Thursday, January 31, 2008

Caucussing

Here's what I understand to be the rules for my caucus next Saturday:

We have twenty minutes to split ourselves up, and then the chairman has half an hour to count us. If your candidate isn't viable, you have another twenty minutes to split up again. (I don't know what constitutes "viability" yet; probably some minimum percentage of the total is the standard.)

But, really, how long does it take to go stand in a corner? Not twenty minutes. So I guess that time is spent wrassling, coming to fistacuffs, and demanding satisfaction, all events that seem as appropriate for 2008 as a caucus.

Rest assured, I'll report back after I caucus.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Presidential Politics

I’m getting pushed into the Mitt Romney camp, and I don’t necessarily like it.

But who would have thought two months ago that we’d get to a point where there was only one conservative left in the Republican field, and that man would be Romney?

Huckabee’s not a conservative. He’s a Christian with a class-warfare chip on his shoulder. He’s a Hillbilly William Jennings Bryan. And as for McCain, I have this question for you: am I expected to vote for a man for an office whose oath requires he swears to “protect and defend the Constitution,” when of all the candidates he alone is guilty of the most egregious violation of the Constitution we have seen since John Adams’s Sedition Acts? No man who supports, let alone drafts, a piece of legislation like McCain-Feingold is worthy of the office of the presidency. I would rather have Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, who at least are honest about their liberal principles, than a man who claims to be Ronald Reagan but really is more like the second coming of Richard Nixon: all the unlikeability, all the paranoia, and all the anger of Tricky Dick in a body that doesn’t look like it can last two weeks, let alone four years.

I’m going to caucus for Romney on Saturday, but after that I don’t know what I’m going to do.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Back in Print

For those of you who can't get enough of my aimless ramblings, my bi-weekly column (if I understand Latin correctly, that's a column that likes dudes and chicks at the same time every week) is back in convenient print form. And the rest of you now know to avoid the Daily Kansan every other Monday for fear of having to read something else I wrote.

Now that the kid is born, he needs some sort of Internet nickname so we don't end up on "Dateline NBC" pleading for leads and being portrayed as negligent parents. We already have Crazy Jane and Articulate Joe. Maybe this one will be Stoic Sam (because of how calmly he took his circumcision).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Baby X

New baby: Linus Theodore. (And to answer the question half my family asked me when I told them his name, "Yes, we're serious.")

He's 7.625 lbs. and 1'8" tall. He has a lot of brown hair right now.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Reasons This Baby Is Lame

1. He's late. Three days late. I told Persephone today, "If he's not born by ten tonight, I'm not going to love him." And he only has fourteen minutes left.

2. He doesn't even have a middle name.

3. He's scheduled to be induced next Wednesday, which is, like, one of the worst days of the week for me. He couldn't have picked a busier day out of my schedule.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why Is Kansas So Cold?

At eight-thirty this morning, it's negative three. At least it's not windy today.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Giuliani Sighting!

Maybe like me you've been wondering, "I thought Rudy Giuliani was running for president, but since he obviously isn't anymore, I wonder what he's doing with his time." Well, the other day I was driving through Kearney, Nebraska and I went through a McDonald's drive-thru, where I found the answer to my question.

"I Don't Know Nothin' 'Bout Birthin' No Babies"

I work with a guy who seems pretty ignorant of anything related to babies. To spice things up around here I’ve instituted an office pool where we predict the date of birth for Baby X, and when people asked me for a status report before picking a date, this guy was grossed out and tried to not listen to anything regarding “effacement” or “dilation.” However, to this co-worker’s credit, he’s not as ignorant as a guy I met last week. At a meeting for my newer job I mentioned that my wife was due to deliver on Tuesday, so at some point in the next week I might be unavailable. He said, “Well, you should get someone to cover for you.” I said, “I know. That’s why I’m telling you all right now that it might happen soon.” He said, “But you should get someone since you know the day.” The professor for whom we’re working said, “But there is no the day with this thing.” The other guy didn’t know why, if the baby was due on Tuesday, it wouldn’t be here on Tuesday.


Title from "Gone With the Wind," a movie which proves that, when people were poorer, they were much easier to entertain.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Follow Up to Apostrophe Rules

Cristin, the link you supplied agrees with me.

• add 's to the singular form of the word (even if it ends in -s):

the owner's car

James's hat

Also agreeing with me is The Royal Parks, the group that runs St. James's Park in London.

What flabbergasts me is that this is not something that is known by everyone whose name ends in S. I work with a guy named James (cleverly given the pseudonym of Tito on this blog) who doesn't know how to make the possessive form of his own name. Another reason that I hate him.

Our baby boy name (the one Rachel guessed on a totally lucky guess) ends in S and our son will have the rules of apostrophe use beaten into him. I don't want him going through life with people asking behind his back, "Did he huff paint fumes?"

