Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Graphic Designers Are So Temperamental
As a sales and marketing pro I can appeciate the humor in a faux product like “Make My Logo Bigger Cream.” I’m sure that Z, the best graphic designer I’ve ever worked with, will also get a giggle out of the video advertisement for the cream as well as the “White Space Eliminator Spray.” When working with moody, tempermental graphic designers there’s always a palpable level of tension as you offer feedback on their genius designs. You know that you are doing so at your own risk, but sometimes the logo does need to be bigger, or spin, flash and emit fire streaks. The real problem in this relationship is that the graphic designer always thinks they are smarter than the marketing drones because they read sci-fi novels and play video games. Anyway, I think this little production is just one little way that graphic designers can strike back at irritating clients. It’s worth a watch.
Monday, October 29, 2007
1980s Redux? How worried are you?
This Merrill Lynch report titled 1980s Redux? caught my attention this morning, especially the charts with comparisons between the late 1980s economy and the sputtering economy of today. The charts are identical except that you have to look closely to see that the household debt-to-income ratio of the 2000s begins above 100% and rises from there. In the late 80s it peaked around 85%. It’s an interesting short read with lots of pictures, so check it out and then think back to what life was like for you then versus today.
I was just graduating high school in the late 80s and preparing to vote in my first presidential election. One of my favorite memories from that time is riding in my friend Huck’s VW bus with a group of friends to the polling place and casting my first Bush vote. The van was full of smoke and we were having a great time as always in sunny Southern California. I obviously didn’t think too much about the economy or politics then and was really only thinking about how to pay the rent and college tuition. I solved both of those problems by joining the Army for five years and naively insulated myself from reality while I finished my degree. Fortunately, I left the Army in 1994 after the brief recession of the early 1990s worked itself out.
Things are different today for me just as they are for millions of other people. I have the proverbial wife, kids and a real estate business, which causes me to worry more about the economy and trends in the housing market than I care to at the moment. In regards to real estate, I believe the markets will correct themselves and we’ll experience another positive economic cycle, but right now nobody seems to have any clue what to expect in the next year or two. Many people in my industry have been predicting some miracle reversal in the short term, 6-12 months, but it feels like this one is going to take some time to stabilize. I get the feeling this fall that we’re just experiencing a pause or quiet before the storm in early 2008 when home inventory levels will reach new highs, possibly 12-months worth of unsold homes on average. That’s just my opinion and millions of homes are going to continue to sell in the next year, but the trends overall are not positive as the Merrill Lynch report indicates. I’m interested in how real people are perceiving the current market, as compared to the wild extremes that are covered in the media, which don’t correlate with my day-to-day exposure to the market.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The Zomby is Gone
Admit it: you’ll miss me while I’m gone. I’m off to a land where there is much beautiful stuff, beaches, warmth, and booze--and where I can hide from everyone and everything for a few days of overpriced overindulgence.
While I’m gone--and before my two buddies, Don and Jerry, start imparting their wisdom--I thought I’d leave you with a handful of links.
First, Macomber introduces me to Drowning Pool. I mean, I already knew of the band, but now I know a lot more about the band--and this one is for the soldiers. Good stuff.
They should have kicked him in the balls a few times, too. Anthony Anderson is a sick, inhuman bastard.
Ridiculously cool and creative artwork for graphics geeks. I mean, wildly inventive.
No one wants to give me the power of invisibility. I like to think of myself as a reasonably ethical guy, but some temptations are just too hard to resist. Just sayin’.
Some fights are worth losing. No, that isn’t the sound of creeping anti-Americanism, just the belief that even Americans get it wrong some time. If I have time, I’ll address this further when I get back.
Okay, you are now cleared to start missing me. Don’t cry. I’ll probably be back.
I mean, unless the plane falls down or something.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
See, This is Why I Support Marijuana for Recreational Purposes Only
Actually, I don’t smoke the stuff and have no desire to smoke the stuff. It’s not my bag of tea (which is probably only funny to me). I do support legalization, though, simply because marijuana just isn’t that scary--in fact, I’d much rather have a loud argument against someone who was stoned instead of someone drunk. Drunk people are unpredictable; stoned people are, at worst, irritating and slow.
Anyway, a new study shows that marijuana might not be quite as good in the medicinal department as advocates claim.
