Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lay down your burdens!

Ezra Klein has a great article in today's L.A. Times about upcoming political pressure on the health care system. There are a number of good points here, including the basic point that I think that the American voting public is probably not going to get suckered by Harry and Louise this time around. That crap flew back when the first flush of Republican triumphalism and claims of being the party of ideas was surging through the body politic (ideas are fine; implementing them successfully seems to be the challenge for Republicans) . I think most people now are clear about the whole insurance industry/GOP shuck and jive con job on that.

What really gets me is the resistance of pro-business types. I understand ideological conservatives' resistance to state-run health care: they're OK with the casualties caused by the vagaries of the market, believing that there are fewer casualties in the long run through the magic of the marketplace. Although they may not like the characterization, the law of the jungle is fine with them. I think that this perspective is simpled minded and idiotic and clearly contradicted by the evidence. But at least they're clear on the ramifications in the short term.

But business types, what's the downside? Rid yourself of the Sisyphean task of paying your employees' health care costs. How many times in the last few years have people publicly griped about the cost to business of skyrocketing insurance premiums? I have a good professional job and my insurance coverage has gotten notably crappier from year to year in the last ten years. So lay down your burdens. The health insurance system now is desperately anti-entrepreneurial. With a wife in school and a 3-year-old, I can not start my own business no matter how badly I want to. Can government-run health care really do any worse than what we've got now?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Gary Miller is a scumbag

Gary Miller's a scumbag, that's pretty clear. But his newest trick (or, actually, read the article: this is the second time he's pulled this particular ploy) is so magnificently despicable that I simply have a hard time believing that this guy can even stand to look at his thieving face in the mirror:
Residents who live nearby say that Miller is trying to force the city to buy his land by raising the specter of a development that would make the hillside unsafe and unsightly... Miller's game plan, [critics say], is similar to one he successfully used four years ago in Monrovia, about 25 miles west on the 210 Freeway, where a plan for hillside development met with fierce local opposition. Ultimately, Monrovia citizens voted to tax themselves to buy the property from Miller and preserve it as open space.

Miller told [the people from whom he had bought the land] that he would build a $1-million bridge spanning a drainage ditch on the property and name it after their brother, Barnard Carrari, who had just died, if they would lower their price by $1 million. Still grieving... they agreed and sold him the land for about $2 million.

Five months later, Miller reported on his congressional financial disclosure statement that the land was worth at least $5 million.

Miller initially told the Carraris he was only going to make modest adjustments to the land and build about 30 homes, Fernandez said. When the family saw his plans for 110 homes — and no bridge named after Barnard Carrari — they were distraught, she said.

"That farm was a family tradition where people went up there and made a day of it," Fernandez said. "And when he broke his word and didn't do all the things he said he would, it just broke our hearts."
You got that? He conned people to sell the land with various promises, immediately turned around and evaluated the land at 150% more than he paid for it, then betrayed his promises to blackmail the city into buying the land off of him. And he's supposedly a libertarian-leaning conservative. More like a true welfare queen, if you ask me.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Censorship in America

Have you heard of Flynt Leverett? You should have.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


A bit of Christmas cheer:
Last year, the centre's Father Christmas was set upon by youths calling a him a "fraud and a fake."
Is it any surprise that the father of the dismal science was Scottish?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Back to Yoo

I just found a great article from a couple of months ago, thru a post on Andrew Sullivan's blog. Now, I've gone off on in the past, but, seriously, I'm a dope-smoking homo-hugging lefty (I'm pro-gun-rights for the most part, but I doubt that'll convince anyone that I'm a loyal neocon unitary executive booster). So who's going to take my criticisms seriously?

Well, no one can accuse The American Conservative of being some squishy soft human-rights-devoted liberal rag. And what do they have to say about our Johnny? Well, it's good stuff:
Yoo’s new book, War by Other Means: An Insider’s Account of the War on Terror, reads like a slippery lawyer’s brief submitted to a dim judge who gets all his information from Fox News...
A particular juicy quote goes: "Yoo suggested that 'an American attack in South America or Southeast Asia might be a surprise to the terrorists,' since they were expecting the U.S. to target Afghanistan." Yeah, an attack on Iceland also would have been a surprise and for pretty much the same damned reason: South American, Southeast Asia, and Iceland all share the distinction of being in no way related to the attacks of 9/11 nor any of the other terror attacks that have occurred before, on, or since 9/11.

Let's be clear: in the wake of 9/11, there was going to be a war. I was cool with that, seriously I was. I thought the war in Afghanistan was justified and necessary. You can't just allow someone to harbor and support an attack like that and then allow them to say, nah we really don't feel like coughing up the guys that did it. It's like getting malaria from mosquito bites but not dumping out the water puddles because your buddy keeps his goldfish in there. The goldfish gotta go.

