Friday, February 29, 2008

An Inconvenient Half-Truth

I ran across this information today and it's incredible. It seems like every decade or so the global warming cacophony gets so large that a lot is done about it. In some instances it has helped (our air is much cleaner) in others, it's been costly and annoying (our current fixation on carbon dioxide is both). As a result, we've got a whole treaty capping CO2, states are regulating it as a pollutant (you are polluting by breathing, planet killer), we're moving away from oil to ethanol (which, contrary to popular belief is actually worse for the planet than oil) and we're concerned that the planet will heat up until you see polar bears swimming for their lives and the Statue of Liberty knee deep in the ocean. There's only one problem with this doomsday scenario - it's merely a scenario. In fact, according to every major temperature tracking group on the planet, the temperature dropped more between January last year and this year than any time on record. I don't know that this will silence the Gorecolytes or their CO2 hate, but it might tilt the debate back to global cooling, which was the prevailing theory back in the 70s.

Yet Another New Template

So I found out this morning that my template somehow became messed up in Firefox and Safari. It's not just my computer (I tried several), so we have arrived with yet another new template. I hope this one is actually in it to win it and will stick around for a while. The best thing about it is the easily replaceable pictures in the top, so I don't have to do a lot of html coding and image editing. If this template sticks around (and let's hope it does), I'll be cycling some of what I consider my best pictures through it (as long as they're 900x200).

Super Un-Size Me

For a lot of years I loved the concept of the super size. You get your value meal and for 30 cents more, you double down on your drink and fry size. I remember going to Japan and entering a McDonald's for the first time. What a rip off! For starters, the value meal base size was S/S - essentially small. Small in Japan is different even than small here. Small there is kid's meal size. You could bump up to M/M for 50 yen or L/L for 100. You'd leave there 650-700 yen poorer for essentially a medium Big Mac Meal. That always stuck in my craw until the past 3 or so years. I love the concept of value for your dollar and I know that due to not having to duplicate packaging costs or washing costs or whatever, you can upgrade drinks or sides for a very reasonable price. The problem is that everyone gets caught up with two thoughts: 1) I better super size it because it's foolish not to and 2) I better eat this all, I don't want to waste it. With some things you can get away with using it as leftovers (for example, with the 1/2 lb platter at Smokehouse. I can eat half the meat and a side and take the others home and it is still fabulous a day or so later), but with a burger and fries you just can't do it. So you really have two choices: waste it (and with the starving people in Poor Country X how could you do that) or eat it. Over time that eating it makes us more used to big portions and the cycle continues. All of this in the name of value. I've been rejecting the super size for quite some time now because it's just too much food and I didn't want to re-biggify my stomach. One positive development, while a step down in value, is the implementation of the small/medium/large combo system, where you start out small and can medium or large it. What was even better is when I saw a restaurant long known for massive portions (2 plates full of food) take it down to one smaller plate. That's a great start. I'd much rather pay the same amount for a normal human's portion rather than an elephant's. I know some places have made their name with giant portions (like the 1 lb Fuddrucker's hamburger or the Double Six Dollar burger - a 2000 calorie monster), and if they add some outrageous sizes to regular sized meals, that's great. Just let me eat out for a reasonable price for reasonable food.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Arizona's Economic Nightmare

If you want to see the effects of an illegal immigrant free United States, look no further than Arizona. While its close proximity to Mexico, booming construction industry, and agricultural projects have made it a nice microcosm of the US in general. It might amplify the effects of what we do to a degree because of the sheer numbers of illegals (at least 10% of illegals in the US are likely in Arizona), but it's still a good case study.
At any rate, since the start of the year they've implemented a new law: businesses who hire illegals and get caught get their business license suspended for 10 days. A second violation and that license is pulled forever. It's a very tough policy, and also very short sighted. The New York Times mentions that:
The Arizona economy, heavily dependent on growth and a Latino work force, has been slowing for months. Meanwhile, the state has enacted one of the country’s toughest laws to punish employers who hire illegal immigrants, and the county sheriff here in Phoenix has been enforcing federal immigration laws by rounding up people living here illegally.
“It is very difficult to separate the economic reality in Arizona from the effects of the laws because the economy is tanking and construction is drying up,” said Frank Pierson, lead organizer of the Arizona Interfaith Network, which advocates for immigrants’ rights and other causes. But the combination of factors creates “ a disincentive to stay in the state.”
That's all fine and good, and if you were to read that you might say that it's good riddance. What it doesn't mention is the correlation between immigrants leaving and the state economy tanking. The Sierra Vista Herald points to a University of Arizona study that shows that
Estimates found that immigrants make up about 14 percent of the state’s workforce, according to the UA study. The Pew study, based on 2006 statistics, says 11 percent of the state’s workforce is illegal.
A UA study done last year found that according to 2004 data, immigrants generate about $2.4 billion in tax revenues, $860 million from naturalized citizens and $1.5 billion from non-citizens. The tax costs for things such as health care, education and law enforcement adds up to $1.4 billion leaving a positive fiscal impact of about $1 billion annually.
What does this mean? For starters, illegals aren't the drain on society that immigration opponents say they are. Even though they aren't taxpayers and have to subsist on substandard wages and live underground, they still leave a positive impact on the nation. Imagine if we allowed them to obtain legal status. They would really start contributing then, far beyond the $1 billion (in Arizona) that they're already giving us. Secondly, if that's what's causing a good part (let's say 50%) of Arizona's economic problems, it's realistic that getting rid of the illegals living elsewhere in the US would cost us at least 1 point of our GDP the year it happened. It would also increase inflation because those jobs they left would either be given to people who are paid more or (far more likely) go undone. That would create shortages that would in turn drive up prices. It's ultimately too hot a topic for this to work, but why in the world don't we let them come in, get their status, and live their lives? Big Brother should stop trying to police it and accept the reality of the situation and do something about it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Word of the Year Candidate