Read the rest of the story--the cruel study methodology will probably bring a smile to your face, you sicko.
The study doesn’t change the ethical question of whether people should be able to medicate themselves with marijuana or not; it just changes the effective dosage. It also doesn’t change my assertion that, recreationally, the burn outs, hippies, stoners, and freaks should be allowed to puff themselves into their own, private oblivion using whatever dosage does the trick precisely because I don’t see the communities overriding interest in controlling this substance except in respect to minors or consumption leading to potential danger (pilots shouldn’t smoke before flights, for example).
So, if you’re puffing for pain, moderate your intake. You’ve been warned.
Speaking of pain. After the Rockies’ first game of the World Series, I would have to think that a lot of folks out here in Denver could use a moderate amount of pot right about now. Not too much, mind.
The New Republic Needs New Employees
Or at least, The New Republic should need new employees. There is much in these transcripts concerning Scott Beauchamp that calls TNR’s leadership into question. They are a political magazine, so the leftward slant is understandable. What is discouraging is the dishonesty (insisting that the military was keeping Beauchamp away from the media while discouraging him from giving interviews that he had already scheduled) and slimy (using a note from his wife to try to keep the soldier from recanting).
Politically, I’m about as far away from TNR as I have ever been, but I had stayed away from much of this controversy because I felt that TNR’s leadership was misguided instead of acting in bad faith. An error is not a lie. The transcripts show something worse than I had imagined--and Scoblic doesn’t come across well at all.
I won’t be thinking of TNR as a serious publication until they find a way to address the issue. I haven’t subscribed in some years, so I realize that my disapproval is hardly a huge issue for them. I’m guessing that I’m representative of a lot of moderate conservatives right now, though. This isn’t just me.
Correcting an Error
The truth is something more like this:
Goodness. Somebody get that boy a get well card and a shot of something strong.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
What Do You Think When I Say CompactFlash RAID?
What I think (when I say “CompactFlash RAID") is why? At least, for now I think why?
Not as flexible. Tremendously more expensive even with far lesser capabilities. Not hot swappable.
When the price of those little cards comes down enough, this will make far more sense--at least, assuming that there isn’t a similar reduction in the cost of spinning platters or that some other technology doesn’t supplant both of the above. Maybe I’m not thinking creatively enough--maybe there is a person out there thinking, “CompactFlash RAID. I need that.”
I’m betting it’s more of an object of minor geek lust right now, though. I really don’t see a situation where the need isn’t served better by cheaper spinning platters.
Now, somebody set me straight.
Monday, October 22, 2007
In Case You Were Wondering…
I’m sure that some of you out there were worried about Kid Rock--and I’m here to tell you that he’s still out there living the white trash dream
Take these ingredients:
1- Kid Rock and Entourage
God bless Kid Rock for being Kid Rock.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
The search has ended. Gin is a beautiful thing and the gin that I found today is tops.
I accidentally picked up a bottle of Leopold’s Gin while waiting to pick up darling girl from her beautification at a spa. Accidentally because I hadn’t intended to buy gin today. Accidentally because it was more expensive than I might normally spend on my gin. Accidentally because I’d never heard of it, wasn’t sure what it would taste like, and a little worried because premium gins that aim for unique don’t always appeal to me. Happy accidents do happen.
Opening the bottle and breathing deeply, I smelled the light juniper and a familiar gin scent, but colored by a wonderful, sweet citrus quality. Pouring a generous amount into a little martini glass, I swirled it around a bit, still savoring that scent and hoping that the taste didn’t let it down.
The first sip was a surprise. No light gin, this is powerfully flavored and aggressive. It is sweet, like the smell, with a lighter taste of juniper than I had expected, but with more flavors than I’m used to. This is hard to explain, but understand: each of the botanicals used to make the gin seems to come through far more clearly than I have ever experienced, and no two sips are entirely the same. The Leopold Brothers site has this to say about their small batch, handcrafted gin:
This is an excellent description. Leopold’s does have a soft, refined finish. The flavor of alcohol never overpowers all of the other flavors of the gin. This is easily smooth enough to simply sip without worrying about mixers. Although it is spicy at times--one site has described it as “peppery,” which doesn’t strike me as quite right, but does describe a sharp, hotter note that comes up from time to time--it is extremely easy to drink. Which is good because I’m not sure how I would mix it. Another site suggests dirty martinis, but that’s not my style. The briny flavor of a dirty martini makes me wince.
