Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hooray for Misplaced Modifiers!

I love the way the above caption, circled, and taken from today's Fox News homepage, reads: "A man uses a chainsaw during tornado cleanup after twisters ripped Plains states, killing at least three." My first thought: How could they just stand there while he killed three people with that thing???

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Further Proof That Words Have No Meaning

So over in the United Kingdom, you can send your favorite Brit a fake pile of (presumably non-steaming) poo. As a prank, gift, or whatever. Big deal. Here's the real screamer from the article, though:

But members of the English Democrats Party, which is campaigning for an English Parliament, questioned the stunt's legality.


"It appears to me to be threatening, possibly racist and without question bigoted. It's certainly offensive and possibly an offence."

Because, you know, it could offend the Welsh, who are apparently descended from dogs. Or made of poo. Or something.

It's good to know that "racism" has joined that category of words, such as "Fascism", which now only mean "that of which I disapprove for any reason".


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Some Thoughts on 2008

I've been giving the field of candidates for 2008 a lot of thought. A lot, really. For me, at least. And I've finally, barring unforeseen circumstances, decided a course of action. First, some analysis, starting with the official contenders:

Rudy Giuliani: The guy's as socially liberal as they come. Tough on national security and crime, sure but what else about this guy is conservative? I also proudly admit my first-line litmus test for candidates: they must, must be unapolagetically pro-life. I'm only willing to accept the tiniest nuance in this area (e.g., life-of-the-mother considerations, but only in extreme cases). Even if he suddenly switched to a pro-life stance, my second-line litmus test is the gay marriage issue (where I am slightly more flexible -- I'm willing to accept a "leave it up to the state to decide" compromise), and he fails there too! Therefore, I cannot vote for Rudy Giuliani.

Mitt Romney: He's a Mormon, and a flip-flopper. A few months ago, I was genuinely struggling with his Mormonism, as he was the only thing close to being a true conservative in the field. That is, I was trying to come to terms with his Mormonism, in preparation for giving him my support. True, having read this and parts of this and the relevant portions of this, it was a doomed and futile effort, but at least I was trying, okay? But once the YouTube Wars started, and it became known that this guy was still staunchly pro-abortion as recently as 2002, I got a free pass to stop in my struggle. An obviously politically-calculated position change does not exactly rally the base.

John McCain: I didn't trust him in 2000. Given the last 8 years of backlashing against conservatives just to grab headlines, why the hell should I trust him any more now? I disagree with some analysis that says McCain-Feingold will be his undoing -- that's inside-the-beltway echo-chamber talk there. I suspect that even the vast majority of those who vote in primaries don't even take that into consideration, and I certainly don't. It sucks, yes, and I certainly don't like it, but that's not why I won't vote for him. I just don't trust him.

All the other announced candidates: Heh. Heheheh. Bwahahahahaha... whee! Ok, seriously, now, really? If I'm going to throw my vote away, I might as well make it mean something, and none of these guys come close. Brownback might have, but even the slightest wavering on Iraq gives you the boot. Doubly so when it's motivated by polls. Actually, I sorta like Tancredo, but I have to admit I'd be embarrassed to tell people in good company that I voted for him. "A little bit nutty" is the first thing that pops into my head when I think of him, despite his almost-perfect rating from the American Conservative Union. And sorry, Huck, but you just didn't try hard enough, Arkie though you may be.

And the unannounced:

Newt Gingrich: I admit, I wasn't paying much attention in the 90's. Too apathetic in highschool and too busy in college. But despite being a stalwart conservative throughout those years, I still got a weird, creepy vibe from this guy, in terms of his political maneuverings. Since I've politically awakened, he's proven himself to be clever and insightful, far and above at least the above candidates. But he's got tons of baggage. And the revelation that he led the charge against the Philanderer-in-Chief with so much weighing on his own soul scares me. Anyone who can compartmentalize that well either has zero shame or a multiple-personality disorder. I think he may be more valuable to us as a policy wonk and commentator anyways.

Chuck Hagel: Oooh, please! Maybe if I vote for him, he'll pick Lincoln Chaffee as his running mate, and then we can all be friends and hang out at a protest rally and smoke pot and dress up like real Republicans! This action could only be followed up, of course, by an announcement declaring that we have nothing to announce.

