Saturday, April 29, 2006

Oh, dime puedes ver...

I am pretty sure I could not care less about what language the national anthem is sung in. In fact it seems to me that by translating it into other languages people who don't speak English (I would add "well" but as that includes Bush and most of his supporters...) can gain a greater appreciation and respect for this nation. Unfortunately the politicization of the Spanish translation of the "Star Spangled Banner" is not the creation of the right, but the left. The entire campaign is intended as a very public show of support for immigrants. Support for immigrants is good, but this seems misplaced to me. It has created a political issue out of somethig that should never be.

I would not say that the language something is conveyed in is meaningless as translation is not an exact science (translate: "el mundo es un paƱuelo" go find out what the phrase actually means), but most of the time the same feelings and ideals do translate. Most educators feel that translation facilitates an understanding of another people/time/place that isn't really possible if the original language is the only one available. No Socratese if you don't speak ancient Greek. No bible for anyone who can't read the Dead Sea Scrolls. Heck, plenty of high school students would love to see Shakespere translated from English into English (Cliffs Notes don't count). As for the actual singing of it, well, it is a song. It was originally just a poem, but as the words are now set to music and it is the national anthem of the United States, it is meant to be sung, so why not?

This should not be an issue. Not for the left; not for the right. Probably not for me, either, but as it has become an issue I feel justified in pointing out how stupid it is (for, maybe subtle reasons this is not hypocritical). Also, I really think it is odd that Bush was opposed to translating the anthem. The one area where I think his heart, and legislative ideas...possibly, are in the right place is immigration reform. His statement seems in opposition to his--apparent--beliefs.

All The Good Nobel Ideas are Taken

Friday, April 28, 2006

Gas Milage Part II

Bush wants congressional authority to raise the efficiency standards for passenger cars for the first time since 1990. This is not bad. In fact it is long overdue. But it won't accomplish what the perception will be that it will accomplish for two reasons. One is that improving fuel efficiency of new cars won't have a measurable effect on total consumption (and gas prices) for years. This is because new cars are a small fraction of the total on the road. People do seem to be buying newer cars more often than before (ironic as new cars can run for longer than before) but the lag between new standards going into place and seeing an effect will be at least five years. It looks good, and Bush and the GOP is hoping that's enough for people to forget that nothing is actually being accomplished now.

The second reason that new standards won't accomplish anything is that the new standards will not be nearly high enough. Our government will NOT set standards that will make auto makers angry. They won't do it. Whatever the new standard is, it will be one that the auto industry is already meeting, or plans to be meeting in the near future anyway. Auto manufacturers are already improving fuel efficiency because it is a good marketing strategy for them. They are fully aware that for the first time since the late (19)70's US consumers at large are looking at gas milage when buying new cars. No manufacturer can expect to sell large numbers of a passenger car that doesn't get at least 30 mpg. Companies like Toyota and Honda are probably already well beyond whatever new standard will result. If the government is going to set a meaningful standard, then it will need to be one that auto-makers will balk at. The standard should also not be a fleet average, but a minimum requirement. Like at least 35 mpg for passenger vehicles and at least 30 mpg for light trucks and SUVs and at least 27 mpg for large trucks and SUV's. That will not happen.

Of course none of this has anything to do with whether or not the reported milage is truly representative or whether or not there will be anyway to force compliance. Now for a fantasy soluton: tax incentives to drive less. It would be a volunteer program in which every vehicle a person/family owns is checked for milage every year when they register. There is a $5000 tax incentive to drive less that is reduced by $1 for every 1-1.5 miles driven (1 for single 1.5 for married, no bonus for extra cars, children w/ licences, et cetera). I can already imagine the problems that could result from such a program, and I am pretty sure the cost would outweigh the benefit, but I would like it. In the end the only "fair" tax incentive is higher gas taxes which result in people driving less (and poor suffering more). Negative incentives are easier, cheaper (for government), and more productive than positive. It's a shame but true.

Gas Milage Part I

Let us do a fun math problem (this comes from a puzzler on Car Talk...I got it right, but didn't win).