Persephone made the valid point that the name Jesus only gets a free pass for Jesus Himself, not for Hispanics named Jesus. They have to write Jesus's.

Another misuse of the apostrophe that I forgot to mention earlier is the word "its." Even I am tempted (sometimes) to throw in an apostrophe, thinking, "It needs one because it's showing possession." Wrong! The word "its" is like the word "his," which shows possession without an apostrophe. It's a possessive pronoun. The only time you put an apostrophe with "it" is when you are leave out the second letter "I" of the phrase "it is."

Yet another trouble-making pair is "who's" and "whose." When the apostrophe is recognized as the tool it is, the choice is clear. When it's included out of duty, chaos ensues.

Morons

I originally entitled this post "Idiots," but then I saw I had one with that title last month. What can I say? I hate idiots. So I'll re-title this one as "Morons."

Today there are two types of idiots I want to talk about: celebrity idiots and every-day idiots.

Atop the celebrity idiot list today is Britney Spears, who, evidently, is expected to go toes-up soon. What can you really say about this without appearing callous? I think it was kind of tactless of the AP to talk about this, but the AP is nearly as tactless as Reuters (the press relations wing of Hezbollah).

Second type of idiot: you and everyone you know. Specifically, when you throw out apostrophes like panties at a Tom Jones concert. They don’t just exist to add some flare to your spelling. Ima’gine if I just s’tarted using apostro’phes the way some of y’o’u do. It would be annoying.

Apostrophes exist for two reasons: to show where missing letters should be, or to show possession. They are never used to show plurality. Also, possession and plurality are not the same thing, nor do they factor each other out.

Let’s say your name is Parks. If you own something, it is Parks’s, which is pronounced “Parks-es.” If you and your family send out a letter, it came from the Parkses, which is also pronounced “parks-es.” If you and your family own something, it is the Parkses’, which is also pronounced “parks-es.”

Most Americans think with a name like James that you can say “this is James’ book.” You can say that, if you want to be an idiot. If you want to be a normal person, however, you realize that your name happening to end with an S-noise does not negate the rules of grammar.

“Oh, but when I write James’ book, I am using the apostrophe to show I am leaving off the last S,” you say. “You’re a fool,” I reply.

I had a high school text book that said you didn’t need an apostrophe with names such as Rodriguez or Hendrix. This is why they shouldn’t let idiots write textbooks.

If you really want to be an exception, you should select a name from antiquity, such as Moses, Jesus, Socrates, Archimedes, or Xerxes, which are all acceptably made possessive with just an apostrophe.

This “rule” is probably “broken” nearly as often as the “other” rule no one “obeys”: that governing the “use” of “quotation” marks. In that previous sentence the last use of quotation marks was acceptable because I was making ironic reference to the way they are used for reasons other than quotations. They are called “quotation marks,” not “important word marks” or “stressed syllable marks.” They only are used to quote something. In the case of irony, you are quoting the word for ironic effect, using someone else’s word in a way you know is different from the intended meaning.

I don’t want to have to review this again.

In closing: Britney Jean Spears (1981-2008) R.I.P.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Great Presidents

Yesterday Justin wrote, “voting for the best of the worst candidates only ensures that catastrophe is narrowly averted.”

He says that like narrowly avoiding catastrophe is a bad thing. But when comparing a movie where catastrophe is narrowly avoided, such as “Independence Day,” to a movie where catastrophe is never really possible, such as “Year of the Dog,” we see that, once again, Justin has been abusing pain pills while left unsupervised with a keyboard. (DISCLAIMER: That’s totally a joke, and if by some sick twist of fate it turns out that Justin has really been abusing pain pills, then I am totally sorry for that joke. Otherwise, I stand by my joke 100 percent.)

Not a catastrophe.

So who are the greatest presidents in history? According to this untrustworthy source, they are:

  1. George Washington
  2. Narrowly avoided losing the Revolution to the British

  3. Abraham Lincoln
  4. Narrowly avoided losing the Civil War to the Hillbillies

  5. Franklin Roosevelt
  6. Narrowly avoided losing freedom to the Socialists (despite his best efforts)

And who are the worst presidents? Just these three layabouts:

  1. Franklin Pierce
  2. From New Hampshire, which has been trying lately to spice things up by calling itself East Vermont. Yawn.

  3. Warren Harding
  4. It turns out criminals might be fun gambling buddies, but they make poor cabinet officers.

  5. James Buchanan
  6. Took a nap in early 1857 and woke up four years later just in time to strip the sheets off the bed before Lincoln moved in.

It should be obvious to anyone not abusing pain pills that the way to the top is through almost ruining everything. And that is what the current crop of presidential contenders has planned for the next four years. All of them promise to chase windmills while ignoring the nation’s most glaring problem of the future...

OLD PEOPLE.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Maverick and the Robot

Doesn’t that sound like the name of a 70s buddy-cops TV show? But it’s not; I’m going to analyze the results of the Michigan primary.

