Thursday, December 27, 2007

Hitching a Ride on the Straight Talk Express

I've finally made a decision about who I'm going to support for President. After hemming and hawing, going to Rudy Giuliani, possibly changing my mind, looking at Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson's charismaless outer shell, and Huckabee the Baptist Preacher, I've decided on John McCain. There are several things that I really like about him despite his not having much of a chance. Of course, that could change with Rudy's sudden plummet, but who knows. One thing I do know is that I agree with him on issues the most of all the candidates.
I disqualified Ron Paul for a lot of reasons. One is his stance on immigration. Another is his stance on war. Don't get me wrong, I don't like war. Nevertheless his no war ever stance is a bit perplexing. Consider this exchange from Meet the Press:
Russert: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. "According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery."

Paul: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn't have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the--that iron, iron fist--

Russert: We'd still have slavery.

Paul: Oh, come on, Tim. Slavery was phased out in every other country of the world. And the way I'm advising that it should have been done is do like the British empire did. You, you buy the slaves and release them. How much would that cost compared to killing 600,000 Americans and where it lingered for 100 years? I mean, the hatred and all that existed. So every other major country in the world got rid of slavery without a civil war. I mean, that doesn't sound too radical to me. That sounds like a pretty reasonable approach.

The thing about this is that the Confederacy seceded before the Civil War started. It wasn't that Lincoln was knocking around saying "let's start a war." He prosecuted a war to keep the country together when the Confederacy had left because a Republican was president. If Lincoln didn't fight, the US wouldn't be the US we know. The fact of the matter is that Paul is engaging in the absolute worst kind of historical hindsight - taking something that is unquestionably known to have been the right decision (indeed, it is the single biggest reason why Lincoln is considered the 2nd greatest president) and saying that it wasn't because 600,000 men died. I suppose that he also believes we shouldn't have fought World War II.
Anyway, enough of Ron Paul, back to McCain. The first reason I like him is his immigration position. Every Republican to one degree or another has to say they hate immigration to get anywhere in the primaries, but McCain is the least vocal about it. I like his position on military intervention and the current war - get out on our terms. I like his position on government waste. He's been a one man show in the Senate for a lot of years on earmarks and other spending and that should count for something. Normally I wouldn't be as big a proponent of his former POW status, but it shows his toughness and his commitment to the nation. After all, he didn't just spend a weekend in the Hanoi Hilton, he was there for over 5 years. That's dedication. Like I said, I don't think he'll end up winning the nomination, but he's certainly a candidate I feel like I can be proud to support.


I'm telling you what, Christmas is hands down better with kids. It's so much fun to see them opening presents and enjoying all the stuff that Santa got for them. I'm not saying that it's not fun with just adults, as a matter of fact it can be quite fun. Case in point is how we got our presents from my dad this year. They just moved and so they didn't buy anything or have anything wrapped, so they played Deal or No Deal with us for us to earn our cash. Nevertheless, while that was fun, seeing my little girl so excited over a couple of My Little Ponies or Hot Wheels was still funner. I can't wait until she gets just a tic older so she can be more excited during the entire season instead of just during the actual unwrapping of the presents

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

No real posting today or tomorrow, but I do hope that you have a great holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It Took Me Long Enough

4 Guys, 1 Plate

Okay, so I'm not quite up on all my internet phenomena...I was busy reading The Sports Guy the other day and came across a mention of something called Two Girls, One Cup. Knowing the damage that can be done to a person's psyche by blindly looking at something without second thought (for example, the prior gross out phenomena that scars you in a very disturbing and profound way, Tubgirl), I went to that bastion of all electronic knowledge, Wikipedia. There I discovered precisely what it was (if you really want to know, and let's face it, there's a good reason that curiosity killed the cat and it's because you just can't resist knowing stuff; the link to the Wikipedia article is right here) and some parodies of it. (The most notable, Two Guys, One Cup, is available here and is pretty funny, imagining perhaps what the other must entail. Thank you John Mayer, you've made up for that crappy song "Your Body Is A Wonderland.") Anyway, for several weeks my post here has been getting quite a few hits from people looking for that parody, or something like it called Two Guys One Plate. I had no idea what it was until now. Now you too know!

