Monday, February 27, 2006

I (Heart) Libertarians: A few months ago I was noodling around the Web site for the Mecklenburg (NC) County Libertarian Party. I don't remember why, but it resulted in me subscribing to their email list. There were some Libertarian candidates on the local level in the last few elections and I voted for some of them, but the party doesn't have much of a voice in Charlotte. No surprise, but I thought I'd see what they were writing about.

I don't know how many people are in their circle-jerk but all I receive are emails about why the next meeting can't be at this or that restaurant because of location-price-noise-smoking policy etc. and whether they should have a table at a gun show next month. The occasional letter to the editor, but not much else. It's a Yahoo! email address that I don't even look at every day, so even though it wasn't what I was hoping for, like some rational debate or comment, I didn't bother to unsubscribe.

I've now unsubscribed. The final straw was the unbelievable rudeness shown to the one outside-the-club individual to open his mouth.

Several emails had been sent over the weekend about a press release the party had been crafting for several weeks opposing a new bill to use some public land/funding to build the local minor league baseball team a new downtown stadium (they're going bankrupt in a little town just over the border in South Carolina and could probably make a go of it if they moved closer to town. The city is turning the land under debate into a giant public park anyway, so the team and its supporters have launched a final effort to do a stadium deal). The text of the press release was a little amateurish and contained a typo or two and some obviously fake quotes, attributed to quasi-fictional people. They were simply first name only versions of other people on the list who are active in the group. They fall under the heading of "fake, but accurate" and none of the people "quoted" objected, at least not strongly (although there was much serious discussion of whether this issue should be discussed at the next meeting - discuss amongst yourselves, indeed). Today a response comes from a guy who had "only been subscribing for a short time" who pointed out that maybe fake quotes weren't such a good idea and that frankly, their overall level of debate was "unimpressive." Wow, talk about throwing a sack of cats in the bathtub. Here is a represntative response.

Who is this Idiot and why is on our list? Is he a supporter of our principles or
not? And which qoutes does he claim are made up?Lastly, our goal of this list is
not to impress you.

I think it's time I backed away slowly.

For the record, I'm opposed to the baseball stadium deal, as I was to the two basketball arena deals, one of which passed.

Crappy day: I've been lucky enough to have one relative and once good friend serve tours in Iraq over the last couple years and come home safely. Not everyone's so lucky.

From today's email:

Subject: Ben

My brother Ben was killed in Iraq yesterday. I amheaded up to Buffalo
tomorrow to be with family.

This was from a good friend here in Charlotte. His brother had been in Iraq about 10 days. He was about 20 years old. I met him once, but didn't know him other than that and don't know much about how he died, except that he may have been shot.

Friday, February 24, 2006

In case you had any doubt: I know we've hashed over how little anyone cares about the new James Bond movie, or any of them since Godfinger really, but in case some part inside you was holding out hope that Daniel Craig could breathe new life to the role, sorry. He's now officially less qualified than The Skirt. Pathetic.
Fun with physics (?): This is strangely addictive. Don't know what to make of it really, but you have to play with the combinations to get more pieces...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

See, we brought them terrorism: When I heard about the explosion of the golden dome in Iraq yesterday, I was wondering how this would get blamed on the U.S. since it's obviously a Shiite vs. Sunni issue. Well, thank goodness, I didn't have to wait long (courtesy of the BBC -- natch):
Protesters in several cities took to the streets following the bombing, some shouting anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans.
"Death to America which brought us terrorism," they chanted in Samarra.

Yes, but we also brought Wrigley gum, Lucky Strikes, and nylons, so I think fair is fair.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Outsourced blogging may be as bad as outsourced national security, but I'm forced to do so. And Peter King and Chuck Schumer can blame it on my tin ear and cold, capitalist heart.

And so I present to you my take on the Dubai Ports World flap, as written by the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Preview: Michael Totten is interviewed at NRO today by Stephen Spruiell. It provides a glimpse at what is, hopefully, to come on his blog as he reports on his trip to Iraq.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Small Point . . . But it has been bugging me. All the media outlets have been talking about these cartoons that depict "the prophet" Mohammed. Who says Mohammed is a prophet? Did the media convert to Islam whilst I wasn't watching? Do you suppose that cartoons lampooning Jesus would be described by the media as depicting "the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A man's hybrid: Finally Hollywood libs who want to show their commitment to going green but don't want to pull up to the club in a freakin' Prius have something to drive. The all EV version of the Mullen GT. Not bad.