Firstly, I was of the impression that facts were, well, facts. But here are the “facts” as reported by foxnews.com, cnn.com, and msnbc.com.

Republican Delegates:

foxnews.com: Romney 42, Huckabee 21, McCain 19, Thompson 6

cnn.com: Romney 42, Huckabee 22, McCain 19, Thompson 6

msnbc.com: Romney 42, Huckabee 32, McCain 13

Democrat Delegates:

foxnews.com: Clinton 190, Obama 103, Edwards 18

cnn.com: Clinton 190, Obama 103, Edwards 51, Kucinich 1

msnbc.com: Obama 25, Clinton 24, Edwards 18

So, depending on who each news agency wants to win and by how much, that’s who’s winning (and by how much).

Secondly, it is tiring how stupid news agencies think we are. They not only report the news, but they report the way we should talk about it. So before yesterday the story was “if Romney can’t win he’s finished!” Now the story is “there’s no clear front-runner among Republicans,” which I’ve also see presented as “the GOP is adrift.” Actually, I think Romney is emerging as the front-runner. Two strong second-place finishes to two very different candidates, combined with a strong victory in a state that said its main issue was the economy (and with the war in Iraq going well, the economy will be the issue of the general election; witness how suddenly yesterday we went from “maybe we’re heading for recession” to “we’re in a recession RIGHT NOW!!!eleventy!!!”), makes him the candidate to beat right now.

Thirdly, I am still amazed by the idiots who tell exit-pollers that the president should agree with them on religion, and I’m glad to see those idiots are being marginalized. According to the foxnews exit poll, only 24% of yesterday’s GOP voters thought that was very important, and Huckabee only won that crowd 37% to 29% over Romney.

Anyway, here’s what I think: I think Huckabee and McCain will be marginalized when we move to closed primaries in states with thinking people (seriously, there are people in this country who think it is very important that a president agree with them on religion?!?!), and of the remaining candidates, Thompson doesn’t seem to have a following and Giuliani looks like he’s quit running and might be out of money. I understand thinking you will get a big boost out of California and New York, but you have to do something until then.

A guy at work with whom I talk politics asked me, “So who do you like among the Republicans? You don’t seem to like Huckabee or Romney or Giuliani.” Which, again, seeing as I’d consider myself a Romney supporter if I had to pick someone to support, and seeing as I talk a lot of politics with this guy, is bad news for the Robot. The last time anyone won a general election by just not being the other guy was 1964. Romney should get a different game plan and maybe actually try to excite his supporters. (Maybe he can activate his “excite” program by saying, “Engage crowd exciting protocol. [beep] Protocol engaged.”

Lastly, I read this quote to my wife last night and asked, “Do you have to say meaningless phrases when you run for president?”:

"Tonight proves you can’t tell an American there’s something they just can’t do because Americans can do whatever they set their hearts on, and tonight is a victory of optimism over Washington-style pessimism," Romney said to a raucous crowd of supporters in Southfield, Mich. "The lobbyists and the politicians realize that America now understands that Washington is broken and we’re going to do something about it.”

Beyond the singular/plural problem in the first sentence, what does this actually mean? “Americans can do anything”? “Lobbyists and politicians are bad”? It reminds me of the classic campaign quote from Kodos: “As a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball, but tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.” (Incidentally, Kodos lost that election.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Office Shananigans

Crazy happenings have besieged the yawn factory. My boss resigned and Tito immediately began wrangling for the vacated position. The normal people around here (roughly two-thirds of us) found this hilarious because no one in his right mind would allow Tito to supervise a microwave heating a burrito, let alone a real person. (There is danger lurking, however, when it is remembered that our leadership is often not in its collective right mind. Because this danger is somewhat real, I went to the city library and checked out Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work by Paul Babiak and Robert D. Hare. It’s a pretty good book, but I wish it had more “case study” stories, because they are all entertaining.)

Anyway, Tito has begun acting like our supervisor, with multiple corrections being his reward, much to our delight. His prime competition for the position was the subject of an e-mail from the owner yesterday called “Good News for [Prime Competition],” which sent Tito into hysterics. He replied, “Sheesh. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the message header. Even after that, I was pretty sure the link was to an article talking about [Prime Competition] taking a job with [his previous employer] or [a nearby company] or something!”

So I sent this:

Please join me in congratulating [A Random Stranger] on his promotion to Director of Professional Services. He brings years of experience in services, and impressive book-learning in professionalism. Please feel free to stop by [old supervisor]’s old office to congratulate him and get your new assignments.

In related news, summary dismissals will begin Friday afternoon, so make sure you’ve all got boxes in the trunks of your cars because using [company] boxes to clean out your desks will be considered theft and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (and then
some).

Again, congratulations to [A Random Stranger].

