Sunday, September 30, 2007

Diagnosing the Broncos

The Broncos lost again--as most people expected. This time, at least, the loss was to one of the league’s best teams.

The Broncos got off to a good start against the Colts, scoring the first ten points of the game and rushing for well over 100 yards in the first half. The Colts, being the Colts, got themselves right back into the game with smart, almost mistake-free play. Meanwhile, the Broncos made a few costly, unforced errors that kept them from getting back ahead.

So, what’s wrong with the Broncos? From the least important to the most important, these are the things that I think are wrong with my team this year.

1. Special Teams
Throughout the first four games, special teams has been a problem. Missed field goals, uneven punting (although Sauerbrun seems to be hitting stride in these last few games), a mediocre return game, and soft coverage on kickoffs that have given opposing teams great field position have combined to put the Broncos in some pretty tough spots. These have hurt, but they aren’t the biggest part of Denver’s losses--especially since much of the worst of it came in the first two games which the Broncos won.

2. Passing Game
The Broncos have a great set of receivers. Even with Javon Walker not playing today, the Broncos two Brandon are both top flight. Add to that the fact that Cecil Sapp, Selvin Young, and Nate Jackson can all catch the ball, too, and you have a reasonable set of receivers. In fact, the Broncos have a decent passing game by most measures. The problem, though, is that the young Cutler can be counted on to give up the ball once a game. And his interceptions only seem to come in two situations: when the Broncos are in scoring position or when the interception puts the opposition in scoring position.

For all the praise of his poise, Cutler has had some brilliant mistakes in these first four games. His interceptions have lead directly to a ton of points for Broncos’ opponents; they’ve also messed up some vital scoring opportunities that might not have won games, but certainly would have made those games a little different. On top of that, his pressured attempt at a lateral to Selvin Young earlier in the year almost lost a game; if it wasn’t for Young’s quick-minded save, the Broncos would be 1-3 instead of 2-2.

I still think that Cutler will mature into one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but he is young, inexperienced, and not quite so poised as we might hope. In fact, if Jake Plummer had made some of those decisions, the local media would have torn him apart. I have to imagine that the honeymoon will be over soon if he doesn’t come up with a game sans painful error soon.

3. Defense
This should be obvious. The defense gave up some good players over the off season because they wanted to change the “defensive philosophy.” The change hasn’t gone so well.

Run defense is nearly non-existent. Pass defense has been solid, but has also failed to come up with the kind of turnovers that a Dre Bly/Champ Bailey secondary would be expected to have. It didn’t help, today, that stalwart John Lynch wasn’t on the field (aside: didn’t he look like he was being groomed for a coaching position when he was on the sideline today, though?)--but the pass defense simply hasn’t been as impressive as I’d expected. Part of that might be the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Give people quarterbacks like Manning too much time and even good pass defenses will usually let someone loose.

The worst part has been watching opposing teams convert long third downs almost at will. If the defense could stop opponents and give the offense a shorter field, we might see our boys start winning the war of field position. We might even see them score a few more points.

The Broncos have had reliably horrible starting position the whole season and that isn’t wholly because of the bad coverage on kickoffs. The defense simply isn’t doing their job; whether the talent on the field simply isn’t there, the players aren’t executing well, or the defense scheme is merely crap, I couldn’t say. I’m hoping someone on the Broncos defensive staff can find a clue, though. Otherwise this really could be an unpleasant season for a team that should be better.

I Don’t Mean to Tell You How to Do Your Job…

...But could you make the logo bigger?

Click - Click - Listen.

Designers will love this song--whether they like the song or not, in fact.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Things I Like. Mostly.

  1. I like that the CU Buffs beat the #3 Sooners. Cool. Surprising. Signs of a resurgent CU team? I wouldn’t quite go that far yet, but it’s obviously going to be a better season than last year.
  2. I like the idea of an “eternal net tax ban.” I’m not actually opposed to taxes and I do believe that the government at its many different levels does provide services that are valuable and necessary. But taxes are an eternal struggle--to keep politicians and bureaucratic growth in check, it’s the responsibility of citizens to tug money out of the pocket of the government when they have the chance. An eternal ban on Internet access taxes is one of those things that citizens should support to keep our money from flowing into government coffers (and because network access taxation would likely have an adverse effect on small businesses and consumers).

