Friday, October 31, 2008
I don't understand who these two people are, in the sense that I haven't seen them on the nightly news. I guess if I had read them for a while I'd understand better.
Do I need to hot-link to them to get blogstreet cred?
*This fulfills my obligitory "I'm not targeting anyone personally," all of you do this.
News headline from October, 2009: Leo Nunez Wins NL MVP Award
Thursday, October 30, 2008
1. Bush's 11th Hour legislation speculation and analysis
2. Bush's 11th Hour legislation/pardons coverage.
3. Presidential swearing in speculation and analysis.
4. Presidential swearing in coverage and analysis.
5. First 100 Days speculation and analysis.
6. First 100 Days coverage and analysis.
Anyway, don't expect the pundits and news outlets to be bored, any time soon.
Unfortunately, I still have not made up my mind, as the decision for me is really a toss-up.
On the one hand I've got Senator Obama, who is a naked Marxist and on the other hand I have Senator McCain, who has no idea what he is.
On the one hand, Senator Obama wants to get us out of Iraq a.s.a.p., but on the other hand he also thinks he is Robin Hood.
On the one hand, Senator McCain represents conservative values, but on the other hand his VP candidate is a lunatic with absolutely no ethics.
On the one hand, Senator Obama made a great choice for VP, shoring up his lack of foreign policy experience with Joe Biden's copious experience.
On the other hand, do we really want another Dick Cheney whispering advice in the President's ear on foreign policy?
On the one hand, John McCain is a war veteran and has done a great service to his country. On the other hand, how exactly does that translate into being an effective politician?
On the one hand, Senator Obama is a democrat. On the other hand, so is Hillary Clinton, and we all know how gracious she and her husband are being about her losing the primary. Mitt Romney is all over the country for John McCain. Where is Hillary?
On the one hand Senator McCain is a Republican. On the other hand, he's such a moderate flip-flopper that he probably belongs in the (I) category with Joe Lieberman.
Anyway, the point is, I'm completely unsatisfied (again) with my choice, so to all my readership, if you are looking to me to discern for whom you should vote, all I can say is: Charles Jay.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Best Purist Game Plan: As noted by many readers, including Alex Waller of Overland Park, Kan., Navy rushed 49 times and did not attempt a pass in beating SMU 34-7 during a rainstorm.
A monstrous concern I have against the McCain-Palin ticket is that both people have shown a reckless disregard for science. They seem to treat it as the sworn enemy of religion, and that the only way to secure Conservative Republican votes is to make claims like "we should end fruit fly research, it's wasteful and un-American."
Then there is the idea that Creationism (for right or wrong) cannot possibly meld with Science. I do not understand how Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time, spent years researching a Unified Field Theory to mate electromagnetic forces with gravity, a seemingly oddball force, and nowadays billions are spent in the study of physics to do just that...but somehow it's an affront to religious fundamentalists whenever a scientist gets $1 million to do some evolutionary biology research. Where are the Gravitational Fundamentalists crying out against the Electromagnetic Force Scientists who are trying to destroy the glorious, blind beauty of gravity as a unique force sent directly by God that needs no explanation?!
Better yet, how can any sane person take Religion and science...and then conveniently ignore the science but also use it to write their own textbooks on "science" that are more in-line with archaic stories that are clearly meant to be parables. That is the equivalent of me taking the Bible, and the Qu'ran, and then writing my own version of the Qu'ran with Jesus all throughout it as a Messiah instead of prophet, then calling followers of the real Qu'ran bad Christians and damning them to hell.
Most of the above is the (loudly) proclaimed policy of Governer Palin. McCain's awe-inspiring lack of faith in science and technology isn't much more promising.
Senator McCain has voted against renewable energy research and tax credits multiple times.
His real laugher, however, is when he talks about stem cell research.
While I support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, I believe clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress. Moreover, I believe that recent scientific breakthroughs raise the hope that one day this debate will be rendered academic. I also support funding for other research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research which hold much scientific promise and do not involve the use of embryos. I oppose the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes and I voted to ban the practice of “fetal farming,” making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes.I can't begin to tell you how hypocritical it is for fundamentalists to say that stem cell research destroys a life and then be in favor of in vitro fertilization. For those of you not familiar with the show "John and Kate Plus Eight," the typical process of in vitro fertilization is the harvest a dozen eggs, fertilizing them with sperm in a little dish, then injecting all the fertilized eggs into the mother's uterus. Typically three or four eggs will attach to the mother's uterine wall; the rest die and are passed out through normal vaginal discharge. Similarly, if too many eggs implant the doctor will often abort some of them to reduce the total number of fetuses in the uterus to three or less, depending on the parents' desire.
Under John McCain's policy, this should be considered homocide...multiple homocide, and the doctor is a serial killer, the scientist mixing eggs in a pitri dish is a serial killer with a God Complex, and the parents should not have children. But somehow religious fundamentalism ignores this embryonic murder because it uses science, and doesn't get used by science.
McCain also believes the government interest in funding research should decrease, and corporate involvement should increase. This is the opposite of a good idea. Government-funded research has the ability to remain neutral; to be research for the sake of science with no clear goal but a better understanding of the universe small or large. Corporate funded research always has a clear goal and motive that involves profit, and all too often research becomes unethical when the bottom line isn't greater understanding, it's greater wealth for stockholders.
Science has already been fighting an uphill battle for the last 8 years as one of the few "conservative" things Bush did was to slash grant funding for research nationwide. McCain and The Cougar will undoubtedly continue that trend, claiming science is "discretionary spending." For Republican Presidents, science has become something you absolutely don't endorse unless it is good for P.R., for example everyone suddenly jumping on the renewable energy bandwagon. Solar, wind, and geothermal power have been around for 50 years...they just weren't good ways to get votes until recently. That's not being pro-science, that's being pro-self.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Lee Walton says it much better than I could:
Last Thursday while walking to lunch on the corner of Market and East Bay, I passed what appeared to be a homeless man standing on the corner of Wentworth and East Bay holding a hand-made sign that read, “Vote Obama, I need the money.”, I laughed to myself and admired the man for his misplaced, albeit blatant honesty.Redistribution of wealth sounds really good...right up until it is your wealth that is being redistributed. Somehow the magical idea of redistribution exists because everyone who believes in it thinks by and large, it will be someone else's wealth that is being redistributed. It is the timeless cry of the poor masses, and it is essentially a cry of jealousy and outrage at being stuck with the hand of cards they were dealt. It is, deep down, the belief that "I'd rather we both be poor than I be poor and you be rich."
Once inside one of my favorite restaurants, I noticed that my waiter was wearing a bright blue,“Obama 08” tie; again I laughed to myself as he boldly and proudly advertised his political preference for all the world, and his customers, to see -- just imagine the odds of encountering two such 1st Amendment harbingers of change in less than 10-minutes.
When the check finally came I decided not to tip my waiter and explained to him that I was going to implement a practical application of Obama's Redistribution of Wealth concept as my own personal socialistic experiment. He stood there in stoic disbelief as I explained to him that I was going to redistribute his rightfully earned $10 tip to someone who I deemed more in need...a homeless fellow standing a few blocks north in front of the Harris Teeter parking lot. The waiter stammered a few "Why practice on me? I’m just a local college student!" retorts and then angrily stormed away from the table in a steaming huff of progressive self-righteous indignation.
Apparently, after experiencing firsthand the application of such socialistic governance from the perspective of the rightful wage earner, my young liberal-minded waiter was quickly convinced that income redistribution was much easier to support as a noble, magnanimous social policy than when his own hard-earned income was about to be redistributed, against his will, to another I deemed more needy.
I went outside, walked back up to Wentworth, gave the homeless guy a $10 bill, and asked him to walk down to the restaurant on the corner and thank the waiter there who was wearing the “Obama 08” tie as I've decided he could use the money more than my waiter who had actually earned the $10. The homeless fellow smiled in grateful disbelief, tossed his sign in the hedge, and promptly bounded for the liquor store across the street.
