Saturday, November 20, 2004

Mondays Off! Special NBA Melee Edition

Wow.

What else is there to say? Well, plenty--but "wow" covers a good majority of it, no matter how jaded a sports fan you may be. I've never seen anything like what happened at the Palace at Auburn Hills last night, even from a league which has featured, in recent memory alone:

-A star player (Latrell Sprewell) literally choking his head coach (PJ Carlesimo)

-A head coach (Jeff Van Gundy) grabbing a player's (Alonzo Mourning) leg and being dragged around the court in an attempt to intervene in a fight

-An elite player, and the face of the league (Kobe Bryant) being charged with rape

-A star player (Sprewell again) rejecting a $40 million contract offer because he has "a family to feed"

-One heir apparent to the Bird-Magic thrones (Carmelo Anthony) wiggling out of drug charges by letting a friend take the rap, while the other heir apparent (Lebron James) celebrated the birth of his first illegitimate child

-The Defensive Player of the Year (Ron Artest) asking his head coach (Rick Carlisle) for time off due to fatigue from promoting his rap album.

I've watched all this happen. And yet last night I stood, jaw dropped, and stared at my television, as one after another, millionaire man-children leapt over rows of seats to engage dozens of drunk fans in violent physical altercations. I won't excuse anybody from blame for what happened, but I will make some observations:

Observation One) Ron Artest is clearly imbalanced, and not in a funny way. I truly believe that he suffers from some serious emotional problems. Everybody knows it, and so everybody tries to provoke him. Last night Ben Wallace, frustrated from being dominated all night by a physical Pacers team, blew his top after a clean, hard foul by Artest. Kudos to Artest for keeping his cool after an unnecessary shove and some tough talk from Wallace. It even appeared that, after the incident, as Artest lay on the scorer's table, that he was making real effort to keep his composure, possibly doing some sort of therapy-introduced exercises.

Observation Two) Kudos again to Ron Artest for going into the stands fully intending physical harm on the person who threw a full beer at him as he lay peacefully on that table. The NBA will certainly come down hard on Artest--perhaps harder than it's come down on anyone ever--but if the security at the Palace won't send a message that it's not okay for drunk morons to assault the players they pay to see, then maybe Artest should. A man who just walked away from a fight should have the right to calm himself down without getting pelted by beer. And a man who pelts a larger man with beer had better be ready to throw down. That's just a law of nature. Drunk morons feel invincible enough without the added security of knowing that they can do and say whatever they want to these players without suffering the repercussions. Well, maybe if that guy had known that he might have to stand toe-to-toe with Ron Artest, he wouldn't have thrown that beer.

Observation Three) The league is going to have to send a message here, and unfortunately Artest is going to be the main victim. If he is suspended for less than 25 games, I'll be shocked. He might even be done for the season. David Stern has been looking for any reason to get rid of this guy, and fighting with fans is certainly reason enough. I would imagine at least 10 to 15 games each for Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, and there's no telling what else will come out after the video is thoroughly reviewed. If not criminal charges, civil charges are likely for those three--as one player who watched the game on TV noted, "you don't think some of those fans aren't going to want some NBA money?"

So what can and should we take from all of this? First, in a situation where seemingly everyone loses, the clear-cut winner, despite appearances, is the NBA. The scenario harkens back to something Mavs Owner Mark Cuban said when the rape charges were first brought against Kobe Bryant: “From a business perspective, it’s great for the NBA. It’s reality television, people love train wreck television and you hate to admit it, but that is the truth, that’s the reality today.”

He was right then, and his argument applies again here. The fallout from the Kobe debacle included the complete dimantling of the Lakers and Shaquille O'Neal switching coasts. So how did David Stern, who said at the time that Cuban's comments were "both misinformed and unseemly," further express his disapproval? By scheduling the first meeting between the Lakers and Heat on Christmas day, of course. Despite his public outrage, Stern knew, just as any good entertainment businessman knows, that Cuban was right: "in this country notoriety sells." Oh, and by the way, wanna guess who else plays on Christmas day? You got it--the Pacers and Pistons.

So who's the clear-cut loser? How about the Pacers, who are now almost guaranteed to lose Artest, O'Neal, and Jackson for significant periods of time, virtually killing their chances for a top seed in the playoffs.

It'll be riveting to follow the ramifications of this episode. Stay tuned to Mondays Off! for continuing coverage. See you next time, and try not to throw any beers at anybody until then.


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Friday, November 19, 2004

Really, Just an Opportunity to Use the Word "Titular"

Job titles are funny things. They are, like any other titles, just that, and not terribly indicative of what is really going on underneath. I have a pretty good job title, I must say, as the


Assistant Director of Course Operations.


I know what you're thinking. Sounds pretty impressive. I thought it deserved its own line. Surprisingly, though, those of you that know me know that my job requires few skills beyond the ability to use a telephone by myself and occasionally email someone. This is a good thing, especially when considered in light of my haunting inabilities for the game Operation. I thank my lucky stars every day that no loud buzzing noise sounds every time I make a mistake.

Anyway, here's a link to a pretty entertaining article about academic job titles.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

More Harbingers of the Apocalypse

I think I know how Nostradamus felt as he sat at his candlelit desk, stroking his beard. The knowledge that the end is near evokes from within an eerie pathos that allows no real comparison. What unspeakable things would happen if everyone shared this same cognition? What evil would rise to harness the terror that would surely sweep the nations of the world like wildfire? I shudder to even imagine such dire events.