My candidate for word of the year is mancer. For those who wonder what that is, it's man cancer, as in testicular or penile (which to be honest is the most frightening cancer in the history of the world. Not for its killing ability, but for its maiming ability. I can honestly say that I would probably rather be a quadriplegic than have to have severe penile cancer and it's Perhaps if we had our own word for men's cancers, Forro wouldn't be so mad that our blue ribbons or blue beer bottle caps haven't happened and/or that women have their pink everything (and soon to be red everything).

Slamming it Home

I know I'm a little late on this, but I hadn't seen the 2008 Slam Dunk Contest until tonight. At first some of the dunks don't seem terribly impressive, but once they slow it down a bit to really see what is happening, there's some stunning creativity there. It's certainly rescued the SDC from All-Star Weekend obscurity for the time being. The problem it has is the same as all contests, people only have so many notches to take it up until you can't take it up a notch anymore. Take a look here:

Here's a blast from the past: the best dunk contest before this last one: Jordan/Wilkins. Some of these don't seem impressive, but you have to remember that they set the bar.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday Quick Hits: Percentage Inflation, Snake Oil, and Immigration

-The WSJ's Numbers Guy had a nice post today about the inflation of percentages and goes on to point out some of the more egregious examples of ridiculous percentages: Fortune's use of 1,000,00 percent to describe Warren Buffett or a clergyman pledging 1,000% commitment. Of course, he left out the most off the wall and insane inflators of percentage, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul from American Idol. If a contestant is good, rarely will they be let through with anything less than 1,000,000 percent. In fact, if Paula (who, by the way, is crazier than a cage containing both Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson) really likes you, she'll pull out the made up numbers like one million bajillion percent. I'll say this right now, I'll never give more than 100%. Not because it's not possible (although it is) and not because it's stupid (although it is). It's because saying things like that actually makes you dumber. As Jackie Moon would say, "that's a fact."
-My mom just spent $4,000 on a machine that "makes water alkaline." According to people who don't have a chemistry degree, water is acidic. If you drink it, you'll die (slowly, but just the same). On the other hand, if you drink alkaline water, you'll cure your cancer, gangrene, mental illness, regular illness, and a whole host of other things. In fact, it's a miracle cure. According to people who have taken a chemistry class, it's a load of crap. As someone who has taken chemistry classes, I remember the last ionizing wave - that little ball you put in your laundry machine that ionized the dirt off your laundry and cleaned them without detergent. We had a good laugh at the idiots who bought that (and yes, my Mom was one of them) because it's sheer hucksterism. The difference here is that those laundry balls were only about $15 whereas this is 4 large. What's really amazing is that the actual science won't change people's minds here. When you say that it's impossible, they just roll their eyes and go on about how science can't explain the mysteries of the Orient. I would proffer another supposition: the mysteries of the Orient are the same mysteries of the guy from Nigeria who keeps trying to get his money out of the country. In a related story, I bought $2 worth of pH strips on to prove my point.
-We had caucus training this weekend and as usually happens, we talk politics afterward. One of my precinct chairs is insanely against illegal immigrants. (I think I've mentioned here in the past that he would put soldiers on the border in concrete towers manned with .50 caliber machine guns and a shoot on site policy. Apparently he thinks that the Berlin Wall was a great idea.) We talked about the LDS Church policy towards illegals (essentially "leave them be or help them out") and the Apostle who signed the letter representing the Church's position, M. Russell Ballard. We are both Mormons and he called Elder Ballard "a traitor to his country." He might disagree with the opinion, but that's a bit ridiculous. I suppose it's possible that he believes the Constitution is a higher authority than God's servants here on Earth, but why is he still a member if he believes that? Wouldn't calling Him out (assuming that you believe an official - or very close to official statement was infalliable) be a tipping point? I think that he's just a half a bubble off plumb in this area. It's opinions like that that drive illegals to become a permanent underclass, dependent on crime or criminals to survive. Let's get rid of the mote in our eye before we start going for the illegals' slivers.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The 50 Greatest Movies Of All Time: #18 Casino Royale

