Sunday, October 31, 2004

To quote Snopes:
The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House. When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

This election year, that deciding game takes place on Sunday, October 31 ... vs. Green Bay.

Green Bay just put it away 28-14.

Thursday, October 21, 2004 - Kerry promotes science, technology as job engines - What I want to know is why in the HELL hasn't he been pounding this as a central part of his economic plan from day one? It lets him unify his environmental and economic policies, and gives him an economic plank completely outside of Bush's world. He can say "If the economy doesn't improve, Bush will give the rich another tax cut. And if that doesn't work, he'll try giving the rich another tax cut. And if there's still no improvement, he has an ace in the hole - give the rich a tax cut. I've got a better idea. If nothing else, at least this idea hasn't been proven to be completely useless." He should have been pushing science as a central ideological difference from day one. "I support stem cell research because it could save thousands of lives; he opposes it because of some vague idea that it kills babies, which anyone with even a passing knowledge of the subject knows it doesn't. I support an economic policy based around moving our economy into the future; he supports one based around taking CEOs word for it when they tell him they need a tax cut. I support an environmental policy that will protect the vital ecosystems that keep our planet, and all of us, alive; he supports slashing, burning and drilling our way into a future that may or may not be able to actually support human life. Now, you can take your pick here, but it's not just a difference of opinion. I make my decisions based on evidence; he makes his based on faith."

Thursday, October 07, 2004

With all the absolutely justified celebration about SpaceShipOne and the potential for private space flight, this comic makes a good point that is easy to forget. SpaceShipOne was not designed in a vacuum. It is built with off-the-shelf technology. None of that technology would have existed but for the decades of ludicrously expensive and complex research and development done by NASA. Private spaceflight is a brave new frontier, but let's not get carried away with the "abolish the government" stuff while we're at it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Veep Debate:

Well, here were the fireworks. Edwards and Cheney were at each others throats, at least in the beginning. It got more collegial toward the end.

Advantage first 30 minutes: Cheney. Unlike Bush, Cheney actually has a basic grasp of the issues. And unlike Kerry, Edwards seems much more comfortable talking about domestic than international issues. While I don't agree with what he was saying, Cheney had a coherent message (this is important, the world is behind us, and we can't fail) that he presented forcefully. He manipulated the statistics mercilessly, in terms of the size of the coalition and the proportion of costs and casualties, and Edwards' refutations were lacking. Saying that Cheney is manipulating the statistics isn't enough. Saying he's manipulating the statistics and providing your own is not enough either. You have to say he's manipulating the statistics, provide your own, AND explain why yours are more relevant. Saying "we've taken 90% of the COALITION casualties" was half what he needed to say, but leaving it there did not refute what Cheney said, that it ignored the sacrifices of the Iraqis. The second part of the sentence needed to be "you said we had a grand coalition. That fact that you've also managed to get a bunch of Iraqi police killed does not change the fact that the Republic of Tonga, whose contribution is of course appreciated, is not a substitute for Germany."

Advantage second 30 minutes: Edwards. It all started with Halliburton. Edwards prosecutorial instincts kicked in, and he started drilling Cheney to the floor. When they traded attacks on their records, Edwards came out on top by far. We've all heard about the $87 Billion. But Cheney voted against the Department of Education? He was one of 4 people that voted against MLK Day? He voted against freakin' Meals on Wheels? Edwards was absolutely rolling, and the auditorium I was sitting in was by far the loudest it would get. This segment closed up with the Gay Marraige segment, which Edwards pursued unenthusiastically, but Cheney basically refused to argue. That comes out to an advantage Edwards, as Bush/Cheney is counting on the religious right vote, and if they're no tougher on them immoral gays than Kerry/Edwards...

Advantage last 30 minutes: Draw. No one had anything going here. Cheney was running on a record of failure and he knew it. Edwards, despite his clear comfort level here, was not hitting the issues. He kept saying "we have a plan" and "we'll improve health care", but he didn't say how until the very end, and even that was kind of halfass. The point on TV ads was critical, but totally opaque to anyone who hasn't studied the issue. He needed to elaborate on "standing up to big insurance and big pharma", and he didn't. What does that MEAN? He needed to break out the figures on the money big pharma spends on research versus advertising versus what they bring home in profits, along with big insurance's tendency to jack up rates just because they can, and then say what he's going to do about it.