Via Vodkapundit.
Cheney, The Shootist: When I saw the headline "VP shoots lawyer" my assumption was that the Bush administration had finally gotten serious about Tort Reform.

Whew, had to get that out of my system. Now that I've had my fun, Andrew Stuttaford gets the last word:

And please, please, please, spare us the sanctimonious hell of national "teaching
moments", teary apologia, and sermons on gun safety.

Harry Smith in an orange hunting vest, "walking up quail" with a pushbroom in a New York parking lot this morning, preaching proper hunting safety and etiquette, was enough to make me drop my Honey Bunches O' Oats.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Now You Know: All this while I thought Totten's blog was quiet because he was gearing up to go to Iraq. Turns out he's there and back already.
Sorry for misleading everyone about my travel schedule. For those of you who forgot...a few weeks ago I said I was beginning my Iraq trip today.

At least one organization on the U.S. terrorist watch list already monitors my Web site, and a Lebanese friend of mine convinced me that it would be smart not to advertise to the entire planet when I would be in that country. That’s why hardly any new material has been posted on this Web site lately.

He's already got his first piece up, about arriving in Kurdistan. Click on over and read the blogosphere's best reporter.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

More U2: Steve Green doesn't get them. I had always assumed that because they were sort of a straight-laced "message" band, and because they were Irish, that they went best with a good drunk. (Every band has its own recreational-chemical synergy, you realize.) Songs like "Gloria" and "I Will Follow" sure sound that way. But U2 isn't a booze band; Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree made me realize that U2 requires marijuana. Problem is, by the time I'd figured that out, Achtung Baby came along -- suddenly U2 was an Ecstasy band. I learned to like Achtung Baby, and tolerate Zooropa, but only after hearing "Zoo Station" at a rave.

And REM? Maybe Tylenol with codeine for everything up to Life's Rich Pageant, and then wine coolers.

Moon Over My Grammy: So I watched a bit of the Grammys last night. Just goes to show you that no real music has been made in quite a few years. U2 won, even though Coldplay's very U2-ish album was better than U2's actual album. There was a time when the Grammys were flavor-of-the-month. Now they're just flavor-of-last-month. U2? Mariah Carey? Green Day? Linkin Park? Didn't I see these same awards five years ago?

Well, John Prine won his annual folk award, which brings up two points. First, calling Prine a "folk singer" is like calling the Beatles a "pop band." Perhaps technically accurate, but wholly inadequate. Second, it is likely that he was branded as folk music since no actual folk music is worth giving a Grammy to. And Alison Krauss won the country album award. She's a wonderful musician, but you never hear her, since you have to switch off the country station as soon as Big & Rich come on. (Roughly every 12 minutes.)

Speaking of folk, loved the lifetime award for those old folkies, the Weavers. Tom Hanks (apparently played by Kevin Nealon this year) couldn't even remember their names. But those nasty old anti-commie blacklists ruined their career, which, based on the clip we saw was largely built on making money off honkified Huddie Ledbetter tunes. Wanna bet that they made a little extra cake by listing themselves as co-composers or arrangers? And along the lines of theft, Springsteen really thinks he's Dylan now, eh? With the bed-head hair, looking like he slept in his clothes, and the idiotic anti-war shout-out, "Bring 'em home!" Okay, Bruce, we'll just all hold hands instead and try to figure out why they hate us. That worked well for the Europeans in the thirties, too, I hear. And there's nothing much more socially patronizing than the millionaire liberal dressing and grooming like a homeless man. Reminds me of the way white liberals have hijacked the civil rights movement and attempted a moral equivalency argument for lifestyle rights, like the right not to get AIDS from your own stupid behavior, or the right not to have to "choose between" groceries and prescriptions. I think I like that argument, actually. I mean why should I have to choose between groceries and hookers. Surely Uncle Sam could pick up the tab on some of this.

Sorry. Ranting off topic.