    “Preventing the taxation of Internet access will help sustain an environment for innovation, ensure that consumers continue to have affordable access to the Internet, especially high-speed Internet, and strengthen the foundations of electronic commerce as a vital and growing part of our economy,” they said.

    The officials’ statement is likely geared toward lighting a fire under a U.S. Senate committee scheduled to vote Thursday on a bill that would merely extend the tax ban for four more years, as opposed to making it everlasting. President Bush in the past has also advocated for the tax halt.

    If the moratorium is allowed to expire on November 1, states would be allowed to levy taxes on digital subscriber line, cable modem, wireless and even BlackBerry-type data services. They would also be free to charge different tax rates for goods sold on the Internet and goods sold offline. It’s unclear how many states would have immediate plans to enact such laws, though, if the ban lapses.

    Because none of the pending permanent tax ban bills has been called up for a vote in the Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday, a temporary extension appears more likely. That approach represents a compromise of sorts with state and local officials who have balked at the idea of never having the opportunity to revisit the potential for Internet access taxes as a revenue source. (Some states are still allowed to levy such fees because of “grandfather” provisions in existing law.)

  3. I love my new iPhone. More about it later, but, damn, what a wonderful piece of kit.
  4. Speaking of the net tax ban, I don’t like that quiet congressional inaction could kill the idea. In fact, it makes me cranky.

    If a lackadaisical Congress does nothing, in other words, Americans soon are likely to be paying more to local governments for the privilege of buying DSL and cable modem service. (These are some of the same local governments that have adopted as their motto: “If it exists, tax it. And then tax it some more.")

    Time’s running out. Sen. John Sununu, a New Hampshire Republican who does support renewing the moratorium, made a good point in a statement after the nonvote: “We introduced a bill to permanently ban Internet access taxes back in January. I just don’t understand the continued delay in action. The clock continues to tick, placing Internet tax freedom in real jeopardy.”

    You can blame the Democrats for this state of affairs. Not all of them in the Congress, to be sure, but if this was a priority for the Democratic leadership, Majority Leader Harry Reid would make this happen post-haste.

  5. I really like the idea of BMW bringing back the Triumph marque. They did a damned fine job with the Mini. I doubt it will happen, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt my feelings.
  6. I don’t like that TheDenverChannel.com was a little overzealous in protecting their copyright in relation to a story published by Trench. I understand their point; I just don’t agree with it.
  7. I like that the Rockies are in the hunt for their first playoff spot since way back in ‘95. Although, to be fair, I’m pretty cranky that it has taken this long for them to really show the potential.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

AmazonMP3: That’s Nice

This isn’t a full on review of AmazonMP3, really. Just a series of thoughts about the new service--and why, for now, it’s still not for me.

  1. The Amazon store interface doesn’t work as well for me as the iTunes Store interface, but, using Amazon’s downloader, the store does integrate nicely with iTunes. That’s not a huge issue, but it is a nice touch.
  2. I like the eMusic Remote better--not the old downloader, but the new one. Essentially, eMusic has a standalone browser that has all of the functions easily bookmarked, integrates nicely with the site, and now has an integrated downloader.
  3. On content: eMusic has a great selection of older and obscure stuff, but it occasionally frustrates me with partial albums, limited availability of albums for an artist, and a serious lack of mainstream music. AmazonMP3 will probably get better, but, frankly, didn’t have much music that I wanted. iTunes has a better selection than AmazonMP3 and a wider range of stuff to buy and download (music videos, podcasts, movies, and TV entertainment), but still misses much of what I listen to. All of the services are lacking, really, which is why I can’t imagine myself saying “I use such and such and I won’t use the other.” I have no sense of loyalty in this comparison.
  4. On pricing: AmazonMP3’s prices are all over the board: I say everything from $.89 to $1.35 for individual songs and albums (with just a few songs) from $1.99 to higher cost albums. On average, the prices are far better than iTunes for either the DRM or DRM-free songs, though. I have a 65 song subscription to eMusic which costs just $14.99 per month--a far better per song price than either iTunes or AmazonMP3. iTunes is the most expensive of the bunch at $.99 for the rights managed AAC files and $1.29 for the DRM-free files.
  5. On quality: AmazonMP3 sells 256kbps VBR mp3 files, while eMusic serves up 192kbps VBR mp3 files (that’s an average rate for the Variable Bit Rate files, by the way), which is definitely a big deal to the average audiophile. The difference probably won’t matter to most listeners, though. iTunes Music Store sells 128kbps AAC files with DRM protection and 256kbps AAC files without--which Apple claims are better formats for maintaining audio integrity--so the 128kbps AAC file should sound significantly better than a 128kbps mp3 file. I won’t judge since I’m not the audiophile that others are; I can hear the difference between compressed files and original CD quality just as I can hear the difference between CD and vinyl. What I can’t hear is the difference between the iTunes DRM files and the eMusic files (which is probably tantamount to heresy in someone’s book).
  6. On other features: eMusic has a great feature set that I wish Apple would steal from. The “save for later” feature, the community features, great suggestions every month--all great stuff. iTunes has a wonderful assortment of music and entertainment and a brilliant interface that works so beautifully with iPod products that I’ll always and forever use it for some of my purchases. AmazonMP3 has the Amazon interface, so you have some nice bits thrown in with suggestions to buy Hefty bags and Senseo Coffee Pods (which isn’t bad, just not quite what I’m looking for in my music-buying expeditions).
  7. Bottom line: I’ll keep my eMusic subscription for all my odd purchases (and, currently, the majority of my music intake); I’ll continue to use iTunes Music Store for downloadable video, some music, and games for the iPhone that I keep promising myself; and I’m sure that as AmazonMP3 matures, I’ll buy some songs and albums there, as well. It’s nice, but not earth shatteringly good.