A Whopper of a Lie

I can understand companies wanting to do the whole guerrilla marketing thing, after all it creates buzz. This campaign from Burger King, Whopper Freakout, might not be the best way to do it. You'll have to take a look to decide for yourself and it is getting buzz, but what is it really accomplishing? Annoying their customers? Now that's a place I would like to frequent!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Come Sail Away

One of the things that I love about the internet is having information at my fingertips. You can see just about anything you want, from the weather outside (current conditions: frightful) to what caused the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. One of the more useful websites I've found (thanks to it being featured at BzzAgent) is called FlightStats. It's one of the most useful travel sites I've been to. They have a Facebook app too which is nice. Anyway, It tells me what the current and historical trends are for whatever flight I want. What's better than seeing this and knowing beforehand that you ought to pack a tent and sack lunch because you won't be headed anywhere anytime soon. What makes it even more useful is the on-the-go features they built into it so that you could get the info on the go. Take a look at it if you're into flying, it's well worth the few minutes it will take you.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Dark Knight Returns

One of the movies I'm looking forward to most this next year is Christopher Nolan's sequel to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. Take a look at the new trailer much as I liked the original Batman (by original I mean the Tim Burton remake with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton), I think this has the potential to turn the whole thing around and make Heath Ledger's portrayal the definitive version.
One thing about Batman movies is that, in accordance with the Batman Theorem, the goodness of the movie has an inverse relationship with the number of heroes and villains. For example, the most recent (until the Nolan Batman movies) remake started off good with 1 hero and 1 villain, but finally swirled down the toilet with the last installment with 3 heroes and 2 villains. You can see this as well in the campy 1960s Batman movie with 4 villains and 2 heroes. Take a look at this trailer if you've never seen it before. I think you'll agree that the Batman Theorem is one to consider. The only question is if it applies to other movies as well.

Faithless in America

There’s an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday that aims to infuriate everybody in the LDS church. In it, Frank Rich takes Mitt Romney to task for not denouncing his church as racist before 1978. If he realizes the implication for this then he knows he’s asking for something impossible, if he doesn’t then he needs to do some research. If Mitt was to say that he believed the church was racist in 1978 he would be saying one of two things: the church doesn’t operate on revelation but on the ideas of a bunch of old men and therefore it isn’t true or God is a racist. Either way it’s a pretty earth shattering thing to say for political points. It would be the equivalent of Joe Lieberman criticizing Moses for drowning all those Egyptians or engaging in ethnic cleansing during the conquest of Palestine. It’s not going to happen, nor should it be asked. What I would say (and actually do) is that it’s unfortunate that blacks didn’t have the priesthood before 1978. That doesn’t mean it’s a racist policy, it’s just what the Lord wanted for one reason or another and I’m not about to question His reasons. It's the same with polygamy, and I'm sure that from the outside looking in those are calculated decisions made by a group of conniving old men in Salt Lake, but for those of us in the LDS Church that's not the case. Instead of sitting in your Ivory Tower and making observations from afar, get out and go to Africa. Ask those Saints who waited decades to become official members of the church despite there being a "racist policy" in the Church and no missionaries to speak of to baptize them. They organized, led meetings, and prayed and waited for the day when the Lord would open the priesthood to them and allow missionaries to come to Africa. A fantastic overview is in this talk right here. Tell the hundreds of thousands of Pacific Islanders, Asians, and even African Americans who were members of the church and took advantage of what it had to offer all the way back to the time of Joseph Smith that they are being disenfranchised. I am surprised he didn't level a sexist charge at us as well for not allowing women to have the priesthood. The bottom line is that he ought to do some research, interviewing some actual church members about their opinions before bashing Romney for not condemning God for being racist.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

What's Bad is Good Again

MSNBC had a fascinating article a few days ago that scrolled by on my Vista sidebar this morning and I had to share it. Apparently there's not really much evidence other than the conventional wisdom (a guy from 50 years ago said it and everyone lined up behind him) that saturated fat is the worst kind of fat for you. This is great news for my upcoming (well, April) trip to The Prime Rib in DC. I'm not going to lie to you...I'd almost eat the prime rib there even if I knew that as a result on my way out the door I would keel over and die.

Too Little is Too Much

I was driving home from the gym this morning, sitting at a stoplight and playing with my iPhone when I started thinking that I could blog from it if I'm not at a computer. Now that's nice! What that got me thinking of though was the Twitter service. Has anyone else heard of this and/or used it? The concept is that you can essentially SMS updates of your boring, everyday life to the internet where it will somehow become interesting. Here would be a set of Twitter updates if I was there (each line would be its own post)

Got up, made Boudin Sourdough French toast for my wife and I

Got Alyssa ready

Went to the gym

Came home

Blogged on Blogger

How boring is that? Eating pancakes doesn't get more exciting because it's written down than it did if you just did it. I have to say that if regular blogging is boring, this is the literary equivalent of watching paint dry. I know that it's not anything I'll ever look into, but what do you think?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

