March 24, 2008

Hmmm. Oddly enough, it makes sense.

Burglaries on the Decline in the United States : NPR

For almost 20 years, Mathis burglarized homes to support a drug habit. He only got caught a few times. Mathis says he stopped breaking into homes because there's just no money in it anymore.
"If you're going to do a burglary, you need to have some buyers," Mathis says. "Everybody has everything now."

Mathis says there's just too much on the street already. Everyone he knows already has a digital camera, iPod knockoffs and pirated DVDs shipped in from China.

"And if it's not new, a lot of people don't even want to fool with it," Mathis says.

Forget about last year's video games and old laptops, Mathis says. And don't even bring a VCR or boxy TV to the street.

An unexpected benefit of cheap consumer goods... things get too 'cheap' to steal.

Funny thought, though - if the economy was tanking, wouldn't we see burglaries rise?

J.

Less than I thought...

Amy Proctor - Blog - Iraq War Costs Less Than 1% of U.S. GDP

Interesting analysis - also points out that the cost of NOT going to war would have been less, but not by much.

Realistically, this is war done on the cheap - in both men and materiel. Our national output is such that we're not hurting at all financially from it. It's an interesting article, with much to think about...

J.

One of the really bad things...

About the 4-year Presidential Campaign is that it gives us plenty of time to see what the candidates are like. In most cases, that familiarity hasn't done much but breed contempt - Obama's looking like a bigoted jackass, and now Hillary's being exposed as someone who has 'stretched the truth' a little in her Bosnia stories. CBS, oddly enough, is going after her now.

This does not bode well for the Democrats. As I've asked before - are these two the best the Democratic Party has to offer?

I suppose I shouldn't be excessively worried - after all, we DO have a few months yet before the Dems finally select their candidate. There's even been some speculation that AlGore is going to get tapped at the convention, with both Obama and Hil bowing out. (Don't see that one, myself - Hillary's not going to 'give up her position' to anyone. I don't thing we've seen the real dirt on Obama yet - there's still more stuff to come. And for someone like AlGore to step in? No, you'd see a hell of a lot of people REALLY ticked off in that case.) The convention may very well be the last one for the Democrats, if they can't get together on a candidate.

The big problem, I think, is that Hil's practicing scorched-earth politicing inside the Democratic party. It's nominally okay to do that to Republicans - but when Democrats start doing it to each other, there's a serious problem in the party. Fratricide doesn't lend itself to building coalitions afterwards, and if there's one thing that's been proved very clearly by the Dems over the last 8 years, they know how to hold a grudge until the proper time to act on it. Bitter internal rivalries have brought the Democrats to this point - and now we're seeing the results.

Pretty, ain't it?

J.

March 23, 2008

Compelling reasons...

Amazon Screening Room's Blog: Battlestar Galactica Cast Scores a 10 on Letterman Permalink

Why should you watch the new season?

Well, #6 was good, #2 was better.

Supposedly this will be the last year of it. After bringing Starbuck back from the dead, it ought to be interesting.

J.

What's wrong with .. ummm...

One of the things that's supposed to be a problem with medical care in the US is that it's too expensive.

I won't argue with that. Back around '90, I cut the back of my hand severely enough to require a visit to our workman's comp physician - for 5 stitches and a handful of bandages, he got paid over $600. But that was through the workman's comp system - and like any bureaucracy, it tends to be rather non-competitive or cost effective.

Now there's a number of proposals to have government essentially take over health care in the US. Having been on the receiving end of government-run health care in the Air Force, I must say I'm less than convinced that it's a good idea to have government run medical care for the entire population. It's one thing to provide it for a select group of reasonably healthy, medically pre-screened individuals. But EVERYBODY? That way lies severe problems... and I'm not convinced at all that it can be done in a cost-effective manner. Unless you want to have another large, bureaucratic power group inside the government, wasting more than you think possible in your wildest dreams, that is.

So. If you're looking for some entity to provide health care, what would you want it to look like?