At the end of this impromptu and rather unscientific income redistribution experiment I realized the homeless fellow was truly grateful for the money that he had not exerted any effort to earn, but my liberal-minded waiter was highly indignant that I would take from him and then give to another the honest wages that he had worked hard to earn even though the homeless recipient needed the money more.
As I walked back to my office, I began thinking about the heavy burden of corporate ownership and the endless frustration from beating my head against the wall of increasing bureaucracy year-after-year. I also thought of the majority of this year’s hard-earned profits that I had planned to reinvest in a few new employees, annual raises to reward loyalty and hard work, Christmas bonuses for extraordinary effort, and year-end corporate donations to the SC Aquarium, Coastal Conservation League, and the Historic Charleston Foundation.
After reconsidering my apparent politically incorrect capitalistic beliefs, the needs of my hard-working, albeit financially struggling, middle-class staff, and the six-figure salaries of the three non-profits’ directors sitting in the big stately, well-maintained buildings that each called home, I decided then and there to give every last penny of this year’s profit directly to Charleston’s Homeless Shelter, layoff all my staff, close our company, retire early, and depend upon the largesse of Obama’s promised Redistribution of Wealth for my every need!
In that brief instance, I too became a practicing socialist!
I don't think the world will be a better place if we increase taxes to the wealthy because not only does it philosophically depend on humanity to suddenly see themselves as part of a bigger picture and a magical collective working for the better good, it also requires them to suddenly cease to have the human trait of greed, which (despite some optimists' opinions) is nearly universal in the human race.
Better to have a highly productive world where a few have a lot and the mass has little than to turn the human race into a bland, unproductive vanilla where we all suffer anonymity and lack of prosperity together. Redistribution of wealth by government goes again the very fundamentals of the American Dream, which state that a person may obtain prosperity through hard work. Redistribution of wealth essential states that the prosperity one achieves through hard work should be taken from them and given to the less prosperous, regardless of how hard they worked.
Not to mention we are already dangerously far to the right on the Laffer Curve, and evidence in U.S. history shows that government programs like Medicare and Social Security would actually benefit from a rate cut for the wealthy. (similar international evidence here)
Rarer yet are the ones that unhappily give that title a negative connotation.
The Cougar joins these, as a McCain campaign advisor admits to CNN.
Now, just calling someone a Diva doesn't make them a Diva. There must be evidence of Diva-related activity, like spending exorbitant amounts on clothing, or going against your advisors...
...okay maybe she is a Diva. It's just so hard to admit, because she winked at me.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I'm keeping my phone-camera ready, local gas prices are poised to hit $1.99 any day. Nice.
One of the byproducts of the U.S. economy's suddent penchant for emotion-based investing is the housing market collapse caused a jump, and then a violent correction in the oil market. Oil prices peaked on July 11, 2008 at $147.22 a barrel. At the time, almost everyone agreed that the price of oil was being artificially inflated by speculation, emotional investment, Hurricane hyperpanic, and mixed and confusing reports about demand for oil in Asian countries. At the time, my business-savvy cube-neighbor at work, Austin, predicted the market would correct within a few weeks. I then predicted that once the sell-off began, it would accelerate. Oh, how right I was.
By September the price was in a free fall. When it neared $100/barrel we watched it like a football game. When it hit $80 we laughed at Austin's foresight.
Around the time it hit $80, the Saudi oil minister predicted that $75-80 would be the sustainable market value for a barrel of oil. Anyway, it is now trading at $63, and was dropping Friday despite an OPEC cut of ~2 million barrels.
This is a disaster globally, and emphasizes just how much communist and totalitarian governments with oil supplies depend upon America's oil addiction to support their own regimes.
Iran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elected to the head of the populist party on the platform of distributing the oil wealth to the populace, faces a difficult battle for reelection with oil profits drying up. The Iranian representative at the OPEC meeting Friday said anything below $90 would hurt the country greatly.
Venezuela: Rafael Ramírez, the Venezuelan energy minister, lamented at the OPEC meeting that Hugo Chavez' expansive social programs require $100/barrel oil. Some experts believe the populace, now wealthy and educated enough to do something, might be more amiable to a coup than they were 5 years ago.
Qatar: Desires a range of $70-90 to be profitable.
Libya and Nigeria: $80/barrel or they can't buy Russian equipment to keep the locals "contained."
All this adds up to two truths:
1. American economical ramifications and the downtick of global markets can hurt dictatorships as much or more than it can hurt free markets.
2. We need to be aware that as communist and totalitarian regimes' purses dry up, their people will suffer and humanitarian efforts may be necessary.
Wait, I forgot a third truth:
3. As much as "breaking our dependence on foreign oil" sounds like a great plan, it also means drying up the governmental revenue that supplies much of the developing world with its daily requirements. Many of the countries that export large quantities of oil are also countries with huge, destitute populations. By not buying their oil we would rob their economy of their single greatest source of income. Imagine, if you will, what would happen to Germany if suddenly their export revenue was cut in half. Their economy would collapse overnight. Although the high oil prices are only 8 months old, and oil was in fact around this price last year, and half this price the year before, many nations that export oil were promised by their economic advisors that $100/barrel was the new floor, and many predicted $200 oil. Those nations then fixed their budgets based on that increased revenue, and are now trimming fat...as fast as they can.
Although I do not condone high oil prices, nor do I necessarily condone gas-powered vehicles, we must stop and remember (once in a while) that what happens in America has far-reaching consequences for better or worse, and sometimes what is better for us here in the States is much, much worse somewhere else.
p.s. Want to read about obscene power at its worst? Hugo Chavez' seizure of U.S. oil companies' interests in Venezuela in the last 5 years reads like a bully taking a little kid's lunch money and then sharing it with his bully friends to buy some drugs.
Friday, October 24, 2008
1. Whatever is said about Obama's policies vs. McCain's policies I promptly ignore because my comment towards Obama's socialistic leanings are not meant as an endorsement of Senator McCain. Both men voted in favor of the bailout, after all.
2. I take exception to the argument that Social Security is a largely successful and popular program. No tax-paying person in America finds Social Security popular, the system was not designed to last more than 10 years when it was incepted, by 2017 the payouts will exceed tax revenue and by 2040 (right when my demographic starts to retire) it will only cover an estimated 75% of payouts. Since its inception, a steadily increasing percentage of the elderly have required its aid to remain out of poverty: current levels are estimated at 40% of people above 65 years of age rely on Social Security. For all its noble ideals and good that it does do in some circumstances, Social Securityhas by and large become a crutch for this nation that should have learned by 1944 to stand on its own two feet and walk upright. The fact that increasing numbers of the elderly rely on Social Security is evidence that this nation has larger issues to solve, like the social acceptance of abandonment of the elderly by their children, and is not evidence that Social Security should be expanded by taxing the wealthy a higher percentage.
3. Furthermore, redistributing wealth through government programs that were designed to be war-time temporarities is downright bad policy. We could talk all day about the constitutionality of the income tax before and after the 16th Amendment, and we could talk all day about the fact that income taxes never exceeded 3% of total income for the middle and lower class before the Depression, and we could talk all day about whether increasing social benefits to aid the lower class in effect traps the lower class where it is by teaching them to depend upon those programs and not upon themselves. But those are arguments that would take forever, as they have been discussed for over 300 years.
The argument we should be having is whether Senator Obama, with his plan to add taxes to the wealthy and redistribute them to the poor (unlike Senator McCain distribution to financial institutions I assume per TPI's claim) is in effect expanding socialistic tendencies in America and what the effect of this will be.
4. Senator Obama said it himself, "you can put lipstick on a pig." Well you can call socialism "redistribution of wealth" if you want, but it is still, in effect, socialism, regardless of whether previous presidents have done the same (as I've pointed out). Show me a single nation on this planet where the proletariat...actually, let me stop using proletariat it makes me sound like Marx...show me a nation on this planet where government aid programs have effectively raised the living conditions of the lower class. I believe you would be hard pressed to find a single instance where governments who took the money of the wealthy and gave it to the poor in any way benefitted either the wealthy or the poor. The discussion is not worth having, really. Socialistic policies invariably fail given enough time.
