Whatever, Moron

I'm a little late in picking this one up, but I can't resist smacking this idiot. I'll start with some personal background. I grew up in the DC metropolitan area. I went to high school in Fairfax County, a block away from a DC Metro station. After I got out of the Army, I went to George Mason University for a year and a half. I have some passing familiarity with the area.

The idea that anybody who writes for the Washington Post is making shitty remarks about another city is ludicrous. If you write for the Post, you live in one of three places: DC, suburban Virginia, or suburban Maryland. If you actually live in the most ineptly run municipality in the country, (aka DC proper), you get to make rude comments about other cities about the time hell freezes over. Quit electing crackheads to run the city and make the damn city work before you go talking smack, okay?

If you live in either set of suburbs, you're not in a position to make comments like "devoid of personality". Well, unless you consider "ruinously expensive" to be personality, since that's all the Maryland or Virginia suburbs have going for them: inflated property values. They are no nicer or worse than the 'burbs everywhere else in the country. Claiming proximity to the cultural mecca wasteland that is DC does you no good, since most suburban residents rarely ever go in to the city.

I wouldn't mind this piece so much if he wasn't such an annoying asshat. If you don't like Houston, fine. Say it and move on with your life. Trying to dress up your personal dislike for the place with some grand (poorly) sarcastic diatribe is neither particularly enlightening or amusing.

I think I can boil Mr. Achenbach's comments down to the bare essence. Houston is flat. Houston is big and he gets lost because he doesn't know where anything is. He can't find any good restaurants so he ends up eating at crappy chain restaurants because they're all he can recognize. Oh, yeah, Thrifty raped him for a rental car and he's mad.

The Latest in Swiss Technology

The item that grabbed my attention is the picture of the Swiss police officer holding off the great unwashed with his magical shield of straw. These fine shields are also rumored to be available in models made of both sticks and bricks.


Great Story

This guy rocks!

It just got me thinking that sometimes, drunkenness ain't so bad. Now if only the sotty, sthlobbering sthenator from Mathashuuuusetts could be so constructive with his drunkenness...

Synchronicity Again!

It never stops here on the Web. It seems like just yesterday I was talking about manslaughter and the senior senator from MA. Oh, that's because it was yesterday. Anyhow, somebody else worked on that theme today. See?


Buffy, anyone? (via BoingBoing)


More on Robert Byrd

Yay! Synchronicity is such a fabulous thing, isn’t it? Here we were just talking about the crazy old coot, and he turns up somewhere else on the web! Don’t you love it? Since we’re having such a fun time with senatorial racism here at YPS, I couldn’t resist adding fuel to fire:
Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia read the text of the Noah story and curse into the Congressional Record as part of a filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying, "Noah saw fit to discriminate against Ham's descendents."
That’s what I want to see in my senators, the use of biblical quotes to justify institutionalized racism. Of course, that was 40 years ago and I’m sure his attitudes have changed since then. After all, he hasn’t said “nigger” on TV in almost 4 years now. Just because he didn’t change his thinking any between 1964 and 2001 is no reason to presume he hasn’t reconsidered in the past four. I’m sure something has happened to him to make him change his mind, or at least, remind him to be careful about expressing his mind.

Some of you might be thinking that all of this is ancient history, but the addled old hatemonger is still in the Senate. Thank the citizens of West Virginia for that depressing fact.

Any Protest Is Too Much

When an individual feels the need, with no prompting, to inform you of their amazing lack of some negative quality, (ignorance, prejudice, infection, sanctimony, whatever), that individual is more than likely lying. The person really does possess the quality in question, they would just prefer that you don’t perceive it or hold it against them.

The End of The World

It has been a while since I have seen this, but it still amuses me.

Oh, come on...it's funny.


The Complexity of Males and their Funny Websites

A few years ago, I found Mahir. Mahir, suave and debonair in his own mind, just wanted to get laid.

Then along came Ill Mitch. Mitch, who also has a desire for the ladies, aspires to be a rap star. And I wish him the best in his quest; although I've read that there is some debate as to whether he is for real.

Speaking of rappers, nobody's weird guy website experience would be complete without these guys. They're still "Straight Ballin".

This all comes up because, today, I find this guy. Now, I don't think Gay Monkey Man has a penchant for the ladies. An informal poll of my gay male friends indicates to me that he's not going to have much luck with the fellas either.

I just can't stop laughing.

Update: The Gay Monkey Changed his website to here. I guess he wants to be a "boi" now.

Iran...Not for the Weak of Heart, or Spirit

Good thing we have the CLM* and organizations like Human Rights Watch trying to get the lives of American soldiers ruined over nekkid pyramids and panty-hats, because if they didn't, certainly they'd be calling our attentions to real atrocities, like this.

I'm wondering if our "friends" on the left actually expect us to "respect" this culture too.

Would putting a stop to this also be a "war for oil"? Speaking of, when are my gas prices going to plummet? I have to use premium for my car. I certainly could use the price break.

*Criminal Liberal Media

Free Speech Forever!

I’m a huge fan of the First Amendment, even though there are days I think it should end after the first 5 words. Julian Sanchez has presented one of the most practical arguments for free speech ever.
People are clearly forgetting the all-important "mockery" rationale for the sacred contract of free speech. In short: there are lots of different kinds of people to make fun of. And there are more of them than of you. So for any particular individual, whatever mental discomfort involved in periodically being the butt of the joke pales in comparison to the benefit of the much greater other-directed mockery we can participate in a free society.
That’s what I’m talking about, baby! It’s all about the mockery. Of course, for a serious discussion of free speech you could do much, much worse than to read Kindly Inquisitors.

Informative Week

Well, it’s been a fun week here so far at YPS. There are some people out there who have noticed our little corner of the web. They don’t seem really happy about finding it, either. Who knew? People actually read us. I guess all those hits aren’t just people clicking the next blog button.

What I find the funniest is that people only care to comment about things that they find offensive. I post 1,000 words about Social Security and I can hear crickets chirp in the background. J tags Robert Byrd with his own words, calls drunk-ass Sponge Ted a racist, and people come out of the woodwork to complain. This amuses me greatly. Sensationalism gets the hits, huh? Call it the Ann Coulter effect.

I find the offense peculiar in and of itself. It’s not offensive to anybody that a guy who has been in the Senate since 1958 still thinks of people as niggers, white or otherwise. It’s not offensive that you can commit vehicular manslaughter while drunk, have your dad buy off half the state to get you out of it, and still go on to fame and fortune as a Senator because your family’s rich and famous. Instead, pointing out the problems of the people that have done these things is offensive. Maybe my Offense-O-Meter is calibrated differently than y’alls. I’ll see if I can find the calibration specs and have it checked out.

I really don’t mind people that have opposing viewpoints. I just ask that you give me something other than “I’m offended and you’re wrong” to work with. Great! You’re offended! You think I’m wrong! So fucking what? It’s completely uninteresting. You might as well spray paint graffiti on an overpass for all the good that does. Give me a cogent reason why you think I’m wrong. Toss out some facts to support your position. Otherwise, you’re just another one of those annoying creatures living under a bridge and pestering goats. As far as you getting offended? I still think Mike Muir said it best a long time ago:
And if I offended you, oh I'm sorry...
But maybe you need to be offended
But here's my apology and one more thing...fuck you!


