Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2011

Next year, my son and I will dress up as Luke Skywalker with Yoda on his back like in Empire Strikes Back. Only one year away.

Enjoy Halloween tonight!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hillary is cackling in her Mansion

As I blogged here months ago, Hillary is biding her time. This AP poll must encourage Hillary. The most frightening thing for Obama in this poll has to be that Independents are against him beign reelected 46-36, and this poll is kinder than the other poll that says 56% do not think he deserves another term. This is all very very early, but Hillary has to be thinking about going for it. If she wants to go for it, she has to break with Barry early 2011. She would also be calculating that things do not get much better in the economy from now to mid 2012.

People forget that the Democratic leadership took Michigan delegates away from Hillary and gave them to Obama even though he was not on the ballot. He won caucus states and lost primary states because it is tougher to rig primaries. People forget she had the momentum in March and April, and Barry struggled through the summer. They chose to toss the old news woman out for the shiny new thing.

The Harmful Self Esteem Boost of the Internet

I've blogged on the Internet 2.0 Me-Me-Me side evident now with the Internet. It's an enabler of the self absorption of modern folks. This is an actual problem in our current society as people do not understand that being a proper citizen is not just looking out for yourself. There are responsibilities to being a citizen, recognizing where your country's total interests lie and how you fit into that. French protests over the increase to the retirement age to 62 (from 60), is an example of this selfishness. The protestors do not understand that to make the whole system continue, they have to give 2 more years back to society before they start their slow, steady drip of pension payments. The self centered behavior of so many people is amplified by the funnel effect of social media websites, twitter, tumblr, youtube and even internet dating websites.

There are positives to these applications and platforms. The ability to connect and share information are two great effects. The downside is that a lot of people start feeling like they are rock stars. No, you are a normal person, and that is OK. Just because 25 people 'like' a status update does not make you special. When in college, a professor told me that the tough transition for so many idealistic college students is when they hit the real world, find out they are normal people who can do great things, but realize they are not going to be President, rock star, great inventor, etc. Some people crumble as that reality hits them, and they fail to take risks or face challenges because the big prize is not there. They don't reach the limits of their potential because they now know their potential doesn't include mass fame or fortune. Others have Walter Mitty level delusions that they dive deep into. The internet enables this.

The clearest example of this I see on a day to day basis is the non-stop attention and self esteem boost of any single, semi-attractive woman through their internet applications by the mindless, idiotic men who give attention to any woman who have a decent picture to share. The unending small likes and comments continuously boost people's perception of their own value. This creates monsters. South Park handled this wonderfully in "The List", as the ghost of Abraham Lincoln explains that beautiful people don't develop character, and that ugly people have to work hard for things earning later rewards. This is true as beauty is fleeting in a society that values youth so highly. If all a person defines their value is through their perceived beauty, they will face a crushing shock when it goes.

I wonder what will happen to all of these attractive or semi-attractive single women once time creeps up on them. What happens when the stream of picture replies, ;) flirt posts, and 'likes' dry up or are shifted to a younger cute person. As a man, I know that any single straight guy sending a single woman a friend request wants to sleep with them. We're simple creatures with simple motives. When the thousands of tumblr followers that stuck around for your bikini or nude photos find the next hot thing and those numbers dwindle to just your friends, how will your ego withstand the assault? Many people have a midlife crisis, but will the snapback to reality or the sign of a few wrinkles or gravity throw a lot of young women into a 1/3 life crisis? The idea of another X-life crisis ties into the self absorption theme. The world really doesn't care about your little updates and tweets, and you better believe it now. Far better to be honest with yourself and grow from there than to delude yourself and stagnate.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Flashback: Bust a Move

This was my favorite song in 4th grade. I loved the line "she's dressed in yellow, she says hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow". Oh my gosh, that is Flea playing bass in the video!

A Money and Meth Murder

The jury got this one right. "Ninjas" went in and murdered a couple (Billings, CNN data here) for supposed millions. The couple had adopted many children, and had 9 special needs children living under their roof at the time. These "Ninjas" used a gun. Seriously, real ninjas don't need guns. Too bad Byrd Billings didn't sleep with an AK-47 in his bedroom. If you're going to keep lots of money at home (family safe had 165K+/-), it is probably a good idea to keep some weapons handy to defend it. I put Meth in the title as the ringleader and his dad look like they are meth heads, don't they? The dad has that super wrinly meth look like in the 'faces of meth' project. A person would have to be on meth to convince others to dress up as 'ninjas' and kill a couple with 9 children in their home that had surveillance cameras.