The White Stripes won for best "alternative" album. Alternative? Two things: 1) If the music industry is giving you a major award, you are not the alternative to anything. 2) If you create a widely played, critically slobbered-on single by ripping off a 40-year-old Otis Redding riff, you are not the alternative to anything.

Oh, and Sly showed up, shuffling on to stage like the burned-out husk of a genius that he is. Look, Stand! is one of my favorite albums ever, and Sly belongs in any Hall of Fame you've got, but he's clearly in Syd Barrett territory now.

And that was that. I'm unimpressed. When I peek through the list of awards, the first thing I want to listen to is "Masters of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" (which won for best Hawaiian recording, not a heavily contested category, I figure). After that maybe "Shake, Rattle and Polka!" (why are polka album titles exclamations?) by Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra. Sad.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Side splitting: Dusty Scott is one of the funniest writers, online or off, that I've ever read. His Atlanta Illustrated blog is funny as hell, but his personal blog, Pork Tornado, is where the best stuff comes out. Sadly, it's updated with all the regularity of, well, me after the Super Bowl Taco Dip Fiasco I'm try to forget ("How much cheese can one man consume? Flyer's inside look at 11").

Today's entry is particularly good. Don't read it will eating lunch at your computer.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Here in the Bible Belt: The Charlotte porn industry happens to be thriving, in case you were worrried.
Charlotte is known for religious fervor, NASCAR and banking. But what some
may not know is that the Queen City is also home to the largest distributor of
mobile porn and all of those video iPods sold this holiday are creating an
explosion in the porn industry.

Fourteen million video iPods were sold in
the first two months of their holiday release. A couple of days after they
took the market by storm some users started loading them up with
pornography. A Charlotte company called Xobile corners the market on
providing it. The traffic on their site just for iPod content was eight
million hits, which ultimately brought their server down and illustrated just
how big the latest porn boom is.

Needless to say, there are plenty of people in town who are a tad miffed by this company's presence in good ol' Charlotte. Me, I say there are just some jobs I don't want going overseas, free trade be damned. Tax breaks are the least we should do; maybe a parade in their honor.

Seriously, this company is a bunch of computer geeks who figured out early on the one thing that was sure to make money on the internet, and they've been very successful. The pay their taxes, create jobs and are doing nothing that wouldn't get done anyway, just in a different city/state. As the article goes on to state, they don't produce anything, just code it and sell it, though my feeling wouldn't be any different if they were shooting it next door to City Hall or a Baptist Church. Legal is legal, folks, your delicate sensibilities notwithstanding.

Full Disclosure: I have several friends, though not close ones, who work for Xobile's parent company, AEBN, Inc. And by not close I mean, no, I can't get free porn for myself or any of you.

Monday, February 06, 2006

More Super Bowl: The Super Bowl is not exactly a big deal in my house (we watch tennis and figure skating -- and f*ck you, I like figure skating!), but I did tune in last night. I was well pleased with the outcome. Cinderella story, homecoming for Bettis, etc. Lovely.

A lot of folks are crying this morning for taking a four-point spread, which was just nuts. The Steelers played dummy offense for about 19 minutes of that game and still kicked the crap out of Seattle. I thought the over/under was high (at about 46), but if you figure all the red zone situations both teams blew, it was pretty close to correct.

More Proposals of Modesty:
Age, it seems, has mellowed the Rolling Stones, who agreed to have their half-time performance at Sunday's Super Bowl censored twice for lyrics deemed too sexually explicit for family viewing.

The NFL said Monday that the British rock and roll legends had been consulted about the cuts prior to their appearance . . .

In an apparent compromise, Mick Jagger actually sang the offending lyrics, but the NFL, which produced the show, switched off his mike so that they went unheard in the stadium and on the broadcast by the ABC television network.

Shades of "Let's Spend Some Time Together" perhaps? The Stones, far from being edgy bad boys, are simply still willing to suck it up for the establishment, even if it means bowdlerizing their act. I mean, do they really need the money that badly? Cause nothing says "edgy" less than toning down your act for a paycheck.
A Modest Proposal: Please, please, please do away with the "[Insert Corporate Sponsor Here] Superbowl Halftime Show, presented by [Insert Secondary Corporate Sponsor Here], featuring [insert over-the-hill, disinterested vanilla Brit rocker here]."

