Thursday, September 28, 2006

Survivor Cook Islands: Episode 3

I tried. I really, really tried.

But I am completely over it. This program is horrendous television, and I can’t make it funny or cute or interesting. It’s so bland, I can’t work up good curse words for it. And the people are so dull, I don’t even give a damn about the cute girls. I declare the end of this charade. End of Survivor blogging, I will have to find something edgier to write about. Pleh.

Forty kinds of toothpaste and only two parties

Have you been to the supermarket lately?

The toothpaste ailse stretches for a seriously ridiculous expanse. There is whitening, baking soda, cinnamon, gel, tartar control, Scope, sensitive, mint, cool mint, bubble gum, lemon mint, mild mint, regular, vanillia mint, natural....

But there are only two real choices when it comes to political parties, and nowadays there seems to be a dental floss width of difference between them. Toothpaste has evolved tremendously in the last thirty years, but democracy is devolving.

Republicans are becoming RHINOS and Democrats DINOS. The Greens, Libertarians, and Reform parties can't seem to win an election unless they run Jesse Ventura.

I'm just going to vote for whoever raises my taxes the least or taxes me the least, which may or may not be the same thing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


There was a sketch on the old Monty Python program in which a television interviewer is talking to a man on the street. The topic of the interview is completely lost in my mind. The joke was, every time they cut from the man on the street back to the interviewer, he had a turned a little bit more into a pirate.

As I recall, it started with a parrot on his shoulder, and proceeded from there. Cut back: he's wearing an eyepatch. Cut back: he's wearing a pirate hat. Cut back: He's holding the microphone with a hook. By the end of the interview, the all the TV guy can do is say, "Aaargh."

What's the point in all this? Well, I used to be a clean cut, collar-and-tie wearing professional architect. But back in February, I bought a motorcycle. Then a skull cap type helmet. Some Harley t-shirts. Leather gloves. Now, I give you what has evolved into my "new look." And, believe it or not, today I went to work this way.

Update; It just occured to me to add this: If I ever end up with a pony tail, or rat tail, or any other tail, please, hunt me down and shoot me.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Opportunity Cost

"Opportunity Cost" is an economic concept. It describes the lost value incurred by following one path over another.

So with that in mind, consider Richard Branson's pledge to donate $3 billion toward renewable energy. Jeff Harrell has the lowdown:
I find myself wondering this, though: If Richard Branson has three billion dollars to spend on blue-sky research in a field we don’t even have encouraging theories for yet, how come he can’t spare a few million to invest in solving the drinking water problem?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Survivor Cook Islands: Episode 2

Well, I haven’t played this silly game in a while. But I am hurting for new ideas, so let’s live-blog Survivor again. If there are new any readers that weren’t here for my previous Survivor blogs, things can get a little vulgar and raunchy, depending on how much gin I have had and the attractiveness of the Survivettes. The big improvement this season is the replacement of the old Handspring PDA with a new MacBook. The TiVo is ready to go, and the gin and tonic continues to sit in its place of honor at my right hand; maybe if I do this again, I will upgrade to Tanqueray. Sorry I missed the first episode last week, but what the hell. Off we go again.

The show starts with a summary of last week. We learn, essentially, that the Asians are worried about stereotyping but perform bizarre healing rituals anyway, the Hispanics are used to the tropics, the Blacks want to get busy, and the Whites are already pissed off. Yeah, the tribes have traditional Survivor names, but I refuse to acknowledge them due to the absurdity of dividing them by race in the first place. The Blacks fail to win immunity, and vote out the first loser of the episode. They inexplicably pick their strongest member.

Before we get any farther, let me say that I am sorely disappointed in CBS. How dare they present this program in 4:3 format. This shit is made for widescreen.

We return on Day 4 to find the blacks are struggling for fire. Weren’t they just at tribal council, where they lit their torches? What the hell happened to that? They look thoroughly disheartened. Eventually one of the sistahs, Rebecca, gets things rolling. You go boo!

Over to the Amigos, who proudly proclaim that being a “good worker” is in their blood. And they seem to be correct, scoring fish and clams for food. Interjection: I forgot how bad these early “getting to know you” episodes are. This nonsense is all talk and no action, which makes for challenging blogging.

We learn that amigo Christina is a cop that has been shot on duty. Not an unattractive cop, either. I start thinking about some good uses for those handcuffs, but it is way to early for that nonsense - all in good time, my friends. Let me just say now that I hope Christina goes a long way in this game.