Let me first state that this is unequivocally the best Bond film ever. It was also for quite some time the most concerning Bond film. Daniel Craig was a different kind of Bond, and I don't mean that because he's got blonde hair. He's not the suave Bond that I was used to seeing, but instead rough around the edges and not very suave at all. When this came out, I was expecting a train wreck. Die Another Day was not even the best Bond story of 2004 (that honor would belong to Everything or Nothing, a video game), and the change in pace seemed ill-advised.

At the same time, it worked as no Bond film since the Sean Connory era has. Bond wasn't cheeky like the Roger Moore era Bond, he wasn't as cool under pressure as Pierce Brosnan, but he is definitely Bond. It started with a bang (and one of the best Bond film songs I can remember - most of them are terrible) and 007's first kills. It then goes through some incredible set pieces and a great story. Sure, things are somewhat slow during the poker game at the titular hotel in Montenegro, but I never really noticed it. They added a few things here and a few there to spice it up instead of just having them play cards the whole film and it worked wonderfully.
As much as it seems like it isn't possible, they updated Bond for the 21st Century. They made him relevant again when the end of the Cold War and the ever increasing FX budget that made Q's inventions crazier and crazier to the point where Bond's car actually disappeared. Instead of taking it up a notch again, they took it down a notch and gave us a stripped down Bond that's been missing since From Russia With Love. With the gadgets out of the way, they were able to focus on the first real relationship I've ever seen Bond have with someone. Vesper Lynd was the perfect Bond Girl for this film - she wasn't over the top gorgeous or seductive. Instead, she was a real person with real emotions.
There were several things that made this the best Bond ever. There was the focus on the basics, the great story, strong performances, and perfect scenes. The two that stick out are when Bond is tortured and when he catches up with Mr White at Lake Como. It's scenes like this that make the movie so much more than it otherwise would be. It's not only a great Bond movie, it's a great movie (#18 to be precise).

Sorro Goes To The Movies

I went and saw Vantage Point yesterday, a movie that has been acknowledged to be inspired by Rashomon, if Rashomon didn't have conflicting points of view and Japanese actors. It wasn't nearly as bad as the critics said (I think they think every movie should be art, and this certainly isn't. What it is is entertaining. Anyway, that wasn't what mattered as much as the trailers. It was interesting to see some non-Batman or Indiana Jones movies that were coming out.
The most interesting, and one that immediately jumped to my "must see" list is Defiance starring James Bond (Daniel Craig) and directed by Edward Zwick. I would say that this might be the first sure-fire Oscar contender of the year. Take a look at the trailer:

They showed the trailer for Wanted, a movie that looks like it is probably incredibly dumb, but you can't deny how cool the Angelina Jolie-driven Viper scoop is. It's impossible, but impossibly awesome. Take a look right towards the beginning here
Finally, there's the Iron Man trailer, which is a mixed bag. Up until Robert Downey, Jr is captured, it looks like a great mix of humor and comic book fun, but I don't see any of that afterwards. The jury is out on whether or not this will be great or not. I'm totally on the fence here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Quick Hits - Primaries, Racism, and Lawsuits

