Pages

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Misread Headline

When I saw this headline on MSNBC:
I misread it as:
I guess I blinked or something.

Pop Culture Reference #1

I didn't even have to read this article to get the headline.

"Diplo-Dunce Avoids the Murtaugh Rule."

The "Diplo-dunce" being the diplomat who was smoking on an airplane and won't be charged because of "diplomatic immunity."

The Murtaugh Rule being a reference to Lethal Weapon II (yes, the sequel!), which revolves around a bunch of South African diplomats doing bad things.

"Diplomatic immunity!" the main criminal shouts at the end.

Danny Glover's character, Murtaugh --who is still too old for this shit-- shoots the crook in the face. Then he says, "Has just been revoked."

Then he goes and tends to Riggs, who's been shot to hell but still somehow alive and joking. Yeah, I remember this movie like the back of my hand.

Yeah, I get the reference. The Murtaugh Rule. One shot, a stamp on your ID, and a bullet in your head.

Confederate History Month

Two words: Fuck that.

What's wrong with "Civil War" History Month? We're in Virginia, so we know we're going to focus on the Confederacy anyway. Why do we need to call it "Confederate" History Month? Is that some kind of racist dig at Black History Month?

And they're arguing over whether slavery was mentioned?? Mentioned? Um, no, we should be arguing why the Confederacy was mentioned. I hate to point out the obvious, but the Confederacy ended a hundred and fifty years ago. Not went underground and became something else. It ended, never to be reborn.

And it was only a mere blip in the history of this country, existing for four whole years! Four years of a failed experiment and we get a hundred and fifty years of "heritage" talk. I don't think so.

You need to get over it. And you need to get over it now. The Confederacy, like Nazism and Soviet Communism, died a painful death at the hands of much greater men years ago. It remains in the graveyard.

Fuck the Confederacy and all they stood for. Union all the way, baby.

Suckers!

Glenn Beck can give "a flying crap about the political process."

All he cares about is separating you from your dollar.

"I'm an entertainer," he says. Good thing you've found an audience that's so easily entertained.

Beck's admission brings up an interesting question. From what I can tell, Glenn Beck's "entertainment" is stunningly artless, unless you consider his scrawlings on a chalkboard to be art or his theatrical crying to be some kind of performance. Musicians, poets, comedians, writers, filmmakers, they're all entertainers too, but what they do functions on some kind of artistic level. After all, everyone can sing. But not everyone can be a singer.

Likewise, everyone has an opinion. But not everyone can make $32 million dollars writing it on a chalkboard.

This is why I say his audience is suckers. You are paying for a talentless man to tell you his opinion when you can easily get that for free elsewhere.

Hell, if you become a cab driver or a hair dresser, you might even be the one getting paid! But by all means, continue to give your money to Glenn Beck, Inc. I'm sure he'll spend it better than you anyway.

Winning Isn't Everything

I never thought that David Frum would become one of the most reasonable voices on the right. The "Axis of Evil" guy? Really?

But here he is making a lot of sense:
Like the “repeal” slogan before it, the “defund” slogan substitutes for any attempt to think through HOW Republicans will fix the flaws in Obamacare if they have the chance.

HOW will we prevent the pre-programmed Obama tax increases on investment income and payrolls from going into effect?

HOW will we protect the states from the huge unfunded mandate that is Medicaid expansion?

HOW will we rollback the destructive wave of over-regulation within the mandates that the administration is now empowered to impose?

These are problems that we should be thinking about now. If we gain majorities in November, we should be ready to act in January. By deluding ourselves with grandiose but empty slogans in the spring, we guarantee that we will arrive in the majority – if we do – utterly unprepared for the real world problems embedded in a serious project to redress the wrongs done by Obamacare.
Check that last part. "Utterly unprepared for... real world problems."

Sums up the Republican strategy quite well if you ask me. They are, as a party and a demographic, utterly unprepared to deal with real world problems.

My Uncle Jim left me a message saying that Democrats are going to be crying on the next election. Which is probably true. If the Democrats don't lose seats in the House or the Senate in November, I'll be very surprised. After all, Americans are as fickle as we are foolish. We like politicians...until we elect them. Then we revert to a "throw the bums out" mentality. That's why you get this see-sawing back and forth between Republicans and Democrats. Depending on your view, we need eight years of Republicans/Democrats in charge to undo the damage from 8 years of Democrat/Republican rule, or vice versa.

