Archive for August, 2009

I Hate Fluorescent

Monday, August 31st, 2009

The government needs to keep its nose out of my business. It’s the small things that are especially irritating. For example, I will have to use fluorescent lighting here soon:

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Other countries around the world have passed similar legislation to ban most incandescents.

Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting. We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. And yet while energy conservation, a worthy cause, has strong advocacy in public policy, good lighting has very little.

You know who won’t have to use these abominable lights? Rich people. Rich people currently import mega powerful flushing toilets. They will import incandescent lights.

I say, stock up on incandescent lights and be prepared to make a fortune on the black market for incandescent lights. Good grief.

Oh, and Illinois is upping the tax on booze by 90% tomorrow. What will people there do? Go across state lines and buy copious amounts of alcohol, of course. Idiots.



Sarah Palin Is Proving Relevant Yet Again

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Sarah Palin will be jetting to Hong Kong to talk finance:

The former Alaska governor will visit Hong Kong to address the CLSA Investors Forum, a well-known annual conference of global investment managers, the host announced Monday.

Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Alan Greenspan have spoken at the event, hosted by brokerage and investment group CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets.

“Our keynote speakers are notable luminaries who often address topics that go beyond traditional finance such as geopolitics,” company spokeswoman Simone Wheeler said in a statement.

“We just felt it would be a fabulous opportunity for CLSA clients to hear from Mrs. Palin,” Wheeler said, adding that CLSA approached Palin with the offer.

She said the conference aimed to present investors “a diversity of views that potentially influence decision-makers who help shape the markets.”

Her first speaking engagement post Alaska-governorship will be important and international. Her thoughts will be eagerly anticipated, I bet.

Let the gnashing of teeth begin.



Dynasty American Style

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Glenn Greenwald kvetches about one of the Bush twins getting a TV gig on NBC’s Today show. There are dynasties in America wah! This wouldn’t sound so ironic if his bellyaching didn’t come on the heels of Kennedy’s love fest. Will a Kennedy replace Teddy? The world waits with bated breath. Wait, no they don’t.

Glenn says:

They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it’s really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There’s a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters.

Dynasties and nepotism are counter to the American system. That’s why Hillary Clinton is a fraud. The whole Kennedy family is irritating. Oh, and let’s not forget those who had sex with someone powerful, Sally Quinn, to get where they are now.

Please. Glenn Greenwald is discontented because Bush’s daughter, who has actually accomplished something–being a school teacher–might be called on to report on teaching? At least she’s got a profession. Greenwald’s outrage would matter more if his perspective were more balanced and he named all the Democrats who get special favor.

Look at Hollywood. Look at any profession, really. Kids often end up in a parent’s field–it’s what they know and their parents give them help.

Still, the nepotism thing is bothersome in politics. The Kennedys should lead the way and pronounce that none of the progeny should be allowed in the biz. End the dynasties, Democrats. Lead America by example and produce leaders exclusively by merit.



Why The Democrats Should Call It KennedyCare

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Should Democrats name the health care bill KennedyCare? Why not? A snippet:

It should also be noted that Senator Kennedy, like all fabulously wealthy people, had nothing to gain or lose with this legislation. This law, should it pass, will be for the great unwashed masses subjected to government-run health care because their businesses will save money with the public option. Senators, as the Democrats voted in committee, will still get their own special plan.

Senator Kennedy would not have been beholden to his namesake legislation. He would still have gone to the best hospitals for care — maybe on some Caribbean island at some point as doctors and innovative health care providers look for cheaper, less regulated ways to deliver stellar care. No one likes to be sick and in the hospital now. It would be abominably insulting for a bigwig to be a number in a line in a hallway in a crumbling hospital with an imported doctor, waiting for eight hours to eight days. A rich person can go to prison for that kind of care today. Under KennedyCare, he would get on a private jet and go find the care he’s accustomed to receiving.

Call it KennedyCare. It’s a great idea!



No More Dissent: “It Ain’t America No More”

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Not while this cop is on the job, anyway:

Yeah, well. This is the way things will go…. It’s shocking. It’s outrageous.

President Obama promised change, alright. No one can say he hasn’t delivered.



It’s A Dangerous World In Here

Friday, August 28th, 2009

The internet ain’t no place for the innocent. It’s the wild west around these parts, with infrastructure still being built and social feedback loops yet to fully developed. There is little policing, few laws. At times, it can feel like an ominous town, with bad guys sizing you up from under their ten-gallon hat–just waiting for a moment of weakness.

Bad guys don’t have to be quick on the draw on the internet. They can be stupid, unemployed ner-do-wells with nothing better to do than sit around and hassle people. In fact, a big part of the discourse online is just that. People with too much time on their hands hassling people who actually work and produce something.