Fellow tribe member Cecelia is described as a “risk consultant,” whatever that means. In any case, I am sitting here imagining the risk of her falling out of that bikini top she is barely wearing.

Like the amigos, the asians have set up a chicken trap, which catches two birds. Yul bonds up with a lawyer, who he trusts because she does non-profit work. For me, I don’t really trust people that work for free, because they are by definition up to something else. But they are both Korean, so they have formed a sub-tribe. Koreans aligning against other Asians? I wonder what Nancy Pelosi would say about that.

Meanwhile, white boy returns from Exile Island, to find No. Progress. Whatsover. And he is pissed. I must say, though, that the white chicks are very cute. Except maybe Roller Girl, who has way too many tattoos and knotty looking hair. Cute, yeah, but just too edgy for my taste. As if the taste of a graying, 46 year old widow is of any consequence to anyone that matters in this world. I decide I need a new drink, maybe even a double. Picard: “Make it so.”

A big belt, and it’s back at team Amigo, Billy spends the day doing, well, nothing. His buds spear fish and collect coconuts, which Billy happily consumes. The amigos are not happy with this effort. Again, please: a little less talk and a lot more action.

The faith healing continues over at team Asia, as a wizened nail salon owner beats the living shit out of a young girl to help her cure a headache. Amazingly, she seems to appreciate the treatment. That night they agonize about us viewers not getting their racial jokes. Has it not occurred to them that faux asian faith healing is the worst racial joke of all?

Finally, treemail promises a reward and immunity challenge. Finally, some action! The amigos are talking about losing on purpose, so they can evict Billy pronto. Wow, that’s a new one. Losing. On. Purpose. Old Billy must be even worse than we are seeing to justify that kind of action. Or Ozzy is more conniving. One of the two. Who knows which, but really, who cares?

Today’s challenge is a memory game coupled with a traditional Survivor obstacle course. Probst reads an inane narrative of Captain Cook’s voyages, and off they go, collecting game pieces on the course while tied together. The action is riveting. Riveting, that is, if setting rivets consisted of staring into space for hours on end. This is some bad television. And the amigos really seem to be throwing this thing. In the end, the asians win, and the amigos lose. They lose on purpose, and Billy knows he is toast.

On Exile Island, Yul follows the clues and searches for the immunity idol. Clouds blow by, Yul digs, and I am bored silly. More gin, Kurt? Why yes, I think I will, thanks. Against all odds, Yul finds the idol. Whoopee.

Back at team Amigo, Billy and Christina are trying to figure out how to block Ozzy’s grand plan. She plans with Cecelia, who is another pretty sharp babe I must say. But that said, can you tell I am fading here? This show, and hence this post, sucks. Sucks. Out. Loud. I will try a few more episodes, but if this doesn’t pick up there is no way I am going to make it for the whole season.

Tribal Council finds Amigo at the silliest looking fake boat wreck I have ever seen. It looks like they dragged it in from Disney World. The tribe snarks at each other, and Billy professes his love for Candace, who we have barely seen on the Pallor tribe. One wierd moment, that, and not lost on Probst. He can’t believe, two people in love in four days, and they rarely even see each other? The tribe members are skeptical, too, and the votes are cast. In the end, Billy is gone, apparently Christina couldn’t flip Cecelia. I can barely contain my enthusiasm.

Next week: An Octopus, and a flirty Survivette. Now that's some bloggable action!

Now, the last thing I am going to say about these racially divided tribes. All the participants speak perfect American English. They are all thoroughly American, in attitude and culture. The idea of dividing them up by eye shape and skin tone is patently absurd. The act of doing so demonstrates to me how much more we have in common as plain Americans than as ethnic-Americans.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jay Tea over at Wizbang! seems to have things figured out:
With the recent furor over Pope Benedict XVI's statements about Islam, coupled with the reactions to President Bush's use of the term "Islamic Fascists" and the hysteria over the Danish newspaper's Mohammed cartoons, just to cite three examples, I think I have the fundamental message of Islam figured out:

"Islam is a peaceful, accepting, tolerant, loving religion, and we will kill anyone who says differently."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Marching Forward Into the Past

Robert Godwin, posting on One Cosmos has some interesting analysis on the differences between conservatives and so-called progressives. The entire piece is worth a read, but here are some representative excerpts:
In a sense, progressivism is deeply ahistorical, for it merely examines the now, pronounces that it does not like the now, and proposes radical policies to change the character of the now. And this is why the policies so frequently end in disaster, for as Thomas Sowell has written, they never take the time to “think beyond stage one” and calculate the actual effect of their policies.