Childhood Nightmares

So I was browsing through Fark photoshops and I ran across this contest. Not a spectacular photoshop contest, but some good work. I'm not thinking it's a big deal, right up until I hit the entry submitted by le mew. Sweet mother of Jesus in a smoking birch-bark canoe. I never expected (or wanted) to see that particular image ever again.

I am officially scarred for life from the book she took that source picture from. I have no earthly idea what the book is actually about, because it's all in German. All I know is that book had some of the most terrifying images my fragile little mind had ever seen. I think I found that book in the bookshelves when I was about 6 or 7. Creepy ass pictures in another language are not doing anything good for little kids. No wonder people were so screwed up in the 1800s. This was considered children's literature. Why am I not surprised there's a website?

I guess the downside of all the information available on the web is that all the shit you never wanted to see again will show up eventually.

Stare Decisis is dead...Long live it.

Last week, Gary L. Lancaster, Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (Clinton appointee) pulled from the deepest and most cavernous section of his ass, two holdings in one case, United States v. Extreme Associates, Inc.

First, he holds, federal obscenity laws are unconstitutional. I think at this point, rather than argue that stare decisis, as constitutional principle, is weaker than the knees of a $2 whore; we can dispense with the bullshit and declare it officially dead. I mean yes, the concept suffered a mortal wound about this time 32 years ago, but it apparently let go of its last staggered breath with this case.

Second, Lancaster declares that morality cannot be legislated. Oh really, Judge Lancaster? Well then, I'll personally be waiting around for you to strike down all murder, robbery, rape and incest laws. Oh riiiiight...yeah, no I won't. We do and must legislate morality...every stinkin' day. Step out of the top floor of that ivory tower you seem to be living in and well...fall painfully to your death.

And Harry Reid thinks that Clarence Thomas is an embarrassment? This folks, is why more Justices like Scalia and Thomas are exactly what the Supreme Court needs.

Slap the Parents

So, there's a hot-selling prom dress on the market. Any parent who would let their daughter wear this is stone-cold crazy. I mean, the whole teenage slut queen look is big now, but this is going pretty damn far with it. A prom dress? I've seen strippers wear less revealing outfits. The only thing this dress needs to go with a lap dance is a thigh high slit up the side. Hell, it may have one. The picture doesn't go below the waist.

I do note that the only person in the article who said she would let her daughter wear the dress is a woman. I'm going to hazard a guess that no father would be happy about his daughter wearing this dress to prom. All of my male friends that have daughters would lose their ever-lovin' minds if their daughter tried to leave the house wearing the dress. Of course, fathers have one built-in advantage over mothers when it comes to trashy clothes: they were once teenage males. Daddy knows what that little weasel who comes to pick up his little princess for prom wants out of the evening. He doesn't like to think about too much, but he knows. It makes Dad a little bit nuts sometimes.

Still, if you buy your daughter this as a prom dress, why not give her fake tits for a graduation present? She'll be all set for her new career that way.

The Idiot 13

The following 13 racist pieces of crap voted against the nomination of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

Barbara Boxer, D-CA
Robert Byrd, D-WV
Edward Kennedy, D-MA
John Kerry, D-MA
Carl Levin, D-MI
James Jeffords, I-VT
Jack Reed, D-RI
Mark Dayton, D-MN
Daniel Akaka, D-HI
Evan Bayh, D-IN
Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ
Tom Harkin, D-IA
Richard Durbin, D-IL

We should all send them nasty e-mails...and call and harass them too. The backward morons deserve it.

Names, Power, and Universities

There is an ancient magical belief that knowing the true name of a thing grants you dominion over it. An abiding thread running through magical practice is the attempt to discern or discover the true names of things. It’s funny how the belief in magic is mostly dead, but the concern over names lives on. Changing the names of things is viewed as a form of legerdemain that makes previous notions about the underlying object subject to transformation. The concept can most clearly be seen in the political arena, where getting your name for an idea or program used is considered vital in framing the terms of the debate. Names still have a great deal of power to shape our perception of the world around us, yet names don’t alter the underlying truth of the actual object. A rose by any other name would still have thorns or something like that.

The reason I bring this up is that universities provide an ongoing example of the power of names. Over in Missouri, there is a fight over what to call one of the universities. It’s an issue you can look at rationally and ask what the big deal is. Leaving aside the odd legal and financial issues that might pertain, depending on your state, why does the name matter? In one sense it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what the university is called. Same school, same faculty, same students. Nothing has changed but signs and stationary. In reality, the name matters a whole hell of a lot.

The last session of the state legislature saw a name change for Southwest Texas State University to Texas State University. This pissed off a lot (I think most) of Southwest Texas grads. One of the main reasons is that there already exists in Texas a school abbreviated TSU. Texas Southern is an HBU that is in constant danger of losing its accreditation. Most of the Southwest Texas grads I know did not want any possibility of confusion between TSU and the former SWT. They’re all pretty damn bitter about the change. Even the ones that know the underlying reasons* are mad. They think that some other solution could have been reached that didn’t involve changing the school name.

I can’t throw stones at anybody over this issue, either. I was sitting on the couch cheering when I read the recommendation from the Commission of 125 that UT drop the ‘at Austin’ from the official name. The University of Texas is located in Austin. There are satellite campuses throughout the state that need to be identified with locations. The main campus does not. One of my instructors was telling me when the change to ‘at Austin’ went through, the department would get mail back with the ‘at Austin’ circled and written comments like “redundant”. I’m wondering since it’s been in effect for a while now, are people going to get mad when they drop the ‘at Austin’?

To bring the ramble full circle, I’ll just say the old magicians were partly right. If you control the name of a thing, you have power over others. It’s not quite the same concept, but pretty damn close.

* The legislature wanted to consolidate the remaining state schools into a new university system for some reason that is obscure to me. I think cost savings was mentioned, although I doubt that will come to pass.

Smackdown Justly Applied

I‘m always amused when people try to use ideology to justify their own behavior. I have a friend who is quasi-socialist, and I remain convinced he holds his strange ideology because it justifies his laziness and unwillingness to work.

Neal Boortz is trying to use ideology to explain the moral rightness of harassing smokers. Fortunately for me, as I’m lazy and feel no need to justify it, InstaPunk has laid the smackdown right across the top of Neal’s shiny bald head.
Only hypocrite libertarians commit the sin of arguing for the institutional enforcement of their own prejudices via mechanisms created by a welfare-state bureaucracy they elsewhere deplore.
Ouch. Target, cease fire.

Attempted Murder

Laurence Simon is trying to kill me by making me laugh too hard.


No Trust Fund

In an amazing coincidence, Will Wilkinson points to an article that explains how the Social Security Trust Fund works. The easiest explanation? It doesn't.
In short, the Social Security trust fund is really only an accounting mechanism. The trust fund shows how much the government has borrowed from Social Security, but it does not provide any way to finance future benefits. The money to repay the IOUs will have to come from taxes that are being used today to pay for other government programs.
Nice, huh? No, I'm not bitter about this, not at all. I'm especially not bitter seeing as how it's tax time again. The amount that J and I pay in all our federal taxes would be considered a decent living for an individual. Unless, of course, they had to pay taxes on it. Actually, I see from my handy tax stats at the IRS that the amount we pay in federal taxes (including Medicare and OASDI taxes) is well above the median AGI for tax year 2002.

