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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Best 80’s Song? Glad You Asked

image

Update: Well, yeah...

I watched The Wedding Singer again this last weekend and came to the same conclusion that I come to every time I watch that (and Grosse Point Blank, which is damned near as funny as Adam Sandler’s movie and has the bonus attraction of a cool assassination plot (which probably wasn’t the inspiration for Pat Buchanan’s Robertson’s (oops) latest pronouncements)).

Anyway, the conclusion was this: man, I loved the 80’s. Not only did I have Ronald Reagan, Red Dawn, and my youth, but I also had some of the best one-hit wonders and pop music that both good and bad taste could buy. And I do love 80’s music--even the bad stuff like Kajagoogoo was pretty cool in my book.

Of course, given that my taste isn’t what you might call “discriminating,” I might not be the best person to discern the Best Song of the 80’s. Which won’t stop me from trying.

But first, some ground rules.

  1. No hair metal bands. Heavy metal and punk are fine, but, I don’t care how hot Tawny Kitaen looked doing naughty things on a Jaguar, Whitesnake still isn’t eligible. Metallica’s “One,” yes; Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” not so much.
  2. The pop culture catch. There has to be a chance that people actually heard the Best Song of the 80’s. Obscurity doesn’t win points, and the song needs to have broken into Billboards Top Something or Other (I like to leave these things vague so that I can break my own rules in time of need) at some time or other.
  3. Nothing Eagles related--including solo stuff from former Eagles. Hey, this is my house, these are my rules.

Read the Rest...

Will Oil Prices Tumble?

China’s oil thirst has proven to be smaller than estimated and, regardless of bad weather, uneasy politics, and refinery problems, our reserves of gas and oil haven’t been hit the way oil speculators expected. All in all, our use and our supply are within manageable ranges.

Of course, even with this surge, we are nowhere near inflation-adjusted highs for recent historical costs of oil. That does little to soften the blow of upward-creeping pump costs and the reality that energy cost increases are beginning to tell in our inflationary data. High oil costs have boosted oil companies’ value in the market, but are acting as a drag on the overall economy.

Irwin Kellner has some ideas on MarketWatch as to why oil prices continue to climb.

Why, then, are crude oil prices going up?  Speculation, that’s why.

Lured by rising prices, speculators have been pouring tons of money into the spot and futures markets, betting that prices will go even higher.  They’re forgetting one thing: the law of supply and demand. 

The higher oil prices go, the more likely it is they’ll fall.  Either demand will drop off or new supplies will come onstream.

This could well result in speculators leaving the oil market as quickly as they came in, thus driving prices down even more.

There’s been quite a bit of talk about the housing bubble, but let’s talk about the oil bubble.

First, there is good reason for the higher oil prices, and it’s doubtful that, excepting a worldwide economic depression, we’ll see the days of $20/barrel again. Accept that and it still doesn’t make sense to have seen prices boost from the mid-twenties in 2002 to nearly $66 as I sit and write this--the reality of our supply hasn’t changed that dramatically and by some measures looks better than expected. For example, even if refinery capacity hasn’t handled the increased demand as well as we might have hoped, oil production has expanded pretty easily to the point that production is exceeding our capacity to quickly use the stuff.

So, why will oil prices drop? Unless the US attacks another country in the Middle East (say, Iran, for instance) or unless we are faced with a large-scale terrorist attack on Western soil, prices will go down because our production is just about to get well on top of our demands.

Read the Rest...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lawrence Phillips: The Funny Side of Abject Failure

Lawrence Phillips, the stand-out running back from the University of Nebraska who never managed to make his talent overwhelm his constant off-field issues, continues to be precisely the person he was in college. That is, about as screwed up as you can be without having already ended up in prison for life.

So, get this: while wanted for domestic violence charges and while driving a car that had been reported stolen, Phillips ran over a few teenagers in a park after arguing with them about an informal football game.

Phillips joined a group of 16- and 17-year-olds in a pickup football game in Exposition Park on Sunday and got into an argument with some of the teens, said Los Angeles Police Officer Sandra Escalante. He left, but came back and drove a car onto the field, hitting three of the boys, she said.

The three teenagers were treated at a hospital; none of their injuries was considered life threatening, police said.

His failure in the NFL would have been sad if Phillips wasn’t so deserving of falling on his face. As far as three teenagers getting run over by a sad, ruined former football player can be funny, this is funny to me. Not necessarily as funny as Ricky Williams’ return to the game after an extended smoke break, but strangely entertaining to realize that Phillips’ criminal career has been far more consistent then his pro football career ever was.

Read the story.

A Moment of Irony

On getting home late last night, I checked my mail. I found my new copy of National Review wrapped around a pre-approved invitation for a Democratic Party branded Visa Platinum card--a card that pays 1% cash back and gives the cardholder the option of donating the money to the Party of the Donkey.