A household has 2 cars, one is a hybrid getting 100 mpg (it's just awesome) and the other is a land yacht that gets 12 mpg. Each vehicle is driven the exact same distance in a given month. New technology has just become available that would allow the family (couple, whatever) to upgrade their hybrid from 100 to 200 mpg! It is pricy, however, and for 1/5th the cost they could tune up their yacht so that it would get 14 mpg. If they can not afford to do both, which one should they do (in terms of saving the planet/their wallet)?

***Jeopardy music plays***

Anyone who said they should ditch their land yacht is 100% correct...of course you get a big red X on your test sheet for this question. Those who said they should tune the leviathon are the ones who win the math star for today. There is an elagant solution, but I am not going to write it up here. I will say each car is driven (for example) 600 miles/month. Improving the hybrid will mean a savings of 3 gallons of gas/mo--from 6 gallons to 3. The tune up of the hulking street menace, on the other hand will save a bit over 7 gallons/mo--from 50 gallons to 42.8. In fact even if the tune up results in only 13 mpg it is still the better deal at savings of nearly 4 gallons/mo--50 to 46.2. The moral of this: the worse the milage a particular vehicle gets, the greater the impact of improving it's fuel efficiency, even marginally. So if we want to reduce fuel needs of this country which set of vehicles should we target to increase standards: passenger vehicles, light trucks and small SUVs, large trucks and SUVs?

To be continued...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Mass Media is Not Your Friend

This is a fairly recent development in American history. Huge media companies do not have an interest in bringing real news to you. Even SNL is being edited (you can see the, now removed video here). The United States still has the most liberated press in the world (eat it you government run, in part, European news industry), but the viewpoints expressed have narrowed recently to reflect the views of the handful of behemoth corporations that own the vast majority of the media outlets in this nation (they like money, and romantic walks on the beach with our current administration). One of the reasons that blogs have become so popular in the past couple of years is because of the frustration felt by many that the news is no longer an objective look at the world but a selective and tinted look that will produce more profits for the giant backers. Several years ago Comedy Central ran an advertisement for The Daily Show that concluded "Where more Americans get their news, than probably should." It was funny, it was light-hearted, it was the time. Now it really doesn't matter. The Daily Show is as good a place as any to get news today, and it's funny so...extra points. They frequently point out that most TV news (mostly Fox, but CNN, MSNBC and others as well) lob softballs and kiss up to politicians rather than confront and discover. One of my favorite recent segments was the contrast of Oprah with tv journalists where it was clearly demonstrated that Oprah was harder hitting and more of a seeker of truth than the journalists we see on the tele.

The internet is, of course, both good and bad. There are thousands of sites for news organizations, both TV and print, and there are tens of thousands of news related blogs (like this one, from time to time). There are many sources of information and misinformation. If you are careful and think critically then you can probably get to something resembling the truth...eventually. Unfortunately we don't have time to do that. We also don't really have the means to tell fact from fiction in all cases. Visceral responses abound (gee, really?!?), and emotion is spread and clouds everything. The one thing that you can count on now, is that the media is not your friend. They no longer have the interests of the nation and its people at heart (yes, some journalists do, but they seldom have the last say in what is reported).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Big Oil Profits

I like taxes. I don't like big buisness. If big oil was unscrupulous in their dealings and artificially inflated prices and did other things illegal and/or unethical then there should be some penalty, financial and otherwise, but the notion of placing an extra tax on their profit is wrong. Now, that doesn't mean I don't think thier profit shouldn't be heavily taxed. In fact, I believe that any corporate profit over, say, $1 billion (or 10%, whichever is less) should be heavily taxed...maybe 65%. Is that what a "windfall tax" is? Maybe. It is not presented like that, though. Both by name and by perception the tax which has been proposed would be a disincentive to companies to expand and innovate (which is often where corporate profits go). Expansion and innovation bolster the economy and create jobs. A set tax for huge profits would not prevent this from happening (though it may reduce it a bit), but a random tax assessed whenever Congress feels that a particular company's/industry's profits are excessive will.

I don't generally mind high gas prices. I drive very little in a smaller car. High gas prices will motivate others to do the same, which I think is good. However, I do think that the high prices should result in more money for the government, not profits for big oil. There is something rotten in Denmark...something immoral about huge corporations reaping record profits when most Americans have to scrape by to pay for heating, and to afford the fuel to take them to work. Ethics and capitalism are not the best of friends. Taxation is not terribly kind, either but it is one method to at least benefit from the corporate nastyness that can produce 10-25% profits.

