Thursday, December 31, 2009

Must-See TV

The Fox Network is negotiating a new contract with Time-Warner Cable. The current contract expires at the end of the year, and unless an agreement is reached by then, Time-Warner subscribers could spend at least some time without access to Fox.

This being America, the situation is a national emergency. The nation that brought you government coupons for HDTV converter boxes is now bringing you injunctions in Florida against NOT televising the Florida Gators' football bowl game. Because, hey, John Marshall's grave hasn't seen that much spinning of late. It's been nearly five years since Kelo v. New London.

This article also contains other evidences of America's awesomeness, including the fact that a senator is involved in the dispute, and the murmured line towards the end that the Fox signal will still be completely available, for free, to anyone who wants to watch it. Oh, but that's broadcast TV, which is the purview of the poor and shiftless. We can't expect REAL Americans to watch their TV that way. Better to engineer a phony crisis.

If only this article ended in a call to wear surgical masks in public, it would be worthy of a modern news source. I'm sure that, if there's no agreement by Friday and Fox is unviewable for some erstwhile viewers, we'll get our surgical masks, along with a senatorial intervention and a court injunction. If Fox is off the air, there's a chance people might end up watching C-SPAN, and that's a risk the government just can't take.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Travel Safety Tips

Where are you safer getting on an airplane, westernized Holland or stateless Somalia? While the Dutch allowed an identified terrorist to board a flight with a one-way ticket, African security forces taking the place of the nonfunctional Somalis stopped their bomber, and I'm willing to bet it was without a fancy-schmancy backscatter scanner.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bastard Critics

Listen, fools: spelling is hard, okay? There are plenty of words in the English language that use "EA" to get a "EE" noise. Such as: bead, mead, lead (the one that's pronounced like "leed"), heat, meat, peat, seat, cheat, fear, gear, hear, near, sear, tear (the one that's pronounced like "teer"), wean, bean, dean, lean, mean, dream, cream, gleam, seam, team, and ream.

Moreover, few words in English use "EA" to make a "EH" noise. Of course they do exist, like: bread, dead, head, lead (the one that's pronounced "led"), bear, pear, tear (the one that's pronounced like "tare"), and stead. But my point is that the preponderance of evidence would lead one to believe that the word "sweat" is pronounced "sweet."

And another thing: you can all kiss my ass.

Idiot Profiling

When my daughter was two years old, she was randomly selected for a more-intensive airport security check. I think it was because so many of the September 11th hijackers were two-year-old girls. The airport screener (federalized, for my safety) was annoyed that my daughter wouldn't stand with her arms out from her body unless my wife was next to her. Those wily terrorists pretend to have legitimate reasons to disobey security rules, like needing their mommas.

Since racial profiling is out, the Transportation Security Administration has gone to something just as good: idiot profiling. The idea is to make flying so inconvenient that the only people willing to go through the hassle are terrorists. When this plan is fully implemented, checking flight availability on an airline website will be tantamount to lighting your underwear on fire during landing.

But that's still weeks away. For now, we'll just have to settle for confusion.

The Transportation Security Administration did little to explain the rules. And that inconsistency might well have been deliberate: What's confusing to passengers is also confusing to potential terrorists.

"It keeps them guessing," transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman said.
Well, if confusion is what we're going for, not many things are more confusing than autocracy. Transparent democracy is just a breeding ground for terrorist activity. If a citizen has some semblance of an idea whence come his laws, so does a terrorist. Better to replace all laws with the personal whims of distant, unknown (possibly fictional) figure. After all, ignorance is strength.

What's great about this plan is that it works on two fronts. If it doesn't make our country so confusing that terrorists won't be able to figure out how to attack it, it will at least make it so confusing that democracy and capitalism are stifled, and that's what the terrorists dislike, anyway. There's a reason terrorists don't attack Mexico. They only visit on their way through to Arizona.

JT writes:

I'm just waiting for the new TSA rules about pockets in underwear. Tighty-whities, which have a maze-like semi pocket, would instantly be banned.
I disagree. If we're trying to baffle people, few things are as baffling as tighty-whities. In fact, it might have been the confusion caused by the semi-pocket that saved Detroit.

