Friday, October 31, 2008

Beware the Friday Before the Election

There's likely going to be an election surprise sometime today. This is freakier than Halloween! (Yes, they just talked about it on Nightline, and I'm just repeating it.)

Oh yeah, and - uh - Happy Halloween, everybody!

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Possible GOP-less Future: Libertarians or Constitutionists as Opposition?

If the polls and projections are knock-on-wood-knock-on-wood-knock-on-wood accurate, we'll have at least two years of Democratic governance in the White House and in both Houses of Congress - to attempt to undo six years of Republican power and two years of gridlock and the economic crap fest we're all celebrating. In this situation, and if Sarah Palin remains the GOP frontrunner and de facto party leader, I have a feeling that the fiscal conservatives of the Republican party will have their last big exodus from the party.

Ideally, the whole social conservatism question will finally be swept off the national stage, and the political debate will be a purely fiscal and economic one. In this case, if the US remains a two-major-party democracy, it will be the Democrats versus the Libertarians in a new era of party politics. There might be "bigger government" solutions to some problems, and there might be "smaller government" problems to other problems...all that without ideological BS and backwards thinking that have plagued the beginning of the 21st century. (Of course, the real ideal will have a multi-party system instead of our traditional duopoly.)

With a possible GOP implosion, the socially right wing part of the Republican party might filter over to the Constitution party. If the social conservatives are strong enough in numbers, they could possibly play a role in the future of the American party system. As long as we have at least two economic major parties debating real issues, if a discrete socially ideological party is part of the conversation - that will a necessary nuisance on the road to a multi-party system. Bring on the Green Party, while we're at it.

More political parties mean more democracy. That beats the two party (often false dichotomy) system we have now. It's infinitely better than the single-party totalitarianism that the partisan hacks desire.

Before we have more democracy, please make good use of the democracy we have now - AND VOTE!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Calling the Series for the Phillies

As of this blog posting, the continued Game Five of the World Series has not yet concluded. That said, I'm calling it for the Phillies because I don't feel like working on the Web in a half hour or so. So, congratulations to the finally avenged Mike Schmidt (okay, he may have been on the team in 1980). Then again, he sobbed and sobbed during his retirement announcement.

Anyway, statistician Nate Silver was almost correct - he chose the Rays to go all the way. On his site, Silver predicts Barack Obama to win all the necessary electoral votes. It is my personal hope that Silver isn't almost correct in that prediction.

When I was recently on Silver's site, I saw an ad for the McCain-Palin Compliance Fund, soliciting donations from supporters. After a quick Google search, apparently, this Compliance Fund is a loophole around the campaign finance laws and public funds that McCain supposedly supports - and blasted Obama over. Then again, loopholes are loopholes, and accepting "compliance funds" isn't enough to pay for network TV infomercials. (I'm in the West Coast, by the way, so I can't wait to see the Obama variety half-hour in action.)

Of course, this blog is subject to retraction, since I called the game before the game was called.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Team of Mavericks: Maverick vs. Renegade (vs. The/That One and the Gaffe Machine)

Two days in a row, and I have nothing much to write about. I like the stories about all the in-fighting between the McCain camp (represented by Top Gun's "Maverick" Tom Cruise) and the Palin camp (represented by that TV show Renegade's Lorenzo Lamas). According to some McCain campaign staffers, Palin is allegedly a diva going rogue on the Maverick. They couldn't quite wait until after next week to air their dirty laundry (dry clean only).

One week to go. Not quite the lyric, but I wanna be sedated. Vote, if you can.

Tom Cruise photo credit: Kevin Ballard.
Lorenzo Lamas photo credit: Alan Light.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

I Voted

Nothing much to write today. I voted. Game 5 of the World Series is tied with a rain delay. That's it. Vote if you haven't already.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Cajun Boy in the City" Is Awesome

...and I mean the title as sincerely as possible. I'm a semi-frequent reader.

I remember blogging in early September about the whole Sarah-Palin-not-Trig's-mother conspiracy. This was when the McCain campaign was beginning to ride high from their post-VP announcement, and before the series of stock market dips that have effectively erased the McMentum. I lost interest in the conspiracy theory, and it seems even the enterprising individual who actually set up a website about it lost interest.

Since then, only a handful still finds the earlier rumor too interesting to shake. One of whom is a blogger dubbed "Cajun Boy in the City." He's been blogging somewhat frequently on the topic, and has recently announced that there could be a news report (of the "MSM" variety) about this topic to be released very soon...possibly tomorrow. Cajun Boy describes the report as "a bit of a bombshell piece on the Palin family."