"But TAE, Social Security, the PWA and various other policies worked during the Great Depression," the reader might respond. Correct, and incorrect. The socialistic programs that worked during the Great Depression were hardly socialistic. The CCC and other government employment programs aimed at increasing government payrolls and decreasing civilian unemployment were temporary, and their effectiveness at curbing unemployment and boosting the economy is debateable. Not to mention they set the tone for deficit spending via government intervention in the economy that persists to this day.
The solution to the Social Security problem is a tricky one in that the long term fix...i.e. abolishment flies in the face of the current fix...i.e. increased taxation.
Anyway, back to Obama's socialistic leanings. I am not justifying Obama as a socialist based solely on his belief in a tax increase to the wealthy...tax increases during times of crisis have been routine in American history. But the tax increase Obama plans makes no terms for its eventual decrease as well. The gradual increase in government-provided benefits for citizens via taxation of other citizens correlates with some strange things, like high school dropout rates, number of unwed mothers, and low-intensity drug use in affluent suburban teen populations. Whether these things are related is anyone's guess.
The point I am trying to make, from all this, is that, as it's been said before, if you give a man some fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.
Further taxes on the wealthy to boost the ineffective social programs for the poor teaches no one to fish.
1. FDR wont the election with 98.5% of the electoral vote, the highest percentage ever, higher than George Washington (97.8% in 1792).
2. James Monroe was also more popularly elected in 1820 at 98.3% of the vote..
2. The 3rd runner-up in the infamous Adams v Jefferson election of 1796, Thomas Pinckney, had a father named Charles, a brother named Charles, a cousin named Charles and named his son Charles.
3. Charles Pinckney (the brother) and Charles Pinckney (the cousin) both signed the Constitution. Charles Pinckney (the brother) went on to run for President in 1804 and 1808 and lost both times.
4. From 1808 to 1820, the Vice President was decided by election, not by nomination from the President.
5. The 12th Amendment to the Constitution states that the Senate shall decide the Vice President. This has only happened once, in 1836, when Richard Johnson was chosen.
6. The popular vote doesn't always matter. Three times in U.S. history the popular vote has gone to a different person than the electoral vote: 1876 (Tilden), 1888 (Cleveland), and 2000 (Gore).
7. First president to not run for re-election (excluding those exempted by death): James K. Polk
8. Presidents who died in office: Harrison, Taylor, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, Roosevelt, Kennedy.
9. The logging industry is considered the deadliest job in America, with a fatality rate of 92.4 per 100,000, or 0.09%. Fatality rate for Presidents: 18.6%
10. Roosevelts love to be President. Teddy Roosevelt, President from 1901-1908, ran again in 1912 for a third term, and lost. FDR was successfully elected to 4 terms.
11. 50 years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died, on July 4, 1826. Adams final words were "Jefferson lives!" although Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Unlikely: in each of these states, McCains lead is in the double digits except N. Dakota, where his lead is within the margin of error. N. Dakota is predicted to go to McCain, however.
Now, it's possible the reason he is saying this is because Lewis has a special place in his heart for Martin Luther King Jr., and his least fond memory of MLK was when Hoover and his FBI friends tried to breack up the SCLC. But I doubt it.
It's more likely, however, that the reason he is saying this is because Hoover also went after the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers, at certain times, were heavily involved in Marxist teachings and beliefs, and its very possible during the Red Scare that anyone who invoked the name of Marx was in for some FBI fun. Later on the Panthers softened their system and condoned black nationalism, calling it racism. They then formed a more socialist agenda and really got Hoover mad.
The problem, however, is that Obama's socialistic leanings have nothing to do with his black background.
No wait, that isn't the problem. The problem is that people cannot separate Obama's socialistic leanings with his race. One of these people is Lewis Diuguid.
I heard the other day that McCain had been asked before the final debate who would win. He replied he'd "whip" Obama. Instantly the Lewis Diuguids of America pounced.
Semantics become so important during election season, as every talking head pushes their agenda. People like Diuguid can find whatever they want in something said by their political enemies. Does Diuguid not know that John McCain has an adopted daughter that is black? Why on earth would McCain be racist? Why would he invoke racist codewords in attacking Obama, who is only half-black, when McCain has a daughter that is 100% black? The problem, all too often, with twisting semantics to serve an agenda is that the logic quickly breaks down.
I spent a quiet evening last night reading Bertrand Russell's essay "The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed," from his collection of Unpopular Essays published in 1950. It's a quick read, I suggest you take a minute and do so.
Russell argues that modern societies since the French Revolution have idealized the poor. America built a democracy constantly reminding themselves that independence from tyranny was an option, just look at the noble french proles.
Now, there is plenty of evidence showing that law-abiding citizens come from all walks of life, as do criminals. There also is scant evidence showing that given a certain illegal opportunity, a wealthy man will engage in the illegality more readily than a poor man would in the same circumstance. Also, there is no reason to believe a poor person, elected to Congress, would be less likely to pander to the voters that elected them than a wealthy person would. Modern liberal argument that Congresspersons are unethical and immoral by helping the special interests that gave them campaign money do not acknowledge that a poor person, elected to that position by the same special interests, would behave in the same way. Nor do they admit that a poor man, elected to a position by a huge lower-class turnout, would be just as likely to enact legislation that helped only the lower class; an equally unethical scenario.
The point I'm trying to make here is not that poor people are immoral. I am trying to make the point (via the help of Bertrand Russell) that personal morality is independent of wealth or status. Though immoral celebrities and government officials make the news almost daily, that is because via their wealth and position they are more available to the media. The innumerable Joe the Plumbers of the world that cheat on their taxes and don't declare their full income almost never make public news outlets, and therefore get largely ignored by superficial ethics arguments.
As Megan points out,
The sociological evidence is quite clear that poverty is bad for families. Poor people have higher rates of marital breakup, and much higher rates of child abuse. Part of this is selection--people with violent tempers and impulse control problems are more likely than average to become poor. But even people without such temperamental handicaps find it harder to sustain a good family life. Economic hardship is, to state the obvious, very stressful.So when I hear people say that an up-and-comer or a middle-class Joe would inherently be a better leader than a rich white guy with 32 years experience at the Capitol, I just shake my head. I'm not saying a poor person wouldn't necessarily make a good leader. I'm saying I don't think a wealthy person would inherently do worse.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But I'd like to toss out into the ring my personal opinion that Third Eye Blind was one of the most underappreciated and underexposed bands of the 90's.
From their catchy debut single, "Semi-Charmed Life" with its Hanson-esque (but somehow good) "doo doo do-doo" chorus to their moping, cynical bashing of Hollywood in "Slow Motion," this band stretched the post-grunge, alternative rock genre to a new level of intelligence. After Nirvana, it was all just a bunch of power chords and more power chords, with a gravelly-voiced singer painting a picture of his haunted world (See Creed's album Torn for more info).
Other songs by 3EB, like "Deep Inside of You" and "Jumper" rocked and rolled, and said something worth saying, a rarity in the late 90's when only the top bands of the time could think of anything to sing about other than drugs and the death of punk rock.
But their finest song surely was "Motorcycle Drive-By," a mellow tune that halfway through explodes into your head with as Stephen Jenkins wails about "never being so alone, so alive" as though the only feeling he has left is loneliness. True post-grunge cynicism at its finest!
You can hear full tracks here for free, if you are interested.
Apparently I'm not the only one to realize that FDR wasn't President in 1929. I'm also not the only one to note that commercial TV wasn't invented until the late 30's and not available in most states until the 40's and 50's.
I tell you, and you must agree, that if The Cougar had made that statement, Couric and her pals would have pounced, and it would have been above-the-fold on the WSJ and the Times (rather than here only). Regardless of which candidate you endorse, you must acknowledge that all too often the press has a double standard and the double standard becomes patently clear during September-November of an election year.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
"I can't afford this with my own money, but I'll use this credit card and buy it anyway, because I won't have to pay back the debt til later when I have more money. Surely I'll have more money later. If not, it's my parents problem."
