27 November, 2005

They Say It's Your Birthday

O, do not forsake me, my indolent friends
O, do not forsake me though you know I must spend
All my darkest hours talking like this
For I am one thousand years old
--- They Might Be Giants

Yesterday was the official birthday of myself, the mind behind Off Colfax. And, of course, things have been going horribly wrong for the last two weeks in preparation for this alledgedly blessed celebration of mine. For one thing, my monitor decided to blow up on me, just as I was getting ready to send off my resume to a much better place than the hellhole I work in now. Before that, I'd gotten two write-ups in four days, neither of which I could've avoided, which sparked the sudden desire to start sending out resumes again. And before that, my usual Pre-Birthday Depression kicks in, making me essentially miserable for the entire month, which probably laid the foundation for getting written up twice in quick succession.

I have rarely had a good birthday. In fact, in my 29 (again) years, I think I've had exactly two memorable ones, and the rest simply fade off into the distant haze of Yet Another Day Land. And, as such, just as soon as Hallowe'en fades into the past, I can pretty much expect that crushing despair will come soon. I don't know why I can't seem to shake this off, nor do I know how to completely avoid it, as it generally begins while laying in bed waiting for sleep to finally come. One minute, I'll be laying there peacefully with a cat curled up in my arms. And the next, WHAM-O!!! my cat keeps glowering at me for getting her fur all soaking wet.

[And yes, folks, I know I probably need help. You don't need to tell me that. And yes folks, I know I need Jesus. You don't need to tell me that either. Only problems are that a) I don't have the spare cash lying around to even get a used monitor from Craigslist and b) I have a severe spiritual and philosophical disagreement with most Christian sects, with the sole exception being the Unitarians. Oh, sorry. Christianity doesn't have sects. Christianity has organized philosophical niches, many in direct philosophical divergence with many other available niches. Only other religions have sects.]

But in the area of this blog, the main problem has been with Aggregate Levels of Sucktitude. Most of the time, I think about a topic and reach for the nearest keyboard to shove the stream of consciousness directly into clean text. Yet, at least 10 times over the last two weeks, I've started up a draft on something, like the white phosphorous mess or the myth of the Democratic base or the further developments on the WGIG or just random comments about life in general. And each of those times, the second I hit the Preview button, I realize that everything I've typed in over the last few hours or so happens to be absolutely pathetic. So I try to change words around, use different paragraphs to blockquote, rewrite; all to reverse the climb of the Aggregate Levels of Sucktitude rating. Finally I just give up on the thing and delete it and, with the self-confidence of whale crap at the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench, wonder if Atrios had ever had days like this. Or Kos. Or Luis. Or the myriad of Andrews. Or the big three Johns. Or the two Coles.

But the evil B-day has past me by, with the usual real-life Aggregate Levels of Sucktitude that I've become used to over the years, and the Pre-Birthday Depression has (mostly) gone to rest up for next year's torture session. So, at least once I can find a monitor for cheap and scrape together the odd funding for it by selling plasma on my day off, I'll be back to my highly long-winded ways on random topics that either only I think about or I care enough to comment on.

And before you ask, I'm 29. And I've been 29 for quite a few years, thank you very much. On the last day of my first run-through of 29, I swore that I would remain that age until I finally got it done right. And, at the rate I've been going, that'll be around the time for me to stay 39 for a full ten years.

18 November, 2005


You know, with all the falderol going on out there, I'm just going to put up a few brief comments before running off to work.

First white phosphorous is not, I repeat not a chemical weapon. Sorry guys, but you're barking up the wrong tree here. Do just a teensy bit more research before making the blanket accusations next time, m-kay?

Colonel Murtha deserves everyone's support. Not just for being a retired Marine. For that he deserves respect. But support him for having the testicular fortitude to say in public precisely what we've been saying in the blogosphere for the last couple of years.

I'm still not buying any CDs manufactured by Sony, regardless of what this band-aid does for other people's opinions.

Saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last night and, while I was not disappointed, I found this to be the funniest thing I've seen in a while. I don't ever remember laughing my way all the way through a trailer before.

17 November, 2005

Another Wierd One

Aside from the possibility of getting the National Convention here in 2008, only one thing in today's news has really made me sit up and start yelling at the monitor.

This one.
Allysan Isaac, 24, was held nearly a year in work release for something that a judge said Tuesday was not even illegal.

"You were incarcerated for a case that was not a crime," said Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn, who presided over the case.

Flynn, the prosecutor and Isaac's defense attorney were unaware last year that the offense she was charged with was not a violation of the law.

No one had noticed that a prescription drug found in Isaac's possession, an anti-anxiety medication called Buspirone, is not a controlled substance.

