30 December, 2007

The Off Colfax List Of Best Books Of 2007 That No One Has Heard Of

Well, here we are. Another holiday season gone by, and you were actually fortunate enough for your Great-Aunt Sue Ann to give you a gift card to Borders or Barnes & Noble or Amazon rather than the usual pair of puce and cream macramé socks. But what to get with it?

Here are my unsung, or sometimes sung at too low of a volume, gems of the past year. This won't be a list with your Skinny Bitches and Looming Towers and Eat Pray Loves and Ann Coulters and Water For Elephants and Oprah Book Clubs and Age of Turbulences and James Patterson's team of ghost writers and et bloody ceteras. (C'mon. You can't tell me that you expect a single person to crank out 5 new novels in a calendar year without using ghost writers, even with such incomprehensible twaddle as Patterson usually releases under his name. That's just crazy talk.) This is for the real book lovers that can venture beyond the best-sellers list.

I know what you're thinking. Dude. How come this strange OC person could be qualified to judge what could be a good book, much less one of the best books of the year. Simply put, and most of you don't know this, I've been working at the bookstores in Denver International Airport for the past 6 months. So I'm constantly picking up random books and leafing through them. And when I start unconsciously reaching for a handy place to sit, I know I have a good one. (Now all I need is a way to spot my manager before he spots me first.) (And no. I don't get any kickbacks from these links. So click away without fear of accidentally supporting an anonymous blogger.)

First, for the occasional high-school girl that randomly gets to this page via the Next Blog button while still laughing at the incompetent emo threatening to cut his fingernails, I give you the Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. Gabrielle Zevin brings us the occasional daydream of every high-school student: What if I was able to start here at school all over again? In this one, one high-school junior is is about to do so after falling down some icy stairs and waking up to zero memory of the last four years of her life. Remarkably well-written and highly accessible, even to those odd socialites that insist they only read the Clique series and are very stuck-up about it.

Next up on the list... Hmmm. Let me guess. You've heard of the Dangerous Book for Boys, right? And the Daring Book for Girls as well? Good. Now have you read the Dangerous Book for Dogs? I didn't think so. This is every good dog's essential companion in the ever-lasting quest to become the bad dog that they always wanted to be. From proper ways to get out of the yard undetected, to cat-chasing tips, to a taste comparison between Dolce & Gabanna leather slides and Kenneth Cole moccasin-stitched loafers, it's all here. Pay special attention to the etiquette section on crotch-sniffing. Please. Your humans will thank you. (And yes. It is a parody. But I'm still waiting for the Daring Book for Cats to come out.)

Now, for you cooking fanatics out there comes this collection of sordid tales of the kitchen called Don't Try This At Home. All of us have a war story about when things go horribly wrong in that strange place-where-food-is-put-together-place. (Yes, even when you accidentally microwaved the foil-wrapped leftovers because you were too hungover to notice. That counts.) With little of the pretension of Anthony Bourdain's ego-stroke known as Kitchen Confidential, this collection of Murphy's Law-related stories will cheer you up immensely. Whether it is the lobsters that are off or the kitchen is flooded or the cake is in 15 pieces on the Long Island Expressway, it is proof positive that the more (self?)important the chef, the larger the associated screw-ups.

Music lovers and musicians alike will enjoy this book by Daniel Levitin called This Is Your Brain On Music. A former music producer turned cognitive psychologist, Levitin delves into such obscure elements as neurobiology, neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, empirical philosophy, Gestalt psychology, memory theory, and neurochemistry; and all in language that is easily accessible to anyone, regardless of whether you can carry a tune in a bucket or not. Read it. Love it. Pass it on. Only try to get it back afterwards. Unfortunately, my copy is still in the hands of my manager's family in El Paso. Hopefully I can get it back one of these days. (Then again, I'm on my 9th copy of Ishmael, 6th copy of Atlas Shrugged and 3rd copy of Shampoo Planet, so probably not. I have a habit of buying books that migrate.)

For us science-fiction lovers out there, a new release of an old trilogy has hit the shelves. The Chronicles of the Black Company, from way back in the '80s, has returned to print once more. Not individually, mind you, but in an onmibus edition that will keep you well and truly happy with life for a serious stretch of time. This is one of those books that most of the "professional" booksellers never believe would sell, but it marches straight out of the store whenever new copies arrive, in lockstep with a very happy new owner.

For you current affairs fanatics, I have three words for you: Band of Sisters. With the ever-increasing number of females serving in the military, and particularly in the Iraqi theater of operations, this is one of the first books to chronicle their stories. If I had time, I could wax poetic for hours about this book, but I would run out of metaphors far too quickly for my taste. Pick up a copy at the next possible opportunity. Just don't ask me for one. I'm sold out.

And finally, for those fiction lovers out there, comes my one extraordinary odd choice: The Gum Thief. Of course, for those that know the Me-Behind-The-Keyboard, any Coupland novel is far from an odd choice. I've been a raving fanboy since I first read Generation X in college. It's practically expected that I love and promote a new Coupland novel, sometimes before I even read it. Which, unfortunately, was what I was doing with JPod, which I tossed aside in disgust at the self-aggrandizing and self-promotion even while chortling at the occasional self-abuse. In the Gum Thief, he returns to what he does best: real people in real situation talking about their real lives... and how much they really suck. Most people wouldn't expect a novel about a 40-something alcoholic and 20-something overweight goth girl, both working at a Staples, to be interesting. Most people would be sadly mistaken.

So what are you still reading this for? Go and read something with quality for a change. G'wan. Shoo.

24 December, 2007

Fuel For The Mind

It’s 4 a.m., and I’m gacked to the teats on energy drinks. Four cans of Red Bull, four cans of Full Throttle, two cans of Rockstar, and a 10-ounce plastic cup full of some nameless yellow drool they dispense straight from the beverage gun over at the pub across the way. I’m bug-eyed, red-eyed, itchy, twitchy, anxious and sweaty and grinding my teeth, talking to myself and talking to the walls and talking to my dog. Which isn’t unusual—the talking to my dog part, that is. I do that all the time. Except ordinarily he just looks back at me, like he’s bored, or he needs a biscuit, or something. This time, he just looks too scared to answer.

Is that a bug crawling on the wall?

Maybe I’d have been better off with Neuro Fuel. What’s a Neuro Fuel, you ask? Well, really, you didn’t ask. I asked for you. Because I’m the one sitting here in a paranoid frenzy, trying to make a late-night finish on a story about Knoxville’s own contribution to the energy-drink market. And talking to myself, and to the dog, and to the walls. And now I’m talking to you, too. Wait, this isn’t making any damn sense.

Hmmmm. I wonder if this guy has been peeking at some of my draft posts. Still, it is an interesting concept: re-evaluate the energy drink concept and provide one that actually gives the consumer what they actually expect from the neo-magical 8.6 oz. can and remove all the negatives that they really don't want.

Check out Neuro Fuel for yourselves. The website is highly Flash-oriented, so you might want to be sure your script-blockers are bypassed for this one. And then hope for Internet-based distribution, so that one can answer the most important question when it comes to energy drinks:

Does it mix well with vodka?

[T/S: the man that posts so much that he has a Red Bull IV drip.]

22 November, 2007

Code Blue: Paging Doctor Thompson

I just can’t do it. The iron has been in the fire for too long. The pigs have yet to come out of the tunnel. The political zombies have marched on their roads of bones, and then went out for barbecued brains.

I believe every political junkie passes this point in time. Too many long hours pounding through databases to find that one perfect moment that will, for the love of God, finally let you make up your mind. Too many meaningless speeches in front of county fairs, local Kiwanis, and roadside diners. Too many press releases, those myriad tons of utter and complete garbage foisted upon the unsuspecting voter.

Too much feeding the fix, begging for that political smack dripping from our USB cables and oozing into our hearts and lungs and toenails and tonsils, drugging us into that vague stupor caused by imagining that we actually could possibly know what the hell is going on in the universe, much less our own minuscule corner.

But why. That is the question. Why.

Simple question. Simple answer.

We started too early. My God, was it too early. Normally, by this sheer concentration of political news, the fat lady would be warming up while the rest of us are staggering our way towards the voting booth, looking for that magic lever that will end it all. We seek it. We want it. We caress it like a lover waiting in the moonlight. We desire it like it was a loaded shotgun, there to finally end our agony after decades of pain.