There's too many things I want to opine on today to confine my post to just one topic. Let's start with yesterday's primaries.
-Obama's win streak continued and McCain all but wrapped up the GOP nomination. On the Republican side, the combination of his pledged delegates and Romney's gifted delegates put him over the top. Huckabee is still blowing some smoke, but now is the time for him to shut up and suspend his campaign. The Democrats are still in the midst of a no-holds-barred steel cage delegate death match and the longer they are and the longer McCain has to bring the Republican party together, the better the chances of the GOP holding on to the White House. McCain is actually a very good candidate for them and they should be happy that he won. He's more electable than anybody else, in part because his Hispanic vote totals won't plummet towards the dreaded 0% barrier. On the Democrat side, it's going to be either a tough slog or an easy win for Obama. With Hillary Clinton pinning all her hopes on Ohio and Texas, those become make-or-break states for her. If she wins, the contest continues. If she loses, Obama's the nominee. The interesting thing with Obama is that he is the first Presidential candidate in over a generation to capture people's interest like he has. Since everybody loves comparing current candidates with past Presidents, Obama is akin to Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy, depending on which party you belong to. He's a big ideas and feelings candidate. Sure, he doesn't have a lot of real concrete ideas and proposals yet, but he's an incredibly captivating person. I love listening to him and as I have said many times, I wouldn't be disappointed if he was our Commander in Chief, even if I'd prefer McCain for the job.
-I'd like to get rid of the excessive cries of racism that the NAACP feels they can throw out if you misspeak at all. I'm surprised that the term Dark Lord in reference to Satan and/or other relatively evil people hasn't been hammered into the ground yet. We have a State Senator here in Utah named Chris Buttars and I don't know a lot about him - he's not my Senator. They've been discussing a bill up on Capitol Hill and everybody was saying it's some Senator's baby (in the same sense that my car is my baby and so forth). He said it was a black baby - a dark, ugly thing. Well, that meant it was time to sharpen the knives and go forward with some serious personal attacks. In reference to that, he then mentioned that he felt like he was being targeted by a hate lynch mob, which took it up another notch. Here's a story from the Salt Lake Tribune with a bit more background on the subject. In light of his comments combined with the golf magazine fiasco with the noose on the cover, it's abundantly clear that you can't refer to a lynching without it having racial overtones. Since when did the NAACP become the arbiter of what was and was not racist. Next thing you know, refering to separating your white and colored laundry will become a racist statement, never mind that you need to do it so your whites stay white (or in the case of some of my older whites, greyish). I fully expect something from them any day saying "Sorro's a racist - he's segregating his laundry!
-The Wall Street Journal had an article on the front page today about how stores are now siccing lawyers on people who have only appeared to have possibly shoplifted. It's an incredible article that equates these lawsuits to legal shakedowns. One instance of a man who had an $8.03 pack of drill bits that he had purchased earlier and happened to have in his pocket at a Home Depot was particularly appalling. He was nailed for shoplifting, they pulled the drill bits from him, and he had his wife produce the reciept for the earlier purchase. They dropped charges against him, but he then got a letter from a legal firm they retained for over $3000. He didn't pay and they sent a second letter for fees and penalties north of $6000. For $8 worth of merchandise that he didn't steal to begin with. Where will this end, because that's just ridiculous. The bigger problem is the lack of recourse against these companies. You have to hire a lawyer and start pushing back. If you don't have access to the WSJ story (which I hope isn't the case, because I got the URL through Google News to try and get around the paid WSJ walls for you), try to find it through something syndicated. It's one of the more incredible stories I've seen with a real potential to change something that could affect anyone who shops anywhere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesday Quick Hits

-I came across this little news story yesterday and all I have to say is that I hope it's going to be debunked. Al Pacino may be starring as the villain in the next Bond movie, Quantum of Solace. The problem here is that he doesn't fit the role at all. He's a fantastic actor, and I have loved him in so many of his movies (The Godfather I and II, Heat, Ocean's 13, etc), but this is not the film for him. Some of that might be because I'm too influenced by Frank Caliendo's impression of him, but after making the best Bond movie ever (#18 on my 50 Greatest Movies list), Casino Royale, I'd hate to have Daniel Craig be forced into making one of the potentially worst Bond movies ever.

-Fidel Castro's corpse gave up power in Cuba today. While his brother, Raul, is now in power (and has been for a while), this is a chance for the US to give up its counterproductive Cuban blockade. Let's open the country to US goods and services and let them see what capitalism will get them.
-What could be the final domino in the NBA trade season fell today when the Jason Kidd to Dallas for the Keith Van Horn pu-pu platter trade went through. The thing that blows my mind about this trade, other than the stupidity of it (and the Shaq-Matrix trade), is how long it's taken to get it finalized. First Devean George ensures that after this season is over, he'll be sent out of Dallas on a rail by refusing to be included in the trade so he won't renounce his Bird rights. My question is what good are those when Dallas won't re-sign you anyway? The answer: no good. Next, Jerry Stackhouse opens his big mouth and says he's going right back to Dallas, a giant middle finger to the NBA, which turns around and slams that finger in the car door. Finally, Dallas gathers together enough bad contracts, decent players, and bad players together to send them to the Nets and effectively double New Jersey's team size. I think at the end of the day Dallas and Phoenix aren't headed anywhere even with these emergency reaction trades. The interesting thing is that the Jazz started this with Kyle Korver back in December. KK is great, but these superstar deals are all a case of oneupsmanship that is a bit surprising to say the least.
-HD-DVD is dead, long live Blu-Ray! I'm glad there's finally a victor in the format wars because I've wanted to move to a next generation format for a couple of years. I always thought Sony would win (and said that putting the Blu-Ray player in the PS3 was a masterstroke, even though it crippled the console for at least a year), but it's nice to know if I buy a BR player I won't end up with the next Betamax.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Utah Legislature