The most unique aspect of Leopold’s is it’s citrus flavor. Not like Tanqueray’s Rangpur, but sweet and clear, coming from Florida Oranges and California Pummelos. The pleasantly mellow aftertaste is almost purely made up of those citrus notes, every breath swirling those flavors on the palette.
Any fan of good gin should give Leopold’s a chance. It is a little pricey, but it is easily one of the finest gins you’re likely to try.
Nice Job, Bill
I don’t like Bill Maher--in fact, I think he’s a bit of a prick. And his head doen’t fit his body particularly well. Which is weird.
Anyway, he’s far more rational than the truthers of the world. His response to a series of audience members disrupting his show was all sorts of good.
He’s still a jerk, but he’s the kind of jerk that I could have a conversation with. When I’ve run across the truthers in real life, my best response is walking away--which was also my response to one of my boss’s sons when he showed a peculiar pride in his own ignorance.
I like it that some others recognize that the best response to some accusations and arguments isn’t engagement; it’s far better to refuse to offer up any legitimacy to some folks.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Poisoned by Testosterone
I’m not going to offer a wider commentary on the subject of “pregnancy discrimination”, but this quote from a “partner at Tuckner, Sipser, Weinstock & Sipser, a New York firm that represents women in discrimination cases” is priceless.
Wow. It sounds like a whole lot of animosity in that one sentence. It’s the “testosterone poisoned” that keeps me giggling, though.
My Upcoming Bestseller
I know that may readers of RSong have wondered how it is that some publishing giant hasn’t already swooped down to offer me riches for my writing.
I know. I was shocked, too.
So, instead of waiting for someone else to hook me up, I decided to take the future, knock it around a bit, and stand over it’s bleeding form with a self-published book of my brilliance, shouting, “Damnit, I told you so!” Because the book is going to be that freakin’ important. You heard it here first.
I would like to introduce you all to: Worldonomics: How Working Together Separately Empowers Tribes, Nations, Culture, and Society. This book, this bit of world-salvaging wisdom, is about (as the dust jacket will tell you: “Organizations that harness the forces of unproven instruments and products that will cause previously hidden marketplaces to emerge.”
I know you’ll buy it. Suckers.
Did I just write that out loud?
(Or, perhaps, I just used Wired’s Old Skool Best Seller Concoctor to put together something nonsensical that made me smile. I prefer to consider it a sign of my own massive intellect, though.)
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Okay, Maybe I Was Wrong
Update: Kindly linked by Nathan. Who found more of the funny somewhere in there.
Three from Macomber
I would have put these up earlier in the day, one after the other, but I really wanted to leave the post about Ryan Frazier above the fold for a bit. Now you get a triple shot of my favorite straight-edge writer*.
So, About Randi Rhodes
Truth is that there are times that I am wrong and I will accept that. I will admit to it, and I am willing to learn. What I won’t do is come to every conversation with the self-appointed enlightened few, hat in hand, apologizing for every difference of opinion.
Er, sorry. Back to the Rhodes show from yesterday, Shawn captures the mood nicely.
Yeah, there was a lot of that posturing yesterday. I haven’t ventured that far to the left today, so I don’t know if it has died down or not.
It’s a light story, but a very good one--a little inspiration for anyone who believes that part of the job of the citizen is to keep government’s power in check.
Update: And note how following my links can bring you to happy new information.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Shawn deserves to be on your blogroll or in your RSS reader. If you want to comment on any of his stories, visit his site.
• For the record, Shawn may or may not be straight-edge. I’ve never quite been able to figure it out.
Check Fraud Expert?
That is, I’m not looking for someone expert in committing check fraud, I’m looking for someone who can give me advice about pursuing charges against someone who is committing check fraud. If you’re that person, could you drop me an email?
I have a few questions about how to go about properly nailing somebody’s balls to the floor…
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Aurora 2007 Election: Ryan Frazier for Councilman at Large
City Councilman Ryan Frazier was kind enough to meet me at a local coffee shop for a quick interview this last Saturday. The first impression of Councilman Frazier is one of an open, friendly strength--he is quick, very obviously intelligent, and accomplished. He is a genuine conservative who espouses, as his campaign site says, fiscally prudent, common sense, limited government. For the people of Aurora, he represents a passionate voice who cares deeply about his community.