I hope they all get life in prison and sissies for some bigger bubbas in Florida's prison system.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Household Robots Coming Soon

I can't wait for household robots. Check out this video. A master chef robot would be fantastic, just imagine if that robot could also play the piano for you after your meal. The possibilities are only years away now, not decades. I, of course, am looking forward to sex robots. One entertaining writer has written about the ramifications to different groups when sex robots hit the market. I see divorce decreasing as men will act out desires with the robot rather than a human mistress. Marriage might also change in that partner selection might be focused more on the woman's qualities less than her looks that she would offer for companionship, for building wealth, and what she could pass down to children. The beautiful ditz with no personality or a crazy personality might just be relegated to physical affairs and never be proposed to, as a guy will have the plug in version of her at home. He might really want a long term relationship with a well rounded woman. Imagine a world where men value mental stability, common sense and intelligence moreso than beauty in a partner because they can always crank up the sexbot. This could create far more stable children with better aptitude. This could backfire, and men could hold out until the hottest chick they think they can ever get becomes available. I keep saying men, because men are visual creatures when it comes to mate selection more than women. The more I hear women talk about how they select partners, the less I understand.

I freely admit I would buy a sex robot. I'd probably go with a Grace Kelly 1953, Marisa Miller 2008 or Salma Hayek 2002. I would be perfectly fine with my wife having one as well. It's only a robot. The first generation or two would probably be simple, one look designs. It would take a few years, but the 3rd generation or 4th could be when the robots would change their look on command or photo upload. Apple would totally sell iSexbots, design them wonderfully, and continuously release a new version every 9 months to piss you off. Apple has to figure out something new because laptops and phones eventually become price battlefields.

I do agree with the above linked author that if marriage did decay to nothing in a sex robot world, it would be the end of western civilization.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Election 2010

Looks like the Tea Party is reshaping American politics already. What does the Tea Party stand for? No more bailouts, cut spending, a sound currency. That is about it. it is a movement based on an idea that bailouts are bad as the government decides who wins and loses. I'm a big fan. It has caused the GOP to shapen up. It has caused some Dems to sing new tunes (Coons in Delaware and Feingold in Wisconsin come to mind). It has caused some states to elect virtual unknowns and toss the political creatures out on their asses. It has created a couple of rock stars as Rubio from Florida will probably be the GOP VP in 2016 or potential nominee in '16 or '20. It is cool to watch, and I hope they stick to their guns and cut back on spending before the dollar goes in the tank.

Could this trainwreck have been avoided? Yes. On the phone with my friend who works in Congress, we walked back to figure out where things went wrong. I argue that Obama went wrong when he did not break up Citigroup or AIG in spring of 2009 when they asked for more money. That was his chance. If he had broken them up, sure the economy would still be bad now but some of the big banksters would have been wiped out and 'dealt with'. A lot of regular Joes would have felt good that the banksters got a pounding. It would have given him a huge cushion with the American people. It also would have scared the other Wall St banks into cooperation. Instead, we just got business as usual. Busting up those Wall St banks and AIG would have given him some leeway with his broken promises of "no new net spending" or "no new taxes for anyone under 250K in income".

My friend argues that the inflection point for Obama was in winter of 2009-2010 when he kept pushing health care reform. The summer 'town hall' meetings of 2009 where angry citizens yelled at their Congressmen in normally polite districts should have been the warning. Instead, he kept talking, and talking, and talking, and demonizing people who disagreed, and talking. Nothing ever changed except that the HCR bill ended up as something that no one liked, not even the libs. The Scott Brown Massachusetts Miracle should have been the red light to not go any further, but Obama did not stop. A Republican won the Kennedy seat, and won it by 5% with MSNBC calling him a racist homophobe and the national GOP not helping much. Obama and Co trucked onward and now they are facing the wrath of angry voters who live in economic uncertainty and view each move by the administration as a sop to Big Banks, Big Pharm, Big Unions, GM, etc. If Obama had not pushed HCR, he could have blamed the economic crapfest on the banks not lending.

My friend's reasoning has points, but it feels too 'one issue' to me. I think a lot of people feel the Dems didn't give them the change they were looking for, and many independent voters feel bamboozled by Obama the candidate vs. Obama the president. I disliked him as a person, but thought he was sharp enough to prove my doubts wrong. As a person, I feel he is the ultimate opportunist who will be everything to everyone to be liked, never really making a stand. He gives speeches that say he hates banks, but every action and step he has taken only helps the big banks more. He says he gets it with gays, but does the opposite. He says he is trying to strengthen relations with allies, yet disses the Brits, snubs the Germans, doesn't curry favor with India or Japan and bows to countless other leaders. This all goes back to spring of 2009 with the banks. They came crawling to the Feds for more bailout money. That was his chance to be tough. Obama gave them billions more. Empty tough talk. Obama claimed on the news he was disgusted by AIG's bonuses, yet he signed the bill that allowed them. He had power to stop things, but didn't, which means he either is incredibly incompetent or is lying through his teeth. This election is his warning. He can change if he wants to, and he is given 2 more years to do so.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

George Bernard Shaw: Smart Angry Poor Kid

George Bernard Shaw is a go to quotation machine for college kids. He was a king of sound bites before the mass media age. I've quoted him here on this blog. I loved his witty remarkes so much that when in Dublin for 2 days, I trekked up to his boyhood home for the audio tour. It is a waste of time, and I suggest going elsewhere for your time in Dublin. He grew up in a modest household in a row house. He had great talent, but his politics were weird with the socialism, hatred of wealth (despite being wealthy) and eugenics all mixed in together. I admire his dislike of formal schooling, his dedication to autodidacticism and his creativity.