On Saturday Morning I was fortunate enough in my capacity as a Legislative Chair here in Utah to hear what our Legislators were doing with their time up on Capitol Hill. I know that I wouldn't want this job, because it takes so much time out of your life not only while the Legislature is in session, but because it takes so much time out of your life while the Legislature is out of session. Add in the paltry pay, and it takes some truly dedicated public servants to fill these positions. I know several closely, and it only reinforces that opinion, even though there are some people who I know who think that some of them (especially my Legislator) are too liberal. Of course, one of those people thinks that I'm a socialist, so that's just how far right they are.
Anyway, we met with them for a report on what was happening and for a brief Q & A session. One thing that is certain is that at least among those who are very active, illegal immigration is so important of an issue that it's just sad. Representative Steven Sandstrom mentioned that in Orem City over the past 2 years there had been 4 homicides. That's not too shabby in a city of nearly 100,000 people. Of those 4, 3 were committed by illegal immigrants. That is such a ridiculously small sample size that it only served to polarize the debate further. Give me all the murders in the state of Utah and tell me what percentage was by illegal immigrants, that's a better indicator. His sample was the rough equivalent of me saying that 3 out of 4 loads of laundry my wife did over the past week were white. An idiot would assume that most of our clothes are white, however if you were to look at a good sample size, you would see that we have more like 60/40 colored/whites. Nevertheless, it told those who hate Mexicans exactly what they wanted to hear: illegals are evil and they should be taken care of post haste.
They also mentioned some non-illegal immigrant information, things like the state of I-15 reconstruction, the on-again/off-again causeway across Utah Lake, the hopeful transformation of Utah Lake from a festering bowl of dog snot to an actual nice lake, future water usage, and all sorts of other important topics. Of course, they did get some shots taken at them, notably by a Leg Chair who wants to know why Utah's roads stink as bad as they do considering how much we spend on them. They said that things actually aren't bad, at least on the state maintained roads. In general, I'd say they're right. We've famously got two seasons in Utah: winter and construction. There are some roads that aren't in good shape (University Parkway between Geneva Road and 200 West in Orem), but that has to do with the UDOT salt depository being at one end of the road and all the trucks coming out from there. That combined with our bad winters equals a terrible road. Of course, municipalities can do what they want with their roads, and where he's from (Payson) has some of the worst in the State. They could pass a law saying "no bad roads" but it would be as effective as some of their ridiculous resolutions (we resolve that violence in video games is bad, etc). That is the one big problem I have with them are these resolutions that don't do anything to further the state but to express an opinion. These are often passed at the expense of legitimate bills that could help the state out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Best Ad Campaign Ever

This isn't best in the "man this is funny" sense, it's the best in that it is the most effective that I've ever seen. I first saw it in The Wall Street Journal several months ago and it immediately caught my attention. I didn't think much about blogging it until I went to Tim Sanders' blog and saw his mention of it. The company is called LifeLock and the ad is always a variation of this:
"I'm Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock, and my Social Security Number is 457-55-5462"
That right there is the single most amazing thing I've ever seen in an ad. He's placed his identity right out there in front of everybody in the world and dared them to steal it. That's how confident he is in LifeLock. While I haven't signed up for it, I'm downright tempted to and I certainly think that it's the best anti-identity theft program out there. Take a look at their TV commercial for a little taste of the actual ad:

The 50 Greatest Movies Of All Time: #1 The 'Burbs

I've decided that I will have a series that appears every so often where I expound the virtues of the best movies ever. These movies are not critical favorites (although some are). They aren't moving (although some are). They are movies that, in my qualified opinion as a viewer of movies and a writer of blogs, are the best I've ever seen.