I think the only reason AmazonMP3 is getting press is that it is the first competitor to iTunes Music Store that makes sense and competes head-to-head. eMusic is a different model (a subscription model that lets you own your music as opposed to the many shots at “renting” libraries of music for a subscription), and I included it simply because it is where so much of my stuff comes from these days. But Amazon goes the iTunes route, has a solid interface, and integrates with iTunes quite well. It’s a second music store done right--far better, as far as I’m concerned, than the attempts by Microsoft, Wal Mart, Real, and the many other pretenders. Add good quality and, generally, better prices, and I can’t imagine that Amazon won’t be successful with their downloadable music store.

Good for them, but it doesn’t really make much difference to me. eMusic is still my favorite music store (although I wish that the selection of contemporary popular stuff) and iTunes is still my favorite downloadable entertainment store (although I wish there were more obscure, older, odd stuff) and lower prices to get in step with Amazon wouldn’t hurt my feelings either. The DRM issue simply isn’t an issue to me--I can’t play the songs on my work computer, the two laptops we have at home, and the two desktops that we have at home, burn CDs, and play the songs on our iPods; I understand why iTunes DRM is an issue for others but it’s not to me.

Maybe when AmazonMP3’s library of music bulks up, I’ll be changing my tune (har har har--sorry about that) and that will become my music store of choice. For now, for me, it’s just another option--but that’s no bad thing.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

No Spray On Condom for You

And I was thinking that the spray on condom was a freakin’ awesome idea.

I mean, you know, i fI was in that singles mode again.

A BUSINESSMAN who claimed to have invented a spray that acts as an “invisible condom” faces fines of up to $400,000 for misleading his investors.

The corporate regulator yesterday obtained orders in the Federal Court of Australia declaring that Ravi Narain’s former employer Citrofresh International had engaged in misleading conduct in contravention of the Corporations Act.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s proceedings against the organic anti-bacterial product company Citrofresh and Mr Narain arose from two “misleading” statements to the Australian Stock Exchange dated September 27 and 29, 2005.

The Court declared Citrofresh had engaged in misleading conduct by falsely stating it could “offer a global solution to reduce and eventually stop the spread” of HIV.

ASIC also claims Citrofresh had said “without reasonable grounds that the use of its product as a post-coital application would act as an invisible condom and that this would have a significant impact on reducing the transmission of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases”.

Of course, the “Citrofresh” name didn’t really inspire confidence, did it?

Read the story.

Halo 3’s Big Day

You know this already, but maybe you don’t know the scope: video games are really big business. For Halo 3, in fact, it’s record-breaking.

Halo 3, the much-anticipated Xbox 360 game that launched Tuesday, set the all-time record for most revenue earned in a single day by any entertainment property, Microsoft said Wednesday.

The company said that Halo 3, the third and final episode in the hugely popular franchise, netted $170 million in sales in the U.S. in its first day. If true, that would top previous records set by the motion pictures Spider Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Most movies--except, of course, the big “event” movies--won’t make $170 million in their entire theater runs; Halo 3 made it in a day.