[my name]

[old job title typed with “strike-through” font] Director, Professional Services

Responses so far: the president of the company replied with a joke, which means he’s fine with my joke, so that’s good. The normal people have all laughed heartily. The crazy people (one-third of us) have been completely silent. Tito will probably send a confrontational e-mail about how I undermine morale. However, classes start this week, so I’m starting at my other job and work here even less than I already do.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Terrorism Breakthrough!

According to years of research by Homeland Security Department, no terrorist is older than 43 years, one month, and 11 days. At least, that’s what you would gather from the arbitrary date included in the Real ID requirements. Like the arbitrary date of the TV change next year, this provision shows just how worthless our Congress is. Why not start on January 1 like many other laws? Or maybe at the start of the fiscal year? Or even the Chinese New Year? What possible reason is there for including someone born December 1, 1964, but not someone born November 30, 1964? Yes, any starting date is going to have a day that came before it, but isn’t it much easier to use birth years instead of actual birth dates? This date was intentionally chosen because someone, somewhere out there in America will realize some sort of financial gain from this. There is no other reason to not use January 1.

A better question: why is there a year in this provision at all? Are we saying that 44-year-olds can’t be terrorists? How old is bin Laden? (quick Wikipedia search) HE WAS BORN IN 1957!!!!! He doesn’t even need a new drivers license! (And I bet he has at least two.) The HEAD TERRORIST of the ENTIRE WORLD doesn’t fall under these “anti-terror” guidelines.

Having a year in this provision is a tacit admission that profiling is valid. If 80-year-olds can’t be terrorists but 35-year-olds might be, there must be an established terrorist profile against which a suspect’s age can be checked. Then why not also check the suspect’s sex and race? When my daughter was two years old, she was “randomly selected” for a more-intensive security screening before boarding our plane. Because, hey, two-year-old white American girls are responsible for thousands of deaths around the world. The only reason to use random screening is if there is no profile, but the fact that Real ID cuts off at 1964 indicates there is a profile.

Now for costs. Here in Kansas, renewing a Class C license for six years costs $25. Is the federal government going to offset this cost the way it’s offsetting the TV converter box cost? Having two TVs in your house is a government priority, but catching terrorists is just something nice to do when there’s a little downtime.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Toe Out the Door

It’s official now: I’m a teaching assistant for Introductory Microeconomics next semester. This means I will be working fewer hours at my current worthless job, which could be the first step to never working here again. Of course, part of me knows it’s an illusion: come summer I will be here 40 hours a week. Another tiny part of me, though, hopes that by Spring Break I will be out of here for good.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Larry King Time Again

Joy Behar is the poor man’s Bette Midler.

New Hampshire reaction: I don’t know that Obama or Clinton will have the required number of delegates secured by the end of the primaries. They might take turns winning each state. However, I just don’t understand what there is about Clinton that can excite an electoral base the way Obama can. The first woman president? That still matters to anyone but uptight babes?

As for the Republicans, I think Mitt Romney comes out of this past week looking more like a strong consensus candidate. Second place in Iowa and New Hampshire shows a consistent appeal to the middle of the party, while the winners’ volatile performances show their narrow support. But you can’t win the nomination if you keep coming in second. He’s got to start winning states.

Why do so many truckers need vasectomy reversals? Here’s what I think: you and your lady friend decide to get the Boys snipped (which is evidently the preferred method of birth control among the classy poor), and then you get a job driving a truck. While you’re out on the road, your lady friend starts stepping out on you. Next thing you know you have a new lady friend and she wants to have some kids so she doesn’t feel out of place at Wal-Mart. What you need, friend, is a vasectomy reversal. Quick, call that doctor in Houston whose billboards are all over the country.

Campbell’s Select Healthy Request soups have more fat than regular Campbell’s Select soups, but they have a more reasonable sodium content. By which I mean you can’t use their Healthy Request soup to fight snail invasions.

Freak of Nature

Beyond my photic sneeze reflex (which Wikipedia says is a physical deformity), I also have geographic tongue, another genetic malady, that flared up after I ate the worst chicken salad sandwich of my life. (The sandwich was free to me, but I can’t decide if that makes it okay (“At least I didn’t pay for it”) or more of a tragedy (“What a waste of a free lunch!”))

Doing Things By Halves Is for Chumps

Look, if the American people as given voice by their elected representatives don’t like a market economy, then it’s time to start appointing some high-level coordination committees. Full-blown socialism is a lot less annoying than this half-assed socialism we have, if only because it has the balls to call itself what it is. But when you allow government to mandate some economic activities, and then allow the market to decide others, you end up with crap like this.

So it turns out there are more low-power and signal-relay television stations, that won't be affected by the February 2009 over-the-air TV signal conversion, than there are high-power stations that will be affected. And the government coupon for the converter box of life-sustaining vitality can be used for boxes that are not low-power and signal-relay station compatible. This means that uninformed people in rural markets who buy the wrong type of box will have their TVs stop working and presumably die.