The 'Burbs
This is the greatest movie ever. I'll expound on that a bit later, but it features a pre-Oscar Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Corey Feldman, and late 80s/early 90s era That Guy Rick Ducommun (ze fat one). If you've ever been to the Universal Studios backlot, you may recognize their cul-de-sac as Main Street USA. You can tell that it wasn't given the highest budget, but the concept and execution were fantastic. There are so many little things that make this eminently rewatchable despite my wife's dictum that I can only watch it with her once a year.
The first is the great performances. While the characters are all quirky in their own way, you are thrust into being Ray Peterson, and you know the neighbors that he's dealing with - the nosy one, the paranoid one, and the guy who keeps his lawn better than everyone else that everybody secretly hates. The actors really get into the characters and you can tell that they're having a great time, even if the film wasn't Oscar material.
The music and sound effects are also incredible. The leitmotifs that Jerry Goldsmith included in the film, from Rumsfeld's Patton bugle call to the dark music of the Klopeks to Art's goofball music, add another dimension to the music and the movie. In addition, you haven't heard a great use of sound effects and the absence of sound until you've seen the scene in the Klopek's house where they meet for the first time. The sound of Ray eating the pretzel and sardine snack is priceless.
On top of that, it's directed by one of the most underrated directors of the past 20 years, Joe Dante. He specializes in horror style movies and mixes that with humor masterfully. I still maintain that Gremlins 2 was incredible, even if nobody else does. As a result, you can't pin the movie down very well, and I think part of that played into its poor reception and also subsequent cult classic status. It's readily available anywhere you find movies and I can't say enough how much you should see it. Classic scenes like when Art and Ray first go up to the Klopek's door and the very obvious Western influence when they approach the house, or when Art is eating over at the Petersen's house are worth the investment in time alone. You won't walk away feeling like you are a changed person or that there is more to life like some of the other 50 Greatest Movies, but you will be entertained and you will be wanting to go back to Mayfield Place for more, and in the end, isn't that what movies are all about?

Reason 1,286,945 Why I Love Japan

Naked Winter Festival. National Geographic won't let me embed it, but take a look at this festival. It makes the Polar Bear club look like a bunch of pansies.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We Have Our Nominee...

...and his name is John McCain. Mitt Romney clinched it for him by swinging his delegates from their current, Romney-pledged state to McCain. This effectively ends the primary season for Republicans and if I were Huckabee, I'd move behind McCain too at this point. If two previously bitter adversaries can reconcile, I don't see why everyone else in the party shouldn't do the same.
Why would Romney do this? I think there are a couple of reasons. One is the ever-present hope of not sitting around for 4 years. If McCain gives him a cabinet slot (Treasury, anyone?) that's one way to keep him in the national eye for a while longer. I think another reason is the simmering Huck-Mormon feud that has been fed by both sides. While Romney and McCain may not like each other much, McCain didn't go around besmirching Romney's religion. The third aspect is the heretofore unprecedented Democratic contest. If the Republican party can coalesce behind a single candidate months before the Democrats do, and if that candidate can appeal to independent voters (which McCain can), and if the loudmouth right will swallow their pride and start pushing McCain, the Republicans stand a chance of winning this thing. It's not the greatest chance in the world, but it's certainly a better one than the Giants had a few weeks ago against the Patriots.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Big Campaign News*

To revive his flagging campaign, Mike Huckabee announced his running mate today in a last-ditch attempt to get the Republican nomination outright.

*Note: This isn't real, although it might be plausible.

To show I'm an equal opportunity mocker, here's a great segment from The Colbert Report that mocks Mitt and my wing of Christendom:

Hat tip to Smash because I missed Colbert this night.

Wednesday Quick Hits and Primary Reaction

There were quite a few interesting articles in the news today, so I thought I'd share a few of them.

-The New York Times has an article (it may require free registration) about how important your diet is to your relationship. To some degree it seems like common sense, after all, who would want to have to give up meat to date somebody, but it has some interesting thoughts anyway. I know that my wife hates raw onions and so I've pretty much had to give them up. I suppose I could eat them, but then my kisses get to be few and far between. To me kisses>onions, so it's a simple mathematical equation.

-Mike Huckabee mentions in today's Salt Lake Tribune that he hasn't alienated Mormon voters. That, of course is a matter of opinion. I think most Mormons would agree that he has alienated them - I know I feel he has. He might be able to say he hasn't tried to alienate Mormons (which is true, he's just tried to beat Romney by hammering on his quirky belief system), but he can't speak for the 4+ million people out there who feel he's alienated them.

-Take a look at the most devastating paintball gun in the history of the world. This would be awesome!

-CNN tells us why we're not having as much sex as we should be. Every last one of those makes sense to me, especially the stuff in the bedroom one. Unless you're doing the cybersex thing...then it's a different story. We've had our room be a TV free zone since we got married and it's usually a computer-free room too. Of course, there are times when my wife's getting ready for bed that I have had my laptop up and running, perhaps because I didn't consider brushing our teeth foreplay like I should have.