Thankfully, this ability to recognize the signs, this horrible gift, seems to reside solely within me. I will, however, will continue to fulfill my obligation--and my burden--to report to the public what it refuses to acknowledge--that the harbingers of the apocalypse exist all around us. One only needs to look carefully enough:

Just yesterday it became public knowledge that David Lee Roth, former Van Halen frontman, is now training to be a paramedic. Soon enough, when Slick Rick becomes a cop and Sebastian Bach is elected Pope, you'll know I was right.


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Monday, November 15, 2004

Swimming Against the Tide

Ever notice how you're driving down the street and don't see any fast food places for a couple of blocks, then see four or five clustered together on the next block? Interesting phenomenon: One of the places (typically McDonalds) put a ton of money into finding the best block to locate their restaurant. The other companies can either spend a similar amount (to replicate the results) or simply free ride on the work McDonalds has already done.

A similar effect can be seen in fast food menus. Chicken McNuggets work; everybody has their own chicken "parts" now (Remember the brilliant "parts is parts" ad? Good times, good times).

Every once in a while, however, fast food companies make an open play for a market niche. Case in point: while EVERYONE is on the healthier food kick, Hardees goes and does this.

That's right, baby. 1,420 calories of "Monster Burger". 2/3 pound of beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and, just so you know they thought of everything, a dollop of mayo on top.

They list it at 107 grams of fat which translates roughly into 960 fat calories per burger.

I gotta be honest; I am a pretty big guy. I think I could choke one of these bad boys down. But when the article points out you can add fries and a coke for an extra $1.60, I start getting nausious. A supersized meal better come with cardiac arrest paddles.


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We're Back

Sorry for the absence. I was out of town on business and H-man was out on vacation.

Let the posting resume.


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Monday, November 08, 2004

For Keith Olbermann

Total 1992 vote: 104,600,366
Total Clinton vote: 44,908,254

Total Non-Clinton Vote: 59,692,112


An update for this post.


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Because Terry McAuliffe Asked

Got a note from DNC Chairman (Can you believe they haven't moved to "chair" yet? Where is the feminist outrage?) Terry McAuliffe asking for my thoughts and comments about the 2004 elections and what dems should do going forward.

Since you asked....

1. It is absolutely imperative that dems keep McAuliffe as their chairman. To dump him now would be a sign that the terrorists (and/or Republicans) have won. Dems: you must look past the fact that since becoming chairman you have lost 8 house seats and 5 senate seats. Look past the fact that despite:

"...A mediocre economy, an unpopular war and a well-funded and unified opposition,
[Bush] not only won his race but also helped increase Republican majorities in
the House and Senate."


Don't worry about the fact that you have made up no ground in governorships in the last 4 years. Remember, McAuliffe is a fundraising genius. That is all that matters, right? I mean anyone can win races and control the government, but to be able to raise money...

2. Back to the governor thing: don't run a governor for President. No good could come from that, right? When was the last time a governor won the presidency? I mean besides Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter...
No. Run a senator again. How 'bout a liberal one from the northeast? Senator Clinton, I'm looking at you.

3. Remember: dems only lost this election because a bunch of crazy bigots hate gays. Repeat it daily. You know what? Say it to the press and have them say it for you for the next four years. The folks in red states are pretty dumb so you have to keep repeating it until they understand. I suggest doing it in a condescending and arrogant fashion. That'll impress all those redneck rubes. Call them redneck and rubes. They will never learn unless you keep pounding the point home. Also, too many of them take their faith seriously. You should ridicule them.

4. Oh yeah, stop pussy footing around and stand up for your beliefs. You know why you didn't win? People were unclear how good and righteous you are on issues of "guns, God, and gays". Take a stand.

5. Don't worry about crap like war and terrorism. Follow the lead of Michael Moore and Ted Kennedy. Moore's movie made over $100 million; he must have his finger on the pulse of middle America, right? Hell, have you seen how he dresses? Just like all those ignorant, unteachable fly over state jerks. He'll show you the way. Terrorism is a phony threat. Run with it. The war was cooked up in Texas. Come on. Whatever dems do, don't start to take foreign policy seriously. Don't come out with a rational plan for dealing with the threat; it doesn't exist, remember.

6. Run on secret plans to bring our troops home regardless of whether they have finished their job. Make it more clear to people that free elections in Afghanistan or capturing Saddam Hussein don't serve our ends. People are confused. They think bringing freedom to brown peoples and driving their tyrants from power are good things. Point out to them that it doesn't matter how many brown people are executed by a ruthless dictator; they don't matter to us.

7. I almost forgot: don't stop fighting this election. Please, don't let it go gracefully. Here, these guys have some grumbles. Get up off the mat and run with it. It is not to late to start suing is it? Come on. Bush is Hitler. He eats babies and sells their blood to Halliburton who marks it up and sells it to medics in Iraq for blood transfusions. Hatred and bitterness is the key to all future success for dems.

8. Anyone can act as principled opposition. Dems should take it a step farther and filibuster and block everything. The more inconsequential it seems the more important it is. Dems must prove that they can obstruct anything. "Up With People" week? Stonewall. Charter school proposals to help inner city kids get a better education? Tie it up in committee. Nothing is more important than reaching the right pique of fit in the next two years.

9. Finally, I think it is critical that you continue to tie your fortunes to America's misfortune. Make it more clear that you are hoping for a bad economy and for the war to go poorly. The connection is not quite clear enough as it stands. Maybe more of your folks could openly wish thousands of deaths on Americans since they were stupid enough to vote for Bush.

In short: more of the same and lots of it, Terry. I just know it'll work better next time.