Not precisely sure how I got on that list…

A Little Bit of Funny

While discussing the Denver Broncos’ wide reciever battle between Jerry Rice, high draft pick Darius Watts, and a couple guys that no one has ever heard from, David Kreiger throws this in the mix:

• I refer you to precedent: The most prolific receiver in franchise history is Rod Smith, an undrafted free agent from Missouri Southern. Now, along comes an undrafted free agent from Central Missouri State in Devoe.

• I mean, how obvious does the Intelligent Designer have to be?

Heheh. Cute.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Oh, Yeah…

...and I did my good deed for the week, too.

I feel very proud of myself.

Blogger Bash 4.5 Come and Gone

Thanks to everyone who showed up and made this a hell of a good party. It was as good to see a ton of new faces as it was to see long-time participants.

The conversations, the booze, and the weather were all wonderful. As a bonus, the hangover is remarkably light this time around. Phew. I was starting to worry about my remaining store of brain cells…

There are some fun pictures (not of me, thank God) over at Not a Desperate Housewife. Best t-shirt of the event? Find it here. Best quote of the night? Find it here. (Okay, maybe not best in a qualitative sense, but definitely one of the most representative of the evening.)

Special thanks to Rae for flying out to the party at the not as centrally located bar as one might otherwise imagine.

And, again, for everyone else, thanks for coming out and making it a such a great event.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Governor Taft: Be a Man and Resign (Updated)

Sir, your obstinance is no help to your party, your state, or yourself.

Resign.

No, they weren’t serious ethics violations in the sense that the gifts were small and it may well have slipped your mind that you needed to report them.

Your words:

“ “As governor I have made it clear that I expect all state workers to comply and follow both the spirit and the letter of Ohio’s ethics laws, and I have demanded no less of myself,” Taft said.

You have admitted the error, you have been found guilty, and yet you refuse to hold yourself as accountable as you have held other state employees who have been found guilty of ethics violations.

Resign.

Update: This is definitely worth reading, too.

Our Anarchist President?

There is so much wrong with Sarah Whalen’s article, “Bush’s ‘A’ to ‘Z’ of Why America Went to Iraq,” that I quite literally can’t even begin to do it justice in the fifteen minutes that I have allotted for writing something this morning.

I can’t begin to catalog the misdirection, the incoherence, or the willful misunderstanding that Whalen displays in an article that lamely concludes that President Bush and PM Blair are “accidental anarchists” who have justified our fight by, supposedly, claiming that we are still fighting the war against Nazi Germany. I generously offer that she is willfully misunderstanding the President because to follow the broken road from the President’s statements to a belief that he believes that this is an actual extension of World War II requires either a purposefully wrong interpretation from the listener or a very weak mind.

Out of kindness I’ll assume that her mind isn’t that weak.

Why is the President, in her estimation, an anarchist? Because he preaches freedom.

What will take the place of organized government for Accidental Anarchists? “Freedom.” Freedom’s the shorthand for textbook anarchy, which seeks to replace government with “free” agreements between “free” people, whom anarchists presume will be inherently “good” once artificial government and its false institutions will no longer be “corrupting” influences on the tender human psyche, which yearns only to be “free.” To reach this pinnacle of perfect, individual “freedom,” the anarchist will first destroy any authority, particularly the police, as the state’s agent, that it regards as oppressive and hindering human development.

Wow.

First, anyone who has listened to the President or knows his track record in setting up (and shoring up) government programs knows that Bush is no anarchist. It’s true that some anarchists and anarcho-libertarian types accept that freedom exists only in the absence of government coercion. Quibble with definitions all you want, for most people (and the President has been forthcoming in explaining just this point) freedom simply means a constitutionally based representative government with protections for basic human rights under law.

Which is precisely what we’re trying to help Iraq achieve. Does that sound like an anarchist’s dream?

And why does she imagine that Bush and Blair are using a continuation of World War II as justification for their Middle East policy?

Anarchist Bush now insists that the US and British military invasion and occupation of Iraq is nothing more than “the concentrated work of generations — from the brave Americans who fought against Nazi Germany sixty years ago to those who struggle for liberty today. And by working together, we will ensure that the promise of liberty and democracy won on V-E day will one day reach every person and nation is the 21st century.”
[,,,]
Do Bush and Blair really believe they are fighting Nazism, a failed ideology no one believes in anymore? Do they really believe the Iraq War is a continuation of World War II?

Bush drops clues about why the Accidental Anarchists now tell us we’re in Iraq fighting German Nazis, who barely exist anymore outside the cinema.

Why, no, they don’t believe that the Iraq war is actually a fight against “German Nazis.”

