Saturday, April 30, 2005
Confessions of a computer geek
Last night I started a big upgrade project for the program that runs our office. I wrote the program a few years ago and spend at least a couple of hours a month tweaking it, making it better, and expanding it to meet new needs. Every time I go into the program I am reminded that like a child going off to college, the thing has a life of its own, of which I am no longer in control.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Plan for World Domination Progressing Quite Swimmingly, Thank You
The BBC is slowly learning the truth: that the Properly Misspelled Zomby Army of Zombyboy will soon take over the world.
Just so you know.
A sly hat tip to Jonah.
President Bush, Social Security, and Us
President Bush’s words on Social Security last night worked for me in the sense that I think he’s heading in the right direction. Of course, I don’t think he heads quite far enough, but it’s a good start.
The acknowledgement that the system needs to be means tested was surprising and gratifying, but didn’t go far enough. Social Security, outside of any private accounts that the government may or may not give us, is a welfare program, and it should be treated accordingly. Means testing for a welfare program should exclude anyone who is truly wealthy; there is a principle of fairness involved that makes me uncomfortable with this since even the wealthy have been asked to pay into a “retirement program.” The truth is, though, that the system needs to be modified to reflect the reality: there is no reserve of money to pay retirement benefits and any pay-go system is in reality a welfare program meant to save the least of us from impoverishment in old age.
The Donald Trumps of the world don’t need the monthly government handout that takes the form of a Social Security.
To move to that kind of a system, though, the government must provide private accounts--the portion of your taxes that you or you heirs are actually entitled to, that requires no means testing, and that funnels wealth from one generation to the next.
My biggest curiosity with the President’s proposal last night--short on specifics as speeches must be, it’s hard to consider it a full proposal--are about the numbers involved in keeping the promises that he makes. Everyone maintains at least their current level of benefits (although the indexing for increases is tied to inflation to slow the growth of payments) and the closer you get to the bottom of the economic food chain, the more of a bump you get in payouts. I’d like to see the numbers to back-up the plan.
Before you head over to Michelle Malkin’s site (the link is at the bottom of the post) to see how the left is misrepresenting what the President proposed last night, you might want to acquaint yourself with this bit of wisdom:
That brilliant explanation of the futility of describing the Social Security collection as a lock box or as retirement insurance hasn’t lost its edge since the day it was published in January of 1939. Abraham Epstein wrote it for The New Republic (leave a comment with a request and I’ll be happy to forward the PDF) suggesting some of the changes that President Bush was pushing last night.
Fixing Social Security shouldn’t be a partisan issue; it should be a frank discussion about the shortfalls of the current system, a realization of what we can reasonably expect from the system, and then finding a series of solutions that protect current and soon-to-be retirees. The system is broken and has been from its inception; it was and is a flawed design.
Now, head over to Mrs. Malkin’s place to see how people like Josh Marshall and Atrios are fighting the fight against Social Security reform and against the long term economic health of the United States.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
More Late Night Entertainment, Part Something or Other
Tonight I’m back to Sonia Dada and the song right now is “Screaming John” from their wonderful album, A Day at the Beach. The lyrics, about loneliness and insanity, are engrossing, the rhythm is compelling, and the gospel meets pop sensibility just worms its way into your mind.
The kicker, though, is the vocal performance.
The voice is pure and gorgeous, but there’s this little catch in his voice at one point of the song that, inexplicably, gives it even more power and more urgency. This is one to play loud.
(Click the link to see the lyrics and hear the song.)
Bo Bice and His Big Bag of Cocaine
Bo Bice, my favorite in the current American Idol series, has a history with drugs. Which is probably about as surprising to some people as was the fact that Syria might not have been entirely forthcoming about their withdrawal from Lebanon. Anyway, Drudge, the Great Gossip, is linking to a Smoking Gun story about Bo’s felony arrest for cocaine possession and subsequent trip through a drug diversion program.
What can I say but good for him?
Let’s get this straight:
To tell the truth, I haven’t touched coke or meth since 1993 or 1994. I haven’t touched any illegal drug since 1997 or 1998. I’ve had a few opportunities, but I’ve turned them down because I don’t like the drugs that make you feel more screwed up than a good beer buzz, I worry about the health effects, and I don’t like the idea of going to jail. So, if I’m ever on the verge of becoming a household name, let it be known that I’ve always been fully forthcoming with my drug history.