I have written before that the internet is a place to share information, not hide it, and I wanted to illustrate that with some examples:

First, the not-so-anonymous blogger. There are many bloggers out there who don a nom de plume to hide their identity. America has a very long history regarding pseudonyms. And many people use them online for professional reasons–they have a job or profession where it wouldn’t do to have their opinion known. But online anonymity is an illusion. A determined person or P.I. can find a persons true identity fairly easily.

Example 1: Congressional staffer boinking Congressmen and writing about it.
Example 2: Hacker terrorizing others. (He’s a professional, mind you, and STILL got caught.)
Example 3: All the anonymous asshats cyber stalking Governor Palin.

In all cases, the bloggers were smart. They knew the internet and they were exposed. Word to the wise. If you’re going to be anonymous, know that a controversial topic will likely uncover you.

Second, social media as a weapon. The above folks were using blogs rather destructively, but some anonymous bloggers are constructive and deserve anonymity. Still, it doesn’t take much to uncover someone. People can also use social media to destroy.

Danny Glover recounts how a not-so-sweet mommy blogger stomped her cyber feet:

Extortion has found its way into the blogosphere — and all for a pair of Crocs. A greedy “mommy blogger” at the recent BlogHer conference threatened to write something bad about the maker of Crocs if its representative didn’t find her a free pair of the comfy sandals.

No doubt about it, that’s low. As I see it, there would have been nothing wrong with said mommy blogger bemoaning her missed opportunity to get good swag at the conference. But threatening to go negative as a way to get a gift she clearly didn’t deserve is completely unethical.

The same is true for anyone who uses social media as a weapon. The blogosphere is an effective check against bad customer service, but customers who abuse it are as bad, or worse, than the companies who mistreat them.

It is as easy as a couple clicks to ruin a person’s reputation–or try to. While the vile creatures who spread false rumors and invective about Sarah Palin are now outed and exposed for frauds, Andrew Sullivan continues on his merry way after being as salacious and evil as his online equivalent Perez Hilton. Cruel language can be devastatingly effective as both of these rumor mongers have proven.

Finally, the internet world connects directly to the real world. It is the real world. The notion that there is a separation is an illusion. People assume that those online are somehow more trustworthy–or, that they’re so far away that even if they are kinda bad, they’re harmless. That is not true. Consider this:

U.K. insurance company, Legal & General, took a survey of 2,092 users of social networking Web sites. Almost four out of ten (38 percent) of those who use social media at places like Twitter or Facebook post their vacation plans. Potential burglars could find this information valuable in seeking targets of crime.

The report titled “The Digital Criminal,” said that criminals could obtain vital, personal information from online users of social media.

It is nigh to impossible to hide my own activities. Someone in my family inevitably gives it away. You’re in Michigan?! Where? Or, in the case of my Australia trip, my family didn’t have to write, tweet, Facebook or say anything. I live-tweeted the whole trip. Still, I try to not give away my activities–exact location. I try to have a house sitter. Those sorts of things to mitigate against the dangers.

The internet should be interacted with rationally. It isn’t a magical place. There are people on the ends of the intertubes. They can be bad, good and as mixed as a real life person can be. They are real live people. Even anonymously. Even remotely.



Inglourious Basterds: Part II

Friday, August 28th, 2009

For another perspective on this movie, I suggest reading John Rosenthal’s review titled “Inglourious Basterds: A German Fantasy, Not a ‘Jewish’ One”. Rosenthal posits that the movie is written to make the Germans look sympathetic, and the joke is on the buffoonish Americans–who are neither cultured nor competent and barbaric to boot. The movie glorifies German fantasies of vengeful Jews, when in reality, the Germans were the barbarians. One wouldn’t know this watching the movie, according to this review.

While Rosenthal makes compelling arguments and may well be correct about Tarantino’s motives, I would suggest that Tarantino was too smart by half, then. Consider the barroom scene. Repeatedly, the Americans and their fighters expressed frustration at being stuck in an underground bar because it is stupid strategically in a fight. They feared being double-crossed. Here is what Rosenthal says:

This is especially true of a long central scene that takes place in a basement bar in occupied France. The scene is entirely built around a German parlor game in which each participant is required to guess the identity of a real person or fictive character whose name has been written on a card and stuck to his or her forehead.

Well, that game is one I myself have played as an unwashed American. We called it Polish Poker growing up–a politically incorrect allusion to a source of a version of the game, I suspect. At any rate, it was the Brit who botched the hand signal and also the Brit who enjoyed his drink courageously before his death–stiff upper lip and all that. It was also the American, who, at the end of the bloodbath, out maneuvered the German soldier who mowed down anyone left alive, including, it looked like, his own compatriots. It was a gory mess that ended as the American feared.