The Rice Circus

The Democrat party is doing their very best to prove to the American public that they've learned their lesson from this last election and intend to put the good of the country before the good of their power, oh except they're not. I must admit though they've started President Bush's new term off right by enlisting Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Complete Whackjob) and former KKK Kleagle Senator Robert Byrd (D-White Nigger) to make giant asses of themselves by delaying the inevitable confirmation of one of the most talented and intelligent women to ever serve in government...just because she happens to be black.

All that is missing is Howard Dean's election as chairman of the DNC.


Update: I just found this and it made my day.

Anti-social Insecurity

I haven’t blogged too much about SS reform because frankly, it bores the piss out of me. It’s a problem, and something needs to be done to solve the issue. Much of the rhetoric is absolutely full of crap from both sides. However, this is probably the best short summation of the issues involved that I have read yet. The crux of the issue is right here:
When talking about fixing Social Security there have been four main options proposed by the various sides, including the bipartisan commissions designed to study the problem:

* Reduce benefits for future retirees.
* Raise the retirement age.
* Increase payroll taxes or raise the cap on the amount of income taxed.
* Get the money from general revenue by increasing the deficit or reducing government spending in other areas.

There's also privatization, an ancillary option proposed by the last commission to study Social Security (privatization doesn't actually address the solvency of Social Security). Under privatization, a portion of each person's Social Security tax would be held in self-directed personal accounts capable of holding diversified portfolios, but not individual stocks. Upon retirement, an individual with a privatized account would have his or her Social Security benefits reduced based on the amount that was redirected to the private account.
This is what’s going on in a nutshell. I’m now going to make some general points about some arguments presented in the comments.

First off, SS is nothing more or less than a giant Ponzi scheme. It relies on a constant influx of new suckers and the money they pay in to pay out benefits to the initial suckers. If that ain’t a Ponzi, I don’t know what is. The longevity of SS is due to the inescapable fact that I know of no other Ponzi that the government forces you to be in. Unless you are a member of certain favored groups (teachers and some government employees spring to mind) you are forced to contribute. Don’t argue that it’s not a Ponzi unless you can come up with some compelling arguments that it isn’t. Federal involvement does not change the inconvenient fact of what SS is, so don’t claim that government sponsorship magically makes it not a Ponzi.

Secondly, it’s great that everyone thinks that we as a society need to take care of the elderly, disabled, handicapped, etc. You know what? The United States government is not the alpha and omega of society. I can make the argument that the government we have in this country is an outgrowth of a functioning civil society, not the cause of it. Similarly, just because the current SS system provides for some of society’s true unfortunates does not mean that SS is the only or even a good method by which to do so. As an extension of this point, there is no compelling argument that I have ever heard that caring for the unfortunate is a mission of the federal government. Break free of the boxed and blinkered mentality that says all problems must be met with a federal program. Does society need to care for the unfortunate? Yes. Is the federal government, and by extension SS, the best method by which to do so? I seriously doubt it, but since a whole bunch of vested interests refuse to accept any change from the status quo, we probably won’t find out.

Third, I find it frankly rather insulting the idea that some people will invest their private accounts irresponsibly and that this exposes them to some huge amount of risk in the financial market. It presumes, once again, that every human being other than the self-proclaimed smart people is a freaking moron that can’t put on shoes without help. There’s this well-known investment option called Treasury bonds. Guess what? You can invest in those yourself! If that option is included in personal accounts, how is that more risky than what exists now? It’s not. It’s the same damn thing that’s currently being done with the SS trust fund. There is a market in these bonds and other securities. Financial instruments do not automatically equal stocks, idiots.

Fourth, it is laughable that anyone my age (35) plans on receiving any significant benefits from SS. I take it as a given that by the time this mess is sorted out, I will get screwed. I treat the statement I get every year from the SS Administration as a sick joke because I am never going to receive any benefit worth mentioning. If I want to retire, I have to handle the financial details of how it’s going to happen. So be it. I just wish the irresponsibility brigade wasn’t hosing me in the process.

Finally, I mentioned above that society should help true unfortunates. Guess what? People who ruin their lives by poor decisions are not included in that category. If you make the conscious decision that buying cigarettes and Red Bull is more important than paying for health insurance (which someone I know has done), then I really don’t give a fuck when you get lung cancer and can’t afford treatment. Similarly, when I eventually need a new liver because I drink enough to destroy my current one, guess what? I sure as hell hope my insurance company covers it, because otherwise I fully expect to be screwed. I don’t feel a whole hell of a lot of obligation to clean up after the messes people make of their lives. Personal responsibility is kind of a bitch, isn’t it? In the final analysis, you are responsible for your own wellbeing. Asking the rest of us to take care of you because of your poor decisions is more than a little presumptuous.

Really, that’s what the issue comes down to at the core. Who is responsible for you? You, or the government? If you think the answer is “you”, push for privatization. If you think the answer is “government”, get a red star for your hat and quote Mao as you push for higher taxes and ever-increasing government control over your life. If you think the answer is “both”, quit being a vacillating weasel and pick a side. The middle of the road is a great place to get run over.



I may be missing the deeper meaning of this post, but what's up with the drawing of Lee Van Cleef? I don't see the relevance...


Well, we're back somewhere where it's warm. Detroit is goddamned cold. Yesterday while we were packing to get on the plane it was 2 degrees. That's just not right. I realize some people like this sort of thing. Frankly, I'm baffled by it.

Anyhow, the car show was fun. All kinds of neat stuff. I have to review all the photos and see how they look. I'll post later on this week once I'm caught up.



J and I will be leaving tomorrow on vacation. Those of you who followed my rant about snow in Texas may be a touch surprised. We are getting on a plane to go to Detroit, Michigan. The temperature today is expected to reach a high of 17 degrees. I must be out of my mind.

Anyhow, feel free to visit the nice people on our blogroll while we're gone. We will be visiting the North American International Auto Show and taking lots of pictures. Posting will probably be light, since electrons travel more slowly when cold.

Must See TV

Well, I held off for a long time but finally succumbed. Over the weekend I watched the Battlestar Galactica mini-series and the first episodes of the new series. As disgruntled as I am with the SciFi channel in general, I have to admit they're doing a pretty good job. The writers and creative personnel have done an excellent job of reimagining the Galactica universe. I'm impressed with the inclusions of bits and pieces of the past series as "history" from the first Cylon War. I'm also impressed with the explanation of why the Galactica survived while the rest of the fleet was destroyed. The effects are solid and the acting is good. The set and costume design are very well done. Overall, I'm sold. I have a reason to watch the channel on a regular basis again.

SciFi Daily has review of the first two episodes up, and it includes a great quote from Edward James Olmos:
“She thinks we'll win them over. It's not about winning them over,” he said. “It's about them becoming understanding of the world that we've unleashed. The world that we've unleashed has nothing to do with the world that they were visiting back then.”
He is speaking in reference to Sauron's Love Child and her attempts to win over fans of the original series. Speaking as a fan of the original series, the new one is better (so far). The old one was, as the picture of Moffit shows, pretty cheesy at points. People in my age group are fans because in 1979, we were kids and that's all there was on TV for sci-fi. Nobody is going to claim that it was groundbreaking or great, but it's all we had back then. Nostalgia is what drives the fondness for the original, not an appreciation for the nuances of story and character.