First - it has to be convenient to the majority of the population, with locations already available that can be easily adapted. We're not talking building hospitals and critical care facilities - this would be targeted at the folks who need first aid for minor wounds and illnesses. Congrats, you're feeling bad, got cough, a cold, the flu or a bad cut? Go to this place for help/triage. If you've got a heart attack or amputation or serious medical condition, you'll be referred to the local hospital or an associated doctor if you weren't smart enough to call 911 in the first place. The emphasis would be on getting the patient in, diagnosed, and treated if it was practical or moved on to a hospital if not.

It would also help to have a comprehensive pharmacy co-located with it, so whatever might be needed would be on hand.

Now the question arises - who should pay for it? It might be tempting to have government handle it all - but he who pays makes the decisions on such things as staffing and policies. And after seeing just how efficient the TSA is, I'm doubtful of the government on this. I'd prefer to keep government out of it and let the private sector run things.

What if... you could get a chain or two of drugstores, or a major retailer to sponsor the clinics? Make the cost a nominal amount - $20 or so. (Don't say it isn't affordable for the poor. You really want to tie it to the local economy, make it the same as 3 packs of cigarettes.) If absolutely necessary, in order to keep a clinic open that doesn't have enough customers, there could be a subsidy... but under no circumstances should government have primary control.

Let's see... are there enough potential outlets? Looking at two chains of drugstores and one major retailer...

There's 4141 Wal-Mart stores, Super Wal-Marts, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets and Sams' Clubs (a Wal-Mart retail affiliate).

There's 6,237 Walgreens stores.

There's 6200+ CVS pharmacies.

5000+ Rite-Aid drugstores.

That's a total of well over 21 THOUSAND locations that could easily be turned into commercialized clinics.

You've got infrastructure, location, and (with a bit of advance prep) a medical model that would work pretty well.

But you say "Well, they might be able to do that - but what if they turn a profit!" Well - what if? Is there some law somewhere that says that if you're providing a service to the country, that you can't make money off it? I mean, seriously - is there some moral imperative that our country has to spend trillions of dollars, with associated waste and fraud and layers upon layers of non-productive bureaucratic overhead, to provide marginally adequate health care? If so - please explain to me just WHY it's so important that government provide this, when Wal-Mart can... and make it affordable to boot?

J.

March 22, 2008

Stick to the Script!

Gaia obviously didn't get Gore's memo.

The Mystery of Global Warming's Missing Heat : NPR

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

This is puzzling in part because here on the surface of the Earth, the years since 2003 have been some of the hottest on record. But Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

Well, you've got to consider that if you have equivalent volumes of air and water that the water can hold a LOT more thermal energy than the air can. (You would, for example, have little trouble holding your hand in an oven where the temperature is 300 degrees for ten or fifteen seconds, but you sure wouldn't want to dip your hand in a pot of boiling water for that length of time.)

But it sure seems like the oceans don't figure into the equation when it comes to global warming. Of course, they're not acting right.

"There has been a very slight cooling, but not anything really significant," Willis says. So the buildup of heat on Earth may be on a brief hiatus. "Global warming doesn't mean every year will be warmer than the last. And it may be that we are in a period of less rapid warming."

In recent years, heat has actually been flowing out of the ocean and into the air. This is a feature of the weather phenomenon known as El Nino. So it is indeed possible the air has warmed but the ocean has not. But it's also possible that something more mysterious is going on.

Um, I guess you could describe slight cooling as less rapid warming... (Like a Democrat can redefine a decrease in an expected increase of program funding a 'cut' - despite the actual increase...)
But if the aquatic robots are actually telling the right story, that raises a new question: Where is the extra heat all going?

Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research says it's probably going back out into space. The Earth has a number of natural thermostats, including clouds, which can either trap heat and turn up the temperature, or reflect sunlight and help cool the planet.


Well, judging by the cold blasts in Chicago, the massive storms in the Midwest, solar output dropping, I think we're in for a cold spell. But the guys who's funding depends on warming disagree.
Trenberth and Willis agree that a few mild years have no effect on the long-term trend of global warming. But they say there are still things to learn about how our planet copes with the heat.
Um, yeah. Especially when it doesn't seem to be warming.