But aren't we about 40 years late to save Detroit? This raises the question: why are terrorists targeting Detroit? Is that the best they can do? Is this an indication of the extent to which they've been neutralized? On September 11th they targeted what is arguable our principle city; now they are targeting our worst. I'd say the War on Terror is working. Soon they'll be left with only four targets, the four worst cities in America: Bakersfield, CA, Cynthiana, KY, Tonopah, NV, and Amarillo, TX.

Or are they trying to win over the American public? If Al-Qaeda hired Vince from Slap Chop to make an infomercial that said, "We will remove Detroit from the map," I think most Americans would say, "I'm intrigued by your ideas and wish to subscribe to your newsletter."

First Contest Is Dismal Failure; Blogger Blames Friends, Others

Last week I made an allusion and promised a friend review to anyone who could site the original source of inspiration. Only Cristin tried, and she didn't get it right.

That might be because her kids don't watch "The Restoration" several times every Sunday like mine used to do. The line comes from the passive-aggressive neighborhood preacher on the Fourth of July. After Lucy tells Joseph she's going to fetch more gingerbread, the preacher comes over and says, "You haven't been coming to church, Joseph."

Joseph says, "I'm trying to do what you said--decide which church is right."

The preacher says, "Well, beware of pride, boy. Your eternal soul is at stake."

Sadly, no friend won the glowing review. Which is too bad, really, because I've got some sweat pictures of JT to use in a friend review.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Baseless Feelings of Security

When it comes to form over substance, nobody does it better than the government. In response to yesterday's terrorist attack, passengers are being limited in the number of carry-ons they can have and when they can leave their seats.

Why? Did Umar Mutallab, yesterday's terrorist, use a carry-on or leave his seat? According to news reports, he had "a sophisticated explosive device strapped to his body." Also, "the suspect had a blanket on his lap." The lap, some of you might remember from childhood riddles, is something you lose when you stand up.

In short, the new "safety" rules, had they been in place yesterday, would not have altered Mutallab's activities in the least. So why do we have them? Because it's a lot easier to make people feel safe when "something" is being done, even if it's completely the wrong thing. (For instance, the administration's response to the recession is to kill small business hiring through health care "reform.")

How about some REAL safety measures, such as making sure people who shouldn't be flying into the country aren't, in fact, flying into the country? Mutallab was on a terrorist list, but he still managed to enter the country with a one-way ticket yesterday. But we have nothing to fear because airport screeners were made federal employees in 2001, remember? Unless, perhaps, that was another case of the government embracing form over substance.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's a Reason Football Commentators Are Considered Stupid

Remember 2001? (If not, don't feel bad; most people don't anymore.) Specifically, I'd like to talk about Brigham Young University's 2001 football season.

That was the year the Cougars began the season with 12 straight victories, peaking in the rankings at Number Eight. BYU had one game remaining on the schedule, at Hawaii. Before the game was played, the BCS announced that the results didn't matter; an undefeated BYU would not be invited to a BCS bowl game. When BYU lost the game, football pundits took it as a mark of their wisdom in doubting BYU, instead of a mark of the ability of the BCS to affect game outcomes by demoralizing one of the teams.

Now let's come back to 2009. Remember 2009? (If not, you're probably a stoner.) Earlier this week, BYU destroyed Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Football pundits have an explanation for that one, too: Oregon State was demoralized by losing to Oregon and missing out on the Rose Bowl. And that's why BYU isn't as good as the football game showed them to be.

The thing about football pundits: they are always trying to explain away the results of the actual football games. Time was, football teams play football games to decide who's better. Now they play the games for revenue, and the job of deciding who's better is left to the pundits.

The pundits, in turn, decide which team is better with a few easily remembered criteria:

  1. Did I go to school there?
  2. Did I go to school at a school in the same conference?
Some might wonder if two criteria are too few, but when you remember the caliber of brain we're dealing with here, you begin to wonder if two might be too many.

So to recap: disappointment is an acceptable reason for a football loss if you're from a Bowl Cartel Series conference, but if you're from the Mountain West, it's just a pathetic excuse.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yankee Imperialist

I'm not trying to be a chauvinist or anything, but I'd prefer we keep the comments to English, K? With the way that some blog comments are malicious links, I can't really allow a blog comment full of a Chinese-charactered hyperlink to go undeleted.