He had one quote that always struck me as odd, "Gambling promises the poor what property performs for the rich, something for nothing." Seeing his childhood home and knowing his early life surroundings and backstory, one can see how GBS would have no clue about ownership of property. He was a child and young man in Victorian Ireland/England, and not part of the rapidly growing middle class. Not all land is for exploitation. Not all property is ill got. He perceived it that way. There is usually, when not 100% debt financed, savings (delayed consumption) used to purchase property. Someone has sacrificed some money to purchase land or property. Property itself can be used many ways, and a landlord takes a risk by leasing it out to others for use. There is always a risk taken by any investment in property. It is interesting GBS did not notice the massive expansion of wealth in Victorian England, dragging millions above the poverty line. GBS did not get that. He was still in the feudal mindset, as if property was bequeathed to the gentry to exploit along with ruining the lives of the dirty poor.

"You see things, and you say why? But I dream things that never were, and I say why not?" - GBS

Where Have the Good Protest Songs Gone?

A truly amazing hippie song from 1970. If this truly is live, and not just a well done lip synch by all involved, she has an even more amazing voice than I previously thought. I get the chills form this song.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Built In Parenting

As parenthood looms 3 months from now, I take in as many great and horrible stories from current parents. Women at work are a great source for material as they love to exploit their kids, praise them, whine about them, and scare people out of having kids. I still have not told them I'm going to be a dad in January, as I don't want to. Plus, it will be more fun to drop it on them with one month to go. As I talk more with these people, my respect and sympathy grows for the women and men who enter built in families as step-parents.

Developing love for a partner is a wonderful and mysterious process. It is not like the (usual) familial love that is developed even before we have our proper identities. It is a truly great act of love to look past the issue of a ready made family to still love someone. It is even more amazing the parent-child love that can develop between a step-parent and a child. My sister walked into a situation like this and I commend her 100% effort in being a supportive parent with her husband. I have a coworker in that situation as well who does an admirable job. I also have several single moms in my office, and I wonder who is going to look past that for anything long term.

Built in parenting is thrown into the whole 'package' of evaluating a potential long term lover. It can be a minor obstacle or it could be a dealbreaker. When I was a younger man, I considered a woman with children a no-go. No way was I going to raise some other @sshole's child or deal with that guy entering my household on weekends to take a member of my family unit away. Friends talking over cards would say to one another, "Are we going to find the girl of our dreams 5-10 years from now with a kid? Will we have to date them then?" At 20, we were stupid to the fact that older men can always date down in age due to partner picking habits of women. We saw everything through early 20s male prisms. As I age, I've softened a bit on the no existing kids embargo, but I can say that as a married man. If I were still single, I'd probably go right back to my 'no kids' rule. This makes me consider the love people have for their partners with pre-existing children so special. To love someone so much that one would accept the role of parent from day one is a testament to the strength and depth of their devotion and love.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

School Dinners?

School Dinners are potentially coming to some school districts. Of course, the human shield of 'it's for the children' is employed to explain the program. This is so children don't starve. Yeah, that $1 box of pasta is way too expensive. Buried in the article is that students stay in after school care until 6:30pm and some don't get a meal when they go home. That is 12 hours at school. This program sounds like it is being put in place for horrible parents to further shirk responsibility. If you don't feed you kid when they come home from school, you're a dipshit. Let's be frank. Why do they still have the kid? I heard that child protective services took kids on plenty of erroneous charges. Why would not feeding your children not fall into that category? Isn't that one of the basics of parenting: food shelter, water, don't kill.

Why not turn the school into an orphanage that the parents turn the kids into for 24-7 care?
How come the children live below the poverty line, and most likely have unemployed parents, yet need after school care?
Why are the kids in afterschool care until 6:30pm?
Why doesn't Fox News go after the fraud parents rather than say the program will potentially break up American families?

That last question makes me wonder why Fox News went light on degenerates, which they love to go after on a regular basis. If the dinner program is voluntary, people who care about their kids will not participate. The folks who could have family break up issues are people already willing to turn schools into the pseudo-parents. After all, if you see your kids from 6:30pm to bed time and then before school Monday through Friday, how much of a connection do you have*?

*This applies to the rich as well as poor.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where are the Eccentric Billionaires?

A lot of current art is derivative or disgusting where it is complete schlock to appeal to the common denominator or 'abrasive' by defiling or mocking approved things or people. it is still creative. There is another group of people lacking true creativity: billionaires. Modern billionaires are boring robots of wealth. They do their philanthropy with the same hands that they use to wring out as much money as possible from their industries. Larry Ellison is the closest we have to eccentric billionaire, but he loves toys and doing wild things like turning his swimming pool into a giant woofer. Most make their money, have fun and give to charity. Where is Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark? Why has no billionaire gone on vigilante streaks or even built megaweapons to hold the world hostage to their maniacal ways? Our billionaires are boring.