However, the new shows that SciFi is attempting to foist off on us are out. I think SciFi Daily may be a little harsh... no, actually I don't. SciFi channel is pretty much a seething, festering pool of liquid shit from which good things occasionally crawl in an attempt to escape the hideous and painful death that eventually comes to all things good which languish within. My biggest problem with the network is that it is run by people who have no genuine feeling for science fiction. I don't mean to say that they don't like or enjoy science fiction, just that they don't understand it on an instinctive level and I think they lack any real enthusiasm for it. Bonnie Hammer is the penultimate example of this. She may be fabulously talented at the business of television, but she knows crap about science fiction, as the decisions the channel makes under her leadership demonstrate. More damningly, she appears to show no desire to learn.

As examples of what I mean, I have to turn to publishing houses. People like Jim Baen and Donald A. Wollheim are the kind of people who understand and have enthusiasm for the field. (Uh, past tense in Mr. Wollheim's case.) The publishing houses they founded are household names among science fiction readers. Anybody who doesn't have a book from Baen or DAW sitting on the shelf just doesn't have much science fiction. If you've never read anything published by one of those two houses, you can't possibly be educated within the genre. I don't see that Bonnie Hammer and the rest of the suits at SciFi channel display anything remotely resembling that level of expertise and passion for the genre.

Ultimately, that's the biggest problem with the network. It will kill them sooner or later if it isn't fixed. I know from my perspective that I rarely turn it on anymore. Big events they've done lately just made me cringe. Taken? What, Steven Spielberg wasn't finished after the director's cut of Close Encounters of the Third Kind? He had to revisit the subject again? Any of the Dune stuff they did was just laughable. Anybody remember the muppet kangaroo rat from the mini-series? Or the horrible special effects? I didn't even bother to watch Children of Dune, simply because the first mini-series was so bad. More to the point, the vast majority of the original products of the channel will be forgotten within 2 years. Is anybody going to remember that awful thing Shannon Doherty was in? Or any of the orginal movies they've made? So far, the two best shots they have at long term relevance are Farscape and Stargate. Battlestar Galactica may turn out to be a winner, but it's too early to tell.

Anyhow, watch the show on Friday nights. It's worth an hour of your time.


More on Charity

I am always a little discomforted by what I call “charity bragging”. Anyone who grew up in a church has probably encountered the phenomenon. The act of doing good works is not enough; one must be seen doing the good works. It doesn’t necessarily mean hypocrisy in milder forms, although in some respects I think it verges awfully close. A classic example is a local furniture retailer who donates plenty of product and money when called upon. However, he always manages to tie it in as some sort of self-promotion. He rarely does it in an offensive way, but he is obviously seen to be donating.

I bring this up only because a lot of things I have seen recently are reaching that point. People seem to be awfully self congratulatory over the amount of money the US is giving for tsunami relief. I realize part is reaction to some ignorant piece of eurotrash throwing around comments like “stingy”. Well done you and all that, but I’m thinking the people on the ground don’t much care how impressed with yourself you are. The places where the money is going suck. Even if they clean all those places up to "before tsunami" conditions, they’ll still be crappy places, relatively speaking. Make some substantive changes here at home that will improve their lot (hint: agricultural subsidies and tariffs). It’s a better deal in the long run than writing a check. However, as most of us realize on some level, it’s a lot easier to write a check than do the hard work. In this case, the hard work isn’t just schlepping relief supplies halfway across the world. More necessary hard work is figuring out why the third world is a basket case and how to encourage the people there to fix things.

On a related note, some lefties are expressing faux outrage about the inauguration. The event is going to cost 40 million dollars. Some idiots think we should give that money to tsunami relief and scale back drastically. After all, there’s people starving in the third world! My only question for people of this ilk is fairly simple. What did you give up so that you could donate to charity? I think it’s more than a bit hypocritical to ask people to do things you are unwilling to do. If you didn’t inconvenience yourself to donate, why should anybody else? It ain’t like people weren’t starving somewhere during every single inauguration this country has ever had. I can’t help but think many of these same people weren’t singing the same song when Bill Clinton was sworn into office.

Perspectives on American Tsunami Relief

While I don't see the fulfillment of the Bible prophecy every time the wind blows, These folks have some interesting insight on some subjects. I have reprinted one of those insights below.

There are over six billion people living on our planet. Of that six billion, almost two billion are Muslims. That's roughly a third of the total population of the earth.

The earthquake that triggered the killer tsunami was centered just off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country. It was also the most severely devastated by the wave. Nearly 100,000 of the victims of the December 26 catastrophe were Indonesian Muslims.

The vast majority of the victims were either Muslims, Buddhists or Hindu. Got all that? Good.

Now, to the United Nations. The United Nations consists of 186 countries. The most powerful voting bloc is the fifty-seven Islamic countries that generally vote with one voice, especially when the United States or Israel are voting the other way.

The United Nations' head of humanitarian relief, Jan Egeland, criticized the West for being stingy. He didn't specifically mention America, but he cited the exact percentage of the US GDP that is budgeted for foreign aid, so there is little doubt of who the 'stingy West' was, at least in Egeland's mind.

Egeland slammed the United States for not raising taxes so that America could give a greater percentage of its GDP to the UN to distribute as part of the UN's foreign aid package.

Editorials in the Washington Post, the New York Times and other liberal newspapers echoed Egeland's charge, with the New York Times calling America's $350 million in direct government aid 'miserly'.

The United States makes up some six percent of the world's total population, but we pay a quarter of the United Nation's total budget. The United States pays forty percent of the world's total disaster relief aid, and sixty percent of the world's total food donations.

The $2.4 billion (that's BILLION) dollars Washington spent in emergency aid in 2003 represented 40 percent of the total amount of emergency assistance from all bilateral donors provided that year. Evidently, that isn't enough.

It didn't take long for these same liberal elitists to turn Mother Nature into an American right-wing hater of Islam.

Not only had America's imperialistic self-enrichment policies created the natural disaster, but also cold-hearted Muslim hating President Bush wouldn't leave his ranch in Texas... which by the way, is his home -- not a vacation destination -- and only offered a 'stingy' initial monetary donation.

While these elitist journalist were assailing President Bush and expounding the mantra that America should be giving more money to the devastated region in a token gesture that would 'show Islam that America didn't hate Muslims', UN Secretary General Kofi Annan was still on his vacation skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He returned to New York four days later.

The wave struck on Sunday, and it took only until Monday before the US announced its $350 million in initial aid, sent the USS Abraham Lincoln into the region, including helicopters, and C-130 transport planes, sent hundreds of tons of pre-packaged emergency aid supplies, and deployed some 14,000 American troops to help with the recovery and cleanup.

In Indonesia, U.S. helicopters flew at least 30 sorties, delivering 60,000 pounds of water and supplies, from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln along a 120-mile stretch of Sumatra island's ravaged coastline.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the richest nations in the Islamic world, donated a paltry $10 million each. The United Arab Emirates donated some $20 million to relieve the suffering of their Islamic 'brothers'.

Egypt's contribution at the time of this writing is $104,000.00. (Note: Egypt gets $2 BILLION in US foreign aid annually) and did anybody notice that the majority of the private donations came from those evil corporate types the left so loves to loathe?