I realize there is randomness here. It keeps the internet from sapping too much entropy from the world.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Web Comics

I read a fair number of online comics (and a fair number of syndicated comics that post online as well). There is a wide variety, some funny, some more serious, some with excellent art others with so-so art. My favorite of all time is Arrogance in Simplicity (AiS). It was possibly the best written comic out there, and I liked the stick figures. Unfortunately too few people read it and it is no longer being drawn. The archives are still there, however, and I still go back and read them from time to time.

Science Ethics

Peer review is often considered a gold standard for scientific credibility. Do some experiments; figure out what is going on; write it up, checking other published work and covering all conceived possibilities, and submit it for publication. If the editors think it is worthy they ok it and it goes into the peer review process. Somewhere from 2-5 scientists with knowledge in the field (who may or may not have been suggested by the submitter) receive the document and read it through (or have a grad student/post doc read it). They check for scientific accuracy, spelling and grammar, cited works, and make a value judgement as to its importance/relevence relative to the journal in which it is being submitted for publication. Then they make a recommendation which can be: reject, a softer rejection with a suggestion as to where to submit next, accept with revisions, or accept as is (uncommon, in part because noting even a small correction is often seen as an indication that the manuscript was actually read).

The number of cycles and journals before acceptence depends on many factors including who is the principle investigator (PI), what is the subject, how much is new and/or unexpected, how well it is written, and who did the reviewing. Now most of you should have caught a couple important issues there: who is the PI and who reviewed it. Those are two factors that have very little to do with the scientific credibility and importance of the work. Yes, in general, when a famous well published scientist sends something out, it is likely to be quality. Yes, reviewers will have differing knowledge that will lead to them accepting/rejecting a paper for different reasons. Research science is competitive, however, and publications are the way to get grants, which are needed to get tenure, which is needed to be able to remain employed (in academia). This is likely to result in at least a few problems.

The whole of the peer review process presupposes that the submitted manuscripts are the result of honest, quality work. That the results are reproducable. That error and varience have been dealt with. The reviewers nor editors police this. When a paper is reviewed the reviewers are checking for importance and relavance first. Determination of factual issues and citations is second (some reviewers place this first). They read for mistakes--gramatical, graphics, et cetera--third. Ethics concerns do not enter. They are too hard to check for and there are too many submissions to deal with all of them. They are assumed.

If things are getting worse then it is likely because competition is forcing it--specifically competition for funding--not because the moral fabric of society is failing. Labs may rush things to beat others. They may take the first experiment that proves their hypothesis and run with it without checking for reproducibility. The best fix would be: increase funding. This is at the national level. NSF in particular needs the money. Bush promised it in his state of the union, but considering everthing he has said and done there is no reason to believe he will make good. Clinton did double the NIH research budget while he was in office, but their budget has stagnated making NIH grants harder to come by. We need a congress that will fund science, not only to increase and improve scientific breakthroughs/innovations in this country, but to ensure that scientists don't fall into an ethics or funding trap.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


First, read this. I can't post a comment there for 24 hours so I'm doing this.

The reactionary propaganda producing (edit) anti-Bush segment of the population, is not helping anything. Yes, the woman was exercising free speach. Just as I would be exercising free speach if I went to some event and started yelling every time someone began talking. I'm not sure exactly how the event played out, but, while being rude is perfectly legal, it is also something that should be apologized for. Just because someone is excercising one of their rights doesn't meant that they are not rude, or insolent, or generally a jackass. The KKK can say watever they want but if one of them lived across the hall from me and started spewing epithets at a guest of mine, I'd apologize too. So long as King George didn't have the woman arrested or beaten, and hasn't started surveilance directed at her, he didn't do anything that a decent person would not do. That doesn't make him remotely respectable as he has--during his tenure--demonstrated an astounding lack of respect for citizens' rights, but this is the wrong issue to get huffy over. We should not criticize the president for being hospitable. There are plenty of real reasons to criticize him.

