Archive for November, 2004

Nobody who thinks the United Nations has moral credibility belongs to the “reality-based community”.

For a while, I’ve had a short mental list of “stupid questions that people will try to answer even though they make no damn sense.” Some examples:

“Why is ‘Bible’ spelled b-i-b-l-e and ‘libel’ spelled l-i-b-e-l?”

“Who would win a fight between the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the Hamburger Helper glove?” (Bonus followup: “What about a tag-team wrestling match with the doughboy and the glove versus the Aunt Jemima syrup bottle and Snuggles the fabric softener bear?”)

Today, courtesy of Usenet, I picked up a new entry: “What would happen if the Earth suddenly turned into a planet-sized watermelon?”

That is all.

[Anne comments]:

You forgot the one I thought of on the way to work last month: “If milk spoils when it’s warm, why is it ok when it’s inside the cow?” That one, however, has a logical answer. ๐Ÿ™‚

Today I see that Fox News has up a very nice picture of three marines from the First Battalion taking a break in Fallujah. Is it wrong of me that I think it’s hot?


AP

Rot in hell, you terrorist son of a bitch. May all your virgins look just like you.

Maybe “against” is the wrong word.

BOULDER, Colo. — About 85 students remained holed up inside the library at Boulder High School early Friday, saying they’re concerned about the direction the country is headed and refusing to leave until they’ve met with leaders from the Republican Party.

“We want them to reassure us that our fears are misguided and that the government is doing everything in its power to prevent our futures from being destroyed,” said senior Brian Martens.

The students said they were not protesting this week’s election, but said they were worried about the huge national debt run up during the first four years of the Bush administration, along with military recruitment in schools and other issues.

This is sick, that these kids have become so frightened for no good reason. You know who is responsible for that? The current incarnation of the Democratic Party and the misinformation and panic they spread about the deficit, the draft, and other bullshit.

National debt is not a new phenomenon, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Nor is it going to bring about the apocalypse.

These kids should not be worried about that, or the draft, or any of the left’s other bogeymen. They should be worried about terrorists who want to kill them all. They should be worried about the Social Security system, which taxes them and yet they will never see a penny of it again. They should be worried about the left’s efforts to take guns away from law-abiding citizens, leaving us helpless in the event of government tyranny (from either side of the political spectrum).

The movement to destroy capitalism and establish a socialist nanny state is what should concern them, and yet I’m sure that the destruction of capitalism is what their teachers and parents say is utopia.

Most of these kids aren’t even old enough to vote, nor are they experienced enough to really understand these issues. They need to go home and do their homework and try to undo the damage that the public school system has inflicted upon them.

When I talk to people about why they dislike the Religious Right, the most common reason cited is some variation of the claim that “the Religious Right wants to impose their beliefs on me by force.” I find this tendency just as objectionable as they do, but I wonder why they don’t object just as much to other people and groups wanting to impose their beliefs on others by force?

John Kerry believes that people who make more than $200,000 a year should be taxed at a marginal rate of 39.4% — and he was prepared to impose that belief by force.

Environmentalists believe that oil companies should not be allowed to prospect or drill for oil in ANWR — and they’re prepared to impose that belief by force.

Sarah Brady believes that I shouldn’t be allowed to own a handgun — and she’s prepared to impose that belief by force.

John McCain and Russ Feingold believed that political freedom of speech needed to be restricted and regulated to avoid the appearance of corruption — and they actually did impose that belief by force.

And so on.

What this illustrates, I think, is that government per se is at root a mechanism for imposing things by force. Government’s ability to impose things by force is its essential characteristic, the thing that distinguishes it from the private sector. And anybody who wants the government to implement some policy that others disagree with is trying to impose their belief on others by force. If you don’t believe it’s ever legitimate to do this sort of thing, then you’re really an anarchist.

The real issue behind the “imposing beliefs by force” charge is that the Religious Right wants to impose beliefs that their opponents find objectionable. But if that’s the case, it would be more to the point to move past the whole imposing-by-force thing and criticize the beliefs directly.

The high-order bit: Well, thank God that’s over with.

Other random thoughts in no particular order:

