Friday, September 26, 2008

This Is Surprising How?

I was at Las Vegas Airport this week when I saw People Magazine drop its latest bombshell: Clay Aiken is gay.  Who will they out next?  Dumbledore?  Nathan Lane? 
I have to say that this is the least surprising revelation from this bastion of journalism since their exclusive with Adolf Hitler.

The Root of the Problem

This is a nice video that explains what caused the housing market problems that are threatening our economy right now. The author takes a bit too much of an anti-Democrat stance, but nevertheless, he gets right to the point: these failures are a direct result of the government pushing home ownership at all costs, to the detriment of the nation as a whole. It's why I am of mixed mind about the bailout idea. Because of my libertarian mindset, I think it's ridiculous, but at the same time they caused it as much or more than these other companies, so they should fix it. I would say that part of that fix involves that correction that gets people out of homes if they can't afford it instead of allowing the rest of society to prop them up, but that won't win elections and is thus very unfeasible.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Awesome Ad

My wife was listening to the radio here in Vegas and heard an ad for a strip ("gentlemen's") club.  Their tag line?
"At Bada Bing, we take care of your thing."  While I'm not a fan of the club, that's awesome right there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Is This The End of Candidate McCain?

While I hate to write off my preferred candidate for President, the whole economic mess we're in at the moment certainly doesn't bode well for John McCain.  Let me just say that while I think he is the comeback kid, and he's come back from worse (for example, trimming his campaign down to the bare bones and somehow coming back from the dead to win the GOP nomination), I really think if these trends continue, it will make it even more difficult for a Republican to become president.  That doesn't mean it's impossible, just highly improbable.  You didn't hear it here first, but I will concede what should be conceded...the Wall Street mess is most likely the last nail in John McCain's coffin.  That didn't stop Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, or the Mummy though.  Nevertheless, none of them were down by 4 points in the Gallup running poll, fighting the specter of President Bush, and running against an historic candidate (both in experience level and in the fact that he's an amazing speaker...oh yeah, and he's a minority) for the Presidency of the United States.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Random New Sidebar Element

I just saw this sidebar element pop up and so I added it. Near as I can tell it acknowledges you as someone who follows this blog and perhaps links back to you. Yeah...I can't really think of anything else that it does. Nevertheless, become a groupie. Everyone who's anyone is doing it!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Entrance Theme

One of the things that I loved at the Indians game I went to was intro music.  That got me thinking about what I wanted to have as my intro music.  While I won't have a flunky walking around with me with a boom box or something, it'd be somewhat cool as long as I didn't get Peter Griffined.  I'm still completely undecided on this, which is why I started the post back after the Indians game and haven't finished it yet.  Let's turn this out to the public.  We could also use the ringtone test.  Would this be a rocking ringtone if I called you?
  • No words.  Words are fine in some senses, but I think I'd prefer a cool instrumental.  Vocalizations that aren't necessarily words count towards no words.
  • It has to be cool.  I don't want to get stuck with something ridiculous like the Forrest Gump theme (ridiculous from a theme for me perspective, not from an actual theme music perspective).
  • Villain themes need not apply.  Sorry, I'm not Darth Vader.
  • Iconic.  I want something that's memorable enough for people to start humming it if they're like my wife and get songs stuck in their heads all day.  Of course, if it's too iconic, it's known for the movie.  I'll use Chariots of Fire for the example here.
  • A good short clip - an entrance theme doesn't work if you've been in the room for 10 minutes and it's still playing.  I'm thinking 30 seconds of music, max.
Some possible choices:
"Gladiator Waltz" from Gladiator, specifically around 7.29-7.38
The Enzyte theme.  Sorry, this just rocks even if it's comedic.
"Burn it All" from Backdraft...from 0.00-0.37
The Contender (TV Show) main theme...from 0.15-0.46
"Roll Tide" from Crimson Tide 2.03-2.27
"A Dark Knight" from The Dark Knight 1.55-2.30
"Battle Without Honor or Humanity" from Kill Bill (you'd have to mix this around a bit to get it to fit how I'd want it)
"Rock You Like a Hurricane" by Scorpions (the instrumental opening)
Do you have any other suggestions or votes for any of these keeping in mind my criteria?
Most of these can be listened to over at Napster Free, so if you feel the urge, help me choose my theme song.  Thanks!