-After McCain's sweep yesterday of the Potomac Primary, he's almost got the nomination all but locked up. Sure, he still needs 300+ delegates to be the official nominee, but the problem that Huckabee's got is that with one more primary win, McCain will have clinched at least a brokered convention. When you add his delegates to Romney's and Paul's, there is no way that he'll go out before then. There is a small chance that Huckabee will run the table, but that chance is slimmer than he was after he finished his diet. It's getting to the point where he ought to bow out gracefully and let the Democrats slug it out for a few more months of back-and-forth while McCain gets the party around him. In a related story, Joe Lieberman has endorsed McCain for President. I still say that even though Republicans would have heart attacks around the country, a McCain/Lieberman ticket would be a thing of beauty. It wouldn't be the mess that Adams/Jefferson were because Jefferson was the loser in that competition. Is there anything that could be a better way to bring the country together after a couple of decades of divisive politics than a unified party ticket?

-Obama has won every post-Super Tuesday contest and is actually ahead of Hillary Clinton in the delegate count. I think that Clinton only has one chance of winning, and that's a brokered convention. If she can tweak things so it goes to convention without a winner and then get Michigan and Florida's votes counted, putting her over the top, that's how she'll win. The big question I have is whether that's a smart policy or not. After all, pulling a dirty trick like that to force the first major non-David Palmer black presidential candidate out of the race is something that could sow dissention for a generation or more. All the beefs that minorities have with the GOP would be nothing compared to that, especially because Obama's the front-runner among all candidates.

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Contribution to Reality TV

Forro and I were going over this during one of our regular Costco runs, but we work with people who are awful venture capitalists. For those who are not in the know, a VC invests money in a business in exchange for something, usually a stake in the company. When the company hits it big, they cash out big. Think of it as a supercharged loan vehicle. Anyway, here's a list of projects that The Big Three have invested in with their investment results:

A self-help product: $-75,000
Lipo-dissolve: -$20,000
A pyramid scheme: -$14,000
Compact Disc products: -$150,000 (and counting)
Industry software: $0 (and counting)

Some of these are actually pretty good things. The self help product could have provided some solid return if they stuck to their guns with the founder of the company. Instead they decided to give in to his demands and pretty soon those demands turned into "give me your money and I will use it and you will get nothing." Lipo-dissolve was a little before its time and they didn't have the patience for it, the pyramid scheme was a Ponzi that collapsed right as they got in, and the CD and software stuff still has the jury out. I don't know what it is about them that causes this (perhaps it's the oil/water mix of one person who just slaps stuff on a wall and calls it good and two people who sit and theorize and never move - that's not dynamic tension), but for some reason it's the case. As a result, I would like Mark Burnett to take a listen and then give me a little something when he makes it into a hugely successful show.
I give you The World's Worst Venture Capitalists! Unlike most reality shows, the winner is actually the loser. It's like Brewster's Millions only weekly and without Richard Pryor. Let's say that every contestant (let's do 16 for uniformity's sake) got $100,000 to invest in the company of their choice. These people could be a mix of average people, actual VCs, or monkeys. You get them to invest in a company that they think will do poorly. The companies they invest in don't think that they're betting on disaster, but the audience knows better. The contest runs covertly for probably 6 months to a year with contestants booted off by someone (heck, let's get Trump) every quarter of the competition, 4 at a time. We'll follow their decision making process and what their money is being used for and the culture of the company they invest in. The winner gets a half a million bucks to invest wherever they want. I'd watch this, and I actually have 3 contestants to start with.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


As Zombie Shakespeare asked in The Simpsons, "is this the end of [Mitt Romney]?" Apparently it is for 2008. With his exit and his acrimonious campaign with John McCain, you have to ask if his political career is over too. You can never say never as even Walter Mondale (the candidate, not the Navy laundry ship) made a comeback, but Mitt has some serious obstacles in his path. His terrible relationship with McCain makes it difficult to be either a running mate or a cabinet member. He could go back to Massachusetts, but would he get elected again? He cut and ran in 2006 to lay the foundation for his Presidential bid and I really don't see him becoming Governor again. He could go back to Bain Capital and make a boatload of money, and that's not a bad option for a lifestyle. It is terrible for his political career though. He will forever be known as essentially his father...serious Mormon candidate who didn't get his party's nomination. When will the next serious Mormon candidate come along and will he overcome what felled Romney?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