(edit: from here "The [reporter's] newspaper - which is understood to be supportive of the Falun Gong movement - later issued an apology" so even her own paper, which is supportive of her opinion, apologized)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Uh Oh...

I promised myself I wouldn't do it--at least not until October--but I am starting to get hopeful about the prospects for the November elections. I do not know why. There is quite a bit of stirring, and all of it is anti-Republican, but there are still six and a half months. Too much time. I know that I posted talking about running as an independent and said that I feel the Democratic party has some issues I do not like, but that doesn't change the fact that a Democratic congress would tip the political powers back into (more of a) balance. The country would still be out of wack, and it will take another imbalance of power (Democrats controling at least the legislative and executive branches) to get things somewhat straightened out.

"Balance of Power" is a great term that loses most of it's meaning in a two party system. There are three branches of government, and two parties. One party will always dominate/control at least two of those three branches--yes, I realize that the legislative could be split, but swings that change one change the other and I don't really care anyway. Of course the Supreme Court has been, historically, a bastion of neutrality. There are justices people don't like, justices people feel bring too much of their own opinions to the court, but the court has, by and large, made intelligent, sensible decisions. The real problem lies when the other two brances of government are controlled by the same party (like for the past 5+ years). If congress does its job properly, this is still not an issue, but when they roll over and cede decisions to the executive branch, then we become a nation at the whim of one man (or woman, though not yet). We become a monarchy. The idea of having a Democratic congress once again is an uplifting one. While they will not be able to undo the problems that have been inflicted upon us, they will be able to open investigations and hold hearings and stop the law breaking by the executive branch of government (provided Liberman doesn't have a say).

When reality snaps back and the Dems do not take congress back (they are not doing enough now, maybe they will be in four months, but...) then I will be full of anguish and hatred all over again. Why can't government be responsible? Why must they be divided and bickering and utterly useless to keep us from harm?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Insensitive of me

I know that it is "unspeakably insensitive" of me to say it but sex offender (public) registration, particularly on the web, has got to go. Yes, this posting is, in part, because of this bit of news. (A 20 year old killed two released sex offenders before taking his own life.) No, that is not the reason. Our notions of justice in this country are beyond screwed up. Minimum sentencing for drug charges, 12-16 year olds tried as adults, the death penalty, and this too. If sex offenders need to be punished for longer than their jail terms, then they should receive longer sentences.

Is it possible that they still pose a threat once released? Sure, but is it possible that you or your neighbor, or I or anyone I know, have met, or live near poses a threat? Absolutely. The fact is, and this has some reverberations for King George's (yes, I got this from Daily Kos) wiretapping atrocity, that there is no way to guarantee security100%. None. I realize that sex offenders are convicted criminals. I realize that the vast majority--if not all--are guilty. I realize that some of their crimes are horrible. I also realize that some of their crimes are tanamount to what Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas was accused of. That is to say, a he said, she said, inappropriate conversation and unwanted touching thing. That does not make it not a crime, that doesn't make it acceptable. But there is a very large difference between a sociopathic deviant and a jackass with poor judgement, who probably learned his lesson.

I know that there is more to the sex offender registration than I am letting on here. The main problem is that it opens up a door to all sorts of things. Is there innocence after guilt? Can punishment ever be said to fit the crime if the punishment is lifelong constraint by such registration? What about other crimes? I'm more interested to know if there are any convicted car theifs near me. I want to know about anyone living by me that has been convicted of participating in dog fighting. And maybe drugs. Definately gun crimes. For that matter theft...

There are hardened criminals who will never atone for/apologize for/generally give a damn about anything they have done or anyone they have hurt. Maybe we can somehow isolate such people from those whose crimes are momentary lapses of judgement, or temporary stupidity, or the ones that are completely accidental. Of course this doesn't even begin to deal with unpunished crimes. People get away with quite a bit in this country, whether it is speeding or shoplifting or rape (no matter what really happened in Durham, the odds are against conviction for anyone accused there due to its difficulty to prove). Continued punishment for those who have committed less severe offenses is not justice, it's vengence.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Specifically with respect to oil consumption.