But we are denied. Eleven long months of the political season gone, and we aren’t even to the halfway point yet. Even after all this, we still have 47 miles of barbed wire left to crawl, and that live cobra around our necks is still waiting for us to move too fast. Or too slow. Or blink. Or force-feed Wolf Blitzer into a secure-systems document shredder.

Feet first. So we can hear him scream.

Lord, how long? How long must we suffer? Like Aquitaine after the Vandals. Like Londinum after Boudica. Like the floor of a Dropkick Murphys show. Like a confused emo with the complete discography of Sunny Day Real Estate on his iPod, plus Jimmy Eat World’s first album.

Okay. Scratch that last one. We aren’t that bad. Yet.

But there is still time, Bubba. Still time left for the Chinese water torture to take full effect. And it will. It’s been going for almost a year now with no sign of slowing down. He said. Drip. She said. Drip. They said. Drip. We said. Drip. Every. Drip. Single. Drip. Second. Drip. Every. Drip. Single. Drip. Day. Drip.

And we call waterboarding cruel and unusual torture. Should make them actually listen to all the feces-coated garbage being hoovered up by the junkies of the world.

And I… I need a news vacation. A media break. A stay at the Betty Ford Clinic for the Incurably Informed. A brief spell away from the political porn that suffocates our lives.

What do you mean, Bubba? Why do I say “our lives”? You mean you ain’t crawling through this one with me? You mean I did all that for me? Wait, Bubba! Why did you write “Blow Me, Kemosabe!” on this fax! I have to know! Thousands and thousands of people depend on us! We make the news! They just star in it! C’mon, Bubba… I’ll even let you take the next few miles. But I’m keeping the cobra. He likes me.

No deal, huh? Figures. Didn’t think you were that dumb.

When the weird turn pro, the going gets weird. Isn’t that how it’s written? If not, it should be. And the weird have turned pro for this one. So the only truth is that not only have things gotten weird, but there is more weirdness yet to come.

Death to the weird. I’m on vacation.

[Crossposted from Creative Destruction]

10 November, 2007

We Might Be Giants

Thursday's post by my favorite Zomby has me starting to do some serious thinking.

(And long-term readers of this blog are suddenly starting to either cringe in their seats or make popcorn. Either of which is a viable response to a post of mine with the word "thinking" in the very first sentence.)
I think that we are seeing demonstrable, often positive changes in Iraq--changes that came from Iraqis weary of war and the excesses of thuggish “insurgents”, the creative leadership of General Petraeus, more troops, the the aggressive tactics of the surge. Iraq isn’t won, but these changes do seem to be creating an environment where the political victory can incubate. A real victory seems more possible now than it did less than a year ago; nothing is guaranteed, I realize, but if we continue to let the military do its job we can give the diplomats and politicians the time to do theirs.
I have to ponder one simple ponderable: why were we just now starting to achieve results in Iraq? We had many of the tools David mentioned before this moment in time. The insurgents have been thugs from the word Go. We had the potential for plenty of troops at the very beginning, none of which were worn thin by constant exposure to combat. We had the potential for creative leadership and aggressive tactics, at least once General Tommy Franks retired. And we have had, for many a season, the ability to create an environment for actual victory rather than simple political victory.

Yet something has been holding us back. And the blame for this can be placed solely at the feet of the political leadership of this country.

Let us start from the beginning, with House J.Res. 114, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. (PDF warning.) As I have already argued, some would say successfully, an AUMF via the War Powers Resolution of 1973 is not a declaration of war. Thus, the desire to bring forth the full power and force of the United States of America was not even an issue from the very beginning. And yet this was, and is still, portrayed by our political leadership as being the ultimate battle for our time: America's Eurasia.

(I shall not go into the apparent sleight-of-hand required to convince the international community to join and/or assent to the invasion plans, nor will I make any further Orwellian references. They are simply too easy of a cheap shot.)

Next comes an obvious question: What is the worst mistake that a well-equipped, -maintained, and -manned military power can make? Open a "war" on a second front, before securing victory on the first front, unless you have absolutely no choice whatsoever to do so.

World War 2 is an obvious example of this dilemma. When the United States finally entered the war after the preemptive strike upon Pearl Harbor, strategically the only option to start off with two fronts. Hirohito's navy was too powerful to let roam in the Pacific unchecked, so it had to be destroyed at all costs and with sufficient follow-through to remove the Imperial Army from their strategic occupations. And without Britain available for a rally point for the D-Day invasion, our troops would have been forced to only enter Europe from the south, where the geography would have been in Germany's favor. A mountain range the size of the Alps is an effective force multiplier for any defenders, particularly when the attacking army is refused access to the more easily accessible passes through Switzerland.

Conversely, Germany made a significant strategic error when they opened up the eastern front against Soviets before Britain was removed. Hitler's flank was secure and his rear was sufficiently covered via the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Operation Sealion had yet to be launched in full so that the newly-formed Churchill government would be removed from the equation. And yet Operation Barbarossa was still sent directly into Russia's teeth with over three million soldiers marching for Moscow to respond to the possible threat caused by the Soviet invasion of the Baltic states. We all know how well that worked out for the Third Reich.

And so we apply this to the situation in 2002. Afghanistan was not yet secured, with roving bands of Taliban soldiers still in play. The border with Pakistan had yet to be secured, if such a goal was ever possible. And the primary public casus belli for the invasion of Afghanistan, the price on Osama bin Laden's head, had yet to be credited to our morale account. While many of the conditions for absolute victory were within the grasp of the American military in Afghanistan, we had yet to fully obtain them before reassigning a significant percentage of our troop strength to the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 20 March 2003, thereby creating the effect of an unnecessary war on two fronts.

Admittedly, this effect is difficult to see when one solely views the American news media reports, as events in Afghanistan are rarely reported here in the U.S. for various reasons, yet the effect is not unfelt. In neither theater of operations can we concentrate our forces in sufficient number to completely eliminate a ground-level insurgency campaign. In Afghanistan, this is exasperated by the fact that the physical terrain is well-suited to guerrilla operations, much as the Soviet Union found to their dismay in the 1980's. In Iraq, this is exasperated by the fact that the social terrain is well-suited to the camouflage of insurgent operations, with the religious devisions providing both ample cover for existing efforts and ample recruiting grounds for further operations.

Given the public desire of the President to secure overwhelming victory, it is surprising that an initial overwhelming troop presence was resisted so strongly. My personal speculation is that the military and political leadership were looking for, in the reputed words of Vyacheslav von Plehve, "a short, victorious war." Iraq was reportedly within the gunsights of the Administration on the first day after the inauguration. Rumors of Secretary Rumsfeld and others within the Administration requesting data to tie together Iraqi involvement in the 9/11 attacks are too numerous to link.

In essence, Operation Iraqi Freedom was a political exercise, not a military exercise. In few areas is this more understood than via the administration of the Coalition Provisional Authority, whether in regards to the contract awarding process (PDF warning and strong liberal stance warning) or the appointment of loyal party members to positions within the CPA who then return to the White House for federal appointments. (One example of many.)

(SERIOUS PARENTHETICAL ASIDE: Hmm. The phrase "loyal party members" reminds me of something. But what could it be? Is there a connection between the operational and strategic organization of the Soviet-style Communist Party and the modern-day Republican Party? Obviously there are differences in political philosophy and I would not care to suggest that there is no philosophical difference. Yet the application of management theories are, at first blush, remarkably similar. See also: 11th Commandment.)

And then comes the home front. In theory, all politicians today are working in order to "support the troops, regardless of partisan affiliation. Yet, for the first four years after the Iraqi invasion, the "war" was treated with a business-as-usual attitude in Washington, D.C. While the reporting of Josh Marshall has defined a vast majority of them, I have one significant point that seems to have gone unnoticed by the vast majority of the punditocracy.

At no time in the history of warfare has a government been able to both cut taxes and win battles. None. At all. Period. Wars cost lots of money, both to train the soldiers on the ground and to supply them with weapons. Why is this? Because wars are expensive. Kennedy and Johnson tried cutting taxes during Vietnam, but even Richard Nixon realized that we needed to increase our revenue if we were to be successful. During World War 2, the United States saw the largest tax expansion in history. During the War Between The States, we instituted the inheritance tax. The taxes that sparked the Revolutionary War were to pay for the defense of the colonies and to restore the British military after the French-Indian War. All of the Crusades saw further taxes levied against the yeomanry and peasantry. Rome raised taxes to conquer Gaul. The Achaeans probably raised taxes to defeat the Trojans. And in the Stone Age, Ogg would have raised taxes to defeat Ugg and take his fire if such a concept existed back then.