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Keith Olbermann, Idjit

has a piece up on MSNBC's website (feel the excitement) in which he asks a simple question: Click "Read more"

Since when was the term “mandate” applied when 56 million people voted against a
guy?
Answer: 1992, when Bill Clinton had 59,692,112 people vote against him while the Boston Globe proclaimed:

"Bill Clinton called for change, but he never dared ask for a mandate as sweeping as the one he received last night. The magnitude of the Democratic triumph was so enormous that it ensures Clinton a strong alliance with Congress and an incentive to move quickly on his domestic programs....Clinton marched to victory in state after state, from New England to the Old Confederacy, across the industrial belt and the Great Plains to California, where the Democrats last won in 1964. He piled up a popular vote nationwide that transcended predictions, while his party strengthened its hold on Congress."


Just so you don't think I am cherry picking here, I'll post the cover of Time magazine with its blazing "Mandate for Change" headline when I get to my picture software at home.


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Electoral Math

So I hear from a couple of folks a renewed call to get rid of or alter the electoral college. The thought around here is that it disproportionately helps the large, but sparsely populated, states and therefore the Republicans. It does this by giving each state a vote for each of their two senators. So a state like Montana which only has enough people for one representative gets 3 votes. The questions of interest are 1. What is the magnitude of the effect and 2. Does this effect commonly help Republicans? Click "read more".

Let's start with 2000. In 2000, Bush carried 30 states; Gore carried 20. The final EV count was 271 to 266 (with one abstention that would have gone to Gore had it mattered.) I am giving that one to Gore (267).

In the popular vote Gore lead 50.99 million to 50.45 million. So Gore's share of the 2 way popular vote was 50.3% while Bush's was 49.7%. But Bush's share of the electoral vote was 50.4 to Gore's 49.6. In an extremely close race, the electoral college can produce an odd result.

What if we eliminate the senatorial votes from the electoral college? Now Bush gets 60 fewer EC votes and Gore gets 40 fewer. New total: Gore 227, Bush 211. This gives Gore 51.8% of the EC vote and Bush 49.3.

In 2000 the electoral college and in particular the "extra" senatorial representation gave Bush the victory.

Also, we now have a template:

2000 EVs EV% Pop% EVsAdjusted EVAdjusted% Difference (EV and Adjusted)
Bush 271 50.4 49.7 211 49.3 -1.1
Gore 267 49.6 50.3 227 50.8 +1.1 (rounding)

Let's apply it:

2004
Bush 286 53.2 51.5 224 51.1 -2.1
Kerry 252 46.8 48.5 214 48.9 +2.1

So Bush was helped but would have won regardless. What about some other races of note?

1992 EV EV% Pop% EVAdjusted EVAdjusted% Diff
Bush 168 31.2 37.7 132 43.1% +11.9
Clinton 370 68.8 43.3 306 56.9% -11.9

Two real lessons here. One: EVs usually help the winner, not the Republican. Two: the Electoral college really hurts 3rd party tries, not the dems. Remember, Perot picked up 19% of the vote and got no EVs.

Interestingly, in 1976 both Carter and Ford got 25 states which produces the statistically unlikely effect of having the EC help the loser slightly.

One final one for you Gore 2000 fans:

1916
Hughes 254 47.8 48.3 218 50.1 +2.3
Wilson 277 52.2 51.7 217 49.9 -2.3

So, absent the "senatorial advantage" of the smaller states, Wilson would have lost in 1916.

Overall, it doesn't seem like the "senatorial advantage" is large enough or consistant enough to present a problem. It has had a seen effect on two elections (Hayes-Tilden 1876 and Bush-Gore 2000) and an unseen effect on a third (Wilson-Hughes 1916). One out of every 18 elections we have held since 1788 and only two in the modern era with one breaking for each party. Not a bad record.

This has to be weighed in the balance with the positive effects of an electoral college system (to be discussed in a future post.)





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Deja Vu all over Again

At the Times. Today they are running thier semi-annual "Despite Drop in Crime, an Increase in Inmates" article by Fox Butterfield.

To paraphrase Beetlejuice: "I've seen this article 47 times and it. just. keeps. getting. funnier. every. single. time. I. see. it.

For an incredibly sophisticated, in-depth analysis explaining the findings of this headline click the "read more" link below.

When you put more criminals in jail, there are fewer on the streets committing crimes. Period.

Seriously, if you want an idea of how silly this headline is, just reverse the phrases: "Despite an Increase in Inmates, a Drop in Crime"



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Saturday, November 06, 2004

For Ace and Dummocrat Readers

So with links from Ace of Spades and Dummocrats we are seeing actual people actually reading our blog. For your benefit here are a couple of links to prior stuff of interest. A sort of "Greatest Hits" of the last couple months.

If you see something you like or don't like, leave me a comment. And tell a friend. H-man and I are having an informal driving traffic to the site contest.

Oh yeah, sorry about the "read more" links. Some have content beneath, some don't. I am trying to get it figured out. If you can help, leave me a comment and I'll catch you. A definitive solution earns you a link on the site.

Top Ten Most Annoying Political Speech Moves (Max)

Live Blogging the VMAs (H-man)
He also has a live blog of the presidential debates as well.

Dems seemed convinced they can prove a negative (Max)

Weekly NFL Recap (Week 1) (H-man)
I like this series H-man does every week.

A wrap-up of Kerry's August strategy (Max)
This is part one of a five parter. I intended on writing a similar piece in September (again about Kerry misteps) and one in October focusing on Bush mistakes (and the fact that despite running against a terrible campaigner, Bush couldn't run away with it.) What can I say, you get what you pay for.







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She's a Man, Baby

"Was Gay Marriage Kerry's Undoing?"--headline, Boston Globe, Nov. 4



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Fool on Parade

Hey, 18 to 25 year olds. Two in the chest, one in the head. You can't say you weren't warned.