Or in Bush' case, it's my generation who will take on the problem. What does he care anyway? His presidency is, and will be, widely viewed as in the bottom 5 of all Presidencies, if you are circling the drain, you might as well go out with a gusto!!
Nevertheless, I love this new government idea: Every six months directly deposit $600 in my bank account! Maybe that'll help pay off some of my credit card debt...IROONNYYYYY
Who on earth, seriously: WHO ON EARTH that would listen to Colin Powell was still an undecided voter as of Sunday? What demographic is the "Republican, pro-military, Colin Powell-idolizing, conservative" that was going "man, I still don't know which candidate to vote for; the republican, pro-military, conservative McCain or Obama."
I think when Powell said he was supporting Obama (with only 15 days left til election day no less) a total of 3 Americans made up their mind. They were: Colin Powell, Mrs. Powell, and Robert Herres.
Everyone else that would have been affected by Powell's Obama endorsement made up their mind long, long ago.
Monday, October 20, 2008
In other news, Sarah Palin was funny on SNL. However it would be wrong to say "The Cougar has a sense of humor, I should vote for McCain." What was really true was that the writers did a good job of having fun with her and not offend her while also having fun with themselves. Watching 10-months-pregnant Amy Poehler do gangsta rap for Palin was classic, and despite what Mark Wahlberg says about SNL being lame and forgettable, I think Andy Samberg is one of the brighter minds in the business right now, his SNL shorts, like the Natalie Portman sketch, or "Dick in a box" have become classics of my generation. This Palin rap was one of them.
In other other news, TAE filled up on gas this morning for $2.29 a gallon. Will it make it to $1.99 before OPEC's heads collectively pop off and the price goes back up? TAE can only imagine. TAE inaccurately predicted this summer that we'd never drop below the $3.00 mark again...I'm loathe to make a prediction again.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
1. Homosexuality is a pre-condition?
As far as the nature versus nurture debate goes, and whether homosexuality is a choice, I strongly believe that homosexuals are born the way they are. This is a mountain of statistical evidence linking pre-natal factors to homosexuality, and its occurrence is almost universal in the animal kingdom amongst sexually reproducing species. In fact, there are over 1,500 species of animals that engage in varying degrees of bisexual and homosexual behavior, from the matriarchal, lesbian bonobos to the homosexual "gangs" of male bottlenose dolphins, to the parthenogenic lizards, to the male-only dragonfly orgies. Throughout the animal kingdom, instances of homosexuality are so widespread that finding a species that sexually reproduces but has no homosexuality amongst its population is an anomaly.
I don't want to digress too much into theories here, but there is a widespread theory that overpopulation in animals leads to an uptick in homosexuality. Although even in tiny populations of animals, like in the Bonobos of the Congo, homosexuality exists and is widespread, for many animals (especially insects), homosexuality surges as the population reaches and passes a critical value that the environment can sustain. Let me put it this way: locust swarms are full of gays. Could it be that the surge in homosexuals in the world in the last 25 years is due to the human population reaching a planetary critical value and some evolutionary population control mechanism is kicking in? However easy it would be to say "yes, that explains everything," I do not agree. Human homosexuality occurs in small populations as much as in large ones, and there really isn't much evidence that says that more people are homosexual today than there were in the 70's. Most statistical evidence shows that the only difference is that less homosexuals are in the closet about their sexual bias.
But let me stick to humans for this discussion. A wide-spread study (I apologize for the lack of citations) showed that for mothers who had consecutive sons, each consecutive son had a higher likelihood of being homosexual than his older brothers. What changed? It's not like the mother and father had gradually gayer sperm and eggs. Recent science has pointed the finger for many genetic traits to the conditions inside the womb between fertilization and birth. Could it be that an evolutionary mechanism exists that encourages male fetuses to become homosexual? Could it also be that the mechanism becomes stronger with each consecutive son? An interesting note of the study was that for sons that were born after a girl, the prevalence of homosexuality plunged to almost nil. It would be, once again, easy to say "oh, its the mother's womb" that is causing homosexuality, and shut the case, but I again do not completely agree. The study in no way explains lesbianism, nor does it truly explain why some first-born, only-child sons are gay. Though a male's likelihood of being homosexual may rise based on the number of older brothers he has, he may very well not be homosexual. Just like smoking cigarettes increases your likelihood of getting lung cancer, but smoking one cigarette doesn't instantly give you cancer, in fact some regular smokers never get lung cancer, and some people with lung cancer never smoked.
2. Homosexuality cannot be cured?
Though many individuals like Michael Savage rail against homosexuals, bisexuals, etc. there is no real evidence that it is a "growing" problem. Maybe for those homophobes it is a growing problem, but most evidence shows that homosexual acts and homosexual individuals have been around a long, long, long time. Scientists have induced homosexuality in fruit-flies but not induced heterosexuality; until a time comes when genetic engineering of humans becomes commonplace, I doubt we'll even see an argument for "curing" homosexuality. And the idea of "curing" homosexuality usually stems from the belief that heterosexuality is the "norm" but ignores that homosexuality is prevalent in most sexually reproducing species on this earth. A gay population of around 10-15% of the total population is relatively normal. Current statistics estimate anywhere from 7-12% of humans on the planet right now have engaged in a homosexual act, though a lower number than that are exclusively homosexual. So we're probably close to ideal for our species. Trying to "cure" homosexuality is like trying to cure us of the laborious task of eating, or trying to change our genes so we no longer have to go to the bathroom. When it is the natural order of the planet, why mess with it? Stop calling it unnatural. It's only unnatural if everyone (or no one) is homosexual.
3. Homosexuality should not be embraced, nor banned; merely accepted?
Banning homosexuality is like banning writing with your left hand. Although the majority of the population is right-hand dominant, and although lefties could eventually learn to write with their right hand, they are most effective at writing with their left, and it makes no sense to fight that. As easily as one argues that a genetic "flaw" causes homosexuality, I could equally argue that some unknown genetic "flaw" induces left-hand dominance. As easily as someone could argue that lax regulation and lax legislation have allowed the intrusion of homosexuality in society, and that gay celebrites are "making it okay" for the rest of us to be gay, I could argue the same for left-hand dominance. I could point to famous authors that were left-handed, and show "left-hand tolerance has destroyed the right-hand tradition" posters with Leonardo da Vinci writing backwards, a true sicko!
Conversely, homosexuality is not something we need to celebrate. Gay-pride parades are, in my opinion, surely just a reaction to the gay-hatred of society. Homosexuality is just what it is, a product of evolution, a byproduct of the fact that we are animals, and an integral part of a healthy primate population (yes, you are a primate). If we accept homosexuals as a minority of the population, other than a "Gay History Month" we will probably stop hearing so much about it, except for the occasional bigots who refuse to change.
4. Without a massive die-off in the human population, homosexuality is here to stay?
Pretending for a minute that homosexuality is tied to overpopulation, theoretically a massive die-off in the population, from a great war or plague or drought would cause a sudden plunge in homosexuality and heterosexuality would surge. However (and here I promised that I would avoid more animal talk) this is not seen in our animal friends. Chimpanzee and bonobos, as I mentioned earlier are our closest cousins. Both species are suffering from low numbers. Yet the homosexuality and bisexuality persists. Though the species should be at a point where they should breed like crazy, their breeding habits have not largely changed as their populations have shrunk. Therefore I will (un)safely infer that a human population die-off would not curb homosexuality in our population, it would only serve to curb our population. However, there are some behaviors that are actually a sickness, and in my belief, are directly tied to overpopulation.
5. Stop associating homosexuality with sickness behavior
Apparently there is an idea that you should associate LGBT with people who parade in the streets in leather whipping themselves and each other. Sado-Masochism, and similar compulsions, are sicknesses of the mind caused by some internal or external stimuli that have warped reality for individuals who find those activities pleasurable.