You cannot win battles without spending the money. You cannot spend the money unless you have the money. The President has been more than willing to request money to spend. He has been reluctant to find ways to get the money in the bank in the first place. And the reason for this is simple: it is against the political philosophy of the Republican Party to raise taxes. Yet wars, whether declared or not, are supposed to be such significant events that a temporary breach in philosophy is necessary. Therefore, the continued resistance of the White House to the raising of taxes will continue to baffle me, particularly after launching into the stock "do whatever it takes" line to create and maintain a secure Iraq.

We might be the giants of the world, but not even we can win when we cut our own hamstrings. Yet that is precisely what we have done. We are not treating this as a war. We are not at war with Iraq. We have never been at war with Iraq. We won't treat ourselves like we are at war with Iraq.

And that is why we will continue to lose in Iraq.

Until the philosophy within our government changes from "just another day of business as usual" to "let's kick more ass than a donkey herder's convention", that basic fact will never change.

21 October, 2007

The Old Man By The PC

There are scores of you young whippersnappers talking about how "back in the day" of 1999 you got your first computer with, sighing as you reminisce on how you had to learn the hard way how to use Blogger and now everyone has a blog. Well, boo hoo! Punk kids. No idea what it's like.

If you're thinking of disregarding this as another curmudgeonly rant about how we had to surf the net uphill both ways in the snow, let me disabuse you of that notion right now. Because you see, back in my day, we didn't even have the internet. And we liked it.

If you can remember what it means to COPY [/Y|-Y] [/A][/B] [a:][path]filename [/A][/B] [b:][path][filename] [/V], or file transfers over a 28.8, or playing Oregon Trail (Without graphical interfaces!) then give this a read. And most of you would probably laugh your assets off while doing so.

As David would say:

Read The Rest.

14 October, 2007

Personal Log

I set a new record tonight.

After almost everyone else from RMBB 7.2 went home (Aside from Bill with four Ls, who was there for one of my attempts.), I talked to three different women. All of them had smiles so bright that you could see them from orbit. That is my official Most Attractive Quality in a female.

Admittedly, I struck out with all three. Admittedly, it was worse of a showing than the Red Sox had tonight in the bottom of the 11th inning.

Yet I made the attempt. And that, dear readers, is something that I rarely can bring myself to do after the vast multiples of disastrous relationships I have in my personal history. With all the pain and disappointment and full-out depression that has followed most of my past relationships, to simply be at a bar and have a conversation with an attractive woman is a definitive advancement for me.

Who knows... Maybe one of these days, something might actually happen after a Blogger Bash. Or any other time. Something where I don't go home by myself. Or don't go home period, for that matter.

But I wouldn't hold my breath for it. I may have made attempts, but that does not blind me to the reality that is my life.

So tonight, it is just me and the cats. As usual. With Lisa Loeb playing on the Winamp. As usual.

So here is to one of these days... Yeah. I'll drink to that.

13 October, 2007

To Advocate Equality

[In response to this, yet I will not comment on what Jeff Fecke says or the logical flaws of his diatribe.]

It is not proper for any American to remove any rights from any person without due process. Period. Ad infinitum. Ad astra. Ad nauseum. Forever and ever. Amen. It was a fundamental error by our ancestors to pretend that the color of one's skin or the location of one's gonads determined whether or not the fundamental rights of, much less membership within, Homo sapiens applied to them. As such, it is just as fundamental of an error for anyone else to do so, regardless of what motivation is behind the movement.

I cannot disagree that there has been injustice performed by some of those who are, as I am, white and male. That is a simple fact that only the blind cannot see and only the ignorant can ignore. Still to this day, women are treated as if they are less than a human being simply due to their lack of a Y-chromosome: the glass ceiling, income inequality, the removal of personal autonomy, objectification, mutilation, humiliation... The list of offenses that short-sighted individuals have performed unto women is a long and miserable one. It has been codified into our laws. It has been decreed among our religions. It has been solidified in our societies. It is pervasive. It is subconscious. It is everywhere. And this is but a single example that does not touch racial discrimination, religious discrimination, ethnic discrimination, sexuality discrimination, or any of the myriad of other forms of discrimination that exist in human society.

There is no reason to excuse rape. There is no reason to excuse spousal battery. There is no reason to excuse child abuse. There is no reason to excuse oppression. There is no reason to excuse any crime, of any type, perpetrated on someone because of their gender or the color of their skin or their political views or their religion or even what they had for breakfast the day before yesterday.

Likewise, there should be no reason to automatically expect those things to occur against you because of those factors. That is against the principle of equality. One does not combat injustice by ensuring more injustice. As Mohandas Gandhi said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Subjecting another to the same violations that you were forced to endure is to fall under the same trap, the same impossible fallacy, as you purport to fight against.

To strive for all humans to be treated equally is frustrating. Being what we are, we attach our certain circumstances to our declarations, whether it be for our gender or for our ancestors or for our religion or for our nationality. It ranges from men's rights, women's rights, sexual preference rights, hyphenated-American's rights, yet it boils down to the same thing. We want the right to be free to choose. To be free to decide. To be what we so desire to be, without anyone to gainsay against us or stop us from making the attempt.

And that is the true basis for equality: freedom. So long as you do not actively cause harm against another person with your choices, a truly free society should never stand in your way.

Yet with any of the various groups advocating such freedom for their members, it must come at the expense of those that allegedly already possess such freedoms. It is not enough that the privileged must give up their privilege, but that they must become the underprivileged in recompense.

And that is not the definition of an equal society. To punish someone for the accident of their ancestry is the same fallacious argument that the various advocacy groups are fighting against. And when another group rises in order to counter the presumed subversion of their own rights, they are decried as being short-sighted and bigoted and wrong.

Here is a basic test.

[___________] promotes the rights of their members at the expense of [___________] group's rights.

Fill in the blanks with any of the advocacy groups and their opposite number, and it will match perfectly. Gender. Race. Religion. Ethnicity. Sexual orientation. Even right- or left-handedness, should it come to that. They will, naturally, disagree with such a statement when it comes to themselves while at the same time voicing full-throated agreement with the statement relating to their opposite number.

The only way to avoid such contradiction is to promote equality for all, regardless of identifiers.

I regret to say that, with humans being humans, I will not hold my breath for such a happy occurrence.

18 September, 2007

Na Ga Ha Pen

I have said many times that I will never vote for Clinton44.

I do not care if she’s running against the combined incarnations of Iosef Stalin, Caligula, and Vlad Tepes. I do not care if the entire opposing platform is made up from Dr. Seuss rhymes and Wagnerian operas. I do not care if her Cabinet-level appointments leak as involving Weird Al Yankovic, Dusty Hill, and Daniel C. Dennett. I do not care if there is a man behind me with a big club, an evil grin, a tray full of non-sterile surgical implements, and severe sociopathic tendencies. (In fact, after voting for Clinton44, I’d welcome that. After tossing your ethical code out the window, what’s wrong with a lot of cruel and unusual punishment?)

Ambition is only to be expected at this level of politics. Yet in my memory, there is only one other Presidential aspirant to display an ambition so raw and naked as to defy any level of disbelief from anyone who is not already a supporter.

Clinton44 lost my vote the moment she formed a committee, and nothing sort of a direct commandment from God will change my mind. And even then, I’d need it repeated at least 10 more times, with associated plagues, before I went along with the plan.

[Crossposted from here]

12 September, 2007

Ouroboros Democratica

The great alliance between the progressive wing and the Democratic Party leadership is starting to eat itself.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.

“You folks should go after the Democrats,” Woolsey said in response to a suggestion from an activist during a conference call last month organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

“I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”

Despite the heated rhetoric, the call shed light on the frustration of anti-war groups, which must work with a Democratic majority that faces limited control in the Senate, as well as a Republican president.

The activists strongly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for failing to meet with them and not doing enough to stop funding the war. Moran pushed back, arguing that Pelosi’s heart was with them but that she was constrained by political reality within the House Democratic Caucus and the Senate.