We think a divided government stuck in an adversarial us versus them contest of wills is actually healthy. And you know, sometimes it is.

But then what? It's easy to say, "Vote for me and throw the bums out!" But what happens after you vote and you throw the bums out?

What are the Republicans going to do once they win the next election? Do they even know? Do they even care?

I haven't seen anything that indicates they do.

King Arthur

I've got some problems with Antoine Fuqua's revisionist epic King Arthur, but I'm willing to overlook them because there are some things I like about it. Things I really, really like.

For instance, Clive Owen as King Arthur. Not the best written part, but acted with aplomb.

Ray Winstone and Ray Stevenson as two of his knights? Love em!

But Stellan Skaarsgard as the evil Saxon Cerdic takes the fucking cake. His gravelly voice, his brooding presence, his uncompromising vileness, man, it's great.

There's a part where Clive Owen's Arthur rides out to meet Cerdic before the climactic battle.

He says, "I came to see your face so that I alone may find you on the battlefield. And it will be good of you to mark my face, Saxon, for the next time you see it, it will be the last thing you see on this earth."

As far as threats go, that one isn't bad. I would have made it more badass, not as flowery. "The next time you see my face, Saxon, it will be the last thing you see on this earth." I mean, that works, dunnit?

Regardless, you can't get any more badass than Cerdic's reply. Rather than being angry at the threat, he's impressed.

"Ah," he says, "Finally a man worth killing."

Which leads me to say, ah, finally a villain worth rooting against!

Shouldn't Have to Be Said

But it does...

Regurgitating what you hear on talk radio doesn't make you a conservative.

And with that said, if you think any of this stuff is actually conservative, then you need to get a new dictionary. Preferably one that contains words.
Every single one of these things are hyperbolic, hysterical, or simply untrue. And none of them can be described as remotely "conservative."

Glory Hallelujah!

I was dreading coming into work tonight due to my whiny co-worker's incessant pity parties. I was verging on prayer. (Prayer!)

"God grant me the strength to bite my fucking lip."

It could have gotten nasty. But when I came in, I jokingly asked my co-workers, "So did Robin call in?"

It was a remote hope, I admit, but they laughed and said, Yes, yes he did call in!

I became a born-again Christian at that very moment. Falling to my knees, I exclaimed, "There is a god!"

Next week, I'm calling in sick. The week after that...I'll be working with someone else. I will be aggravated no more!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Proportional

Take a look at these legs. There's nothing remarkable or noteworthy about them, maybe a bit on the skinny side.
Now look at these arms. Those arms have seen a lot of curls. Indeed, that's an upper body that's seen a lot of work.

Would is surprise you if those beefy arms and those skinny legs belonged to the same person? That person: Mike "The Situation" from The Jersey Shore.
Whatever he's doing, it's working out for him, but I think Mike needs to stop wearing shorts.

He looks like a professional wrestler, except from the neck up and the waist down. His bicep is bigger than his head. His forearms are as big as his calves. I guess every day is arms and abs for The Situation.

(Another guy on the show, Ronnie, looks like one of those short guys who beefs up to make up for the fact that he's short. If he was blue, they'd call him Steroid Smurf.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Mortgage Woes

It's a bit annoying that it's April 6th and my bank hasn't posted my mortgage payment yet. Especially considering they've had it in their hot little hands since March 30th.

I'm not worried about late fees (I'm immune thanks to my enrollment in their Equity Accelerator Program) but I would like to see how much principle I paid this month.

My guess is an extra six hundred bucks, but again...that's just an estimate. I won't know for sure until the damn payment posts.

PS. An extra six hundred bucks will probably shave 3 months off the term of my mortgage. The result: It's paid off 3 months earlier, which means that's 3 fewer mortgage payments I have to make, saving myself, oh, about three grand.

Sigh

These people are starting to really annoy me. I mean, are libertarians required to be stupid?

Here's Peter Suderman, whose future-wife had problems with the Post Office and went straight to the "Soviet-level distributional inefficiency" diagnosis, pondering the constitutionality of the healthcare bill.
How does the Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, allow Congress to prohibit the decision to not purchase health insurance—something that involves no commercial transactions, much less commercial transactions across state lines, and which couldn't possibly involve interstate commerce anyway given that there's currently no way to buy insurance across state lines.
It's getting harder to take these people seriously.

