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Wednesday, January 9, 2002
- No FoolBlog last week on account of I was in the San Francisco area visiting friends and being rained on. If you've never been to Muir Woods, I suggest you go as soon as possible.
- One well-used medium of expression in the wake of September 11 has been the placement of flags and banners on overpasses over our nation's highways. Today, however, I spotted a new banner on I-66 that said "Sept. 11, 2001: 36,000 kids died of starvation." Yowch! I'm sure a great many people driving by dismiss that banner as the work of a nut case. But like I've said before, if we as a nation could pour the energy and compassion that's come out of this into other things, there's so much we could do. I understand people's indignation about the re-routing of Red Cross funds donated for Sept. 11 relief to a point, but the outcry seems to say "We don't want other people in need to receive help" as it says "We want to help the victims and families of September 11." Who cares if they already have seemingly inappropriate amounts of help while other people in need have nothing, right?
- At the Shrine to John Kruk, there is now a link to video of the infamous 1993 All-Star game at-bat against Randy Johnson. Go check it out, it's a hoot.
- As the new year begins, I am starting my bi-annual effort to listen to every CD I own. I have about 350 to 400, which is actually a small collection compared to some people I know, but listening to every single one every couple of years has led me to purge crap from the collection more often than it might for others. So for the next few months I will probably post snippets about different CDs that I've pulled out of the vault. On the way to work this morning, I listened to Chickasaw Mudd Puppies' "White Dirt", an amusing little gem from about 1990. It's two guys who were friends of Michael Stipe in Athens, Georgia, who used to jam with him on the porch of their house. In their live shows, one guy played the guitar, and the other sat in a rocking chair on top of a big wooden box, where he sang, played the harmonica, and stomped his feet. They put a microphone under the box, and that was the percussion. One of my favorite artist encounters was at a CMP show at the Chameleon in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There were, at most, 100 people there, and at one point in the show a bunch of smartasses were shouting "Free Bird!" and the like. I shouted "Lon Chaney!" which is an actual song off "White Dirt," prompting both band members to ask "Who said that?!?" I waved and yelled "Yo, right here." The singer said "That's cool man, we'll get to that later." And near the end of the show, he said "Where's the guy who asked for Lon Chaney?" and I waved again. "Here you go, man." Rock on, brother!
- I learned a good word this week: barratry, the act of bringing silly lawsuits. Apparently it also covers making threats of lawsuits without merit and without ever following up, and it can be charged as a crime in some states. People who bring silly lawsuits are quite low, but people who constantly threaten to sue everyone to get what they want without having any legal standing or even talking to a lawyer should be flogged. I overheard a guy at my gym threatening to sue the woman at the front desk because she stopped him when his membership card was expired. What an ass. Picked up from an adventure with a spammer.
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
- When I was a kid, ordering pizza was a real treat. Pizza was so good. Even in my Pennsylvania hick-town, we got pizza from places named "Caretti's" or "Asante's," locally owned, and made by guys who were actually Italian (or maybe Greek). Lots of cheese that went most of the way to the edge, really nice sauce and toppings, crust that was uniformly good. Couldn't beat it. Then somewhere along the line, pizza got turned into a commodity, taken over by chains, and now it's just something we get when we don't feel like cooking anything or going out. Papa John's, Pizza Hut (since they went full-throttle into the delivery market), Domino's... they're all kind of mediocre--not bad, but when's the last time you ate one of their pizzas and went "Damn, this is great!" Probably never. They're preoccupied with cranking out pizzas cheaply, rather than making a top-notch pie. Papa John's talks a good game about making a better pizza, but in the end it seems to be just talk, and they're only marginally better than the rest. It's a sad state of affairs. I do like Pizzeria Paradiso of Dupont Circle, however.
- Say you are in your car, stopped at a traffic light, and suddenly a semi comes roaring up from behind and runs right over you, killing you. Does that make you a hero? Of course not. But to many, all the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks are heroes, even if they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and didn't do anything particularly heroic, other than get killed. Kind of devalues what it means to be a hero, doesn't it? Nicholas Thompson wrote a good editorial on this phenomenon. Of course I expect him to be stoned to death by flag-waving conservatives any day now.
- I have posted previously that Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback column is one of the best things about football season. This week's installment has an absolutely killer indictment of Bill Parcells, who many think is a football genius but really comes off as a jerk for the way he's jerked around the Patriots, Tony Dungy, and others.
- The "36,000 kids died of starvation" banner I referred to last week? Gone.
Friday, January 25, 2002
- Posting late this week, partly because I am a lazy bum, and partly because my 'Net access was down all day yesterday.
- As much as I enjoy technology, I always find it kind of amusing when the network goes down. Suddenly everyone's wandering around the office going "What the hell am I going to do today?" No e-mail, no Internet... well, what did people in offices do before we had computers? Oh yeah, we can READ stuff. Pick up that software manual that's been sitting on the desk for weeks. That big ol' white paper you printed out but never looked at. Go for a long lunch. I can handle it for a day.
- Blah blah blah the St. Louis Rams don't get enough respect. Dude, spare me. I went over this last year with the Baltimore Ravens: saying a particular team has a good chance to beat you, or that one particular part of your defense is the weakest point, does not constitute "no respect." What does Martz want, complete adoration at all times? It's all just a ploy to get the team into us-against-the-world mode. And I guess it worked pretty well for the Rams against Green Bay. But let it be known that I think the Eagles can beat the Rams. Martz, if you want to strangle me now, drop me a line and we'll talk.
- Marketing crappy crap crap of the week: commercials showing people getting excited at the sight of a rather average-looking car. There's a Toyota ad for a Camry or Corolla, where people keep slowing down and speeding up on the highway to get another look at the car. It's only one of the most freakin' common cars on the road. The worst is the ad where a very ordinary car drives through a European-looking village, and the villagers skip after the car with dopey grins on their faces while the flute loop from a Jethro Tull song plays incessantly. How stupid those actors must have felt. Why not market the car for what it is, a reliable car at a reasonable price, instead of trying to pass it off as something that draws looks of wonder like a Dodge Viper?
Wednesday, January 30, 2002
- Hands up, who else has noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of porn-related spam they're receiving? With obscene pictures right in the e-mail? Given spammers' precise tactics, I can't help but wonder how many of these are ended up in kids' in-boxes. I think we should get the religious right interested in this, so they can raise a ruckus about spammers and do something useful for a change.
- Torengos: Pringles' version of the tortilla chip. Identically sized and shaped chips that conveniently stack and come in a triangular tube. They're a little disturbing. They're also quite good, in large part because they have lots of salt and fat. Damn you, whoever invented Torengos.
Monday, February 4, 2002
- And here I was telling people that the Rams would beat the Patriots like a gong and the game would be over by halftime. Shows what I know. When watching a game in person, it is not uncommon to stand up for big plays, but it's not something I do much at home by myself. And yet I felt compelled to come to my feet for the Rams' final drive, and for the winning field goal. Great game.
- Lots of credit to the Pats, but I think the Rams' play-calling cost them the game. I was really surprised to look at the box score and see that Marshall Faulk had 17 rushing attempts, because it seemed like a lot less than that. The Patriots were dropping six, sometimes seven guys in coverage, and Warner was having trouble finding guys open. I thought for sure they would come out in the second half exactly like they did against Philadelphia, with one of those drives where they run Faulk on 8 out of 11 snaps and throw to him on 2 of the other 3. Instead, the Rams' first drive of the second half was seven consecutive pass attempts. True, it's not like the Rams' passing attack was completely shut down in the first half. They were just successful enough, that I think Martz's hubris got the better of them, and he set out to prove that they could win through the air against those defensive schemes. Well hello, you've got Marshall Freaking Faulk, consensus best all-around player in football in your backfield! Use him! I have rarely shouted "RUN THE FOOTBALL!!" at the TV so much.
- Proof that people who watch TV and are on-line at the same time may be insane: Early in the second half Fox's instant poll question was "Can the Rams come back and win this game?" And only 52% of the respondents said yes. Holy crap, do you people have the teams mixed up or something? The best offensive team in football is down by two touchdowns at halftime and you think they're done for? Maybe I'm just being overly picky about semantics; the question was definitely can they come back. Hell yes. Now, if the question was will they come back, asking people to prognosticate, that's a little different.
- First time in at least 10 years I've actually watched the official halftime show. How great was U2? Maybe this will prove to the people who organize these things that you don't need a phalanx of pre-teen children doing rhythmic gymnastics and cheesy spaceships to have a good halftime show. But I doubt it.
Wednesday, February 6, 2002
- There's a $1 video rental place in Arlington that I rent from occasionally. I have a love-hate relationship with them. Con: Not a great selection, especially for older films. Highly questionable categorizations (Smoke in Action/Adventure, The Butcher Boy in Horror), categories that don't continue from one shelf to the next in any rational manner, and poor alphabetizing (I'm not being nit-picky; I'm talking a film that starts with B sitting among films that start with S) frequently make it difficult if not impossible to find a specific movie. The staff could give a rat's ass. Overnight rentals only. Pro: every rental $1. For the cost of a regular movie at the theater, you can have an all-day film festival.
- I didn't quite have an all-day film festival, but I did see five movies this past weekend. Requiem for a Dream is a much more potent anti-drug message than those awful Super Bowl ads equating drug use with terrorism (which sounds to me like a really good argument for legalization), but of course it was released unrated because it was going to be slapped with the NC-17 rating. First movie in a long time that made me literally jump out of my chair screaming (at the conclusion of the zillion-cut climax).