“We’ve got too many risk-averse members,” Moran said. “[Pelosi] really is trying. She doesn’t have the votes; she doesn’t even have the complete support of some of the leadership.

“If you heard the caucuses that are not public and could hear the arguments that she makes to sway some of the conservative members, I think you’d be much more impressed with her.”
With a mere four months to go until the first of the 2008 primaries (And no, I really don't think that the middle of September is the right time to write those words.), actively encouraging a break within the party is not the smartest thing in the known universe. Lynn Woolsey is encouraging the same schism that Cindy Sheehan started with her dressing-down of Madam Speaker earlier this year, with the same misguided principles behind her.

And, incidentally, encouraging a much earlier start down the same path of ideological purity that has hobbled the GOP over the last two election cycles, with what I predict will be the same disastrous end. I've written before that demanding ideological purity out of the party is a E. E. Milne-style Very Bad Idea. I stand by my opinions even though I know that many of you, particularly my progressive readers, disagree with them. (Likewise, I know that my conservative readers are going to do handsprings whenever they think about it.) But I really did not expect to see such a singular confirmation so quickly as this.

Given the evidence at hand as to what happens when an American party insists that its members toe the rhetorical line drawn by the radical wing of the party, I can hardly believe that there are those that are actively encouraging this process, as evidenced by this comment thread at Election Central and the ubiquitous Kos diary.

If those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it, then what will happen to those who fail to remember 5 minutes ago?

03 September, 2007

Going One Up On The Pythons

Not even in their wildest skull sessions could John Cleese and Michael Palin come up with this.

Just a laugh break for Labor Day. Which, oddly enough, I always have to work on...

[Turn Signal: Zach Wendling]

21 August, 2007


All of the above.

Now, there are some amongst you in Outer Blogistan that would resist these technologies, particularly those that affect the human body itself. Already I can picture some of you refusing to accept some of these developments, said picture complete with I Can Has Cheezburger-esque "DO. NOT. WANT." captions and an expression of utter dismay and refusal.

I, however, look forward to the day where I can have full 24-hour access to whatever information I so desire, all without having to sit down at a physical computer. For, simply enough, I am a data addict and that obnoxious thing called work keeps me away from gathering in as much data as possible only because I must maintain access to that information on my internet-withdrawal downtime. And all of the above is certainly making me lean to the transhumanist persuasion.

Therefore, this and this and this (PDF warning on the last one.) are all something I look forward to with great anticipation, not to mention a sincere hope that they will be available before I shuffle down the curtain and join the Choir Invisible.

In the meantime, I'll settle for one of these. And dream of androids dreaming of electronic sheep via a BCI.

[Turn Signal: teh insty]

13 August, 2007

Not Likely

Two points of interest today.

I sincerely hope [Rove’s] resignation is the end of short-sighted, divide-and-conquer politics, and that the likes of John Danforth and his “politics of reconciliation” will be the rule of the day in the not-too-distant future.
I'll lay better odds on myself winning the Republican nomination for the White House. Unless "not-too-distant" means 5 years from now, in which case the odds fall to merely improbable rather than infinitesimally minuscule.

Will Off Colfax ever remember a milestone post?
I haven't yet. And this is number 201. And still going. Sporadically, but going.

06 August, 2007

Apples And Oranges

It is sad when supporters of a presidential candidate have to stoop to this kind of misdirection. Italics original, bold mine.
America's political consensus is almost absurdly to the right. But because people still need to run to the left of each other, the rhetoric on offer frequently sounds like the rhetoric of the left, even as its actual prescriptions are decidedly within the mainstream of our fairly conservative consensus on economics. And vice versa in other countries, where rhetoric of the right can refer to almost comically leftist policies. where the center is much further left -- and in other countries, the precise opposite happens.

The French election was an excellent example. The rhetoric there was much the same as the rhetoric here, but it was actually referring to a consensus far to the left of ours, and so even the right wing radical Sarkozy was offering nothing but a couple market-friendly tweaks across the edges of France's expansive public sector. He's further to the Left than anyone running in America. Here, John Edwards is speaking boldly for the left, but doing little more than shoring up some holes of inefficiency and insecurity within our market-heavy approach. His support for the 40-hour, rather than 35-hour, workweek puts him considerably to Sarkozy's right.

Am I the only person here that finds these non sequitur and post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments exhaustingly foolish? It is a well-known fact that the American political center is more conservative than any other industrial nation. Yet here, with his gratuitous to-the-right-of-Sarkozy response, Ezra Klein falls into the exact same rhetorical trap as the Matt Miller article in the Financial Times that he responds to. Again, bolds mine.
Consider John Edwards, who the press and Republicans have cast as the heartthrob of the resurgent “left”. The centrepiece of Mr Edwards’ agenda is a call for universal health coverage. It sounds radical to American ears, perhaps. But Margaret Thatcher would have been chased from office in the UK if she had proposed a health plan as radically conservative as Mr Edwards’ – under which private doctors would supply the medicine, and years would still pass with millions of Americans uncovered.
Matt and Ezra approach the trap from different sides, of course: the former stating that "The Left isn't that far left now, is it?" and the latter responding that "The Left isn't far enough!"

Our histories are different. Our philosophies are different. Our attitudes are different. So why is it an instance of surprise that our politics are different as well? Why do we have this consistent need to compare political apples and rhetorical oranges? And who is more foolish in the above comparison? Is it the man that uses this device to supposedly discredit the "progressive" standing of a Democratic presidential candidate? Or the man that uses this device to make his candidate-of-choice look better to the poi holloi?

This isn't French politics. Nor is it British politics. Not Canadian politics or German politics or Turkish politics or Iranian politics or Armenian politics or New World Order politics or Bloomingdale's politics.

Can we please just leave aside the gratuitous references to how other countries' politicians do things, if only when discussing an American politician? For the only real point of comparison is that they are all politicians, just like apples and oranges are both fruit. For the rest of the particulars, there are not nearly enough points of commonality to bother. And in the end, it only makes you look like an idiot.

31 July, 2007


No, not either Bill O'Reilly or Mike Stark, his new-found stalker. (Although to be honest, both of them probably qualify.)

These guys, courtesy of Ed Permutter's monthly newsletter.

New Scam Targeting Military Spouses

The American Red Cross has learned about a new scam targeting military families. This scam takes the form of false information to military families. The caller calls a military spouse and identifies herself as a representative from the Red Cross. The caller states that the spouse's husband (not identified by name) was hurt while on duty in Iraq and they couldn't start treatment until paperwork was accomplished and they needed the spouse to verify her husband's social security number and date of birth. The American Red Cross representatives typically do not contact military members/dependents directly and almost always go through a commander or first sergeant channels. Military family members are urged not to give out any personal information over the phone if contacted by unknown/unverified individuals. The Department of Defense will contact families directly if their military member has been injured. Should any military family member receive such a call, they are urged to report it to their local Family Readiness Group or Military Personnel Flight.

Chinese water torture using lemon juice on fresh paper cuts is not evil enough punishment for these guys. Being forced to listed to Ward Churchill speak on any given subject not in his allegedly academic field is not evil enough punishment. Nor is a constant droning of the Hillary Clinton campaign theme song at full volume. Nor would any demented technique born from "extraordinary rendition" experiments.

Support the troops. Forcibly castrate a scam artist.

[Disclaimer: The author in no way suggests that forced physical castration is an appropriate punishment for these individuals. The author further regrets that forced castration is as severe a punishment as his imagination will allow him to go, particularly when he has been sick.]

Carpe jugulum.

25 July, 2007

Color Me Unsurprised

Two bits of news that didn't even move the Official Off Colfax Shock-O-Meter:

PC Industry Disappointed With Vista

CU Regents Fire Ward Churchill

Nope. No astonishingly obvious results here. Move along, folks.

18 July, 2007

Creation Of Evidence

Something I just gleaned from the comment section of the “Payment Received” cuneiform tablet that Robert brought to our attention on Sunday, which goes hand in hand with my comment here, is this story.

“Fingerprints of Creation”

While most of the article is too technical for me to follow in the entirety, I was able to follow the conclusions themselves quite clearly. The existence of a single molecular formation in some types of granites is said to be proof of the instantaneous creation of the planet. Now, I am no geologist; theoretical, practical, amateur or otherwise, this field quickly gets beyond my comprehension.