Of course, this leaves only one big name, and you all know where I'm going with this: Fred Thompson. So, as I have mentioned above, I have decided my course of action: I will vote for Fred Thompson, both in the primary and the general election. Regardless of whether he officially runs or not. If I'm gonna throw away my vote, I'm gonna make it count, dangit.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The More You Know...

Frank J. at IMAO shares with us some 100% true facts about Fred Thompson. I think these, for the most part, make it easier to vote for the guy, since we can trust the folks at IMAO:

* The reason Fred Thompson didn't want to stay in the Senate for long is because all the extra scrutiny kept him from doing his favorite hobby: Prowling the streets at night killing drug dealers.

* Every night before going to sleep, Osama bin Laden checks under his bed for Fred Thompson.

* The budget to Law & Order was dramatically increased when Fred Thompson was added to the cast because he has to be digitally inserted into the scenes since anytime he's near Hollywood liberals, he kills them.

And my personal favorite:

* The Fremen consider "Fred Thompson" a killing word.

Of course, being a honest reporter of honest, 100-percent-true facts, he also points out some potential flaws in Mr. Thompson:

* The actual cause of global warming: Fred Thompson's burning rage.

* Scientists predict that when Fred Thompson dies he'll explode taking out the five nearest planets before collapsing into a black hole.

* Why does Iran want nuclear weapons? Out of fear of Fred Thompson.

Hat tip: Instapundit

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Some Interesting Thoughts About Apple...

As a geeky tech-nerd back in highschool, I was staunchly on the PC side of the Mac/PC debate. So were most of us. In fact, we only had a small handful of pro-Mac individuals among the geeky tech-nerd crowd with which I associated (including, paradoxically, our resident hacker-wannabe Joe Koberg. I only shudder to think of what he could have accomplished as a hacker-actuallyis on a PC instead of the wannabe status to which he was limited on the Mac). This being the early 90's, of course, the pro-PC crowd had it easy -- Macs so clearly sucked, particularly if you wanted to do anything with your machine, apart from, oh, say, word processing or making pretty 256-color VGA pictures. Software was, and still is, very limited for the Mac. Customizability was nonexistent. And back before Mac OS X, all you had was single-button mouses and incorporated monitors and CPU cases. My own pet theory about why Mac even survived the 90's was that it whored itself out to enough college campuses, becoming their sole supplier, that it was able to stay afloat in its own sea of mediocrity until something better came along at the turn of the decade/century/millennium (iMac, then iPod). My own undergraduate institution was no exception -- for the first three of my four years there, all the dorm computer labs were stocked with Macs, and virtually all the library/general access labs were stocked with Macs (the main library had a bank of maybe 4 PCs). So of course, for compatibility's sake, many students were suckered into buying Macs as well. It's very telling, I think, that the School of Engineering and Computer Science was just about the only place to field a fully-stocked lab of PC machines instead (being a young and undergrad-focused program, they had no Unix/Sun/Linux expertise). I should also note that, by my fourth year, it was about 50-50 new PCs and old Macs, and the PC-to-Mac ratio has grown considerably since then, as the Macs have largely been replaced by PCs altogether with the exception of the occasional iMac.

Why am I writing all this? Well, I came upon a comment at AirCongress (the article is about the anti-Hillary Obama ad that hacks the famous Mac "1984" ad) by some person calling themselves "celebrim", and I found it very telling (please excuse their constant spelling of "their" as "thier" -- it's coherent otherwise):

As a computer programmer, I’m always amused by Apple’s public stance as the champion of a sort of Libertarianism. Apple would have you believe that they are some sort of anti-establishment corporation, whose cooperate philosophy is somehow empowering to the lower class individual. Apple would have you believe from thier marketing that they are the company of the small guy and of free thinkers. They are in a word, “Hip”, and consequently Apple enjoys a measure of success in hip crowds that want to be seen as socially cutting edge - media figures, artists, various academics, young people, etc. The 1984 Superbowl is typical of Apple’s entire marketing strategy. “Buy Apple and you will be a free thinker.” “Buy Apple and you will be cool.” Or even, “Apple’s competitors are evil.” Much of Apples limited success can be directly linked to the success of getting out this message. It’s quite easy to find a certain segment of the American population which holds as a political idea the notion that Apple’s competitors are in fact monopolists, anti-small guy, oppressive, censoring, un-hip, and in fact evil.