Advantage closing statements: Cheney by default. Cheney's closing statement was dull and uninspiring. Edwards' was horrid. You never, NEVER say "the light of America is flickering". You say "the light of America is in danger" or something like that. Never, EVER suggest that America has been weakened, because if America has been weakened, then Americans have been weakened, and no one wants to vote for a guy that called them weak. And John? We know your #$(@*%! daddy worked in a mill, OK?

Overall advantage: TBA. A lot of punches thrown, not sure how many landed. This was not the Luke Skywalked/Darth Vader match I hoped for, but neither did Edwards come off looking like a chump. Probably no big whoop either way.

Meals on Wheels!?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

My proposed response when Kerry is inevitably asked about his vote in the Iraq War Resolution during the debates:

"President Bush told us that he wanted to hold Iraq's feet to the fire. He told us that without the authority to use force, he would not have the power to force Iraq's hand. He told us that Iraq posed an imminent and growing danger. He told us that the security of the United States was in our hands. I made the mistake of believing him. I made the terrible and inexcusable mistake of assuming that because he was the duly elected President of the United States, with all of our diplomatic, economic, intelligence and military power entrusted to him, that he would act appropriately and with honor. To my everlasting regret, I was completely wrong. Ever since that fateful day, I've given him every benefit of the doubt. But with revelation after revelation, it's become incontrovertibly obvious that he has handled the authority I gave him with astounding negligence. He ignored the advice of our military planners. He replaced the State Department Middle East experts with political flunkies. He mercilessly distorted the available intelligence to support plans he had made years ago. The Iraqis did not greet us with flowers. The war did not pay for itself. We have not established a secure beachhead for democracy in the Middle East. Not only did we not destroy a terrorist breeding ground, we created one. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction. I gave the President every possible benefit of the doubt. I stretched and groped in the darkness to believe that he lead us truly, because I was raised to beleive that that is what the President of the United States does. But in this case, I was wrong. I made the mistake of trusting the security of the United States to George W. Bush, and I swear it is a mistake I will never make again."

Monday, September 06, 2004

An article called Stuck on The Fence from the Washington Post tells the story of 10 rather unenthusiastic uncommitted voters from Erie, PA, and their reaction to the Presidential nomination acceptance speeches (which most of them weren't planning to watch before the Post asked them to.) The responses aren't surprising - Bush wins on straight talk and specifics but is fighting an overall negative impression of his record, while Kerry is seen to have said pretty much nothing. All in all, a wash. However, it's a wash in which Kerry can improve, and Bush is already firing on all cylinders. This is an opportunity, as illustrated by the adage about the two athletes - if they both run at the same speed, jump the same height, and lift the same weight, then draft the one with worse form. If he's already equal to the other guy now, imagine how he'll be once he gets into shape?

Very few people have both the mental capacity to effectively analyze complex issues and the rhetorical skills to distill these issues down to clear, unequivocal terms. Bill Clinton had that talent. Neither Bush nor Kerry does. To speak simply is a gift, but to think simply is blindness; with these candidates it's all or nothing. George W. Bush speaks simply because his mind works simply. It's no trick to speak in simple terms when that's all you can comprehend. John Kerry, on the other hand, has a firm grasp of the world in all its sometimes inexplicable glory, but lacks the ability to process his results into a more palatable form. From Bush, you get a straight, absolutely wrong answer. From Kerry, you get the right answer in indecipherable form. This is where the potential Kerry advantage comes in. If Kerry makes better use of spokesmen - Edwards of course, but also Dean, Obama, and so forth - he can get his message out in plain English. The right answer delivered with flair and charisma - Clinton in two steps. Bush, on the other hand, is already delivering his message as well as it can be delivered. His allies can't improve on what he says without contradicting him. Kerry's message, poorly delivered, is as convincing as Bush's message, well delivered. So let's work on that delivery.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