Spoilers Gone Wild XII

This was just outside of Albertson's yesterday - a classic rice rocket if I've ever seen one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Corporate Welfare State

Over the past couple of weeks there has been a massive shift in the US markets.  The Federal Government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two largest home mortgage lenders in the market.  Then on top of that they bailed out AIG yesterday to prevent its bankruptcy.  Meanwhile, they stood on the sidelines and allowed Lehman Brothers to enter Chapter 11.  The interesting thing about that there are a lot of interesting things. 
First and foremost is the US government's increasing role in the private market.  They have an 80% equity stake in AIG, one of the world's largest insurers.  They control Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and therefore most mortgages in this nation.  That is a massive surge in US involvement in the free market.  Suddenly we're looking like Italy.  They're busy tossing taxpayer money into a bottomless pit called Alitalia all for the prestige of having a national airline.  The Italian government has done this in the past, but this is the most ridiculous prestige project they could worry about...having Alitalia be Italian doesn't help anybody.  At the same time, the US is propping up companies that are significant parts of the economy.  If Fannie, Freddie, or AIG failed, it would be a shock that wouldn't just reverberate around the US, but around the world.
Second is the massive change in economic concerns that we are seeing.  Just a month ago we were concerned about inflation.  Now it's deflation.  While the Fed has kept rates the same (at what was certainly an inflationary level before the oil spike deflated), it's done a few things.  One is that it didn't help the housing bubble to ease - it popped, and even a Fed Funds rate at 0 wouldn't have helped.  Private lenders' rates are what matters, and there hasn't been a good correlation between those rates and the Fed rate since the Fed started easing it to prevent the popping of the mortgage bubble.  Companies saw decreasing land values and credit on those loans dried up.  Of course, there's still the matter of all those securitized mortgages floating around.  They've killed several small banks, Fannie, Freddie, Bear Stearns, Lehman, Merrill Lynch, and AIG.  Washington Mutual seems to be close to failing, and Wachovia may not be far behind.  I think that we still might have a few shocks left, and we could be in for some Japanese-style general malaise.  That's not to say that we'll be standing in bread lines and looking for fruit picking jobs like The Grapes of Wrath, but there will be discontent, some general malaise, and stock market losses.  Of course, at the same time, banks and other companies are writing these losses off much quicker than they did in Japan, so perhaps we'll get through the pain and get back to business.  One thing the government has shown is that they won't allow everything to go down the tubes for the sake of staying out of the market.  That's a good thing and a necessary thing.  Fortunately we do get collateral for our investments and hopefully they will turn a profit like the airline bailout in 2001 did.  Nevertheless, I do expect some more shocks before this is all over.  Now that housing and oil have burst...what's the next investment that will?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spoilers Gone Wild X and XI

Forro takes a look at the spoler on the back of this Civic.  In case you didn't notice that it was, in fact, a Honda it spells it out for you on the front windshield.  It also has a large Honda logo on the back windshield.  As Superintendent Chalmers says, "why would you drive a Honda if you can't show it off?"

This Subaru WRX does have something going for it - it's the GTI edition, so it's got some extra power under the hood...that makes the first spoiler almost acceptable.  The problem is that it has that second spoiler at the top of the windshield.  That's just uncalled for on any vehicle.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Another Awesome IT Tale

It's stories like this that turn IT people into Nick Burns, I swear.  So I'm walking past her desk and an employee asks me "What's my e-mail address?"  She asks me this even though she's been using e-mail for years with us and should know her own e-mail address better than I.  I told her and she promptly asked me again.  I repeated the answer, spelling it out for her.  She then asked me if she needed capital letters or not.  I said that it didn't matter, either way would get it to the right place.  I found out later that she asked one of my support people to help her with her e-mail address a scant 5 minutes later.  Am I being picky, or is that the height of idiocy?

Spoilers Gone Wild VI, VII, VIII, IX

These are from my sister Troy who has taken to looking for spoilers at every opportunity.  Here are 3 that she came across:

The Dodge Neon - I think this is factory installed, which is somewhat against my general Spoilers Gone Wild rule, but you need this on a Neon?
The ever-popular Mitsubishi Lancer spoiler is seen here, but without the typical glass pack or mismatched paint job.
Spoilers like this have no business on the Ford Focus, even with Ford itself saying that the Focus is their tuner car.  It's only a tuner car if you're a complete square.
Finally Troy got me this bright orange spoiler on a bright orange Mitsubishi Eclipse.  Not only does the driver have to draw attention to his car with the color, but also with the whole "I'm taking up 2 lanes" driving style he's using.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spoilers Gone Wild V

Nothing says "Mid-life Crisis" like putting a spoiler on a minivan.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Spoilers Gone Wild IV

Mid 90's Honda?  Check.
Mismatched paint job?  Check.
Lowered suspension?  Check.
Ridiculously large touring wing on a vehicle that doesn't need it?  Check.