J.

March 21, 2008

ET has gas...

Well, maybe.

Methane detected on alien planet - Space.com- msnbc.com

Scientists have detected the presence of an organic molecule in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet for the first time, NASA announced today.

The finding, detailed in the March 20 issue of the journal Nature, marks a breakthrough in the attempt to detect signs of life on planets beyond our solar system.

Hmm. would a sign of intelligent life be a low methane signature after the invention of Beano?

Ah, the speculation about the directions alien intelligence could take run wild...

Obama Wraps Himself In The Flag

Best of the Web Today - WSJ.com

Last October the Associated Press reported that Barack Obama had made a decision not to sport an American flag pin on his lapel:

Asked about it Wednesday in an interview with KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Illinois senator said he stopped wearing the pin shortly after the attacks and instead hoped to show his patriotism by explaining his ideas to citizens.

"The truth is that right after 9/11 I had a pin," Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.

"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism."

But did anyone notice that when Obama gave his "major speech on race" Tuesday--the one necessitated by the revelation that his "spiritual mentor" had, among other things, called on God to "damn America"--he did so amid a row of American flags? We checked the video and counted eight of them, of which four are visible in the photo nearby.
You're not supposed to judge a man by his associates - though there's sure a lot of people who are willing to do that. You're supposed to judge a man by his actions - and so far, Obama's actions lead me to think that, like I've said before, he's tried hard as anything to be a blank screen people could project their fantasies on.

Looks like the plot's changing, though. Can't say I like it - and I sure wouldn't get the DVD.

One real drawback to the Eternal Campaign the Democrats have instigated - it gives us PLENTY of time to see what the candidates are like. It's not like the whirlwind courtships of the past, where you had just a few months to get a feel for the candidate. That's akin to meeting someone in Vegas, getting hitched - and waking up the next morning and going "Oh, man. What've I done?" Now we've got plenty of time to examine the candidates.

And it's NOT working to their benefit.

When you add in the identity politics angle, things get worse. The Dems have really, really painted themselves into a corner with Hillary and Obama. They've been going for the niche market - when they need to get the middle. And neither of them are terribly appealing to the mid-range voter. Their only real hope is to completely slam the Republican candidate, McCain, before the election... but they're spending so much time and money trying to kill each other to get nominated that there's not going to be any left for the election.

We'll see what happens. But the Dems have severely wounded themselves this election cycle.

J.

March 20, 2008

Over on LiveJournal..

Chris Gerrib and I seem to have gotten into a dialog about government actually 'fixing' problems. Specifically, the attitude of politicians towards things like alternative energy and drilling in ANWR and the like.

Well, you know what my beliefs are on that matter... that a politician only solves a problem when there's absolutely no other choice. A problem solved is a vote lost - when you can keep the voter's attention and interest by promising a solution you have no intention of delivering.

My take is that the Dems are blocking a lot of stuff we need. His seems to be that it's the Republicans' fault since they're in power.

My reply is as follows.

Don't get me wrong - I'd LOVE to see them get serious about alternative energy. But observe what's actually going on.... Did Ted Kennedy encourage the wind farms off Cape Cod, or has he been doing his utmost to block them building where he might see them while sailing?

Drilling in ANWR - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/politics/21cnd-congress.html?pagewanted=1 - "Senate Blocks Arctic Drilling" - It failed by 4 votes. But it was attached to a military spending bill - guess the Democrats got a two-fer on that one. (I really dislike that sort of tactic, by the way. I'd rather see bills stand or fall on their own rather than lumping a bunch of them into one.)

Shall we talk about Social Security? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/01/AR2006100100872.html has this little bit.

--There's a long tradition of demagoguery on entitlement reform, but refusing even to discuss the challenge plumbs new depths of cynicism. A decade ago, Democratic centrists such as Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska argued that runaway entitlement spending would rob the rest of the budget, draining money from social programs that liberals are supposed to care about. Today, a pragmatic Republican such as Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah can propose a progressive fix to Social Security that does not involve personal accounts. But Democrats won't come forward to support him.

