It's like Mardi Gras meets the bombing of Dresden...
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Great Article on the UN
Here it is. Also, does anyone have any good reasons why countries like North Korea should even be allowed in the UN?
Party like a Rock Star
My job yesterday was to play in an outing one of our members hosted. I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say I got paid to play 27 holes of golf and get wicked drunk off free beer handed out by strippers... who did what strippers do. I then had to sober up enough to do the scoreboard, before going out to the after event party at said member's house. Going to parties hosted by rich people ROCKS. All the food and drink is free (and served by an actual chef and bartender), the women are hot, and I can watch former professional athletes lose 25k on a single pool game before inviting me on a free trip to Vegas provided I can fly out that night (I couldn't). However, the down side is I'm now sitting in the golf shop at seven in the morning and I feel like crap.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Update on my Truck
Currently, my truck is still laid up at the Acura dealership awaiting $1400 worth of brake repairs, which would basically eliminate all the money I've saved working seven days/65 hours a week since May at two different jobs. Despite my staunch conservatism, I actually felt a touch of pity for low wage workers as I identified with their struggles to save money. Luckily, I make up for my poverty with a surplus of charisma, and my man Guido is hooking me up with all wholesale parts and then knocking up to $200 off my total bill, which is totally sweet. Also, to make resulting $700 bill sting a little less- he lent me this. Go ahead and click on that link (just a picture)- it's worth it.

To make the deal even sweeter, I get a full tank of gas and I don't have to refill it before I turn it back in. I was thinking about writing an ode to my loaner car yesterday, but I decided to hold off until the newness wore off and I could be more objective. So, a day later, I've decided my 2005 Acura TSX is totally awesome. It's like a mix between Rick Santorum's family values and the sex appeal of the Bush daughters, it can swerve left to right faster than Hillary Clinton on her quest to purge video games of sex and violence, and it's fast enough to knock old ladies over in its wake. I don't think this is true, but for now I'm assuming it can also stop conversation with the same effectiveness as any of my comments over here. Lastly, playing with the TipTronic Transmission is as fun as it... well... playing with a TipTronic transmission should be. The only problem is that XM radio sucks just as much as normal radio- right wing talk shows still have way more commercial breaks than attention grabbing debate.

Other than that, I accidentally smashed a tree frog with a hammer today while pounding in some stakes at the golf course. It crawled out of the end of the pvc pipe (probably irritated by the banging) right into a five pound rubber mallet and exploded all over my favorite pants that I bought the other day at Express for Men. I almost threw up.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
It's no Panera Bread, but having internet access at the Acura dealership while my car gets worked on is TITS! Also, everyone else in the waiting room is old (Imagine that- old people at a luxury car dealership in Florida)- so I can hog the internet without feeling like a dick. Lest you think I have an Acura, my boss/friend Darren grew up with a guy named Guido (yes he's mexican) and he is hooking me up on repairs to my truck. Anyway, I wanted to check out Maddox but it's filtered under the category "tasteless" by Acura's screening program- apparently its obvious that I don't deserve to drive an Acura, since I don't fit the image.

I watched the space shuttle take-off this morning. We gathered up all the kids from the Junior camp and made them watch the sky about the time that it was scheduled to go off. Being over a hundred miles away from the launch site, it was easily the most anti-climactic thing I've ever experienced, narrowly beating out the third installment in the Matrix trilogy. I thought watching the equivalent of $500 million burn up in the upper atmosphere would give me some kind of visceral thrill- filling me up with pride at the success of capitalism from the sternum to the gonads. However, a recent phone conversation with redhurt has opened my eyes to the demand for moon rocks and the apparent desire of Asians to blast ashes of their relatives into space... so I'll withdraw my comment that for the most part shuttle missions are worthless.