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain's Big Speech

I'm curious about other people's opinions about McCain's big speech, because I thought it was great.  I don't know if I'm in the majority or not though.  6 hours of windbags from every cable channel imaginable haven't cleared the fog, so I'm looking elsewhere.  Of course, I didn't have high expectations - McCain's not that good of a "speechificator," so showing up and not devouring the Code Pink demonstrators might have been above expectations for me.  Here, in convinient list form, is what I thought:
The Good
  • His personal story.  Certainly it's more compelling than any candidate since Bob Dole (although Dole never really shared his), and perhaps even moreso.  A young punk turned patriot from 5 years in a North Korean gulag?  You can't beat that
  • His change message.  Here's why I believe him.  I know he's tacked right on a lot of issues since he's been running, but there are a few things that get me to believe that this is more of the McCain that I know from his years in the Senate.  He didn't just spill Democratic blood out there at the podium, he also tossed knives at the GOP for being big spending, big government, me first morons as well.  I loved that.  I loved it because it's absolutely true.  That's why the Republicans lost in 2006 more than any other issue.  If you've got a Republican and a Democrat and both are Democrats in a lot of the ways that matter, why vote for the Republican?  They promised to sweep Washington with the broom of reform, but instead they got government bigger and spent all our money on ridiculous pet projects.  I think my favorite line was where McCain said that he'd veto the first pork-laden bill to cross his desk, and then he'd let us all know exactly what pork was in there and who it was for.
  • His general ideas.  Those are all things that I can get behind.
The Bad
  • McCain's not a great public speaker.  He did okay, but just okay in that respect.  It was better than expected, but worse than a really good orator.
  • The green screen behind him.  Seriously, those screens didn't work too well in my opinion.  Give me a little more visual punch!
  • His general ideas.  The key word there is general.  They were somewhat specific, but not really specific.  I'd have liked some more fleshing out and less Clintonesque "I feel your pain."
The Ugly
  • Code Pink.  All you did was make McCain seem more level-headed and sympathetic.  Bravo, my friends.  Bravo.

Jesus Is More Than Alright With Them

Thanks to Scott at Spiritual Tramp for pointing this video out.  Here's an amazing 80s tune from a band called Sonseed.  The real question is if it is better than the Swedes.  I say the video definitely isn't...but the song might be:

Jesus is my friend by "Sonseed" from Peleg Top on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin's a Whalin'

From The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid:
The Sara Palin speech generated 37.2 million viewers, just a 1.1 million viewers short of Barak Obama’s record-breaking speech on Day 4 of the Democratic Convention. The Palin speech was carried on only six networks while the Obama speech was carried on ten (including BET, TV One, Univision and Telemundo).
I have to say that's pretty impressive.  It also show's McCain was shrewder than I would've thought with this pick, thorough vetting or not.  Whether this translates to a poll bump is another question all together.

Another nice piece from the WSJ's Best of the Web:

But the mystery of the "community organizer's" job description was solved this morning, when an Obama campaign email, signed by the delightfully named David Plouffe, popped into our inbox. It is worth quoting at length:
I wasn't planning on sending you something tonight. But if you saw what I saw from the Republican convention, you know that it demands a response.  I saw John McCain's attack squad of negative, cynical politicians. They lied about Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and they attacked you for being a part of this campaign.  But worst of all--and this deserves to be noted--they insulted the very idea that ordinary people have a role to play in our political process.  You know that despite what John McCain and his attack squad say, everyday people have the power to build something extraordinary when we come together. Make a donation of $5 or more right now to remind them.  Both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin specifically mocked Barack's experience as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago more than two decades ago, where he worked with people who had lost jobs and been left behind when the local steel plants closed.  Let's clarify something for them right now.  Community organizing is how ordinary people respond to out-of-touch politicians and their failed policies.  And it's no surprise that, after eight years of George Bush, millions of people have found that by coming together in their local communities they can change the course of history. That promise is what our campaign has been about from the beginning.
That's right--community organizing consists of helping elect Barack Obama president! This fits right in with Obama's claim, noted here yesterday, that he is more qualified to be president than Palin is to be vice president because, whereas she has run a mere town, he has run a campaign for himself.
The community Barack Obama has organized is, in Plouffe's own telling, the community of those who admire Barack Obama. He is mayor of Obamaville and aspires to be president of Barackistan. At the center of it all is a man who, like Hans Christian Andersen's naked emperor, may or may not believe that his veneer of accomplishment is real.
I don't necessarily think that Obama's accomplishments are less than Palin's (after all, they're on two different scales of accomplishment), but the email from Obama's campaign and James Taranto's response are gold.