It is not too hard to go from billionaire to awesome billionaire out of an action story. Tony Stark is just a vigilante version of Alfried Krupp. Both are brilliant engineers who inherit weapon manufacturing conglomerates and are uber wealthy. Stark just happens to have more fun (sex) and fight crime with an exoskeleton. Sex and an exoskeleton are the two differences between them. Age cannot be an excuse as some of the billionaires out there are young like the Google or Facebook guys. They just need one change. The Google creators could 'retire' and then turn their lives to patrolling ghetto areas with robot cops or overthrowing 3rd world warlords with private armies with sophisticated weaponry. Howard Hughes was an awesome billionaire with eccentric behavior who was an oil man with innovator and test pilot tendencies. These are the possibilities. Instead we get nerdery, charity and boring billionaire lives.

If I were one of the Facebook/Google/Oil billionaires, I would go full throttle with eccentricity. With the wealth of a billionaire and the legacy of changing the world with your company already, why not make a splash? I'd spend some money in a partnership with the Japanese to help build their moon base. While the base is built (think cooler biosphere 2), I'd have to figure out revenue streams to pay for living there to limit the drawdown of my billions. Once complete I would go there myself to live, and allow for scientists to do studies there for a fee. I'd also have to have some robotic mining there and then use a mass driver to send the materials back to Earth. After a while, I'd have hydroponic vegetables and fruits along with lab grown meat for food. With the amount of water on the moon, I could maintain myself for quite a while. Once secure in that setting, I could then take a next step. Maybe set up the moon as a vacation spot or colony. With tax free status, it could draw mass immigration of knowledge based workers who write code, create digital art or literature or do scientific research that works in low gravity. The mass driver and difficult access would act as security. Maybe the next step is destroying nations with the mass driver until my demands are met. With a moon base, there are many possibilities. These possibilities are all better than what we see from our current billionaire class currently.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The "iDepression 2.0"

My ramblings are incoherent and childish in comparison to the essay here on the new Great Depression. The name alone is fantastic and timely with our consumer product obsession with Apple: the iDepression 2.0. Please click over and take 5 minutes to read this.

Rights vs. Luxuries

The French are in the midst of major protests that have shut down the nation. Trains are running but not many cars. The people are fired up. They want to restore their rights, the very right their grandparents fought for. The right to retire at age 60. Seriously, they are whining because the retirement age is going to be raised to 62. They can't raise taxes as the money is not there and the economy is just as bad as here. They need to reduce spending and a huge way to help is to push out retirement. The stench of entitlement is amazing in the quotes. As far as fighting, no, no one fought for those rights in France. We rebuilt France after WW2 with the Marshall plan, and everytime the French wanted more vacations, fewer hours and lower retirement ages, they went on strike at an inopportune time. Game over fools, the piper must be paid.

***The social security full retirement age is 67 in the US.

Just Walk

You don't have to be Arnold in the gym to get benefits from being active. A new study showed that walking 6-9 miles a week slows brain matter shrinking. This reduces chances of dementia, memory loss and other aging brain problems. It really is simple, as there was no extra benefit to walking more. That is 6 miles, roughly 31,000 feet, which broken down by 2 foot long strides is 15,500 steps. Spread out over a week; it is roughly 2,000 steps a day dedicated to a walk. That is a little bit of work for a great reward.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mad Men Finale Recap

"One day Mad Men is going to end, and we're going to miss it... so I'm enjoying every episode while it lasts" - Me, to my wife, midway through this season. I'm not going to bitch. I'm not going to huff and puff. From the betrayal and pain I felt from LOST's series finale and final season, I learned to enjoy my favorite shows with passion and enjoy what they give me during the journey. Season 4 was fantastic and got back to the heart of the show: what happens in the office. Less Betty, less soap opera BS, no dream sequences, just good writing, good acting and great storylines this season.

The Office

SCDP was a new start for the gang, and a lot of relationships changed this year. Don and Peggy have a much deeper relationship, and Peggy's growth into a go getter on her own rather than Don's extension has been rgeat to watch. I loved the Topaz stuff in the finale as Ken told her nice job when she coaxed the model into giving up why Topaz fired the entire crew. Ken and her tag teamed Topaz and got a client. Pete and Don patched things up. Pete even stood up for himself to Don. Pete is a jerk, but is a jerk that works hard. He isn't gifted like Ken, and Ken isn't going to slave away for the office the way the others do. Ken was the published writer a couple seasons ago. Pete, Don and Roger all went to the funeral several episodes ago and heard vivid descriptions of the account man who put his work ahead of his family time and time again. People in the office are making those choices now, and it is interesting how they are choosing. Peggy is obviously choosing work. Roger has been jolted into digging more into work as the beautiful trophy wife and memoirs do not satisfy his needs. Joan has to work because she married the most incompetent surgeon in NYC. They formed SCDP to not be sucked up into the soulless big firm, but they are still slaves to the office.