Oh yeah, and the most tragically ironic thing ever has happened with four men killed at a boy scout jamboree by putting up a tent directly under some electrical wires. I thought that was the type of stuff you were supposed to learn NOT to do at boy scouts...
Monday, July 25, 2005
007 No Longer the Only Brit with a License to Kill
I'm sure by now that everyone who reads this is already aware of the shooting of a Brazilian terror suspect [in the head... repeatedly] in London. Rather than rehash his suspected suspiciousness and argue over its justifiability (and possibly the definition of "justified") I am more interested in how the advent of suicide bombers in the west is going to change the definition of reasonable force. Alan Combs on "Hannity and Combs" questioned whether it was necessary for London police to "shoot to kill" when Jean Charles de Menezes took off for the subway wearing a heavy, padded coat after ignoring orders to stop, within days of previous bombings and with said bombers still at large. However justifiable this one may be, I suspect that most cases in the future will not be as defensible as this. If the exact same thing happened in New York City, Detroit or Los Angeles (cities plagued by police abuse allegations), with or without a prior bombing, I don't believe that you could find many officers willing to make that decision and risk the lynching of them personally and their organization. Also, the very nature of suicide bombers would demand that deadly forced be used to stop them, as I would think a wounded bomber would be even more likely to blow himself up, and that racial profiling be used to determine when such force should be used. Thoughts?
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Racial Profiling, The Pope, and The Half-Blood Prince
In an extremely bold, calculated move the NYPD has pledged to ignore racial profiling as they start their anti-terror screenings on mass transit. However, civil liberty watchdogs are worried that the searches won't be random enough. These searches "can invite the possibility of racial, ethnic or religious profiling," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "The plan is not workable and will not make New Yorkers more secure, but will inconvenience them." Well, Donna got it half-right. The searches will certainly not make any one more secure, and will inconvience a large number of New Yorkers. However, this can be quickly remedied by making racial profiling the KEY CRITERIA of random searches. It is ridiculous that the American city with the closest ties to the War on Terror can seriously believe that Al-Zarqawi is just as likely to convince Jeremiah Jose MacGiovanelli, a fourth generation Jewish,Irish, Spanish and Italian jewelry appraiser, to carry thirty pounds of explosives onto a subway in his $600 Italian leather calfskin briefcase as Muhammed Al-Hussein (I'm not quite as good with random Arab names), a Jordanian on a student visa.

"Ugh, Freakin' Idiots!"

The article also substantiated the stance against profiling with anonymous commuter comments such as this. "“I’m a little uncomfortable with it. I just don't want it to be an issue where people are being targeted for unsuspicious reasons – because of what they look like or possibly think they may be carrying (I think those are the two things we should look for- unsavory Arab characters carrying too much luggage),” said one commuter. “But if it makes people feel safer then I guess it is worth it. No, [I don’t think it will be effective].”" If I know New York people (and I do- I roomed with two and half of my college is from NYC), the author most likely heard ten comments along the lines of, "Get those towelhead jabronis off the f'in train" before she sought out some hairy, unwashed hippie to give her some anemic quote about profiling.

Anyone who doesn't think racial profiling makes sense is an idiot. Most stereotypes are grounded in reality- it makes sense to stop young, black males for violent crime, seedy middle aged white guys for pedophilia or serial killing, or Asians if reports of reckless driving and/or ninja are involved. I'm sure everyonce in a while an exception will be found like a black sniper or a French shoe-bomber- BUT random searches are about playing the averages.

Moving on, in response to the bombings in Egypt, the Pope has denounced them as "senseless acts" and has tried to appeal to terrorists to renounce violence. If that works, then using Ted Nugent to appeal to PETA is the next logical step...

Lastly, I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Any negative impression I got over the first hundred or so pages was quickly erased, so sticking with my pictoral theme...

"Harry Potter is most excellent!"
Friday, July 22, 2005
Victor Hanson
I liked this article by Victor Hanson, and I'll post a few of the paragraphs I found interesting...
It turns out that the jihadists were cowards and bullies, and thus selective in their targets of hatred. A billion Chinese were left alone by radical Islam — even though the Chinese were secularists and mostly godless, as well as ruthless to their own Uighur Muslim minorities. Had bin Laden issued a fatwa against Beijing and slammed an airliner into a skyscraper in Shanghai, there is no telling what a nuclear China might have done.

India too got mostly a pass, other than the occasional murdering by Pakistani zealots. Yet India makes no effort to apologize to Muslims. When extremists occasionally riot and kill, they usually cease quickly before the response of a much more unpredictable angry populace....

Islamicists are selective in their attacks and hatred. So far global jihad avoids two billion Indians and Chinese, despite the fact that their countries are far tougher on Muslims than is the United States or Europe. In other words, the Islamicists target those whom they think they can intimidate and blackmail.

Unfettered immigration, billions in cash grants to Arab autocracies, alliances of convenience with dictatorships, triangulation with Middle Eastern patrons of terror, blaming the Jews — civilization has tried all that.

