of American descent living in Toronto, to take up the cause and file a complaint on behalf of all Americans who find buzzwords such as "isolationist", "populist" and "progressive" to be the horrible insults that I do.

    It's clear that in Canada you do not have the Free Speech right to insult someone elses sensitivities, and since my sensitivities have been insulted, I demand redress.

    You Have a Right to Be an Idiot, So Long as It Doesn't Cost Taxpayers Anything . . .

    . . . that would seem to sum up Michael Kinsley's argument with regards to one aspect of his critique of libertarianism (brought on, it seems, by his observation of the Ron Paul phenomena), and his support for intrusive government measures that trade 'public good' for limits on personal liberty. The problem with Kinsley's argument is that the government is in charge of defining what becomes an externality, and to what degree they must interfere to prevent an external cost for undesirable behavior. Rarely has the government used this argument to limit or reverse its own power, rather it always seems to ratchet up its interference into markets and the populations daily life. Markets work, governments distort, not everything can be purely commercial, but there's a lot of stuff in our society that would be better if it were more business, and less political.

    Ilya Somin, posting at the Volokh Conspiracy, offers a solid counter-argument along the lines, 'if taxpayer costs are your problem with my liberty, then don't pay for my mistakes'.

    I'd call it the Patti Smith version of libertarianism, to quote,

    "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine
    meltin' in a pot of thieves
    wild card up my sleeve
    thick heart of stone
    my sins my own
    they belong to me, me"

    And speaking of Patti Smith singing Gloria, here's a live version from back in the day.

    Also, just cause markets are imperfect, doesn't mean that government will do the job better (and vice versa, but the set of things better done by government is much smaller than the set of things best accomplished through free market principles) .

    And Ron Paul is still a nut, most of his supporters are loony, and if I knew as much about him as I do now back in 1988 when I voted for him, then I would have held my nose and voted for George Bush (that's right, my first ever presidential ballot was cast in favor of Ron Paul).

    13 January 2008

    How to Turn 4 Hours into 30 Minutes . . .

    . . . just hold a WGA strike. The Golden Globes press conference just finished, and instead of 1hr of red carpet fawning, and 3hrs of self-congratulatory ceremonies, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association managed to announce all the winners in just about 30 minutes.

    I prefer the half hour version, myself.

    You could probably get the Academy Awards done in only 15 minutes, that'd be awesome.

    Glad to see Extras won for best Comedy Series, can't believe Ricky Gervais was beaten by David Duchovny (turns out, bemused detachment and fake humping starlets is brilliant acting), and sorry to see that Ellen Page didn't win, otherwise couldn't care about any of the other results.

    Well, in the NYT's Defense, "Iraqi Veterans Half as Violent as Their Statistical Cohort" Wouldn't Make Nearly as Sexy a Headline

    (via Instapundit, via Abu Muqawama who envokes Rambo) Phil Carter eviscerates the NYT regarding their absurd 'All Vets are Soulless Killing Machines Just One Bad Beat Away From a Killing Spree' article.

    There will be many people who see that article as the gospel truth, but their truth is purely 'faith based'. Let just an ounce of reality infect their thinking, and they'd see the lies before their eyes, but that would inconvenience their narrative, so the illusion will persist.

    Hopefully, the internet helps prevent these false 'truths' from becoming the accepted truth, the way it was regarding Vietnam vets.

    "It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue. "

    > what is a grue?

    The grue is a sinister, lurking presence in the dark places of the earth. Its favorite diet is adventurers, but its insatiable appetite is tempered by its fear of light. No grue has ever been seen by the light of day, and few have survived its fearsome jaws to tell the tale.

    Much love aimed at Infocom and text adventures in general over at io9 (and here's the wiki on Grue(monster))

    I'm Sure You Could Get a Job at USC, Pepperdine or LMU, if You Really Wanted . . .

    . . . Prof. Bainbridge (of UCLA), bitching a bit about "the vissitudes of governors and legislators."

    (I think the state should get out of the business of Higher Education, myself, government support has distorted the market, and doesn't really increase the access to quality education, just increases the number of venues for crappy education)

    The New Wild West (It Isn't Out Here Anymore)

    As a child, I learned how important it was to establish an enabling economy where the government provided incentives and an ethics-based regulatory environment, but left it to the inventiveness and energy of the private sector to expedite economic growth.
    Not Mitt Romney speaking, rather Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Dubai gets a lot of things right, they are moderate, open to foreigners and foreign investment, and are very daring in the scope of their dreams.