To paraphrase the great (deceased) Bill Hicks: never murdered anyone, never raped anyone, never beat anyone, never lost a job, laughed my ass off and went about my day. That isn’t a blanket approval of drug use: some people shouldn’t use drugs the way some people shouldn’t drink and Michael Jackson shouldn’t be left alone with young children.
But for a few of my bartending years--the years immediately Pre-Marriage--I was a regular user of coke and meth. I stopped using by choice one day and never looked back. There was no dramatic withdrawals or trips to a clinic; there were no tearful confessions to a therapist and no regrets.
No regrets about either using or stopping.
So, here’s to Bo and his former drug habit. I hope he’s one of the majority of people who have used drugs: he’s had his fun and he realizes when it no longer fits the life he’s trying to live.
So, Just to Get This Straight
So, pal, let me understand this correctly: what you have there is a legal weapon, purchased legally, with which you have done nothing illegal. Well, we sure as hell can’t have any of that around these parts.
A tip of the hat to Jed for today’s (please, God, I hope) most outrageous story.
The Carnival of Tomorrow
If you’re in need of some good reading today, you might want to head on over to the very first Carnival of Tomorrow (complete with a cool graphic).
After you’ve finished here, of course, because ResurrectionSong is the Home of Good to Read Stuff. As you are already aware.
The California Economic Conundrum (As Interpreted by Zombyboy) (Updated)
Sure, the example is California, but the rule of it seems to apply at the national level.
California (before giving Gray Davis the boot): Gray Davis must go! His economic policies are disastrous and woe will fall upon us if he is allowed to continue his evil ways.
California (turning its eyes to an unlikely hero and the hypnotic qualities of Twisted Sister’s classic “We’re Not Gonna Take It"): Help us, Arnold Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope!
California (following the glorious honeymoon period): Wait, wait, wait, no one said anything about sacrifice. No one said anything about giving up our free stuff.
California (projected for the near future): Hey Arnie, here’s the fix! Tax the rich, tax the rich! Because, you know, they can afford it and all…
Lesson for the Rest of Us: Everyone likes a reformer until they start reforming things, and everyone believes that someone else’s pet program should get cut instead of their own. That is, balance the budget on someone else’s back, thank you, because my free stuff is far more important than their free stuff.
Play that out on a national level and it’s no wonder that we face our current spending and budget problems.
Update: Linked, kindly, by Rob at Burton Terrace.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
More Late Night Entertainment
Tonight, instead of succumbing to the hideous thing that is whatever film Encore is playing this late, I decided to listen to the streaming music from Anti-. Anti- is the record label for bands and people like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Daniel Lanois, Tom Waits, and (this is the important one right now) Joe Henry.
Joe Henry’s Tiny Voices makes perfect late night listening. I am, at this moment, listening to “Sold,” a jazzy little thing with seductive lyrics. The thing is about as slyly sensual as you could imagine. After this, I’ll probably pop in his earlier release, Fuse and listen to “Want Too Much,” which acts as a perfect counterpart to “Sold.”
So, if you’re up tonight, working like me and looking for something to listen to, then Anti-’s streaming radio might be a good fit for you. Just click on the jukebox link at the top of the page and enjoy the music.
“And if you fall, then I confess, better you this time...”
American Idol: The Hilarious (Updated)
I have to admit: I’m shocked by this week’s vote.
Not Scotty. Not Anthony.
Although I kicked him for his performance last night, I would never have expected Constantine to be going tonight. On the positive side, it gave us the chance to watch his really, extra-special defiant final song. Giggle-worthy only because it sounded just as bad as it did last night.
Update: On a more important note, ResurrectionSong is the number one MSN search result for Super Happy Sex. How the hell cool is that?
I mean, it won’t stay that way, and it’s all Mark Morford’s fault, but let’s be honest: there’s nowhere better for you to go for Super Happy Sex.
Remember that. It could be important some day.
As fun as the Nugs were to watch a few days ago, they are painful to watch tonight.