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Let's be Honest

Who among us has not dreamed of flying an F-16 over our old school and letting loose?


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Friday, November 05, 2004

The Party of Peace and Love

can't figure out why middle America "hates" them.


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Upon the Silver Anniversary of My Birth, and the Twilight of My Youth

In two days I'll be twenty-five years old. That sucks for a variety of reasons. But anyway, I thought now would be a good time to take stock of how my current existence compares to how I predicted my life at 25 would be when I was ten years old:

Married? Nope.

Kids? Nope. And if they're hiding in the apple of my eye, I'll be consulting an ocular surgeon about having that particular apple extricated.

Successful, lucrative career as an engineer? Not so much. For some reason, when I was little I thought I'd be an engineer. It just sounded cool, I guess. It also would've allowed me to design cars that morphed into other things and drove on vertical walls like they did on MASK.

(click "Read More" to continue...)

Really nice house? At least my one-bedroom apartment is in a decent neighborhood.

Abundant, almost obnoxious wealth? This is the one that hurts the most.

Driving the Ferrari Testa Rossa that was on the cover of my Trapper Keeper? Nope. And I'm just as surprised as anyone about this. But, I figure as soon as I run my 1990 Camry into the ground, I'll begin look more seriously at snooty Italian sports cars.

I wonder how ten-year-old Harberboy would react if I took him aside and told him the details of what 25 is really like:

Well, little buddy, at 25, you spend the majority of your time working in a relatively mindless job that allows for endless Internet surfing and blogging. At night, you go home to your one-bedroom apartment and call the few friends you have left, since they all spread out around the country after college. If you're girlfriend's busy, you spend most of the evening eating the pizza you didn't finish last night, deciding what you're going to TiVo for the next few weeks, and strategizing how you can maximize the amount of football you watch while minimizing her anger at you. If she's not busy, the two of you spend ninety minutes deciding where to eat dinner, then inevitably end up at one of the same four restaurants you always go to. Hopefully, the two of you have enough energy to spend some quality time together after dinner (which ends at 10pm because you spent so long deciding where to go), but odds are that you're both tired from "working" all day. Bedtime!

But hey, there's always the weekend, right? You get to spend at least some time playing TMNT or Home Run Derby, right?

Oh, that's cute. You'd think so, but now that you spend 50 hours a week at work, you have to use your weekend time for things like cleaning your bathroom.

Huh?

Okay, so I don't clean my bathroom. But I spend at least three hours a weekend watching ESPN and mumbling, "I really need to clean my bathroom." When I get over that, I realize that I need to go to the grocery store (must be out of Double-Stuf Oreos and juice), the bank, the post office, the mall (to buy something like slacks), or some other unfortunate errand.

So when do you have time to take your Ferrari for a spin?

Exactly.


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Cocooning Redux

God bless 'em. They really need to take a step back. My mom used to say that you should take a deep breath and count to ten when mad. Do they say that in blue states? Or is that just more dumb rube talk? Let's ask Jane Smiley... (more below)


"Slate asked a number of wise liberals to take up the question of why Americans
won't vote for the Democrats."

Brilliant! Come on, you know where this is headed. Surely they are going to calmly reflect. Maybe we are out of touch with middle America. Maybe we need to examine who we are and what we stand for? What is our foreign policy position and how can we show people that we are serious? Or maybe:
Why Americans Hate Democrats: A Dialogue The unteachable ignorance of the
red States

Yes, friends. Maybe the problem is we are too good and righteous while evil forces oppose us. Note: "A Dialogue". Isn't that precious. I can't wait. Incidentally, I include the link to this one because I was accused of making up yesterday's New York Times story. It doesn't mean you actually have to give Slate a hit. Trust me; its all in there.

I say forget introspection. It's time to be honest about our antagonists.


Good call. There has been sooooo much introspection on the part of the democrats. Introspection like: I don't know anyone who voted for Bush. Or: I can't believe how many redneck bigots are in my country. Yeah, let's get past that introspection and get to the dialogue.

I suppose the good news is that 55 million Americans have evaded the ignorance-inducing machine. But 58 million have not. (Well, almost 58 million: my relatives are not ignorant, they are just greedy and full of classic Republican feelings of superiority).


Choice. Where to begin. Let's start the "dialogue" off by accusing over half the country of begin ignorant. The nice thing about this tactic is that it reduces the need to ask their opinion later (that would diminish Ms. Smiley's dialogue). Then note that the one group of red state voters that is not ignorant is her family. How convenient. But she then manages to insult them too.

But the insult is the key. They are full of classic Republican feelings of superiority. Get it? Her "dialogue" is titled: The unteachable ignorance of the red states, and in the first paragraph she has not only laid out the ignorant claim but degraded her family. But I am the one with "feelings of superiority". Quick quiz. What is worse: her staggering lack of self reflection or the fact that presumably some editor let this through?

Ignorance and bloodlust have a long tradition in the United States, especially in the red states.


That is soooo true. When my wife and I had our first child we said: "Hey, should we move to a kind, peaceful caring community like New York City, or should we find a place with a rich tradition of ignorance and bloodlust like, say, Hannibal, Missouri? It was a tough call, but we had juuuust the right amount of ignorance.

Here is how ignorance works:


She then goes on with three paragraphs of stylized stereotyping of evangelical Christians (who I guess were all 59 million of Bush's votes). I'd reproduce it here, but frankly it lacks the punch and drive seen in her takedown of her family.

The reason the Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections
is simple:


She actually got a full, rational, true clause out here, but then she blows it with her explanation which is actually quite complex and revolves around a SPECTRE-like cabal. Some bonus points for the following thoughts:

A generation ago, the big capitalists, who have no morals, as we know...