We went from a non-sensical, briefly titillating, but mostly smoke-and-mirrors halftime show with Janet and Justin in 2004, to Macka (or was that just a Fidelity Investments commercial??) in ought-five, to now, the Creaking Stones. They were just awful. From the I-could-have-predicted-it-last-week playlist (Satisfaction, Start Me Up and second single from new album [which, after that performance, is just a SURE THING to rocket up the charts!]), to the awful sound, to the complete lack of cohesion and any sign of genuine interest, it was a debacle from jump street. The only fun part is seeing whether Keith is still breathing.

No more halftime shows that don't feature marching bands and drumlines (they have proven adept at getting on and off the field in the supposedly alotted 15 minutes). I mean, I know ABC wants to justify selling airtime during halftime, but really, isn't eighteen million a second enough during the rest of the game? No one cares about halftime -- that's when you get seconds on chili and hit the "turlet" (sometimes at the same time). At my Superbowl watching venue, only one person was interested that the Stones were on, and she's from Austria -- a place not known for its discerning taste (well, not since the 1700s).

I thought Dr. John, Ms. Aretha and Mr. Neville did a decent job with the National Anthem, as even though Aretha appears to have eaten a couple of The Supremes on her visit to Detroit, she can still belt out the notes. I didn't think the Star Spangled Banner was particularly well adapted to Aaaron's warbling, but all-in-all, a fine job, and since sporting events are for some reason required to start with the Anthem, that's a fine a place as any to "showcase" yesterday's hottest stars.

Halftime should not be an event -- it's an intermission. I think talking hotdogs and popcorn boxes would do just fine really.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Business cliches: Here's something my fellow bloggers will get a kick out of. Last week I went to the Charlotte launch of Microsoft's new version of CRM software. We are considering partnering with a company as a reseller of the service and wanted to check it out for ourselves. Microsoft has a gazillion companies who sell add-ons and custom features for CRM and they were all their hawking their wares. I got cornered by one guy and got his pitch about their product. All great. Told him to send me an email. Here's what he sent (edited to protect the guilty):
Hi (flyer),

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Microsoft CRM launch
event in Charlotte, and thanks for stopping by our table.

To remind you, our products are designed to extend the functionality and industry focus of MS-CRM. Our products enhance Core functionality, as well as Sales and Service productivity. Visit our website at *****.

I know you guys are focused on the Marketing module, so there may be some synergy to partner on deals. We have just begun live, interactive webinars for our v3 products, and our SDK which is now available. You can register now at *****.
We also have free, 15-day evaluations of our products. You can register for these at *****.

Pricing has been reduced significantly from v1.2, creating an even
faster ROI

Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
Thanks, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.
This is like a Where's Waldo of business buzz words mixed together. If he'd just worked in "paradigm shift" he'd win the stuffed bear. Keep in mind, I probably got chatted up by a haf dozen of these guys and I can't remember what any of them do. If you're going to follow up with me, how about giving me a clue as to what you and your product do.
Actual thoughts on Boehner: It's easy to be a reformer when you're new in town. Once you are the establishment it gets a lot trickier (that pretty much sums up the entire Republican Party at this point). Not many congressional lifers calling to throw the bums out. That's one reason I was a big fan of another Ohio Rep., John Kasich. Too bad he's squandering his talents on Fox News, but at least he realized you can only be an advocate for change in one place for so long and retain credibility. Eventually you have to move up or out.

That's not to say Boehner won't be an improvement over DeLay, or that he can't be a capable leader. In fact, I think he'll be a much better advocate for the Republican Party than DeLay because he doesn't have the baggage from having been the Whip. He chaired, if memory serves (too lazy to Google, how sad) Ways and Means so he knows how to reach a compromise without breaking kneecaps. I'm just not sure he would have been elected if wholesale reform were really what the party is after. Incremental change may be possible, though, and that may be the best we can hope for.