Yet this article follows the same neo-Randite logic that is condemned from the highest hilltops by the Young Earth Creationist community: if all of the arguments are logically coherent and you agree with one point of the argument, you must therefore agree with all points of the argument as they are a direct continuation of the piece of evidence that is presented by using Aristotle’s Law Of Identity (A is A.) as the logical vehicle.

Just as with Babsy’s hailing of being able to “ride a dinosaur” as being complete and total proof of Creationism. A is A.

Anyone who prefers the evidence of evolutionary processes that has an intellectual honesty this side of Richard Dawkins will admit that there are plenty of holes in the theory, which is precisely why it remains a theory rather than scientific law. Yet there remain those, like Dawkins, who see the development of drug-resistant microbes and herbicide-resistant plants as being the necessary and sufficient proof for Darwinian processes throughout the history (and prehistory) of life on this planet. A is A.

Fact: There was not a single member of species Homo sapiens on this planet when the Earth was formed. Not even the most rabid Creationist can dispute that, as their major source of evidence, Genesis 1, clearly states that man came after the Earth was fully formed.

Fact: We have no way of establishing time travel, so we cannot go back to the year 4006 B.C.(E.) and see whether the world was here or not.

Fact: Therefore, we cannot know for certain precisely what is or is not factual about the establishment of life. There is no way to gather evidence. There is no way to record the sequence of events. There is no way to even determine which of the conflicting evidence sets is accurate.

Until these base facts change, there will be no absolute proof as to what really happened at the start of this planet’s existence. Until then, all we have are theories and hypotheses: testable yet inconclusive statements as to how life began on this rock.

We can support one over the other, yet we can never find the absolute truth. The only thing that can be found here is belief. And regardless of how we might wish for a simple yes-or-no answer to one of the most penultimate questions about human existence, it will not be so easy.

Presentation of evidence is one thing. Insistence that the most minor detail that confirms your belief system over another is conclusive and argument-ending is quite a completely different matter.

[Crossposted from Creative Destruction]

06 July, 2007

Customer Service Done Wrong

Last November, I resolved to never buy any music published, distributed, and/or associated with Sony BMG. With their massive Charlie Foxtrot by installing rootkits onto computers just by playing a music CD, I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw a building. Keeping your intellectual property safe is one thing. Violating customer privacy and security was something quite different.

And now, after what Megan has been going through just to get a box delivered to her, not even a full one but an empty box, I'm simply going to never purchase a Sony product. Ever. Period. The real money shots come in the updates down at the bottom of the post.
Update They left me on hold for an hour, then hung up on me. I'm starting to believe it is deliberate.

Update II The plot thickens. It seems the reason I haven't gotten my second box is that . . . Sony has no record of ever having sent one.

Update III That's right. Apparently the somewhat English challenged help-desk interpreted "Okay, send me a box" as "I'll call you back" and put my request in the circular file.

Customer service is not rocket science. Yet this story displays a basic ignorance of the entire topic, and, when compared to the complete failure to properly resolve the XCP rootkit scandal, suggest that the incompetence is systemic throughout the corporate hierarchy rather than simply isolated incidents.

So yes. I will never have to worry about Sony VAIO customer service, for I will never again be a customer of Sony.

(Fortunately for the geek in me, rumor has it that Sony's PS3 lost the exclusivity contract with Squaresoft, the makers of the Final Fantasy series, after the extraordinary difficulties of the BluRay backlog. So I won't have to miss out on Final Fantasy XIII due to my self-imposed boycott.)

(I was wondering how I would sneak Megan's suggested googlebomb into this post. Amazing that I was actually able to do so!)

05 July, 2007

I Need A Tip Jar

And why would a small-time, ZZ-list, dime-a-half-million-dozen blogger like myself want a tip jar?

The 46 pounds of Sprint phone records, stored meticulously over the D.C. Madam's 13-year escort service, is a scandal in waiting that looms large over the nation's capital.

And if the current court-ordered injunction is lifted, allowing Deborah Jeane Palfrey access to her files, she vows to send every last name and phone number to any journalist, blogger or private detective wanting them.

46 pounds equals one heck of a shipping charge. Plus my morbid curiosity is about to get the better of me, just begging to wonder what it is that she has hanging over so many as-yet-unnamed heads...

Plus it is a way to continue procrastinating on that mother of an immigration post I've been trying (Read: failing.) to write over the last week or so.

26 June, 2007

Crime And PUNishment

There should be a law against bad puns.

Or at least a lawsuit alleging wanton disregard for the sanity of others.

21 June, 2007


What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

  • death (2x)
  • drugs (1x)
Hmmm... Interesting. Very stupid. But interesting.

[Turn Signal: Proph]

17 June, 2007

To Dad

Over the years, I've learned many things about myself. Most of them negative.

I am a loser.

I am an idiot, a moron and a fool.

I am a screw-up, a flake.

I am a geek, a dork, a spaz, and a nerd.

I couldn't do something right even if I bribed it in advance.

I am the living embodiment of Murphy's Law.

And yet...

I am loved.

So to the man who has supported me through thick and thin and really thin, who encouraged me when I had none left inside me, who pushed me to be better than I thought I could be, who never let me forget that I am his son regardless of the shambles my life was for many a year...

Thank you.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

13 June, 2007

/em Rolls His Eyes

[insert snort of derisive indignation]
Supporters of a Democratic congressman charged with bribery and money laundering harkened to their civil rights days on Wednesday as they denounced the allegations against U.S. Rep. William Jefferson.

The group, including ministers and the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, alleged the 16-count corruption indictment was the work of a Republican White House and Justice Department scheming to target black Democratic leaders and shift attention from legal troubles of Republican congressmen.

"When it's all over, Bill Jefferson will stand up like Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver. He will stand up in the South and he will be victorious," said the Rev. Samson "Skip" Alexander.
Yeah. That's a defense I'll buy. "It wasn't him! It was those evil other people that don't like us! And they're doing it to keep people from looking at their own evil things! It is a con-spi-ra-cy!"

Rabid partisanship at work. And the bloody-shirt-waving in that third graf is so sad that it is almost hilarious. Attempting to pin Jefferson's much-tarnished name into the same sentence as two highly respectable individuals, those who stood and fought and suffered and sacrificed in the name of individual liberty, is an insult unto their memory and legacy. Yet it seems to be a constant effort to invoke the specter of racism whenever possible, regardless of how despicable many of us find such a strategy to be.
Washington asked the audience to give Jefferson the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
Yup. And he has it. Just the same as O.J. Simpson still has the presumption of innocence. But I certainly will not call it a travesty of justice when he is found guilty.

But here's the money quote:
Sitawi Jahi, a 54-year-old youth development program director, said he came "to gather facts." But he said his confidence in Jefferson was strained by some of the evidence, in particular an allegation the FBI found $90,000 in bribe money in the congressman's freezer.

"That's hard to explain," he said.

Very hard to explain. He forgot the word "very" in there. And that exact piece of evidence is precisely what will convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt, especially when it follows the video of him receiving said bribe money.

Personally, I'm wondering if there's a betting pool on how much prison time good ol' Dollar Bill will get after all this is over. I wouldn't mind tossing a sawbuck on the 61 month square.

10 June, 2007

The Off Colfax Movie Soundtrack

Via Jane.

The rules:
  1. Open your media player of choice.
  2. Load every song you have.
  3. Put it on shuffle.
  4. For each question, type the song that is playing.
  5. Next question, next song.
  6. Be honest. Don't fib just to not sound like a dork.
Okay. Fine. But I'll skip over repeat artists. Otherwise, there'd probably be a lot of the same people on here.
Opening Credits: Das Ich - Unschuld Erde (Funker Vogt remix)
Waking Up: MC Lars - Straight Outta Stockholm
First Day At School: Jimmy Eat World - A Praise Chorus
Falling In Love: Chris Isaac - Wicked Game
Breaking Up: Wolfsheim - I Don't Love You Anymore
Prom: Savage Garden - I Want You
Life's Okay: They Might Be Giants - Istanbul, Not Constantinople
Mental Breakdown: Gin Blossoms - Lost Horizons
Driving: Information Society - (Tell Me) What's On Your Mind
Flashback: Lisa Loeb - Stay
Getting Back Together: Incubus Succubus - Love Spell
Wedding: The Smiths - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Birth Of A Child: ZZ Top - Tush
Final Battle: Epsilon Minus - Just Another Long Shot
Death Scene: Dropkick Murphys - The Legend Of Finn Maccumhail
Funeral Song: Beborn Beton - Another World
End Credits: Dead Milkmen - Bitchin' Camaro
I promise. Those are my actual, unadulterated results. WinAmp officially loves me! Why? A baby being born to "Tush"? Classic for a comedy. A death scene featuring a song about a guy that got his army gloriously massacred? Priceless. Exchanging rings to the words "If a double-decker bus/Kills the both of us/To die by your side/The honor and the privilege is mine"? I could actually see doing that one in real life! (Aside from the fact that I can't actually see me, ya know, actually getting married in the first place.) And if you ever heard the Gin Blossoms song, you'd know exactly why it is absolutely perfect for a mental breakdown. "Drink enough of anything/To make this world look new again."