They know no boundaries or rules. They are predatory and resentful, amoral, avaricious, and arrogant.


We have to give them more to think about than they can handle...



Well, that shouldn't be hard, I guess...What were we talking about?

Then she ends with a punch line:

Whatever their short-term appeal, they are borne of hubris and hatred, and will
destroy their purveyors in the end.


Damn, I can feel the humility and love from Jane causing my cold, cold heart to grow three sizes. She is right. Only purveyors of kindness and decency like herself can save me from my life of intolerance, ignorance and bigotry. But don't do it for me, Jane, do it for the children.

Update note: Just figured out that the dialogue is between Slate's collection of wise liberals. Since a dialogue is simply two people speaking, not necessarily two opposing views, I have to retract some of the snideness above. On the other hand, I love this dialogue:

Why [do] Americans Hate Democrats?
(Sullentrop) Because we are too smart.
(Smiley) because they are too ignorant.
(Noah) I don't know.


Full marks to Noah for not being a total tool.


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You Know it, I Know, and the American People Know it

Just to inflame a friend.


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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Thanks, Ace

So the Ace of Spades linked my bit on the Manhattan dingbats featured in the New York Times.

As an extra bonus, he stopped posting for the day so my bit sits on top of his site. Sweet.

I am adding him to the link list. If you are coming from Ace look around, tell a friend, come on back sometime.


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Victory Lap

Damn, almost forgot to take a victory lap.

I got 4 out of the 5 key swing states correct, 5 of the 6 key senate races and our gubenatorial race correct.


Also, I stupidly didn't post it, but H-man and others around here can confirm that I gave Bush 286 electoral votes. If Iowa holds, I hit it exact. I know it is cheap since it wasn't posted, but TS.


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Someday, when we're mostly gone...

...and the only survivors of the apocalypse are the cockroaches, cave-dwellers, and bloggers, hopefully someone will look back upon our little NotSoMuch endeavor here and realized that I predicted the end when no one else did. "Why such pessimism?" you might ask. Well today I found out that at one of our nation's institutions of higher learning, Syracuse University, a professor (this is someone who presumably spent years earning a PhD, mind you) is teaching a class on the cultural effects of rapper Lil Kim. By the way, if you would like your son or daughter to engage in this type of forward-thinking education, the current estimated four-year tuition at Syracuse University is $114,195.33.

The apocalypse is nigh. You heard it here first.


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The New York Times Outdoes Itself

Classic NYT article today with the title: A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America. We are fortunate enough here to have our friend Tolles to show us on a daily basis what liberal cocooning is like. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, check out the following quotes from New Yorkers in the aftermath of this week's elections:


Some New Yorkers, like Meredith Hackett, a 25-year-old barmaid in Brooklyn, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush.


But trust me, they are more tolerant and inclusive than the redneck bigots out in the red states that voted 53-47 for Bush. Can you even imagine not knowing anyone who voted for Bush and thinking that you were more inclusive and open than others (but I'm getting ahead of the quotes).


Others spoke of a feeling of isolation from their fellow Americans, a sense that perhaps Middle America doesn't care as much about New York and its animating concerns as it seemed to in the weeks immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center.


Because no one could possibly care for NY and believe that President Bush wanted to agressively protect them from terror. It is obvious to these cocooned dingbats that anyone who votes Bush doesn't care about them.


"Everybody seems to hate us these days," said Zito Joseph, a 63-year-old retired
psychiatrist. "None of the people who are likely to be hit by a terrorist attack voted for Bush. But the heartland people seemed to be saying, 'We're not affected by it if there would be another terrorist attack.' "


You thought I was exaggerating didn't you. These are the people who are constantly telling us that troglodite conservatives see everything in black and white. But at least these are all simply internalized conceits and not active open sterotypes about midwesterners, right?


"I'm saddened by what I feel is the obtuseness and shortsightedness of a good part of the country - the heartland," Dr. Joseph said. "This kind of redneck, shoot-from-the-hip mentality and a very concrete interpretation of religion is prevalent in Bush country - in the heartland."


Oh. Well we all have our limitations based on regional perspectives, I guess.


"New Yorkers are more sophisticated and at a level of consciousness where we realize we have to think of globalization, of one mankind, that what's going to injure masses of people is not good for us," he said.


Wow, New Yorkers are simply better than all of us. It is becoming so obvious now. But surely this superiority is simply a function of their tolerant inclusiveness (I mean except for the part where they don't know any or understand the views of any conservatives), right?


"People who are more competitive and proficient at what they do tend to gravitate toward cities," he said.


Turns out they are better than us at their jobs, too. But midwesterners have that good old-fashioned common sense and rugged skepticism (the show-me state being an example), right?


His friend, Ms. Cohn, a native of Wisconsin who deals in art, contended that New Yorkers were not as fooled by Mr. Bush's statements as other Americans might be.
"New Yorkers are savvy," she said. "We have street smarts. Whereas people in the
Midwest are more influenced by what their friends say."


Well, slap a hog. I guess we are just a bunch of uneducated rubes, looking for a candidate who can trick us and hoping to hurt New Yorkers in the process. I never fully realized how I have no hopes or dreams, how anything I value can only be judged in relation to whether New Yorkers feel likewise, and how I am isolated from others and can only see my tiny, small-minded, religiously based, intolerant selfish views. Glad there are New Yorkers and, of course, the New York Times to straighten me out.

Allow me to let Ms. Cahme, a film producer who lunches at Elaine's and talks politics with local homeless people (I swear I didn't make that up) to sum up:


"When you're in a more isolated environment, you're more susceptible to some ideology that's imposed on you."