Pfizer donated $10 million in cash and $25 million in drugs. (That is more than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Kuwait combined). General Motors pledged $2 million in cash, agreed to match employee donations dollar for dollar, and is sending vehicles to transport food and medical supplies to the region.

Other corporate donors include Nike Inc., American Express, General Electric, First Data Corp., Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Exxon-Mobil, Citigroup, Marriott International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

On the other hand, where are all the Hollywood liberals? Activist actors such as Ben Affleck, Susan Sarandon, Al Franken, Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen, and Barbra Streisand have not been heard from.

And where is George Soros, the world richest left wing liberal?

Actress Sandra Bullock donated one million dollars, but Bullock is neither an activist nor a liberal. (She also donated one million following September 11.) Super-rich liberals like Bono and Bruce Springsteen are promising to hold another 'aid concert' to collect money (not theirs) for the victims.

America, as noted at the outset, represents six percent of the global population. But in any catastrophe, it gets one hundred percent of the blame. The UN's nose is out of joint because the Bush administration refuses to funnel its aid through the UN's various aid agencies.

Kofi Annan wants to use the catastrophe to shore up the UN's sagging image in the wake of the Oil-For-Food thefts from Iraq. The United States wants to ensure the aid doesn't end up lining the pockets of UN officials. So the US is 'too stingy' and gets another black eye.

Where is the rest of the Islamic world? There are fifty-seven Islamic nations, and the world's biggest Islamic nation is the one that took the hardest hit. But it is the United States -- the world's largest donor nation -- that is grabbing all the headlines for being 'stingy'.

To put things in perspective, I saw a news photo yesterday of one of the Indonesian victims.
He was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the face of Osama bin Laden.

Excerpted from the Omega Letter Daily Intelligence Digest, Volume:7, Issue:4
Jack Kinsella - Omega Letter Editor

Licensing Fools

There are a few companies who seem willing to license their trademarks to damn near anyone as long as they get paid upfront. The unashamed leader among these companies is Harley-Davidson. You can furnish your house entirely in items that are officially licensed H-D product, as well as dress your entire family. Harley is, at this stage, a marketing company that happens to sell motorcycles. It's one of the many reasons I don't buy into the whole Harley mystique.

Another company that has very few compunctions about licensing, as long as the cash is correct, is Lucasfilms. For evidence, I present to you: Darth Tater. Of course, I think this is pretty damn funny and admire the psycho at Hasbro that came up with the idea. I want one!

Media Backlash

So the nice man in charge of 2/12 Cav has some words for the media. All true, and there are some people that could stand to listen.

I am actually a little surprised by some of the media issues surrounding Iraq. I would have thought that the military learned more about handling the media from Viet Nam. It's past time for the military to start countering the incessant drumbeat of negativity from the media. However, it's a bit of a circular proposition. How do you get the media to cover the fact that the coverage sucks? The internet in general, and blogs in specific, are one way to get some good news out there. I am baffled as to what other methods would be. However, DOD is full of very bright people who should be able to come up with something. Perhaps LTC Ryan's essay is part of a larger strategy to wake up certain sectors of the public.

Or am I crediting DOD with more awareness and response than is really present?


Deep Fry Everything

So in my perpetual quest for things that make my life in the kitchen easier, one of my Christmas gifts this year was a new deep fryer. We burned out the T-Fal one my sister gave us two years ago and had to go back to the old Fry Daddy. The Fry Daddy is functional, but not very pretty. It also takes a while to get where you want to go. Sloooow to heat up after the T-Fal. The new one is much faster and holds more oil. I'm pretty impressed with it so far. Hopefully I won't blow it out like the last one.

I also got two books on deep frying stuff. The Frequent Fryers Cookbook is a nice tome that gave me a lovely idea I tried out recently. While deep-frying the turkey is a great idea and tastes fabulous, it's kind of a hassle and not something you can do everyday. Plus, the best part of the deep fried turkey is the skin. There's never enough to go around. So what to do? Deep fry Cornish game hens instead. One serving apeice, and each person gets all the skin. I did find two issues. You have to season them pretty heavily, or else they're kind of bland. I didn't do well this time around. I tried brining the little birds and they were juicy, but uninteresting. Next time, I'm going to go for a marinade with this seasoning blend and do some injecting as well. Two, it's difficult to judge doneness. I didn't get them entirely done, but the skin was starting to turn black, so I pulled them. I don't necessarily think his temperature and cooking times are the best compromise, so I'll have to do some more work. The book recommended 375 for 12 minutes. I'm thinking maybe 365 or 350 for 15 might work better. I'll do some experimenting and report back.

The other cookbook is Fried & True. Both are good books, but Frequent Fryers is the one I'm going to use more often, I think. Fried & True has a lot of recipes that seem really nice if I have all day to sit around and cook. The recipes tend to be more involved, but usually I need something quick. Given that J and I walk in the door from work between 6:30 and 7:00 every night, we're not in the mood to spend two hours screwing around with dinner. If I can't have it on the table by 7:30 or so, I just don't care that much about it. That's why I use the deep fryer most of the time. Let's see, cornish game hen in 15 minutes or an hour and a half? Easy choice on a weeknight.

I also tried to do a beer batter funnel cake. That didn't work out as planned. My goal there was to make something savory and crispy that could maybe be dipped in a ranch dressing or a nice blue cheese. It was odd. Not enough crisp, a little too much center, but still tasty with ranch dressing. I need to use a smaller aperture for the batter dropping and try to make strips instead of the big funky spiral. That should work better. As far as the batter goes, I use the recipe out of The Joy of Cooking. You do have a copy of that, right? Everybody should. It's a great reference for all the weird things you never remember. Plus, it's easier than trying Google stuff from the kitchen. (Although this is a great google trick.)

In other appliance news, I got my safety award from the company this week. Instead of some useless trinket, I picked out a Toastmaster Food Slicer. It's a cheap model, as all company gifts are, but seems to work okay on summer sausage. I may try roasting a beast and seeing what kind of performance I get from it for beast slices. It's a little small, but it was free. We'll see how it goes.



The Indonesian government has a bit of an attitude problem, I think. I really don't understand how this game is played. Indonesia wants our help? They play by our rules. Don't want to do that? Deal with the aftermath of 210,000 dead and a destroyed infrastructure without the US military. Any questions? No?

I'm about this like I was about the Saudis getting the US military to agree not to bring alcohol into the country while we were there in '91. The Saudis don't like beer in their precious sandbox? They can step up and defend themselves. Oh, wait, but they can't. So STFU and don't bitch about the help.

If they want us out of there fast, we can be gone so quick it would boggle their minds. Of course, the place will still be an unmitigated disaster when that happens. What do you want more? The illusion of control? Or someone to help fix the problems you can't?

End of an Era

Wow. I see from this post that WHFS has changed formats. I'm almost speechless. However, since I live in Texas now I'm not horribly upset. Upon reflection, I can't say I'm surprised. "Alternative" only mattered as a format when it really was an alternative to something. The concept was painfully bludgeoned to death throughout most of the 90s and has finally expired. Still, WHFS was the station to listen to when I was a youth in the mid-80s. Another relic of my childhood has vanished forever.

Broadcast radio has become a vast cultural wasteland in the past few years. Blame ClearChannel and the FCC. Or market forces. Or the rise of alternative music listening, such as streaming media over the internet and mp3 players. Blame whatever you want, but don't expect it to change for the better any time soon.