Spoilers Gone Wild II and III

Here are two more examples snapped while I've been out and about.  The Subaru isn't ridiculous in that it is a rally car (the WRX).  It is ridiculous in that it is humongous.
The Mazda Protege actually doesn't look too bad with a spoiler, it's more ridiculous that it's on a Protege.  It's a car that's a lot of things, but one of those things isn't needing a spoiler.

McCain's Veep Pick

No catchy title here, but since I was traveling and out of town over the weekend when McCain announced that Sarah Palin was his Vice Presidential running mate.  First of all, I was shocked.  I couldn't believe that he would choose someone with as little experience when he'd been pounding experience on Obama for months.  At first glance, I saw a pick that was designed to try to exploit the Hillary/Obama gap and little else. 
Now that the dust has settled a bit, I see her as a pick that aims to do something else entirely.  She isn't here to get independents or women necessarily...she's a pick who's there to mollify the conservative base.  That's been one of McCain's consistent problems this entire election cycle - the right doesn't trust him.  Sure, he's saying the right things, but we all know that talk is cheap.  He's been around Washington too long and done too much for people to say "this new McCain is Bush lite."  It's one reason why I think Obama's lines about how a McCain presidency is a 3rd Bush term is ridiculous.  Everybody knows John McCain and he's no George Bush.  At any rate, Sarah Palin is an unknown with solid conservative credentials and a rock solid conservative record.  She has the reformer/crusader credentials for McCain but the social credentials for the base. I think the moment that I decided McCain made this move for his base was when Glenn Beck said that this was the pick that would get him to pull the lever for McCain.  He might get some women voters, but he's solidified his voters which allows him to tack to the center for the remainder of the election.
One other advantage of Palin: she can beat the crap out of Obama and Biden and if they hit back, they'll look like schmucks.  This wasn't the case with Hillary, but with Palin you can't hit her hard.  You can stomp on McCain's face and it's all politics, but the minute you pull out something like the word shrill (what Harry Reid called her speech last night), you've got every single woman in the media running to her defense, despite the fact that she just eviscerated them too.  That's a powerful defense, even if it's ridiculous.
Can I also say that I really like McCain's campaign slogan ("Country First")?  I think that McCain has personified this (even if he's wrong at times) and I love seeing someone who cares more about the country than their political career.  Not that just because he has this slogan it makes it so, but I think that that's absolutely how he feels.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

My Sweeping Generalization of the Day

People who drive SUVs are pretty much the most oblivious and therefore worst drivers on the road.

Thanks for the Blackmail, Warren

It's always great when your utility company decides to blackmail you.  From today's Tribune:
Rocky Mountain Power is giving Utahns an ultimatum: Give us the money we want or we won't give you the electricity you need.  The company that three weeks ago received permission from state utility regulators to raise its rates by $36.1 million, or 2.6 percent, now says that isn't nearly enough. And if it doesn't get more, Utah must face the consequences.  "This isn't a threat," Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Dave Eskelsen said. "When the laws of man go against the laws of physics, the laws of physics always win. And generating electricity is all about physics..."
Rocky Mountain Power said that beginning Sept. 15 when its customers' power goes out it isn't going to authorize any of its employees to work overtime to get the electricity back up. It also is going to cut back on the maintenance of its system and will implement a hiring freeze for any positions that involve serving customers.
It's nice to know that the money Rocky Mountain Power is getting from its customers to help its shareholders will go into the Warren Buffett Charitable Trust whereby he can help poor people in the future. Perhaps he could earmark some of that trust money back to Utah's utility customers to pay the extortion request of his company?