- I've found two columnists who agree with my assessment of the Rams' pass-wacky "Marshall who?" tactics costing them the Super Bowl: the Kansas City Star's Jason Whitlock and ESPN.com's Ralph Wiley.
Wednesday, February 13, 2002
- Don't you hate it when your Palm Pilot (or in my case, Visor Deluxe) comes up with a Fatal Exception error? And resetting it doesn't do anything, so you have to pull the batteries? Especially when you're just arriving at a client site, so you won't be able to reload your data via sync for a couple of days, so you're stuck with no phone numbers, no memos, no nothing? I know I hate it.
- This week in the bigfool.com mail bag, a Slashdot user changed their e-mail address to email@example.com. You'd think people smart enough to read Slashdot would be smart enough to not use an e-mail address that they don't actually have access to. I wrote back to Slashdot saying "Please fix this," but then I continued to get a daily newsletter. So I got this user's password, and then went in and changed their e-mail on the Slashdot account to firstname.lastname@example.org. Is that their real e-mail? Probably not. But I don't care. So user keiran, if you're reading this, that's why you are colossally screwed and can't get into your Slashdot account. Please be more careful in the future.
- There's an ad out for Nestle Toll House cookie dough, the kind that comes in a big block, and you slap little bits of it on a cookie sheet and bake it. The ad features voice-over children singing "One for you and one for me." Every time this ad is on, I sing "None for you and ten for me," which everyone knows is what real children would want.
- I have nothing interesting to say about the Winter Olympics that hasn't been said 50,000 times already by every sports columnist and TV commentator in the country.
Wednesday, February 20, 2002
- It may be my imagination, but it seems to me like ESPN is downplaying the Olympics. They're covering it to a fair degree on SportsCenter and the like, but it's not being treated like a marquee event. I haven't checked every day, but when I've looked at the "Pick tonight's Showcase highlight?" poll on ESPN.com of late, an Olympic event is never an option. On SportsCenter late Saturday night, the "Best Plays" segment was all college basketball. Nothing from the USA-Russia hockey game, which was far better than any NHL game I've seen this season, and nothing from the zany short-track speedskating race which was won by the Australian after the other four competitors wiped out. Maybe NBC isn't providing the clips, or maybe ESPN is under orders from the ABC/Disney conglomerate to play down a marquee event on another network. Who can tell?
- The only angle of the figure skating judging controversy that hasn't been talked about much: Shouldn't a world-class competitor want to win a gold medal on their own merits in that event, rather than some pre-ordained agreement by the judges? I'd have a hard time thinking "I'm the best in the world!" if I even thought I won because of a conspiracy, and someone else actually performed better. I'd feel dirty. But then again, some people are perfectly happy to win by cheating, I guess (see "Harding, Tonya").
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
- Upon further review, maybe it isn't ESPN/ABC/Disney's idea to downplay the Olympics on SportsCenter and the like. Sunday night, the lead story on SportsCenter was in fact the men's gold medal hockey game, as one would reasonably expect. However, they showed still photos from the game rather than video highlights. That makes me think that either NBC or the IOC were being stingy with giving out video clips. Which is, of course, incredibly lame.
- After avoiding video game systems for years, I finally bought a Sega Dreamcast. Sure, it's a dead system, out of production, probably no more new games. But I also got a used one for $60, rather than coughing up $300 for a PS2. And I've been scaring up games for about $10 each. XBox and PS2 games cost freakin' $30 to $40! Talk about an expensive hobby. Anyway, it's been nice knowing everyone, and I will now proceed to not get anything accomplished at home ever again.
- Enron lobbyist: "We must make sure ... voters understand their use of their SUVs, microwave ovens and televisions are threatened." This is EXACTLY the kind of crap I'm talking about when it comes to the hypocrisy of the President yammering about sacrifice, then not actually asking anyone to do anything of value. Fly the flag and be patriotic, sayeth your president! But asking people to drive smaller cars and reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, so maybe we stay out of situations that inspire people to become suicide bombers... let's hang that kind of no-fun label on the Democrats.
- Normally I like Bill Simmons, but his column today is grating to no end. It's one of those "My Rules That Everyone Should Follow" columns; this one is "rules for being a true fan." Some of it I agree with, but much of it is stupid, and Simmons' insistence that his way is the only way is downright obnoxious. Foremost is his wrath for "Sports Bigamy"; he insists that you can't have more than one favorite team in a sport. Pile o' crap. Where I grew up, we got both Phillies and Orioles games on the TV. At that time, they never played each other. So I followed them both. When they met in the World Series in '83, and now when they play interleague, my loyalty to Philly kicks in and I cheer for the guys in red. Is that so hard to understand? Hockey: I got into hockey in the late 80's by watching the Flyers. But since I've moved to Washington, I go to Caps games all the time, and it's pretty hard to not like a team that you go to see a lot. I try not to go to Caps-Flyers games because I don't know what to do with myself, and if they met in the playoffs I don't know what I'd do. But Simmons says, "Honestly, I just can't understand it. You CANNOT root for two teams at the same time." Then you're a dense idiot who should shut up and not condemn something just because you don't understand it.
Wednesday, March 6, 2002
- I have very little to say this week, because work has been a bear of late. You know, when you're opening binary database export files in ASCII text, and spend half an hour staring at them until you go "Hey, I think I actually understand this," you're probably working too hard.
- If you are in need of a laugh, watch these guys' rendition of System of a Down's "Chop Suey." Completely stupid and yet entertaining.
- Reason #57 why Jimmy Rollins is one of my favorite active baseball players: While the rest of the team went for their annual spring training golf outing, Rollins stayed in Clearwater to talk hitting with Mike Schmidt. On top of his on-field play, the "Oh, I'm going" comment at the All-Star game, and the fact that he actually went to the Negro League Baseball Museum Legacy Awards presentation when most players couldn't be bothered... Let's just say a Phillies road jersey with Rollins' name and number on it would make an excellent gift for Carl this year. (Size 52. I know my mom reads this.)
Monday, March 18, 2002
- Some thoughts from the first- and second-round NCAA tournament games at the MCI Center I had the good fortune to attend. Most of the games were interesting--the two Maryland games were the only real blowouts. But only the NC State-UConn game was down to the wire. The other games were all reasonably close late into the second half, with the trailing team pulling within 4 or so with two or three minutes to go. But then the winning team would pull away. Still, good enough to keep us watching.
- Speaking of NC State-UConn, that late foul call on the three-pointer was rather bizarre. It came so late, I thought it was a call for something away from the ball. It wasn't until Butler went to shoot his third free throw that I realized the foul was on the shot itself. At the time, it seemed ridiculous, but in today's Post there's a big photo of Butler shooting and Hodge's hand on Butler's arm, so there you go.
- Hampton University's band puts all other bands to shame. And while all the other schools' cheerleaders basically did the same jumps and formations (not unimpressive, but very little to differentiate them), Hampton's cheerleaders had some serious dancing going on. Small wonder that everyone except UConn's section was screaming for Hampton in their first-round game. Shame they couldn't pull it off.
- And speaking of UConn's fans... during the first session, Michigan State's section was mostly green, NC State's section was mostly red, and Hampton's section had all kinds of signs and pom-poms going on. All three sections were up and cheering at the appropriate time. UConn's fans looked like they were at a golf tournament. If you hadn't known that was their section, you wouldn't have been able to pick them out--no overwhelming colors, no signs, and mostly just polite clapping.
- None of the seven mascots (Hampton didn't have one) was particularly impressive. Wisconson's badger did participate in some of the cheerleaders' pyramid formations, which probably isn't easy when you're wearing a mammoth, unwieldy badger head. St. John's had a big red horsie that was kind of amusing. Unfortunately, the mascots stayed on their respective end lines on the lower level, and I was in the upper level, so no pictures.
- Maryland is playing at an entirely different level than any of the other seven teams I saw. If they don't win the East, it'll be a stunner. More later this week on how Maryland fans seem to be building a reputation as a bunch of jerks.
- Other observations: All the usual advertising in the MCI Center was covered up or removed. The Capitals and Bullets/Wizards banners (retired numbers, division titles/championships, etc.) were all taken down; the only think hanging from the ceiling was Georgetown's 1984 championship banner. Must be some weird NCAA rules. Weirder still was the complete lack of replays on the JumboTron. They had the regular CBS feed while the game was going on, but the moment they started to show a replay, in the arena they'd cut to an NCAA tournament logo graphic. My theory is that since these were supposedly neutral-site games, showing replays would make one team look good at the expense of the other at any given moment, therefore replays are verboten. Which would be silly in my opinion, but it's the best reason I could think of.
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
- At first I thought I had imagined Chris Simon hurling on the bench moments after scoring the game-winning goal in the Caps-Sabres game last night, but a caller on DC101's morning show verified it this morning. Bleah. I'd think that would make your teammates on the bench very unhappy. At least it was late in the game so they didn't have to sit there for long.
- So, about those Maryland fans: the last straw was a guy in Maryland gear acting like he was going to elbow my wife in the head on the upper concourse of the MCI Center during the game with Wisconsin. She wasn't wearing any other team's colors or logo, so I'm not sure what exactly he was thinking--maybe he thought he was flirting. Anyway, Maryland hoops fans are most renowned for yelling "HEY! YOU SUCK!" during the usually inevitable playing of "Rock & Roll Part 2" at games. I am not offended by this; I just think it's incredibly lame. Is that the best you can do? Doesn't categorically saying the other team sucks take something away from your team? There's a time and place for jeering the opposing team, to be sure, but when your signature cheer is "YOU SUCK!", you need to go back to the drawing board. Then, when the university told the band not to play the song anymore, some fans threw stuff at the band, since they were so upset that they couldn't yell "YOU SUCK!" Throw in the line-jumping incident when tickets for the Duke game were sold, riots after big games, the mammoth police presence that the university has found necessary after recent games... I realize that a few bad apples can easily ruin things for everyone else, but overall, you can't help but wonder what's going on at the University of Maryland.