It is always nice to hear people discussing conservation, but it often misses much of the point. I would love for every selfish jackass driving a Hummer or a Suburban or the like around town to stop (the 1% or less of SUV drivers who actually need such a vehicle are excluded...none of them drive Cadillac or Porsche or Lexus or probably Hummer). I would love if the feds would initiate a high gas guzzler tax for cars less than five years old or with values under $10k (reasons here). I would love it if people in this country would really, truly conserve. But we won't, and for myriad reasons, but the largest is that we don't really know what it means.

Gas prices are high, yes. Behemoth SUV's are partially responsible, yes. Gasoline demand is the reason demand is outpacing supply, maybe. The problem is that, while a fair amount of the oil use in this country is for gasoline, that is not all of it. From homes that use oil for heat to the power generators in this country, the vast majority of which are fossil fuel generators (both coal and oil), to the various industries that require oil as a raw material for manufacture (plastics, chemical plants, ...), the dependence that this nation has on oil is enormous. True conservation will require far more than improving the average gas milage of automobiles. True conservation will not occur until we have no choice. The government can give us no choice by outlawing new and late model vehicles that don't get at least 25+ mpg. They can limit the amount of power/gas allowed per citizen in this country. They can, but they shouldn't.

Restrictions don't do a good job of accounting for need. Workarounds will always favor those with the means. Tax breaks/penalties do a better job of getting those with means to conserve more, but they tend to, again, favor wealthier individuals, and often go to those who would do such things anyway. In large cities subsidized public transit and use of tolls/taxes for driving on the streets could be good, but the latter will never happen, and the former is all but useless without it. I am a big fan of severe gas taxes (gas should cost a minimum of $3/gal), but they must be implimented nationwide, not just in Chicago, and it is a bad move politically, so it won't happen anyway. The only real fix is individual responsibility, and I weep for the future.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Okay, I know that I am generally talking about how education is imporant and all, but this really does not bother me too much. I believe strongly in having and educated public, but, for me, an educated public is one that can think for itself, not one that knows a lot of stuff. This education is born of experience, not classrom learning, at least not the way most classrooms operate. What is the real motivation for someone to stay in high school?

People frequently cite the discrepencies in pay between those with and without high school degrees. That does not mean that finishing high school will improve the pay you will receive, though. It means that people who finish high school are, by and large, more motivated to excell, or at least improve themselves. That motivation is what drives the discrepency. Can that be taught? No, not really. People can learn more things, but someone who doesn't want to put forth effort in their life will not necessarily find such motivation in a bit of extra knowledge.

Specific jobs have varying educational requirements, but someone who has a target job in mind, likely has the motivation required already.

Parents, family, friends. For most people, dropout or not, these are the seeds of motivation for their lives. This is where all people start and find the will and the drive to continue. The government can not provide these things, nor can it fix problems that relate to them. Not through the educational system anyway. If the dropout rate rises, falls, or remains the same it is most likely an indicator that home life, on average, is improving, degrading, or going unchanged. The government can not really fix home lives, but it can help. Social welfare, tax cuts to the POOR AND LOWER MIDDLE CLASS, police and other such programs are all things that can help. Fix these and dropout rates will take care of themselves. Fix these, and kids will find motivation in a happier home. Ignore them, and nothing changes.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


(Ick, this is too prosaic, even for me. This is hardly a complete discussion, or even rant, but it won't get any better with out getting even more tedious. I'm posting it anyway...)

It's a popular topic this election year, and I'm sure many have brought up what will be shown as my view of it. Corruption is not equal to illegal. There are illegal activities that have brought corruption to the forefront of politics, but there is no way congress is going to fix the broken machine because the legal corruption is rampant.

Let's suppose you are elected to congress (either the House or Senate). Let's suppose you are a "good" congressman/woman and do everything you should. You sit on your committees, you vote on every bill, and you are present every day congress is in session (barring illness/death in the family/other emergency). You will work, in the Capitol, about 100 days in a year. There are 260 weekdays in a year. There are 10 federal holidays; a new employee typically gets 10 days paid vacation; I'll add another 10 days miscelanious time off. So there are 230 work days in a year. Your congressional work is less than half that. The remaining time is supposedly meant for spending in your district/state finding out what your constituents need and want. But that job is now done by polling, which is done and analyzed by various staff members.