The problem with this narrative is that a close review of Apple’s corporate history shows that its all a load of bunk. Apple has never ever acted in a fashion that could be described as ‘liberating’. In fact, Apple owes much of its crushing failure in the PC market to business policies which are exactly the opposite of the public face that they’ve successfully presented themselves at. To site just a few examples, Apple in the ’80’s refused to allow academic institutions open access to thier programming manuals because they wanted to retain full control of all the code which ran on thier machine. IBM/Intel/Microsoft in contrast actively encouraged academic institutions to teach how to program for thier platform. As a result, just when Apple needed a generation of young programmers to know how to create programs for thier machine - none in fact existed because Apple had actively discouraged thier creation by insisting on full control over the process. If you wanted to program for the Apple, you had to gain Apple’s approval. Similarly, Apple technical manuals were only available to people that Apple approved of, and could not even be ordered via the mail because Apple was so paranoid about losing control over the process that you had to buy the manual in person. This created an environment that was absolutely stiffling in the community that actually used the technology first hand - the computer programming and technology community itself. Software simply wasn’t available on the Apple at the same time that it was flurishing on the IBM machines because IBM had took the more libertarian open source approach.

Likewise, it was IBM that licensed the production and assembly of thier product allowing any number of IBM clone machines to be produced. Apple on the other hand insisted on full centralized control for fear of losing control of the process. So, from the vantage of the people that actually built computers, it was Apple that was stifling creativity. This philosophy of deciding what the customers want and not actually letting them choose permeates the entire corporate history of the company - as anyone that’s wanted to configure Apple’s hardware according to thier tastes will tell you. Likewise, Apple has deliberately set on corporate policies that kept thier machines too expensive for anyone in a lower income family to afford. It’s little wonder that Apple is very popular among affluent media types, because they are about the only group that can afford such frivelous status symbols.

In short, Apple tried to be a domineering monopolist and it killed thier business - with the exception of a few ‘hip’ crowds that were taken in by thier public marketing mask of “empowering hip free thinkers to fight authority” and had the money or lack sense to endulge that marketing driven sham.

What is my point?

When some group steals Apple’s methods to try to sell thier product, it leads me to think that they are probably more anti-Libertarian than whoever they are criticizing.

He touches on another reason why, even in their newfound success, I still hate Macs: they're the "product of the trendy". The only thing worse than being an early adopter of some product that subsequently becomes "hip" and "cool" and "trendy" is only buying a product because it is "hip" and "cool" and "trendy".

p.s. Macs still suck, Joe Koberg!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Another Test!

Should you vote or not? A simple quiz will tell you all you need to know!

I got an "A" -- 332/350 possible points. Stupid Mitch McConnel.

Hat tip: Jonah Goldberg @ The Corner


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Libby Fatigue? More Like Libby Aversion...

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I read a story, and the words "Fitzgerald" or "Libby" in a headline, news article, blog post, etc., my eyes immediately glaze over and I move along. Seriously, does anyone outside the beltway really care about this whole thing? And yet so many of my daily blog reads (Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt, The Corner, etc.) spend a LOT of time talking about it. And it's not just because of over-saturation, I think. I can't seem to recall a time when I EVER was interested in the Libby trial. And this is coming from a guy who checks for updates daily over at Bench Memos for the ongoing "The Perennial Publius" series of posts about each and every one of The Federalist papers! (currently up to part 32!) So I'm not one to be inherently averse to important, albeit obscure, legal-type things. I even followed most of the developments of the Wilson/Plame affair itself, so the subject matter isn't necessarily repulsive to me either...

Is it just me? Or is everybody else bored to tears by the whole thing?


See, I Told You So

I've commented on my hopeful enthusiasm for Fred Thompson before. Now the fever is spreading! Because I can't speak for the intricacies of the Mazur Brothers' political thought, apart from being "generally conservative", I can't say that their muted enthusiasm is suspect, but if I had found that info, the question would not be "Can we back this guy?", but "Given the current field of candidates, how can we not back this guy?"