Great, I guess. With all the -gate scandals to that have been ignored by her fans and energized her opponents, will the swing voters pay attention? Or should we simply continue the discussion about how much the economy sucks right now?

Anyway, I hope Cajun Boy's potential announcement of a possible bombshell surfaces eventually (before or after the does not matter). Then at least I could be the guy who wrote a blog entry about a blog entry on another blog that mentioned a potential announcement of a possible bombshell.

I'd get all sorts of website views...maybe.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Following People Are Not Helping John McCain's Campaign

1. The McCain campaign worker who allegedly admitted that she carved a backwards 'B' on her face, initially blaming an imaginary Obama supporter for the attack. Funny how mirrors work.

2. The "Whassup?" guys who once worked for Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), distributed by Cindy McCain's company.

3. Joes who are not Joe the Plumber: Joe his Brother, Joe Lieberman, Joe Biden, and virtually everyone else named Joe.

4. Sarah Palin.

5. John McCain.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Vote 2008, Part Three: California Proposition 2

I eat meat. I consume eggs and milk. I enjoy honey (but I doubt bees are part of the scope of California Proposition 2). In summary, Prop 2 will ensure the freedom of movement for veal (I eat cows but not baby cows), egg-laying hens, and pregnant pigs (which I tend not to eat). I will vote yes on Prop 2, for various reasons:

Philosophically (well, esoterically), the flesh of various animals - the edible parts - are converted into nutrients, which are then involved in the process of creating human cells. Therefore, consumed animals "become human." (And when the gods eat us, we'll kinda-sorta become gods...or godsh*t). Now, it's only right for these animals to be "happy" as animals before they might become "unhappy" as human cells.

Economically, of course, updating of farm equipment will be reflected in the price of meat, eggs, and dairy. According to my voter guide, farms that make less money will pay less taxes to California, which means less state revenue. While these are tough economic times, the cost increase of this proposition will probably happen if/when we ride past this current downturn. In any case, two things may happen if California meat/eggs/dairy gets more expensive: (1) Out-of-state and foreign animal products will be cheaper by comparison, and/or (2) other states will adopt similar laws, which will balance some amount of the price increases (or something like that).

Okay, let's look at (1): Buying non-California animal products, if cheaper, could be an alternative for those stuck in tough economic situations. If it's out of state, well, that's America, too - and it's good to preserve commerce among all the states of the union (unlike the sentiment of a certain Alaska Independence Party spouse who only likes "pro-America" parts of America). Unless it's canned and cured, I don't know of any regular-priced foreign farm meat available in the States. In any case, options are good, and there's a way out if Prop 2 gets pricey for consumers. In this case, though, it will hurt the bottom line of California producers and state government.

If (2) happens, then it would be a better situation for the California farming industry. The dreaded big Federal government could create a nationwide mandate, but those things don't really go over well with about half of the nation. There has been historical resistance when it comes to Federally-protected human rights in some regions of the country, so food-animal rights would be probably be laughable to those same regions (and others). The ideal situation would be a movement of consumers who want ethically-raised animals for food. And then, state by state, various permutations of Prop 2 can infiltrate the nation.

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. In conclusion, I'm voting yes on Prop 2.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Free Speech No Matter How Moronic

I was on Facebook, and my friend Nathan posted this video he found on YouTube:

Since this is America, the above woman has every right to express her opinion, even if it is a gigantic euphemism for racism. Of course, if it is an ideal America, her opinion would be a "necessary evil" to tolerate, a fringe minority view in the midst of a variety of more "intelligent" opinions. Ironically (and tragically), her vision of America probably wouldn't reciprocate the tolerance.

Here's to the First Amendment and civil liberties! Freedom is a double-edged sword, since we have to deal with unpleasant ideas, but it beats totalitarianism and fascism. In that case, we'd have to deal with unpleasant actions.

If you don't like the above woman's opinion, vote. If you agree with her logic, vote. Just vote, and we'll see what happens.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Vote 2008, Part Two: California Proposition 8

I believe that deeply personal, "subjectively moral" beliefs (as opposed to more "objectively moral" stuff like murder and theft) should be transmitted by example and not by political force. While religions and some private institutions should have some degree of the right to discriminate ("we have the truth" or "this is right and this is wrong" but not "we'll kill you or steal from you"), the government should not have that power to take away important civil rights from anyone. Due to the language of Proposition 8, as well as my beliefs mentioned above, I will vote against Prop 8.