How true it is. Unfortunately, she was talking about the Midwest rather than the Upper East Side.


Update: Welcome fans of Ace and Dummocrats.

Here is a link to some other stuff you might find of interest.









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To Tolles

For the record, I wrote my "More Bright Side" piece at 5:40 yesterday. You posted your election wrap up piece at 8:59.

My prediction was that rather than honest reflection of possible shortcomings, democrats are in danger of looking for a rationale to explain away some pretty big losses. I nominated as the most likely rationale anti-gay bias. My post was up 3 hours before yours so I did not read your post and come up with the idea. I made the guess and you proved my point.



Honest reflection might lead one to ask: are 75% of Americans driven by anti-gay bigotry? If Michigan and Oregon pass a no gay marriage amendment by landslide margins and Kerry wins those states, does that say anything? If turnout was just as high in the 39 states that did not have a marriage amendment on the ballot, does that suggest that it was not anti-gay animus that turned out the vote? Or can I just figure that conservatives were too dumb to even know if it was on the ballot in their state? If Missourians voted over 2-1 for a similar amendment in what was, de facto, a democrat primary this spring, does that suggest anything to you?

Several points:

first: democrats would be well served to honestly reflect on these results. If they choose to believe that 75% of their neighbors are crazy bigots, they will not be able to get back on track.

second: they need to realize that their opponents are not knuckle dragging Neanderthal. You can vote for a marriage amendment without being a bigot. You can do so on grounds that you are sick of courts subverting the democratic process by legislating by fiat. You can do so because you are inherently conservative and believe we should not tamper with ancient institutions. It may not be coincidental that marriage has been between a man and a woman everywhere throughout all cultures and all time. That, of course, doesn't necessarily mean it is correct, but it does place a burden on the "pro-gay" marriage side to show why changing this institution is OK or beneficial. Perhaps you believe they have done so. Approximately 2/3rds of Americans would disagree.

Third: while I like the anti-bestiality reference (and particularly H-man's ability to tie it back to your blog, it is a side issue. You know what? If some judge in Vermont declares a constitutional right to bestiality, I bet conservatives do make an issue of it. That is democracy. If you'd prefer a system where judges just get to pass whatever laws they want (and that is what making up constitutional right is doing), and people do not get to respond, say so rather than simply imputing the worst possible motive you can think of to people with whom you disagree. Conservatives did not force a gay marriage fight; they had it forced upon them by courts. But expecting them to simply accept the court's verdict rather than influence the political process is simply jackassery.

On to your comments on President Bush. First, I am not an all out Bush defender. I think you are right about how he blew up domestic spending (though I bet you complain about how education is underfunded, no) and free trade.

I have a sneaking suspicion that his not appearing alone at the 9/11 commission was a head fake to keep liberals believing he was a stupid chimp. Laugh about the "misunderestimated" line all you want, it is no mistake that he underpromises and overdelivers as a campaigner.

On stem cells: there are serious moral and ethical issues involved in creating and detroying life. If you choose to believe that religious Christians by virtue of their having faith (and therefore stupidity) are unable to have convictions regarding this, what can I say. Again, deal with the probing questions. My church (Catholic) doesn't believe this research is wrong because "God told me last night". They have thousands of years of moral reflection on what life is, when it begins, what is it that gives a human life intrinsic value, when can we justifiably take a life etc. I think the president shares some of these views.

Plus, the Bush administration has, of course, not banned stem cell research. In fact, they are the first administration to actively fund it. But, they have limited the stem cell lines that can be used with public funding. Private funding: have at it. So the idea that this is all pandering to the religious right is off base from the get go.

Also, you bring up stem cell research as an example of him ducking tough decisions. Your line reads: "Can’t piss off the right, even though a majority would favor expanded research. " If a majority would favor it, but Bush opposes it nonetheless it is by definition a tough decision to make. The easy decision is the one that is popular.

Finally, while you may feel free to not admit that Bush has made any tough decisions, I think most people would think that dealing with a global war against a virulent ideology abroad while dealing with a recession at home requires tough decision making. Going to war in Afghanistan where both Russia and England had been defeated, not an easy call. Scoff if you will, but I remember when the anti-war left was geared up against that one. The idea that "everyone" was behind it is as laughable a fiction as the idea that everyone was behind the US during the cold war. It became easy to say once we had won.

Bush and his team have completely transformed the art of warfare and did it in real time. We defeated the Taliban in little over a month with fewer troops than we have stationed down the street at Fort Leonard Wood. Remember, also, that we did it while the New York Times was calling it a quagmire.

Bush made the tough decision to take out Saddam Hussein. Easy call? Do you remember the heat he felt? Do you think he wanted to do it without the support of France or Germany? What message do you think is an easier sell to voters:

hey we got Saddam, now we are getting out pronto or

we have a lot of work to do and are going to be there a while?

To say that he made tough decisions is not to say he never caved to constituencies. You implied that my saying he has faced some tough decisions suggests that he is a strong leader. That is a bit of a jump. That he is a strong leader I think is reflected in the fact that in the face of problems in Iraq, an improved (but not great) economy, and a highly motivated, highly funded, and highly mobilized opposition he garnered the greatest number of popular votes in our nation's history.



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I Feeeeeeeeeel Happeeeeeeeeeeee!

Every now and then, somebody needs to prove to the world that somebody else is or is not dead. Strange but true. Hence Saddam's dead sons on CNN, or Osama "Live from Underground Cave" on Al-Jazeera. There's a real trick to this though-- if you're trying to convince the world that someone is still alive, you'd damn well better make them look alive. I guess the Palestinians missed the memo, and released this Python-esque "I'm not dead yet" shot of Yasser Arafat en route to Paris. Enjoy.