Just so we understand each other: I'm sure your language is really great, but keep it to yourself.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Church at Home

Today I went to the best sacrament meeting I can remember in my entire life. There was no false doctrine, and all the speakers kept it short and sweet. The entire meeting took less than half an hour, and that included three testimonies. Every Sunday should be this great. Even with the amount of shoveling I've had to do this weekend to get church at home, it's been worth it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Miracle

Due to our "treacherous, frightful" snowstorm (the people around here are serious winter wimps), church has ALREADY been canceled tomorrow. If we want, we can get approval from the bishop to have the sacrament in our homes. In short, God has given me my Christmas present.

The Year in Economics

I am NOT recommending this blog for general reading (unless you feel a need to atone for some fairly heinous sins, and like to make your atonement by reading long, dense blog posts that read like the index of an especially boring encyclopedia), but his summation of the economic failures of the past year is worthwhile.

Richard Bushman Is Speaking My Language

From his Believing History, about church members acknowledging the failings of their institutional church:

More than a little of that spirit has infected the Latter-day Saints. We sometimes hear discontented young people say they believe the gospel while having trouble with the Church. The prevalence of this idea led Eugene England to give a sermon on why the Church is as true as the gospel. To a degree, the young people may not be entirely wrong. Perhaps we have let our enthusiasm with organization carry us too far. (p. 166)

I feel I can disagree with Eugene England, though, because his book was published by Bookcraft, which we all know means it's only 40-percent believable.

Honestly, though, I should probably read that book, but it's $13.99 on eBay. Who wants to hook me up? Remember, boy, my eternal soul is at stake.

(I'll write a glowing friend review to anyone who can identify to what the previous sentence alludes.)


Friday, December 18, 2009

A New Hobby

As some of you know, I keep track of things, specifically places I've been.

  • I've been to 33 states (AZ, AR, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MD, MI, MN, MO, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WV, WI, WY)
  • I've been to 22 state capitols (AZ, CA, CO, DE, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MD, MO, NE, NV, NM, OH, OK, PA, UT, VA, WV, WI, WY)
  • I've been to 1,115 counties (I won't list them here, but I have two links in my sidebar for websites that DO list them all)
So it only makes sense that I would add something else. I recently decided to start visiting each state's highest natural point. To start, today we went to the highest point in the District of Columbia, which doesn't even count on my list, since it's not a state.

Since we're dealing with the "highest natural point" here, in some low-lying states it's possible that land has been graded as a building pad which is higher than the "high point." Such is the case in Washington, where just next to the high point in Fort Reno Park is the higher land of historic Fort Reno. But hey, at least it's not as bad as Delaware, where the "high point" is actually a step DOWN from the sidewalk.

I declared that everyone needed to have a celebratory jumping pose for the pictures. Articulate Joe complied with the request, but you can tell from the look on his face that his heart wasn't in it. Jerome the Metronome didn't quite get the idea of raising his hands above his head.

However, we've summitted our first high point, and only have fifty more to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Wish That Were My Name

In reading this news story I learned that the vice president of Nigeria is named Goodluck Jonathan. Why can't I get a name as cool as that?

Oh, and also Africa's most populous nation is two weeks away from a constitutional crisis. Good thing for us they're a major oil producer.

Leslie Asked for Something Funny

This newspaper gig is not fun anymore. Which means it's more like a real job than any other writing gig I've ever had.

Who Are These People?

When I had children, I knew they were going to grow up. If I brought my daughter home from the hospital with the idea that she would forever stay tiny, I realized soon enough that wasn't the case. And when she traded out her cute newborn cry for a shrieking wail, I realized she would do things that would make me want her to grow up much faster.

What I didn't realize, though, was that my children would turn out to be tiny strangers. I guess I figured they would be small versions of me, or of my wife, or a mixture of everything good from both of us. Given the gene mixture, and the influence of growing up in our home, how could they turn out to be anything different?

Lately, though, my children have been exhibiting strange symptoms of being their own people. Especially my seven-year-old daughter, who has let it be known that her parents' level of holiday cheer is decidedly lacking.