District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he had "no idea" why Isaac had been charged with and convicted of something that wasn't a crime.

The defense attorney who represented Isaac in the first case was also baffled. "I don't have an answer," assistant public defender John Burkey said. "Nobody caught it. The police were saying it was a controlled substance."

Get this one? Someone getting jail time for carrying around a prescription medication that is perfectly legal? And no one even checking to see if the drug actually was illegal to possess, even with a prescription?

Seriously, folks. The drug policy in this country is highly messed up. Between Allysan and Richard Paey alone, it's easy to see that.

There is a definate need to reassess the concept of the "War On Drugs" on all levels of society. When someone suffers from crippling pain gets 25 years just for getting his prescription filled and another gets tossed in jail for possessing a non-controlled substance, it's obviously gone wonky.

[Turn signal: Resurrection Song]

12 November, 2005


Well, seems like I've made it to post number 50 and visitor number 300 on the same day! How odd that it worked out like that.

So instead of doing serious stuff, I decided to have fun with Google.

For some reason I have yet to fathom, my post here is number one brought up by this search string...

Only problem is that it's Google Taiwan. Well, not really a problem, but it sure as hell made me wonder why I was getting hits from the Republic of China.

But that's okay, I'm making inroads to the US as well, as the same search string brings me in at number three for the exact same search.

Only took me 3 1/2 months to come up on top of something. And I'm hoping that the next 300 readers will come a lot faster than the next 50 posts.

11 November, 2005

In Honor

Instead of simply blockquoting a vast majority of an article like I always do, this time I'll just be linking to it.


Simply, it's a must-read. Period. The entire piece.

So read it.

Regardless of how you feel about the conflict in Iraq, this is the best article I've ever read. It doesn't simply talk about how these Marines died, but the more important parts...

How they lived. And how they are honored in death.

And those with the toughest job of them all: the ones that, when the call comes, must inform and give comfort to the families of the fallen.

For all the men and women out there, somewhere in the world, that are serving in uniform, my only request is that you do your jobs with honor and come back safely to those that love you.

10 November, 2005

NEWS FLASH: Homer Had Sex! (Film at 11)

Yesterday, NewMexiKen pointed towards something interesting.
According to the study of 1,000-plus hours of programming--excluding news, sports, and kids shows--across the four major broadcast nets, several top cable nets and a couple of stations, 70% of shows had some sexual content, averaging 5 sex scenes per hour.
Now, I had to ask... What exactly do they call "some sexual content?" Fortunately, a little bit of time and effort brought me to the host of the study. And that's where the real problems begin. Or at least, they do for me.

Here's what they call "some sexual content" for the study:
  • For this study, sex is defined as any depiction of sexual activity, sexually suggestive behavior, or talk about sexuality or sexual activity.
  • Sexual dialogue, or what we term “talk about sex, ” involves a wide range of types of conversations that may involve first-hand iscussion of sexual interests and topics with potential partners, as well as second-hand exchanges with others that convey information about one’s prior, anticipated, or even desired future sexual activities.
  • The lower threshold for sexual behaviors measured by the study was physical flirting, which defers to behavioral actions intended to arouse sexual interest in others[.]
Other things include intimate kissing, any public display of affection deemed likely to lead to more intimate situations, even a parent-teen talk about safe sex and the investigation of a sexual-based crime... They're all included in this survey as "some sexual content" regardless of severity, level of intimacy, or other context.

Which says to me that the good folks sponsored by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation were determined to use as wide a brush as possible when setting their definitions for this study.

Oh, they threw out the bone on the "kiss of greeting between two friends or relatives" as not being listed under "some sexual content." But aside from that, anything and everything was considered fair game for the researchers. And they used it.

Shows with the designation of "some sexual content" came in at 70%, even after the definition being so wide as to cover most displays of public affection. Yet look at Table 5 more closely, folks... Real close, as shows with only "talk about sex" came in at 68%. That's 97% of the shows that fall under the scope of the study now, isn't it? They give no indication of severity, language, or context of the "talk about sex" but instead lump it all together. Which, to me, makes the moral point that any reference to sex, at any time and in any fashion, is inherently evil... Makes me wonder what moral viewpoint the Kaiser Family Foundation is coming from, no?

Yet go down to the next grouping. "Any sexual behavior" comes in at 35%. That's half of the "some sexual content" the study was braying out loud about, isn't it. And if you bring in the number of scenes between the total number of "some sexual content" and compare it with the scenes indicating "any sexual behavior," you bring it down to a total of 23%. And if you extrapolate the initial "some sexual content" scenes to the percentage... Well, that brings it down to a paltry 16.% percent.

