29 June 2006

Me v. Planet Earth

Just bought a new car. Fast like cheetah, green like Republican. The old car wasn't that bad, really, around 20 miles to the gallon around town. This one's more like 16. And that kills me. I'm a moderately green person - I don't heat, try to limit the air conditioning to the monsoon season (and almost never turned it on before moving to PHX), and really try not to pollute. So why don't I drive a Prius or ride a Vespa?

Unfortunately, I've got competing needs that weigh against one another. On the one hand, I want to be as efficient as possible. On the other, I want to go fast. And I don't like roofs. And I'm a snob. So, as soon as Martin Eberard gets his Tesla Roadster street-legal, or Ian Wright of Wrightspeed can sell the X1 to the masses, the scales will seriously tip. For now, I'm looking into buying carbon credits, which feels like so much grĂ¼ne Schuld.

Of course, when absolution can cost just $50 a year, (or I can help build windfarms or go completely carbon neutral) maybe I should do my very, very, very small part.

Immigrant Goes to America, Many Hellos in America

Crap! I only got 19 of these 20 questions right! Oh, wait...I don't need to fill out a form to become naturalized! I guess it's not so bad to blow that one.

I hope everyone can at least score an 80.

Have a Happy 4th (and don't blow your hands off.)

Mea Culpa, Mea Roberto Culpa

I was recently criticized (quite rightly) for being lazy in my writing and lazy in my research. I can but blame this medium a bit. The fault, my dear brutes, is not in our blogs.

I am lazy. It's my natural condition. Sometimes, it serves me well - the search to avoid work has led to my best software solutions - and sometimes, not so much.

While I've always liked my authorial voice, there are some very good reasons not to. Anyone who knows me knows I write like I speak. So...overbearing and pretentious in person, and a wee bit trite on the page. I'm not a big fan of rewrites and re-edits, figuring that if it flowed the first time it must have been good (or good enough). Even now, as I'm meta-composing, I'm only making the occasional delta to what's already been written. So what you're reading is hot of the cranial creases.*

A big problem with this stream of consciousness style is that your point tends to get lost. When writing for a blog - readership: apparently three people (it would be four, but the moms hates the Internets) - that's probably not too-too bad. Still, I should be able to elucidate my points better than this Stanford grad or a semi-literate Holy Cross grad. Anything less is abject failure.

I was pointed to this posting by Josh Marshall (for any right wingers reading, beware your eyes don't bleed if you follow the link to TPM.) The salient points are in the final two paragraphs:

I freely admit blogging is an ephemeral form of writing. It's written quickly, usually forgotten quickly. It doesn't lend itself to that sort of rigorous writing and rewriting which is often the way you discover your ideas in your own mind. It is a popular medium on many levels. But it also has an immediacy and when done well, under time pressure, produces an economic form of writing, a concision and getting right to the point.

I saw a quote a few days ago where someone said something like blogging is a boon for information but an enemy of thought. And there's an element of truth to that. In most hands, it's more a medium of exchange than reflection. The technology can leave us with too little time to mull and digest...
As much as I agree with these sentiments (and love having a ready rationalization for my faults) I think we can do better. Which means that I must do better. I will backpedal faster than Tony Snow, but endeavor to do my best. Which means sometimes, I'll actually say something.

But I am still throwing in the useless minutiae, quickly tossed off thoughts, and crappy haikus.

*Anyone who thinks I didn't spend time crafting/co-opting the iambic doublet in the first para should contact me immediately about a bridge I have for sale

23 June 2006

Union Yes!

I guess in future I need to be more clear ...

I don't think athletes are paid too much. For those who do, scroll down a bit and see my suggestions on how to "fix" that, ignoring the sarcasm I failed to emphasize enough. What I do think is that management has succeeded too well in shoving it down our throats that salaries are sacred knowledge to be kept private. If you really think it's crass to tell someone what you make, you've bought the management line. It's like being a quiet and meek little doormat because the Church told you you'd inherit the Earth.

Only by having a clear picture of the market can one hope to maximize one's earning potential. You can't know how badly paid you are if you don't know what your peers are making.

I could go on (and on, and on) about the similar methods capitalists and religious leaders use to consolidate power and diffuse threats to their hegemony, but I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader. In fact, here's this weekend's assignment:

Jesus taught that "[i]t is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." [Mark 10:25] The Medicis produced many cardinals and three popes. Explain the apparent conflict and its possible resolutions. Possible subtopics and discussion avenues include the concentration of wealth in the medieval church, the importance of indulgences in the construction of cathedrals, and the notion of karma in Buddhism.

18 June 2006

New Car, Finally!

I'm a snob, t'ain't no doubts 'bout dat. I'm sort of like The Donald with better taste, no inheritance, and no phobia about male pattern baldness. But sometimes it's tough to be such an elitist prig. Any idea how hard it can be to find a unique car that's a good car?