A blog post that kind of morphed into an open letter to John Kerry

John Kerry has got to go Howard Dean. There's no way around it. His circumlocution and Senatese, his professional courtesy, everything about him that the world sees on a day-to-day-basis is tailor made to be ripped apart by some asshole like George W. Bush. For God's sake, this guy could be saying "let's nuke Japan again" and he'd be winning the battle for the minds of America, because at least he's fighting for them. George W. Bush is campaigning like Patton. He's put all his forces in order, and he's bulling straight ahead with absolute efficiency. Kerry is fucking around like Marshal Petain. A little effort over here, a little over there, oh no, better not fight over here, it might be inconvenient, and I'm sure he wouldn't attack through the Ardennes, so I'll just ignore that. Jesus Christ, John, you're getting slaughtered piecemeal! What in bloody hell is your platform? You've got fiscal policies, environmental policies, social policies, the works, and you just keep sending them into battle once at a time, not connected, not supporting each other, and they're getting murdered. Damn it all, John, you were in the military. You of all people should know that you can have the best troops, or ideas, in the world, and if they're not organized, they're going to get slaughtered! Damn it, John, you have the better ideas. You have the better troops. But where the fuck is the leadership? And then there's foreign policy. That's the battlefield this election is going to be fought on. You tried to draw him into the domestic arena, but it didn't work. That's North Africa. Foreign Policy is Europe. This is where the war is going to be decided. So what the hell is your battle plan? You can beat him on every issue, and he'd still win. Why? Because his army is going somewhere. You?re just playing defense. And it's appropriate that I call him an army and talk about you like you?re playing a game, because that's what it looks like. He comes out and says "we're going to remake the world in our image", and you respond with "yeah, but you're not being sensitive enough while you do it." How about "what the fuck are you talking about, George? Are you fucking insane?" You can't just keep on saying "I agree with everything he says, but we should have done it better." How about "I gave George Bush authority to go to war with Iraq because I love my country and would do anything to protect her from harm. I didn't give him authority to go on some crazy-ass crusade to overthrow the governments of half the Middle East." And if his Swift Boat surrogates go after you one more time, how about you finally say "You know what? You decide for yourself whether I deserved my medals or not. The fact is, I was still fucking there, getting my ass shot at for my country, while George Bush was getting drunk off his ass while AWOL from the Champagne Battalion in the Texas Air national Guard. I'm sick and tired of these idiots telling me I didn't bleed enough to cover up the fact that their guy was a drunken embarrassment to his family. You want to spend any more time digging up my past, be my guest, because anything you find is still gonna leave me 20 miles ahead of George W. Bush." John, I don't know what you're planning. I don't know what you've got up your sleeve. But this is no game. You have to win. I'll back you - we'll all back you - but I swear to God, if you're fucking around, if you lose this thing to that asshole because you didn?t try hard enough, I will never forgive you. Your name will go down in history as "the guy that let George Bush win". What ever wars, whatever misery he is responsible for in his second term will be on your conscience. So pack it up, soldier. We've got work to do.

Update: You might want to note that I posted this at 4:16 AM. That may explain a few things.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Yahoo! News - Russia School Standoff Ends With 250 Dead: BESLAN, Russia - The three-day hostage siege at a school in southern Russia ended in chaos and bloodshed Friday, after witnesses said Chechen militants set off bombs and Russian commandos stormed the building. Hostages fled in terror, many of them children who were half-naked and covered in blood. Officials said the toll was at least 250.

Russia, it seems to me, is in an Israeli situation in regards to Chechnya. Problem is, unlike Israel, Russia is too big to be effectively secured, hence the Chechens propensity for seizing entire schools and buildings, as opposed to the Palestinians habit of blowing themselves up at guard posts. It seems to me the only logical thing for them to do would be to cede Chechnya and get this thing over with. What do they lose? Pride? Does Chechnya have any strategic significance? Does Russia have any moral claim to their occupation? Is there anything other than sheer bloody-mindedness that's keeping Russia embroiled here, that's holding open the gates for these things to keep happening?