Color me baited: If only to to quell the uproar that will ensue the first time somebody at DailyKos Googles "Boehner, hookers" I'll jump into the fray. There were NO HOOKERS involved. The Congressman tips all girls $500 for lapdances and provides sugar bowls of coke in the limo as matter of course. No strings attached.
Just kidding, it was Kennedy's party; John and I mostly sat in the corner smoking Camels and drinking Wild Turkey the whole night, talking about the heady "Gang of Seven" days and how the movie deal never worked out (Santorum wouldn't sign off due to the excessivley violent vision proposed by then unknown director Quentin Tarantino - apparently it called for John Doolittle to debut the "Five Finger Exploding Heart Technique later worked into the Kill Bill 2 screenplay).
Okay, maybe not. But he did speak to my Poli Sci class at UD and he bummed a light off me which I figured made him much cooler than any other Republican dork in a suit. It's amazing how college kids brains work, eh.
"C" is for Castration, Calamnity and Chaos: You never know what will pop over at Opinion Journal. Comes now an article on death metal and the unique vocal stylings of the lead singers who practice that craft. Apparently, according to those in the know at the Wall Street Journal, the singers invoke what's known as "Cookie Monster Singing" to spell out (in an indecipherable manner) their thoughts on dismemberment, death, torture and pain.

The author even got Frank Oz to comment, which is just fantastic as far as I'm concerned.
Boehner: I don't know much about the new guy. Sounds like the usual, though:
Boehner has a strong conservative voting record, winning a perfect score from the American Conservative Union in 2004 and a "0" from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action. Conservative groups rallied behind the choice.

"John Boehner has a solid record of support for pro-growth principles and a history of ... (enacting) those principles into law," said Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth.

Boehner is also pro-business. He was president of a plastics manufacturing company in Ohio before coming to Congress. The National Association of Manufacturers called him a "longtime friend."

But he also has ties to Washington lobbyists, a fact that worried some Republicans hoping to put K Street scandals behind them.

Actually, I respect the Club for Growth's opinion, if only because their conservatism is economic, rather than social, making them the leaders of the libertarian wing of the GOP. Still, they're an advocacy group, thus inclined to put lipstick on the pig.

I do wish Flyer would chime in here, since he is the only blogger I know who scored hookers with Boehner. No, wait, I'm misremembering -- it wasn't hookers. What was it Flyer?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Uhh, Mr. President, ExxonMobil on Line 3: We should all know better than to hold W to his word when he is speaking about "addiction" or ummm, "math". Apparently, when W said he wanted the U.S. to cut its "addiction to oil" by replacing "more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025," what he was really saying was
''This was purely an example,'' Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

He said the broad goal was to displace foreign oil imports, from anywhere, with domestic alternatives. He acknowledged that oil is a freely traded commodity bought and sold globally by private firms. Consequently, it would be very difficult to reduce imports from any single region, especially the most oil-rich region on Earth.

Asked why the president used the words ''the Middle East'' when he didn't really mean them, one administration official said Bush wanted to dramatize the issue in a way that ''every American sitting out there listening to the speech understands.'' The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because he feared that his remarks might get him in trouble.

Now, I can certainly understand how some speech at a VFW might get taken out of context, or if W was doing one of his new Q&A's, he might use bold examples to sell his overall message, but uhh, wasn't this language in the State of the Union Address? You know, the one that is Constitutionally mandated (well, in one form or another)?

Listen, I think all SOTUs are so much balderdash, and I wish we'd go back to the Jeffersonian ideal of handing in a written list of "stuff I'd like to git done in the next year or so," as opposed to displacing "Fear Factor" or whatever was on. But, if we're going to have this farcical "speech" with 60 breaks for applause (and scowls), then let's at least try to say what we mean, or maybe agree to wait say, 72 hours before we go about spinning the words our speechwriters spent weeks putting together.
Two Names: Eleanor Rigby. Stanley Jordan. Put the two together, and you get something pretty awesome.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

More Superbowl Coverage: Here's a look at the distilled truth over at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

As for me? I'm taking the Hawks, 24-17.

Just in case I bought a box of Worrisome Washcloths to wave around...what's that? Oh sorry, Horrendous Hankies, you know, to wave around whenever the Ste....hmmmm? Towels? Oh dear...I feel I've been deceived. Who would have thought that guy selling the Official Superbowl Merchandise from his shopping cart was in fact nothing more than a low down counterfeiter?