We must learn to not associate behaviors that are natural in the animal kingdom with behaviors that are not. Like I have said above, homosexuality is (in varying degrees) widespread across more than 1,500 species of animals. However, although species of this planet will cause each other pain in order to establish a social hierarchy, there is not a single instance of animals inflicting injury on themselves or others in their species in order to give themselves pleasure. Ants will engage in war with other colonies, male lions will battle and sometimes mortally wound one another for mating rights, cocks will try to wound one another with their foot-claws, and many species of primates will hunt one another and kill one another's young to attempt to gain ecological dominance over each other.
You just don't see chimpanzees flogging each other with tree branches for fun, or panda bears sodomizing each other with bamboo poles. You don't find wolves biting themselves to draw blood before mating. These behaviors are unique to the human population, and for the most part, unique to the human population in heavily-populated areas.
I briefly mentioned locusts earlier. The way they swarm is they start as ordinary grasshoppers, but when their population his some magic, critical mass, they start to transform. Their bodies grow and change color, they grow extremely large wings and mouths and in a massive movement, they head off to ransack the countryside and eat every edible thing they come across. Could it be that humans, much like locusts, begin to exhibit weird behavior when their population reaches a certain level or when available food decreases to a certain level? Could it be the self-destructive behaviors of sick individuals like sado-masochism is a mechanism of evolution to curb the human population?
I really don't know, I'm not an expert in the field of swarm intelligence, but I do know that we need to stop seeing homosexuality as one of these mental-sickness problems.
Homosexuality is not the problem. Homophobia is the problem.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Why aren't there any Satanic animals native to America? All the big cats are in Africa and Asia except for the impossible-to-get-killed-by Cougar, army ants and killer bees immigrated from Central America, the occasional giant anaconda that comes up in the Keys was released by a pet-owner who had more snake than they could handle. Even the crocodile is elsewhere, all we've got is the lazy, human-fearing alligator that rarely even gets large enough to consume people.
But ten seconds after you land in southeast Asia or Africa you are susceptible to an endless array of deadly, exotic, and brightly colored animals bent on killing you.
For example, in Africa you could get malaria, ebola, Hanta virus, be trampled by a hippo or buffalo, gored by a rhino, eaten by a lion, dissected and parted out by ants, your bones could be gnawed away by hyenas. To escape the lion you might run into the water, where a strange little fish would swim up your urethra and implant itself there, then piranhas could eat your legs, parasites could burrow through your skin and if you got any water in your mouth, you're almost guaranteed to get a tapeworm or something worse.
But the animals are really taking it to a new level in Southeast Asia. Normally, catfish are medium to large gamefish that taste great and are my favorite fish to catch. But a large (180 lbs, 7 foot long) species has apparently been eating bathers. The theory in India is that along a certain stretch of river, the natives will cast their dead loved ones out into the river as part of a funeral pyre. The pyre (and loved one) eventually sinks, and it is believed the "goonch" along this stretch of river has developed quite a niche for itself consuming burnt corpses.
Now live people are getting dragged under. This type of thing never happens in America.
At first I was extremely skeptical. I have held 70+ lb catfish in my arms on several occasions and am well aware of the fact that the creature was every bit as strong as I was. But catfish are mortally afraid of humans. Further, catfish mouths are filled with tiny, sandpaper like teeth that are only good for hanging on to prey until it can suck them down into its mouth. I have never felt the slightest bit of fear about catfish when I was in the rivers of Missouri, home of North America's largest catfish, the blue cat. The only scare thing in N.A. waters is the alligator gar.
But then I looked up what a Goonch looks like and let me tell you, I am a believer. See for yourself, and STAY OUT OF INDIA. Image1 Image 2 Image 3
Up until recently, it was believed that Bonobos, our second-closest living genetic relative, was a peaceful creature that engaged in a more vegetarian, egalitarian lifestyle. As recently as 2006, many, including Frans de Waal, argued that had humans discovered Bonobos first and chimps later, we might fundamentally think differently about our species and whether or not we were born from violence.
Now scientists have discovered that Bonobos also occasionally hunt other primates. Previously the Bonobos were considered the 'hippy' apes because of their pleasant, non-violent nature.
Most anthropologists now agree that modern humans and neanderthals coexisted on this planet for a while, and at some point the neanderthals vanished. Rival theories conclude that modern humans either mixed (read: interbred) with them or possibly killed them off.
Given that our two closest living cousins engage in primate hunting and ritualistic cannibalism, is it really so hard to believe that our ancient ancestors saw the crude, less crafty neanderthals in the same ecological niche as themselves and decided to hunt and ritualistically kill their children? I think it's self-loathing that prevents many humans from accepting the plausability of this idea; no one wants to think our species is the dominant species on this planet because were took our genetic family's penchant for infanticide and fratricide and expanded it into genocide.
Requires speakers or headphones.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Not only was Joe The Plumber's question rhetorical, but he's doing his work illegally without a license, may have gotten his boss in trouble, only makes $40,000 a year so would get a tax break under Obama's plan, and that the company he claimed made $250,000 a year actually only made $100,000 a year...or so they claimed to the Ohio Department of Revenue...
...could it be Joe the Plumber just accidentally exposed his bosses tax fraud?
Anyway, read the article.
However, he is also a lousy drunk. Kevin has twice been arrested for drunk driving.
And yet I'm still friends with him. Why? Don't I know it will tarnish my image if I associate with known criminals?
So when the GOP (and by "GOP" I mostly mean right-wing local media outlets who constantly pleaded with McCain to attack Obama last night and stop being so nice in the political ads that unbeknownst to them McCain doesn't personally direct) goes after Obama over some guy whom Obama is/was friends with who had a dark past, I have to chuckle.
Someday, when TAE runs for public office, and they bring up my friend Kevin, with whom I worked for a summer and with whom I drank on many occasions, I'll chuckle then too. You see, we all have friends, or coworkers, or associates, or ministers, and we can't control them. I'm not happy with Kevin for drinking and driving, which he did many more times than he was actually caught, but I do not judge him. Nor did I stop being friends with him when he did those things. I expressed no disappointment in him to his face. All I could do was offer my condolences on the tough time he had brought upon himself and offer encouragement and hope that he'd not do it again.
So maybe Obama's chum Bill Ayers is/was an anti-war activist amongst many anti-war activists in the late 1960's, and he did some stupid things. But I don't see where Obama should be ashamed to know the man. Obama was...8?...or something like that, maybe he was in 8th grade, when Ayers was lobbing Molotov cocktails at government buildings, or whatever he did that was so terrible.
The point I guess I'm trying to make is that our associations should not condemn us.
And also, I'm proud of Obama for being friends with Ayers, solely based on Ayers' awesome mustache!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The fact that it looks like the Warthog from the Halo series doesn't hurt either.
This SUV, with a reasonable price (guesses range from $25-30k) its great function and wicked looks, stands as a poster-child for how Detroit can save itself.
My generation, which now stands at the threshold of being the major car-buying demographic in this country, grew up in a world with no domestic brand loyalty. We never saw the streets darkened with the smoke-stains of burnt tires from a '71 Charger. We never watched a 5.0 Mustang and a SS Camaro race down a street, slam on their brakes at a traffic light, then race down the street again. Instead we have a colloid of jelly-bean shaped, low-power, gee-whiz technologically-packed, foreign tin-cans that crumble upon impact.
Let me give an example. When I was in highschool, I owned an '89 Dodge Shadow. Built (and it behaved) like an undersized linebacker, it hummed and vibrated in a driver-sickening way above 55 mph. But when I backed up too sharply once and caught the corner of my sister's 91 Honda Civic...well let's just say I didn't even notice inside the Shadow. I got out of the car and found the front driver's side fender of my sister's car crumpled like an accordion. The Shadow showed no appreciable damage, the plastic front fender hadn't even popped loose. Later inspection showed a new front fender was required on the civic as well as the side fender.
So anyways, my generation has no domestic brand loyalty. We all "ooh" and "aah" at a Viper or a Vette when they scurry down the road, but no more so than when we see an Acura NSX or a nice BMW 7-series.