I haven't posted about the Utah Jazz much recently, in part because during December they were dreadful and also because my sports coverage here is rather dreadful as this isn't a sports blog (although I'm free to start one if ESPN will toss some cash my way). Nevertheless, after the December to remember, the Jazz turned it around with the Kyle Korver trade. I don't care what anybody says, this trade could have been the 2007 equivalent of Jeff Malone for Jeff Hornacek. The key here was getting rid of Gordan Giricek's Expiring Contract. Korver himself was a bonus (and what a bonus - his 3 point shooting, white guy status, and free throw shooting ability would make him a mortal lock as Future Hornacek if it wasn't for his Ashton Kutcher looks) but Giricek was locker room poison. Korver himself seems to be, in addition to a solid player, a great glue guy. He came in not looking for minutes, just supporting the team, and the minutes took care of themself. I think it's hurt Ronnie Brewer a bit, but if they're both comfortable with their roles, I don't see any reason why the current 1/3 and 2/4 setup where they each get half the game shouldn't continue to work. He's opened the floor up some more and that combined with the resurgence of Mehmet Okur (coincidentally it was right around the Giricek trade) means things are roses and the Jazz can actually beat a team on the road, and a good team like Denver at that. I think that the Giricek-Korver trade might have been a bit of inspiration for Phoenix with the Marion-Shaq trade. Sure, it just blew up the team, but if the Matrix was as poisonous as Giri was here, it could work out well for them even though he doesn't fit their style at all.
Back to the Jazz for a moment...they've beaten 2 of the top 8 teams in the West back-to-back. I have constantly looked at Hollinger's Power Rankings and seen the Jazz up towards the top even though they really stunk for a while. Now they're number 2 and it seems legit. This team here could certainly challenge anybody in the playoffs and barring a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs somewhere (for some unknown reason the Jazz haven't won in San Antonio since the invention of the automobile) I could see them go all the way. Of course, this is all subject to change as the West is just a beast of tough to get through. It's why the proposal I've seen floating around to just take the top 16 teams period and have them play towards the Finals isn't a bad idea. It defeats the purpose of East/West for anything other than minimizing travel, but when you have such a weak East (and weak for the forseeable future - if the National League is AAAA, the East is whatever is between the NBDL and the NBA) it makes things a little more fair.

Monday, February 04, 2008

GA Keno

While it's not on record, I have to say that I called it! What did I call? The new First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Forro and I play a little game that I like to call General Authority Keno. I call it this because we call the leaders of our church General Authorities and because, like keno, you place bets on individual slots, in this case, the pictures of members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and first and second Quorums of the Seventy. Because that would be downright semi-sacreligious as our church specifically says not to gamble, we play for bragging rights and perhaps the occasional meal. Anyway, before they are called, we place bets on who will be called to the next open position (upon the death of one of the other Apostles). I have a pretty good record on this, I'm at around .500, with both of my good calls Elder (now President) Uchdorf. He just made sense. At any rate, I do declare that I am placing bets on Elder Yoshi Kikuchi and Elder Carlos Arroyo, both members of the First Quorum of the Seventy on the new vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve. Of course, those of you who aren't Mormons who read the blog may not care about this. I guess it would be the equivalent of Pope Keno if you were Catholic and placing bets on the cardinals who would become pope.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Mary Magdalene and the Divinity of Christ

My wife and I just got finished watching The Da Vinci Code while we've been here in the hospital and as a big fan of the novel as well, I got thinking about one of the central tenets of the book, that Mary was the Holy Grail and the impact that would have on things, specifically on people's faith. Would it shake people's faith to the core, or would it reawaken it for some people. As a Mormon, I don't think it would do much. We believe that Christ was our example in all things. Because we are commanded to "multiply and replenish the Earth" and because marriage is a divine and good thing and something that most people should do, it stands to reason that Christ would be married. Moreover, it's pretty logical just from the four gospels alone that if He was married, it would probably have been to Mary Magdalene. Whether they had children or not is something that may or may not be accurate (although the Merovingians had claimed that blood line) because what a burden that would have been. Can you imagine going to a job interview and having somebody say "tell me about yourself." "Um...well, I'm the son of the Savior of all mankind, I ski, and I love monkeys." How awkward would that be for somebody? Also, how difficult would that be? It's bad enough being the scion of a noteworthy or wealthy family, but to have the blood of the Son of God running through your veins is another thing all together.
I could see how it would shake some faiths, because when you look at some of the teachings of the Catholic church, priests would get angry. "You mean I took a vow of celibacy for nothing?!" That's right, you'd have anarchy. One thing is certain however, that if you believe Christ was divine, marriage wouldn't challenge that. What would is if he slept around outside the bonds of marriage. That would do it because it's something that is specifically preached against in the scriptures, whereas marriage constantly is sanctioned with the occasional "you don't have to be married" or "not married? Good for you" quote.