I really couldn't have had a better list if I cheated and handpicked the perfect songs manually. But if I had, those perfect songs would be the following:
Opening Credits: Deep Forest - Sweet Lullaby
Waking Up: Less Than Jake - Modern World
First Day Of School: The Smiths - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Falling In Love: Sarina Paris - Baby Look At Us Now
Breaking Up: Rusted Root - Beautiful People
Prom: Fictional - Blue Lights
Life's Okay: Riddlin' Kids - I Feel Fine
Mental Breakdown: Blues Traveler - Mountain Cry
Driving: Darude - Sandstorm (JS16 mix)
Flashback: R.E.M. - Try Not To Breathe
Getting Back Together: Reliant K - High Of 75
Wedding: Funker Vogt - Für Dich
Birth Of A Child: Devo - Beautiful World
Final Battle: Nebula H - Twilight Zone (Feat. Dirk Ivens)
Death Scene: Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town
Funeral Song: U2 - Where The Streets Have No Name
End Credits: 10,000 Maniacs - Stockton Gala Days
Different choices leading to different results leading to different emotive processes leading to different cinematics. But either list could very easily work.

Well. Maybe not Bitchin' Camaro at the end. That'd be more of an opening credits song, don'tcha think?

06 June, 2007

Best Comment Of The Day

In response to this:

I think this would be the only instance one can say, "The lions dominated the first half, but Buffalo came back for the victory."

--- Ryan at Jane Galt's place

I'm just glad I wasn't drinking anything at the time. Otherwise, my cats would have been seriously peeved.

04 June, 2007

And Another One Gone

I know. I should be blogging about the utter and complete human torture that any unfortunate soul seeking employment at one of the nation's airports must endure. But this is more important than my running around like acephalous poultry and jumping through bureaucratic hoops.

The title of this MSNBC article says it all.

Congressman indicted in bribery investigation

La. Democrat also accused of corruption; cash found in freezer in raid

Finally. In a 94-page, 280-paragraph, 15-count indictment issued today (Large PDF warning.), Congressman William Jefferson is closer to his day in court where he will be judged by a jury of his peers.

And, as you could probably tell from my past writings on the subject, I would be far from the ideal juror for the defense. Which means that it is a good thing that I have less chance of getting a jury notice for this case than I have of flying to the moon for a grilled cheese sandwich, for even if I consider him to be guilty as sin (And much less appealing than a good set of sinning, by the by.) he is still entitled to his fair trial.

Yet now that Jefferson has been indicted, Speaker Pelosi is moving to strip him of what little power he got in the committee assignments: his seat on the Small Business Committee and two of its subcommittees. And this time, the Congressional Black Caucus does not have a leg to stand on to protest his removal. This story from last year told the tale of the tape.
A drive by the Democratic leadership to strip embattled Rep. William Jefferson of his committee post triggered a backlash Thursday as the Congressional Black Caucus opposed the move and said the Louisianan deserves a "presumption of innocence."

The caucus chairman, Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina, told reporters that some black voters might ask why action was sought against "a black member of Congress" when there was neither precedent nor rule for it.

Jefferson has not been indicted and has denied all wrongdoing in connection with a federal bribery investigation that has netted two convictions. He has rebuffed repeated calls from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others to step aside until any involvement is clarified.
Well. Now he has been indicted in a federal bribery investigation that has netted two convictions. And it is time to treat him precisely the way that we wanted Tom DeLay and Duke Cunningham treated. (Read: thrown out of the House so hard they break Mach.) Now there is precedent for it. Now there is rule for it.

And thus is born Nancy Pelosi's first true test of whether or not this will be "the most ethical Congress in history." Will she violate her promise? Or will she tell the CBC that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Because if she doesn't do the right thing and instead gives Dollar Bill the same public pass that she gave Murtha's volcanic 'cross-the-aisle eruption and Mollohan's "temporary voluntary suspension" from the Ethics Committee, then there will be problems. Those two involved earmarks. This involves one heck of a lot more than just earmarks. This wasn't a shade-of-dark-gray incidental enrichment and/or insider real estate deals. This is flat-out criminal action and should be treated as such.

And if Nancy whiffs this one, then I might not just be bashing Congressional Democrats.

I might just run against one.

[UPDATE: 1838 06.04.07] That Politico intar-tube thingamabobber shows us that Minority Leader Boehner will place a motion on the floor, and one that will remove Jefferson from the House entirely. It would have been better if a) he'd done that against Cunningham or b) Pelosi did it first. But I'll take it as it comes. [Turn Signal: The Army Of One David aka Instapundit]

02 June, 2007

Hopefully His Foot Tastes Good

... because it is well and truly planted in his mouth. Brackets mine.
"First responders in Colorado have recently provided critical services in the face of blizzards and tornados," added Allard [R-CO, Retiring]. "Since I don’t think first responders have really done anything significant in comparison to their counterparts who have dealt with real natural disasters, I have no idea what else to say here…"
Explanation: Spokesman and staffer were trying to come up with more text for the senator's non-quote, and were just joking around. And then the joke was accidentally included in the main text of the release.

And people call bloggers amateurs because we don't have an editing process... Sheeesh.

[Turn Signal: TPM via Kos]

On a side note, Colorado Confidential is one of the better sources of muckraking for those of up here in the rarefied air. With professional journalists from the Rocky Mountain News and 5280 Magazine on the site, as well as the Wash Park Prophet himself, it has become everything that Mike Zinna's now mostly defunct Colorado Exposed was supposed to be and never was. Keep swinging for the bleachers, CC!

01 June, 2007

Shorter Than I Thought

The last time I became unemployed, it was a 5-month gap between times where I was making an honest living. And that, I can tell you, was a serious strain on everyone and everything involved.

This time, it looks to be about 5 weeks.

I had an interview out at the airport today at 1 in the afternoon. Two hours later, I had a formal job offer in my hot little hand, complete with $2/hour more than I was making plus a free bus pass after 60 days and full benefits after 90. The only piece of the puzzle I have to wait on is the standard Transportation Security Agency screening process, aka the jumping of bureaucratic hoops.

So if you've ever wondered what a first-hand account of the hell-in-triplicate known as the Department of Homeland Security looks like, that just might be the subject of a post on Monday. Assuming, of course, I survive the process.

I hear it involves kissing the foot of a goat while bathing in calf's milk and swearing abject devotion to Insert Political Leader Here, but that's probably just a rumor. Then again, this is a bureaucracy, so they just might have goats available.

Who knows?

In the meantime, here is some catblogging by dawnlight.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A red dawn really brings out her highlights. And, seeing as how she knows that all humans are wrapped around her dewclaw in sheer abject worship of her beauty, Wendy gets supermodel serious whenever she sees a camera pointed in her direction.

30 May, 2007

I Got WHAT Now?

Ah. Late night movies on Turner Classics. Sit back, relax, and watch the film noir roll through.

So I see this test on OK Cupid. (Yes. Another one. Go away.) The Classic Leading Man Test!

Do I get Marlon Brando? Cary Grant? Or even (Oh-Please-God-Of-Ego-Boosting-Be-Kind-To-Me!) Bogey Himself?


Your Score: Jimmy Stewart

You scored 21% Tough, 14% Roguish, 47% Friendly, and 19% Charming!

You are the fun and friendly boy next door, the classic nice guy who still manages to get the girl most of the time. You're every nice girl's dreamboat, open and kind, nutty and charming, even a little mischievous at times, but always a real stand up guy. You're dependable and forthright, and women are drawn to your reliability, even as they're dazzled by your sense of adventure and fun. You try to be tough when you need to be, and will gladly stand up for any damsel in distress, but you'd rather catch a girl with a little bit of flair. Your leading ladies include Jean Arthur and Donna Reed, those sweet girl-next-door types.