GM (and Chrysler if it isn't soon part of GM) and Ford need to get that back. The problem right now with those companies is they've decided to survive via the "if you can't beat em, join em" strategy, and have started spewing out their own creativity-void jellybeans.
To survive when your competition has you on the ropes you must innovate! In 1876 at the Yale-Princeton football game, Walter Campton, a Yale player, was about to be sacked by Princeton when he lobbed the ball forward to a teammate, Oliver Thompson. Behold! The forward pass was born! (Sidenote: the first legal forward passes happened in 1906, after Teddy Roosevelt called for safer rules to protect players.)
"Imitation is the highest form of flattery," goes the old saying, but when I see Detroit following pathetically on the heels of Toyota and Honda, I say "imitation is the saddest form of desperation." If Detroit truly cares for its own future, it must innovate. I am not talking about great technology, like fuel cell cars or hydrogen powered cars. Those inventions are existing, and will probably forever remain bound in political mires that will never really allow their widespread existence (nor is it really an innovation to develop cars around an existing technology).
Innovation I speak of is the development of the car as a modern form of art. Anyone with half a brain marvels at the beauty of the 1960's Ford GT500 Mustang. Every line on that car causes an observer to comment on the obvious power of the beast hidden under the hood. Similar Detroit cars, like the Corvette, or the SS, or the Charger, all wrote the book on American muscle. While the Europeans made their slick little race cars, and the Japanese wound their motors up to ever higher and higher RPM in the search for power, Detroit cunningly searched the American mind and figured out exactly what we wanted. Those cars typified the 1970's American driver.
They must do that again. Deep down, we Americans all love hugging trees and driving hybrid cars. But if you look at a Prius you do not feel excited about the possibility of driving it. If you slide into (and you must slide) a Honda Insight, you feel like you are inside an amusement park toy.
If GM or Ford unleashed an aggressive, American-minded vehicle, and put a hybrid engine in it, the sales would be phenomenal. I am not saying make a facsimile Prius, I am saying bunk the aerodynamics. I am not saying the car should sit on little rubber band tires, I am saying the car should have a ram air intake. I am not saying the car should start its' electric motor with the push of a button, I am saying the car should make you shiver when you grip the wheel.
Just make it look...good. The three designers of the Hx are all "young" designers (my age) at GM, and they were told to go radical. They did. You can't look at this thing and not think "awesome." I'm not by any measure saying it will be the most practical vehicle on the market, but when you look on the street and can't tell a Highlander from a 4Runner from a Rodeo from a (insert foreign SUV here) because they all are clones, you subconsciously reach out for something more. Something different.
Maybe that's why people's heads popped off when the H2 first hit the street. It was so enormous, so egregious, that you couldn't take your eyes off it. Maybe that's why Ford sold 30 bazillion Mustangs from 1993-2003. The car just popped.
At the time, the domestic auto makers were pretty ignorant for not seeing the coming fuel bubble, and erred when they didn't respond quickly to it. How hard was it to drop a hybrid engine in a Cadillac CTS? Not as hard as GM made it seem.
So to GM, I say to you, as a Generation Y spokesbuyer:
We want your cars, but you must INNOVATE!
I truly believe it is a fallacy to call the Bush ideology conservative. (Sorry, bro.)
Here's why, and I'll keep this short.
1. Conservatives appoint foreign-policy experts that are military veterans. Bush does not.
2. Conservatives do not believe in social economic bailout schemes and prefer a non-intervention policy towards the banking system. George Bush intervened.
3. Conservatives practice a "humble" foreign policy, pandering to European countries for the monetary benefit of America, and don't make a move without a large multi-country coalition. Bush moves against European interests - alone.
4. Conservatives are not proponents of expanded domestic discretionary spending. Bush has expanded this spending 40%.
5. Conservatives work for the furthering of "traditional" values. Bush opposed the election of Pat Toomey, a social conservative.
If you had two seconds to summarize the Bush Years, you would probably say "Iraq and Bailout."
So the sum total of Bush's time in office boils down, essentially, to several trillion in budget deficits, preventative war, and massively expanded government control.
How is that conservative?
Please don't call Bush conservative. It offends us.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
On ESPN they commonly joke about "once a Royal, now good," and then they show footage of Johnny Damon or one of his former-Royal counterparts on another team.
Enter the Chiefs post-Dick Vermeil. The Chiefs have aggressively sold off talent, losing Patrick Surtain, Jared Allen, and others to other teams in exchange for draft picks. If there is one thing history shows in the NFL, it is that talent cannot usually be predicted (see 6th round draft pick Tom Brady). Now the Chiefs have become a "rebuilding" team, and look to trade off their last remaining dinosaur of a bygone (13-3) era: Tony Gonzalez.
The Chiefs continue to place false hope in Brodie Croyle, which has echoes of the Royals continuing to hope Zach Grienke becomes a legendary hall of fame quality pitcher.
Another similarity is the Royals spending big money for Gil Meche, who does a decent job, but isn't spectacular, and the Chiefs keeping Damon Huard around, who does a decent job, but is very ordinary.
The problem is that the Royals have proven you can't be a contender with young talent. If the Chiefs hope to grow into a good team, they need to keep all their young talent around, and not trade any of them off. I wish Tony G the best in a new city (he has 3 hours left to find one) but I hope the Chiefs don't throw away good, young players and continue, season after season, to rebuild.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
I've been thinking a lot today (always dangerous) about how everyone dances around the truth, and whether we should admit our mistakes, and whether the worldview of America is strengthened or weakened by America admitting its mistakes.
Then this afternoon I heard Mrs. Abstracted's uncle say that at the Sedalia, MO bingo night, it's not unusual for tens of thousands of dollars to move around, as people play up to four bingo cards ($60 bucks a piece) at once, play special "buy-in" games, and then buy upwards of $200 in flip-tab lotto tickets. And this is a small town bingo night. I also heard him talk about the nickel slots at a local casino making over $2 million in two months.
Everyone has gotten so greedy. We Americans have gotten greedy. My generation has gotten greedy. I have gotten greedy.
Here's an example, and a good one. When my grandparents generation marched out of WWII (why isn't it ever written WW2?) they all bought houses in the late 40's and early 50's. The American dream come true: they own a house. Many of these people still live in those homes, or only left them when they moved to a retirement community, or died. For them, the home was a rock upon which all things could smash, and the home would survive. It felt hard-won, as they had seen their parents struggle through the Depression and heard stories of people who had nothing, as many as 1 in 4 people having no job. In the mid 50's my grandparents bought their house, and they still live there. Never even considered selling, far as I know.
Then came their children, the baby boomers. For some reason, homes like the ones my grandparents owned just weren't selling. Suddenly, a Realtor made a fortune when he sold those exact same homes but instead of selling a "home," he called it a "FIRST home." All these Boomers were told "buy this starter home, it'll do until you make it big and can buy your dream home." And suddenly the home wasn't the dream, but instead a future, larger home became the dream. So the Boomers bought the old homes, and lived in them until the late 80 and early 90's, when they moved to their 1/2 acre lots with their McMansions.
The problem has escalated, as have the dreams. My generation is now pouring into McMansions as their first home, hoping in 5 years to bounce to an even larger home or an equivalent home in a better neighborhood. So my generation took shifty, dubious loans and now we're reaping what we've sown.
The problem, it would seem, was that the home stopped being a home and became an investment property. It's almost as if my generation feels compelled to end up with 1000 square feet of home for every family member currently in the family. You're single? Rent a 1000 square foot apartment. When you get married, move to that 2000 square foot suburban home. My entire generation wants to be 30 before they have kids, so around that time it'll be perfect to move to the 3,000 square foot monster McMansion. That way you can always have at least two empty bedrooms for guests, right?
That said, Mrs. Abstracted and I have resolved to live in a breadbox and make our kids suffer. We thrive on our backwards, throwback attitude towards homemaking and plan to have a cluttered, tiny house where there is no privacy.