The Relationships

Peggy and Don this year were fantastic to watch together. Their friendship or mentor-mentee relationship really grew this season, and is the heart of the show. Peggy's 'early women's movement' moments were smart and great to watch. I see this growing more and more. Heck, I loved the scene of Joan and Peggy saying "WTF" about Don's news. That's a real work moment. Joan & Peggy have had an interesting year together, and I hope they become a closer friendship. Pete is a bastard, and even if he isn't the 'man' Roger is, it was nice seeing him be the account man he has always pretended to be. He finally lives up to his talk. He's assertive with Don, Roger, and his father in law. Good for conflict. Sally Draper was a discovery and joy this season. Her interactions with Betty, Don and others were excellent, and I hope we see much more of her in the future. I loved Roger this year as he is so desperate to relive the past. He writes memoirs for christ sake of his lame life titled "Sterling's Gold". He keeps flirting and going back to Joan to relive that beautiful affair... and yes I was right about how Joan handled the situation. He is afraid of dying and even his 22 yr old wife cannot keep him for facing it.
Dr. Douche & Betty

Joan's husband, Dr. Douche, and Betty get their own mention. I have never wanted to see an American character die in a war setting, even the pansy guy in "Saving Private Ryan", but man, I really hope Dr. Douche dies in Vietnam. Betty slowly morphed into the cold blooded mom, and her firing of Carla sealed her entry into the "Worst Mom on TV" awards. I hope these characters go away.
Don Draper

Don is the wind, the engine, the force of this show. He's fallen so far and so fast. Has he hit rock bottom? Yeah, I think so. Is he the kind of guy who just brushes off the dust and starts new at the first sign of trouble? Yes, he is. That is why his proposal shouldn't be a shock. In season 1 when Pete tried to blackmail him, he was going to run away with his Jewish mistress and leave his kids and wife behind. In season 3, he had a huge identity crisis and didn't want to sign a contract, buzzing out in the middle of the night. He loses Anna, has limited touch with his kids, and drinks so much he muddies his own abilities at work (the drunk & lame cereal pitch). Heck, he needs an award to feel vindicated. The proposal to Megan should not surprise anyone. It is a new try at a fresh start. The Dick Whitman knowledge is buried deeper now with Anna's death. He can start fresh. She adores him. She's educated. (I loved the self aware line about big teeth) The entire trip he saw Megan do what Betty could never do for 5 minutes without Carla. He also saw Megan respond to a small mishap in a manner Betty never would have. This is how struggling men think. They see someone they sleep with, then they see them do things that they envision a 'good mom/wife' doing. They then do stupid things like extrapolate it out to marriage. This accounts for many marriages today. It is a terrible idea, but to a confused Don who is looking for love and stability, a pretty woman good with kids will do for now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and The Prestige

How does magic factor in with modern pop music? The suspension of disbelief is critical in both, as is the idea of the performer being part of the illusion. Musicians have always had that struggle between artist and product, but modern pop music is heavy on the product and light on the artistry. There is a slight feud between Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, which feels very one sided as Perry snipes at Gaga and Gaga just owns her in every way. Whatever they do, this could possibly end like The Prestige.

Yes, one of these women could kill the other. Crazy stuff happens in the music world, and we have not lost a musician at age 27 since Kurt Cobain in the '90s. Why compare these two to the leads in a movie about magicians in Victorian Era England? They are living the duel out in reality. Lady Gaga is the Christian Bale character with the amazing trick that Katy Perry's Hugh Jackman is jealous of and obsessed with topping. They all operate in entertainment. Perry wants to be the sexy pop star, but does not want to get her hands dirty with real emotion or hard work for her songs. Perry, like Jackman, is high on style, does outlandish things to appear different, and imitates the superior Gaga. It all feels so forced. Gaga, like Bale, is completely committed to her craft. Similar to Bale's character, Lady Gaga lives her stage character 24-7. She never appears out of character, which is the same as Bale in The Prestige. Perry's failures to trump Gaga must eat at her, and I would not put it past her to ratchet up the sniping. I would not put it past Gaga to destroy Perry with her next album release. This could continually escalate until one maladjusted woman kills the other. Pop music could use this.

Nice Farewell to "June Cleaver"

Much nicer tribute here to the woman who played Mrs. Cleaver than I read in the mainstream media. I would rather live with Mrs. Cleaver than any TV mom on today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Suicide and the Internet

An incredibly tricky legal issue is suicide and blame. The case in Massachusetts where 4 girls and 2 boys bullied a girl who eventually killed herself did result in charges against the bullies. The Rutgers boy who killed himself after an outing might involve more charges than just invasion of privacy; the ever flexible hate crim charges. Unless a Dr. Kevorkian, how do you charge someone for the individual action of another? A very interesting, and long, read is this article on a twisted individual in a chat room for suicide methods. The article does a great job of spotlighting the unique problems with prosecuting and another dangerous side of the Internet. While these chat rooms can help people not choose suicide as a way out, they are also a weapon in the hands of the wrong person. Reading the section that details the sick f*ck's past employment issues as a nurse, one gets the feeling that despite all of his denials, this was an adrenaline rush and high for him. If you have nothing to do for a little while, read this article. The anonymity of the Internet at its darkest is on display.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Motorcycle Airbags

A few years back, I told my wife that they should develop inflatable cushions for motorcyclists thrown from their bikes. That crazy invention idea is close to a reality. Alpinestars Inc is bringing a motorcycle airbag system to the market. This could have a huge impact on motorcycle fatalities and injuries. This would be an excellent addition to motor vehicle safety. Countless young daredevils would still be with us, and many relatives would breathe a sigh of relief when watching their loved one drive off.