  • Credit where credit is due — John Kerry’s decision to concede the election today was the right call. Waiting until it was apparent that the Ohio provisional ballots wouldn’t put him over the top was perfectly reasonable. But once it became plain that the numbers just wouldn’t add up the way he wanted, Kerry did the right thing. In eschewing legal action and drawn-out recounts in the face of a decisive loss of the popular vote, Kerry performed a valuable service for his country. I thank him for that. (And the many right-wing commenters who were sure that Kerry and the Democrats would drag the nation through a litigation cesspool owe them an apology. Graciousness in victory, guys.)
  • In spite of his stumbles in September, Kerry ran an effective overall campaign. The results were closer than I expected. (I’d been expecting Bush to pull down 290 EC votes and around 53-54% of the popular.) Kerry’s reputation as a strong closer remains; Bush just proved that he’s one as well.
  • Many blogs have been compiling lists of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. One loser I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere is Ray Fair. His econometric model was predicting a serious Bush landslide, 58%+ of the popular vote. That didn’t happen. Looks like Dr. Fair’s equations need a bit more tweaking.
  • Due to the very high turnout, Bush has received a larger absolute number of votes than any President in history. I do wonder, though, whether Kerry received the largest absolute number of votes of any losing Presidential candidate in history.
  • Although at this point it looks like the GOP has gained 3 or 4 seats in the Senate, those numbers may overstate their effective gains. Two of the Democrats who were replaced by Republicans were Georgia Senator Zell Miller and Louisiana Senator John Breaux. Both men were among the more conservative members of their party caucus, and supported the President on a number of key votes. Having those seats in Republican hands is an improvement, but not as much as replacing more consistently left-wing Senators would have been.
  • And on that point, I find that “Senator John Thune” rolls euphonically off the tongue. Say it with me — Senator Thune. Senator Thuuuuuuuune… Ahh. That feels good.
  • Two things that were predicted that did not happen: widespread civil unrest in the face of a Bush victory, and terrorist disruption of the elections. I think both sides can be happy about that.
  • This election was the one where the Internet truly came of age as a media channel. Without the dramatic lowering of communication and coordination costs driven by Internet technology, the Swiftvets probably wouldn’t have been able to reach critical mass. There was a time when they only had a quarter of a million dollars in the bank, much of it from a handfull of doners. The Internet played a key role in gaining them early publicity and in supporting their fund-raising efforts. The blogosphere’s exposure of CBS and RatherGate threw a major wrench into the Kerry campaign’s efforts to drive Bush off-message following the GOP convention, and cost the old-line media a lot of credibility in the public eye. More subtly, the increase in communication speed caused by the Internet seemed to be constantly catching people off guard. Stories that were supposed to drive the media cycle for a week were thrashed through in a few days. This affected both campaigns, and watching the adjustment to the new faster pace in preparation for the next election will be interesting to say the least.
  • It is not yet time for gay marriage on a national scale.
  • As it appears that Justice Rehnquist’s cancer may be more serious than first thought, it’s quite possible we’ll open up the new legislative session with a down-n-dirty Supreme Court nomination fight. Since Rehnquist is a conservative justice this isn’t likely to change the balance of power in the court rightwards in any major way, but the fight will be a sign of how things will play out later should one of the more liberal justices step down.
  • The GOP now has a true mandate to govern both in domestic and foreign policy. The razor-thin margin after 2000 made claiming a popular mandate difficult — losing the popular vote and a number of Senate seats isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. 9/11 and the 2002 elections helped, but more on foreign than domestic policy. This election was different. The Republican victory was decisive on almost every level: they kept the White House; they expanded their margin in the House; they expanded their margin in the Senate; they picked up two governorships and at least one more state legislature. (Update: I should have done a bit more reading before writing the preceeding sentence. Although the GOP almost completely swept the table at the national level, they didn’t do so well at the state level. At best they picked up 1 governorship, and they lost a bunch of state legislatures. Prior to this election they controlled 21 state legislatures fully to 17 for the Democrats, with the remainder split. Now each party has full control of 17 legislatures. Colorado in particular was a state-level bright spot for the Democrats.) And a lot of those races were fought on domestic policy issues. The GOP has been given a vote of confidence by the American public. Now let’s see what they do with it.

[Anne adds:]

Having one party control both the presidency and Congress makes me uncomfortable to a degree. But I don’t think too much crap can come through simply because there are larger, bipartisan issues at stake over the next 4 years (the war, among others).

I think Kerry’s concession shows class, and his comment to Bush that the country is deeply divided and “we need to do something about that” is going to be well-received. He is correct, and I sincerely hope that the GOP and the Donks can close the gap.

Honestly, more than anything else I’m relieved that there’s no post-election litigation or rioting. I was concerned that we would have social chaos in the wake of a close election (regardless of who seemed to come out on top). Having the courts decide an election, and the presence of shenanigans at the polls, undermine the integrity of the voting process. That’s bad for everyone, and should be avoided at all costs.

[Kyle adds:]

Two more bonus thoughts:

  • The GOP’s poor showing in Colorado (lost a House seat, a Senate seat and both houses of the state legislature) damages Governor Bill Owens’ chances of gaining the Republican nomination for President in 2008. His inability to deliver the votes outside the Presidential ticket calls his party-building abilities into question.
  • More generally, I wonder if the overperformance of the national ticket over the state tickets in so many states is a result of lots of voters who supported Bush due to the War on Terror but support Democrats on other issues. Such voters would be expected to vote Republican for the national offices, but it’s difficult to see how the control of a state legislature impacts American foreign policy — so they’d be likely to vote Democratic in such races. And indeed that seems to have been the case. An unexpected side effect of Bush Democrats: they voted for Bush, and then in the other races they voted for Democrats. This suggests that the Democratic Party could rebuild itself quickly if they manage to expel the hard left from their ranks and rebuild their credibility on national security issues. A hawkish Democrats would probably do quite well in 2008.