Guys, what we have here is a study that tries very hard to prove that sexual content is a constant force on the television. And what it does, in essence, is prove that there's not quite as much sex going on, literal or suggested, as there was in the previous years of the study. Unfortunately, they will still get the job done, as evidenced by this little post by Embattled Christian:
I didn’t need a study to tell me this. I can tell because of the growing list of television shows I longer watch because there is literally nothing else in the show: no creativity, no intelligent dialogue, nothing fresh and interesting. My son’s comment yesterday before the big breaking news about sex in television: “ESPN is the best station on television. ”

Well, let's not tell the son about the National Cheerleading Competitions that are on ESPN2, shall we? Might get him to turn off the television entirely... Oh, and those half-time shows, too. Not to mention gymnastics, particularly the floor routines. Very little combines sensuality and sports like a women's gymnastics floor routine...

Whoops. Am I painting with too broad a brush again?

And to those that will wave this study around, stating that this is proof positive that more is needed to be done on the issue of sex and the media, I just have this to say.

You were the ones that lobbied for the V-Chip. Use it. It'll block out all this stuff that you don't want to see, or more likely that you dont' want your kids to see, and all without any real effort on your part, just like this post on MommyCool.com that links to a study by the RAND Corporation on television viewing and adolescent sexual behavior. You don't need to turn off the TV, much less run for the fuse-box. Just turn on your V-Chip.

And as for me, this study means very little, as I can't afford cable right now. Oh, and the reception is so bad in this apartment that I can't even pick up the over-the-air television stations, either. Not to mention that I don't even have a partner of any kind right now, so my sexual activity is pretty much nil.

Oh wait. Scratch that. That might be used to prove their point, won't it.

06 November, 2005

Coming Unglued?

Le sigh... Only from Boulder, huh?

"They left me there, going through all that stress," Dougherty told The Daily Camera, of Boulder. "They just let me rot."

The lawsuit, filed Friday, said Dougherty was recovering from heart bypass surgery and thought he was having a heart attack when he got stuck at the store in Louisville, Colorado, on the day before Halloween 2003.
Paramedics unbolted the toilet seat, and Dougherty, "frightened and humiliated," passed out as they wheeled him out of the store, court papers said. The toilet seat separated from his skin, leaving abrasions.

"This is not Home Depot's fault," Dougherty said. "But I am blaming them for letting me hang in there and just ignoring me."

For those that don't know, the denizens of Boulder have a certain reputation within the Denver area. Anything wierd, wacky, or otherwise headshake-causing that happens in Boulder, or to someone from Boulder, will simply get shrugged off as being the local in-joke. Hells, even Boulderites seem to think that at times, judging from the reactions I saw when I was working for the Boulder-based company NightRiders, Inc. (Alas, that company is no more. I'll have to put up a post about the fun times at some later point in time, not to mention the good and decent service they were providing.)

It's just one of those really goofy things that make you wonder sometimes. Well, that and I didn't feel like adding to the bloviation regarding Alito, Scooter, pit-bull bans and whatever else that my fellow left-hand bloggers are nattering about.

You many now return to your other random bloviations.

04 November, 2005

Simply Unacceptable

Guys, particularly any black Democrats in Maryland, this kind of thing simply needs to stop.
Black Democratic leaders in Maryland say that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican.

Such attacks against the first black man to win a statewide election in Maryland include pelting him with Oreo cookies during a campaign appearance, calling him an "Uncle Tom" and depicting him as a black-faced minstrel on a liberal Web log.
But black Democrats say there is nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious."

"There is a difference between pointing out the obvious and calling someone names," said a campaign spokesman for Kweisi Mfume, a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, a black Baltimore Democrat, said she does not expect her party to pull any punches, including racial jabs at Mr. Steele, in the race to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes.

"Party trumps race, especially on the national level," she said. "If you are bold enough to run, you have to take whatever the voters are going to give you. It's democracy, perhaps at its worse, but it is democracy."
And this is a bunch of Democrats they're talking about, not a bunch of wackos from the American Independent (read: KKK) Party. You know, Democrats? The party that's supposed to be about inclusion despite the color of your skin?

Apparently, the Maryland Democratic Party hasn't gotten the memo. Instead, they and their supporters are pretty much doing what Jeff Goldstein is inferring (read: flat-out stating):
Given the opportunity to howl about such a fairly straightforward assessment, many progressives I’m sure would proudly showcase their indignation by obdurately justifying the righteousness of their tactics: because conservatives are anti- (pick your aggrieved identity politics group), forcefully pointing such out is almost a moral or ethical imperative—or, at the very least, is necessary and proper insofar as it demonizes them as a way to warn others in the “identity group” who might think about engaging in nonsanctioned, heterodoxical thinking.
I may not be a progressive (Indeed, maybe because I'm a declared moderate rather than a progressive!), but I consider this to be just as horrifying as if it was a bunch of white folks treating a black candidate like this.