And creative thinking is awesome! It's given us Starry Night, the light bulb, and Pop Rocks. But there's creative thinking and then there's plain old making shit up. The idea of attacking South America or Southeast because they would be surprised sails way past the mark of even making shit up: it's just profoundly stupid. Explain to me, please, how this at best dishonest and disingenuous and at worst stupid and evil person merits a professorship at Boalt Hall?

Mac and PC ads

So have you seen the Apple commercial where PC gives Mac a C++ GUI Programming Guide, which is funny because no Mac person would ever want to know something geeky like GUI Programming?

Now, hear me out on this one. It may not really be so, but I think this thought...

This particular series of commercials actually works more to the advantage of the PC than the Mac.

Why so?

Well, everyone already knows PCs are stuffy, staid, and boring. They're for, as one of the commercials alludes to, balancing your checkbook. Or, as this particular commercial refers to, writing C++ GUIs (never mind that of course the same thing happens on Macs or... no Mac GUIs; but let's just accept the point). We already know this divide: Macs are for creative free spirits, PCs are for stick-up-your-ass fuddy duddies who wear bad sweaters.

But the flaw in these commercials is that "Mac" makes being a creative free spirit seem dull and boring. He's a generic "hip" guy, young with a little scruff, about as alternative and out of the box as back tattoos and belly rings. If you walked past him on the street, you wouldn't think, hey, there goes a creative free spirit, you'd think hey, there goes half the under-30 population of Seattle (he writes from the 39th floor of a tall office building in downtown Seattle on a cold but relatively clear Puget Sound morning). And yes, I'm referring to, basically, the entire male half of the population.

Now look at PC. Yes, he's portly, pasty, with a bad haircut. He's also subversively funny. He's not self-assured and hip, but people can react to the glib and facile superiority of the Mac fellow by feeling more, not less, sympathetic to the PC character. Yes, he's a dork. But he's kind of a fun dork. And putting a sympathetic human face on the PC makes it seem less daunting and less... well, faceless than it otherwise might. Add in the fact that the PC is played by John Hodgman who is quite funny and able to make being a geek seem, if not attractive, at least not quite as bleak a fate as these commercials would want to make it, then I wonder about the actual effect of these commercials on viewers.

And add ironic? I think that iTunes is mildly passable software and QuickTime is utter dreck. As if to prove my point, when I went to the Apple site to check the URL for the ads, QuickTime crashed my browser and I had to start this post over again. As Borat would say: nice.

Update: There's an article on Slate by Seth Stevenson making pretty much the same point.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The single most outrageous thing I've read in a long time

This is truly jaw dropping. This bespeaks a lack of morality, humanity, and conscience on a level I have a really hard time comprehending. Read through this. If you're not shocked and outraged, then I really don't think you can be shocked and outraged.

Monday, December 04, 2006

That darned happenstance

You know, we've had such bad luck. Bad bad luck. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that bollocks.

What am I talking about? Well, did you know that the U.S. had an airtight plan in Iraq? Oh yeah, it's true! See, when we went in, "we had hoped to have 150,000 to 200,000 Iraqi army forces to help in the security proposition, and those forces melted away at the close of the war." They just melted away!

Or we, uh... fired them. Or something. Guess that took us by surprise, eh?

Really, truly, if you can read this transcript (or better, watch the video) of the interview between Russert and Hadley, you'll be amazed. Russert's normally a total kiss-ass with top-level members of the administration, but he goes all bulldog on the meat wagon on Hadley. And Hadley had... nothing, he's got nothing. Not because Russert was so devious. But because there's nothing for Hadley to have. It has a real last stand kind of feel to it. After this, the administration's protestations to the contrary become a lot like a drunk covered in vomit with the smoking heap of his car wrapped around a pole declaiming his sobriety and ability to drive.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

John Fucking Cougar Can Kiss My Ass

Listening to endless repetitions of this crap ass John Cougar dreck using faux populist patriotic horseshit to peddle bullshit GM trucks is far too high a price to pay for being a football fan (all apologies to Quentin Crisp). The song sucks and it's been played no less than 50 times during every fucking NFL game this season. It's driving me fucking insane. John Cougar deserves at the very least merciless mocking, but preferably a beating that leaves him unconscious and on the edge of death.

Not really. I don't condone beating people to within an inch of their life. But he's really pushing me.

And yes, I know he changed his fucking name. Stop releasing crap-ass sell-out corporate whore songs like that and maybe I'll pay attention. 'Til then, he's little Johnny Cougar, the corporate fellatist whose small moment of near-significance has long since passed and who now exists only to torment us.