Monday, December 19, 2005

 

Shorter Russ Feingold

"I'm the only member of the Senate that supports the full Bill of Rights, and I'm naive enough to think that I can parlay this into a Presidental run."

I gotta admit, this guy is pushing all of my right buttons at this time. Combine him with a Republican congress that finds itself with a renewed sense of purpose, and things might go very well if he's not afraid to whip out the ol' veto power.

 

Reaction To Code Red

So, it's been interesting to see how blogs have responded to Code Red, the NSA's authorization to intercept communications between US citizens and suspected foreign terrorists without a warrant.

From the left, we have a convienent reminder for conservatives and libertarians about the danger of unlimited government. Yes, thanks. Remind me again who was in charge when Waco went down? I think that served as a reminder for anyone who gives a crap about "due process". Those that forgot will probably not be inspired by a blog post. And who was President when Echelon was exposed?

Then, from the right, a reminder of exactly that last point in an attempt to round up all the voices stating "well, the other side did it, too!". I seem to remember getting quite upset over Echelon, as did many others. The post over at QandO is the only one that gets it right, in my opinion; the assertion by TM Lutas that this was already going on during the Clinton years strikes me as a childish attempt to divert attention from the fact that it's still going on under a supposedly conservative government. And then there's Tom Maguire, who at one moment can be as straight as a arrow (Plamegate), and then the next takes a Powerline-ish veer to wingnutland with the suggestion that this story was originally intended as an October Surprise. It would seem to me that if the Times had honestly wanted to use this story to derail Bush's re-election, then they would have simply said "fuck it!" and ran with it, instead of holding off by a year (or more). To be honest, I would have loved it had this info become public back when the voters had a chance to do something about it, despite the fact that Kerry wouldn't have done a damn thing to improve the situation.

So, how long until someone invokes the name Carnivore?

As a side note, it's kinda interesting that the ACLU's Echelon Watch page now returns a 404 error. Apparently, they've got more important things to do.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

 

Shorter President Bush

"I'll admit to mistakes, if I'm backed into a corner by low poll numbers."

Woulda been nice to see this same forecoming attitude applied to official communications, oh, say, two and a half years ago.

For bonus Tivo fun, slo-mo'ing the first 10 seconds of NBC's cutaway to the president sure is amusing. There's some weird facial expressions and hand gestures going on there.

 

Wal-Mart Economic Impact - Follow-up Post

Back in October, I mentioned that Wal-Mart was sponsoring a debate (of sorts) to determine its economic impact. Sorry about the lack of timely follow-up, but better late than never, right?

To no one's surprise, the report sponsored by WM was positive:

It released a study by Global Insight, a Boston-based economic research firm that Wal-Mart had commissioned to conduct a yearlong study addressing such issues as prices, jobs and wages.

Wal-Mart's study found that Wal-Mart has a largely positive effect on Americans' lives, and that its low prices give consumers more buying power by holding down prices throughout the economy. It also concluded that Wal-Mart jobs generally pay market-rate wages.

And this is certainly interesting:

Global Insight found that Wal-Mart's presence holds down prices of consumer goods in the U.S. by 3.1 percent.

But what about the company's wages and (purported) lack of benefits?

In California, where such fears led to a five-month grocery strike in 2003, a team of urban planners compared Wal-Mart's wages and benefits with those of union supermarket workers in the San Francisco Bay Area. They concluded that union workers received an hourly wage of $15.30, versus $9.60 for Wal-Mart workers. Adding in benefits, union workers earned an equivalent of $23.64 per hour, almost twice the $11.95 earned by Wal-Mart workers.

[SNIP]

Michael Hicks, an economist at the Air Force Institute of Technology in Ohio, tested that theory and found that for every new Wal-Mart store, roughly 16 Medicaid cases are added to that county's rolls. In a second study, he concludes that, on average, every new Wal-Mart worker costs a state an average of about $900 in new Medicaid costs.

I'm finding it hard to draw any meaningful conclusions from any of this, especially considering that the impact on Wal-Mart's suppliers is not taken into consideration.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

 

Music Musings

I caught "Mod Squad" on Spike TV tonight, and while the movie pretty much sucked (other than the Claire Dane visuals), it was the first time I heard Alana Davis' cover of "Can't Find My Way Home". Definitely, certainly, it deserves a spot on my unofficial Top 10 Cover List (which means I'll invaribly forget to include it if I ever compile such a list).

I believe I was less than kind to Oberon when he suggested that Fall Out Boy's Under The Cork Tree wasn't half-bad, but, um, he was right. The song writing is honest and sincere, the band has some snap that bands like Hey Mercedes lack, and there's even a bit of serious cred (the band's drummer was in Racetraitor).

I came across Fastball's All The Pain That Money Can Buy on my iTune's playlist - following a common theme, it's a better album than I remember. Clearly, this is a sign of getting old.

Monday, December 05, 2005

 

Fitness... Or A Lack Thereof

Our local gym is holding a fitness contest (lose the most weight/body fat % and win three months of membership), and my wife decided that she and I should enter. I treated this as a "just going along" sort of thing.

After going through the caliper-type body fat test last Saturday and seeing my percentage calculated at thirty-one-point-four (it's less painful to spell it out that way), I decided that I need the motivation to work my ass off, and so that has become my "winter project".

I'd like to note that working out and then consuming a package of ramen, 32 grams of soy protein dissolved in a half-and-half mixture of milk and water, some leftover beef and mashed potatoes, and an additional 3 quarts or so of water has really pushed my kidneys to the limit this evening. If I suffer renal failure, I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

 

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Unfortunately, with everything else going on lately, I somehow neglected to mention the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Sorry 'bout that. Anyways, I can't say anything better about it than Gordon Lightfoot, so I'll let him take it from here:

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy.

With a load of iron ore - 26,000 tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early

The ship was the pride of the American side
Coming back from some mill in Wisconson
As the big freighters go it was bigger than most
With a crew and the Captain well seasoned.

Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
And later that night when the ships bell rang
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling.

The wind in the wires made a tattletale sound
And a wave broke over the railing
And every man knew, as the Captain did, too,
T'was the witch of November come stealing.

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
When the gales of November came slashing
When afternoon came it was freezing rain
In the face of a hurricane West Wind

When supper time came the old cook came on deck
Saying fellows it's too rough to feed ya
At 7PM a main hatchway caved in
He said fellas it's been good to know ya.

The Captain wired in he had water coming in
And the good ship and crew was in peril
And later that night when his lights went out of sight
Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the words turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd fifteen more miles behind her.

They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and took water
And all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the wives and the sons and the daughters.

Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
In the ruins of her ice water mansion
Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen.

And farther below Lake Ontario
Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
With the gales of November remembered.

In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
In the Maritime Sailors' Cathedral
The church bell chimed, 'til it rang 29 times
For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early.


 

Mirrorball

It's been literally years (6 or 7, at least) since I've listened to Neil Young's Mirrorball album - damn, I'd forgotten just how good it is.

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