No black Republican can ignore the issue of race when running for office. Race becomes an obvious point of contention as Republicans are seen, rightly or wrongly, as either incapable or unwilling to represent the issues of minority communities. When asked about the response he gets as a black conservative, Frazier admits to having felt that pre-judgement on occasion, but says that “There are people who automatically put you in a category and categorize you as a not necessarily for blacks. But I tell you, I’ve been able to overcome that and I’ve been able to overcome tht with my actions more than my words.”
The Denver Post, the area’s more left leaning paper must agree. While they took issue with Frazier’s Right to Work legislation, they gave him a grudging endorsement, admitting that, “none of his challengers showed a strong command of Aurora issues.”
The conversation about race turned into a conversation about Justice Clarence Thomas. When asked about the negative response to Justice Clarence Thomas’ book, My Grandfather’s Son, in some parts of the black community, Frazier notes that “ history will have a different review of Justice Thomas than the media and his detractors do today and I think it’s precisely for the reason that you just cited: he has a very deep understanding of the constitution. You can’t just toss that aside and ignore it; you have to respect that. I think that history will respect that.”
That’s the kind of thing that will put a smile on the face of just about any Republican as will his explanation of his guiding political principles; a thoughtful and succinct explanation. “I saw the principles of the Republican party were closer to my beliefs, and those were the free enterprise system, keep government to the lowest practical level, advance fiscal responsibility, and protect the rights of every individual. Those really define me and my perspective on our representative democracy. They guide my decision making.”
This extends to his views on eminent domain. “I am a big believer in property rights, a big proponent of property rights. Throughout history, property rights has been a lynchpin to our society such that, if you recall, prior to us reading those words ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ if you ever read back in Thomas Paine’s Common Sense it was life, liberty, and property. The fundamental meaning of property rights to our society can never be overlooked or diminished. I would never undermine that important aspect of our society. Eminent domain is one of those tools that I think should only be used at the last possible moment. I would be hard pressed to support something like that.”
He doesn’t resort to big promises to bolster his candidacy, he just promises to do his best to make his decisions based on those four simple principles--an approach that our political culture could use more of. His politics are principled but practical, his philosophies concise but not simplistic.
Another thing that will put a smile on many faces is Frazier’s statewide right-to-work push. His legislation doesn’t come from an anti-union place; he very simply believes that workers deserve the right to choose whether or not to be part of a union instead of being forced to be part of a union or to pay union dues. He believes--as I do--that employees will support unions when they believe the organizations actually represents their interests.
There is much more to the candidate than his obvious political ambitions. His passion for a public charter school that he helped found, the Academy at Highpoint, is a subject that brings out smile and an obvious sense of pride. Mention of his children brings an even bigger smile. The recent trip with Engineers without Borders and the Institute for African American Leadership to Ghana brings out stories of the kindness and beauty mixed with poverty and pollution. He talks of the emotional experience of seeing a slave castle and the “door of no return” and his hopes of traveling to Africa again.
What Frazier convinced me of is that the future of the Republican party in local, Colorado politics is in good hands. His vision, his charisma, and his willingness to take principled stands make him a great, younger face for the GOP, and it is my sincere hope that he takes his political ambitions to a higher level. Of course, state level politics are within his reach, but so are national politics. I will be surprised if we don’t see him take that step at some point.
While I generally don’t devote much energy to endorsing local candidates, Ryan Frazier is a man who will represent the citizens in Aurora well. He deserves our votes and our support and I look forward to seeing what he can accomplish for us in the future.
Not Everything That is Desirable is a Right
One thing that is sure to set me on a defensive path is to call something a “right” that most certainly is not.
Al Gore, since he lost his presidential bid, has become one of our nation’s most aggressive agitators. While I’m sure he isn’t abandoning the saving of the planet, I’m sure that his righteous pronouncements on progressive causes will be magnified by the magical sheen of his shiny new Nobel Peace Prize.