Another point of concern was portraying the German enlisted “hero” as regretful. Rosenthal says:
“They include not only the jovial enlisted men in the barroom scene, but also, for instance, a celebrated and lovelorn sharpshooter who openly regrets his military exploits.” While he did seem a little sickened by his actions, he was certainly still portrayed as evil. In the very next scene, when his advances are rebuffed by Shoshanna, he threatens rape or worse saying “no one denies me” and then, after being shot by her, shoots her in cold blood when she shows concern for him. It is the Jew, as symbolized by Shoshanna, who hasn’t lost her humanity. The German is portrayed as having none. While this might validate the modern Germans’ thinly disguised anti-semitism by seeing her shot dead, it certainly doesn’t portray the German perspective in a positive light. To the contrary, the Germans are portrayed as vicious, anti-semitic, heartless, yes cunning, killers of women and children–from the first scene until the climactic end.

There is no question Tarantino indulged in a facile portrayal of Americans. Bumbling in, direct action, hicky accents, etc. But still, the Americans and the good guys won. For all the German ostensible heroics, they are still portrayed as losers. They are losers who go up in a ball of flames. They are losers who are branded as losers on their swastika carved forehead.

The suicide bomber reference was also not lost on me. Tarantino, as I wrote in my other review, is hardly courageous. In fact, like his comrades, he’s a product of Hollywood’s amorality. He won’t name current tyrants. He has to go back to World War II to find blood thirsty villains. That is why I suggested substituting an Islamofascist for every Nazi killed.

As to the bloody gore: No, I didn’t enjoy seeing a guy’s head bashed in. In fact, I covered my eyes at the over-the-top gruesome parts and there were many. It was a Tarantino film after all. The blood lust is a caricature and silly. Still, it was satisfying to see the bad guys come to such an ignoble end. It would have been a wonderful thing had World War II ended in such a glorious way. Unfortunately, Hitler got the satisfaction of controlling his own death. At least, historians can fantasize about a better end.

Did Tarantino make an anti-semitic film? Was he trying to portray Germans sympathetically? Perhaps. Americans aren’t stupid. They’ll catch the way Americans are portrayed. They’ll see the suicide bomber reference for the inversion it is. They might miss the underlying German fears of Jew revenge. Or, if they get it, they understand the Jews motive, even as most Jews have lived among their German brethren peacefully without recompense. It is, after all, a fantasy.

What sane, moral person can’t understand the desire to avenge their family, culture and people nearly being blotted out? Americans get it generally. And so do Germans. The Germans know how they’d feel if the roles were reversed and that’s why they’re afraid even after all these years. And the Jews have been models of restraint and forgiveness. I’m not sure I could do the same.



Podcast 33: The Psychology Of Success & Happiness With Guest John Hawkins

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Why aren’t Leftists happy even when they run everything and get what they want? John Hawkins and I talk about that and much more on this podcast:

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When Melissa isn’t on the radio, you can find her at melissaclouthier.com and on Twitter. Her username is MelissaTweets.



Obama As An Icon

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

It’s been out for a while but, I want to draw attention to Bill Whittles video just in case you haven’t seen it:

Because President Obama reduced himself to an icon and a slogan, he became everything to everyone. Now, that he’s been in the job a while and decisions must be made, he risks alienating everyone. I think that’s happening.



White House Pentagon Profiling Reporters

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Uh oh:

Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”

Moreover, the documents — recent confidential profiles of the work of individual reporters prepared by a Pentagon contractor — indicate that the ratings are intended to help Pentagon image-makers manipulate the types of stories that reporters produce while they are embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Well, it doesn’t look like the Pentagon was telling journalists what to write, they just did ops research on the journalists to chart and graph what they write and predict future favorable/unfavorable behavior.

I’ve had mixed feelings about embedding reporters. However, with Al Qaeda and the Taliban as enemies, getting reporting would be nigh to impossible because they like killing reporters [Daniel Pearl]. So, it seemed like a possible necessity.

Anyway, the White House has “profiled reporters” too, I’d guess. No one more masterfully manipulates them individually and collectively than Barack Obama. So, he’s either got an internal computer deciding who to call on when, or he’s got an Axelrod with a bulging file filled with research on individual reporters–who to use for which story, when to allow a certain person to ask a question, etc. Nothing is left to chance with these people.

Only Helen Thomas has had the sense thus far to see how she’s been managed and manipulated, but she has a very long history to draw upon.

As to the Pentagon. It would seem to me, that doing background checks on reporters would seem wise. And then, one thing leads to another. As long as reporters weren’t told, at gunpoint, what to write, it seems like no big deal. Besides, reporters are independent-minded and above these sorts of head games, right? These are the people, who with straight faces, claim to be objective. So any sort of influence by the military would be negligible, right?

I mean, they’re not influenced by President Obama.