- Ninjas ninjas ninjas ninjas.
- The movie Scotland, PA has nothing in common with the real Scotland, PA (four miles up Route 997 from where I grew up), aside from the name, but it's still an entertaining movie. If there's any justice, they will show this at the Chambersburg Mall's movie theater, since it's in Scotland.
Friday, March 29, 2002
- Article in the Post today about mascots, primarily the college variety with an emphasis on Maryland's turtle. I was interviewed for this article, as the closest thing to a local expert, but didn't make the final cut. Understandable, since I tend to be all about the pro mascots. Oh well.
- Here's a December article from the Atlantic Monthly exploring the so-called red and blue divide between the largely liberal America in the big cities and on the coasts, and the largely conservative America in the middle. Extra-fascinating for me because Brooks compares Montgomery County, MD, a DC suburb, to Franklin County, PA, where I grew up. So I know a number of the people interviewed in the article. Nice to read that people there don't go for the likes of Falwell and Robertson, but somebody is keeping those guys on the air. Even though the country is really more purple than a lot of commentators would have you believe, this divide is real and it's good to remember that not everyone thinks like you.
Friday, April 12, 2002
- Haven't posted much lately, because I've been busy, and because I haven't had much to say.
- I am, however, going to Las Vegas in eight days, and I am quite enthused about it. We've agreed that rather than walking the length of the strip and stopping in every casino, and thus exhausting ourselves, we're going to limit our destinations. Be a little more targeted. Scope out the Venetian, the only mega-hotel on the strip I've never really checked out. Ride the new roller coaster at the Sahara. Drink & gamble at the Las Vegas Club, which has become my favorite gambling spot over the years. We also got tickets to a cooking class being given by Bon Appétit as part of their Food & Wine Focus, which should be entertaining. And that's about it, aside from eating vast buffet meals and hanging out by the pool. A weekend isn't enough, really.
- Slate linked this Dick Morris column defending the President's use of polls to justify his policies, and asks what's so bad about that. I'll tell you what: it's too easy to manipulate polls to get exactly the results you want. I'd want to know where the poll data came from and exactly what the questions were before I'd accept them as justification for much of anything. If they're truly neutral and representative of America, well and good, but for all I know Dubya is getting his poll data from the Heritage Foundation.
- Is it lame to link stuff from Salon and Slate? Well, maybe. But this week's Tom the Dancing Bug tells you just about everything you need to know about the Middle East crisis.
Wednesday, April 17, 2002
- I got my tickets for the $325 million Big Game drawing yesterday, and of course didn't win jack squat. I buy tickets periodically, when the jackpot is large enough, even though it's paramount to flushing one's money down a toilet. But what's five bucks here and there? From a statistical point of view, the jackpot needs to be over $200 million annuity value to be a "good bet," as that puts the cash option at about $75 million, and the odds of hitting the jackpot are about 76 million to 1. So I find it interesting and somewhat pathetic that the Powers That Be are changing the Big Game to make it even harder to win. They're expecting average jackpots of $80 million, and potential jackpots of $500 million. Odds of winning the jackpot will be 1 in 135 million. You're over 200 times more likely to be struck by lightning.
Talk about uneven distribution of wealth. I know this is driven by inflation, and our jaded society; lottery games that have jackpots of "only" $10 million or so don't get that much attention anymore, so they need to ratchet it up to keep it in the public eye. Personally, I'd like to see a game with more prizes, but smaller. Let's say they have a $200 million jackpot the first time they give this puppy away, and it all goes to one person. But maybe they could have given $1 million to each of 200 people, or a hundred grand to each of 2,000 people. In this day and age where so many people get horribly in debt, and business and government seem to conspire to keep people there, a lot of us feel like we'd need to win the lottery to ever get ahead. Well, a hundred grand would pretty much take care of all my financial problems; how 'bout you? So it seems a little ludicrous to give all that dough to just one person. But maybe that's just me.
- That said, I'm going to Vegas to play some craps, a little blackjack, maybe some Caribbean stud or Let It Ride if the opportunity presents itself, and definitely Pai Gow Poker, which in my opinion is the best game to play if you want to hang out in the casino, play cards, and get free drinks for a long time while minimizing your chances of losing your shirt. Of course, it's not easy to make tons of money at it either, but I did win $100 in a session on a $25 table at Caesar's a few years ago.
- I confess I play craps in large part because I enjoy flinging the dice the length of the table. I could sit around and do that at home, of course, but it just wouldn't be the same. Plus, it's fun to win money. Last year at my bachelor party, we were playing at the Las Vegas Club, and when the dice came round to the young woman standing next to me I had a premonition that she'd do well. So I started the "rolling come bet," on which you slap down a come bet on every non-come out roll, and cover them with odds; if the shooter doesn't seven-out, you'll soon have action on just about every number. She shot for half an hour, making about twelve points in a row, and I won back all the money I had lost to that point of the weekend. Later I fell down in the street because I was drunk. Good times, good times.
- Tuesday Morning Quarterback resurfaces on ESPN.com. Ye gods!
Wednesday, May 1, 2002
- Vegas was a blast, although from a gambling perspective it was pretty lousy. I had one good blackjack session, and other than that every time I sat down at a table I lost money. But this is why you set yourself a stake at the start of the trip, and stick to it. I did not lose ALL the money I had budgeted to lose, so there's a minor moral victory there.
- If you want a stark study in contrasts, take a cooking class at the Bellagio in the afternoon, then take the 113 bus from Cashman Field to downtown at 11 PM that night. Kind of a different crowd.
- I had the best cup of coffee ever at the Bellagio. Seriously. It was perfect. The buffet at the Sahara, however, was not perfect.
- The Las Vegas Hilton is a perfectly nice hotel, but its off-strip location is kind of a pain. We had a great rate--roughly $50 per night pre-taxes--so it justified our taking taxis, the insane Strip trolley, and hoofing it here and there. But all other things being equal, next time we'll be at the Barbary Coast (and sneaking into the pool at the Flamingo).
- Here it is the end of April, and I haven't seen my favorite local team, the Potomac Cannons, play at home yet. This must change. I have, however, seen the Las Vegas 51s and the Delmarva Shorebirds, and some high-quality mascot photos will be posted shortly, probably in early June (i.e. when I finish the roll of film).
- The bigfool.com Big Dumb Group Day at the Ballpark is Sunday, June 23 at the Bowie Baysox. E-mail me if you want details.
Friday, May 3, 2002
- Time to join in a Google bomb, this one for Verisign, who very stupidly are unable or unwilling to make things right for someone whose domain name, which had not expired or anything, was sold to someone else without her consent. I have my own Verisign/Network Solutions adventure: when I first registered bigfool.com in about 1998, without knowing any better, I put "George Mason University" as my organization, since I was going to school there at the time. Since then, I have attempted to change my organization to "Big Fool Web Design," but NetSol says they can't change it unless it's on letterhead from GMU. Never mind that the address for GMU, according to my registration, is that of a little blue Cape Cod in Falls Church, rather than any actual GMU building. Or that I sent a letter explaining the situation, hoping some human would understand that GMU has absolutely nothing to do with bigfool.com, aside from the web site being hosted on a GMU server for a time, and therefore asking for a letter on GMU letterhead is kind of ridiculous. But no dice. I understand the desire to make rules and stick with them, but there's also a bit of room for human intelligence and understanding, which NetSol seems to have completely abandoned in its customer service.
- An interesting side effect of the bigfool.com mail phenomenon is that I get a pretty good sense for how mass-mailing viruses are spreading in the outside world. I must have received about 150 copies of the Loveletter virus when it first appeared. Lately, Klez and its variants seem to be running rampant. It's one of those that sends itself to e-mail addresses not merely from Outlook, but from other places on your machine, like say your IE cache. Even more deviously, it can randomly select an address to spoof as the sender of the carrier message, so when you write back to one of these saying "You sent me virus-infected e-mail, you dolt," the person you're writing to may not have actually sent it in the first place. I get a lot of "This is my new game" messages sent to email@example.com, which is the e-mail address I use on Epicurious. To complicate matters, I'm getting a lot of virus-related mail delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Emprex is already on the bigfool.com enemies list: I get a number of electronics price lists, in Spanish, delivered to that address regularly, and when I write back asking to unsubscribe, either nothing happens, or they add my regular address to their mailing list as well. Now I'm getting all these virus warnings in Spanish, and I can't tell if they're saying Mr. Emprex sent out infected mail, or he may have received infected mail, or what the hell is going on. All I know is, everyone should update their virus definitions, and David Emprex needs to figure out the difference between bigfool and bigfoot. Ay carramba.
Friday, May 31, 2002
- Long time no type. Busy. Not much to say.