It is time to relearn the lessons from the Cold War, when we saw millions of noble Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, and Czechs as enslaved under autocracy and a hateful ideology, and in need of democracy before they could confront the Communist terror in their midst.

But until the Wall fell, we did not send billions in aid to their Eastern European dictatorships nor travel freely to Prague or Warsaw nor admit millions of Communist-ruled Bulgarians and Albanians onto our shores.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Quarter Life Crisis
Apparently, I'm old. I didn't think I was, but I keep experiencing small zen-like moments where I realize the image I have of myself differs greatly from the image other people see. If it isn't kids at golf camp guessing my age at thirty or asking me if I'm married, it's some random guy walking up to me while I'm standing in close proximity to a four-year old child, and asking, "Is he yours?" I'm not sure if it's that I actually look that old, or if all people between the ages of 18-30 look the same age to old people, in the same way that I can't tell Jackie Chan from Chow Yun Fat.

I mean, granted I'd rather blog about politics than see how fast my truck can go, and I did fall asleep at nine the other night watching a senate sub-committee meeting on C-Span, but still ... I'd rather build a fort out of couch cushions and read Harry Potter (my roommate bought the new one, yes!) or play videogames until I develop that mysterious eye twitch than do... whatever it is that old people do.

Speaking of Harry Potter, I'm a little disappointed with the sixth book so far. I'm not sure if Rowling is content with her six gabillion dollars or if she is under a ton of pressure to kick more books out, but Ministry of Magic politics are starting to resemble the post 9/11 political landscape a bit excessively I feel. Whether this is what she originally had in mind, or if she just feels compelled to make some heavy-handed symbolism in order to attract an older audience, I like it less...

One more note- I just read The Second Coming by Walker Percy. Although it came heavily recommended by redhurt, I didn't get that much out of it. Granted, there are numerous times where Percy is right on in some issues, but I think (and I could be exposing myself as a literary philistine here) I would have had a much better time reading the book had he thrown in a quotation mark... or ten.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Vampires, Intelligent Design and Nafta
While watching parts of the movie Orange County last night, I got an idea for a sweet post about vampires, ostensibly of course, but underneath it's about the reunification of Germany... but its funny.

Anyway, I'm waiting to get some things emailed to me so I can finish up my GPTP crap- so until I get that I might throw a post or two up.

Last night, while reading The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, I came across a passage that reminded of the evolution debate over at Pragmaticism, and I'll quote-
"Today evolution is being challenged by some of the most cerebral theorists in the formerly secular neo conservative movement. They are embracing a hypothesis called Intelligent Design, originated by the biochemist Michael Behe... Biologists reject Behe's argument for a number of reasons. His specific claims about the "irreducible complexity" or biochemistry are either unproven or just plain wrong. He takes every phenomenon whose evolutionary history has not yet been figured out and chalks it up to design by default."
It isn't that I object to this paragraph on the grounds I find Intelligent Design irrefutable, but that the author can write off any theory that isn't evolution so cursorily. Without providing any evidence, Pinker doesn't hesitate to label ID "wrong" or to declare that an entire field is unanimous in its condemnation of a competing theory. As for "every phenomenon whose evolutionary history hasn't been figured out," only if some failure had been made in the scientific process could a theory be assumed true when it doesn't match all available data. I think the focus for evolutionists should be to prove that evolution can produce something as complex as an eye, or that life can arise randomly out of nothing- rather than labeling every competing idea uneducated and false.

Pinker also tries to allude that the motives behind anyone advocating an idea different than Darwinism are less than scientific. As "it is not clear whether these worldly thinkers are really convinced that Darwinism is false or whether they think it is important for other people to believe it is false," Pinker ascribes this line from Inherit the Wind (based on the Scopes Monkey Trial) to them. "They're simple people, Henry; poor people, They work hard and they need to believe in something, something beautiful. Why do you want to take it awar from them? It's all they have." Something is seriously wrong when scientific discussions degenerate to the point where one side is accused is using religion to opiate the masses.