Next up: Mr. Colfax Goes To Washington! It's A Wonderful Post! Bell, Book, And Blogger! Two Wrote Together!

Okay. I'll stop now.

[Turn Signal: Mr. (I Got Katharyn Hepburn) Lady]

28 May, 2007

Going Home

Cindy Sheehan is leaving the Democratic Party.
You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.
Honestly, I feel nothing but an obscenely guilty pleasure at this pronouncement. Dear Mother Sheehan has been pushing this party even further away from the center than ever before, and even faster than Rush Limbaugh ever dragged the Republicans to the political right. (Yes, dear reader. There is an insult in there somewhere. Exactly who it is directed towards, however, is up for debate.) Her constant beating of the drum has, over time, become the same sound as the drumbeat emanating from the White House, only on an opposing wavelength. The only people that have ever truly taken her seriously were the ones that were already true believers and fellow travelers, while the rest of us in the Democratic Party sat there and rolled our collective eyes whenever Dear Mother opened her mouth.

And yet, I must thank her. Not for Camp Casey. Not for being against the enormity on the Euphrates. Not even for telling Speaker Pelosi to shove it where the sun doesn't shine. Instead, I must thank her for helping me to see what is happening with my party and how it is beginning to betray its bedrock principles.

And I just know that you are sitting there, scratching your heads, asking yourselves, "Dude, how the heck did you reach this? Which logical limb did you take a flying leap off of this time?"

Let me show you why it really is a guilty pleasure, beyond the definition of obscenity.

With this send-off letter, Cindy only shows that she does as much to continue the Republican viewpoint on Iraq as the White House Press Office, to wit, she kept on calling it a war. As I have been saying for almost 18 months now, this is not a war. She and the rest of the anti-armed-conflict Democrats keep helping the current Administration's constant drumbeat by calling it such.

And, by doing so, this party continues to play the wrong cards. It is a constant talking point out of the Congressional Majority Leaders' offices that the voters sent the Republicans a message that they were tired of the "War In Iraq" whenever they butt heads with the White House. That they wanted a change. That they weren't satisfied with "hold the course" anymore. So why do they continue to use the White House talking point, the same one that Alberto Gonzales could not let stand while under oath in front of the Senate in 2006?

There was not a war declaration, either in connection with Al Qaida or in Iraq. It was an authorization to use military force.

I only want to clarify that, because there are implications. Obviously, when you talk about a war declaration, you’re possibly talking about affecting treaties, diplomatic relations. And so there is a distinction in law and in practice. And we’re not talking about a war declaration. This is an authorization only to use military force.

If my fellow Democrats are serious about ending the debacle on the Tigris, we need to stop helping the Administration sell the policies we claim to despise. We are not at war with Iraq. We have never been at war with Iraq. We have someone calling himself a "War President" without any silly technicalities such as an actual war. And we on the left side of the double-yellow-line keep helping him say that whenever we stand up against the "war" in Iraq.

And the reason my party has done this is simple. The Democratic Party, especially their most vocal supporters on the progressive left, does not want to break with politics as usual. Why? Because politics as usual is precisely what they are counting on to support their policies and personal agendas, especially now that the Democrats have taken control of both chambers of Congress. After all, you cannot use the boat if you rock it too much. It is in the Democrats vested interest to keep the vested interests in play. And they have done so.

Those who I call the "Honest Republicans", such as bloggers John Cole and Robert Lee Ray as well as many prominent moderate Republican families, have either broken or are threatening to break from what the current ultra-hardcore neo-conservative movement that the modern Republican Party has become. Why? Because the GOP has broken away from their traditional position of a small and responsible government. Because the single-issue supporters within the GOP have all but subsumed the platform. Because the GOP believes more in the Conservative Cause than it does in the American Constitution.

And I regret that I am starting to see the same thought process within the Democratic Party. We were once the party for the people, not the special interests. We were once the party of hard questions, not easy escapes. We were once the party of grand visions, not short-sighted maneuvers. We were once the party of fixing what was broken, not throwing temporary patches over the holes.

The current Democratic Party is no longer the party of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, any more than the current Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. And both parties have traveled far afield from the principles of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, John Hancock... No longer are the principles of the Founding Fathers to be found.

And that frightens me. To be perfectly honest, it scares the [CENSORED] out of me. And I have to ask myself one question: Am I reading the writing on the wall, or am I the one writing on the wall?

Am I really the only one on this side of the political divide that is seeing this pattern? Am I the only one that points towards our bedrock principles, both as Democrats and Americans, and screams to the winds "Why are we so far away?" Am I the lone voice crying in the wilderness?

Because if I have to, I will. This is not solely the party of Duncan Black and Amanda Marcotte and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, or of Hillary Clinton and John Edwards and Barack Obama.

This is my party too. And if I have to fight for my place in the Democratic Party, then perhaps it is true. The Democratic Party will no longer be the Democratic Party when it betrays its most basic foundation principle: a place where all voices have the right to be heard.

I will be heard.

I will not suffer in silence.

I will dissent.

Until the end of the world.

Truly, the reason why I feel guilty about this is because Cindy Sheehan no longer is willing to fight for the same thing. And the reason why I am afraid is that the party just does not care any more. That it no longer exists to represent our views, our politics, our opinions... But instead, it exists only for itself. And the day that this becomes true, than this will no longer be my party. And when that day comes, will I have the intestinal fortitude to leave it to die? Or will I pull the plug myself?

If that is not of the Platonic Form of obscene thought, I do not want know what is.

Carpe jugulum.

[Linked by The Flannel Avenger]

22 May, 2007

Snark Warning

We were told that, if the Democrats win, there would be a wave of terrorist-style Improvised Explosive Devices placed all around the country. And they were right!

Darned religious terrorists! Fight them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here!

[Snark: Insty]

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm still trying to make heads-or-tails out of that torturous conglomeration of an immigration bill. Definitive insert-head-in-monitor time here.

10 May, 2007

Eleven Things I Learned...

... while working at a gas station on Colfax Avenue, hereby distilled for your educational purposes.
  1. There is no such thing as "common" courtesy anymore. When you are just running into the store to pick up a pack of cigarettes, it is apparently perfectly acceptable to park a) across an entire driveway or b) directly behind someone who is trying to pull away from the gas pump or c) at the red light across the street, followed by d) loudly demanding police presence when someone complains about you doing any of the above while refusing to move an inch until the police arrive due to unnamed "threats" made against you. This does not make for a pleasant discussion with the nice officers when they arrive. You have been warned.
  2. People will consume their illicit pharmaceuticals of choice in the oddest places. Inside dumpsters. Inside bathrooms. Directly in front of the store. Waiting in line at the store. There is truly little shame to be found in an addict.
  3. Those strange people that walk blithely up to you and ask "What kind of cologne do you wear?" are pure evil and should be taken immediately away from the human species before they cause irreparable harm to society. Never mind. It's too late.
  4. Yelling at the clerk about the high price of gasoline is a guaranteed way to be short-changed and/or double-charged. Clerks don't make enough money to deal with that and will take their vengeance upon you in any way possible, with the standard caveat that you will cause the next ten to fifteen customers to also be short-changed and/or double-charged to help them learn not to be near a clerk that is within 10 seconds of biting someone's head off. You have been warned.
  5. When you use foul language at a clerk for enforcing the pay-before-pumping policy, especially one which is clearly displayed on two signs for each pump, expect the clerk to enforce the other sign with reads "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." If so, don't worry. There is another station down the street. You have been warned.
  6. Some people will steal anything that is not nailed down. And if they can pry it up, it's not nailed down. Have you ever seen someone try to run out of a convenience store while carrying the microwave? Enough said.
  7. When some local politician says the words "economic redevelopment" in relation to your specific vicinity of employment, it is to be considered a code-phrase for "Polish your resume, button-pusher, 'cause it ain't your development." (The land where my store was located will be part of a brand-new Hilton hotel to be opened within a year. Not a joke.)
  8. "Think about how stupid the average person is. And then realize that half of them are stupider than that." George Carlin is 100% accurate with this statement. Displays of actual intelligence among the general public are, regretfully, less common than displays of "common" courtesy.
  9. There is no success to be found while arguing with a sign that reads "CLOSED". Yet people will attempt it anyways, sometimes for ten minutes at a stretch. Then, when you point out to them that they could have walked across the street and already purchased their beer and/or cigarettes from the liquor store in the time they took to yell at both you and your unyielding door, be prepared for you to be called the stupid one. Schadenfreude at its absolute purest.
  10. Should you interrupt a... um... "young-at-heart person of negotiable affection" in the middle of... um... "assisting a gentleman with his weekly high colonic" in your public restroom and then proceed to eject both individuals from the property, followed immediately by said prostitute standing in the middle of the intersection to scream out a long series of vulgarities in 4 different languages while waving around an enema bag, and all you do is turn around to a complete stranger, shrug your shoulders, and say "Another day in the life on Colfax," you are officially too jaded to live and should be removed from the gene pool before you cause irreparable damage to society. (Or get a blog and cause still more damage.)
  11. When you threaten a clerk with the words "I will have your job for this!" after allegedly poor customer service solely due to restrictions of company policy, do not be surprised to find the clerk taking off their work shirt and handing it to you saying "Then take it." No clerk makes enough to deal with that, and it really is funny to see the look on someone's face go from furious to petrified in two seconds flat. In fact, it can make a clerk's entire week.
I constantly tell people that my job was almost exactly like the one in the movie Clerks and the only differences were that a) no one gave me back massages, b) there was no place to play hockey, and c) Jay and Silent Bob were two ugly transvestite prostitutes. But in reality, it was a LOT worse.