- I am, of course, secretly Canadian, and thus I quite enjoyed my weekend in Toronto. Skydome, however, ranks mighty low on my list of all-time ballparks (and this was major league ballpark #20 for me). Yeah, the roof opening and closing is kind of cool, but why did they close the roof on a day that was 60 degrees and sunny? Artificial turf is never enjoyable, and the whole place just felt too sterile and modern. No charm, not even fake charm like at Jacobs Field. Having a hotel and a Hard Rock Cafe in the ballpark doesn't impress me all that much. No particularly exciting food (I had a Mr. Sub, which is Canada's version of Subway). I paid $12 for a beer--sure, it was C$, and it was a regular vat of beer, but still, twelve bucks! Still, given the choice of spending a day at the Skydome or the office, well, duh.
- We did get on the jumbo-tron though. We were sitting in the right-field corner, next to four knuckleheads with R-A-U-L painted on their chests, much to the dismay of Mr. Mondesi in right field. So they put them on the big screen in the middle of the first, and there I am in my Expos jersey.
- Today in the bigfool.com mailbag was an appeal to help round up mascots for a Mascot Day... in Bolton, UK. Sounds like a great event, but I probably won't be much help from over here.
- I had a link to a long and completely hysterical clip of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog vs. Star Wars fans waiting for AOTC, but now it's 404 (probably due to bandwidth overuse). If anyone finds a mirror site, drop me a line.
Monday, June 3, 2002
- The aforementioned Triumph vs. Star Wars geeks clip has turned up here.
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
- It's World Cup time, of course, and while I enjoy soccer very much, I hate hate hate the diving and acting portion of it. Defender nudges attacker, attacker collapses in a heap, clutches his leg or head and screams in pain, in an effort to draw a foul, a card, or both. Moments later, that same player is up running around like nothing happened. Have these men no shame? When I play (rarely, these days, but it does happen), I try to NOT fall down if someone pushes me. It's a point of honor to be tough enough to not fall over at the slightest provocation, and I think I do my team more good to be on my feet than flopped on the ground (though if you've seen me play you may argue with that point). Furthermore, can you imagine if basketball were the same way? If Shaq hit the floor clutching his ribs and whimpering every time someone hacked him? Hoops would be a complete laughingstock. I wish soccer players would get a clue here.
- Anyone who knows Sheri & Rob, check out these pictures. If you don't know them, stay out, ya creep. Unless you just want to see nice pictures from a great wedding.
- Caught our second game of the season at the Yard last night, and had an interesting vantage point from the edge of section 6 all the way along the railing. Since the seats come back in towards the foul lines, I was maybe four feet from the right field line, and it was like looking straight down the line towards the plate. Not bad at all. Plus they were free, thanks to a friend. The bullpen blew a good outing by the heretofore unknown Travis Driskill, but Tony Batista put one in the left-field seats leading off the bottom of the 10th to pull it out over the Padres. Things in Baltimore are not as bad as I had expected this year; I thought they'd lose 95 games. But their young pitching has performed well, they're sticking with their younger position players, and the ragtag collection of journeymen, while free of superstars, does have some really solid ballplayers--Conine, Batista, Cordova, Bordick, Singleton. I have no delusions of their contending now or even for a couple years, not with the Yankees and Red Sox in the division and playing as well as they are. But at least there's hope for a good ballgame when we go. I may have to break my code of "no weeknight games without free tickets" for Phillies-Orioles on June 28.
- For anyone planning on going to a game in Baltimore, the "scalp-free zone" outside Gate F is seriously a buyer's market this season. I tried to sell two club-level seats for half-price a few weeks ago, and had no takers, mainly because there were about eight sellers for every buyer.
Monday, June 17, 2002
- A pox on ABC/ESPN. I set the VCR up last night to tape ESPN2, since that's where games have been so far, and where my schedule said it would be. I woke up to watch the tape, and was greeted with three hours of in-line skating, auto racing highlights, and the previous night's Yankees-Mets game. So I set out to avoid hearing about it. Didn't listen to the radio on the way to work. Didn't read ESPN.com, CNNSI.com, or any news sites. Skipped the soccer topics in Café Utne. I put a sign on my door reading "Please do not talk to Carl about the US-Mexico game." One co-worker hinted that the US had won--he saw my sign and asked "Why, are you a Mexico fan?" which I took to mean that if I was I'd be distressed to talk about it. But at 1:45, I checked my e-mail, and a message sent to the DC United mailing list (which has a "label your e-mails which discuss match results" policy) had a subject line like "Mexican President Fox stays up to watch his team get its ass kicked!" Which led to my first outright insulting post to that list in a long time, and a debate over whether he was a moron for violating the label-your-spoilers policy, or whether I was a moron for trying to get through the day without hearing anything about the game. Hey, I had made it that far... Next time, I'll just unsubscribe from the stupid mailing list.
- Friends of the Fool take note, I've succumbed and installed AOL IM. Reach me at carlosdelvaca.
Wednesday, June 19, 2002
- I watched the aforementioned USA-Mexico match anyway the other night. And despite knowing the outcome, who was going to score and roughly when, Landon Donovan's goal still brought tears to my eyes. The thought of "Good Lord, we're actually doing this" can be quite overwhelming at times.
- And with the World Cup come the usual "I don't like soccer" articles--I'm expecting Frank Deford's usual collection of two-line soccer jokes to come out any day now. Frankly, I don't care if some people don't like soccer. Nobody said you had to. But it's one of those things that, while people don't have to like it, I wonder why they have to be so damn spiteful about it. If you really didn't care, you wouldn't write a lengthy article about soccer; you'd just ignore it altogether. But in any event, anyone who says soccer players aren't athletes has obviously never played the game, and anyone who says it isn't exciting obviously didn't watch the Korea-Italy match.
- Friday's match will be shown live on the JumboTron at RFK! Now, practicality says, "You have to go to work... watch the match at home, or at that hotel near the office." SCREW PRACTICALITY!
- I have little to say politically these days, because it all sucks and is depressing. The gleeful dismantling of the Bill of Rights proves that we live in dangerous times. Tom Tomorrow says just about everything I would say, except in much more coherent and entertaining fashion.
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
- Anybody know what happened to OYO Hats? It was a great source for custom-made baseball caps and other hats (OYO stood for "Own Your Own"), with a nice interface for choosing colors and logos and seeing approximations of your design on-screen. Plus they had crazy and subversive logos available, like Red Meat and TMW characters--I got my awesome Sparky the Penguin hat there (hard to tell in that photo, but that's the hat all right). And they were affordable, unlike, say, the Cooperstown Ballcap Company, who I'm told makes the best damn cap money can buy, but at $44 a pop I'm reluctant to get one (even though they make a Springfield Isotopes cap). But now oyohats.com is occupied by some squatter or other, and oyogear.com looks like it belongs to a hat company of some sort, but not one with any amount of technical savvy. So I'm guessing OYO Hats went belly-up, which would be a shame, but it would be nice to have that confirmed.
Wednesday, July 17, 2002
- I have this vague memory of writing stuff and posting it on my web site. The word "blog" sounds familiar, but I can't quite place it. It's been so long...
- Things I learned during a week in Texas: It's the land of the frontage road. The New Braunfels Smokehouse has lots of signs on the highway, but no signs to direct you once you get off the highway. It doesn't usually rain that much. The Mexicans at the Alamo were ALL PURE EVIL and just wanted to take away our freedoms. (Seriously, I'd like to hear the Mexican side of the story.)
- The Ballpark in Arlington, major league park #21. As with the Skydome earlier this summer, not real high on my list of favorite ballparks. It's the full-circle thing that gets me--instead of having open space with a view between the left-field and right-field stands like at Camden Yards, they've filled all that space in with luxury boxes, scoreboards, and big ads. (Not that there's anything in Arlington to have a view of. Maybe the rollercoasters at Six Flags across the street.) That just makes things less pleasant. Tickets cost an arm and a leg--I paid $22 to sit in the so-called club level, way down the right-field line. (The next night, I paid $32 for four of us to sit three rows behind the dugout at double-A San Antonio.) I waited 20 minutes between ordering food and receiving it at a concourse stand, and still didn't get what I wanted. Waited an hour to get out of the parking lot after the game. And worst of all, NO MASCOT. But still, a bad day at the ballpark beats a good day at the office anytime. Seven home runs, and good fireworks after the game, so there's only so much I can complain.
- Speaking of mascots, new mascot photos are up. More to come, whenever I finish the roll of film.
- If you travel much and ever want for good places to eat, you should go buy Jane & Michael Stern's "Eat Your Way Across the USA." This book proved its worth by directing me to Threadgill's in Austin, where I ate one of the best restaurant meals I've had in a pig's age.
- Strange but true, I threw out a "first" pitch, poorly, at a Bowie Baysox game recently. It was actually the second first pitch... of eight. I tried to throw a slider, and it bounced up there. Oh well. It was still pretty freakin' cool.
Friday, July 19, 2002
- Thank God, Allah, Hanuman, Apollo, and any other deity you can think of, this crazy Operation TIPS thing is being rejected by even the mainstream press. "The innocent have nothing to hide," my ass. Why should I want to live in a place where the mailman or the cable guy may be keeping tabs on me? Ugh. The fact that this is being rebuked by numerous media outlets, however, gives me renewed hope that Freedom isn't just some abstract term in America, that we claim to be all about but really want to get rid of for all but the wealthy, but rather is something people do understand and want to hang on to.
- Great piece on stock option accounting on the Motley Fool yesterday. Bill Mann is taking the step of unloading all his stocks that belong to a lobbying organization that wants to keep stock options in the dark. I own stock in one such company, and I'm tempted to join him... except I'd take a 40% loss on it by selling now. Hmmmm.