Remember sharing a bathroom with your siblings? Around TAE's current neighborhood, most houses come 1 bath per bed.
I don't know...I keep coming back to greed and not knowing what to say about it. It just completely, totally fills our lives nowadays and it seems like a reckoning has happened (or will soon happen) because of it. Investors trying to make easy money, people trying to make a fast buck flipping houses, people trying to get unbelievable mortgages that common sense says shouldn't happen, people buying and selling stocks with reckless abandon, corporate politics, labor union strikes...it's all wrapped up in this bubble of Mammon, and frankly, TAE is sick of it.
There are times, in my young family's life, when we honestly don't know where we'll find money for our next round of bills. We pray, and worry, and stress over how to make ends meet and raise The Abstracted Daughter. I pray to God she'll never have a clue how tight things were for her folks.
So when TAE hears about Bill Gates losing $1.5 Billion in the last two weeks, reducing his wealth to a measly $55.5 billion, forgive me if I'm a little unsympathetic. When people call Barack Obama a communist for wanting to increase taxes for people who make over $250,000 a year, forgive me for frowning at the name-callers.
I heard about a guy who bought $78,000 in jewelry for his wife one day and the manager of the jewelry store asked him (because they were friends) "Mike, you're pretty wealthy. Have you ever said to yourself 'I have enough.'" Mike paused for a minute and then said "it's never enough."
Greed fills us, and we write textbooks for MBA students about how so-and-so make their millions, and you can too. We see commercials on TV about trading in our "scrap gold" for cash..."Get rid of those old heirlooms, get some cold hard cash." We hear commercials on the radio about getting a reverse mortgage from Vincent Mortgage, so the elderly can trade in that home they've owned for 55 years for a quick boost of cash. We go to wine tastings and see people with fake noses, fake boobs, and fake smiles discussing their anniversary rings and whether they should get a new one.
It's almost as though the spirit of progress this country held so dear transferred from the technology and industry and switched to money. When our grandparents were in their 20's, it was all about "living a better life, and a healthier life than your parents did," and having "things" that your parents never had. Then it escalated, and escalated, and escalated.
What we didn't realize was that by 1950, many Americans (and in this case I am only referring to white and blue collar American white people, obviously there were large social disparaties I don't have time to cover here) had really essentially reached the peak of human need: a house, 2.8 kids, a car, a church, and a good job, with retirement benefits guaranteed.
What else do we really need, but those things? Does my generation search greedily for more and more things because they've lost sight of the simple contentment found in the warm embrace of God? Have we lost the ability to say "a hug from my child is enough to get me through the day"?
So when no one on TV will simply say "we all got greedy. We need to get by with less, and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses," I wonder if we're really learning any lessons through all this. When no one on TV has the courage to say "'the least of these was Me' is how we should live our lives" I wonder how we sleep at night when there are people on this planet who still forage for tomorrow's food.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Palin investigated for abuse of power.
Palin pre-empts abuse of power investigation with her own investigation of herself.
Palin pre-empts release of finding by ethics committee by clearing herself of any wrongdoing.
Ethics committee finds Palin guilt of unlawfully abusing power.
All I can say is "Obama by a landslide" unless John McCain grows a halo or parts a sea or something of that magnitude.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
"With 60 Democratic senators next year, the Republican minority would be unable to stop any legislation that the Democratic leadership was intent on passing." the article proudly claims.
Of course, that would be true if there wasn't also a "House of Representatives" who would also have to pass the legislation.
And of course, Congress can pass any legislation it wants, but if that legislation is unconstitutional, or violates previous laws, then the Supreme Court (still conservative, thanks W) has every right to abolish whatever legislation is passed.
But seriously though, a Dem president combined with a lopsidedly-huge Dem majority in the Senate could have some far-reaching implications, like a massive resurgence of the strangely quiet conservative GOP, or a division amongst the conservative, moderate, and liberal Dems. Or perhaps the most destructive partisanship seen in years.
And if Obama and his Dem cohorts fail abysmally to recover the economy and a host of other issues, the reality would be that all those Dems in the Senate would find the finger being pointed decidedly at them.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sure enough I got a very unique feel (helped, probably, by my neutral stance towards both candidates).
The voice of McCain sounds absolutely ancient. I could barely hear him, he sounded like an old, tired grandpa who just ate a huge meal and is trying not to fall asleep by telling stories in a soft voice about how things were when the family had one TV and 3 channels (two during rain).
The voice of Obama sounds like someone tired of talking to stupid people. Starting every answer with "Look, ..." makes him sound like he's talking down to people, like we're all too ignorant to understand the issues completely; we need a dumbed-down summary.
The part where Obama refused to answer the medicare question so he could go after McCain on taxes I found unusually grating. If your opponent has raised your ire enough that you are abandoning the pre-agreed debate format...that means your opponent is beating you.
I also thought the first hour of the debate sound like this:
"My opponent loves special interests"
"Well my opponent loves special interests even more"
"Well my opponent loves special interests times infinity"
"Well my opponent love special interests times infinity plus one"
"Well my opponent loves special interests infinity times infinity plus infinity. Ha!"
I kept waiting for someone to say something exceptionally stupid, and McCain finally did. McCain argued we should "look at record, not rhetoric" and chided Obama for voting for tax increases. Then later on a question about climate change, McCain promised that he's for fixing the environment (through vague, broad changes that let's face it, will never come to fruition) and Obama pounced, point to McCain's desire to look at record not rhetoric and pointed out McCain voting against carbon emission controls 26 times. Nice move, Obama.
Anyway, overall I got a strong impression (that I hadn't really felt before) that Mr. Obama is very, very smart.
I got the impression that Mr. McCain was very old, but that was not something new to me.
If both these candidates have (and make no mistake, they have) taken money and advice from special interest crooks, and they both have good and bad ideas, and they both supported the bailout, and they both want more regulation, etc etc...
...all things being equal, my vote will probably go to the man with the higher IQ.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
86 cats were rescued from a 2-bedroom condo in Colorado.
Should have been:
Police break up Jellicle Ball, 86 cats arrested.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Although the "wild night" may in fact be calling, I guarantee there are no boys doing the boogie woogie on the corner of the street.
In more important news, SELL SELL SELL!
Just kidding, but the NYSE is taking a scary nose-dive again today, trying to keep up with the falling foreign markets. The interesting thing about this dive is that it is predictable. Well, sort of.
The Hindenburg Omen, a weird sort of statistical anomaly that 92% of the time is right every time allows for the prediction of a coming (read: within days) correction in the stock market. The Hindenburg Omen has been right almost every time since 1985, and accurately predicted today's plunge, based on Friday's market.
The two problems I have with this is that the ability to predict market drops (between 2%-4.9%) is really neat trick, but if you can do so, 1. you run the risk of being a self-fulfilling prophecy, and 2. why can't you predict upswings in the market. Sell-offs by and large make no one profit (especially with the government blocking short-sales) and the best you can do is protect yourself from losses. A 92% accurate model for sudden upticks in the market would be a much more useful tool.
Further, the drop today of the Dow below 10,000, and the price of a barrel of gas below $90 reminds me of two things that happened 8 months ago.
First, I read an article that claimed that presidential election cycles tend to sway the stock market, the time of highest volatility in the last 52 years' election was the two quarters immediately before and the one quarter after a Presidential election. Also, the market typically swung downward for the first 18 months of an President's term, swung up for the next 26 months, then swung back down before the next election. Sure enough, the recent market volatility follows that trend. So does that mean we have another 18 months before the market swings upwards? Most economists think so.
Second, a different economist (Harry Dent) predicted we'd hit 20,000 by the end of 2008. I wish I could find that article (found it) so I could point out what a ridiculous prediction (on the level of Nostradamus) it was.
Third, it was predicted in August that "we'll never see $3 dollar gas again." This morning at the local Quiktrip gas costs $2.99 for regular unleaded. In Joplin this morning gas is at $2.81.
The point I'm trying to make here is that for every situation, there is some "guru" who is happy to make a bold prediction, whether optimistic or cynical. And then they hope they are right and if they are wrong they try to bury it by making newer predictions.