It was before Halloween that she said wistfully, "In Kansas I knew a Christmas music radio station to listen to, but I don't know one here." My wife and I, for reasons of sanity preservation, have a rule against Christmas music until after Thanksgiving. This meant we spent the entire month of November turning down my daughter's radio requests.

Thanksgiving evening, on the way home from our relatives' house, we no longer had an excuse and I had to find a Christmas music station. The first song we heard was Frank Sinatra's "We Wish You the Merriest," which has as honest-to-goodness lyrics, "We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest, yes the merriest, we wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest Yule cheer." Sinatra's intent is not made clear in these lyrics, but in many contemporary news sources he gave the reporters to believe that he wished the listener the merriest.

This song was followed by "Jingle Bell Rock," which was written by a man who firmly believes that all things are made more festive by attaching the words "jingle bell" to their names, and he spares no effort in making this belief known to all and sundry.

Two songs into the holiday season and I wanted to puncture my own ear drums. My daughter, meanwhile, was riding contentedly in her seat, smiling out the window.

The next afternoon she began a relentless agitation to decorate our Christmas tree. I told her that, in the old days, people didn't decorate their trees until Christmas Eve. She just looked at me as if to say, "And that's why no one liked living in the old days." By bedtime, the tree had been assembled (another thing they didn't have to do in the old days) and decorated.

I said to my wife, "It turns out she's the type of person who's going to grow up and listen to Christmas music six months every year."

My wife said, "And wear holiday sweaters with ironed-on reindeer and elves."

This realization has caused me to repent of all the negative things I ever thought about the inadequate rearings of such ladies I've seen in grocery stores. I'm here to tell you, it's not their parents' faults.

This be-your-own-person stuff can only go so far. I knew eventually I was going to have to put my foot down. When raising children it is important to draw a line and say, "This far and no farther." I didn't know when she would drive me to my limit, I only knew it would happen one day.

That day came sooner than expected. I came home last week to hear from my wife-cum-homeschool teacher that my daughter had been assigned a report on any president she wanted, and she had chosen Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My feelings about FDR are not complex and can be best summarized by Albert Jay Nock, who called Roosevelt's 1945 death "the biggest public improvement that America has experienced since the passage of the Bill of Rights." Nevertheless, my daughter had been to the library to get many books for her report, and most of my Roosevelt books, such as FDR's Folly and FDR vs. The Constitution are beyond her reading level.

When she finishes her report, my daughter wants to visit FDR's memorial in Washington. I told my wife she could take the kids, but I wouldn't go along. Maybe I will give her bad directions, or at least suggest stopping off at the hospital for a DNA test to make sure this seven-year-old changeling is really ours.

(c)2009, Broadside.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Boss Didn't Want Me to Work Overtime Because My Production Function Exhibits Quasi-Concavity

Paul Samuelson died this week. Robert Lucas has said of Samuelson's influential textbook,

"I loved the Foundations. Like so many others in my cohort, I internalized its view that if I couldn’t formulate a problem in economic theory mathematically, I didn’t know what I was doing. I came to the position that mathematical analysis is not one of many ways of doing economic theory: It is the only way. Economic theory is mathematical analysis. Everything else is just pictures and talk.”

Now, before I offer my own take, I'd like to point out these facts:

  • Number of Nobel Prizes won by Samuelson and Lucas: two.
  • Number of Nobel Prizes won by A Random Stranger: zero (so far).
Still, though, I disagree. Economics has gone to the point now where the ability to formulate a problem in economic theory mathematically often covers the fact that the economist doesn't know what he's doing.

If economics is a collection of principles of human action, then no principle should be so obscure as to not make intuitive sense. After all, how often do we make an economic decision, the motivation for which was too complex for us to understand? If a problem can't be explained WITHOUT mathematics, at least in a rudimentary form, it probably isn't true economics.

But, like I said, those guys have two Nobels, and so far I have none.

You've Got a Problem? We've Got a Czar for That

For months we had news stories about how those bastard banks were going to use taxpayer money (the money we were told they absolutely needed, but they didn't) to pay their executives large salaries and bonuses, so in response we got a federal pay czar. Then the banks didn't like the idea of a government official reviewing their contracts for "decency," so they decided to pay the taxpayer money back.