- Oddly enough, Michael Kinsley writes an editorial where he pooh-poohs the furor over stock option accounting, saying that stock options are already disclosed one way or the other, most of us rely on professionals to interpret the financial statements, and "It does not seem possible that enough people could be actively misled about options to affect a company's share price." Well, see here, Slate-Boy, in case you hadn't noticed, there's a great deal of concern these days that the so-called impartial financial services professionals may be in bed with the corporations, and may not have the individual investor's best interests at heart. Furthermore, the entire point of financial accounting standards is to have financial statements that are consistent and reliable. Doesn't matter if one person reads those statements or ten million. If options are either sucking cash out of the balance sheet or diluting my valuation, I want to know, and I want it right up front and obvious, not in the fine print so I have to build an Excel spreadsheet to figure out. And by the way, yes many individual investors do read that stuff, and anyone who doesn't, should. Go spend fifteen minutes on the Motley Fool's web site and get a clue.
- Speaking of the stock market, it's interesting how, three years ago, there was no bad news. No matter what came out in your dot-com's earnings report, the stock went up. Everything was interpreted as a reason to buy. Now, everything is bad. Earnings are a penny over estimates? Stock goes down 10%. A penny under estimates? Down 30%. It's all bad news now, apparently.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
- Startling revelation from the National League: as of this writing, my woeful Phillies are actually third in the NL in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage, considered by those who know to be an excellent quick indicator of offensive contribution). So why don't they, you know, score lots of runs and win more games? Because with runners in scoring position, that number plummets, and they're hitting an unbelievably poor .170 with the bases loaded. Stat-heads say that situational or "clutch" hitting is bunk, but sometimes you have to wonder.
- Anyone know where I can buy taco flavor Doritos? There they are on the web site, so presumably they still make them. But I sure don't ever see them in the store.
- Keith Knight rules, still.
Friday, August 9, 2002
- Busy as always, little time for blog posts. But today, today is different...
- Interesting article by Howard Kurtz wondering why people are so jacked that President Bush is taking a four-week vacation. Well, Howard, here's a start. Most of us don't get to take four-week vacations. For many of us, one week at a time is normal, two weeks is a splurge that you plan for a year in advance. If he was taking only a week or two off instead of a whole month, it wouldn't be such a big deal. And for the vast mass of Americans working at the minimum wage or thereabouts, a vacation doesn't exist. Secondly, being President of the United States isn't exactly a regular job. You might argue that entitles the President to take some time off. I would argue that I expect the President to bust ass relatively non-stop for four or eight years. THEN he (or she) is entitled to take it easy. Like Kurtz says, "a president is never completely off-duty"--I'm sure if a big new crisis hits Bush will come back to Washington, after flying around on Air Force One for a while. Still, given everything that's going on in the US right now, I'd expect our leader to be a little more involved. I don't think it's that huge a deal, but Kurtz's willingness to rationalize it away displays a fundamental misunderstanding of what working life is like for most Americans.
- Hey, how come Post columnists don't publish their e-mail addresses? I'd like to send the above to Mr. Kurtz so he'll actually read it, but I can't. Argh.
Wednesday, August 14, 2002
- This past Sunday at Pfitzner Stadium, I did something that I've only done twice before in my adult life: I left a baseball game before it was over. And this was the first time I've ever done so completely and fully by my own choice (on one occasion, I was overruled 3-1 by my companions to leave an O's game at midnight in the 12th inning; on the other, I had to cut out from an afternoon game so as to go to a wedding rehearsal). But as the game lumbered into its fourth hour, and the Cannons were walking people and committing errors in the top of the 9th to fall six runs behind Frederick, when they're supposed to be in a freakin' pennant race, it ceased to be fun. This game featured 15 walks, two each of wild pitches, passed balls, and hit batsmen, four errors, several other plays that were arguably errors, and innumerable throws to first, fake throws to second, and guys stepping out of the box to waste time. To top it all off, despite arriving half an hour early, we didn't get the free hats--they ran out. I just couldn't take it anymore. It was probably snowing in hell, too.
- Bush's economic forum = colossal freakin' joke. Having a "public forum" and inviting "ordinary people" (a disproportionate number of whom are CEOs), all of whom just happen to agree with your policies, sounds like an old Soviet stunt to me.
- What this country needs is more opportunities to play Whack-a-Mole. I am the freakin' Whack-a-Mole master, and we now have a stuffed purple goose from the Prince William County fair to show for it. You couldn't out-mole-whack me, on your mole-whackingest day of the year, if you had an electrified mole-whackin' machine.
Wednesday, August 21, 2002
- It's a beautiful day! Because Congressman Bob Barr (R, GA), my least-favorite politician, has lost his primary, and thus will not be coming back to Washington. Now, I've heard it said that Barr is/was one of the few staunch defenders of individual privacy left in Washington, and there's something to be said for that. But the whole "Reagan Airport" Metro flap was a colossal waste of time and money, and an appalling display of partisan hypocricy ("The government shouldn't waste money, unless it's something we really want"). I wish I could provide a link to the Post's published point/counterpoint on the issue (can't find one)--the anti-renaming people provided pretty reasonable arguments. Costs a lot of money, people don't see to have much trouble finding the airport, according to the official rules for renaming stations no one has called for it, we'll change all the maps when we open the New York Avenue stations in a few years. Barr's argument was--and this is just about verbatim--"The people of Arlington think they control the world, but they don't. They need to grow up and do what we say." More like, the people of Arlington should have pelted Barr with eggs as he left Congress one day. Then to top it off, there's the ridiculous lawsuit against Clinton, Carville, and Flynt, asking $30M for "emotional distress," when Barr himself has slung his share of similar barbs in public, AND while he was championing a bill to cap "pain and suffering" lawsuit damages at $250K! What a big, whiny baby. Poster-boy for right-wing hypocricy. A big thank you to the people of Georgia for refusing to let this clown represent them any longer. Now, if we can just find a way to get rid of Ann Coulter...
- RIAA to sue file traders. Oh, oh boy. Will they never learn? Cassette tapes didn't kill the music industry. The VCR didn't kill the movie and television industries. And file sharing won't kill the music industry either. Want to know why CD sales are down, geniuses? Because you sign crappy artists who all sound the same and can't put more than one or two good songs on an album, and because CDs retail for $16 to $19 at most outlets. Diversify your artist rosters a little bit and drop your prices to about $10 to $12, and you'll sell a boatload more CDs. Duh.
- Amazigly enough, I find myself siding with the owners in the baseball negotiations. If this Jayson Stark column is accurate, the big sticking point is the payroll/luxury tax. Maybe the owners' proposal is paramount to a salary cap. But you know, cry me a freakin' river, because it's a cap of $102M per team. The minimum salary is still, what, $200K per guy? And if you think that payroll tax is really going to stop the Jason Giambis of the baseball world from getting mega-deals, you're fooling yourself. The only guys who will be hurt are the moderately good players who are getting wildly inappropriate contracts--the key words there being "wildly inappropriate," i.e. they shouldn't be paid that much money, i.e. I don't care if Carlos Beltran can only get $1.5M instead of $3.5M on his next contract. For once maybe the players should count their blessings and sacrifice something towards the good of the game as a whole. (I also think the owners should open their books, but that's another story.)
Monday, September 2, 2002
- Happy Labor Day, evry'buddy. I really meant to post something last Wednesday, but, well, I didn't. And this will probably be the only post for a week or so as I leave for Germany tomorrow.
- If you've never been to Maine, you should go. It's fabulous. We were there for four days, but could have easily spent two weeks or more.
- An interesting poll (click on "Launch the Map") in ESPN's magazine lately shows that New England really likes baseball. And that makes me think about moving to New England. We went to a Portland Sea Dogs game, and it was one of the better ballpark experiences I've had in a while. That's primarily because the fans actually WATCH THE GAME. A lot less gettin' up and walkin' around than at a lot of ballparks. They cheer when they're supposed to, which means a lot less obnoxious music and sound effects than at other minor league parks. Good fish sammiches, too. This is what baseball should be like, everywhere.
- Speaking of baseball and sports, new mascot photos are up.
- And speaking of mascots, there was an article about mascots in last Friday's Wall Street Journal (I'd link it, but they have that whole pay-for-content thing going on). Yours truly was interviewed for the article, but alas I was not quoted. Oh well. Good story, though, about the crap that mascots have to put up with.
- Odd article critical of Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback," of which I am a fan. The author doesn't seem to come up with solid reasons for why he doesn't like it, other than he doesn't think it's funny (though there is too much haiku, I'll give him that). I don't read TMQ just because it's funny; he does come up with a lot of interesting observations (such as the three ways to score at the goal line, "Stop me before I blitz again!", etc.) that you have to wonder why other NFL analysts don't realize the same things. And some things are just funny when pointed out, e.g. "The Dolphins seemed utterly bewildered that the Jets would throw to the sidelines after the two-minute warning."
- And to end on a depressing note, the American public's support for the First Amendment is apparently on the decline. How sad that, despite all the babble about how the terrorists hate our freedom and we must defend it, that we're so ready to throw those freedoms out the window. Sounds like an Onion article. (In fact, it is, but not one in their archive.)