While I'm discussing the nature of public discourse, I'll also comment on a conversation from two days ago and a commercial I heard today advocating opposition to CAFTA. First, the conversation involved a guy we hired to dive for golf balls in the ponds bashing G.W. Bush over NAFTA, as "over one hundred tomato farmers I knew lost their jobs." I wasn't even aware NAFTA was ever a topic of conversation to bring up the first time you met somebody. However, this conversation caused me to pay attention to a radio ad mentioning NAFTA. Basically, the entire commercial was a Ross Perot (campaigned against NAFTA) imitation saying, "NAFTA cost us one million American jobs, CAFTA rhymes with NAFTA, therefore it's obvious CAFTA is bad for America." No joke. Not a single thing on why CAFTA will be bad, just that NAFTA was bad and CAFTA rhymes with NAFTA. What's worse is that you know some people will vote knowing nothing other on a topic than a small blurb they heard on the radio.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
This may be my last post for a little while as I need to do some work in the Golf Professional Training Program and move from my house to an apartment closer to work. That said, I'll probably still read blogs pretty regularly and maybe post a comment or two, but not to the extent of the last few weeks.

I played poker the other night for the first time in over two months and just absolutely ran over some rich guys at the club. If I could play in a game like this every day, I would probably be able to quit my job and just play poker full-time. I came down to play in the skins game (where I usually make $40-$60) but it got rained out. I was going to go home but my boss covinced me to play and even bought me into the game.

It was a thirty dollar buy-in and there were seven people initially in the game. The first hand of the night (I was in late position) I was dealt Q-J unsuited. The first few players limped in and I raised it five bucks. While my cards weren't that great, I decided to raise to see how much I could push them around and also because you don't have to worry about pre-flop reraises from bad players (generally) unless they hold a huge hand, most bad poker players like to see the flop as cheaply as possible. I got four calls (rich guys generally play pretty loose, especially in a game with re-buys) and the flop came down 4-9-10, all unsuited. It was checked around to me and I decided to push all my chips in. Although I had an open ended draw and a couple of overcards, I felt that this was the right play for a few reasons.
1) I represented a big hand pre-flop and the flop was fairly ragged- most likely no one hit a big enough piece to call it down- plus I'm a slight favorite to draw out if I'm up against a pair.
2) Worst case scenario- I'm up against a set (unlikely since a pair of 9's or 10's would probably have raised in front of me pre-flop) and even then I have a 34% chance of drawing out.
3) It being the first hand of the game, most players (especially bad) don't want to take the chance of busting when calling with a fairly weak hand and having called only one five dollar bet- no one was pot committed. I, however, was doubling up if no one called.
4) and number one reason why I did it- table image. Raising hard pre-flop and pushing it all in on the flop on the first hand identifies me as the most aggressive player at the table. Against bad players, it makes it less likely that I'll be reraised or check-raised and my raises will get more respect (bad players will be less likely to dry to draw out when they know they'll have to call raises down to the river)

Needless to say, everyone laid down their cards and I doubled up. I then used that table image and chip stack to push these rich guys around for the next couple of hours. Having my boss buy me in turned into a bad idea, as I gave him half of what I won. However, walking out with over a hundred bucks while playing in a game with no risk is a win-win situation for anyone struggling to get by on slightly over minimum wage- especially this guy.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Evil Empire
First the prattle (I'll try to keep it short), then something better. First off, while Hurricane Dennis raged outside, I watched the first Harry Potter movie on ABC Family, a bad choice. The movie is long enough without commercial breaks, and I think the story is a lot better without all the corny movie attempts to create drama or emotional involvement. Also, I think characters made to be strictly excessive work well in the style of the book, but don't translate well into acted parts. Visually, the movie does an ok job- but I think it comes up a bit short, namely in the quidditch match and the final chess board fight. Also, there were parts where things didn't match what I had imagined (some of it probably related to my ethnocentricity, and some due to the impossible standard set by The Lord of the Rings movies). I'll probably eventually watch the rest as they come out, but without any of the anticipation of other perennial movie series.

I also watched the Princes of Malibu while waiting for Family Guy after the Simpsons- fairly funny, and so obviously staged I let it slip through my self-imposed ban on reality tv. I also read Nickel and Dimed and Till We Have Faces while sitting at work this weekend... and since both have potential for their own post I'll slide by them to something political.

During the course of discussion with a few of my more liberal brethren, I've become aware that they disagree with the strategies employed by the United States to combat Communism, both militarily (Vietnam, Operation Urgent Fury,Arms to Afghani Rebels, etc..) and economically (Ronald Reagan's Arms Race, support of the Contras, etc...).