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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Two Best Quotes from Last Night

First up is Alexandra Kerry (the one who, unfortunatley, looks a lot like dad). She was on CNN being interviewed by Larry King who asked if she ever stopped smiling. She responded: "Oh yeah. You should see me when I wake up in the morning. It's not pretty".

...Moving on...

Barack Obama's wife (who, contrarily, is very pretty) ended a speech introducing her husband with the line: "...the man of the hour and my baby's daddy...".


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More "Bright Side" for my friend on the Not So Bright Side of the Political Divide

H-man,

Don't forget: four more years of Bush twins.

On a more serious note: agree or disagree with his decisions, Bush has had to make some tough calls. His defeat yesterday could have sent a signal to future leaders to duck the tough choices in the way that Clinton did while in office.

Plus: A decisive win rather than two months of litigation is simply, clearly good for our country.

It strikes me that this election might lead to the Dems having their Goldwater moment. It is easy to see why they would not modify following 2000. The 2002 results (where they got creamed) could be written off as an unthinking reaction to September 11th. But last night was a pretty harsh repudiation to the Dems not just on the presidential level but across the board. The dems can either look at themselves and come up with a serious foreign policy and freshen up their domestic policy or they can continue to burn with rage, deny reality and sink deeper.

I nominate as the most likely denial rationalization the idea that repubs won because of an overwhelming turnout of fascist bigots driven to the polls by anti-gay animus (11 marriage amendments on state ballots). If they have whatever the Dems equivalent of a "Come to Jesus" moment is, they have some really good prospects in the near future. The midterm elections for a lame-duck president should provide some easy pickups.


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The Bright Side

So Kerry conceded this afternoon--big win for Max and his band of merry fascists, I suppose. Actually, I wasn't terribly emotionally involved in this particular race until yesterday afternoon, when I got home and watched my TiVoed episode of ESPN's Pardon the Interruption. At the end of a live interview, Charles Barkley proclaimed "If George W. Bush wins, I will run for governor of Alabama."

Think what you want about Barkley's personality, but he does embody one virtue above all others--the man speaks what he believes to be the truth. No bullshit, no pandering, just Chuck. Sort of the same quality that people extoll in W, except that Barkley entertains as well as educates. So he's serious. And if anyone wants to hop on, I'm driving the Round Mound in 2006 bandwagon.


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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

U-S-A! U-S-A!

So I voted today. Took about an hour--to be expected, I guess. Sometimes I think the process would be sped up if we did it the way they do where the privilege is a little less taken for granted--you know, like the newer Central African "democracies" where you're accompanied to the voting booth by a man in a beret and black fatigues carrying a semiautomatic weapon. I bet those people have their minds made up before they get to the front of the line.

I always like voting in the same way that I sort of like going to the DMV--you get to see people you don't normally run across. Like the dude in front of me who was wearing no small amount of lipstick and eyeliner. I'm cool with that; I just wish I had been able to stand in front of him rather than behind him. You see, from behind, he was actually kinda hot-- really tight jeans and this sort of AC/DC schoolboy look that would've been super hot on a chick. Too bad he wasn't a chick. So I had to spend the whole time in line reminding myself not to check out the GUY in front of me. The rest of my voting experience in a nutshell:

Main Lowlight: I didn't get an "I Voted Today" sticker. What the hell is that about? I pay taxes, and I expect to see my tax dollars at work.

Main Highlight: Seeing my "How Things Work" (physics for history majors) Professor from college go absolutely ballistic on a kid from MoveOn.org. Here's the exchange:

MoveOn Kid: "Excuse me, sir, did a representative from MoveOn.org contact you?"

My Professor: "Yes."

MoveOn Kid: "Do you mind if we ask who you're voting for so we can check you off our list?"

My Professor (screaming): "None of your god damned business! You're not checking me off anything!"

Me: "Whoa."

The worst part about this whole episode was that after Professor K. tore into the poor MoveOn kid, he got right behind me in line and spent the next forty-five minutes expelling the most horrendous flatulence I've ever smelled. Or was that the sweet smell of freedom? No, I think it was gas.


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Monday, November 01, 2004

The Big Day

Lacking the time and energy to add interesting copy, I simply offer my guesses for tomorrow:

Eventual winner: Bush (WIN)

Nader vote: 1.1% (pretty far off)

Florida: Bush (WIN)

Penn: Kerry (WIN)

Ohio: Bush (WIN)

Wisc: Bush (miss, but pretty damn close)

Minn: Kerry (WIN)

Col Senate: Salazar (WIN)

Fla senate: Martinez (WIN)

NC senate: Burr (WIN)

SC senate: DeMint (WIN)

SD: Thune (WIN)

OK senate: Carson (miss)

MO guv: Blunt (WIN)

One last one for the road. I am going to go out on a limb and call IL senate: Obama.

Updated on 11/4 with results.





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NFL Re-Countdown: Mondays Off! Special Election Preview Edition

As anyone who pays attention by now knows, the Washington Redskins have managed, in the last 16 presidential elections, to exactly predict a winner by their performance in their home game immediately preceding Election Day. Redskins win, incumbent party wins. Redskins lose, and the incumbents suffer a similar fate on Tuesday. So what happened on Sunday? Visiting Packers take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter, Redskins come all the way back to apparently grab the lead with only a few minutes to play, then have their touchdown reversed by the referees on a chintzy technicality. One interception later, Green Bay seals the deal and a victory for John Kerry on Tuesday. Mondays Off! believes this to be an astoundingly accurate prediction, as surely this election will be decided not by the voters, but by a third party that everyone wishes would simply stay out of it. Come on, lawyers! Let them play!