Okay, at this point in the story, I'm ambivalent. I hated the bailout, and I hate the pay czar (not personally, but he is speaking at my school this week, so maybe I can get to know him and since I'm a misanthrope THEN I can hate him personally), but if the two things are going to work against each other, if the threat of a pay czar is going to get the bailouts paid back, and then there will be no one's pay that needs czarring, what's not to love? It's like the Iran-Iraq War, or the Oakland Raiders playing the New York Yankees and everyone breaking his leg.

However, this news story makes me wonder if the "geniuses" we have running the federal government aren't a little closer to the "Forrest Gump" end of the IQ scale than we think. To get Citi to pay back its bailout, we let them not pay their taxes. But I thought they were already getting a sweet deal by not being subject to the pay czar. So what happened? Did we just pay Citi billions of dollars in exchange for them running their company the way they want? That sure is a nice deal for Citi, but how nice is it for us?

The only thing I learned from writing this blog post is that there is only a one-letter difference between the words "running" and "ruining." And, the misanthrope in me feels compelled to point out, "running" isn't "ruining" until "I" get involved.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Italian TV is Freaky

A blog I read linked to this other blog where I watched this clip of Italian TV. The point of the post was to show us what foreigners think Americans sound like, but the thing I take away from it is this: Italian variety shows are weird.

And yes, now that my finals are over, you can look forward to a month of posts like this one. Don't bother pinching yourself; I'll tell you right now you aren't dreaming! It's really true!


Should I keep my newspaper writing position, even though
  • they only pay me in campus credit
  • my editor hacks my stories in inexplicable ways (such as changing the spelling of words that weren't misspelled, thus turning them into new words that don't fit in the sentence)
  • my editor is an insufferable bore who doesn't respond to e-mails for weeks at a time and then tells me that forwarding the previous e-mail to him is "unprofessional"
Who am I kidding? I'll probably keep doing it. Shakespeare gotta get paid, son.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Place Makes Washington Heights Look Like Hanover Park

I know this post is just going to make Jill laugh herself silly, but we're surrounded by crime. Firstly, a student from my school was arrested in Pakistan for being a terrorist. Since we have a lot of Muslim students, I'm hoping this leads to some good finals-week drama. Secondly, our local newspaper tracks so many fugitives that they have a "fugitive of the week" column, and this week's fugitive (or Fugee, as they like to be called) "has been known" (in newspaper parlance) to frequent our neighborhood.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Exams today, Monday, and Tuesday. So don't expect too much from me until at least Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Monday, December 07, 2009


The link in my last post went to an article entitled "Climate finale may have happy ending." Since then, Yahoo has changed the article at the end of the link, so the massage parlor reference is gone. However, now I know that Nathan is on the prowl for any news I can find regarding massage parlors. I'll keep my eyes open for you, guy.

Copenhagen Massage Parlor

Caring about climate change just became a lot more interesting. No word how many Asian massage technicians will be working the gathering, but if anyone knows how to make a finale have a happy ending, it's those ladies.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hating People Is So Easy

Crap like this makes me hate everybody.

First of all, I hate football articles that start with a bunch of ass-covering "Don't get me wrong, guys; I love the BCS." Is the BCS the Pope or something? I absolutely hate the BCS. I hate that, for over ten years now, a group of thugs has been allowed to say it's interested in crowning a national champion when really it seems to be only interested in extortion and racketeering.

"Oh, A Random Stranger, that's libelous!" Is it? Extortion is obtaining money through coercion, and the BCS conferences continually coerce the conferences they force out of their organization to give up money they could otherwise obtain. Racketeering is the running of an illegal business, and the college football cartel is an illegal business. In fact, I'm going to start referring to the BCS as the Bowl Cartel Series.

Every year the BCS conferences' fear of having their "dominance" shown to be fraudulent is more apparent. They plead innocence, claiming they can't do anything about the fact that Boise State can only get one ranked team on their schedule this season (a team that is Ranked in the Top 10, is going to the Rose Bowl, and lost handily to the Broncos), but then they refuse to schedule Boise State. And scheduling doesn't matter, because anytime an opponent looks tough, you can just pay money to not play the game.