In rejecting Social Security discussions last week, the Democrats painted the conservatives' petition as a Trojan horse designed to get personal accounts back onto the table. Even if that were true, since when was all mention of personal accounts taboo for Democrats? A decade ago, a majority of the appointees to Bill Clinton's Social Security commission came out in favor of personal accounts. Even the dissenting minority was open to the idea of investing Social Security funds in the stock market. --

When you have a bare majority of members (on either side) - you need cooperation to get anything passed that needs a 2/3rds majority. That cooperation's been lacking, and there's sufficient animosity built up that we're not going to have Congressional cooperation for a long time to come, barring some major sea change in how they get along.

At what point do the problems become the fault of the party in charge? They always are, sir, if you change 'fault' to 'responsibility'. However, if the party that isn't in the majority actively blocks the attempts of the party in charge to fix things the party that isn't in charge has been screaming about, they share in the responsibility. Indeed, they may eventually become completely responsible when their time comes. (At which point they'll ignore them - but that's for another time.)

Perhaps a better analogy is a sports team. Take a 5-man pickup basketball team. Two of the men can't stand one of the others and will trip him up whenever possible, 'accidentally' bump him, won't pass to him, block his shots. You got two guys playing that are trying to play basketball - but the two who are after the one screw things up for them all. How far do you think that team will get?

It's not an article of faith - it's a conclusion drawn from a lot of observation. I gave up believing in politicians back around the time Clinton got elected in '92. Now the best I'm hoping for is benign neglect from them.

I'm not sure - but I think we're on the same page, arguing points we agree with from dirrect directions...

Or not. It's tired and I'm late. Yak at ya'll later..

J.

March 19, 2008

Another View.

Houston - News - Barack Obama and Me

It was the year 2000 and I was a young hungry reporter in Chicago covering a young hungry state legislator.

It's not quite eight in the morning and Barack Obama is on the phone screaming at me. He liked the story I wrote about him a couple weeks ago, but not this garbage.

Months earlier, a reporter friend told me she overheard Obama call me an asshole at a political fund-raiser. Now here he is blasting me from hundreds of miles away for a story that just went online but hasn't yet hit local newsstands.

It's the first time I ever heard him yell, and I'm trembling as I set down the phone. I sit frozen at my desk for several minutes, stunned.

Yeah, I'm getting less and less impressed with the Savior of the Democratic Party. He's a hell of an orator - but...

I can think of another orator that pretty much ruined his country and caused incalculable deaths in the process... Not that I'm comparing the two directly, but it's starting to look like the only real talent Obama has is a near blank-slate record that people can project what they want to believe on, and an eloquent manner.

That's not good enough.

This article... well, you read it and let me know what you think. It's kind of confirming what I already though - that Obama just won't cut it.

J.

March 18, 2008

Aw, darn.

Writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90 - Yahoo! News

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who co-wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.

One early book of his I read was The City and the Stars. I remember also a story about a solar-sail race - with a computer controlling the shroud lines about the size of a matchbox.

He predicted much of our present future, up to and including comsats and mp3 players. (The latter was in a story called "The Lion of Comarre")

Thank you, Mr. Clarke, for giving us a glimpse of a future worth living.

J.

March 17, 2008

A sense of unease...

Okay. I'm thinking the economy is indeed in trouble.

Why?

The Sharper Image filed for bankrupcy.

So did the Lillian Vernon catalog retailer.

And Hillary's got a plan to fix it all.

The sad thing? There's people out there who DO believe that it's all Bush's fault, and Hillary will make it all better.

Ah, well. Interesting times ahead...

J.

I LIKE Ikea furnishings.

My parents like white French Provincial. (Rather, my mother did, and Father didn't much care.) Me? I dislike it. I've not been much of a furniture buff - before I got married my idea of furniture was a 3/4th inch sheet of plywood to hold a mattress, a 'cheap' couch that cost way too much, and sufficient bookcases to hold everything. Add in a cheap chest of drawers, a dining room table and some chairs (again, overpriced and low-quality) and the ensemble was complete. If you wanted an upgrade, you swapped out block and board bookcases for Sauder self-assembled one from Office Depot. Ah, class - what luxury!