Sponge Ted Strikes Again

Ted Kennedy just blubbered some statement off about how his party may not be in the majority in congress but they "speak for the majority of the American people". Oh, Sponge Ted you're drunk again. If this idiocy was true, then who in the hell voted for all those Republicans? How did they get to be in the majority? No, Ted, your party doesn't speak for the majority of the American people. You barely speak for the majority of people in tiny Massachusetts. Do the Kennedys still claim him? Oh, shut up Ted and have another Scotch.

I wonder how many elections Democrats going to have to lose before they come to terms with the fact that an ever increasing approximately 52% of the American public think they're full of shit and don't agree with the direction they want to drag our country? Who knows, but I'm glad to hang around and find out.


Sandy the Sock Puppet

Well, it appears a grand jury is finally getting interested in Sandy Berger. The part about this story that I find absolutely inconceivable is the excuse. Removing classified documents was an "honest mistake". How? Are you a complete and utter moron? I used to have a security clearance when I was a young lad in the Army. I don't know how other agencies handles classified material, but every single page of a classified Army document is stamped with the classification at the top and the bottom. Every single page, even if the entire contents of the page is the infamous message "This page intentionally left blank." How do you look at a document and think it's not classified when it says "TOP SECRET" on it? What kind of mistake is that? A reading comprehension error? What, is he dyslexic and thought it said "POT TERCES" and figured that meant toke up three times before reading? Seriously, how do you make that mistake?

Then you "accidentally" destroy the document? Yeah, I'm buying that. If somebody like Sandy Berger admitted that to me, I'd start an investigation to see what the hell he had done while he was NSA. If he's this cavalier about handling classified documents, it probably isn't the first time. I guess when the nice officer explained to me that I could go to jail for doing the wrong thing with classified material, he was just kidding, huh? Or does that rule only apply to people who aren't political appointees?

Admittedly, I would sure as hell try to claim something if I got busted smuggling docs in my drawers. There is, as far as I know, no federal crime involved in being an idiot. If you can make people believe you're stupid rather than engaged in a criminal conspiracy, you'll probably be better off in court.

Mooo, Dammit!

Cows like beer.


Utterly Useless

Want to know how the UN is doing on the ground for tsunami relief? Check out Diplomad, who has reports from the front line. Are we surprised that the UN is doing nothing of any actual value? Of course not. There's very little opportunity for graft that way.

President Gingrich?

So...CBS has fired some frauds. Who cares? Nobody's watching.

Here's the real news of the day. A completely unexpected wrinkle to the race? Eh, probably not. I like Newt, I think he's a freakin' genius. I know, as well as does he, that unfortunately, he'll never be elected President. But...what a way to sell books...brilliant.

Democracy or Dictatorship

Will Wilkinson pointed out a lovely article on democracy from the PoliSci chair at Duke. It's a good article which points out that democracy is really only a method to ensure a decent society and government, not an end in itself. Probably old-hat to the deep thinkers out there who have spent a long time thinking about government, like J. Given that I wasn't paying much attention when I was supposed to be learning this stuff, I have to pick it up as I go along.

I've always felt that a well-run benevolent dictatorship is actually preferable, except for the whole issue about who do you trust to wield ultimate power. Given that I don't trust any of you goobers, that pretty much kills that idea. I, of course, would run things to the benefit of all, and not be too terribly corrupt. I also have seafront property in Arizona for sale if you think that's true.

Jimmuh Strikes Back: The "Palestinian Election"

Reports are glowing that the new Abu Radley has been "elected" by the "Palestinians" with something like 62% of the vote. Further review reveals that this "election" was in true Carter-style, wrought with the types of fraud and intimidation only a Democrat could dream up and love.

Oh, and turns out that Abu ain't no moderate either. Shocking!

Give me a frelling break already.

Neuromancer V0.1

As anyone that meets me sooner or later figures out, I’m a huge sci-fi fan. This is why a good third of the bookshelves in the house contain sci-fi and fantasy. Anyhow, one of the most influential science-fiction novels of the past 20… er, 21 years was William Gibson’s Neuromancer. I’m not going to discourse on the merits of the work here because it’s not entirely relevant. Whether you think it’s a poorly written piece of crap or the best novel ever written is not the point. Even people who don’t like it will (grudgingly) admit that it shaped the sci-fi field. The ideas that Gibson threw around so casually have shaped the vision of the future for a lot of people.

One of the central tenets of the book is “jacking in” or transposing your consciousness into a representation of the world datasphere. A really crappy version of this concept can be seen in the execrable film Johnny Mnemonic, which is loosely based on one of Gibson’s short stories. That’s just one of the concepts that Gibson helped popularize. I bring this up because of a research project at the University of Utah. The bright people are developing wireless electrodes that can be implanted in your head so that you can control things by thinking. Once again, I am not making this shit up. While I do see some big technical problems to overcome, the basic theory is pretty sound. I don’t see it becoming an elective surgery anytime soon, but who knows what the future may bring? Cyborgs! Yeah, that’s it! Cyborgs! While I’ll make jokes about it, this is a truly amazing technology. We are getting ever closer to the world of the future I was promised long ago.

In a somewhat related story, Simson Garfinkel points out a story about a woman who lost her brain remote control. So it seems that security is something the medical researchers need to think about if they haven’t already. It would truly suck to have somebody hack your body.

As a final note, I found this out through NASA Tech Briefs Insider, which I get once a week. The newsletter features some truly cutting-edge technology in all fields. If you are a techno-geek, you might check it out.


The Baseball Bat Abortion Case

The silence in my head on this story is deafening.

What in the hell do you say about this, other than this is one of the more fucked up things I've seen lately? Anybody who could be involved with, or defend this behavior, should be trotted out in a public square and flogged.

No, this has NOTHING to do with abortion laws being too restrictive. This is, however, the dreaded place where our culture of death has taken us. Anybody consider trying both the boy and his girlfriend for capital murder?


The One Occasion I agree with MSNBC

This article about Ashlee Simpson is brutal, but hilarious.

Feeble Arguments

Via The Agitator, I find that some pathetic dweeb doesn't like gift cards. I'm finding this just a bit hard to take seriously. Radley Balko has some excellent points in defense of the gift card, and I could make a few more. First, however, I'm going to mock the author shamelessly because I feel like it.

Really, out all the things in the world to get upset about, you choose gift cards? Do you also get mad because your bank gave you an ATM card in an attempt to be more useful to you, its customer? Are you upset that businesses offer a service that consumers obviously find valuable, since people spent upwards of $40 billion on them? Let's get at the real issue here: for some unfathomable reason, Mr. Gross doesn't like gift cards. Like all scary control freaks, he wants us to hate gift cards with him. I think he wants our company because then he won't feel so alone when he rails about the next modern convenience that disturbs him, like electric lights or that dastardly automobile thing of Mr. Ford's. He lays out a few reasons why we should join him in his crusade, but I think the real issue is that he was horribly mutilated in a tragic gift card accident as a small child. The incident left him both physically and mentally scarred and he has yet to recover. I pulled the backstory right out of my ass, but it makes about as much sense as any of his reasons.