When it comes to economics, for example, conservatives are interested in the conditions that allow for the creation of wealth to occur, whereas liberals simply assume that the wealth is there, and that it is merely a matter of fairly distributing it. But by doing so, they unwittingly undermine the very conditions that allow the creation of wealth to begin with. Likewise, by appeasing terrorists in the name of "peace," they undermine the most important condition of peace, which is f*** with us and you are dead.

In the purely horizontal world of secular progressives, I suppose it can mean only one thing--material equality, as if it were somehow possible for everyone to be above average. But by definition, half the population is below average in whatever it is you are measuring. Therefore, to enforce equality in the name of progress might be fine for the lamb but is tyranny for the lion. No wonder “job one” of the Democratic party is converting people into lambs, otherwise known as victims.
I have said repeatedly to friends, though not yet on this blog, that the average American lives more comfortably than a king did a mere 150 years. Never in human history have so many people lived as well as the citizens of the United States of America. Hell, we are even told that one of the biggest "problems" facing poor people in the country is obesity! Imagine that. Poor people have access to too many calories for their own good.

Well, along comes Donald Boudreaux, chair of the Department of Economics at George Mason University, and he says the same thing.
Here's a small sample of the many ways in which ordinary Americans today are Bill-Gates-like rich compared to almost all humans who've ever lived:
  • None of us has ever starved to death
  • We have indoor plumbing and artificial light
  • We bathe regularly
  • We have solid roofs over our heads, rather than bug-and-vermin-infested thatched roofs
  • We routinely converse in real time to people one mile or one thousand miles away
  • We don't get smallpox
  • Our life expectancy is decades longer
  • Boudreaux goes on to explain the raison d'etre for all this wealth: Free Market Capitalism:
    Markets are more fundamental than is technology to prosperity. For evidence, look no further than the fact that billions of people today remain desperately poor. People in Niger and North Korea are starving to death now, even though the technical knowledge for growing and distributing basic foodstuffs is readily available across the globe. Many Latin Americans and Eastern Europeans still carry their goods to and from market on wooden carts, despite the easy availability of automotive technology. Countless other people today dwell in earthen huts, have no indoor plumbing, die of malaria, and suffer all manner of other dangers and indignities that are easily avoided with commonplace technologies.

    It is manifestly mistaken to suggest that technology is the reason for our prosperity. Clearly, our prosperity must rooted in something deeper than technology -- something that both promotes technological advance and, even more importantly, encourages the use of technological knowledge to make widely available the goods and services that we Americans today take for granted.

    That something else is economic freedom which spawns complex markets.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    I had a really wonderful weekend September 9-10.

    Without going into too much detail, it involved a lovely lady and good friend. We laughed a lot, went out to eat, held hands, fell asleep together on the couch. I had forgotten what that sort of thing feels like (and no, not that sort of thing - just the things I mentioned).

    Normally, the high from a great weekend would last well into the next week, but there is no "normal" for me anymore. Besides, today is September 11th, so I have been quickly transformed back to my usual workday state of low-level depression.

    But still, I am relieved to discover I can again hang out with a woman, be affectionate, and appreciate her affection. For the first time in over 8 months since losing Suzy, I am sure I can still feel something. I am sure I can get through this. I am sure I can be happy again someday. What a great gift.

    Update: My young friend and fellow blogging widow Tamsen shares the sentiment in her post Back From Hell:
    Even so, I feel that that weekend was a break-through of sorts for me, emotionally speaking. For so long now I've been getting by on just hoping that things would work out, that I'd find a way to get better, a way to be content, if not happy. But that one brief, shining moment where I really knew that I will be alright, and that there will come a day where my life will be worth the trouble again has helped me to move forward another step in the process of grief. It's easier to deal with the pain today if you really believe (instead of just hope) that things will get better, that the pain will ease as the years go by.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    September 11, 2006

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Last weekend it was Yankee baseball, and this weekend, it's the Blue Angels at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach. I will post some air show pictures next week.

    Remembering September 11

    Peggy Noonan recounts some of the phone conversations that took place that morning in 2001:
    "Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby. I wish I could see your face again."