Now, here are some other considerations: Halo 3 makes its money at almost $60 per purchase and it doesn’t have the second tier market (DVD sales and rentals) that movies do. That second tier market is a very big deal for recouping costs for movies that don’t do well in the theaters. Video games that don’t do well just move to the bargain bin.

Microsoft has to be incredibly happy with their day; you have to wonder how much this game launch will push sales of the Xbox 360. I know the g-phrase will have to be working hard to keep me from spending our vacation money…

Read the story.

Michael Vick, You’re an Idiot

His career already in question, facing a potential jail sentence for his role in dog fighting and animal cruelty, and with his reputation in tatters, Michael Vick has now submitted a pee test that is positive for marijuana.

What kind of stupid is this man cultivating in his head?

A urine sample submitted by Michael Vick has tested positive for marijuana, and as a result he’ll have tighter restrictions on his freedom.

The test was taken on Sept. 13. Because of the positive test, federal court probation officer Patricia Locket-Ross, who is assigned to Vick, asked Judge Henry Hudson to place special conditions on Vick’s release, which include refraining from use or unlawful possession of a narcotic drug or other controlled substance.
Also, Vick must submit to any method of testing at any time.

Folks who know me know that I don’t consider marijuana to be a dangerous drug, know that I support legalization, and know that my typical answer to a story of some celebrity smoking weed is, “So what?” That doesn’t mean that a person with a lot to lose is showing very good judgement when they choose to lose it on something as inconsequential as a puff of weed. That’s just not very bright. Michael Vick, right now, is just edging himself closer to losing that career, seeing a lengthy jail sentence, and becoming one of the most ridiculed men in the country--all this just a year after it looked like he was going to be set for life.

Again, what kind of stupid is this man cultivating in his head?

I’m sure that someone out there is using the “maybe he wasn’t smoking; maybe he was around someone who was smoking” defense. That doesn’t shore up my opinion of his mental acuity. The smart move for Vick right now is to get away from the friends and family members who helped him come to this point where he could destroy his future. Keep a low profile and only come up when the photo op is going to put him in a good light. The last thing he needs to be doing is putting himself in situations where he will just get into more trouble.

Vick--a football player with so much potential--just seems intent on making the worst decisions for his own future. That’s just stupid.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cute, Cuddly, and Remarkably Immature (Updated)

Update: From the comments, I would say that this is well worth reading on the subject. “Good luck, kid, in pizza delivery because you suck as a newspaperman.” Nicely said.

So, about that fuss up at CSU: when I saw the story about the editorial at the Rocky Mountain Collegian that read “Taser this...fuck Bush!”, I found myself laughing. Not at the sentiment, but at the immature kids who thought that they were making some sort of a meaningful statement by pulling together Taser Boy ("Don’t Tase me, Bro!") with a harsh obscenity aimed at President Bush. I don’t expect much from college “journalists”, so I had a hard time understanding the furor.

Honestly, aside from the disconnect (What does Taser Boy have to do with Bush? Do those two incidents really go well together?) and the lack of meaningful message, I just wondered what was the point of being upset? It was just some kids being cute and trying to shock us with naughty language. Well, if they find that shocking, they should hear me talking about Michael Moore at one of the Blogger Bashes. Big, bad, scary language just doesn’t bother me much, especially when it can’t be bothered to be backed by a coherent point.

But they got what they wanted: lots of attention and a chance at martyr status. Instead of looking at them and saying, rationally, “Boy, those guys aren’t even close to being ready for a real job,” now they get to play out their fantasies of suffering for their ill-communicated beliefs. Seriously, everybody wants to be a hero, and being persecuted by the Evil Right Wing Conspiracy is more than enough to make these children feel like heroes.

There is some funny left in the story, though. When I read Bill Scanlon’s piece in CU’s Daily Camera about CSU College Republicans calling for Collegian Editor in Chief David McSwane to be fired, I came across this gem in support of McSwane.

But senior journalism major Rachael Martin defended the paper. “I agree that he didn’t need to use the f-word,” said Martin, who described herself as a Republican.

“But look at what it’s done. It’s had college students all around the nation talking about freedom of speech for the first time. By no means should he be fired.”

Yes, Ms. Martin, this is the first time that college students across the nation have been talking about freedom of speech. Most of them have never given freedom of speech a spare thought before this controversy.

Aren’t they just so cute?