Further, due to volume, most of the reading of congressional documents is done by staff who then summarize it for the congressperson. Speaches are written by speachwriters. Email and letters are read by aids first. Some may get passed on to the congressperson, but there are form responses for many hot button issues. What does congress spend its spare time doing? Mostly fundraising. This is work, of a sort. For big name politicians it often involves pricy dinners and speaches. For freshmen (and freswomen, grumble) it may be a more personal experience.

Now these are generalities, and the smaller you go, the more representative your representative will be. At the national level, however, there is not enough time to be that personal. Of course there is too much time to not be, so there should be a balance struck, and there is sometimes, but more often, the result is too much power, too much free time and too many people courting that power that are not constituents.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Silly Government,

Decisions are for citizens. We are getting fat. No denying it. How should we fix the problem? ... Oh, I know, we should have the government limit our ability to make decisions regarding our own health and habbits! After we eliminate junk food from schools, we can outlaw fast food restaurants. Then we can implement manditory exercise. At least one half hour per day of cardio, and probably some calisthenics as well. (light sarcasm, and by light I mean heavy)

Look, I don't eat a lot of junk food--mostly because I think it's a waste of money, of which I don't have much--but I sure liked it when I was in elementary through high school and didn't need to spend my little allowance on things like rent, dog food, and electricity (or real food, I suppose). Of course I also liked running around, playing soccer, basketball, and, in high school, track and field. I didn't need legislation to keep from becoming a Hut (as in Jabba) because I had parents who didn't provide tons of junk. I learned to make cookies in grade school because that was about the only way for me to get cookies. There was plenty of junk in our cafeteria and vending machines, but I never had money enough to buy it (and I would have if I had).

Today, I am definately a touch overweight (by BMI, I think I'm obeise, but BMI is very flawed for those with higher muscle mass), but that is primarally due to college: lots of beer, pizza and video games with little activity to offset--intramural sports can't even begin to compare with varsity high school sports in terms of practice and hard work. I think that this country is getting fatter, but, oddly enough, I also think that it is getting thinner. I think the latter is part of the problem. For decades women's lib groups have brought up the fact that women in public view (typically celebrities from TV, movies, modeling) present a rediculously skinny image, and that impressionable girls try and emulate this, often can't, and either end up anorexic or depressed and fat. Generalizations aside this is not too far off and has, more recently, been extended to men's images. Actually, this rant could go on for a while so I'm going to end it here with the note that obsession about something rarely helps, and this nation is obsessed with fat. ...Also, America, get off you ass and move.

Thought Police at Work

Look, I know people are frightened out of their wits by the notion of terrorism, and teenage killing sprees, but at what point did it become okay to criminalize planning? Hell, an author may have ellaborate and workable assaniation/terrorism plans that he/she will use for a novel. Maybe we should arrest all fiction writers.

So, in this case, another group of teenagers was planning a massacre at their high school. My guess is that we would be hard pressed to find a high school in this country where there are not teenagers with similar thoughts. High school is a bitch, whether you are a popular student or not. When I was in high school I knew students who talked about killing others. One in particular was probably the most frightening as he did have a couple assault rifles at his house, but another was a good friend of mine, he had a few guns at his place (a .22 handgun and a bolt action, small guage rifle). Could either of them, or any of the others who had similar thoughts/made similar jokes, have snapped? Sure, maybe. Did they? least not while in high school. I haven't exactly kept up and anything is possible, but I seriously doubt that they have since, either.

There are always people who would rather certain others were not around, many may joke/talk/fantasize about them dying or being killed in some gruesome manner. No matter what a person thinks about, they are not criminals until they act. They may need help. They may need to be removed from the environment. They should not be put in jail.