While some of these were as well thought out as my attempt to put in my contacts after eating powdered sugar donuts this morning (Ok, I ended up washing my hands first... but I almost tried it) and others (Invasion of Grenada) more akin to military masturbation than serious attempts to combat Communism, I want to know if there was anything that the United States could have done in an attempt to bring down the Evil Empire that would have been acceptable (especially in retrospect) to those more dovish than I.
Friday, July 08, 2005
London Bombings
First off, I no longer have an internet connection at my house so I'm confined to posting and commenting while I'm at work. Secondly, Hurricane Dennis is growing stronger and stronger. While it looks like the eye will miss us, apparently we are going to get a ton of wind and rain for the next couple days. I'll be honest, while a hurricane coming ashore in Alabama or Mississippi does a lot less economic damage (but a lot more trailer park damage), I hope Dennis turns east and hits Central Florida for a couple of reasons. I like storms, I don't like work, and I love to get wasted (run cheap vodka through a Brita filter a few times and it tastes like Grey Goose) the night before a hurricane comes ashore. Now if I could only find a way to place bets on it...

That said, I'll move on to the London Bombings.

While the London bombings were a horrific event, it is also a testament to the success of the Global Community cracking down on terrorism. Unlike the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, the US Embassy bombings in East Africa, and the attacks in Spain, the London Bombings were on a smaller scale with each bomb being under 5kg and only four of them.

Also, I believe that the London bombings coupled with the report of attempts to smuggle Highly Enriched Uranium (which on the CNN and FOX crawl gets it own acronym-HEU) out of Georgia is scary. Compared to the London bombings, a dirty bomb or a suitcase bomb is like drawing Rambo in the first round of your local toughman.
I'm deadlier than widespread contamination

We are all aware that Jihadists will target women and children, and that they will use any weapon available to them. Can you seriously doubt that Saddam would have sold weapons with biological or radiological agents to terrorists if he had the chance? Whether or not he had them, the best defense is a good offense, and America needs to continue to deal severely with rogue nations. Do we really need to wait until a bomb made with Iranian Uranium (fun to say, not so fun to think about) takes out a few city blocks in New York, Washington DC, or the Vatican?

Much of the argument at redhurt and pragmaticism has been over the justification of the Iraq War. Here is my question, is there any case where preemptive action can be sanctioned? Are there certain levels that a nation such as Iran can reach, short of building a dirty, suitcase bomb and exploding it in American territory, that will allow you to sanction force in the effort to prevent loss of life?
Monday, July 04, 2005
I-Pod's Dangerous to Health
Not only does owning an I-Pod create the urge to hug whales and boycott soap, according to this report from CNN, it is sometimes fatal.

As it is my patriotic duty to spend 12 hours in the golf shop on the Fourth of July, I've spent my time watching such American classics as Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest at Coney Island. Although it's Independence Day, I'm still guilty of treason by rooting for Takeru Kobayashi - the World Hot Dog Eating Champion four years running. The only problem with the Hot Dog eating contest is listening to the standard ESPN commentary. I don't care if it's televised on ESPN, competitive eating is NOT a sport and its competiters are NOT athletes. Quotes regarding competitive eating, such as this one about Kobayashi's dominance- "It's like if Lance Armstrong finished the tour de france hours before his competitors, or if Tiger Woods got a hole in one on every swing of the PGA tour"- are ridiculous. Regardless of what the IFOCE says, people don't watch gluttony because they appreciate the technique- they watch it for the same reason they slow down next to car accidents. Hot Dog eating shouldn't be on ESPN, it should be on FOX- right after Man vs. Beast. (Amazingly, Kobayashi is in both.)
Friday, July 01, 2005
The Political Process

I found a stash of Calvin and Hobbes comics on the internet, and I'll post one whenever I find that they are particularly relevant, or whenever I want to. I don't think this one needs much commentary.
The Lost Liberty Hotel
In light of the Supreme Court recently ruling that public property can be seized under emminant domain, a California businessman has petitioned city officials in Weare, NH to build a hotel dubbed "The Lost Liberty Hotel" over the house of Justice David Souter. The Lost Liberty Hotel, which will feature copies of Atlas Shrugged instead of Gideon Bibles, perfectly illustrates the irony of this law pushed by liberal justices. While the left exploits class envy and constantly chastises the rich, Supreme Court liberals have paved the way for the circumvention of property rights by the wealthy. Now anyone with enough money can attempt to have private property seized for economic development. If The Lost Liberty Hotel is eventually built, I'll give it another year before George Soros teams up with Diane Feinstein to build on Ronald Reagan's grave.