I was reading Q this week and came across a letter to the editor defending the gargantuan carbon footprint stomped down by the bands at the Live Earth concerts. His point was that (and I’m working from memory here, so forgive the imprecision) sure those bands were putting out far more carbon than the normal human does, but that they were forgiven for raising consciousness of the evils of global warming. Forgive me for thinking that the defender didn’t have an idea of the impressive scale by which the average band outstripped the typical concert goer in greenhouse gas producing fun that day, but is there a person in any developing nation who needed their conscious mind tweaked to be reminded of the global warming debate? That’s like reminding the typical person to breathe: not really an important issue.

Or, it’s like encouraging a college student to think about free speech: it’s probably crossed his or her mind before. Honest. McSwane agrees with her assessment, though.

Asked by CNN if the editorial could be characterized as vulgar or sophomoric, McSwane said he “wouldn’t entirely disagree.”

“We wanted people to understand that free speech is something we should talk about,” he told CNN. “We felt that this campus, for one reason or another, has been really apathetic. Too quiet. We felt that the best way to spark that dialogue was to exercise it ourselves.”

So, in sum, saying something that made little sense, had no actionable agenda, didn’t really argue a point, and wouldn’t qualify as journalism pretty much anywhere else was his solution to starting a debate on campus that probably didn’t need much prodding at all.


Anyhow, I could care less if McSwane is fired or not. He certainly wasn’t doing his job well (or, at least, I would hope that he was judged on how well his writers communicated meaningful thoughts rather than how well they drummed up controversy), but he does show the activist, progressive left in a wonderfully immature light. Keep it up, buddy, America sometimes needs to be reminded just how useless that political fringe can be.

Others might have a different view, though. The editorial has already cost the paper ad contracts and forced the paper to lay off staff--a reminder that (apologies to the World Police) free speech isn’t free.

His staff wasn’t entirely supportive Monday. Thomas Andrews, a senior music performance major, said he was laid off from The Collegian on Monday because the newspaper had lost about $30,000 of advertising revenues from businesses that didn’t like the editorial.

“I find it embarrassing that the paper says it’s the student voice of Colorado State University,” said Andrews, who is a blogger for the paper and who said he and all other ‘non-essential’ employees were laid off.

“That they have to resort to bumper-sticker trash for an editorial piece is really disgusting.”

If McSwane should be fired, it shouldn’t be over the exercise of free speech, it should be over the exercise of exceptionally poor judgment. His decision put the paper in a bad light, hurt daily operations, and achieved what precisely? On the face of things, it seems that McSwane is more than happy to sacrifice professionalism, the paper’s reputation, and the jobs of others to secure his own, personal martyrdom. Good show!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mini Review: The Last Time

The Last Time, starring an aging Michael Keaton (didn’t he used to have a career?) and Brendan Fraser (ditto), this has to be one of the least involving business thrillers I’ve ever seen. Foolish, unbelievable script, tepid acting, and an ending that explains in fine detail because absolutely nothing makes sense. In fact, it violates the viewer’s trust by giving itself a twist in the end that has nothing to do with the movie that they just watched. In spite of the disconnected nature of the ending, it wasn’t hard to see it--or something just as lame--coming.

Dumb, dumb, dumb waste of my time. I suppose that I was dumb, dumb, dumb to have rented the thing, though. I used to like both Fraser and Keaton, but it’s been a while since either of them did anything worth spending money on.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jacksonville v/ Denver: Ouch

So, what went wrong for the Broncos today?

  1. Jacksonville is better than Buffalo and Oakland. The Broncos were able to run up the yards and the minutes against both of those previous teams, but the tables were turned by a Jaguars team that played far better, far smarter.
  2. Broncos defense exposed. The defense played horribly. Poor run defense, poor pass defense, too many long third downs converted, and not enough pressure on the quarterback.
  3. Offense off balance. The Broncos offense couldn’t get its feet today. The running game was far from impressive and the passing game was sporadic. Unforced errors--like the late drop of a very catchable ball followed by a stupid delay of game penalty for spiking the ball--kept the Broncos from finding their way back into the game even when the (few) opportunities arose.
  4. Bad special teams play. The Jags racked up the return yards, the Broncos were anemic on their own returns. The kicking game was fine (if unspectacular), but poor tackling on returns really hurt Denver today.
  5. Questionable play calls. Shanahan’s call to go for the first down on fourth and 6 with just a few minutes left in the game was on the cusp of being brilliant. If it had worked, he would have saved the game. Instead, as mentioned above, it was an incompletion followed by a bad penalty which lead to some easy points by the Jags. Shanahan basically said that he had no faith in the defense to hold the Jags to three and out and preferred to gamble on the long shot fourth down. Earlier in the game, down by a few scores and struggling, Shanahan decided to go for another fourth down conversion attempt instead of settling for a field goal that would have at least given the Broncos a few more points as they played catch-up. It was too early for desperation and the call--a quarterback sneak on fourth and nearly 2--was the wrong one for the situation. Too much gambling by Shanahan didn’t help on a tough, tough day.