    In many ways Dubai is the new West, but just as there were excesses out here as we expanded, Dubai faces some serious challenges as they try and turn Dubai into a global city, financial capital, and tourist trap. They are building at an insane pace, and all that growth is being built by extremely cheap foreign labor, mostly imported from South Asia. They have a two-tiered society, with the local born Arabs living very rich and special lives, and thousands upon thousands of foreigners with little rights, little freedom. As long as they rotate in new foreigners on a regular basis, they might be able to forestall any social unrest created by this inequity, but it seems like if they also worked on defining "Dubai-ness" beyond belonging to an ethnic group and instead made it something you could become through hard work and determination, then they'd have a much better chance of building something that will last and prosper for centuries.

    Letting the best and brightest of those workers they import become full fledge members of their society would have a huge long term positive impact and give everyone from the lowliest riveter to a better compensated IT worker that much more incentive to do a great job and feel personally invested in the success of Dubai.

    They are imitating much of what made the United States great and prosperous, but the core of our prosperity is the prospect that being American is a state of mind rather than an ethnicity. Copy that, too, and you might build something really special out in the desert.

    Time to Start the How Long Before the Ninth Circuit is Overturned Betting Pool Started

    The latest Ninth Circuit decision that will likely get overturned came down this week. This time it involves a case regarding background checks at the JPL division of NASA.

    The NYT article is pretty dry, doesn't mention how likely it is that this will get overturned by the Supreme Court, or that the decision was based on some pretty shaky and broad interpretations of what are constitutionally protected privacy rights.

    This Congress Might Get Something Right?!?

    Patent reform is working it's way through Congress, and it seems as if they might actually pass some sensible reform that will help kill the anti-competitive and anti-innovation lawsuits that have plagued the tech sector over the past decade or so.

    The NYT paints this as the big guys trying to pull one over on the little guys, but that hasn't been what's happened lately, instead it's predatory lawyers and petty trolls finding obscure patents and extorting money by shopping for favorable jurisdictions and finding judges that don't understand tech to give outrageous dollar settlements.

    If this law goes through, it will be great for consumers and great for inventors, right now corporations can't look out side of their own R&D divisions for tech, for fear of being hit by a suit later on, if that fear is reduced, rather than giving them an excuse to screw the little guy, it will give them a way to bring the little guy in and combine resources.

    NFL Playoff Picks: The Results, Divisional Playoffs Edition

    2-2, not good, not bad, just meh. At least My Nemesis Bill Simmons™ also went 2-2.

    Green Bay thumped Seattle as predicted, New England beat Jacksonville, controlled the game, but didn't bother covering the spread, those bastards. Guessed right about San Diego being able to keep the game close or even upset Indy. They won despite losing Rivers and LT, don't know how the Colts lost that one. Dallas could let a game slip away that they should have won. NY Giants still look like crap, Eli's stastitics were pretty awful, but they did enough to win.

    The conference finals should be two huge blowouts, I don't see a banged up Chargers or a still crappy Giants doing anything on the road next week.

    New England v Green Bay will bring double the normal insane level of hype you get in a Superbowl, probably will set ratings and ticket scalping records as well.

    12 January 2008

    My Forthcoming Album Release . . .

    (following the rules as set down here, hat tip Pastor Jeff)

    My forthcoming album, just one track, 65 minutes of the sound of a bank of slot machines recorded from about 11:30pm to 12:35am as Friday turns into Sunday on the casino floor of Caesar's Vegas (unaltered, unedited, yet strangely hypnotic and musical).

    BAND NAME: Caesar's Palace(disambiguation) the wiki link

    ALBUM TITLE: Wanting What You've Got the quote

    COVER ART: Alagados - ParanĂ¡ - Brazil the photo, uploaded by Mario Marcante

    Next step, roadtrip to Caesar's Palace Las Vegas with recording device in my pocket and sit at the slots for 65 minutes, then post the album on a file sharing network and watch it take off like wildfire.

    Normally I don't play the slots, but I don't think they'd like me sitting there for an hour not plunking in credits, so as a sacrifice for my art, I might. I would do an hour of the sounds of a sportsbook during a major sporting event (like next Sunday's NFC or AFC championship), but then you would run into copyright issues.

    I could split the difference and sit at the edge of the sportsbook close to a bank of slots. Or I could stay mobile and stroll through the casino floor picking up an hour+ of sound that way.

    Just fill up my non-existent tip jar with $500 and this album will happen for sure.