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
- Oh look, it's blog updatin' day. And what a day for that. I am not taking part in memorial services or watching a bit of TV, because I don't care to wallow in it. It's not that I'm forgetting--how can one forget that?--or I don't want to honor the fallen. But there are better ways to do that than watching the video of the towers collapsing over and over again. How about, initiating an inquiry as to our intelligence failures, not to assign blame, but to help make sure something like this doesn't happen again? How about actually trying to figure out why people were driven to fly planes full of passengers into our buildings, and maybe doing something about it, rather than appealing to sweeping generalizations like "They hate our freedoms?" How about some serious talk about our dependence on petroleum, our government's distrubing ties to the oil industry, and where that's led us? Maybe a discussion about why we pick and choose which oppressive regimes to support (e.g. Saudi Arabia) and which to attack (e.g. Iraq)? How about a Democratic senator standing up and saying "Look, my asking questions about these things doesn't mean I'm assisting terrorism, it's my JOB and my RESPONSIBILITY as a member of the opposition party, in a country that has a multi-party system and has always valued freedom of expression and open debate."
- Of course, all that crap is UNPATRIOTIC, and we wouldn't want to be THAT, now would we.
- The whole week I was in Germany, I think I saw two SUVs. And one of those was leaving the US Army post I was working at. It's all small cars. Plus, they have trains that run EVERYWHERE, and yes they're heavily publicly subsidized. It just makes so much sense. And yet, I probably passed a half-dozen Ford Executioners on my way to work this morning alone. Stupid, stupid car culture.
- Great Nicholas Kristof piece on the recurring cycle of threat, suspension of civil liberties, then later universal condemnation thereof. Didn't someone say something once about those who don't learn from history?
- On a more positive note, I really love the Autobahn. (Hypocritical of me, after my rantings about car culture? Maybe.) Partly because you can drive as fast as you please, and mainly because Germans actually know how to drive. No 62 MPH knuckleheads blocking the left lane going "What do you want from me, I'm already going over the speed limit!" I also enjoyed touring Heidelberg, and watched penguin feeding at the Stuttgart Zoo. Photos forthcoming.
Friday, September 13, 2002
- I saw Doves at ye olde 9:30 Club last night. An excellent show, so I feel compelled to pimp the band. I was pleased to discover that you can sample their music on the web legally and with a minimum of effort. Do yourself a favor and check this out: go to doves.net, which will pop open a Flash window. In the upper right, there's a little music note icon; click the left arrow under it to slide open the tab. Then click on the song titles to hear them. I've probably listened to "Pounding" about six times today.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
- Pointed out by Joe Conanson and countless others yesterday, Iraq's intention to comply with UN weapons inspections doesn't exactly jive with the Bush administration's plans. In fact, I will bet you one million of your American dollars that the Bushies' terms and conditions for Iraq to avoid military destruction suddenly change (in fact, I'm sure they have by the time this has posted). Maybe instead of dragging this country needlessly into conflict for the sake of bolstering the November elections, Bush and the GOP could just crow endlessly about their success in getting Iraq to kowtow to their demands. I could live with that. And if we do go to war anyway, and the American electorate fails to comprehend how our leaders changed their demands to suit their political needs and statisfy oil industry cronyism, then this is a sad country, indeed.
- Follow-up, as I actually wrote the above on Tuesday. William Saletan picks nits with the Iraqi concession, and he may have a point. But like he says, haul it back in to the UN and get the clarifications you want. Beats the hell out of rampaging off to war. Good point in the Arkansas Times--since when are we all into pre-emptive strikes, anyway?
- Saw this article on Warflying, that is, flying over San Diego in a plane, and making note of how many wireless networks they can observe. The authors bemoan the non-use of Wireless Encryption Protocol (less than a quarter of such networks had WEP enabled), saying "Folks still don't get it." Well, I must not get something, because isn't that kind of at odds with the whole Warchalking movement, which is all about advertising that you have a wireless node and inviting people to come use it? Are these two concepts (you must secure your wireless network from outsiders vs. tell outsiders your network is available) somehow compatible in a way I don't understand, or are they actually two opposing ideas? While I think one's network should be secured (and in fact I have WEP on my home wireless network), there's also a cost-benefit analysis that most people probably go through. What's the worst-case scenario for most of us with regards to home network intrusion? OK, there's the bored, malicious hacker who wipes out all your data, but as far as someone actually reading my files, I don't have that much I'm concerned about. Maybe my Quicken data, but by and large if someone read all the crap on my computer, they'd be bored silly. Furthermore, given my own testing, for someone to pick up our network they'd need to be in an adjoining house (and I don't suspect either of my neighbors of being hackers) or pretty much right on the front steps. I'd like to think we'd notice the latter. So, given the likelihood of someone breaching the network, and the consequences thereof, why bother with security measures? I bothered anyway, since said measures weren't that difficult to implement, but I can see where some people might just skip it.
- You know what's a really annoying trend in software? The "Quick Launcher" background application. My system tray looks like a zoo every time I boot; I really need to clean some of that crap out. Generally, any background process designed to give you "quick access" to an application is a waste of processor time. Oh, so I can open Sonique in three seconds instead of ten. Whoopee ding dong. And have I mentioned lately that RealOne Player is >pure evil, and I'd rather skip all Real-based content than have it installed?
- New link: while ego surfing for links to bigfool.com, I stumbled upon a quality blog titled Eucalyptus. Brick is a DC-area resident who writes about baseball a lot and apparently knows his sports mascots. Sounds like a stand-up guy to me!
Sunday, September 29, 2002
- How about that brouhaha on Washington Journal the other day? Bob Filner brings up the fact that the U.S. supplied Iraq with much of its weapons technologies back when they were at war with Iraq, Joe Wilson says Filner is an America-hater, Filner gets mightily jacked about it. As well he should. Good stuff. I think "Why do you hate America so much?" is the new Godwin's Law--once you accuse someone of hating America, you've lost the argument. Wilson couldn't come up with an argument as to why our involvement with Iraq back in the day is irrelevant now, or refute the claim that we had supplied them with the weapons we now want to go to war to remove, so he sputtered something about Filner (a U.S. Congressman!) hates America. Both parties really need to look up the definition of "ad hominem". It would be nice to see actual debate on issue rather than motives. Even though I believe Bush and company want to go to war to enhance their standings in the mid-term elections, we still need to provide solid logic for not going to war. The Bushies' motivations alone don't make their arguments wrong. Morally bankrupt, sure.
- Sad little editorial by a California music store owner who says free music downloads forced him out of business. I'm sure MP3s had something to do with his lack of sales, but somehow I doubt they were entirely to blame. It would be interested to hear a customer's side of the story, to learn if the store was somehow not up to par. And how about placing some blame on the music industry, which puts out crappy albums with one or two good songs on them, then prices the CD at $18 retail? No wonder people download pirated music.
- Non-pirated free downloads: You can snag a full album of remixes from R.E.M.'s "Reveal" at the band's web site, remhq.com.
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
- In baseball: nonsensical management orthodoxy rears its head once again. Bottom of the 8th, two outs, Angels up by a run. Ben Weber walks a couple so the tying run is in scoring position. It would probably be a REALLY GOOD IDEA to bring in your BEST relief pitcher, i.e. Troy Percival, right? Even though it's not the ninth inning, the Yankees are mounting a rally and you can feel that mystique and aura crap in the air, so you should do what gives you the best possible chance of getting out of it. Doesn't that seem completely obvious? In the biggest game of the year so far, your closer should be able to get four outs instead of three, shouldn't he? Apparently not, as Scioscia brings in first Schoeneweis, a pitcher I like, but who gave up a game-tying single nonetheless. Then he brings in Brendan Donnelly, who I know nothing about, and he gives up a three-run dong to give the Yanks the lead and the game is effectively over. Look, Rob Neyer agrees with me.
- Randy Johnson loses to St. Louis 12-2? So much for the Snakes repeating. As much as I loathe J.D. Drew, it would be nice to see the Cardinals make a run. For the record, I do not loathe Scott Rolen. Yes, I would have liked to have seen him stay in Philly, but given the lousy management of the club over the past decade, and the disturbingly ineffective and clumsy attempts to motivate him by the likes of Larry Bowa and Dallas Green, I can't say as I blame him for wanting to get out.
- Probably the last FoolBlog post for a while, as on Saturday I leave for two weeks in Europe--one week for work, one for play. If anybody out there speaks Polish and can e-mail me how to say "I do not speak Polish; do you speak English or German?", I would appreciate it.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
- The Europe trip was great. I want to make that clear up front, before I write about my complaints and make it sound like it was horrid. The complaints just make for more interesting writing. My week in Poland for work was quite an experience, plus I ate the best pierogies ever. Then we spent a week in Germany, mostly in Berlin with its wealth of history, museums, and shopping, plus a side trip to Leipzig, a city to which the 22-year-old me would settle in permanently if he could go there today.
- What Europe needs is a real American restaurant. Free soda refills, ice in your drinks, free non-mineral water, free ketchup. A nice meat 'n' three, maybe. With a 7-11 on the side.
- Ever been to the Guggenheim in New York? Great museum. Big. Full of interesting stuff. So when we read that there was a Guggenheim in Berlin, we thought we'd check it out. Planned to spend the better part of an afternoon there. We paid four and a half Euros to get in, spent another Euro to put our bag in a locker, and then... it was one room. With one exhibit. Which consisted of eight large gray glass panels. That's it! We spent 20 minutes in the museum, about 17 of which were in the museum shop. Everything bad about art in one convenient package. I wanted to write "WHERE'S THE REST OF THE MUSEUM?!?" in their guest book, but Kristin wouldn't let me.
- While I was in Europe, any moment spent awake in the hotel room was probably spent watching "Viva Plus" or one of up to four other channels that actually showed music videos. Here's what I learned: 1) Lots of cheesy synth-pop over there. Most of it sucks, and SO
much of it is pumped-up cover songs. I guess all the good songs have
been written. I did like the DJ collective Groove Coverage's version
of Mike Oldfield's "Moonlight Shadow," though, and if anyone can find
the MP3 of it (preferable the single version, not the crappy 6-minute
remix I found of it last night), I'll send you a custom-made mix CD. (E-mail address is at the bottom of the page. Write me first and let me acknowledge you before you send a 5 MB file.)