I hate that some teams, all through Duke's record-setting losing streak, profited from the BCS system, while teams like Boise State, that haven't lost a regular season game in two years, don't. There is no reason for Duke to profit from the BCS; it's not the fact that Georgia Tech had to play Duke this year that made Georgia Tech look good. Football conferences are geographically based, and when a BCS fan says, "You should be in a better conference," they are saying nothing more than, "You don't live in the right part of the country." By spreading the wealth around the conference, you end up with clear conflicts of interest, like the Big 12 officials mysteriously deciding Texas should get another shot to beat Nebraska. They had a shot, and their "Heisman Trophy candidate" quarterback was too stupid to spike the football when he was supposed to. That's part of the game, unless there are millions of dollars at stake. Then, suddenly, well, there should be another second on that clock.

I hate that this year the BCS has decided to contain the interlopers. Not only do perfect Boise State and perfect Texas Christian not get to play for the national title, but they have to play each other in a game the BCS might as well just call the We Wish You Would Go Away Bowl. These two teams played as recently as last season in a bowl game, and most of their bowl appeal is to see if they can beat "real" teams from the cartel conferences. Making them play each other limits the BCS's exposure (imagine if both won their BCS bowls) and limits the number of undefeated teams at the end of the season.

I hate that politicians have anything to do with this. The laws that prohibit cartels do not require Congressional action to be enforced. But every year the team that's left out of the BCS has a home-state legislator ready to open an investigation. What is there for Congress to investigate? This is a matter for the Department of Justice, not for a Congressional subcommittee.

And, finally, to say, as this asinine article does, that "the computers weren't as impressed," is to forfeit your right to breathe. Are we really supposed to believe that computers sit down with the sports section of the newspaper and say, "Let's see which team is impressive"? A computer is only as "impressed" as the HUMAN BEING behind the computer's program. Blaming computers is just another way of saying, "People are biased against your football team," without actually having to say it. And when the computers are accidentally impressed by the wrong team, the computer program is changed (by itself? or by humans? It's hard to say) to make sure it doesn't happen again the following season.

The BCS is an illegal sham. It's equivalent to a baseball playoff system that always had a spot for the Yankees, regardless of their record, and made other teams, like Tampa, play flawless baseball to earn the "privilege" to play for second place.

Boise State beat Oklahoma. Utah beat Pittsburgh, and then beat Alabama. These results are discounted in the most convoluted of ways, and the system continues to profit the cartel at the expense of the "non-traditional" conferences. This is not a football championship system; it is a back-alley shakedown that involves a football.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Respect Your Opinion A Lot. Okay, Actually, Not So Much

What happens when people whose opinions you respect pull crap like this on you? This revelation causes such heartache that it leads me to write poetry. To wit:

Thought I knew you
Dr. Mankiw.
Your econ's fine
(most of the time),
but your music
is confusic.
Lady Gaga?
I could flog ya.
Dismal science?
In defiance
you got nerve on.
Get your swerve on.
Don't care who knows
what moves your toes
'cause you've been blessed
with much success.
This is you. Who?
Dr. Mankiw.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bits and Pieces

1. I saw a headline today that said Putin might run for president in 2012 and I thought, "This is what we get for letting foreign nationals in our elections."

I keed, I keed. I worked with a guy in Kansas who was a big Birther, but I'm not that into it. I do believe, however, that the idea that no one in the nation has standing to challenge whether the elected president meets the Constitution's presidential requirements is pretty appalling. So we get all the "living document" crap that comes from judicial review without any of the actual Constitutional enforcement? That doesn't sound like a deal.

2. Climate-Gate continues to get no mainstream media coverage. Again, I don't believe that this one batch of e-mails completely disproves an entire field of science, but I think it is telling that this group of "scientists" is more committed to their outcome than their process. On what basis do they continue to qualify as scientists? If you give up on the scientific method, you're just egghead religionists.

3. Congratulations to the following regular readers: Cristin for buying a fancy new car, JT for having a new baby, and Nance for repairing that computer of mine that you broke.

4. Ten days to my hardest final.