And that’s the shape of it. The team didn’t play too well today and had played barely well enough to win the past two weeks.

That said, the Broncos have a lot of young talent and a lot of potential. The two questions, coming away from this difficult loss, are these: can the defense come together to perform better than they have through the first part of the year, and can the offense start scoring points when they have the opportunities?

I don’t think the Broncos are a horrible team, but they sure looked like it in this game.

Welcome a New Little Sprout to the World

Congratulations to Craig and his wife, and welcome to Chloe Elizabeth (just a tiny bit belatedly).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Less Than A Woman to Me: Hillary Loses the Authentic Mom Vote

Sally Hates Hillary. Probably.

With Sally Field’s recent pronouncement that “if mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars, I think the time has come to look at Hillary Clinton in a new, critical light. Hillary has maintained a relatively strong foreign policy stance and been a proponent of the use of military, even to the point of supporting her husbands’ wars (Bosnia), expansion of mission (Somalia), and the occasional, awkwardly-timed cruise missile bombing. If Hillary Clinton were president--the first female president--would wars be abolished?

I think the answer is a very obvious no. Would an authentic mom ever urge the bombing of an enemy? Apparently, Hillary did.

So, if Sally Field is--like some black commentators have made themselves in terms of racial politics--the keeper of authentic momminess. If the keepers of authentic momminess have spoken, then it’s a given that an authentic mom could never support military action ("war") under any circumstances. Certain qualities must be adhered to for a candidate to be authentically woman and mommy enough to qualify as a candidate for the authentic mommy vote. Apparently, being a proper pacifist is one of the defining points of a proper mom. Margaret Thatcher need not apply.

In an age of “authentic” identity politics, Hillary Clinton simply isn’t woman enough to be a mother or to be the authentic mother’s choice for the presidency. In fact, if Bill Clinton could be our first black president, regardless of milky white skin tone, then it follows that a man could be our first mommy president. And, as I see it, only one candidate--only one man--fills that role.

Moms of America, I urge you to support Dennis Kucinich, America’s first real mom’s candidate. Dennis Kucinich is woman enough for the job.

Updated: None of which changes the fact that this penis-related story is truly cringe-inducing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Macomber on HillaryCare

Just another note about Hillary’s health care plan from Shawn Macomber (who, occasionally, pops his head up from writing his upcoming examination of global class warfare to deliver interesting commentary):

[A]fter I wrote this piece upon the unveiling of MittCare last year I was invited to appear on a Boston newscast as part of a panel of skeptics. As was made clear to me in the breathtakingly rude lectures I was subjected to both in the “green room” and on-air by my fellow guests, the left-wing saw MittCare much as I imagine they’ll see Hillary’s new plan: A necessary, hopefully short-lived Trojan horse to carry universality through the city gates and create the crisis that will send the populace into the arms of single-payer.

Read the rest.

For that matter, read this teaser on the YearlyKos event that gives us a hint of the article that will be coming up from Shawn in the October issue of American Spectator.

Bleeding Edge Balsa

I have no idea whether this new take on the Hummer has any merit or not, but I do applaud the creativity that went into its creation:

TPI Composites has built a Hummer for the Army that is made of composite materials. The Hummer loses 900 pounds of metal body panels and parts, which are then replaced with parts fabricated of fiberglass, balsa wood, foam, and carbon, with resin as a bonding agent.

That 900 pounds is then put back in the vehicle in the form of extra armor where the truck most needs it: in areas that will protect it from roadside bombs. The composite truck has some quirks—like a body that feels like sandpaper, and the fact that the fenders bend and some other panels are pliable. Yet even though it weighs the same as a traditional Humvee, the point is that it’s better built to withstand the threat that kills more soldiers than any other.

Read the rest.

Huh. That’s Odd.

Functional, creepy, headless dog art originally found here. Heavy on the creepy.