Of course, the answer for all of this is...more of what caused it. The government should mandate for which converter boxes the coupons are valid. The government should require warning labels on packages. The government should educate hillbillies to know what they’re buying. Because there’s no problem government’s caused that a little more government can’t fix.

I Didn't Even Ask Him to Ask Me

So in response to my last post, Erik asked, “Is it just me or do you think Mrs. McCann is hot?”

Excellent question, Erik. I wanted to include a little something in that post about Mrs. McCann vis-à-vis her relationship with hotness, but I figured it wasn’t germane to the rest of the post. I didn’t want to write it for no reason. If I see a sandwich shop commercial on the old televisor and say, “That’s a good-looking sandwich,” my wife has been known to respond with, “That sandwich isn’t about to have your third child!” But since Erik asked, I can respond.

Yeah, I think Kate McCann is a good-looking woman. Now, I understand that everyone has a different idea of beauty, which is a good thing or else ugly people would never get married, but I think a majority of the population would find Mrs. McCann attractive. Which is why it was crazy to me when I first read this article wherein she reportedly complains, “If I weighed another two stone [British crazy talk for ‘another 28 pounds’], had a bigger bosom [crazy talk: ‘rack’] and looked more maternal [‘like a mom’], people would be more sympathetic."

I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a picture of Kate McCann (and there are plenty of them in this “news” story) and thought, “That woman needs another 28 pounds on her frame.” Now I will admit, most men wouldn’t complain about a bigger bosom, but that’s not a slight against the bosom she currently has. All in all, I’m not making conclusions on her guilt or innocence based on her looks.

In response to Cristin’s question of “Do you really think the McCanns killed their daughter?” my answer is no. I think killing is a messy business, and so most killers leave evidence, even the ones who plan well. To have no evidence would suggest either no killing or exceptional planning, and I don’t think normal people put together exceptional plans to kill their daughters. I think their story sounds reasonable, and after the fact it looks very neglectful, but at the time, if they were my friends and they said, “Here’s what we’re planning on doing tonight,” I would have said, “That doesn’t sound like a good idea,” not, “That’s a sure-fire way to get your daughter stolen.” I don’t think there’s any reason to vilify the McCanns. I included them in the “real killers” post because they are looking for who they claim to be the real killers or kidnappers, while the Portuguese police have been looking for the McCanns (evidently all the while muttering to themselves, “If that lady was about 28 pounds heavier, she’d be pretty hot.”)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

People Looking for the Real Killers

O.J. Simpson

The McCanns

And, according to this article, Pervez Musharraf

“Seriously, guys, how’s my hair?”

But yesterday he said Bhutto herself was responsible. So I guess his search is going to be the shortest of the three. But since both these pictures were funny to me, here's another one of Pervy.

“Fight the power! Unless that power happens to be me. In that case, acquiesce."

And while I was reading about Pakistan, I found this cool article about an assassination attempt foiled by a Boy Scout.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Muskie Zombie

The Hillary crying video is my new favorite movie. My favorite moment is at 21 seconds, where she whispers, “No.”

Huckabee Moronocity Continued

I read this today on Wikipedia and I thought, “That can’t be true.” So I went to the source and found this:

Mr. Huckabee had a rough time yesterday at the hands of the media when he announced he was canceling a negative ad against Mitt Romney and then showed the ad to the assembled reporters, who burst out laughing. Today, he turned the tables. He noted that the mainstream media might be "filing a bad story" right now, and if the bloggers were relying on the same wireless system at the hotel, they might be ‘clogging up the lines’ and preventing them from filing.

If that’s the case, "thank you," he said. "You’re doing the Lord’s work."

You heard it here first: God wants me to blog.

So the Lord wants bloggers to swamp an Iowa hotel’s wireless network? This guy can’t be serious. He can’t be. At some point he’s going to be in the middle of answering a question about ethanol subsidies by quoting the Lord’s Prayer and he won’t be able to keep a straight face anymore. He’ll lose it, turn away from the cameras laughing, and then say, “I’m sorry. I was just screwing around with you.” If his chief strategerist said, “Let’s run an ironic campaign with ridiculously over-the-top Christianity,” Huckabee would say, “Uh, what would we change to do that?” And his strategerist would say, “Oh yeah. You’re right. You want to grab a burger?” And Huckabee would say, “In my Father’s house are many burgers.” And his strategerist would say, “Are you always on?”

Happy Birthday to Me

Until this last one, the most important thing to happen on my birthday was the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. (Obviously my birth is the most important, but it’s going to take some time for that to move up the internationally-recognized charts.) But now I’ve got the assassination of Benazir Bhutto to commemorate every year with a cake and probably some sex once the kids are asleep.

First she was assassinated by a shooter, then a bomber, then the sunroof handle, and now finally Pakistani Thug-in-Chief Pervez “Don’t Call Me Pervert; It’s Pronounced ‘Pervez’” Musharraf has identified the real culprit: Benazir Bhutto.