In the eyes of the government, a "marriage" should be a taxable, non-business, family unit between two persons: A human male and a human female, two humans of the same sex, two heterosexual reptilian humanoids, two homosexual reptilian humanoids, a human and a reptilian humanoid of opposite sexes, and a homosexual relationship between a human and a reptilian humanoid. All that, as well as those who do not fit neatly in the "male" and "female" genders, humans and reptilian humanoids alike. I bring in the concept of "reptilian humanoids" for the following reasons: (1) I'm a tinfoil hat wearin' kook, (2) to address the slippery slope, bestiality argument, and (3) it's funny and slightly nauseating to imagine the logistics of...I will say no more.

(1) and (3) aside, there might be a time in the future of the planet Earth for openly non-human persons to want to marry humans. The problem is defining personhood. If the non-human person is an interstellar traveler who can learn a human language, then there's a good chance the alien is a person. Being more or less anthropomorphic would be a definite plus, especially when it comes to interpersonal attraction, but the chances for that are up in the air. On the other hand, sapient robots and "highly evolved" non-human Earthlings might have a tougher time proving their personhood. Then again, if they are sentient enough to hire a good lawyer - guess what - they're probably a person, too.

Until that shining moment in history, when all non-human persons have equal protection under the law as humans, the reptilian humanoids (as well as sapient aliens, sapient robots, and other sapient Earthlings) among us must keep using their powers of illusion to "pass" as human.

Back to the here and now: Religions should be able to define their version of marriage. If there's room for polygamy in a religion - as long as it does not become abuse (tricky language for tricky times, I suppose) - the State shouldn't get in the way of that. However, if this plural marriage tries to save on taxes by filing jointly (and jointly again), that should be against the law. It's tax fraud. The loophole around this (listen up, polygamists) would be to register your harem as a business, but then again, there could be some fraud involved. Consult your lawyer and your financial adviser, I guess.

Anyway, that's my two exaggerated cents about Prop 8. I'm voting no. As for you, vote your conscience and vote your research and vote your philosophy. Just vote.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Social Conservatives and Their Utopian "Real America"

I was pissed off at last weekend's hack remarks about "Real America" and "pro-America parts of America" before I saw Jon Stewart's humorous spin on things:

After watching the above clip, I was still pissed, but at least I had a good laugh.

The moral of the story is this: Unlike the partisan hacks who idealize about a country of manipulatable sheep, the only pro-America parts of America are the people who vote (or wish they could vote). So vote. Voting is an indicator that you give a damn about your country. Giving a damn kinda-sorta means you care. Caring is a sign of love. Therefore, if you vote, there's a good chance that you love America. Vote wisely. The end.

PS: If you are eligible to vote, but missed the registration deadline to vote, you suck. And you probably hate America.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Vote 2008, Part One: Federal Offices

I'm beginning to fill in my absentee ballot. I probably won't write too much about local issues on the ballot, but there are a few state propositions I would like to partially rant about in the near future. However, now we're at the top of the ballot - Federal offices:

It is no secret that I'm voting for Obama/Biden. Earlier this year, when both Obama and McCain were frontrunners for their respective parties, I expressed optimism for the November election. Many idealize about a past McCain because, believe it or not, that form of McCain once existed. He shows up from time - especially when he cracks jokes to a receptive audience. But oh, how times have changed!

My district's Congressional seat is on the ballot as well. I don't dislike the incumbent Representative (which is the mantra of many in the country), so I'm voting for the incumbent. And thus, I perpetuate the sentiment that Congress sucks, but my Representative/Senator rocks.

I expressed this before, but if my picks are in (the Democratic supermajority in the White House and in Congress), I'm giving them less than two years. There's a trial period between January 2009 and November 2010, to see if they can remedy some of the past eight years of national illness. If they can't, I'm going to reconsider the Senator up for reelection and Representative in 2010. I just hope my options will be more than just voting Republican to take away a Democrat.

C'mon, feasible third party (or replacement second party), where are you?

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

SNL Softballs Sarah in Sketch

It was a bit of a letdown and a waste of opportunity...with Tina Fey's awesomeness, that is.

By the way, Marky Mark was pseudo-angry about this sketch from a previous show:

Later in the show, Mark Wahlberg confronted Andy Samberg and humorously parodied himself in the process, unlike Sarah Palin. To be fair, Palin did marginally better than Michael Phelps. Then again, Phelps had to do a complete show.

Oops, I spoke too soon ("live blogging" at 12:25 AM): Palin shows up again during the "Weekend Update" segment. Amy Poehler is rapping the Palin part. So, yeah, again...Palin's just sitting down. Softball again, SNL.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Photos: Vince Mira with the Roy Kay Trio, 10/11/2008

After the Big Babies finished their set, Vince Mira with the Roy Kay Trio hit the stage. Roy Kay, who previously played the acoustic guitar during Stone Gossard's set, played the drums. Robin Cady still was the bass player, and Mike Geglia masterfully played Scotty Moore to the headliner, Vince Mira.