I'm totally making this my commuter ride when the airbag systems are refined.

Colleges Let Students Decide the Issues: Mascots

Ole Miss changed their mascot from Colonel Reb to a black bear. This change was in the making once the school admin pulled Colonel Reb from the field and 'retired' him. It was controversial. The student wanted a damn mascot and started the voting process for a new one. Glad Ole Miss allowed students some control over their school. I do not like how wikipedia implies that Colonel Reb was gladly sent away back to his plantation with antebellum architectural design. If the change is to shed the association with the Civil War Dixie era, then why keep the nickname "rebels"? Now a black bear represents the rebels of Ole Miss. Stupid. This is another example of some white people getting offended on behalf of others. It's not like Ole Miss does a good job of representing the ethnic make up of their own state with the student body: 15% of Ole Miss is black kids vs. 37% of the state of Mississippi. Let's concentrate on reaching out to black students rather than some token gesture of getting rid of a mascot. Stupid.

They still should have voted for Admiral Ackbar.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Money Gonna Get Blown the F*ck Up

I really hope that the endgame discussed here does not happen. This is moral hazard. This is a bail out of people in the 'sand' states who got caught in the frenzy of the housing bubble. This is the government deciding who wins and who loses. This will be another example of adults not being held accountable to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Where is the help for the elderly who saw their property taxes skyrocket during the bubble that passed them by?

What about the 1/3 of homeowners who own their homes outright?

What about the 1/3 of the nation that rents?

What about people who pay their mortgage on time?

How is this going to be enacted? Will they just say all mortgages in bubble areas get a 25% principal reduction? Will they go and individually examine each case?

Finally, what do we do when we allow some rich f*ck in California who didn't pay his mortgage even though he could for two years to have 25% of his mortgage wiped away, and then the bastard hangs around 5 years and sees his house appreciate and then he sells the home and pockets $250k?

Just remind me about 'fair' if this happens.

Demographics of Internet Self Publishing

I wonder what the average age of users of blogger are compared to wordpress and tumblr. I wonder what percentage of blogger, wordpress and tumblr users are gay. What are the race splits? What is the geographic distribution? It would be an interesting look to see who uses what. I'd give tumblr another year to gain more users, and then we could have a better spread of users.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day

Columbus Day celebrates the 'discovery' of the Americas by Columbus. His journey was a quest for a quicker passage to Asia for trade. He bumped into another continent. Columbus Day is a celebration hated by liberals and used to once again demonize Western Civilization (because American Indians are pure). What Columbus had no knowledge of was that the new continents would be fertile ground for new ideas, an outlet for disgruntled and creative souls, and a land of 2nd chances for outcasts, the oppressed and petty criminals. When I think of Columbus' efforts and the subsequent colonization of the Americas, I thank that history unfolded as it did to give me and my friends and family the opportunity to live in wonderful wealth when compared to many others on this planet. Here's a graph, and a link to explain the graph, to explain just how lucky we in America are.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ithaca: "Ten Square Miles, Surrounded by Reality"

Great little essay here from a person who lived quite a while in Ithaca. This essay could describe most college towns in America. College and college towns are amazing as you will not find an environment like them anywhere else, not even Amsterdam. The openness of drug use, hypersexuality, sharing of ideas and exposure to a wide variety of cultures, and the phenomenon only at a college: LUGs. Weird how this is not replicated elsewhere. The last line of the first paragraph says it all, "It is a place of acceptance of all ideas except the wrong ones, who are open to all cultures but will never change their own".

Saturday, October 09, 2010

NY Times Unwarranted Soap-box: Stay at Home Dad Whining

The NY Times Magazine section had a little essay written by a stay at home dad. He was bitching about the spotlight placed on him by stay at home moms and assorted others at different kid things. Here's a suggestion NY Times: start screening things before you run them. Here's a suggestion to the dad: don't take your identity crisis and hatred of your life out on others around you that are trying to be 'nice' to you since you are obviously the outlier at events. Doesn't it feel like the NY Times actively wants readers to dislike the people they spotlight? I hope that is the case and not obliviousness to the lame traits of the people they showcase. This guy is an entertaining whiner.

Boo-hoo, so you're the only dad at many, daytime kid events. These women are trying to be inclusive. It strikes me as a little odd how Mommy and Me centric these daytime activities are, and they might change lyrics or a story to use Daddy instead so you don't feel left out. This is a side effect of people always trying to be sensitive about diversity. Go out of your way to include a guy and he freaks out. He feels ostracized as they try to include him. Thank God they didn't automatically accuse him of being a molester. The librarian was damned if she did or not. Buck up buddy, you are the outlier, so get used to it. Maybe some women gave him attention because in the back of their mind they were attracted to him as they saw him as 'taken' and an engaged parent (stamp of approval!!!). This is your life as long as you be the stay at home dad so get used to it.