“’For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone--nobody else. Responsibility is hers,’ the former general told CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday.”

That’s pretty bold. “Nobody else?” Really? Not the shooter? Not the bomber? Not even the sunroof manufacturer? Because, hey, standing up outside of a sunroof just naturally attracts shrapnel pieces the same way an open bar attracts Irishmen. (It’s okay; I am one, so I can say it.)

Musharraf must not realize that personal responsibility is soooo 1980s. These days it’s always other people’s fault. Had Bhutto died in America, it would be blamed on World of Warcraft and Marilyn Manson. Those are the real culprits.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Caucus Response

Okay, here's the deal about the Iowa Caucus results.

DEMOCRAT: Obama won. Hillary didn't. While I disagree with Obama's positions just about as much as I disagree with Clinton's, I find him much less irritating. I've seen Clinton be disingenuous for 12 years; Obama has given me no reason to doubt his sincerity. I think I could live with an Obama presidency.

REPUBLICAN: I read this article today reviewing entrance polling data. There is lots of interesting stuff here, but this part just seems asinine to me:

Eight in 10 Huckabee supporters said they are born again or evangelical Christians, according to an entrance poll for The Associated Press and television networks. Another six in 10 said it was very important to share their candidate's religious beliefs.

Why on earth is it very important for a candidate to share your religious beliefs? Religion matters in that it informs morality. Now, I am not one of those people who thinks all religions are equally good. That just seems foolish to me. There must be something about your personal religion that, for you, sets it apart from the rest. But I do believe that all religions can be equally moral. People from my religion are not inherently more moral than anyone else. A Catholic can be just as moral of a person as a Jew or a Muslim, and so religion doesn't matter as long as the candidate is moral. Maybe I just feel this way because, for most of my life, voting for someone from my religion wasn't an option in most elections. But I don't really care if my candidate is from my religion, and those who do care seem intellectually lazy to me.

Everyone who goes to church knows someone from church who isn't a very good person. Saying "it is very important for a candidate to share my religious beliefs" is saying "I'd rather vote for the bad guy from my church than the good guy from the church down the street," and thinking like that is why the Founders didn't give the franchise to every mouth-breathing biped who happened to blight the land with his presence.

I know a few people who support Mitt Romney just because he is from their church, but I know even more Mormons who are hesitant to support him for the same reason. Evangelicals get a reputation for being uncritical hayseeds, and then they go and cement the perception by saying, "Hey Brandine, I don't know what for this here man reckons he wants to do in the Washington DEE-cee, but if he says he done seen Jesus in a catbox like I done did, that's sure-nuff good for me!"

I'm not excited about Romney, so I keep taking online quizes that are supposed to help me identify my "ideal candidate." The problem is, Romney keeps showing up as the top-tier candidate who most closely resembles my ideal. Today I took a quiz that told me I should vote for 1. Alan Keyes (no surprise--I love that guy), 2. Stephen Colbert (who was only running for a few days), and then 3. Mitt Romney.

I want to like Ron Paul, but for every issue he has completely right, he's got just as many completely wrong. Pull out of Iraq? That's really the best solution to the current situation? A stateless nation like Afghanistan was or Somalia has been would be a disaster. And withdrawal from NAFTA is something that no serious person has advocated in over 10 years.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW: I think Hillary has a tough row to hoe, but New Hampshire should be a good place for her to start. Despite her Midwest upbringing, she seems more East Coast to me. Maybe it's her college days showing through, but I think she can mirror the desires of undecided New Hampshire voters more easily than Barack can. But then, I also would have thought she would have won the woman vote in Iowa, which she didn't. If she can't bag the babes, what real chance does she have capturing that Clinton mainstay, the black vote, against a black opponent? Edwards seems like he's done. It takes extraordinary circumstances for a negative message to get a majority of American support, and this isn't an extraordinary circumstance.

For Republicans, I can see Romney continuing to come in second to a different candidate in every primary. Second to Huckabee in Iowa. Second to McCain in New Hampshire. Second to Giuliani in California. The only candidate who seems poised to consistently pull sizable support is Romney. But if he continues to look like Steve Forbes without the likable goofiness, I don't see how he can win. He looks charismatic, but he certainly doesn't act charismatic. If he were trying to offend everyone within the sound of his voice I'm not sure what he would be doing differently. And I'm (sort of) a supporter!

In conclusion: Ralph Wiggum in 2008.

Friday, January 04, 2008

"Going Off the Rails on a Crazy Train"

I was upset that I was going to have to write about the Iowa Caucus today, but I was saved by the continual train-wreck that is Britney Spears. I read this article today (because I love to get my news from organizations named “OMG!”--I wish FoxNews would write all their stories from an OMG perspective) and I love that the Los Angeles police officer quoted in the story is listed as one of the celebrities featured in the story. Because there’s only one “Jason Lee” in the world, right OMG?