I think I’d rather watch the Jackass wannabes. That looks like fun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Celebrating the Smaller Failures

Of course, you may as well celebrate the small failures when the really really big ones have been piling up for years.

Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate slowed in August to 6,592.8% from July’s record of 7,634.8%, according to the Central Statistical Office (CSO).
The slowdown came in the midst of a price-control programme imposed by President Robert Mugabe in June.

Businesses were ordered to cut or freeze prices for items such as bread and milk.

But critics say the measures have just deepened the chronic food shortages suffered by Zimbabweans.

I certainly hope nobody actually takes this as good news, though.

Read the rest.

Andrew Meyer Gets All Repressed and Stuff

I keep watching the video of Andrew Meyer being arrested at the Kerry forum in Florida and this is the series of thoughts that keep going through my head:
  1. Typical, irritating protest wanker asking stupid questions.
  2. And why did the officer step in at that point?
  3. Wow, protest wanker is acting stupid.
  4. If he’d just shut up and stop acting like a jerk, they’d let him go.
  5. Resisting arrest is always a good way to get in trouble.
  6. Oh, God, the screaming for help needs to stop.
  7. Have some dignity man.
  8. I still don’t know that the cops should have stepped in when they did, but, damn, this guy is an annoying jerk. He should join Code Pink. He’s that level of annoying.
  9. Begging is manly. The chicks will really dig you now.
  10. I’ve been Tased before. It doesn’t actually hurt that much. I mean, it hurts and I wouldn’t want to get it again, but Andrew Meyer is just a wuss.
  11. By this point, I’m just kind of glad they’re taking the protest wanker away. But I’m still not sure that they were right…

Shallow commentary? Sure. But, honestly, I can’t see how this is becoming such a big issue. Feel free to educate me.

For more background, check out Michelle’s regularly updating post. The eyewitness accounts really do add some context to the issue (although I still wonder why they stepped in at that moment). Wizbang, too. And don’t forget Right Pundits. And check this out, too, from which we get this:

In the 12-page report, which gives accounts of the incident from the perspective of eight different officers who were present Monday afternoon, Officer Nicole Mallo writes that Meyer would only resist officers when cameras were present.

“As (Meyer) was escorted down stairs (at the University Auditorium) with no cameras in sight, he remained quiet, but once the cameras made their way down stairs he started screaming and yelling again,” Mallo wrote.

Mallo was one of two officers who actually rode in the vehicle as Meyer was escorted to the Alachua County jail, and she said said he told them during the ride: “I am not mad at you guys, you didn’t do anything wrong, you were just trying to do your job,” according to Mallo’s account.

Mallo also wrote in her report that he asked, at one point, if cameras would be present at the jail.

No Mixed Messages Here

From Jim to Hillary:

“With loathing and contempt and a solemn vow to vote for anyone but you...”

I note that his cause for contempt is convincing. And a bit of a surprise to me.

None of which explains the cluelessness on display here.

When Honesty Isn’t the Best Policy (At Least, Not Complete Honesty)

John Podhoretz, who seems close to ready to cede the presidential election to Hillary Clinton, notes one of her points of both growth and strength.

If you want to know why the safest bet is that Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States, you need only consider the brilliant drafting of her health-care plan and the meaning of it next to her 1993 plan. The 1993 plan was intellectually honest — it was thousands of pages long because it attempted to foresee and plug any conceivable loophole in the effort to bring about universal coverage. It was positively Talmudic in that respect and therefore suffered from the weakness of all Talmudic efforts that do not involve the interpretation of a divinely inspired document — in the effort to foreclose all possible escapes, there was something bullying about it.

The 2007 plan, by contrast, is intellectually dishonest in the sense that it leaves all the managerial details to be handled later. Leaving aside profound philosophical questions, the key problem with universal health care plans is primarily that they create a managerial nightmare whose inevitable end is the creation of a system entirely controlled by federal bureaucrats — since somebody has to set enforceable terms that are constant from one town to the other, one state to the other.

The new Hillary health care plan deals with this by pretending that it can all work itself out simply by allowing people to stay with the plans they have and force those plans to cover everything. This huge increase in mandated expenses is to be covered not only by new taxes but by compelling everyone in the country and his employer to pay for health care.