Of course, I'm a guy. Furniture = expensive, and the idea of actually coordinating furnishings... well, when the primary desire is for low cost, you don't worry about whether the pieces match. Especially if there's not much money to spare after the basics of food, rent, car expenses and the like are satisfied.

But over the years, being steadily employed and married to a woman who has a good sense of style and taste which pretty much matches my own (no way she'd ever go for white French Provincial without a severe case of dane brammage - she prefers simpler stuff like Mission style, which I like) we've been able to furnish the house pretty comfortably.

Of course, that was before the IKEA store opened here in Atlanta.

I like browsing through that place. (Yes, I know, I'm a guy - I'm not supposed to like something like that.) Primarily, I like the styling, which in a lot of cases could best be described as well-designed, attractively functional minimalist. For instance - take the IKEA LAXVIK shelving system. It's pretty minimal - comes in small packages, made of powder-coated steel and glass, puts together easily... and it fits nicely up in my room. (For details and pictures of THAT, though not nearly so... 'lived in' as it is now, (Yeah, cluttered. I'll admit it.) go here.) Anyway, there were some pipe and flange shelves pulling out of the wall, so I replaced them. However - the silver paper I used to cover the holes didn't look good, and the bins I'd had on the shelves didn't look so good on the Laxvik unit. Time to change the look.

So down to Ikea again. Got some mirror tiles, and put those up in place - it looks pretty sharp. They also had an interesting clock that I like... but it's got about the same accuracy as a chronometer I used a long time back in a certain job - you can count on it gaining 10 minutes a day. And the darn thing isn't adjustable... Oh, well. I can either return it, or get one that might be a bit more accurate... but I digress.

To get at the wall, I tried moving the shelf assembly. And I found out the one real problem that I hadn't anticipated - even after putting gliders under the legs of the unit to move it across the carpet.

The unit has pretty much zip in the range of lateral strength. It does a good job up and down - I figure I could load probably 1000 lbs on it easy if I didn't mind it punching a hole in the carpet... (the feet are, I think, less than a square inch in area. You really don't want to concentrate much stress on an inexpensive carpet...) but when I tried to slide it, the dang thing twisted pretty badly.

Ikea makes good furniture - but it's not sturdy stuff. It looks good. It goes together easily. But once it's in place, it needs to STAY in place. This isn't heavy-duty stuff - it's essentially disposable after a few years, though durable enough if you don't mind just leaving it alone.

However, each rule seems to have exceptions. The Lerberg shelves are pretty solid - but I still wouldn't want to put much torque on them. Perhaps my expectations are unrealistic...

Well, I could always go back to wood crates. The classic look... wood never goes out of style.

Nah. Crates are expected when you're in your 20s and into your 30s. Above that? Nah.

I guess I'll stay with Ikea furniture...

J.

A bit late, a bit false.

Obama Decries Racial Rhetoric

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) - Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday decried "the forces of division" over race that he said are intruding into the Democratic presidential nomination contest.

"We have to come together," he told a town-hall meeting at a high school.

He cited videos of inflammatory sermons given by his pastor that are now being used as political ammunition against him—remarks that Obama has denounced.

The problem I have with this... is that the messages of supremacy, entitlement and hate (and apparently this wasn't a one-time thing with Pastor Wright, but instead a continual theme) have a long history of hiding in the background and then flowering when conditions are right. (See the KKK, or post WW1 Germany for examples.) It could be argued that this isn't what Obama believes, but statements by his wife indicate that it's not too far from the surface in her case... and if he's been indoctrinated in it for 20 years (and understanding the comfort people find in religion, I note that people stay in churches where they get affirmation of their beliefs, not one that makes them actively uncomfortable...) then there's likely a good strain of it in his psyche.

And if someone like Romney is unsuitable for the Presidency because of his Mormon background - how should Obama be judged, looking at the beliefs of the church he attends?

J.