We succeeded, though. Mmm...Panoz. :)

And I feel really good about it, too. It's not like I'm racing ovals. Then I might want a different chassis. For the road, this is beautiful. And that throaty roar of the SVT Cobra engine...

16 June 2006

How to Pay Athletes Less

Personally, I think it's groovy that a malcontent can make a fortune, that George Steinbrenner can cause his own infarction, and that someday, Spree can feed his family again. But I know that a lot of people resent the money spent on athlete salaries. There's a pretty simple solution, applied to wonderful effect in the rest of society, that's time-tested and mother-approved.

Stop talking about money. I mean really stop talking about it. Make salary negotiations secret, make the contracts secret, and make sure that talking about salaries is a contract breach, resulting in instant termination. Granted, agents would still be aware how much their various clients were paid and could share that information; however, if it became clear to management that such a thing had transpired, the league could de-certify the agent.

Most of us labor in salary-obscurity, with both taboos and employment agreements restricting us from discussing our pay. It's considered quite declasse to share this information. For a very brief time in the 20th century, unions opened the windows and aired their dirty laundry out, but those windows have been successfully reshut...except in athletics.

When players don't know how much their peers make, they won't need to make more to satisfy their outsized egos. Instead, they'll depend on rings and trophies and all-star voting to establish their place in the pack. And management can stop paying such high salaries.

Look how well it works out here. Look at your own salary. Seems fine, right? That's because you don't know how much your cube neighbor makes. It's a foolproof approach to keeping employee costs way down.

15 June 2006

Russell Ziskey, We Need You!!!

Let's get one thing clear up front: soccer is the most boring game on the planet. It's sometimes like watching the proverbial grass grow; when played to a 0-0 tie, it's like watching a pot (with no heat applied) not boil. Still, you know - USA! USA! Whatever.

Anyway, Eddie Johnson (looks like he should be a cornerback - what a waste) is pulling out the war analogies in preparation for this weekend's match against Italy. Mind you, this is the same US team that got trounced by the Czech Republic on Monday. If this is the new Army of One, I fear for our futures. "[I]t's Czechoslovakia. It's like we're going into Wisconsin."

14 June 2006

Keep your elbow in

I was playing tennis this morning and had to keep reminding myself of this useful chestnut on every serve. I jacked my shoulder playing doubles (badly) on Monday and haven't recovered. (Actually, I first jacked my shoulder when I was 16 or so and have been exacerbating the injury ever since with my crappy mechanics.) As I was quietly repeating this mantra, I thought how useful this advice is in so many contexts.

  • Tennis. Well, this is obvious. You need to whip that arm forward, and to do so effectively and with minimal damage, the elbow must come in before the wrist.
  • Baseball. In terms of throwing, it's the same motion as a serve, so the same basic mechanics apply. Hitting, well, you don't want those elbows flapping in the breeze or there'll be no snap.
  • Golf. You try swinging a club with your arms akimbo. Trust me, I suck much more at golf than you do, and it doesn't help.
  • Rollercoasters. Not quite as essential on most rides, but you really don't want those arms hanging out too far.
  • Sex. Actually, I'm not sure it's important to keep the elbows in, but I'm going to pay more attention in the future. I suspect there's an incremental efficiency increase to be had there as well.
  • Basketball. Unless you want to shoot like Gerald Wallace, keep your elbow in.

13 June 2006

J.J. Redick: .47, .42, .11

That's FG%, 3P%, and blood alcohol. According to his agent, Arn Tellem,

J.J. is an outstanding student athlete of the highest character. He is an exemplary role model and a credit to his family and the entire Duke community.
Well, he certainly fits with the Duke community.

What's in Your Garage?

From today's Times:

Psychologists at Julius-Maximilians University in Wurzburg, Germany, report in a recent issue of the Journal of Individual Differences that students correctly matched photographs of male and female drivers to pictures of the cars they drove almost 70 percent of the time.
So, the question must be asked...

10 June 2006

Suicide is painless, it brings on many changes

Looks like three "enemy combatants" killed themselves at GitMo. To the average observer, this might look like a suicide pact, with the victims clearly setting themselves up as martyrs to their cause. To the USN, it's an act of war.

Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said, quoted by Reuters.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."
I don't support the behaviors of fundamentalists in any of their flavors, but it's inane to call this asymmetrical warfare. Then again, it's inane to maintain an extra-legal prison camp in contravention of the Geneva Accords.

09 June 2006

This summer, I wish I were still in Connecticut

Out here in the desert, there's really not much to think about politically. I'll be voting for Not-Kyl because, well, Johnny K. makes Ann Coulter look reasonable. There'll be a sign in the front yard, and maybe some half-hearted campaigning. It's not like I really expect this exurb of Birchers and dittoheads to be swayed. We have great weather here, at least.