That order is necessary because it will force people into the system — and there are tens of millions of them — who don’t have health care coverage because they have determined they don’t need it or can do without it. By expanding the risk pool in this way to include those who won’t actually spend any money, or will spend far less than they pay in, the system will in theory be able to sustain itself.

I think he has a point, although I think that he overestimates her chance of being elected to the office. First, health care is a big concern for most Americans, and a plan that sounds good will do much to sway voters. Her plan--not vague enough that she can be accused of offering up a plan with no substance, but not specific enough to be, as Podhoretz notes, bullying--sounds good. This isn’t the right time to get into the specific discussion of why I think her plan would be far more expensive than she suggests and is merely a stepping stone to a single payer system of socialized health care that could be disastrously ruinous to our economy, but let me acknowledge the strengths of her proposal in a political sense.

  1. She’s left enough room (with individual mandates, for example) to make sure that she can still say that it isn’t a socialized system and be somewhat believable. Not accurate, from my view, but believable.
  2. She’s left a loophole of illegal immigration-sized proportions, and I don’t think that was an oversight. This gives her room to suggest that the costs for illegals will not be covered by her plan or simply say that details like this will need to be discussed at a later date. Given that she will face pressure from both sides of the immigration debate, this actively sidesteps the worst of that controversy.
  3. Read her lips: No new taxes. Instead, Hillary would roll back taxes on the hated rich, ask companies to pony up a portion if they decide against providing insurance directly to their employees, and remove some current government subsidies do insurance companies--this along with government leverage and “pooling” power would hold costs down to a manageable level, according to Hillary. While I believe her assumptions are flawed, her presentation of her ideas could still win converts who believe in the miraculous power of taxing others and government giving away bundles of “free” services. 

Just-vague-enough is Hillary’s friend and a politically brilliant move for someone who the political right had been hoping would roll out another thousand-page health care plan. In a practical sense, it would have been much easier to discredit a plan that looked more like her original proposal. It’s damned good politics.

I could argue against the plan and cite the dangers of the “individual mandate”, the uncontrolled costs of universal access, and the creeping move towards an even more expensive single-payer system. I could talk about the offensive intrusion of a government forcing me to buy health care insurance. None of that matters at this stage of the presidential race, though; what counts is providing answers that sound strong, are presented well, and convince enough people to come out to vote. The end result of Hillarycare 2.0 will undoubtedly look different when viewed through the lens of whatever new laws have to be passed and bureaucracies created to support the plan. But no matter how appetizing it tastes when the details are in place, this glimpse of her recipe looks awfully good now to people who are worried about their health care futures and for the companies that continue to pay hefty increases every year to the insurance companies.

The reason that I think Podhoretz is wrong about her chances in the election come down to the motivational animosity that so many voters have toward Clinton and her husband. I think that it would be insane to bet on any other Democrat candidate winning the nomination, but that nomination doesn’t win the election. Much of the election will hinge, of course, on progress in Iraq, but some of it will come down to who voters like the more they look at the final candidates. Hillary still has a lot of ill will to overcome before she can win the presidency.

None of which explains the irritation I feel whenever I hear that Budweiser commercial that reminds me of the electric violin solo in Revenge of the Nerds. Maybe that’s just me, though…

Monday, September 17, 2007

He Writes the Songs that Make the Whole World Cringe

Elisabeth Hasselbeck may be many things--in fact, to people of particularly weak constitution, I imagine her simplistic political views might even be offensive. One thing she isn’t, though, is “dangerous.”

But the man who gave us “I Can’t Smile Without You” and the “Bathroom Bowl Blues” (look it up) finds Hasselbeck so scary that he won’t even get on stage her.

TMZ has learned that legendary singer Barry Manilow has pulled out of his scheduled appearance on “The View” tomorrow—because he strongly disagrees with host Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s conservative view! Paging Rosie O’Donnell!

In an exclusive statement to TMZ, Barry says, “I strongly disagree with her views. I think she’s dangerous and offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her.” Barry, taking a stand!

Now there’s a man who really knows how to make a stand. Hell of a brave stand to withhold “Bandstand Boogie” from the adoring throngs instead of facing the truly terrible intimidation of one of the hosts of The View. The one who is constantly outnumbered and doesn’t really manage to convey any depth or strong thought in her defense of her beliefs.

Big man, that Barry Manilow.

Read the rest.

Steve Green makes a threat. Barry is running scared now.
The Big Dog has his say.
Right Wing Bob, too.

By contrast, a man evincing actual bravery in the face of an actual threat.


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