Possibly the lamest portion of the essay was his mention of 'manpowerment'. Seriously, you need to feel empowered to get in touch with your feelings? What are these feelings? Are they different from normal emotions men should have as a 3 dimensional human being? He never writes what they are, which would have been more interesting than his whining. Men get together and blog or conference about this. This sounds like the 'bitch session' discussion in the original "The Stepford Wives". If all he wants is to be treated the same and ignored, then why go through the conferencing, blogging and whining to the NY Times? Just be as good a dad as you can to your infant daughter.

Obviously, this guy has issues with his own life and whined to the NY Times. That is why he doesn't write about the feelings he gets in touch with or faces. The essay is more about his reactions to the benign, inclusive behavior. Nothing is good enough. He gets to have time with his daughter and recognition from all others around him for it, and yet he whines. The manpowerment paragraph and his examples of being the only dad around at different moments implies he doesn't feel like a 'man'. It doesn't make him a lesser man to stay at home. Women today can be primary income earners, which means men can be primary child care providers. Despite writing to the NY Times, he doesn't want the attention because it will remind him he is doing something different from 'traditional' gender roles. That is the real issue for him. This is the focus while countless stay at home dads just shrug their shoulders, face daily conflicts & enjoy their time with their children.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Night Rock - I'll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Simple pop perfection.

Mayor Nanny McBloomberg

The government is always willing to provide you with a helping hand type of program as long as they can use that program to control what you can do, bwahahahaha. This is the difference betwen tax credits and cuts. A cut lowers rates regardless of action, while a credit rewards you for doing something the government wants you to do. Mayor Bloomberg, nanny in charge of NYC, tried to get federal help to block the use of food stamps on soda and other sugared drinks. Why stop there? Orange and Apple Juice are worse than just water as they are loaded with sugar as well. Why don't we just set it so food stamps can only buy milk and water? Mayor Bloomberg is the best political example of rich people thinking they know what is best for everyone else, especially poor people.

How about this lie from Bloomberg, "This initiative will give NY families more money to spend on food and drinks that provide real nourishment." This is a lie because there is no increase in food stamp allowances. There are fewer options. This reduces choice. This reduces freedom. Yes, soda is liquid candy, but every adult has a choice of what they want to drink. Bloomberg might be subtley admitting that food stamps are more than enough and the soda is an 'extra' when he says it will give people more money to spend on nourishing foods. People know soda has no nutritional value, but they buy it because it tastes good. God forbid they make their own decisions. Maybe the solution is to remove the food stamps or maybe just mail them a prepacked meal that mayor Bloomberg deems healthy. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Elton John - I Want Love

This was the last thing Elton John did that was any good. Of course, Bernie Taupin wrote it. This had to have been Robert Downey Jr.'s career. This music video and rehab.

Support Geert Wilders Day

Support Geert Wilders freedom of speech. Geert Wilders is a Dutch politician on trial. The courts are trying to curb his freedom of speech because he has been critical of Islam and Muslim immigrants. He does not say hateful things, just critical things. He has been outspoken about Europe, and the West, being babies about Islamofascists and terrorists. He brings up how Muslims killed Theo Van Gogh for making a film that was critical of islam's treatment of women. Think about it: clerics can call for fatwas and death to filmmakers but Geert can't call them out for being murderous assholes. Geert Wilders is a believer that immigration means you leave your laws and rules back in your country and operate under the laws of your new country. It sounds simple, but it is very un-PC to Eurocrats. European people are finally waking up to the problems of Muslim immigration without integration, but even then don't want to appear un-PC even when their kids get beat up. European politicians will only wake up when their voters have cast them out.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Paul McCartney

How did Paul McCartney go from being a handsome young man to an ugly old woman?

Record Number of People on Food Stamps

New report shows 41.8 million Americans on food stamps. Estimates are for food stamp usage this fiscal year to grow to 43 mil. If you're wondering where the bread lines our in Great Depression 2.0, they are at WalMart just before midnight prior to the first of the month per the CEO.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Oh Come On California!

Seriously! You guys can't be against marijuana now after leading the pack with medical marijuana. It is so easy to get a medical referral for marijuana. Just claim migraines. It is that easy. How can 53% of voters be against legalizing pot in California?

First, Prop 8 passes and now Prop 19 might fail... I'm beginning to think California might not be so liberal, it's that they are just anything with a GOP label. Could Chris Christie run for prez in California under the "Balanced Budget Party" and carry the state? This might just fool them. Come on California, legalize marijuana so that we don't have to fly to Amsterdam for legal weed anymore.

Murder Rates and Media

After posting on the drop in crime during the Great Depression 2.0, I dug into some numbers. These numbers are from 2005, but they tell a story of declining crime rates. Wide variety of reasons, but we must all love the dramatic drop in the murder rate (from nearly 10 per 100K in the early 90s to mid 5s now). More murder stats here, here and clearance rates here. I have read about the 'abortion-less crime' correlation before in Freakonomics, and I do think that is a factor. The factor I like to highlight is the improved sentencing guidelines. Whether it is 3 strikes and you're out or the Fed 85% rule (must serve 85% of time no matter what), keeping people who have already committed one crime (or 3) off the streets should have some preventative power. Maybe rapists serving a life sentence instead of 5 years will not commit anymore rapes. Call me crazy but that might work.