Vince Mira's speaking voice is that of an unsure, slightly awkward teenager. It's very meek, low-key, and unassuming. However, when Vince started to sing, the entire audience was wowed by the richness of his basso delivery. It might be fair to say that Vince just might be a reincarnation of Hank Williams, but his vocal cords are definitely possessed by the ghost of Johnny Cash.

In other words, it's kind of like that turn of the century children's cartoon/manga Yu-Gi-Oh!, where the protagonist, an unassuming kid, is possessed by the spirit of a deep-voiced hero. Both souls share the same body and cooperatively kick some ass.

If it's Vince and Johnny in there, then that's that.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Joe the Plumber's 15 Minutes of Scrutiny and the Candidates' Final Duel of Hilarity

The premise: Joe the Plumber is worried about Obama's tax policy for individuals and business that make over $250,000.

Fact check #1: Joe the Plumber's full name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher. Let's all call him Sam, or even Samwise, from now on.

Fact check #2: Samwise the Plumber doesn't have a plumber's license. Various plumbers' guilds and unions, as well as legitimate journeymen and apprentices, must not be thrilled about the pretender in their midst.

Fact check #3: Samwise the Pretender apparently cheated on back taxes. He owes about $1200 in taxes (no problem if you're an annual quarter-of-a-millionaire). Before someone can rightfully be concerned about potential future taxes, maybe that person should clean up his past tax history first. Also, Samwise, remember that it was John McCain who outed you on TV (unless, of course, you're a Republican plant).

Fact check #4: Samwise the Tax-evading Pretender currently makes less than $250,000 per year. As is, Sam would benefit from Obama's proposed middle-class tax cuts. If Sam ever gets the capital to purchase a plumbing company, after payroll and expenses are considered, it is doubtful that this small business would be a $250K+ per year medium-to-big business.

Joe - Sam - whoever you are, stop being a bleeding heart conservative.

By the way, Debate #4 (the self-effacing, stand-up comedy duel) was awesome.

Be sure to search YouTube for various excerpts from the greatest debate of all time. As for me, I'm voting for Bar-El, aka Barry Kent of the Daily Senate.

I'm currently searching for McCain's entire routine.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

C? Manic McCain?

For all his anger, offense, and Al Gore-reminiscent debate sighs, John McCain could not make Barack Obama lose his cool. When McCain pulled a non-sequitur about Ayers connection (as he said he would, but the timing was a bit off), Obama made the case for why the guilt by association charge was baseless Obviously McCain wouldn't have it that way and essentially ignored Obama's defense. In other times during the debate, McCain tried to inject humor when the situation really didn't call for it. It was sad.

And then we have Joe the Plumber. Because of McCain, most of America has an idea about this private citizen's tax bracket. Is this plumber's business making (A) significantly more than $250,000 a year, or (B) just marginally over $250,000? If (A), Joe might consider not only buying a plumbing business but also starting the Joe the Plumber's Foundation for the Tolerance of Buttcracks in the Workplace (dot org). Giving charitably sort of helps out with how much you have to pay the government in taxes. In any case, wow! if plumbing brings in all that money, I should become a plumber's apprentice and climb the plumbing ladder (like Super Mario).

If (B), then there are probably ways for Joe and/or his plumbing company to make less than $250K annually. Charitable giving is an option, and so is hiring additional employees...possibly. If double taxation is an issue here, then maybe Joe might want to convert his business into a pass-through tax entity. Anyway, people and businesses in situation (B) would feel justifiably weird about Obama's tax proposals. They're the cutoff point, and it totally sucks to be the cut-off point. However, it could be the incentive to stop being marginally rich and go for the über-wealth!

Furthermore, John McCain didn't make the case for Sarah Palin as emergency replacement President. In his words, she's just a role model for women and an advocate for families with children with special needs. Way to marginalize your VP pick, McCain...

If you don't believe my paraphrase, this is what John McCain said, according to CNN's transcript (thanks to William Dipini for the initial link):

Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she's a role model to women and other -- and reformers all over America.

She's a reformer. She is -- she took on a governor who was a member of her own party when she ran for governor. When she was the head of their energy and natural resources board, she saw corruption, she resigned and said, "This can't go on."

She's given money back to the taxpayers. She's cut the size of government. She negotiated with the oil companies and faced them down, a $40 billion pipeline of natural gas that's going to relieve the energy needs of the United -- of what they call the lower 48.