Other NFL notes before we get on to our Election Coverage:

They Punted a Few Times After All

Those of us who were hoping for a repeat of last year’s meeting between the Colts and Chiefs which involved lots of points and exactly 0 punts were half-disappointed by yesterday’s matchup, as punters got to ply their craft 6 times during the game. As if to make up for the embarrassment, the two offenses still combined for 80 points (the pre-game Over/Under was a measly 57), as Priest Holmes and the Chiefs downed Peyton Manning’s fun bunch 45-35. Hey Peyton, why not do yourself a favor, take some of your $34 million signing bonus and buy your coach a safety? I know that you’d be dipping into your retirement fund early, but I promise your golden years will be a lot more enjoyable with one less yacht and one more ring.

Mondays Off! officially proclaims these guys “For Real”

Ben Roethlisberger: This kid just has all the throws, and he doesn’t make stupid rookie mistakes. At one point yesterday, he went 27 real-time minutes without an incompletion. In comparison, see Carson Palmer’s final-minute sack/fumble at Tennessee—a play Roethlisberger would have avoided either with quickness or by throwing the ball away. Big Ben is finally going to create a star in Plaxico Burress.

The Houston Texans: Save for Jabar Gaffe-ney and his premature jocularity costing his team a touchdown, this young offense can play with anybody. Andre Johnson is studly, and the offensive line, suddenly less offensive, is finally giving him time to get open. We all knew David Carr would eventually find him if he just had half a chance.

Chris Brown: The Titans risked a lot by dumping leader Eddie George in the offseason and handing the running game to a guy most of the country hadn’t heard from since he personally steamrolled Nebraska in a Big 12 Championship game a few years back. Yesterday he proved that he, like George, could play through a painful turf toe and carry the load in Steve McNair’s absence, to the tune of 32 carries, 147 yards and a touchdown.

You Got Served

Philadelphia’s Terrell Owens--live from the Land of 1000 Touchdown Dances--finally broke one out that was worth the time yesterday, showing up the Ravens’ Ray Lewis by going right over the middle, catching Donovan McNabb pass, and speeding to the corner of the end zone. He finished off the play with a remarkably accurate rendition of the Ray Lewis dance, complete with grabbing a handful of turf and smelling it. Despite oft-conflicted views of end zone celebrations, Mondays Off! finds that bit of taunting nothing short of satisfying. Let these showboats focus their energy on each other, and the league will be a happier place. (Public Service Note to TO: Ray Lewis has been known to be vaguely affiliated with brutal stabbings.)

Segue

Much like the political nation, the NFL is currently experiencing unparalleled parity. After 8 weeks, 22 of the 32 NFL teams are still above or within 2 games of .500. That means that just about everybody remains in the hunt, somewhere in the middle of the pack. The key, just like in an election, is for those middle of the road teams to make a few plays here and there that can push them into the win column. Is this good for the league? Maybe, maybe not. Everybody’s got a chance every week, but that’s because everybody’s pretty much mediocre (that goes for the politicians as well). And in that world, we’ll let Bill Parcells be our guide—turnovers are king. So what are the turnovers that will make the difference on Tuesday?

Both parties have droves--literally, droves--of lawyers standing by, as it becomes more apparent that whatever the results of Tuesday’s count turns out to be, neither side will accept the legitimacy of a victory by the other. To paraphrase an analyst on CNN who, I believe, recently said it best—thousands of lawyers standing around with nothing to do WILL FIND SOMETHING to do.

Officials in Delray, FL, have already begun analyzing the validity of hundreds of absentee ballots. Around 150 have been tossed out because they weren’t signed. Dozens of others have already been determined to be invalid because the signatures on them supposedly didn’t closely enough resemble the signatures on file for the voters. This means that the officials who couldn’t, four years ago, determine whether a hole was fully punched through a card are now performing handwriting analysis. I've said it before, I'll say it again--the apocalypse is nigh.

Today, as part of a last-minute, six-state tour, George W. Bush welcomed a surprise guest to an appearance in Pennsylvania, having Curt Schilling join him onstage. Reportedly, Bush is having White House team doctors suture his forearm to his lips so as to prevent them from moving in any “undesirable” ways and causing him more pain. Schilling, bloody sock and all, approved this message.

This morning John Edwards made his point when he said, “So many times we’ve been told that this is the most important election of our lifetime. This is the most important election of our lifetime.” Well, John, we’ll leave that judgment to the historians.

Mondays Off! Official Election Handicapping

The oddsmakers have made George W. Bush (-2 ½) the favorite. I don’t like the spread--basically he’s getting the home points—so I’m going out on a limb, laying the points and taking Kerry as a Road Dog by 2.

Mondays Off! is proud to set the official Over/Under for the date on which the election will be decided at Monday, November 22. Those of you who believe that we will have a decision before that, good luck to you. I’m taking the Over.

Other Prop Bets I’m looking at:

Whose daughters will show up most scantily clad? I like the favored Bush girls at 6-5.

TV network most likely to prematurely declare a victor? I’m taking the dark horse Dan Rather and CBS at 16-1. Despite his recent controversy, and many predicting him to therefore take a safer approach, I like his track record of reckless Texas truisms and (albeit unproven) drinking habits.

Oddsmakers have given us enticing 4-1 odds that both Bush and Kerry declare victory Tuesday night. I’m parlaying that with my 9-1 that Kerry uses at least 3 foreign languages in his victory speech, giving me a nice 30-1 payout on Wednesday morning.

Mondays Off! wishes luck to both candidates as they begin this arduous 6-week election process. May the best party lawyers win. See you next time.



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