Follow the link for links to a good article about Senator Thompson, as well as a link to his voting record during his time in the Senate. I'm all kinds of giddy! Here's someone who, because of his conservative bona fides, can rally the base, and because of his telegenic personality and TV/movie fame, can attract alot of swing voters!

And he's a Thompson! At last, a President Thompson!

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Monday, March 05, 2007

If Only They Weren't So... French.

Observe the following commercial:

It's currently running on the CNN front page, but I found this version of it on YouTube. I have to say -- it's an extremely well-done commercial from a purely visual-impact sort of perspective. Why wasn't something like this shown during the Superbowl this year? This is precisely the sort of "ooh and ah", neat, innovative commercial that we've come to expect during that time, and have been sorely disappointed in that regard, for the last several years.

Probably the money thing. Smart move on Dassault's part, I imagine.


The Difference Is...

More sad news out of Iraq: a combined British/Iraqi raid on a police intelligence headquarters revealed evidence of mass torture of prisoners (presumably a mix of enemy combatants and civilians) and resulted in the arrest of a death-squad leader. Of course, I'm sure the left-wing blogs will have a field day with this, pointing out the "quagmire" that is Iraq, and how things were actually better off under Saddam (and in their minds, better off back then than the United States is itself today).

Let us leave aside the foolish notion that things were somehow any different under Saddam: we know there were death squads and torture facilities, so it's just silly to think that. But here's the difference, a point I think completely missed by the Nutroots: under the new regime, they were caught and will be punished. Under Saddam, they would have received a paycheck. Sad news indeed, but still, a sign of progress when bad behavior by government agents does not go unpunished.


Friday, March 02, 2007

The... Er... Stuff Hits the Fan

So Instapunk suggested, and Newsbuckit delivered a study of the relative frequency of George Carlin's famous "seven dirty words" within the context of the most popular blogs on both the Right and the Left, using Google as a standard to search for all occurences of the words. Lo and behold, the initial estimate was on the order of 18-1 for word occurences (later being increased to 41-1 based on the inclusion of some prominent but overlooked sites on both sides of the aisle), with the Lefties winning the day with flying colors. This should not come as a shock to anyone.

Anywho, the initial report by Newsbuckit was posted on Fark, so I perused the comment thread there to get a feel for people's reaction. Needless to say, the obviously liberal commenters got (surprise, surprise!) angry at the audacity of someone who would dare even do such research. Anger quickly turned to denial -- lots of attacking the messenger and claiming that only liberal blogs allow unmoderated comments and that the methods were completely and hopelessly flawed (the methods were crude, yes, but with a margin of 18-1 or 41-1, the larger point is indisputable). Then sprang forth anger again, as is the wont of that crowd, this time taking the form of ad hominem attacks on both the researcher, the guy (Instapunk) who suggested the research, and all the "oppresive puritan Rethuglicans" who take the time to clean up their speech a bit. While the anger didn't actually subside, a strange form of acceptance finally did come forth, in the form of "We f***ing cuss a whole g** d*** m*****f***ing lot, you f***ing c*** a**h***s -- so f***ing what?"

When I was a junior in highschool (a Catholic, all-boys highschool), Father Lawrence Frederick, a.k.a. "Father Fred", taught a very interesting segment during our religion period (we had a new religion instructor each quarter). Father Fred, a former design engineer for Nasa (he designed the seats on the Mercury space capsule, and as my highschool physics teacher, was my inspiration for becoming and engineer), was a soft-spoken, but nevertheless imposing figure. There was a famous singular moment during his particular religion class (word of which got around, so we knew to expect it) in which he was known to utter the most profane string of obscenities you could construct -- highly out of character for him. Of course, there was a point to this -- virtually all those words were "perfectly normal, anglo-saxon words for things in the English language". However, because our language is not strictly barbaric in its origins, we have other words for things, most of which originate from the more erudite languages of Latin and Greek. Thus, if one wants to show some shred of that erudition, indicating that one has the patience to learn the more difficult Latinate words in place of the simple, and socially frowned-upon alternatives, one chooses to use those words instead. And this is the point largely lost by the foul-mouthed Left.

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