Looking at the stats, I do see that blacks suffer from murder disproportionate to their population %. At nearly half of all murder victims, that far outstrips the 12% of the total population they are. What would scare me is that the clearance rate (closing a case) for murders is 62%. If I were Al Sharpton, I'd be all over police forces and the community I represent to improve these numbers sot hat black families can have justice and possibly some closure. I won't hold my breath.

I bet most people don't feel safer than they did 20 years ago. This runs directly opposite of the facts, but I bet people feel less safe when out or when their kids are out. I blame the Laci Peterson effect. Back in the day, a murder had to be big time to make national news. Nowadays, any dead white chick is on the cable news channels. It's always a shocking death. You would think after the tenth shocking death that year that they reported on, it might move down a notch to unsettling or disturbing. My grandparents told me stories of the only murders they knew of growing up and they can be counted on one hand, a few locals, the Lindbergh baby and the Black Dahlia. I bet the averag Joe could run a laundry list of cases. It's news now, even if it really isn't. MSNBC, CNN and FoxNews as well as your local news station all cover every splashy murder. Is that really news? Do we need to see coverage of a body found, the arrest, the lead suspect, the trial? I would say oversaturation of coverage prejudices a jury. I understand airing a sketch and description to help the cops, but why the excess? It probably gets ratings. That is all that matters.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Destruction of the Jean Valjean Myth

The Great Depression 2.0 rolls on, but crime has not spiked (not even theft). In fact, crime has decreased. Maybe crime is committed by bad people with questionable ethics and not the noble Jean Valjean, stealing a loaf of bread to feed his poor family. I'm a firm believer that we all carry the potential for immense good and immense evil. Anyone is capable of something horrible. Most of us are born and raised to have a conscience. Crime can pay in the short term, but like the Force, the dark side is quicker, easier, more seductive.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Reason #7364 to Love College Football: UT's Uniforms

University of Texas football team is not a favorite of mine, but their uniforms are fantastic. The burnt orange color is unique in the NCAA, and they have the Longhorn head on the helmet. I love the classic look of teams like Notre Dame, Michigan, UCLA, USC, etc., and UT's look stands out on TV and in photos. This photo is from the 1970s, but if you look at UT's uniform design today, not much has changed.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Book Review: Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

How long does it take to properly evaluate the historical ramifications and legacy of a Preisdent? Definitely longer than a cables news network segment. A full century seems like long enough for Edmund Morris. Morris tackles Roosevelt's presidency from tragic start to glorious end in Theodore Rex. This is a sequel to his book about Roosevelt's rise. It is a truly interesting read on a whirlwind presidency.

Morris starts the narrative with Roosevelt's isolation as he learned of the death of President McKinley. The book traces his development on the fly in the White House from energetic learner to elder statesman of his party who was sad to be leaving the White House at the tender age of 50. What is interesting to read is how despite being so full of piss 'n' vinegar he was very conscious of seeking help from the elder guides of McKinley's administration to help him become the amazing force he would grow to be as POTUS. History classes would be smart to discuss in class how one of the best presidents the USA has ever had came to power because of an overzealous anarchist. While we constantly want to think that we live in the most exciting age of all time, many different eras are eras of change or have incredibly turbulent movements. Roosevelt was a dynamic person perfect for a rapidly changing era.
As a slight detour, this book does discuss a woman meant for another era. Teddy's first daughter, Alice Roosevelt, was made for today. She was 100 years ahead of her time. She was smart, sexy and made for media. I do mean sexy as she was attractive for olden times standards and holds up well with today's definition of beauty. In today's world, she'd have a twitter, Facebook fan page, and maybe a talk show... as long as they could keep her out of clubs, poker games and bars. She had a special relationship with her father as she was his only daughter with his first wife. Yes, the first family was a blended family and had its own inner conflict at times. Mom and stepdaughter were not just of different blood but of different substance.

Roosevelt is a man who was himself, and just happened to be part of the GOP. Roosevelt is beloved by the GOP and if you ask a true blue Democrat, TR would be their favorite Republican President of the 20th century. He was not a pure conservative by ideology. He was very 'progressive' and sided with the common man for a square deal as the 'trust buster'. Normal for his day, Teddy was also bigoted on many fronts and found time to make handshake deals with some big business to not obstruct a merger. It is interesting how the idea of the corporation and even bigger, the trust, were large issues in that day and threw everyone for a loop as the idea was so alien to normal civilization. I do not think we've properly learned how to handle them still.
This book does not skim over his conflicts of ideology and personality. Morris constantly mentions how TR had to display his bona fides for the Old Guard, but that he had the progressive streak in him that would come to define the split in the GOP between newer progressives and the laissez faire/small government old Guard. It does not skip over his brusque nature or his faults. There are moments where it is obvious Roosevelt's behavior and personality was a problem. Never forget, Roosevelt was a politician. A great one who knew how to steal other people's thunder, how to measure another man, and most of all, how to manipulate an event or issue to his gain. In the end, he was an absolute force that left many in awe and inspired his nation.