One reason he gives is that you, the dumb consumer, are in effect giving the store a free loan. Yeah, and your point would be? Welcome to business in the 21st century, writer boy. This process happens every day in almost every commercial transaction imaginable. When you sign up for a magazine subscription and mark "Bill me later" on the card, what are you getting? An interest-free loan! That grace period for new purchases on your credit card? That's an interest-free loan from your card issuer! Wow, those cursed interest-free loans pop-up everywhere. In fact, if you don't render payment at the moment services or goods are received, you are in effect getting an interest-free loan from your vendor. However, since I benefit from the process on a fairly regular basis, I don't see that I should object when someone else does either. When Mr. Gross is prepared to do without all the ones he gets, and I'm sure there's a few, maybe he can bitch about extending that same courtesy to some other commercial entity.

He also complains that when people redeem gift cards, they usually spend some additional money. He refers to this a "price" and implies that it's bad thing through an inapt comparison with fasting and a buffet line. Of course, he's got this completely messed up. There is no additional long-term cost associated with spending more, no matter what he implies. In fact, the real truth is, a gift card allows the recipient's money to go farther. How this translates to a price is beyond me, but then I didn't see any of this argument as being all that valid. Because after all, when someone gives you something for free, and you spend some of your own money after that, the gift had a price! Of zero dollars, but I guess that's too much.

Finally, he says that gift cards allow you to be patronizing and controlling. I have two responses to this argument. One the one hand, when dealing with adults, that's probably the most specious line of bullshit I've ever heard in my life. Unless you're the kind of dick that would give an atheist a gift card to a Christian bookstore or a teetotaler a gift card to the liquor store, this really isn't an issue for adults. (If you're in the habit of making unsubtle hints like that, I'm sure that you're incredibly self-righteous and have no friends anyway.) When you're dealing with those under the age of majority, that's often exactly the point. If I give a 14 year old a gift card to the Gap (which we did last year) there's a limit to the amount of trouble they can get into shopping there. On the other hand, cash can be spent in any fashion the budding young deviants can imagine. Sometimes a little control is a good thing, unless Mr. Gross thinks 16 year olds are capable of making life decisions.

Finally, doesn't the whole article ooze with that "consumer culture is evil" condescension that left-leaning idiots like to spout these days? The basic attack on free-market capitalism is a bit obvious these days, so instead they sneer at the innumerable smaller pieces that make up a vibrant economy. Of course, I could be reading this wrong. Maybe it's just the elitist condescension of someone who's above all the mess and can really see the truth behind gift cards that all us silly fools miss. Either way it makes me think two things: Mr. Gross is full of crap and gives really crappy gifts.

Tragic Tsunami Satellite Images

This link will take you to 14 devastating pairs of images of the tsunami damage. The first 5 sets are from the Sri Lanka east coast and the last 6 sets are from Banda Aceh. Be sure to click on the "Before" button to see the same satellite view after the tsunami before you continue to the next set.

You'll be speechless.

Right Man for the Job

I heard something about this on Fox News this morning and thought it must be wrong. All I caught was Iraq, mission, and GEN Luck. I was thinking to myself "GEN Luck? Can't be. He must have retired by now. He was old and crusty in '91, he's got to be ancient by now." So I was half right.

He is ancient, and he is retired. However, DOD is sending him back to see how things are going in Iraq anyway. GEN Luck is a guy that knows a crap-load about military affairs and a little something about the theatre as well. I can't think of a better choice for something like this. Admittedly, my knowledge of the upper echelons of the military is limited. However, I have met GEN Luck and he was a hell of a lot more real than some commanders I've met. I do find it somewhat worrying that for important jobs like this, the Army is turning more and more to retired guys. They called GEN Schoomaker back to be Chief of Staff, and now GEN Luck for this assignment. Where are the guys coming up that are going to replace the old 'Nam vets? I find this faintly disturbing.

I also agree completely with one of the throwaways in the article about hiring civilians to do some things. I spent my reserve time as a 71L, and the amount of paperwork the military runs on is just staggering. Why that's not handled by DOD civilians as much as it possibly can be is beyond me, and always has been. In Starship Troopers, Robert Heinlein makes a similar comment that is pointedly addressed at the US military. That probably influenced my thinking on the matter.


More Leftist Lunacy

So the soreloserdonks have once again acted like children and have pulled some procedural crap not used since something like 1877 to temporarily retire the certification of the electoral college to a debate in each house of Congress. Nice move. Now keep in mind that nobody on the left will actually say that Bush lost, they're just holding up progress because...well who the hell knows? It is this kind of shit that keeps losing Democrats races. Go ahead...waste our time, waste our dime, you look stupid. Keep on losing.

Speaking of dimes, and shit that keeps losing races, I got this e-mail from my buddy Paul about how some leftists have circulated an e-mail declaring 20 January 2005 something they're calling "Not One Damn Dime Day". These idjits are so void of economic knowledge that they honestly believe that they can "shut the retail economy down" (their words, not mine) by not spending any money on ONE DAY (20 January 2004). Yes, you read that right...ONE DAY. Really now-- everybody knows that other than the millionaire hollywonk morons who are incapable of closing their wallets to $250 mohair Chihuahua sweaters--leftists don't have jobs, don't use gas, and don't engage in any useful spending anyway. I guess we should all look for a slight dip in the patchouli industry on the 20th...or something.

Well it just so happens that I will be out of town on vacation that day. I will make sure I engage in some rampant consumer spending just for the occasion. From everything I'm hearing, the Michigan economy needs it anyway.

And the left still spends so many of their waking hours wailing and ranting about how unintelligent WE on the right are...yeah OK...

Go, Judge, Go!

I see Andrew Napolitano frequently on Fox & Friends in the mornings, which J keeps on while she gets ready. I’ve always liked him and here’s another reason to like the former judge.
Congress' rush to meet the artificial deadline of the end of this year for reorganizing the U.S. intelligence community has produced a 600-page, impossible-to-read statute that has clauses that significantly interfere with constitutionally guaranteed rights and were never the subject of any debate by members of Congress.
Which, unfortunately, is about par for the course. I find it unconscionable how many bills are voted on that the members of Congress have not read thoroughly, if at all. Maybe I’'m a simple guy, but I figure if you haven'’t read the bill and can'’t explain the contents to your constituents, you shouldn'’t vote for the bloody thing. Does that seem a tad unreasonable? I can actually go further. I generally tend to think any law that can’t fit on a single sheet of paper (Single-spaced, 10 point type, 1 inch margins) is probably a bad idea. A 600 page monster is sure to be a disaster that will take years to fully comprehend the scope of the destruction and more years to fix the problems generated by inadequate attention to detail.

Mr. Napolitano has much more to say about the corrosive effect on liberty this has as well. Thanks to Hit & Run for the link.


One of my coworkers just informed me that Andrea Yates’ conviction got overturned. I am baffled.

For those of you outside of the Houston area or with short attention spans, Andrea Yates is the woman who used her kids as drain stoppers then called the cops on herself. There was never any doubt about the fact that she drowned all five of her children in the bathtub. The case was entirely about what was going to happen to her: does the state of Texas lock her up or kill her? She was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. The only defense presented was insanity. Great. She’s nuts. She still killed five kids. She doesn’t get to play with other people anymore. The only question here in Texas is whether or not we revoke your existence rights at that point.

