Caveat: Venter

Think about all of the things that make your brain itch. These are mine.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Straw Poll

So once more Ron Paul has won the CPAC Presidential Straw Poll (and before anyone jumps on me for the selection of source, I took the first hit on Google). The most amusing part of this is the quote from David Keene, organizer of the host group, in referring to Congressman Paul (R-TX): "Ron Paul energized kids, and I want those kids."

We've seen that a solid youth vote can move a presidential election (1960 and 2008 are key examples). We have also seen how little such a group did in 1972. The problem here is the dismissive choice of language. Kids? Seriously? You're looking for kids? You don't want educated youth? Young voters eager to make a passionate and reasoned case for your eventual candidate? Wait. Nope. Reasoned arguments have not been winning you any elections lately. Go for the kids.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Defections

So now that there are 58 Democratic Senators and two Independents who caucus with the Dems, thanks to today's Minnesota Supreme Court ruling (5-0, for those who care), how long do folks think it will take before one of those 60, in a bid to gain power, crosses the aisle?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Best Show You're Not Watching (and Sue)

I DVR Breaking Bad on Sundays (the DVR catches the rebroadcast, too) and watch it later in the week, usually on Mondays. This week was different, and I just caught it today. For those unfamiliar with the show, high school chemistry teacher Walter White, working a second job in a car wash, gets diagnosed with cancer and, through happenstance (his brother-in-law is a DEA agent) meets a former student who is cooking meth. Walter decides this is the way to make the money to pay for his treatment and care for his family after he dies, and so he becomes a drug manufacturer, with Jesse, his former student, as the dealer.

In season 2, things have gotten crazier, and among other things, his teenage son decides to help out by making a web site named savewalterwhite.com to raise funds to pay for his father's treatment. This is bad for a man who does not want to keep a high profile. On a lark, I went to the site, and, sure enough, there was exactly what I had seen on the show, including a link to the National Cancer Coalition, where real donations can help fight cancer.

My wife, just over a year ago, lost her aunt Mari to pancreatic cancer, so cancer has had a presence in our household for a couple of years now. I was 53 minutes into the DVRed episode when my phone rang, number blocked, which means my mother is calling. I knew what that meant, though I tried to convince myself it was just another internet connection problem for me to solve.

My neighbor, Sue Smith, a woman who had helped raise me, after a fashion, and whose children I had helped raise (much less significantly) as a babysitter and as a neighbor, had succumbed to lung cancer, a scant six weeks after her initial diagnosis. It hit me hard, and it will continue to have its impact for quite some time. Sue is an irreplaceable light, a woman I never knew to express anger except over conservative politics, and an amazing human being with an inimitable laugh.

I know everyone says things like this about people who have recently died, but I assure you I have thought these things for years. Even now, because wired.com is my homepage, I noticed that a key story today is about cancer. It's funny how things come together, though perhaps it's like the way half the people on the road seem to be driving the same kind of car you just bought.

Anyway, I have been struggling, making headway, and then stumbling—badly—in my fight to quit smoking. I even bought a pack today. I will finish the pack, but when it is done, I am done. Sue, this smoke-free life is dedicated to you. There is no better way I can think to honor you in my life than this. I hope I can succeed now where I have failed before.

Requiescat in pace, Sue. You are missed, but never forgotten.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Two-Part Irony

Banks have been complaining about the government's decision to alter the terms attached to TARP funds, requiring, after the initial round, that executives accept salary caps and other such outrageous things. This, of course, has much support from the pro-business folks one finds on CNBC and other media outlets (Larry Kudlow is a fine example). Yes, it is a bit sneaky on the government's part, but hardly something to worry multi-millionaires whose own clients are, in too many cases, trying desperately to avoid personal bankruptcy.

Enter today's discussion between President Obama and credit card companies. Kudlow and many of his fellow commentators are crying foul that the government might try limiting the ability of companies issuing consumer credit to change the terms of that credit after it has been granted, even penalizing people who pay on time every time.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that dead companies provide no credit and that increasing those companies' exposure to risk means that fewer consumers will qualify for credit. This last point means that recovery due to consumer spending will be longer in coming. Fewer plasma screen TVs and iPods mean fewer dollars circulating through the economy (I love the way that the same money gets counted every time it is spent, but such are the joys of economics). Still, financial institutions, whether they be banks or other credit-issuing organizations, must expect to play by rules that at least resemble those we consumers deal with, right?

Finally, is it really such a bad thing if we ask that fewer people have free access to easy credit? Isn't loose credit precisely what precipitated this entire mess in the first place? Go back twenty-two years and look at how many high school seniors had credit cards (I was a senior in 1987, so this is easy for me to think about), and for those who did, how many cards they had. Compare that to two years ago. Was the change really that bright? President Obama has declared that he wants have his administration usher in a "new era of responsibility," and both sides of this—consumers and lending institutions—could use a little more of that.

Now if only we could get government on board with this concept.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Poll Session(s)

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions appeared today on CNBC to discuss the stimulus bill. When asked why, after Republicans claimed that the way to stimulate a growing economy is tax cuts, are Republicans now saying that tax cuts are the way to stimulate this shrinking economy. His answer? Polls show that the American people believe tax cuts are the fastest way to inject money into the economy.

I have two problems with this. First, a very few people in America qualify as economists, so I don't think this is the greatest way of determining economic policy. Second, this is the same party that has spent decades ragging on Democrats for supposedly trying to govern by opinion polls (remember the Clinton years?).

Gotta love hypocrisy, huh?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mojave? Kinda Dry

I final decided I would take Microsoft up on visiting the site for the well-advertised "Mojave Experiment" so I could see what they had going on. In case you have missed the ads (oh, to be you who have), Microsoft shows people who were told the latest OS was "Windows Mojave," at which point said people gushed. We are not shown in the ads what these people were shown, and even on the site, the introduction to the OS is kinda lame.

Still, let's try something here. I took a look at one of the videos by the MS guys, and I found the "Instant Search" functionality was, while zippy enough on their 2.2GHz Core2 Duo laptops, no faster than my OS X 10.5 on my 1.2GHz G4. They pointed out that their machines were not top of the line and were one year old. Mine is not top of the line, and it is four years old. Come on, guys. If you want to impress, at least beat out the machine on which I am typing this, and do it using a feature I didn't have for over a year before your not-so-new machines were made.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

"World Peace"

Sandra Bullock is wonderful in this role, but I was surprised to see Joe Biden in the same movie.

Update: Sandra Bullock was victorious in the first two movies. I didn't think they would write such a dark ending for the Gracie Hart character. Looks like an end to the sequels.