And since I’m bored, I’ll throw this one out there, too: who told Hillary Clinton that being a populist means talking like a Valley Girl? Every time she wants to show the underlings that she’s just like them (only better), she starts sounding like an extra from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” I read this article today wherein she responds to her third-place finish by saying: “I am so ready for the rest of this campaign and I am so ready to lead." When asked if she was “for reals,” Sen. Clinton (D-Carpetbaggery) said, “Like, totally.”


Title from Ozzy Osbourne's song "Crazy Train."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Chinese Food

I like Chinese food, but I draw the line at actual food from China. My wife bought some lunches for me to eat at work, one of which was a Nissin Cup Noodles Souper Meal. I began to question its origin when I saw the slogan “Sabor a Carne de Res” on one side and turned it over to read the English translation only to find Spanish on the back, too. Then I noticed a note about using the “flavor enhancer.” Sure enough, the container reads: “Product of China."

Talk about “local food.” Whatever they did to that “food” to get it to make the journey to America, is my digestive tract going to be able to undo it? But I was hungry, and I’m cheap, so I didn’t want to waste food. I followed the cooking instructions. The final step is the addition of the “flavor enhancer.” I was imagining some sort of powdered spice. Instead, it’s a clear liquid that caused an oil slick on the top of the soup. I thought, “That’s nothing but liquid fat.”

The good news, though, is that since it was two servings instead of just one, I got 108% of my sodium for the day, not just 54%. So I don’t think I’m going to be returning to the Souper Meal, “sabor a carne de res” not withstanding.

No Doubt About It: Huckabee's a Moron

In unveiling his “non-ad,” former Gov. Huckabee (R-Heaven) said this:

If I were to continue this strategy, which is really not what I personally deep in my heart feel like is the right thing to do, it's not what I really want to do. If you gain the whole world and lose your own soul, what has it profited you? And ultimately that became just for me the issue that it's not worth it.

I like to consider myself a thinking Christian (and I have the backup of a Chinese Communist on that one, but that’s another story), so I am personally offended when Huckabee (R-esurrection) belittles me and my faith with his game plan of singing “Jesus Is Just All Right,” quoting a few scriptures, and riding off into the sunset with my vote. Especially because how much of his soul did he think he was saving by airing an ad he himself said shouldn’t be aired?

Yes, he's a moron, which must be really embarrassing for him because he's said he's not even sure what Morons believe. (Oh, wait.) This move by Huckabee is equal to Giuliani and McCain’s infidelities in showing just how untrustworthy Mike Huckabee (R-apture) is.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Why This Nation Is Completely Worthless

After reading this article, I feel like Deb trying to pick a wig for Pedro: “There’s just so many options.”

Complaint 1: Why did the government mandate the end of over-the-air analog signals?

Complaint 2: Why does it happen on the arbitrary date of Feb. 18, 2009?

Complaint 3: Why is the government spending billions to help people buy a converter?

Complaint 4: Why can you get a federal handout for TWO coupons per household?

Complaint 5: Why does the program work on the honor system with no means testing?

Complaint 6: Why are there going to be 33.5 million coupons if only 14.3 million households rely on over-the-air television?

Complaint 7: Why did the government spend money on a study that worries half of surveyed Americans don’t know about the TV transition when said transition is over a year away?

Answer 1: The semi-plausible reason is that the FCC is requiring a more-efficient use of the public’s airwaves. But if that were the real reason, all that would be needed is a date for television transmissions to no longer use the spectrum in question.

Answer 2: Seriously, it was so the Super Bowl would be available on over-the-air TV but March Madness would not be. I wish I was kidding. I’m not.

Answer 3: Television, evidently, is now a living necessity. When Franklin Roosevelt declared a “freedom from want,” is this what he had in mind? (Trick question: FDR never had anything in mind. He was just keeping it real.) So now we’re spending $1.5 bil. to help people watch TV. The thing about the number “billion” is that it tempts you to yell it because you think, “The only reason people are okay with this must be that they misheard.” Really everyone’s okay with it because they like the idea of Bill Gates buying them new TVs.

Answer 4: I will not concede TV being necessary (I survived all right for the year we didn’t have a TV antenna), and so my brain wants to explode when I think we’re going to help people with their second TVs, too. The boxes are estimated to cost no more than $70; they could sell their second TV to subsidize the purchase of their first box. But when you start talking to people about “unlimited wants and limited resources,” they say, “Oprah gives crap like this away all the time!”

Answer 5: Because how else could Congress ensure there would be needy constituents who missed out on the converter coupons, thereby requiring them to ride to the rescue. I told my brother two weeks ago, “I do not believe that there is a single member of Congress who cares about anything more than his own reelection. Maybe there are some naïve ones, but probably not.”