03 May, 2007

Keeping Yourself Busy

A piece of wisdom for you. (Even though most of you know this one already.) After becoming unemployed, for any reason, the one thing that is both the most important and the most difficult to do is to stay busy.

On my part, I try. I finally have time to sit and do many of the things that I want to do. Winning a game of Civilization 4 at the Hero level. Finally finish the //.hack series on the PS2. Re-read Daniel C. Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea and try to wrap my mind around the entire last section. Get started with spring cleaning around the apartment.

(You will note that I haven't started looking for a new job yet. I see this week as being unpaid vacation time, thank you very much. That and, until my last paycheck comes in the mail, I don't even have enough money to take the bus so that I can find a job. Six of one, half dozen of the other.)

Well, it looks to me that I'm not the only one that has been doing this under recent days.

All of those staffers for the former GOP congressional majorities had to turn around and do something, right?

First there was Conservapedia, which was created because we darned liberals keep editing out their changes to the Bill Clinton page that equate him with Beelzebub (However, calling Hillary Rodham the Bride of Lucifer... That one I do myself.), hence the true liberal bias of the Wikipedia system.

Setting the knee-jerk snark reflex aside, quickly take a look at the entries for the hitherto unknown controversy surrounding the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. With the Wikipedia entry, plenty of information is given. With the Conservapedia entry, however, a bare minimum of data is offered, strictly keeping to the actual description of the Amendment itself.

With this small exception. First, the sentence from the Wiki.
The United States Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947. It was ratified by the requisite number of states on February 27, 1951.
And the closest sentence as found in the Conservapedia entry:
This was passed by a Republican Congress in 1947 and ratified by the states in 1951.
Amazing. The political party in power when the amendment was passed is more important than the myriad details regarding precisely how the process was completed and the continued effects of the amendment to this day. I never would have thought that way.

Come to think of it, I still don't.

And now there's two more entries into the GOP Keeping Busy files:

As with Wiki, YouTube has been considered to be part and parcel of the evil systemic liberal bias, if not a true anti-conservative bias, primarily once Senator Allen's "Macaca" moment gained national prominence and thorough exploration on YouTube. Also featured prominently are such anti-conservative diatribes as clips from the Bill Maher and Jon Stewart shows. Hence the creation of a conservative response: QubeTV.

And immediately, there is a problem with their thesis. In a prominent banner ad at the top of the page, as seen in the picture below, it features a video by Michelle Malkin (My liberal readers will be more familiar with her if i use Duncan Black's racial slur of a nickname. However, this is a family-friendly blog, and I don't do that kind of thing here.) regarding the religious-based censorship that certain factions of the Islamic religion encourage.

Only one problem with this... It's not actually banned by YouTube.

Charlie and Jeff are not really off to a good start if a single registered user can get the true facts of the matter in under 4 minutes.

(EDIT: 05.31.07 0016. That embedded video was removed for, and I quote, "terms of use violations". This is what YouTube usually says when they take a video down before receiving an infringement notice from the copyright holder, just in case it does violate copyright, and Google gets a love-letter from Michelle Malkin's lawyers asking them for a court date. Still an example of sloppy fact-checking on Charlie and Jeff's parts.)

And finally comes something that I fully agree with: The Majority Accountability Project. (Side snark: The Two Mikes have their introductory video based through... YouTube. I guess someone didn't get the memo.)

The basic premise from The Two Mikes is sound. We, in the collective sense, have been merrily burrowing our way through just about everything that the GOP-led Congress did over the last 6 years. Travel records. FEC files. Obscure amendments slipped in at the last minute. Speeches. Contributions. PAC and Foundation creation. The list goes on and on as to what they were doing that we didn't like.

Now it's our turn under the microscope. Fair enough. There is a reason why the phrase "honest politician" is on the oxymoron list, and Democrats are no less susceptible to the corrupting influence of power than Republicans are. (Case in point.) And should they succeed in bringing a level of accountability to politics in general, even in a temporary fashion, I will stand there and shake their hands in broad daylight.

Unless, when the inevitable day comes that the Democratic majority fades into the sunset, they change their tune. So to The Two Mikes: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

It really is a good thing to keep yourself busy.

26 April, 2007

Got Leech?

This is probably one of the most disturbing Public Service Announcements I have ever seen.

I predict this will have the same effectiveness as when your parents asked you "If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you do it?"

Of course, that question always had the same answer. "I dunno. I guess."

Impressionable youngsters will always have a cavalier viewpoint regarding stupid things, regardless of whether those stupid things be drugs, extreme sports, gasoline cans, or sticking leeches on themselves. Simply calling it stupid doesn't do a bit of good, as most kids have not yet reached their age of mortality.

The young know they're going to live forever.

Older folks (meaning those past the font of wisdom that generally comes after turning 25 or so) know their mortality all too well.

So while pointing out the stupidness of various activities might seem to be a good thing from an adult/mortality-aware perspective, the simple act of pointing out the stupidest things that a young person could do will only accomplish one thing: make them wonder what all the fuss is about. Which will cause, I believe, only an increase in interest as to precisely what the heck all these old farts are babbling about which, in turn, provides for an increase in those attempting said stupid things. (NOTE: I believe this to be true. I have absolutely zero concrete evidence to back up this belief. Please read this parenthetical comment as a disclaimer to that effect.)

Listening to my adult nature, I see this advertisement and think "Damn. That's some pretty good thinking on their part. Kudos to Above The Influence."

Listening to my inner kid, I see this advertisement and think "Cool! I wonder where I can get leeches at 8:30 on a weekday!"

22 April, 2007

Going After Ben & Jerry's

I have a problem here.

Everything that keeps infuriating me keeps going away, never to bother me again.

Shenanigans with the Department of Justice, going over the heads of Senators to appoint political hacks to represent the United States in a court of law? One bite. No worries.

24/7 coverage of Virginia Tech students with microphones shoved up their noses, constantly reminding them of exactly what they need to put behind them? One bite. Not a problem.

I get laid off on Sunday? One bite. Big deal.

Ben & Jerry's new Vermonty Python flavor is ruining my blogging career. How can I be outraged and constantly bloviate with this wonderful luscious wonderful...

Excuse me. My pint just ran out. Life sucks again.


Yes! Success! Alleluia! Enough for one more spoonful!

Life is good.

(I really do get laid off on the 29th. In which case, I won't be able to afford any more B&J to keep me in bliss. More details to follow.)

20 April, 2007

In A Word...

America: Do you really need caffeinated soap?
Do you really need to wash with something that gives you a stimulant intake to two cups of coffee?
Meanwhile, I'm totally patenting my idea for a fine caffeinated foam you spray on laptop keyboards so we absorb stimulants in direct proportion to how hard we're working.

This has been an episode of Stupid Answers To Stu... Wait, I can't use that anymore. It's someone else's intellectual property.