She's a reformer through and through. And it's time we had that bresh of freth air (sic) -- breath of fresh air coming into our nation's capital and sweep out the old-boy network and the cronyism that's been so much a part of it that I've fought against for all these years.

She'll be my partner. She understands reform. And, by the way, she also understands special-needs families. She understands that autism is on the rise, that we've got to find out what's causing it, and we've got to reach out to these families, and help them, and give them the help they need as they raise these very special needs children.

She understands that better than almost any American that I know. I'm proud of her.

And she has ignited our party and people all over America that have never been involved in the political process. And I can't tell how proud I am of her and her family.

Her husband's a pretty tough guy, by the way, too.
Am I just reading (and previously heard) John McCain's words wrong? There's not one phrase that indicates that McCain feels that Palin would be a great President in her own right.

It just feels like McCain's throwing the fight by acting like Frank Grimes in that one episode of The Simpsons, ranting and raving about Homer Simpson during a nervous breakdown. That's mavericky strategery for you. Oh yeah, he's not Bush (but Palin is darn close, you betcha).

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Photos: Lon Ho and the Big Babies, 10/11/2008

After Stone Gossard and the Hank Khoir's last song, a cover of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades," Lonnie "Meganut" Marshall's band called LonHo and the Big Babies hit the stage. As you can see, the band is dressed in pajamas like big babies, with the notable exception of backup vocalist/keyboardist/dancer eSharp (the only one in relative focus in the picture below).

Apparently zoomed-in, low-light photos of bass players turn out relatively all right, even with a low-megapixel digital camera from 2002 (compare with yesterday's shot of Stone Gossard's upright bass player).

Speaking of Stone, he joined the Big Babies for two songs, with an electric guitar this time around. He sang lead for one, and did his Pearl Jam sideman thing for another song.

In any case, this self-proclaimed Do Wave band (ain't nothin' newer than doin') rocked hard. At one point, they brought out a trio of ballerina backup dancers, who made their way from the stage to the crowd, bringing much joy to everyone.

The Big Babies were an awesome combination of punk rock, funk, and a slightly experimental edge. I'm still trying to figure out the prepared instrument that the "horn player" played. It's like a long clarinet with electronics, or it's a singing bong. You decide.

Next time (probably Friday), I'll post some photos from the headliner, Vince Mira with the Roy Kay Trio.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Photos: Stone Gossard and the Hank Khoir, 10/11/2008

Last Saturday, I went to the Earthkeepers Dig It concert at the Avalon in Hollywood. Before the music began, there was a speaker named James Balog, who showed a video/slideshow about the effects of climate change on the earth's various glaciers. It was pretty interesting.

The opening act was Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard and his backing band, the Hank Khoir. The backing band consisted of backup singer Barbara Ireland and the Roy Kay Trio: Roy Kay on acoustic guitar, Robin Cady on upright bass, and Mike Geglia on electric guitar. Stone played an acoustic and sang various tunes, ranging from folksy to rockabilly, and original songs and covers (Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, Motörhead).

I snapped a flash photograph right before Stone started to play his new song "Both Live."

Constantly snapping flash photos is rude to the performers on stage, so I turned off the flash for most of the show. I used a digital camera from 2002, so it doesn't focus well in low light. Many shots came out blurry, but some blurry shots looked all right.

You can almost forget about getting good focus while zooming in, with the possible exception of this picture of the upright bass player. He didn't sway or swing that much, relative to his bandmates. That could be why he was relatively in focus.

I set my digital camera on a table as an ad hoc tripod because stable shots increase the likelihood of relatively good pictures. I could almost get full band shots from this position.

An awesome person in the audience recorded video of Stone's bluegrassy cover of Motörhead's "Ace of Spades." Notice a head rockin' and groovin' back and forth in the lower center of the frame, in the front of the audience. There's a good chance that dude was me:

Hopefully someone recorded this show and posted it on the Internet. Ideally, the concert promoters should have gotten a soundboard recording (I don't think they had a Pro Tools rig in the venue), and it would rock if that recording was available online. If you happen to stumble upon this blog entry and know where to find a recording of Stone Gossard's 10/11/2008 show, please email me. Thanks.

If I have nothing political to rant about in the near future (other than debate #3), I'll definitely post photos of the other two acts: Lonnie Marshall's Lon Ho and the Big Babies (to paraphrase Lonnie: We're not New Wave; we're Do Wave. 'Cause ain't nothing newer than doin'), and Hank Williams/Johnny Cash reincarnate wunderkind Vince Mira with the Roy Kay Trio.

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