Some testimony about a TV show “affected the substantial rights of appellant”? In what universe? The one where the sky is a pale shade of puce and she didn’t drown her freaking kids, maybe? The wisdom of the Harris County DA’s office in not trying her for all five murders is now evident. If the case loses on appeal to TX Supreme Court or gets denied a hearing, they’ll try her again for the remaining two. So instead of just debating whether or not she’s a crazy murdering bitch that deserves to die or just get locked up, we’ll get to do it all over again!

There’s more than one nutcase involved in this decision, that’s for damned sure.


Find a Better Organization...

I have been a pretty shitty blogger over the past month, yes I have. T's carried the blogger burden throughout the holidays mostly, as I...well did the shopping and prepared for Christmas. When RL calls, you sometimes have to answer. This comes up because I haven't read a lot of T's posts until lately either.

This one really struck me. Now I while agree with MOST of what T writes, I cannot, in good conscience agree for YPS as a whole to endorse donating 1 cent to the American Red Cross. Please see my much earlier post regarding the criminal American Red Cross for context. T, you of all people should really rethink that.

Have we learned nothing from the antics of this corrupt organization? The only worse recipient of money for disaster relief I can think of would be Satan himself the UN. Much props to Amazon for raising lots of money. Too fucking bad that the money probably won't actually see any tsunami victims. What a shame to see all that good money and goodwill go to raiss or new cars for Red Cross exeuctives or the newest version of Microsoft Office.


So, did anybody watch the BCS National Championship Game in the FedEx Orange Bowl last night? I mean watch it all the way through? If you did, why, exactly? I think it was pretty obvious long before the end of the game Oklahoma was getting the holy hell beat out of them. Good lord, that was an old-school ass-whuppin'.

I think the supposedly best moment was Ashlee Simpson getting booed during half-time. J told me about it. I was screwing with our new digital camera and missed the horrifying spectacle. As someone else phrased it:
The only thing more gruesome/fascinating/gruesome(again) than watching OU get gangraped by the USC receiving core was watching Ashlee Simpson sing at halftime. If I weren't such a huge fan, I might have thought that she was the winner of some contest wherein retarded kids compete to see who gets to do karaoke during the Orange Bowl Halftime Show. I mean...wow.
In similar bad pop music news, some genius college student up in Canada was on NPR yesterday afternoon. He put two Nickelback songs together and couldn't tell the difference except for the lyrics. Stop the presses: A crappy band plagiarized itself! I'm thinking NPR is desperate and grasping at straws to fill airtime here. This kind of crap is news? Has anybody listened to AC/DC's output for the past 20 years? They've recorded Back in Black under different titles how many times now? A dozen or so? Then he slaps an Avril Lavigne song in the mix and claims they're all the same music. Corporate radio sucks! The homogenization of mass market taste is an appalling thing! Yeah, and it was appalling 20 years ago, too. You're a smidge late on this one, kids. College boy then throws out some song he thinks is worthwhile which sounded to my ear like a crappier version of Toadthe Wet Sprocket.


Amazingly Senseless

I find it good to avoid living in a libertarian echo chamber. I have J around for my daily conservative fix. I read one or two left-leaning blogs. Some days, I wonder why.

Take this lovely post. Wow. Full of mean-spirited vitriol. Plus, it's factually inaccurate! Gotta love that combination, don't you? I can take vitriol when it's backed up by facts. I can take clueless idiocy that has a good attitude. But both at the same time is a little much to stomach.

What's the US government doing to aid tsunami victims? Feeding them and providing medical care and supplies. That's more than somebody sitting on his ass in Seabrook, Texas is doing. It's a hell of a lot more than the UN is doing for anybody right now. In fact, we had people on the ground before anybody else, if my newsfeeds are to be beleived.

I could also mention that the purpose of the United States government, despite what everybody seems to think, is not to provide disaster relief to the Third World. Nor is it the purpose of the US military to deliver such aid. Do I think it's a good thing that the government is stepping up? Yes. Quite bluntly, the military is the only organization I can think of that is prepared to cope with the logistical problems currently faced in places like Bandar Aceh on the appropriate scale. They are doing a bang-up job, too, despite what the post that prompted this rant may imply. They are making things happen while the UN sits around and tries to figure out what to do. On a practical level, it's the way to go for immediate relief. This is one of those situations where an immediate response is best.

Philosophically, though, the case for US government action is pretty goddamned weak. Once again, we're back to the unpleasent business of forced charity. Robbing me to pay for food for the third world is not an unambiguous moral good, as some would have you think. Want an unambiguous moral good? Go here and donate some money. Nobody is pointing a gun to your head to do so, are they? You can't force people to make moral choices. You can force them to do things, but once you apply coercion, the moral dimension vanishes. You are giving them the choice between compliance or consequences.

Ever time I point this out, I also have to offer the disclaimer. I think you should help out the unfortunate. I don't think the government, or anybody else, should ever force you to do so. Basic human decency should be enough to motivate you to help. If you lack decency and empathy, nobody can force them on you.

Someday, these beknighted idiots that think the state is the only organization capable of handling things will pull their head out of their fourth point and get a clue. I'll also point out that the less money the state drains off through it's parasitic bloodsucking, the more citizens have to contribute.

New Year’s Resolutions

So, did anybody make a resolution? I didn’t, I don’t think, unless you count my ongoing resolve to become wealthy enough to buy my own country. Or at least the naming rights to a small one, like maybe Belgium. I think Luxembourg might actually be a better candidate. I get the sense they would be willing to deal for enough cash.

Anyhow, I did have several candidates I was contemplating. “Drink more and care less” has worked well for me in past years, but after Christmas, I don’t think that’s wise. J tells me I puked up 12 aliens and a cabbage very early the morning of the 26th. I did resolve not to let certain unnamed individuals tend bar for me ever again, but I made that resolution later on in the day on the 26th so it isn’t a proper “new year’s” resolution.

After considering all of the usual suspects, I found one I can get behind. Rachel Lucas has resolved to use the word ‘asshat’ more. I think I can do that one. I may have to work my way into it in writing, but it’s definitely doable. I already use the word sometimes in speech, because J tells me it’s rude to refer to people as “inbred syphilitic c***suckers” or “maggot-infested piles of sheep shit”. Who knew? I just figured people got mad because I pointed out their shortcomings in public. Asshat, while still rude, is marginally an improvement.

On the other hand, I may resolve to not worry about it. Eh. I’m already behind in the process, so I may just blow it off until next year.


Read Up!

It's Tolkien's birthday today. He'd be ancient if he had lived, but instead, he's dead. So go read something he wrote. I got a lovely version of The Lord of the Rings for my birthday, so I may browse through it again tonight. I've read it about eleventy times so I'm not reading it again right now. I have to work my way through a bunch of other books I recently received for the holidays before I re-read anything. I'm falling behind on my reading. The stack is expanding way too fast lately.

Strange fact of the day: UPC codes have changed over the years for books. On some of them, the scanner returns a different ISBN from what is on the book. I only figured this out today, so some of the books in the database may not actually be what we have. We have cataloged 1,162 books, though. I think all the books in the bedroom are done, so all we have to do is the guest room. Can't be more than a couple hundred or so in there, I'm thinking.

Anyhow, Readerware is a fantastic program and if you have this many books you should think about buying it. We receive no money for this endorsement, I just think it's a great piece of software.