I mean, now --NOW?!-- you bring up possible constitutional issues with the individual mandate? Where was this when all we heard about was "socialism" and "death panels?"

Conservatives and their libertarian compatriots could have advanced arguments that made sense. Absent stopping the passage of the bill, they could have improved it. While they had both the White House and Congress for the better part of the decade, they could have proposed some kind of market-friendly health care reform of their own.

They didn't do any of these things. Indeed, I don't think there's any way --even for supporters-- to consider the right's approach to healthcare reform as anything but a raft of missed opportunities resulting in abject failure.

And now they're pinning their hopes on a constitutional challenge? Don't count on it.

Healthcare, whether you refuse to accept it or not, is an interstate commercial enterprise. The Constitution gives Congress the authority to regulate interstate commerce.

And mandates? I keep hearing this "If a State wants to mandate insurance, fine. That's State's Rights. But if the Feds do it....fugget about it." And they'll sit there, smug in their procedural correctness.

But do they ever consider why states mandate car insurance, say, or renter's insurance? Perhaps, but then the question must be asked: Do you want to eliminate the free rider problem or not?

You didn't want single-payer because it was "socialism." You didn't want a public option because you were afraid that private industry wouldn't be able to compete with the government. (A concern that's fucking funny considering the amount of glibertarian ink spilled over the Post Office versus Fedex/UPS debate.) And now you don't want the individual mandate because you don't want the government telling you what to do.

So what do you want? Freedom? The small freedom of refusing to buy health insurance? Or the larger freedom of knowing that, no matter what, you're going to be covered? Choose wisely.

After all, you're not free to shout "Fire" in a movie theater. But you are free to watch a movie without some asshole running into the auditorium shouting "Fire!" Absolute freedom isn't freedom. It's chaos.

Bus Death Kill

Being around a bus this week has proven fatal for three people. I don't have anything intelligent to add to the coverage.

All I know is that yesterday, the bus that ran over a pedestrian was the same bus I used to ride.

Irony

I got my mail today...and it turns out it wasn't my mail. It was my neighbor's. And it was clearly labeled with their address. It's possible that they got my mail, but I don't know.

Now if I were Megan McArdle, I might use this opportunity to slam the Post Office, which I already don't like because I'm a libertarian fool.

But I'm James. And I recognize that six days out of seven, the Post Office somehow manages to route my mail to me without incident. And today was the exception.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Yet Another Train Wreck from McMegan

The only reason to read Megan McArdle these days is to see how she can outdumb herself.

She writes a post called: "Things Are Worse at the Post Office Than I Thought," or in other words, "I Thought Things Were Bad at the Post Office and I Was Right!"

Of course, you might expect some kind of expose of the inefficiencies of Post Office operations, or how they're losing so much money that service reductions are not only prudent but inevitable. But remember, we're reading Megan McArdle.

So we're left with an anecdote about how hard it was to send out her wedding invitations.

Her conclusion:
All I want to say is, any private company that behaved this way should go out of business. And right now, that's how I feel about the United States Post Office. At least if they didn't exist, I'd have known I needed to make other arrangements.
What, you didn't send out your wedding invitations via FedEx? You're using the US Postal Service? What are you, a communist?

At least she admits she doesn't know what she's talking about:
Now, I have no idea whether this is regulation run amok, combined with Soviet-level distributional inefficiency; or whether she simply didn't feel like dealing with my wedding invitations, and started making up rules to force me to take my damn business elsewhere.
I see...you don't know whether your bad experience was due to the post office being a government agency or due to a crappy employee, but that doesn't stop you from saying, "Any private company that behaved this way should go out of business."

Clever use of the word "should" too, because she knows damn well that private companies operate like this all the time and that if she had written "would" (which a hundred bucks says she typed first), the entire statement would be verifiably false.

Of course, I'm not wedded to the idea that government agencies are poorly run by virtue of being government agencies or that privately-owned enterprises are more efficient by virtue of being privately-owned. That's a vulgar oversimplification of reality that might make one feel better about being a right-wing asshole, but it's just not true.

The DMV office in Parker is much more efficiently run than the one in Aurora, even though they are both under the purview of the Colorado Department of Revenue. If the problem was the Department of Revenue, wouldn't it follow that the Parker DMV would be just as big a disaster as the Aurora one? Indeed, the discrepancy here isn't institutional but may indeed hinge on how each office is managed.