These students (aged 14 to 16) are being charged under an anti-terrorism law, and could be tried as adults. If convicted as adults they would receive a minimum 30 year sentance with no parole. Minimum. Why would this country rather hurt than help?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bleach is for the Weak

I really can't stand the whole disinfect, bleach, sanatize the hell out of everything idea that has grown so prevalent over the last 10-20 years. (It really infuriates my sister.) It generates massive amounts of waste, much of it is chemical in nature (households can generate more chemical pollution than research chemical labs, also, overfertilization of lawns leads to more runoff per acre in subarbs than on farms), and, though it has been suspected/known for a while, it also weakens our, and our children's, immune systems. I love it when a new study comes out concerning this because I feel as though the antibacterial crowd will feel unbearably stupid. I know they really won't. People that oversanitize are influenced by commercials, not research, they don't read/pay attention to the news. They are idiots who will not learn. They probably buy hybrids and think that makes them good stewards. Still, this does allow me to continue with my knowledge that my lack of allergies/asthma is an indication that I am stronger/better than the rest of you.

Amusing, Anyway

I think I'll take credit for this even though it is completely undeserved. The whole thing may not be over with but the apology is still good. I really just hope we do not hear any more about it, though that is unlikely.

Hold on

On the radio this morning I heard about something called the Second Wives' Club. It's basically (advertised as) a support type group for women who are married to men who have a (at least one) divorce in their past. They deal with current spouses making alimony/child support payments to their ex, they talk about visitations and the like. All and good, right, then there was the last line:

"Single divorced men are welcome"

Now I'm confused. The first reason that jumps to mind for this (single?) is that the second wives' club is a player's club. I know there may be other reasons, like getting the male perspective, or educating other divorcees so that they will better understand their next wife's concerns. But that's not what it sounds like. It's just, well, strange.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gee, Mr. President How Do We Fix...

... "Tax cuts for the rich! Yippee!" -paraphrase of Dubbya's entire economic policy.

So it's no surprise. Anyone with an I.Q. greater than 12 who actually thought about the GW Bush tax cuts already knows that the only thing it really helps is the rich to get richer. The article pisses me off. Why does anyone like this president?

Probably the more frustrating thing is the economist who says the cuts should be permanent because they stimulate job growth by encouraging more investment. I may have said this before but it bears repeating: WE DON'T NEED TO ENCOURAGE INVESTMENT IN THE STOCK MARKET. (Damn caps lock key.)

The stock market does a fine job of encouraging investment by being, year in year out, the best place to invest. Period. (Edit: well, aside from real estate, which requires even more money and is where extra tax breaks to the ultra rich likely end up anyway, not the stock market.) A better way to bolster the stock market may be to strengthen the companies by encouraging spending which will increase demand stimulating stocks and encouraging growth and employment (of course the increases in employment will likey be in India). So where does the government get the most spending increase per tax cut dollar??? That's right, from the poorer and middle classes. People who don't have extra money to invest, won't take their tax refund and pour it into the stock market, they will use it to make purchases. This stimulates an economy. Pouring more money into a stock market full of companies who are not increasing revenue stimulates market crashes when people pull their heads out of their asses and realize how overvalued things have been and that they were investing because they had the money, not because there were good investments.

Giving more money back to poorer individuals and families will always do good for the economy. It is also a much cheaper proposition. Of course some of those might start getting ideas in their heads and this nation may see the rise of a large group of people who demand a living wage, and that could even lead to a lessening of the gap between the rich and poor, which is now greater in the US than in was in Britan in the 18th century. Wait, wait, nevermind, that last thing will never happen.

The Poor Congresswoman

Rep Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is screaming racism and looking like a complete jackass. I'm pretty sure that if I had walked my white male butt through there, not going through the metal detector, not stopping when asked, and then hitting a guard I would have been tackled, dragged off in cuffs and had to stay in jail a night, and rightly so. If I had been allowed to continue then I'm sure Rep. McKinney would be in support of some bill that would toughen security, like setting a taser point for entrants who don't listen to the guards.

There are 535 senators and representatives (a handfull of faces change every two years). Even for a guard that has been there a long time, if one of those people makes a change in their appearance (like shaving a beard, or changing from cornrows to an afro) then they may not get the instant recognition and you should be expected to have to stop. Moreover, her whining about this is only serving to set herself up as a talking point so that Republicans can, once again, ignore the problems in this country and distract its voters.

To Rep. McKinney: apologize, shut up, and sit down. You are only hurting [the possibilities for] this country by being (in perception if not in fact) an uppity, whiny bitch. Even if you are right about racism being the factor, your approach to this is horribly off base. You sound like a spoiled brat. You sound like King George "Dubbya" acts.