Good News is No News

Information Warfare: The Iraq War Fades Away

News directors say they are putting more effort into covering the presidential election, and the usual stories (celebrity scandals, disasters of any sort, notorious criminals). But there are other reasons for ignoring Iraq. Since last Summer, more good news than bad news began to come back from the front. This was not useful for news organizations. Bad news makes money (by attracting larger audiences for advertisers), good news is useless.

Well, as I've said in the past, the less news we see out of Iraq, the better things are going. Is it possible to win a war that the press refuses to admit exists?

J.

March 16, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA: Coolest Winter Since 2001 for U.S., Globe

The average temperature across both the contiguous U.S. and the globe during climatological winter (December 2007-February 2008) was the coolest since 2001, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. In terms of winter precipitation, Pacific storms, bringing heavy precipitation to large parts of the West, produced high snowpack that will provide welcome runoff this spring.

But - the cold temperatures should be proof of the climate change hypothesis that man's screwed up the environment.

But somehow? I've got my doubts...

J.

March 15, 2008

Hmmm.

spiralbound.net サ MIT Guide to Lock Picking - Table Of Contents

Well, you just never know what you'll find on the internets...

J.


March 14, 2008

Expedited Self-Disassembly

The Democrats... gack. I'm sick of the Eternal Campaign, I'm tired of watching the fratricidal antics of Obama and Hillary... yet at the same time it's like watching a car wreck - you want to see what happens next, and see if any survivors manage to make it out even as you're dragging out your cell phone and calling 911.

But I don't think there's any paramedics that can rescue the Democrats at this point - their digging at each other has gotten too hard, too deep, too angry. Even the media can't hide it, and the explanations coming from both sides don't satisfy any but their most ardent supporters.

Hillary - well, what can I say? She's trying to change the rules of the game after the game's started, trying to get Florida and Michigan back into play. And Obama? Well, the latest revalations about the 'pastor' of his church being violently anti-white and anti-American (really, preaching about the United States of KKK-America) tend to explain why Michelle Obama has the attitude she does.

This 'pastor' has been spewing his venom for the two decades Obama's been going to the 'Church of Hate Whitey and the US' - looks like some of it rubbed off.

And again you've got to ask yourself - if these two are the BEST the Democrats have to offer - dishing out liberal (in the quantitative sense, not the political sense) servings of anger and racism, class-warfare and divisiveness, coupled with inept campaigning and fratricidal politicing within their own party, why in the hell would we want them running the country?

Or anything, for that matter?

J.

Safe For Work.

boortz.com: More Boortz The Ultimate Peep Show

Enjoy!

J.


Class envy.

I wonder if the Dems support Chavez because they envy him...

Consider it - he's got near-total power. He's got oil. He's moderately photogenic. He's flippin' off Bush. What's not to love?

The question is - would the Democrats deliberately screw over one country to support a dictatorship? The answer, apparently, is "In a hearbeat."

The Chávez Democrats - WSJ.com

These are the same Democrats who preach the virtues of "soft power" and diplomacy, while deriding Mr. Bush for being too quick to use military force. But trade is a classic form of soft power that would expand U.S. and Latin ties in a web of commercial interests. More than 8,000 U.S. companies currently export to Colombia, nearly 85% of which are small and medium-sized firms. Colombia is already the largest South American market for U.S. farm products, and the pact would open Colombia to new competition and entrepreneurship. (Whoops! Can't have that! - J.)

Which brings us back to Mr. Chávez and his many Democratic friends. Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd's early support helped the strongman consolidate his power. Former President Jimmy Carter blessed Mr. Chávez's August 2004 recall victory, despite evidence of fraud. And then there are the many House Democrats, current and former, who have accepted discount oil from Venezuela and then distributed it in the U.S. to boost their own political fortunes. Joseph P. Kennedy II and Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt have been especially cozy with Venezuela's oil company. If Democrats spurn free trade with Colombia, these Democratic ties with Mr. Chávez will deserve more political scrutiny.