2) If we think the proliferation of manufactured dancing boy bands
and their ilk are bad here, in Europe it's unbelieveable. I was
subjected to the horrors of Las Ketchup, Liberty X, and BroSis (who
have a song called, seriously, "Hot Temptation").
3) The one really memorable video/song I caught was, not
coincidentally, the only video that did was not preoccupied with the
good looks of the performers or extras. The song is "Mensch" by
Herbert Grönemeyer, who apparently is Germany's answer to Elton John
or something, but we've never heard of him in the US since he sings
in German. Saddest video I've ever seen. It's about a polar bear.
Unfortunately he doesn't have a streaming video on his web site. I
wish I'd bought the album there, because here it's a $30 import.
Will likewise supply a custom CD to anyone who can track down the MP3.
- Finally, back at home, here are my instructions for watching the World Series: 1) Find your local AM radio station that is carrying the game. Turn it on in your living room. 2) Turn your TV on to Fox but mute the sound. 3) Enjoy Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, and be thankful that you don't have to listen to the big box of obnoxiousness that is Tim McCarver, and that you're spared Fox's cheesy sound effects.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
- Many people, including myself, have said that ads linking driving your SUV to support of terrorism would be far more appropriate than those awful government-purchased black-and-white PSAs where kids confess to supporting terrorism by buying drugs. Well, someone is trying to make our dream PSAs a reality. Please send them a donation; I'm going to.
- On the SUV/oil subject, here's one really incredible thing from Berlin: the trains go almost everywhere, and where they don't, buses do. During regular hours, just about every train and bus comes by every ten minutes or less. Subway and streetcar stations are clean and safe. A monthly public transit pass costs something like 55 Euros, and I saw a special offer for an annual pass for about 550 Euros. I spend that much per MONTH on my car payment and gas. We all know how much the Germans love cars, and yet they still have a system that gives you immense economic reasons to not own one. Ay carramba, our freakin' auto culture.
Monday, October 28, 2002
- I have no particularly unique insights into the World Series. It was a good one, highly entertaining, but by no means an all-time classic. I found myself rooting slightly for the Angels, as the Giants have at least had some minor success in the last ten years, where as I empathize with Angels fans (assuming there are some real ones and they aren't all bandwagon-jumpers) who have endured a mostly awful team over the past few decades. I do think Barry Bonds should have been the MVP, even in defeat. He's just on such a completely different level than anyone else, and that should be acknowledged.
- There have always been bad commercials, and especially bad beer commercials. For some time now, there have been "edgy" beer ads which make light of others' misfortune. This week, however, I saw two that cross the line from being humorous to downright cruel, and you have to wonder just what the breweries and ad agencies are thinking. First of all, Bud Light ad, woman asks her husband/boyfriend to move the bug zapper before the backyard barbecue. Later, another couple comments on the great dip, with "crunchy things" on top... and of course the bug zapper is directly over the dip. Drink Bud Light, and you'll be a big freakin' inconsiderate moron too!
- Even worse: Sam Adams Light ad, man is waiting for his wife/girlfriend to get ready for a night out. She's upstairs putting on eye liner, he gets a beer from the fridge, drinks it, and proceeds to shriek with joy. We see the eye liner pencil being dropped in the sink. Then, they're out, and she has on an eye patch. Because of course, few things are funnier, or worthier of hoisting a beer, than a good eye stabbing.
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
- For those who grew up with the Atari 2600, here's some nostalgic fun. I can't believe that I can still do the blue maze from memory.
- Adding a link to August J. Pollak's Xquzyphyr & Overboard. Like Tom Tomorrow, he frequently expresses my exact political thoughts in a much more entertaining manner than I can.
Monday, November 11, 2002
- I have returned from El Paso, Stolen Car Capital of the Southwest. Nice town, actually. Has a small-town feel to it--everywhere I went, a lot of people seemed to know each other.
- The highlight of this trip was easily the food. Once again, thank goodness for Jane & Michael
Stern's "Eat Your Way Across the USA." Monday night, I went to a hole-in-the-wall barbecue place in a strip mall near the airport, where I had a mammoth pile of meat. Brisket, pork, ham, and a couple of ribs, with great pickles, interesting cole slaw with pineapple in it, and potato wedges. On Wednesday, I drove up to the nowhere-town of La Mesa, New Mexico, to visit a boxy little bar called Chope's, where I had the best damn chile rellenos ever. If you don't know them, rellenos are New Mexican green chile pods, stuffed with cheese, dipped in an egg batter, deep fried, and served with red or green chile sauce on top (I opted for green). So good, I wanted to move back to NM. And someone bought me a beer when I gave up my table for
their larger party. Good stuff.
- Driving across western Pennsylvania and West Virginia on Sunday, I was amazed at just how much Steelers radio color man Myron Cope sounds like Gilbert Gottfried. I wonder if Cope squints as he delivers his football insights.
- I have very little to add about the elections and other political things of late, so I'll just link some stuff. XOverboard on the disparity of uproar regarding national databases on guns and not-guns. Eric Alterman on the media's inability or unwillingness to call President Bush and other figures liars, despite their joy in doing the same for Clinton. Harold Meyerson in the Prospect with the best summation of the Democrats' non-committal campaign that cost them dearly.
- Well, I guess I do have something to say. Suffice to say, if voters are given the choice between conservatives, and "we're kind of like conservatives, except not really, but you know, we just don't want to offend anyone"... well, what kind of a choice is that? I refuse to accept that the country has genuinely swung to the right, because there was no viable alternative on the left. In baseball, they say "get beat with your best stuff." Don't throw your fourth-best pitch to Barry Bonds; throw your best pitch, and if he hits it out of the park, well, more power to him. Same thing here: I am DYING for a major Democratic candidate to run on a genuinely liberal agenda, to make a sincere effort to argue the issues on their merits, and to fight back against conservative name-calling and obfuscation with the same passion and furor that the Republicans put into it. (Paul Wellstone, we miss you so.) If we did that, and the GOP still won, well, so be it. But I've been waiting for that for a long time now, ever since I sat in front of the TV and beseeched Michael Dukakis to come back at Bush the elder with "You're damn right I'm a liberal, and a lot of people in this country are liberals. If you'd like to review my liberal positions on the issues, I'd be happy to go over them one by one. And I bet more Americans agree with my positions than yours. But please stop using the term 'liberal' as if it's a label on a par with 'Satan-worshipper.'" Instead, of course, Dukakis folded like a cheap newspaper.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
- Be glad this sign isn't on your street.
- Spam has been bad for a while now, but it seems to have taken a serious step up just in the past month or so. Today, for the first time, I received a wave of spam directed at all the addresses on the angry bigfool vs. bigfoot page, including email@example.com. Argh.
Friday, November 15, 2002
- Item in today's Post, with feedback on the campaign to parody/parallel the drugs = terrorism commercials with anti-SUV ads. Quote: Ritz-Carlton Hotel publicity director Colleen Evans wrote: "Puleeeeze -- I am not giving up my Cadillac Escalade SLV (Sport Luxury Vehicle). Since I'm only 5'3 I love the 'on top of the world' feel....Ms. Huffington is once again sounding very 'fuelish'." End quote. So Ms. Evans, what you're saying is that your need to feel like Ms. Big Stuff in your enormous vehicle is more important than the environmental impact, our country's continuing dependence on fossil fuels (from which you can connect the dots to Sept. 11 and everything bad that's come of it), and the safety of people in other vehicles. Tell me, do you ever wonder why people in other countries hate Americans? It's because of selfish, short-sighted attitudes like yours. Do us all a favor and roll your "luxury vehicle" off a cliff.
- Speaking of post-Sept. 11 awfulness, please read this and this and this, then write all your representatives in the federal government and tell them what a colossally bad idea this is. And if you support it, maybe you can explain to me how a database to keep track of freakin' GUNS is an assault to freedom, but a database to keep track of nearly everything else in our private lives is OK.
Saturday, November 30, 2002
- Haven't posted in a while, what with being in Puerto Rico for a week, then being generally insane with work and the holidays. Time to put a stop to that. Big rant today, more light-hearted stuff tomorrow.
- Thursday's George Will column yields one of the saddest excuses for a rational argument that I've seen in some time. George takes on the anti-SUV movement, highlighted by the "What Would Jesus Drive?" question posed by some church leaders. Let's look at George's sorry reasons for opposing increased fuel economy standards, shall we? (While noting that George acknowledges the point that SUVs are dangerous for non-SUV drivers, and doesn't argue against it.)
- First, he says that foreign auto manufacturers pay the fines for not meeting the standards, simply viewing it as a cost of doing business. So domestic manufacturers would meet the standards, resulting in more foreign SUVs on the road. My suggestion: increase the fines so that foreign manufacturers take them seriously. Kind of defeats the purpose otherwise. As to George's point that it would limit choices for American auto consumers... well, so be it.
- Next, he points out a PSU professor's study which shows that for every 10 percent in fuel efficiency, people drive 2 percent more. George thinks this may increase the total amount of emissions. OK, suppose we have a car that gets 20 MPG, and Joe Driver drives it 100 miles. So he burns 5 gallons of gas. Now give him a car that gets 22 MPG (10% more), and he's so excited he drives 2% more, or 102 miles. That car now burns... get out your calculator... 4.64 gallons. Hey, isn't that less than the first car burned? Why yes it is. Apparently George's inability or unwillingness to do math is a reason to let people continue to drive huge-ass cars.