However, things are heating up back home. It looks like finally, someone's testicles have dropped enough to challenge the Nutmeg state's junior, Republican-light senator. Joe's been a thorn in my side most of my life - first as a mediocre AG and then as the Merlin of the Democratic party. I have never gotten over the shock of him beating personal hero Lowell Weicker in '88. And yes, that would be the only Republican for whom I've ever voted. And based on the shriveled remains of the Rockefeller wing of the party, probably the last for whom I'll ever vote.

Soccer, woohoo

World Cup starts today
So sad, seeing placekickers
Squandering talent


It's not just about South Park, or tasty wine (and the coolest winery owner in the world) anymore.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to designate location of a Rule 30(b)(6) deposition (Doc. 105). Upon consideration of the Motion – the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts – it is ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one (1) game of “rock, paper, scissors.” The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11-12, 2006. If either party disputes the outcome of this engagement, an appeal may be filed and a hearing will be held at 8:30 A.M. on Friday, July 7, 2006 before the undersigned in Courtroom 3, George C. Young United States Courthouse and Federal Building, 80 North Hughey Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32801.

Gregory A. Presnell is an innovator, maverick, and hero. Hopefully, the lawyers will be smart enough to talk to the experts, or at least pick up a book, so they have a clue what they're doing. In fact, it might be cause for a legal malpractice claim if they didn't. Personally, I'd probably throw the avalanche. Just pummel my bewildered opponent.

08 June 2006

Hulk Smash!!!

Phew! It is explained. I'm just crazy. Oh, wait, not crazy...they don't like that. We'll call it intermittent explosive disorder (IED). At least there are treatments. They can give me soma, or we can try psychotherapy, "to deconstruct the root causes of [my] anger". It probably won't help that the root cause is a mealy-mouthed fuckwit who, after graduating med school, realized (s)he couldn't cut it as a real doctor and became a psychiatrist.

That's the solution. Inane chatter and drugs. No wonder the DSM-IV is such a worthless joke.

Maybe, if people could...

  • Do their jobs with a modicum of skill

  • Perform said tasks with some attention to detail and concern for quality

  • Worry a little more about reputation and a little less about the bottom line

  • Learn to drive their FUCKING cars or get over to the right

  • Stop, generally, being tools
there'd be less cause for anger in general.

06 June 2006

Around the Track to the Left

Marco Andretti needs to cool his jets. It's not Eddie Cheever's fault they collided, Eddie was changing CDs in his in-dash player.

All kidding aside, when Danica Patrick and any other IRL driver are in total agreement - "he's an idiot", "he's a complete idiot" - something must be up. Dude needs to get off the race track and into the farmers' market.

D Day Haiku

Normandy landing
Waves of the brave and the bold
Sacrificing all

04 June 2006

Let's Go Mavs! Let's Go Mavs!

Beating the Heat would (hopefully) finally legitimize small-ball to some of the holdouts. They're going to throw Damp's six fouls at Sgt. Hulka, but I really hope Avery tries to run the leviathan off the court. Of course, I'd have been MUCH happier had the Suns been able to pull it off and let me see the finals in person, but as long as it's not two defensive grinders out there, we should be in for a decent matchup.

Before the game, I made the obligatory "Bavetta will be there" comment. This is his kind of game. So, no shock when I spotted him doing his Rockettes warm-up routine. I'd like to say he was following his dark master's marching orders, but he seemed to call this one straight up. That's the problem with Dick. When he's just doing his job, he's a decent ref. But you never can be sure...

02 June 2006

A Suit of Ammo

My boy-ee is in the southland, getting ready for the draft by scrimmaging with agency-mates Devean George and Danny Granger, training, and lifting. He's as emotional as ever, but that's always been his biggest appeal. That, and the endless movement off the ball.

The fun news is that with his exclusive contract with Topps (does that come with sugar-free gum?) his rookie card will come with "a piece of his draft-day suit". I might buy me some cards for that one.

That comes off the vacation list...

Growing up an hour and change out of midtown, I was neither immune to nor rapt by the charms of America's First City. I did the occasional touristy thing - the Statue, the Empire State - but didn't have to gawk and gape at "all them tall buildin's". For me, the city (and let's be honest here...it's this country's only city) was a great destination for all it offered: food; music; theater; sports. It wasn't distant, so I didn't think of it as a special treat. It just was.

Now, thousands of miles away in the midst of exurban sprawl, the city is a distant beacon of civilization. I don't get there nearly often enough, and rarely have enough time to enjoy it properly. And I feel much more like a tourist (though it's not like I'm going to see Phantom, or whatever ALW pabalum is playing this year.) But now, I'm not sure I need to visit anymore.

Apparently, New York isn't the mecca I believed it to be. There are zero "national monuments and icons". Bloomberg needs to stop begging for money and stop whining that HomeSec has "just started to distribute it as normal pork" before he endangers our fine friends in Wisconsin and Nebraska. All that talk of haraam is just going to engender more hate.