And really, that's my test for when something crosses the line beyond all hope. When you would condemn something that a plain ol' Caucasian would do as being racist, yet turn around and forgive/condone your own ethnicity saying and doing the exact same things, that is simple hypocracy in action and should be universally condemned as such. Instead, we have the spokesman for Kweisi Mfume saying there's nothing wrong with "pointing out the obvious" and a large number of prominent Maryland Democrats joining in on the race-baiting as if it's nothing but harmless fun. Or worse, just the darker side of politics. And I didn't even include some examples of what they're saying about and/or doing to Steele that made me wince in sympathy.

You know, I seem to recall stories about some "good ol' boys" down in the deep South saying something about it just being harmless fun after being interrupted by a policeman or deputy in the middle of a lynching. Yet the target of that "harmess fun" sure wasn't having any fun, would they? Or think it harmess, for that matter?

Perhaps this is why they're so afraid of the Steele candidacy? Via a "by-the-way"-style link from In The Agora comes Paul Cella's excellent insight:
There is not much more that can be said here. We should denounce this cruel vitriol in no uncertain terms. We should wish Mr. Steele well, admire his perseverance, and hope that his example might inspire more like him: that this dreary, depressing episode might one day be a thing of the past, like so many of the other episodes where race threatened to break America. (emphasis mine)
They are afraid that a successful African-American (Ye gods, do I hate these qualifiers that have been drummed into my speech patterns since childhood. Why can't we all be Americans and allow all the racial thinking to simply disappear? But no, we have to insert the damn hyphenated words at every opportunity to foster the sense of Us Versus Them, apparently.) who also happens to be strongly conservative might encourage the up-and-coming generation to break ranks with their fellows and become Republicans instead of loyal Democrats like their insert-number-and-signifier-of-generations-here before them.

I don't think encouraging the hypocritical thinking shown by those in Maryland does much to prevent that. Instead, it might backfire and end up encouraging any random free-thinkers of whatever race out there, those that the system haven't forcefully dragged back into the fold yet, to go their own political path (if only in the privacy of the voting booth) simply to spite those who condemn with one hand and encourage with the other.

While normally I would cringe in horror at the mere thought of praying for the resounding defeat of a Democratic candidate anywhere, this time, and for this specific reason, I'm hoping for it.

This type of thinking needs to be firmly stomped on. Preferably with a few metric tons of concrete travelling at relativistic velocities. Otherwise, it will simply encourage more of the same.

Which is probably the last thing the Democratic Party needs. More ammunition for the Limbaugh-esque wingnuts to pelt us with all across the country.

02 November, 2005

Split Decision

Well, the votes have been counted. The blood has been mopped up. The chickens have come home. And the fat lady has sung.

Off key.

According to the Denver Post, Referendum C passed by a comfortable 4 point margin, while the companion bill of Referendum D failed by 1.2 percent. Which is how I voted myself, incidentally.

From the moment I moved to this state 4+ years ago, I could see that TABOR was a millstone around the government's neck, dragging it down towards bankruptcy. Yet I have this reflective knee-jerk response against any measure that proposes a bond for anything other than education. If the state doesn't have the money, then they shouldn't build up half-billion dollar projects all at the same time, which is exactly what Referendum D was proposing.

So yes, I call this a split decision, even though Colorado Luis is under the impression that D was simply an add-on to keep Gov. Owens happy. Not so, in my view. They were marketed together, whether the marketing was for or against them. They were almost incestuously intertwined from the word "go". And they were designed to go along together, even to the point of D stating that if C failed then D would never come to pass, and reserving a specific percentage of the "additional revenue" from C into the bonds of D. Therefore, they were part and parcel of each other, and this is now a split decision.

But what makes yesterday really interesting, and may have affected Luis' logic, is that the three major city-(and county-)level de-Bruceing measures (so called as a salute to the godfather of TABOR, El Paso County Commissioner Doug Bruce) known as Denver 1B, Castle Rock 2A, and Boulder 1A both passed by very confortable margins. And oddly enough, the highly Republican Castle Rock's measure passed by a wider margin than the much-derided People's Republic of Boulder, yet not by as much as in the well-known liberal territory of Denver City And County. Odd how that works, isn't it?

So the arguments regarding taxation and state-level spending is far from as wide and convincing as folks like Jon Caldara's Independence Institute would have had you believe. A vast majority of us have services that we depend on the state to perform, whether in the areas of education or law enforcement or firefighting. And this time, a majority of Coloradans saw it that way and voted to preserve them so that we don't have to pay still more down the line.