CLAMART, France — Yasser Arafat’s French physicians are refusing to discuss his health crisis, leading to rampant speculation about the Palestinian leader’s dramatic deterioration.

This kind of situation is usually code for “he’s dead but we don’t want to cause a panic until the succession of power is sorted out”, a la Joseph Stalin.

The bastard can’t die too soon for me. He’s refused to groom a successor, which means everybody is going to be duking it out for control of his assets, and the Palestinian lands will collapse into chaos.

Fark is an endless source of amusement for me. Sometimes the comment threads are way funnier than the item in question. Today was one of those days where the comment thread was the story, complete with follow-up.

Fark headline: “Farkette just passed a co-worker’s closed door and saw him, through the side light, standing on his desk shoving something up under the acoustic ceiling tiles. What wacky things are your co-workers up to today?”

I was intrigued by what the guy might have been putting up there. Apparently I wasn’t alone in wondering. The submitter comments, “Now I have to stay late tonight to check it out.”

And she does. She waits for the coworker to leave and then snoops in his office ceiling. I have included various comments from other farkers for entertainment value:

(submitter):
OK I’m back.

Here’s a partial list because it looks like this guy has stuff stashed under every friggin’ ceiling tile. A little something for everyone…

lots of office supplies…post-its, pens, paperclips and the like.
Food…ding-dongs (I took one), cheetos, doritos and diet coke.
Vodka…Grey Goose
and…….
Fat lady porn, secreted inside the company’s annual report.

There’s more, I’ll go back tonight. I started to panic because I had to put a chair on top of his desk to see up there and I was sure I was going to get caught.

This is followed by a number of amusing and intriguing posts:

Tell Them I Hate Them:
Freshman year of college I shared a dorm room with 3 other guys. One of them hid snacks (from us) in a ceiling tile for when he had the munchies. One night he walked in really late, and really high. He jumped up and punched the tile, and it rained down twinkies and ho-ho’s. Quite a sight.

(submitter):
I’m on such an adrenalin rush right now. I feel kind of dirty. I wonder what he’s going to think when he notices the missing ding dong.

the_rev:
Now you have to start putting some other stuff up there for him to find. Start small…like a bag of off-brand chips. Work your way up to fetish pr0n.

kitten uk:
Next, start storing other people’s things in his ceiling tiles.

And hide his fat-lady-porn in the boss’s copy of the report.

(submitter):
He’s back…with a box of Popeye’s chicken. I went over and non-chalantly chatted with him about what the weather was like outside.

He’s got family photos on his desk. His mother is pretty heavy, his girlfriend is skinny. Freak show.

the_rev:
So we have a Business Analyst with a fatty fetish/Oedipal complex. Hmm.

Tiga:
OMG, I’ve got tears in my eyes I’m laughing so hard.

This could beat pppppowerbook, in my estimation, if she keeps putting things in the ceiling and taking things out.

control:
FYI

never hide polaroids of your naked wife somewhere clever in your desk. The night shift looks everywhere for stuff and they are so bored they will fap to it.

just sayin’, that’s all.

(concerning the wackiness of coworkers):

bludstone: Just today? Okay.

One person thinks snopes.com is part of a liberal conspiracy.

The other thinks thesmokinggun.com is not legit, another liberal conspiracy.

badgertrojan:
My office is right next door to a middle-aged man who cries, nay, SOBS on a daily basis.

On person points out the obvious:

Chalupaman: Wouldn’t it suck if he reads Fark too?

I’m That Guy:
Years ago, when I worked for a grocery store, a sack lunch and a pair of mens underwear (in the same bag) were found in the ceiling tiles of the mens employee bathroom.

testacles:
A Fortune 500 company I worked for brieeeefly had an executive secretary to the division Fuehrer who was his evil henchwoman. Man, everybody hated this woman. When she would leave for the day, people would take *turns* borrowing her toothbrush that she left in her cube, and scrub toilets with it. Yow!

mama’s_tasty_foods:
At my last job I worked with a woman in her 40s who really needed meds– she believed that people were entering her office to steal things from her (this was her first explanation every time something went missing, though it was usually because she had misplaced it. The shiat would always turn up later). Our first clue came when she was brand-new, and she refused to discuss how old her son was (after a year she acknowledged he was in high school). She began asking for locks, first on her filing cabinet and then on the office door. She insisted that the girl who worked with her also lock the door, even if she was just walking down the hall in the middle of the day. Of course, she always lied to us, claiming not to know certain things we knew damn well she should know (i.e., claiming she never got an email from so-and-so, when 3 other people were cc’d on it), but it was obvious she was hoarding information to herself because she didnt trust anyone else– even the people she worked for and reported to.