Answer 6: If this really is necessary, why can 33.5 million cable TV subscribers get the coupons that the 14.3 million people like me actually need? I’m out of answers now, because there are none. A $1.5 bil. project with enormous spending holes can only be attributed to Congressmen no longer thinking the word “billion” has any meaning. In the purported words of Sen. Everett Dirksen (R-IL), “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Answer 7: Because there is no spending accountability. In 2005 President Bush told Congress he would veto a transportation bill if the tab went above $284 bil. He then signed a bill for $286 bil. and said, “I’m proud to be here to sign this transportation bill.” In his defense, though, he’s proud to sign any bill, apparently unaware of the meaning of the word “veto.”

So what am I going to do? I bet I’m not going to do anything and next year my TV would stop working. My wife, however, who is the one who bought our antenna in the first place, will probably get one of those converters, but only after paying full price for it, since she hates having to talk to people she doesn’t know and (as far as I know) she doesn’t know anyone at the FCC. Meanwhile my parents, Baby Boomers that they are, will probably get two coupons even though they don’t need the converters because they have cable. Then my mother will complain that she couldn’t get a third one.

When They Passed Around the Crazy Pills, I Was Too High on 'Ludes to Take Any

Read this article and tell me that the average American is not a complete idiot.

Do they keep articles like this from our troops so they keep up their morale? Because I’m not so sure I’d be willing to take a bullet for my countrymen if I read this. If Al Qaeda really wanted to depress our soldiers, they should just drop leaflets with copies of American Idol or Jamie Lynn Spears’s baby-daddy analysis. However, given Congress’s mockery of the Constitutional prohibition of perpetual copyright, those articles will never pass into the public domain, so Al Qaeda will not be able to use them without facing hefty lawsuits. And if something deters terrorists, it’s legal proceedings.

As I read the article I thought, “Hmm, your problems stem from using the most popular baby names and from listening to other people’s opinions.” Which is why we don’t unveil baby names until the kid is born (unless people happen to guess them, even though there was no possible way they could have guessed them). Because anyone can tell you they dislike your theoretical name, but it takes a special kind of jerk to disagree with the name of your baby they’re holding.

2007 End of Year Summary

So Monday morning I left early and drove down to Howard, Kansas. When I returned home, I had three more counties to my name (Elk KS, Cowley KS, and Chautauqua KS), giving me a total of 201 for the year. Laugh all you want, but I am really excited about it. It is my best year ever, by far. In 1981 my family drove to Florida and back and I ended up with 101 counties for the year. Last year I barely beat that record, finishing the year with 102. So this year I got nearly twice as many as last year.

My top ten states (in terms of percent completed) are as follows:

1Utah1999
2Arizona2005
3Missouri95.65%
4Virginia85.82%
5New Mexico81.82%
6Wisconsin68.06%
7Kansas67.62%
8California67.24%
9Colorado67.19%
10Nevada58.82%

This year, for the first time, my top ten states are all more than half-way finished.

Overall, this year I visited the following states: Kansas, Missouri, California, New Mexico, Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado.

“But what about the aspects of your life that AREN’T visiting new counties?” Um, well, I have some of those. Somewhere. Let me see. Hmmm.

Pages read: a little over 9,200. Which is total crap, compared to last year, which topped 21,000. And about half of the pages I read this year were books I read to my kids, such as Pippi Longstocking, Pippi Goes On Board, Pippi in the South Seas, Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie, Thomas the Tank Engine, Flat Stanley, and three “Magic Tree House” books.

Credits earned this year: 34.

Credits required to graduate: 12.

Credits I’ll end up earning before graduating: 29.

Children conceived this year: 1.

Idiot '08

So what’s wrong with Mike Huckabee’s brain? When you make your campaign persona be “the guy with Olde-Timey Christian Morality,” you probably shouldn’t reveal that your morality is nothing more than a campaign tactic, especially three days before the Iowa Caucus.

Only an idiot would think, “I should cut a negative ad, then hold a press conference where I talk about how I’m above using negative ads, but try three times to screen the ad for the assembled press, just to show them what I’m not going to be saying.” Coupled with his fake apology to Mitt Romney a couple weeks ago, Huckabee has shown himself to be the worst kind of politician: the one who takes constituents’ cherished values and cheapens them by making them into campaign sound bytes. He’s not moral, he just gets five percentage points by pretending to be moral. Christ is a Savior to me; but to Huckabee is He just a bounce in the polls?

If Huckabee wins the nomination I’m going to have to look more earnestly into the Libertarian candidate.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nice Try, Sucker

Rachel, have the Roman Catholics gotten to you, too? Linus wasn't Peter's successor. He was ordained by Paul, and the second bishop of Rome, Clement, was ordained by Peter. It's a conspiracy. I'm surprised you aren't familiar with "The Da Vinci Code," the most factual movie to come out of Hollywood since "Birth of a Nation."