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both competing for union support. But if they wanted to demonstrate their own Presidential qualities, they'd be privately telling Ms. Pelosi to pass the Colombia pact while Mr. Bush is still in office. That would spare either one of them from having to spend political capital to pass it next year.

Instead, both say they oppose the deal on grounds that Mr. Uribe has not done more to protect "trade unionists." In fact, Mr. Uribe has done more to reduce violence in Colombia than any modern leader in Bogotá. The real question for Democrats is whether they're going to choose Colombia -- or Hugo Chávez.

My money's on Chavez. The Dems haven't met a dictator they didn't love. Chavez will not be the exception to that.

J.

March 13, 2008

Not surprising...

Audiophiles can't tell the difference between Monster Cable and coat hangers - Engadget

It's about getting power to the speakers - get that done and you're golden. You don't get more power by using a more expensive cable, you get more power by making sure you've got enough metal to handle the expected load. 4-gauge stranded copper would probably be best - and it'll be a lot cheaper per foot than Monster cables.

(And the theory you need high-cost cables for DIGITAL signals? Heh. If you need an ethernet cable, you can get a 25' Cat6 cable at WalMart for under $10. But the salesman will tell you that you're going to need something that costs roughly $5 a foot... If the 1s and 0s make it through, that's all that counts.)

J.

March 12, 2008

Democrats Eating Their Own?

It's... interesting watching what's going on between Obama and Hillary. Accusations of racism, Ferraro coming out and saying Obama wouldn't be where he is if he weren't black, Hillary offering Obama the #2 spot - Obama refusing because if he's not good enough to be #1, why would she want him as #2? The Spitzer scandal... Hillary trying to get Florida and Michigan's elections to count again... things are getting real interesting on the Dem side of the spectrum. I do believe that the Obama and Hillary show will be getting even uglier in the next few weeks - there's a strong undercurrent of 'entitlement' there for Hillary, and I don't believe she's going to let go without a real fight.

Of course in order to do that, she's going to have to get the media involved as her proxy weapons involve trashing Obama, but they don't seem as sympathetic as in years past. I believe that at least SOME of them are starting to understand that the existance of this country does depend on having competent leadership in the White House, and having someone with a royalty complex in the Hot Seat may very well end up with them being forcibly silenced. And for all the griping about how Bush stifles free speech rights, they ain't seen nothin' yet - and will likely get an up-close and personal look at that if Hil gets into power.

On the Republican side... well, things are pretty set on McCain at this point. Well, it could be worse - Ron Paul only recently gave up his run for the Hot Seat.

It'll be interesting to see what happens in the next month or two with the Democrats. After Hil's Mississippi loss, I don't believe she can win without the Superdelegates intervention, and with Spitzer being forced out of office I think she just lost one.

Will she fight to the end? Will she attempt to slam McCain as being unfit to lead? Stay tuned for the next episode of "Stomach Churning Politics"!

J.

That's ... interesting.

village voice > news > David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal' by David Mamet

I took the liberal view for many decades, but I believe I have changed my mind.

As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer applied them in my life. How do I know? My wife informed me. We were riding along and listening to NPR. I felt my facial muscles tightening, and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the fuck up. "?" she prompted. And her terse, elegant summation, as always, awakened me to a deeper truth: I had been listening to NPR and reading various organs of national opinion for years, wonder and rage contending for pride of place. Further: I found I had been—rather charmingly, I thought—referring to myself for years as "a brain-dead liberal," and to NPR as "National Palestinian Radio."

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong.

But in my life, a brief review revealed, everything was not always wrong, and neither was nor is always wrong in the community in which I live, or in my country. Further, it was not always wrong in previous communities in which I lived, and among the various and mobile classes of which I was at various times a part.

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it?

More on this later - but I do believe the guy's hit on the essential contradiction of liberalism. "Everything sucks, but people are essentially good."

Hmmm.

More on this later, hopefully.

Later -

You might want to take a look at the comments. Boy, there's a lot of folks who are calling him everything but a traitor to the liberal cause (and by the time you get to them, there's probably going to be someone saying that) ... but some who are saying he nailed it. What's your take?

J.

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