    "Sean, it's me. I just wanted to let you know I love you."

    "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

    "I think they intend to go to Chicago or someplace and fly into a building. Don't worry, Dad--if it happens, it will be very fast."

    "Hopefully I'll talk to you again, but if not, have a good life. I know I'll see you again some day."

    "We're all going to die, but three of us are going to do something. I love you, honey."

    "Tell Billy I never stopped loving him and forgave him long ago."

    "Take care of Mom."

    "Pray for me, Father. Pray for me, I haven't been very good."

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Don't Hold Your Breath

    Bill Clinton is pissed off at ABC:
    A furious Bill Clinton is warning ABC that its mini-series "The Path to 9/11" grossly misrepresents his pursuit of Osama bin Laden - and he is demanding the network "pull the drama" if changes aren't made.
    I am betting it will be a cold day in hell before the ACLU or MoveOn complains about the "chilling effect" on artistic expression caused by pressure from Bubba and his minions.

    Update: Cassandra weighs in at Villainous Company:
    Once again, the party of diversity and openness is all for freedom of expression and equal time on the airwaves... so long as all of the freedom and equal time is theirs and people are allowed to express only approved viewpoints.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Labor Day Adventure

    My original plans for the Labor Day weekend fell through last week, so I had to scramble to Plan B.

    I called my friend Mike, and suggested we ride our motorcycles to New Jersey, visit my mother and sister-in-law, and go to a Yankee game. Mike was good to go, so off we went.

    Pre departure checkoutThe ride up was mostly uneventful. We grabbed lunch at Arby’s in Delaware, tried for the Cape May ferry (too long a wait), and continued up the I-295 in southern Jersey. And the games began.

    The rain started around Camden, as a light mist. By the time we got to Trenton, it was a pouring rain, and starting to work its way around the seems of our rain suits. We exited 295 and headed up US 130. By New Brunswick, the wind started to pick up. And how.

    We rode the NJ Turnpike from exit 9 to exit 11, soaked to the bone, in a 40 mph cosswind. We were blown several times into adjacent lanes, and once almost into a concrete sound wall. Speeds in excess of 45 mph were beyond comprehension. I was very cold, but too scared to notice.

    At exit 11, we switched to the Garden State Parkway, and the change in direction switched a 90 degree cross wind to a 30 degree tail wind. What. A. Relief.

    Still, the rain came, and we soldiered on, arriving in Ridgewood around six. I felt lucky to be alive.

    Sunday morning, after a 4 mile run around town, Mike and I re-mounted the Hogs and set out for Yankee Stadium.

    Are You Ready For Some Baseball?
    We took NJ 17 to NJ4 to the George Washington Bridge to the Major Deegan Expressway to Yankee Stadium. It took about 20 minutes. Parking was easy, but consider this: we parked in a Stadium garage, they charged us 13 bucks apiece, and we didn’t even get a parking space! I am really not complaining, because the bikes were safe, but what a racket!

    Safe and sound in the garage at Yankee Stadium

    We walked around the Stadium, soaked in the atmosphere, and had a Bass Ale at the Yankee Tavern.

    Good seats afforded us this view:
    12x optical zoom produced this shot of future Hall-of-Famer Derek Jeter:

    12x optical x 3x digital zoom produced this:

    And finally, the ballgame was terrific. Alex Rodriguez hit two booming homerun shots to centerfield, Bobby Abreu had three doubles, and the Yanks won 10-1. What a day.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Katrina Crazy Coverage

    Is anyone else tired of the media and corporations using Katrina like a branding tool?

    I have seen commericials by Tide Detergent, NBC, CNN, and others celebrating their role in helping to "deal with" or "document" the disaster. Here's a NY Times article which comments a bit about some of the coverage or lack thereof in the NY Times opinion.

    I don't get this what ever happened to being charitable and humble. You are doing good for people, if you happen to get positive press great! But using a commercial to advertise what a caring charitable detergent or concerned news station you are is not exactly modest.

    Also, an article interiewing one famous resident of New Orleans who's had enough.


    Friday, September 01, 2006

    See You Tuesday!

    The Holiday weekend finds me and a buddy riding our Harley's up the eastern shore to New Jersey on Saturday. Yankee game on Sunday, ride home on Monday. So I will see you on Tuesday, hopefully with some pictures!