Terrible defense, overeager offense, ugly shots, bad turnovers, and just plain bad.
Civil War in Togo?
The last few days have brought reports of scattered violence and unrest in Togo, and today the situation worsened.
Today is a good day to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in a country where this kind of post-election violence is a thing of the past. That doesn’t help the people of Togo, though, who are faced with the very real possibility of a violent coup or a civil war. Unfortunately, neither side seems bent on compromise and the regional watchers gave the vote their approval.
That there were significant irregularities is not in dispute, but whether those were enough to render the vote invalid is questionable. Togo, a tiny sliver of a country in Western Africa, had been under the rule of the same head of state--complete with sham multi-party elections--since 1967. Gnassingbe Eyadema maintained his power in the same way that Robert Mugabe has remained the head of his state: a ruthless and loyal military, massive corruption, and compromised elections.
Togo may well be a peek at Zimbabwe’s future. Mugabe has managed to hold power to this point, and done everything in his power to ensure that the country will remain a one-party state beyond his death (with almost joking allowances for an opposition party that is defanged by the changes that Mugabe’s government continues to make to the constitution). But his death will leave a void in the power structure that won’t easily be filled by one of his followers.
Togo, with help from the international community, may well find a peaceful way for a democratic government to take shape. If so, the lessons learned here could prove useful in other nations throughout Africa. If a peaceful resolution isn’t found, then it will prove a warning about those nations with aging dictators and a history of political unrest.
Shocking. Shocking, I Tell You
In my early morning reading regimen, I came across this shocking bit of news in the Washington Post.
What? You mean the Syrians might actually lie? To the UN Secretary General?
That just can’t be. I mean, lying to the UN brings such terrible consequences that I can’t imagine anyone would dare to take the chance.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
A Bad Movie for Late Night Displeasure
I am busily not watching Bloodsport III, one of the worst movies ever made. Bad acting, bad script, bad fighting scenes, and wretched singing from the female lead. I’m working on a logo design for a local company and just realized that the background noise might actually be hindering the creative process. Oddly, John Rhys-Davies, everyone’s favorite dwarven hero, plays a big role in this 1996 slice of vile cinema. The one decent actor in the mix; I hope he was paid well.
Off goes the TV, on goes the Sonia Dada.
American Idol: It’s a Long, Long Ride
I’m back again, talking about the Idol, mocking Paula Abdul, generally agreeing with Simon, and wondering how much longer Scott can stay on the show.
This week, they’ll be showcasing current music. Man, what would I give to hear someone sing Mark Lanegan’s song “Resurrection Song.” Just sayin’.
Heheh. Well, Yeah…
Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.
Update: McGehee thinks he’s all better than me. I think we should mock him now…
Sick in the Head
I’ve got nothing clever to add to this little snippet, but I thought that it was funny, worth sharing, and, when you stop to think about it, probably pretty obvious.
I would just point out that there might be a second, and very interesting question to ask: as people are exposed to mental health care and have more exposure to mental health care professionals, does self-diagnoses of mental illness rise with no corresponding rise in actual illness?
Anyway, another good article by often infuriating Paul Campos.
Update: Kindly linked by Deb, who probably expected the whole trackback thing to work. Heh. Fooled her.
Update the Second: Also linked by De Doc, who is not only a friend, but an actual doctor. I kind of wonder what his view on this subject is…
Monday, April 25, 2005
Catallarchy linked my post from last week about homosexuality and the church. The conversation that grew up on their site is well worth the time to read through.
Unequal Protection Under Law
It isn’t an everyday occurrence for me to agree with one of Salon’s writers. In fact, Salon usually makes me roll my eyes in exhasperation, wishing that their writers weren’t wobbling quite so far to the left. Today’s story about the unfair treatment of Matthew Limon was compelling, though. While I think that the author, Ayelet Waldman overstates her case (particularly in relation to making the enforcement of laws like the statutory rape law a classist exercise--absent proof, I’m not sure that her assertion is supportable), the fact is that if there exists a discrepancy between the way a state handles statutory rape in the case of homosexual acts and heterosexual acts, then that state is not offering equal protection under the law.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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