Someone's going to say "why don't you blame the terrorists?" If I hear that one more time, about anything, I'm going to lose my temper. I think we can all agree around here that taking over a school and holding the students hostage is wrong. In fact, that it's really wrong, that it's inexcusable, and that anyone who does such a thing with the expectation of a reward in paradise will find themselves sorely mistaken. What I want to do is stop it from happening again. God can handle the vengeance. I just want to stop it from happening again. If that can be done through escalating violence, then great, do it. The perpetrators have given up their rights to peace. But for God's sake, what Russia and Israel should have figured out right now is that they CAN'T do it through escalating violence, and that every time they do that, they're effectively condemning more of their citizens to death. It's insane, it's illogical, it's horrific, and they just keep doing it anyway.

Forgive me for presuming to intrude on the internal affairs of soverign nations, but I've just seen too much of this all over this Earth. Leaders everywhere with the best intentions take the task of judge and executioner upon themselves, when all they need to do is protect their people. In the name of vengeance, they stoke the fires, and the cycle starts again. Too many people die in the same cycle that presents itself so plainly, and it's just such a sorry sight to see. I know no one's listening, but I still feel the need to shout this into the ether.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush told a roomful of top Pentagon brass on Thursday that his administration would never stop looking for ways to harm the United States.
Amazing that I never thought of this. The BBC is reporting that scientists are digitally copying the police audio tapes of the JFK assassination (the tapes have been too fragile to play for the last 10 years). Once they're digitized, they'll be able to remove background noise, static, and so forth. Point being? They'll finally be able to tell how many shots were fired (and possibly whether they all came from the same place.) If the answer ain't 3 shots from one place, then it wasn't Oswald acting alone.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Jane's Defense Weekly and Reuters are reporting that North Korea has 12 nuclear launch-capable missile submarines of Soviet origin with the range to cruise off the California coast. Oh yeah, and they were furnished by our own industrial magnate-cum-North Korean sympathizer-cum-Messiah Sun Myung Moon. I wonder if they'll mention that next time they coronate him?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Been a while, hasn't it? Maybe it's what The Onion described as "Outrage Fatigue", but I've just had no motivation to write lately. I stay just as ludicrously up-to-date on current events as ever, and certainly have not lost my opinions on on the matters of the day, but somehow I've just felt no impetus to put those things into words and put them on the internet for the whole world to see. Maybe it's the summer. I work all week and sleep all weekend. Additionally, outside of college, there isn't nearly the political stimulus that there is on campus.

In the mean time, just go here.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Two researchers have just released a study highlighting the danger of allowing your 18-year-old to take Tylenol without parental supervision. OK, seriously, the study was about "the overuse of over-the-counter pain relievers by children and teens", but if you read the article I think you'll agree with my snark. I have rarely seen such a mix of obvious facts being presented as cutting-edge research and those results provoking such chicken-little-style panic. Observe:
Most likely children and teens are taking this medicine because they think it will relieve their headaches, and not to get any type of "high," study author Dr. A. David Rothner of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio told Reuters Health.

"If you have (children), and you give them medicine when they have a headache, why shouldn't they think they can do it on their own," he said.

There are many reasons why kids shouldn't overuse these medicines, Rothner explained. Some pain relievers contain aspirin, which puts children under the age of 19 at risk of Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal disorder, he said.

Other risks of overuse of over-the-counter pain medicines include kidney failure, liver problems, and intestinal and stomach bleeding, he said.

OK, here's my suggestion: "use as directed." How's that?