This Song For Rent

The RIAA has long been one of my least favorite groups, but just when I think they can't get worse they do. Now they're trying to sell the idea that we can't time shift music to a judge. This doesn't just mean that we can't download songs off of sites like Kazaa, it means that in their legal opinion we can't burn CDs to our computers. Honestly, what is going on here? They opined back when they were fighting Grokster that we could do that and now because record sales are in the toilet (which I would say is because there's not as many good albums released now as there used to be) and they want to be known as more ham-fisted than the MPAA we can't copy our CDs without being criminals. It's clear that they believe that we have no ownership at all of the products we buy, we're merely renting the intellectual property until such a time that the CD breaks or technology moves on and then we should have to re-rent that.
Last time I checked, these products are made available for sale, not out of the goodness of the record labels' hearts for rent to anyone who wants them. If they want people to not be criminals, why don't they try not criminalizing our behaviors? While I have moral issues with stealing songs and whatnot, I think the more they treat their customers like criminals, the more they will become criminals. I have no problem sticking it to the man, in as moral a way as possible, because the man needs to be knocked down a few pegs. I'd love to see artists split from the RIAA and self-release music like the Eagles and Radiohead have done. Merely not buying music isn't going to stop the problem, it will only lead to them blaming us for their problems. If the artists, especially the big ones (U2, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Kanye West, etc) jump ship, the labels will fail because their meal ticket is gone. I have no problem paying U2 for their music and the digital revolution, with iTunes and other digital middlemen mean that you still need promotion, but it's much easier and cheaper than it used to be. Touring will still be the backbone of support, but you don't need Columbia Records to make some marketing materials for you. Let's turn the system on its head and see what it does for everyone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

iEnvy 5 and Other Miscellania

I finally did it. After quite a while of desperately wanting an iPhone (for instance, see here, here, here, and here), I decided to take the plunge. Honestly, Steve had me at hello. The one thing that Apple does better than anyone else is make opening the product an experience. Everything is put together in a way that makes it quite exciting. It came almost fully charged right out of the box, I connected it to my computer, and a few minutes later I was ready to go with everything squared away. It's been absolutely delightful, even though I know it's been less than a day since I got it. Nevertheless, what a great purchase, even though I know it'll be obsolete come 6 months after this MacWorld.

CompUSA is officially going out of business
. I can't say I'm surprised, nor can I say I'm sad. Good riddance to a company that was forever stuck 10 years behind what they were selling.

I hurt my back a week ago tonight and couldn't get off the ground for nearly an hour. I'm telling you what, a back injury is the worst thing in the world. Women can say it's pregnancy, but I'd have to disagree. Unless you're on bed rest or that pregnancy gives you a back injury. Then I'd probably agree. After suffering through 2 days of pain and not being able to put on my own pants (because muscle relaxers didn't do jack squat and neither did any pain meds - not that I wanted vicodin or anything like that, because I didn't want to do more damage because I couldn't feel pain), I went to a guy who practiced something called "Advanced Bio Mechanics." Look it up on the internet, I dare you. You won't find a thing. Perhaps you could Google "voodoo" instead, because that's essentially what it was. It was voodoo that completely healed my back! My pain went away and after the hour session I could actually put on my shoes and socks again. My wife noticed a huge difference too. We've referred like 10 people to this guy because for all the it shouldn't work that there is about it, it works.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I sure hope that this story from Engadget is accurate. CompUSA has officially made it to my dead to me list after thinking about doing it with my last trip there, and for it to not only be dead to me, but dead to the rest of the world is an encouraging development. Even Gordon Ramsay couldn't turn this place around, although if it were a restaurant he might have a fighting chance.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Peculiar People