So here is the official TAE bold prediction for the economy:
The stock market will drop to around 9400 by February 2009, before starting a slow climb back above 11,000 over the next year. Rises and falls of 500 points will become more commonplace to the point that 300 pt changes will no longer be newsworthy. A barrel of gas will stabilize at 88 dollars a barrel, and the price of gas at the pump will lower until the national average is $2.75 a gallon for regular unleaded. I'll try to revisit this prediction in 6 months, at which time if I'm correct I will cite it heavily, and if I'm wrong I'll just make new predictions and bury this entry.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Then Tech did something very foolish. Harrell stayed in on the next drive. Up 30 points in the 4th Quarter, with the ESPN announcers placidly talking about Graham Harrell the Heisman candidate, the Tech coach didn't put in his second or third string quarterback.
That's right, Tech was trying to run up the score against hapless Kansas State so Harrell's numbers would look good for the Heisman committee. The coach, Mike Leach, must be aware that Tech will take at least one or two losses when they face 16th ranked Kansas, 5th ranked Texas, and 1st ranked Oklahoma later in the season; better to get Harrell some TD's while they still can!
After the game, Harrell said breaking the school record for passing yards and TD's in a game "a huge honor with all the great quarterbacks that have come through here." However, staying in the game and humiliating the other team doesn't speak to Harrell's honor, rather it speaks to selfishness.
When you leave in your quarterback during a lopsided 4th quarter you place them under unneeded risk for injury. Quarterbacks are injured easily enough, a defense down by thirty points is more likely to be sullen or reckless and injure the quarterback.
But the coach even admits he's trying to boost Harrells numbers. Mike Leach, the Tech coach, said after the game "I would say he is the best in the nation this year," Leach quickly added. "If you lead the nation in passing, I would think you deserve some attention. It's not like he just does it once in a while."
Harrell, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, lead the nation in passing after playing the following games:
Eastern Washington (at home)
Southern Methodist (home)
So after 4 home games and 1 away game, all five games against medium level cupcakes, the Raiders are leading the nation in passing? What an accolade!
Leaving Harrell in to run up the score, pad his stats, and humiliate K-State is the definition of poor sportsmanship. Expect the football gods to exact justice later in the season: I predict Tech will fade down the Top 25 significantly. Expect Tech to falter at 16th ranked Kansas, at home against No.5 Texas, and expect them to get punished for their disobedience at No.1 Oklahoma.
Footnote: up 42 points to Big 12 North rival Nebraska, Mizzou's starting quarterback Chase Daniel saw no snaps in the 4th quarter; backup Chase Patton and 3rd string freshman Blaine Gabbert took the snaps. The ESPN announcers spent the entire 4th quarter talking about how chubby Chase Daniel is and whether a person "with a weight fluctuation problem" could do well in the NFL.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I watched the debate last night, though only for a little while because I had to study and also because I can just as easily read Megan's liveblog about it and spare myself getting winked at by Sarah (Cougar) Palin. Was it just me or was she a little "friendlier" with the camera than Joe.
From this day forward (which might not be a long duration depending on election results) I will refer to Governor Palin as "The Cougar" because of that wink.
As a non-partisan observer, I found both candidates for VP did a decent job. My major complains about each candidate would be:
Joe, please stop talking about 4 billion dollar tax breaks for Exxon-Mobile, that relies on fuzzy, unfair math, and doesn't take into account what the tax break is for.
The Cougar, please answer the question the moderator asked and stop talking about whatever crosses your mind at the moment.
I'm starting to (barely) agree with the conservative MSM's that the liberal MSM is being a little unfair to The Cougar. Sure she's an idiot, and when asked a difficult questions she looks like a ten-year old asked to explain why their left shoe is missing, but when the moderator is writing a book about Obama you have to wonder about bias. And where is the youtube footage of Katie Couric slashing Biden down at his knees? Are the media staying away from him because he's a hardened politician or because they have a liberal agenda?
Nevertheless, I was watching the debate last night entirely based on the hope that The Cougar would make a collossal blunder we could all laugh about at work today. She did pretty well, and so did Biden.
Like usual, the VP's probably really won't affect the election much.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Both Kansas Senators voted no. That brings the Kansas tally to 5 out of 6 Congressional representatives voted against. The lone dissenter, Dennis Moore, is the 3rd District representative. Below is an email he received less than ten minutes ago.
Thank you for reading this email. I would like to encourage you to change your vote from "yes" to "no" in the upcoming House revisit to the bailout bill. All other Federal Congresspersons (Brownback, Roberts, Tiahrt, Boyda, and Moran) from Kansas have acknowledged that the people of Kansas by and large are against this bill, and have voted based on the people's opinion.
Now I am no professor of economics, and I acknowledge that I may not understand all the pro's and con's to the bailout bill nearly as well as a Congressperson with a cadre of economic advisors, but I do know that an elected representative of the people should weigh their own judgement equally with the mass opinion of the people that Congressman represents. In case of conflict, the smartest thing to do in regards to reelection is to side with the people and let your own opinion be damned.
I know the 3rd district is very different economically from the other districts, but I know I speak for many of my local peers, coworkers, and friends when I say we are HIGHLY skeptical of the bailout, and we believe in our hearts that the American economy might be hurt, but won't be killed if the bailout fails. Failure of the bailout bill, and the ensuing economic hardship (should it even occur) will teach all Americans, from the top to bottom, the importance of fiscal responsibility and the importance of not trying to make fast money in bubble markets.
Finally, as you are a Blue Dog Democrat (I am a fiscal conservative democrat myself) I believe voting against the bailout bill most aligns with the Blue Dog value system: fiscal conservativism and accountability.
Passage of the bailout bill will promotes neither of these values.
Thank you for your time.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Evidence today that things are getting back to normal: Lance Armstrong is back on the bike, and the French are back to smearing his name and trying to destroy him.
You know, it's times like this, when the economy is in turmoil, the Senate is
And it would go platinum.
What really amazes me is when radio stations will play the awful, awful songs of these artists, rather than the songs that made them legends.
My case and point is "Sir" John Elton.
I could go on a real rant here about knighting people who clearly are incapable of defending a woman's honor during a battle on horseback, but that's way off track.
Elton John has written some of the greatest songs in the history of elevator music, from his timeless classic "Candle in the Wind" to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Crocodile Rock," and of course "Rocket Man."
However, if you look up his Greatest Hits Album (how are there only 11 tracks? George Strait had 51) you'll notice one song that defies logic. That one song so insanely horrible that when you hear it you can't help but go "Wow, that is a stupid, awful song."
I of course am referring to "Benny and the Jets." Between the overly simplified piano composition, the fake audience applause track that was dubbed in after recording was done, and John's whistlingly nasal falsetto screaming "BENNY!" over and over at the end of the song, the listeners are left feeling like they were just mentally violated.
How, in God's sacred name, did this song become popular? At one point in 1974 it was a No. 1 single!
Could it be, it was released after Elton's super-popular "Candle in the Wind," and drafted that song up the charts then passed it to reach number 1? Could it be that it was sandwiched between that song and "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," another legendary song by John, so that it becomes enmeshed in the mid-1970's fervor for all things Sir Elton?
The point is, even Elton didn't like the song. At the end of recording, he and the guitarist agreed the song was "really odd" and Elton was against having it released as a single, thinking it would fail miserably.
Yet here I am, hearing it on the radio. Again.
There are many other examples of this phenomena, where an artists unashamedly horrendous song gets way more air time than it should. The Beastie Boys song "Brass Monkey" would be another shining example, where "Sabotage" rocketed them to fame, and "Brass Monkey" should have sealed their coffin. But spend 2 hours listening to FM 96.5 The Buzz in Kansas City (a "cutting-edge" "alternative" radio station) and you're destined to hear "Brass Monkey" or "No Sleep Til Brooklyn".
Anyway, the next song that came on the radio was Journey's "Don't Stop Believin" so I feel much better.