No, sir, healthcare is not a “right”. Whether or not it is a desirable thing for our country to provide health care to the masses is an open debate. As our nation grows wealthier (and we have), it is reasonable to ask the question of how we will use that wealth to attend to public good--how much of our collective wealth are we willing to put into increased funding for education, infrastructure, and subsidized healthcare, for instance--or whether it is healthier for the economy and our society to keep that wealth in the private sector.
I think people know the direction I would be pointing, but that’s irrelevant. The truth is that every government expenditure is a balancing act; we can’t afford to do everything that everyone wants to do, nor should we try. I believe that there are some expenditures (national security, education, and infrastructure mainly--and not all of those in every situation) that are utterly necessary for the well-being of our nation. Most other things fall into the “yeah, that’s nice, but” category. As wealthy as our country is, our resources aren’t endless--even if money weren’t such a concern, there are still only so many doctors, so many nurses, so many MRI machines, and so many hospitals at our disposal.
And money is a concern. With the baby boomers now officially entering the Social Security system, our nation’s costs on entitlements are only going to increase while the pool of workers paying the bills for retirees will shrink proportionally. That means higher debt, higher taxes, or redirecting money from other areas. Bet on a mix of higher debt and higher taxes. Until we’ve managed to put together fiscally sound plans to handle our current budget problems, does it make any sense at all to even try to put in Gore’s preferred “universal single-payer government-provided or government-funded health care?”
What Gore is advocating is fiscally irresponsible--and crashing our already unbalanced (if impressively resilient) economy to satisfy some phantom “right” is insane. To pursue that end while calling our current system immoral is hypocritical: when the economy comes tumbling down, how will this new “right” be attended to?
Freedom of speech is a right. Freedom of association is a right. Freedom of religion is a right. I think you see where I’m going with this.
The government doesn’t have to spend a penny to provide those things to me (although it does spend considerable amounts preserving my opportunity to enjoy them). Health care will never and can never be equally distributed and truly universal in its coverage. Even countries that provide the kind of system that Gore prefers all practice some form of rationing and have seen secondary markets grow to attend to the needs that the government program can’t cover. Truly equitable, truly universal coverage is a myth because while free speech is boundless, health care is a limited resource. I think it’s good to understand the difference.
I’ll be happy to continue debating what health care subsidies are prudent and good for the government to provide. What I won’t do is accept that health care can ever occupy the same space as free speech and freedom of religion.
Unless, of course, this is one big misunderstanding and what Gore really meant is that health care is a right in the same way that we are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. That is, the government won’t buy me my H&K USP, but recognizes my right to ownership. I’m pretty sure that’s not the direction he’s traveling.
In sum: too much government spending bad, fiscal responsibility good. I put that last bit in for all the Republican leaders who might have lost their way.
Update: For the shorter response, read a little Steve Green. Then, for a laugh, read the “Correction” on his quickie post about Randi Rhodes unassaulted self. If Steve were a girl, his wife wouldn’t be able to trust me around the guy.
Or something like that.
Soulsavers, It’s Not How Far You Fall…
Good news for fans of brilliant, quirky music: the Soulsavers’ exceptional album, It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land is finally available in the US. You can get it at decent local record stores, iTunes, or Amazon--although, on iTMS it is hilariously labeled as “Christian/Gospel” (not, to be fair, that I know what I would label the thing).
It certainly does have a gospel edge to it ("Revival" has a full blown gospel choir in the background) and is preoccupied with thoughts and images of religion. But I’m guessing the strange, Eastern drone of “Jesus of Nothing” wouldn’t grab your typical Christian as a statement of faith.
What do you get with this eclectic mix that still manages to feel all of a piece? Noisy rock, ambient, dance beats, mellow pop, fuzzy guitars, gospel, and something not far from blues. You also get Mark Lanegan’s voice in all its glory--and especially glorious it is on “Revival”, “Spiritual”, “Kingdoms of Rain”, and “No Expectations.” He appears on and wrote a good chunk of the songs on the CD, the result being something that sounds very much like a Lanegan solo album infused with electronic dance beats. I was skeptical of the mix, but it turns out beautifully.
Musical labels don’t quite suffice, so I’ll just say this: it is one of my favorite purchases of the last few years and is regularly in my CD player and on my iPod.
Buy it from iTunes. (This link will launch iTunes Music Store.)
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