Which is why he didn’t actually say that.

The article only gets worse from there, really. Unfortunately, my morning writing time is at an end, so it will have to go unanswered from me.

But I will say this: I find the stuff that passes as journalism in, at least, the English language Middle East outlets to be nothing short of laughable. With only things like this as a window onto the Western world, though, is it really so surprising that so many people there are skeptical of the United States?

Read the rest.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Blogger Bash is so Close I Can Almost Taste the Booze

Oops.

My bad.

I just seem to be getting a head start…

But, Damnit…

...we like the vulgarity.

The vulgarity and the encyclopedic knowledge of 70’s show theme songs really make up the bulk of his charm. 

BTK: What Would Deepak Do?

So, if all it takes is a little mutual respect, a little understanding, and a little admission of guilt on both sides for America and militant Islamic terrorists to come to a joyous place of coexistence, I wonder what Chopra would suggest for Dennis Rader, the BTK serial killer?

On Wednesday, a Sedgwick County sheriff investigator testified that Rader told him that he strangled Marine Hedge, his 53-year-old neighbor in her home, on April 27, 1985, and then took her body to his church.

Rader took photographs of her in bondage positions at the church and spent about five hours cleaning up the scene before dumping the body in a remote ditch. He later returned to retrieve a cord from the body, fearing it could point investigators to him, Sgt. Tom Lee said.

Maybe a spot of tea and a candid sharing of beliefs?

Sniping at Chopra aside, Rader is a terrifying figure. That he went so long without being caught is nightmarish.

Read the story.

(And, for the record, I realize I’m not being entirely fair to Mr. Chopra. His “Bush hates Islam” thing was really irritating, though...)

Deepak Chopra: People Actually Listen to This Guy?

Deepak Chopra is a jerk. I’ve always thought that his spiritual self-help was a bunch of simplistic, self-righteous hooey (“The soul level is a very strange place because it gives rise to all activity without being active itself. Think about that carefully.”). But his political commentary is even more useless.

If you hate Bush as Bush hates Islam, try a change of awareness. Take any cause or individual you feel deep fear, anger, or hatred toward, and instead of nurturing your antagonism, try applying even one of the above points, if just internally. In fact, applying them internally is the most important step, since the war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict.

The bald accusation against the President has no merit at all--the statement is both amazingly wrong-headed and overly bold. Far from hating Islam, Bush has been very careful to ensure that his actions aren’t construed as making war on Islam. Militant Islamic terrorists and the states that sponsor them, on the other hand, are completely fair game.

It would be like accusing me of hating Christians just because I want to see people like the abortion clinic bomber fry for their misdeeds. That doesn’t mean that I hate Christians, it means that I hate criminals and terrorists. It’s surprising that Chopra can’t manage to wrap his head around the distinction.

Beyond that, Chopra’s suggests acts that can roughly be summed up as: Gosh, if we were just nicer and took the time to understand each other there wouldn’t be a problem. More rational minds would thank him to grow up (even if they don’t support the action in Iraq).

The terrorists understand us all too well, and that fuels their hatred. They understand that we believe (in a very broad sense) in rule of secular law over the rule of religious dictate. They understand that we believe in women’s rights and gay rights and eating pork-fried rice. They understand that we like booze and porn and loud music. They understand that we’re pretty much okay with people who worship in ways that don’t look much like our own--we may make some unseemly jokes about them, but we don’t want them thrown in jail or stoned in the streets. Unless stoning is an act of intoxication instead of an act of violence--another one of those wedge issues between us and the terrorists.

Our understanding of them may not be quite so complete, but we do know that people who go around blowing things up for fun seem to make us a little itchy on the trigger finger. “...[The] war in your own awareness is the root of all external conflict” is pretty much meaningless when the other guy has improvised explosive devices and a charming willingness to blow us all up no matter where we are or what we’re doing. Our immediate conflict seems to have its roots in people who fly fully loaded planes into office buildings in the hopes of dealing an economic deathblow to the Great Satan.

Once we can persuade them that this isn’t the most useful tactic, then perhaps we can go more toward Chopra’s peace, love, and understanding stuff. Of course, if persuasion proves difficult, then it seems only proper that we minimize the risk by killing them off by the bucket load.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

RSVP for Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 4.5 (Updated and Bumped (Again))

Andy and I are still going over the details, but plan to attend Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash 4.5 on August 20, 2005.

And don’t forget to RSVP so we know who will be in attendance. Graphics, should you choose to link us up, are in the extended entry.

Date, Time, and Place

They met most of our criteria, they were happy to have us coming, they have a great view up on the roof top. I realize that the Denver location is going to disappoint a few people, but finding a location that everyone was happy with proved to be more difficult than you might imagine.