Sunday, June 06, 2004

A guy in Granby, CO, had a grudge against certain members of the town planning commission and the local newspaper. So how did he handle it? The same way any red-blooded believer in truth, justice, and the American way would: he built himself a tank and obliterated downtown

Friday, June 04, 2004

You know, work is, like, hard. But the good news is they pay you to do it.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Looks like George Tenet's resigning. It's not effective until Mid-July, and they're all citing "personal reasons", while the President praises him, saying (to use one his new favorite turns of phrase) that "he's done a superb job on behalf of the American people".
New book out by author Rebecca Wilson called "What Makes a Man". The type of thing I'd ordinarily stay away from, except when order to read it for some English or maybe Poli Sci class (after which I'd tear it to pieces) - It's one of those ones about what masculinity means, which for some reason always seem to be written by women. Some people think Violet Brown and Gloria Anzaldua are geniuses who see the world how it ought to be, transcending the patriarchy and the stereotypical machismo of modern society; personally, I think they sound like a couple of bitter lesbians (and I can say that, because they, um, are lesbians), whining "If I can't have a penis, no one else should either!" Of course, then there's the other end, like "The Surrendered Wife" by whoever-the-hell-wrote-that, by women who never made it out of the 19th century and think that all of society's problems are caused by uppity women being all cutesy and getting "jobs" instead of cooking dinner for their big strong husbands. But, as far as this Salon interview with the author goes, this one looks like it might be something different. The book draws from sources well outside of the bitter lesbian academic echo chamber - try death row inmate Jarvis Jay Masters, NPR host Doug Rushkoff, and big fat guy Michael Moore. Not only that, but she seems to be willing to say what's on her mind, even if it runs counter to Paleo-feminist orthodoxy.
Q: In your intro you call on women to help men reconfigure masculinity. You say, "If we want men to be different we must eroticize that difference." What do you mean?

A: Women say we want these integrated, beautiful, sweet men. Then we run off with the macho guy. All these years of feminism and we're still looking for the knight in shining armor. There's a way in which our impulses haven't caught up with our intellect. What I'm saying is, we know that men are often socialized in their sexuality through pornography. I can eroticize this table if I work hard enough at it. Well, women need to flex that power and begin to eroticize what's truly healthy for us and for our partners.

Q: Nice guys finish last -- but at least they finish.

A: Being turned on by macho guys who aren't good for us has to do with us wanting to be the feminine ├╝ber-counterpart. I like those guys 'cause I can curl up and be little. I can be pure sensuality. But those extremes only work in the realm of sexuality. Real relationships are much more multidimensional. I want a partner, male or female, who can be the cool tough guy to my damsel in distress and who can also be the damsel in distress to my cool tough guy. I want to have the full range of my humanity in a relationship. I want to experience life fully, not just a sliver of it. That's why I did this book -- because men are being allowed just this tiny part. I was interested in the ones who are breaking out of that paradigm. I'm interested in knowing what's that like for them.

Now, you can say what you want about that viewpoint, but it's original. It's logical. It's compelling. Now, I haven't read this book. Chances are, my being a schlub, I never will. But for the moment, I have a glimmer of hope that someone out there is doing some thinking for themselves. That's more than I've come to expect from anyone.

Monday, May 31, 2004

Wear Red for Freedom Fridays. I hope Katt of Oddlots Irregulars won't mind my jacking her post:
I have received email about this great idea from several people today. In a nutshell, a growing number of Americans, concerned about current U.S policies regarding individual civil liberties and freedoms in the U.S. and abroad, are going to wear RED every Friday until the November election. That?s it ~ that simple. A ?quiet revolution.? A simple way to identify (and identify with) the growing number of concerned citizens in our country.

The inspiration for wearing red comes from when Norway was occupied by Germany in 1940, Norwegian women began to knit RED caps for children as a way of letting everyone know that they did not like what was happening in their country, that they didn?t like having their freedom taken away by the Nazis.

The result was that whenever Norwegians and Danes left their homes?to go to the store, to work, etc, they could see that THE MAJORITY opposed what was going on in their country. As you know, both countries organized effective Resistance efforts and changed history?everything that happened began simply by wearing red!!!!

So, hey, you probably look good in red and/or need a good excuse to go shopping ~ spread the word:wear red every Friday until Election Day!
Seems like a good idea to me. Wonder if it will catch on?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

There's a construction site in Downtown Los Angeles surrounded by razor wire. I was walking past it this morning when I saw a tiny bird, perched right on one of the razors, merrily warbling away. Somehow, it seems like this is symbolic of something, but I can't think of exactly what.