There are definite reasons that Mormons are referred to as a peculiar people, perhaps no more so than our proclivity for "deep doctrine" - those things that aren't readily explained in the scriptures. This unfortunately gives some of us a tendency to go into deeper doctrine - things that aren't really explained anywhere, except in our heads. In other words, total bull crap. I've had a couple of experiences with it in these past few weeks. My first brush with bull was in a gospel doctrine class (for those not in the know, that's essentially a class where we get together and discuss the scriptures). We were talking about 1 and 2 Peter and the teacher had our self-proclaimed gospel expert get up and explain "Calling and Election Made Sure."
Again, a definition. According to Joseph Smith, having your calling and election made sure is when you recieve the second comforter, i.e. see Jesus Christ. It's something that seems to be pretty rare, indeed, if you weren't ready for that, you're damned to an eternity in purgatory. That's why you have to be at a certain point in your progression to have it happen and why it is exceedingly rare (I would posit that there are perhaps 15 people on the planet who have had this happen at any given time). Despite this being the official position as explained in commentaries and the like, our resident expert proceeded to say that this was something that happened in our temples. There are many ceremonies performed in our temples, including marriages, but this caused me to perk up because I had never heard of anything like this, and I consider myself pretty learned in all things Mormon. He said that people would go into a room in the temple, hear "This is my beloved son, hear Him!" and then see Christ. It was really starting to sound like bull at this point, but then 3 other people in my class backed him up. I was open to the fact that perhaps this was something I'd never heard of before, but it seemed awfully strange. It didn't sound like an ordinance, it was very, very exclusive, but not in the "you have gotten to a point where this is possible" sense, just in the "you're getting a call from the office of the First Presidency" sense. I asked a few people whom I consider actual gospel scholars about it and who have been around quite a bit longer than me and they told me it was a load of crap that was going around a few decades ago and it's been passed on to our generation now. While I do believe that there is something that may occur with regards to seeing the Savior, I think it's pretty restricted, i.e. if you aren't a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, you're not going to be getting that opportunity any time soon.
The second instance is one where my aunt, who I think has gone a bit beyond the bounds of normal channels. She has prophesied the following things: an earthquake in Salt Lake Valley next year and a worldwide famine that would start in April 2008 and be announced by President Hinckley in January. While I know that famine is one of the tools in the "punish the wicked" arsenal, it's a more local tool. I could see pestilence or disease or a mondo earthquake before that. I also am a firm believer in the priesthood line of authority, where this particular revelation, if it was indeed to be spread by anybody, would have been given through the head of the church. Instead, she has chosen not to observe the council of Boyd K. Packer when he said that (and I'm paraphrasing here) the members of the church would receive more revelation if they would keep quiet about what they got. She definitely isn't in the keep quiet category, so I find this highly dubious that suddenly she's getting revelation for all these people. You might as well put her in the same category as Bishop John Koyle and the Salem Dream Mine. Will I make sure I have a year of food storage? Sure, that's the prudent thing to do anyway. Will I also take what she has said with one of my 25 lb bags of salt too? Indeed I will.

Monday, December 03, 2007

IT Pet Peeve of the Day

Can I say how annoying it is that people don't know their user names? They log on to these computers and/or programs every day and yet they have a coronary when I log on as the administrator because they don't remember their login names. Not only that, they don't know they don't know their login names. They come to me and say that they can't log in. The only reason for this is because they don't have the right login name. Ugh.

I'm Jazzed

I'm quite excited about the first month of NBA basketball. I'm even more excited about the play of the Utah Jazz. I thought that they had potential for sure, but I didn't know they would be off for a (at their current pace) 56 win season this year. I've been impressed by a couple of things:
1. How wrong I was about Andrei Kirelinko. After his comments in Russian about how disgruntled he was with Coach Sloan and the Jazz system, combined with the disparaging comments from Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer about his work ethic and I thought that if we didn't deal him we'd end up with another one of those Greg Ostertag situations where nobody wins, except for the player's bank account. Instead AK-47 has stepped up and returned to his All-Star form, making both fantasy owners and me delighted.
2. The emergence of Ronnie Brewer. I don't understand why Jazz fans booed Derek Fisher when he came back to the Delta Center this year. It's completely mental. Sure, this wasn't his destination of choice for a variety of reasons, but he gave us what we needed: a one year leadership training seminar for Booz and D-Will. Why would we want to be yoked to his mega contract when we're getting more production out of Brewer at a fraction of the price? The Jazz came out of that deal as good as I could have imagined.
3. Coach Sloan's evolution. Who knew that Sloan could be somewhat warm and fuzzy? I have always appreciated his hard-nosed approach with his players, although that has led to some problems at times (see: Milt Palacio/Keith McLeod/Carlos Arroyo), it's something that has brought his teams up a notch. While I'm sure Williams hated the first part of his rookie year, I think that it has helped him become a better leader. It's certainly helped the Jazz' work ethic all around. I think that Sloan has gotten the most out of his players, but when he found out that he wasn't doing that with AK, he did a Malonesque 360 and gave him what he needed.
4. D-Will's emergence as the leader. Booz is right there with him, but Williams is a presence to behold and he's taking that role and running with it. On top of that, they've become a spectacular team. With AK out of his funk, the Jazz have 4 All-Star caliber players in their starting lineup with Brewer a valuable role player (although Okur has not played nearly as well as he did last year). It's certainly the best lineup the Jazz have had since Hornacek retired, if not ever.
5. Fess. He's going to be good. I'd love to see him step up to the NBA permanently and replace Collins, who is not worth what we're paying him to flop.

Some disappointments:
1. Okur. Yeah, he's had a bad back, but that's tough. We could really use him spreading the floor and creating mismatches for his opponents. If he can return to last year's form, that'd really be a great development.
2. Gordan Giricek's Expiring Contract. Why don't we use this for something? It's 4.4 million that we could package to somebody for something and it comes off the books at the end of the year. Put him and Collins together with a draft pick or something and get us a return on that investment!