- Next up: tougher standards would make cars more expensive, which means people drive their old, crappy, inefficient cars longer. Point taken, but over time the fuel efficiency of the national fleet would improve. As opposed to doing nothing, which would improve nothing.
- George then pokes at public transportation, saying it makes the masses dependent on government. If you want to think of it that way, perhaps. But I'd like to take George to Berlin, Germany, where public transit runs everywhere, and you can get an annual pass for less than many Americans spend on their cars in a month, and have him tell me what's so bad about that. And it's funny that I haven't read any George Will columns ranting against the dependence of the airlines and other businesses on the government (maybe I just missed that one, but I doubt it).
- Finally, George tells us how good we have it, by telling us how much better things are than they were in the '70's. And he makes the completely irrelevant point that Jesus arrived in Jerusalem on a "fuel-guzzling and high-pollution" donkey, and years ago people used pooping, farting, fly-ridden horses to get around. Hey, they had bubonic plague and polio back in the day too, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't find a cure for AIDS and cancer. Our advances in cleaner air and water are great, but we still don't live in the best of all possible worlds. Doing better than we did 30 years ago doesn't mean we can't do better still.
Sunday, December 1, 2002
- Another not-so-hot argument: Gregg Easterbrook's complaint that annual Thanksgiving day games for Detroit and Dallas are unfair to the rest of the league. Such "special" games are supposedly harder to win for the road team than regular games, so he claims Detroit and Dallas start the season with a half-game edge on the field--that is, he considers it an automatic win. Well, Detroit's loss Thursday pretty much puts and end to that argument right there; these teams are always tough on Thanksgiving Day, but it's nowhere near a lock paramount to a half-game advantage. Easterbrook points out that Detroit and Dallas have won 46% and 60% of their games overall, respectively, since each team started playing Thanksgiving games, but won 53% and 65% respectively of those Thanksgiving games. Shock! Horror! Unfair! But wait... wouldn't it be more appropriate to compare each team's HOME winning percentage to their Thanksgiving winning percentage? After all, it's a home game that they'd have on the schedule whether it was on Thursday or Sunday, right? I don't have easily sortable all-time records that I can narrow down to the same date ranges Easterbrook uses, but my sources show Detroit's all-time home winning percentage to be .570, and Dallas' (at least as of January 2002) at .676. Which means their Turkey Day averages of 53% and 65% are actually lower than their overall home winning rates. D'oh!
- Coming hopefully by mid-week: blather about winter baseball in Puerto Rico.
Monday, December 9, 2002
- So, I did in fact travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico for work last month. It would have been a really great trip, except for that whole work thing. All too often at this job, we travel to exciting places, then spend hours upon hours in a server room. But it could have been a lot worse. Temperatures in the 80s in November were a sheer pleasure, for starters.
- The highlight of the trip for me was, of course, baseball. Santurce Crabbers vs. Bayamón Cowboys, the night before MLB formally announced that the Expos would play some home games at Bithorn Stadium (I had the foresight to wear my Expos jersey). Not much of a crowd for a mid-week game with the home team in last place; maybe 500 in a stadium that holds over 20,000. But a quality crowd, including a non-club-sponsored percussion and trombone band, and cheerleaders (but no mascot). Very surprised to see artificial turf; you'd think they could grow grass down there. The place will need a bit of spit 'n' polish before the Expos play there, but I'm pretty sure they'll be well supported. Had a couple of empanadillas, which were cheap and good--in fact, cheapest and best eats and drinks I've had at a ballpark in some time, and easily the cheapest dinner all week in San Juan.
- It was a pretty good ballgame, if a bit frustrating for one rooting for Santurce. Probably double- or triple-A quality. The only MLB player I recognized was Al Martin, late of the Pirates and Mariners. Each team got a run in the first, then there was no scoring through the seventh. Santurce had some opportunities, but just couldn't get a run home, including one of the more unusual plays I've seen in a while. Santurce's clean-up hitter and DH was a very large man named Hector Villanueva. I have no doubt that when Hector gets hold of one, he can hit it very, very far. But Hector is also a mighty slow base-runner. So when Hector was on second with another runner on first and two outs, and the batter got a base hit to right-center, it was a much more exciting play than it might have otherwise been. They sent Hector around third, but Bayamón's outfielder wisely hit the cutoff man, who threw out the runner from first at third base, before poor Hector could cross the plate. No run. Bayamón got a run in the top of the 8th on a bases-loaded hit batsman, then got a 3-run homer in the top of the 9th to ice it.
- Now my question is, since the Expos are going to play there, can I count Bithorn as major league stadium #22? Since I didn't actually see a major league game there, I'm thinking no. By the way, if you're at all interested in PR winter baseball, check out Spike's PR baseball site that I linked to previously.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
- mahna mahna. Doo doo, de doo doo. (Warning, file is 22 MB.)
- A friend recently asked how I can be so overjoyed at the Phillies' signing of Jim Thome (at an exorbitant salary), and yet be among those who complain about the Yankees overspend. Is that a double standard? Well, no, and I'll tell you why. First of all, I will freely admit that much of my Yankee-hatred is driven by jealousy. And I'll also acknowledge that money alone doesn't guarantee success (go into Manhattan and see the New York Rangers for an example); Brian Cashman has done a great job. That said: The Phils' haul this free-agent season has a lot to do with their being able to out-spend everyone RIGHT NOW. Having ditched or planning to ditch a number of pricey, under-performing players (Glanville, Lee, Person), everything came together and they have a pot o'cash to spend at the moment. And what with the new ballpark opening in 2004, Phils' management HAD to do something to get people in Philly excited again (there's speculation that they're hoping for an Angels-style championship run and fan revival just in time to sell the team). But as we all know, the Phils haven't exactly done this with regularity over the past 10 years. The Yanks are CONSISTENTLY able to outspend everyone else. They'd be able to do so even if they didn't sell any tickets, due to their TV arrangements and merchandise sales. And that's annoying to the rest of us, and certainly feels unfair to a baseball fan who has the misfortune of living in, say, Kansas City.
Monday, December 23, 2002
- Many US bloggers are celebrating the blogosphere's role in elevating the Trent Lott "If only we'd elected a segregationist" comment from non-issue to career-derailer. Well and good. But if that's so, how about the bloggers hop on this story, in which Cheney and company allegedly block the sale of generic drugs to Third World countries, for no apparent reason other than to maintain the profit margins of American pharmaceutical companies. Jeez, talk about giving the rest of the world reasons to hate us. Someone's got to explain this, but there's been little noise about it in the mainstream press.
- Then there's the renewed "missile shield" movement. Ugh, and ugh. The Times article says that the minimal system as newly proposed will cost $1.5B in additional funds over the next two years (emphasis mine), and that's apparently on top of the $8B per year that's already been allocated. So, $19 BILLION dollars over the next two years, if I understand it correctly. Think about that number the next time you hear of a chump-change social program getting the ax. Think about how many kids you could send to college, or how many generic drugs you could send to sick people, how many job training programs you could fund, how many people you could put through drug treatment, heck, how many people you could feed. The level to which this administration has abandoned any pretense of caring about people at large in favor of moneyed corporate interest grows more staggering every day. It's as if they're sitting around laughing, going "Let's propose THIS crazy thing and see if we get away with it."
Friday, December 27, 2002
- I find the myriad reports of disappointing holiday sales to be tiring. Retail sales "only" up to 2 percent, instead of the expected 3 to 5 percent... cry me a river. But the reports make it sound like the sky is falling. Timothy Noah agrees with me in Slate.
- But that attitude is a by-product of the "grow or die" mentality that permeates American business today. It's not enough to make tons of money; if you don't make tons plus 20% next year, you suck and your stock price plunges. Much of that attitude can be tied to the reliance on the stock price itself to make money for investors, and the almost total absence of dividend payouts. Which brings us to the new proposal to cut taxes on dividends. I'm sort of torn about this. Part of me thinks the "double taxation on dividends" argument has some merit; the other part thinks it's a cop-out for whiny rich people who just want to avoid paying taxes. No surprise that, according to a source in the article, "if the government completely eliminated taxes on corporate dividends, 42 percent of the tax benefits would flow to the wealthiest 1 percent of all taxpayers." But if a change to the tax code is what it takes to get companies to start paying dividends again, rather than re-investing profits in projects that don't pan out in the all-encompassing quest for growth, maybe something should be done. We have to be careful, though, because no matter what structure a tax change takes, someone will abuse it. Say if they cut all taxes on personal income from dividends, you know there will be people who convert all their assets to dividend-bearing stocks, then sit around and chortle as all their income is tax-free.
- Speaking of rich people griping about taxes...Tom the Dancing Bug doesn't need much help from me--it runs on Salon and in the Post, after all. But I am increasingly impressed with Mr. Bolling's subtle digs. The recent "Lucky Ducky" poor non-taxpayers cartoon pretty much says it all, and today's "Senator Satan" cartoon is a good one too. I plan to vote for the Baby-Eating Aliens party in the next election; I mean, I understand their platform.
- Stores yank pregnant (and married) Barbie's-friend doll after copmlaints. Gosh, I didn't realize the stores were FORCING people to buy the pregnant doll AGAINST THEIR WILL and therefore it had to be taken away.
E-mail me to cheer or jeer any of my choices. Or go back to the front page to see the other goofy crap on this domain.