Same thing with Wal-Mart. Along I-70, within a few miles of each other, there are two Wal-Marts. The one off Quebec is a poorly managed disaster. Best to go on off-hours, unless you want to stand in line for an hour. They have 30 lanes in front of the store, but at any one time only two of them are open.

But if you go to the one off Tower Road, not only will you be able to pay for your purchases in a timely manner, you might even enjoy shopping in clean, well-stocked aisles.

What accounts for the discrepancy here? How can one privately-owned Wal-Mart be so much better than another privately-owned and operated Wal-Mart? It's easy: Management.

Take the 7-11 by my house. I've railed about it in the past. (Here, too.)

I have avoided this 7-11 because I consistently have bad experiences there. The employees are slow, dim-witted, unhelpful, and horribly inefficient. Yet, I went in there the other day and was shocked --shocked, I tell you-- to find that a shocking change in ownership had taken place.

Instead of the unmotivated, poorly trained East African incompetents behind the counter, there were several butch lesbians running the joint. To my amazement, the line moved quickly. I asked for a carton of cigarettes and the kind lady gave me an actual carton of cigarettes, not just a pack. And not only that, but I didn't have to point out which carton I wanted. "No, not the red one. Nope, that's not it either. A little to your left. Your other left. You know, Marlboro Lights, in the white and gold. Ah, fuck it. Never mind." She just knew!

Thank God for entrepreneurial lesbians!

My point is that when determining whether an entity is efficient or not, we can't just look at whether it's a privately-run organization versus publicly-owned. We must also look at how it is managed.

And only an idiot like Megan McArdle thinks that the public sector has a monopoly on incompetent management. That ain't how it works, lady!

Funny Headline

This headline made me laugh.
Pick-up Lines That Haven't Worked In My Upper West Side Bikram Yoga Class
Unfortunately, he only offers 3 failed pick-up lines and only one of them was funny.

But it made me think of something I was thinking about driving home from work this morning. Funny responses when someone asks you what you're doing.

Growing a beard
Milking a cat
Building an empire
Sorting M&Ms/Skittles
A seance for Elvis
Braiding my chest hair
Learning Kung Fu
Arm wrestling Teddy Roosevelt

Give me a couple hours and I'll have a list as long as my arm.

Indefensible

What a bunch of cowards.
After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation — and what falsehoods followed — including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.
War is an ugly business. Innocent people will get killed. Such is the nature of the beast.

But be a man about it. What part of
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.
do you not understand?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Praise the Lord and Pass the Popcorn!

No, I'm not trying to bury my irreligious irreverence in the previous post... I just saw this story in the Denver Post and thought, "So? That's not news. Churches meet in our theaters every Sunday."

But then, the article points that out.

I don't think it's weird for a church to meet at a theater. When I was a kid, most of the churches I went to were in non-standard buildings. In fact, the first church I remember going to used to meet at the school my nephew goes to now. In my teen years, we went to another church that met at a recreation center.

This kind of thing is "normal" to me.

Easter Thoughts From an Atheist

Today is the (roughly) one thousand, nine hundred and eightieth anniversary of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the story, he's coming back a second time.

I wonder, though, when he does come back, will he speak English? I mean, the last time he walked the earth, English didn't even exist. His biography (er, autobiography) was written in Greek. Is it possible that he comes back, spreads open his wounded palms, and starts talking to us in Aramaic?

I have a feeling that a lot of folks south of the Mason-Dixon line are going to be a wee bit upset.

Of course, being an atheist, I believe the possibility of this is actually slight. But I should pick up a English-to-Aramaic dictionary, just in case.

Happy Easter!

(PS. If I offended you, don't be mad at me. Pray for me instead!)

Red Cliff

After being aggravated last night by a co-worker who would just not shut up, tonight I am enjoying a peaceful silence.

By watching John Woo's Chinese war epic, just released on DVD in the US, Red Cliff. And I'm not talking about the chintzy "Western Release," cut down the 148 minutes from 280. Hell, no.

I'm a purist, so I'm watching the whole thing, all 4 hours and 40 minutes of it. And damn...

It's good!

Dark and Cold

Wow, it's 2:00 in the morning and it's dark. It's so dark that it's beyond darkness. And it's cold too.

It's so cold that even the glaucoma is cold!

Now where's my Pulitzer?