We’ll be meeting at the Minturn Saloon at 846 Broadway near downtown Denver. Weather permitting, we’ll take over their rooftop patio; if the weather is unfriendly, we’ll probably take over the second floor (with its pool table and games) instead.
We’ll start at 7 pm. We’ll end when they kick us out.

View the map here.

The Parking Situation
For anyone arriving early enough (before 8 or 9) parking should be no problem. After 6, all of the meters in the area are free.

When driving down Broadway, the bar is on the left hand side midway between 8th and 9th avenue. Across from the bar, on the right side of Broadway, is a parking lot that seems to be open to the public. If you need detailed directions, feel free to email me (zombyboy -at- thisdomainname -dot- com) and I’ll do what I can to help.

See y’all on Saturday.


Verified Attendees:

This list will be kept updated.

Read the Rest...

A Question About Pensions

I’m working on something longish right now and was hoping the brilliant (and quite sexy) readers of ResurrectionSong will have some insight. Are there any successful long term pension plans being run by either governments or corporations? Or are all retirement programs due to fail because of bad planning, over-promising, idiotic expectations, and excessive benefit increases?

That is, does anyone have an example of a pension program (or social security program) that is a success in terms of maintaining long term funding for its recipients, providing a fair pension, and exhibiting good long-term planning?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Brilliant

The g-phrase bought me a copy of Bernard Goldberg’s 100 People Who Are Screwing Up American (and Al Franken is #37). So far it’s an enjoyable, easy read with more substance than I had expected.

A sample:

They [America bashers] love some hypothetical, idealized America--one that would redistribute wealth and outlaw gas-guzzling SUVs and celebrate every aspect of “multiculturalism” and tolerate every kind of thought and behavior. But they don’t--God forbid!--love the America that we actually live in. Only a simpleton could love that America!

I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy this book.

The g-phrase says that Goldberg’s writing reminds her of me. I’m taking that as a pretty high compliment.

I’m not sure how Goldberg would feel, though…

Monday, August 15, 2005

Keep Your Dirty, Filthy Hands Off My…

Er. Yeah. Anyway…

Government plans to make fertility treatment more accessible to single women and lesbian couples are likely to be ineffective because of a severe shortage of sperm donors, a leading fertility expert has told the Guardian.
[...]
Many clinics only offer fertility treatment to heterosexual couples to ensure they comply with the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority Act. It states that clinics must consider the welfare of the future child and specifically the need for a father figure before offering treatment.

There is probably a serious side to this story that touches on a shortage of sperm donors and lesbian couples and singles attempting to have kids. There are probably interesting questions to be asked about the prioritization of dispersal of these sperm donations.

But, of course, I just keep wanting to make jokes about serial sperm donors, private donation options, and the possibility of singing “sperm, sperm, sperm, sperm” to the Monty Python “Spam” song.

Yep. I’m completely ashamed.

Read the story.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Curious and Doing Research

I have a new client--a non-blogger--who wants to join the podcasting revolution. I’m doing research right now on what it will take to add a feed to his site and also what it will take for him to actually create the podcasts.

Keeping in mind that the client isn’t particularly tech savvy, here are the questions I need to answer:

  1. How can I not only add the RSS feed to his site, but automate the updating of the feed?
  2. How can the client easily create and upload podcasts in a way that doesn’t strain his technical abilities? This is, it need to be taught easily.

So, I’m starting with a Google search that has lead me to a few organizations that might be helpful. While I’m going over documentation, though, I thought it might be useful to ask you all if you have any practical experience with podcasting and if you would be so kind as to share with me what tools you were using.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

More Irresponsible Parenting

Sam Cockroft died a useless death.

I don’t want to come across as unsympathetic to a family that just lost their four year old child. I really don’t.

But I honestly don’t understand the idea that a four year old is mature (if I can be excused for using that word to describe such a young boy) enough to drive an ATV around unsupervised on the family farm. It is tragic that he fell into a river, floating miles downstream, and died.

It is even more tragic that there wasn’t a parent there to either keep him from having the accident to begin with or to rescue him once he fell in.

Authorities said Sam, son of Scott and Nicole Cockroft, was last seen about 7:30 p.m. Friday at the family’s farm, situated between County Road 388 and the river. Sam’s grandfather told neighbors the boy appeared to be headed toward the house when he was last seen. 

A boot Sam was wearing and a fender from the small all-terrain vehicle he was riding were found tangled in grass about a quarter-mile downriver from the family’s home. The child was found four miles from where the debris was discovered. 

It just shouldn’t have happened. A kid that young needs supervision and protection; there are too many bad things that can happen, even on a family farm.

What a hell of a thing.

Read the story. Then read Vincent Carroll’s response to the idea that every tragedy calls for new legislation.

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