Links o’ Interest

The fine art of Doctor slang. When I first heard that FLK (“Funny Looking Kid”) was an actual term used on charts, I couldn’t stop laughing.

The Who play Won’t Get Fooled Again, 27 years apart, in sync. This just reinforces how key John Entwistle and Keith Moon were, and that Pete is undisputably a better guitar player than ever. (And it’s more cool than amazing, they are playing along to the same pre-recorded backing track as ever.)

Whatever your politics, this KFC sign about Hillary is fantastic.

Vinyl sleeve-heads.
More entertaining than it should be.

Wait a minute…

Reviews of milk on Amazon. Legendary.

Truly inspired. Take a Garfield comic. Remove anything Garfield says or thinks. The result is a surreal comic, which appears to be commenting on life in a deep bizzare way. Also Jon is revealed as clearly psychopathic.

A manualist plays the Peanuts theme. I confess, I did not know what a manualist was. Now I wish I still didn’t. Here’s Stu Hamm doing it on bass. I saw him do this live in 1990, incredible.

An evil genius at work.

Cops with a sense of humor

New England, The Patriots & Me!!! At last! This video is so bad I can’t begin to fathom it. No wonder we were humilated by the Bears. It took New England 15 years to recover from this putridity.

The Order of the Stick.
Stick figures in Dungeons & Dragons world. Start from the beginning, it’s a long trip.

Cutting Off the DCCC

I’ve given a few hundred bucks here and there to the Democrats. I gave to John Kerry in the 2004 primaries when things looked hopeless. That money was well-used, since he became the front-runner just after cashing it. I should have given him a few hundred more after primary season, that undoubtedly would have been the turning point to beat Bush! I haven’t given this primary season (all the Democrats are good enough for me), but I’ll probably chip in again during the general election.

I’ve focused more on Congressional campaigns the last four years. I’ve given a bit each year to the DCCC, the clearing house for Democrat congressional races. But I’m done with that. Two particular incidents have sent me over the edge.

1) As part of the ongoing FISA madness, Congress is trying to give the telecoms retroactive immunity from any lawsuits. That’s bad. Chris Dodd has been taking the lead in trying to stop this. He placed a hold on the bill. Harry Reid ignored it. That is very bad. These holds are incredibly pernicious (one of my father’s favorite words), in which any senator can stop pretty much anything, just by asking. They are always honored. Harry Reid decided to make an exception. The exception was for a Democrat, his own party!, who was concerned about the President breaking the law and the Constitution. Harry Reid apparently was not. Glenn Greenwald has the definitive take on this, as well as many other posts about it.

2) Hedgefund managers found a loophole in the tax code that lets them treat their income as capital gains instead of normal income. This is a much better taxrate, it nets them hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions. This is a simple loophole, an understandable oversight in complicated tax law. Not a big deal, you just close the loophole and get back to business, right? Wrong. Once again, a prominent Democrat stepped in. Charles Shumer (D-NY/Wall Street) stopped the legislation. He didn’t even try to defend what he did — he knows it was craven pandering to his donors. That’s money lost that could be used to pay down the debt, pay for Iraq for a while, get ready for the growing “unfunded liabilities”, help with the subprime crisis, all kinds of useful things.

I’m not giving them any more money for a while.

Muttroxia: Best of 2007

I’m copying other bloggers by doing a best-of-2007 list. These are my picks for favorites posts, not necessarily the readers picks. I found out I really like a lot of my posts, I had a hard time keeping this post short. I tstill hink my political ones make good points, and my funny ones still make me laugh. I suppose it’s a good thing that I find my own blog worthy!

Must I Quantify Everything?
Analyzing Gillette’s new razor and my high school’s deathrate.

An .mp3 feature I want. The last line of this kills me, “I’m very easily bothered.”

How much money do you need to have before you’ll buy a pricey car? I was surprised to get no comments on this.

This still makes me laugh. Seriously, how does Al Gore buy sextoys?

My one-note review of Harry Potter.

Funny quotes from my 4-year old: One, two, three, and four. Expect more in 2008.

The most embarrassing songs in my .mp3 library

My beloved Pats lose to the Colts. It’s good to see that Kraft listened to me for the 2007 version. Losing… seems so long ago! There was a longer version also.

The first of many reactions to the 2007 Patriots. As we make history 15 games later, made history with the NFL’s first 16-win perfect regular season, my points for the year haven’t changed.

World Series of Poker commentary. I particularly like my economic analysis of the pro to amateur ratio.

Politics and Government:
These two posts on Social Security are about the best work I’ve done. Very few people understand what Social Security is or how it works, and thus their opinions are worthless. I lay out how it all works and some of the implications of it. Here’s Part One and Part Two. I may do a Part Three someday.

I officially support John Edwards, and the commenters go crazy, setting a Muttroxia record.

How the media frames the Democrats. The comments went down a different angle, I thought my original point was more interesting.

The connection between Baseball and voting policy. (This can go under politics, sports, and humor – I hit the trifecta!)

And don’t forget! You can always search for the many posts called “Links o’ Interest”.

Picking Your Childrens’ Sex

With our third kid coming, a lot of conversation revolves around gender. Since we have two boys already, we researched sex-picking. There are a lot of crazy theories out there. Really dumb ones. Unless they involve modern scientific techniques, I dismiss them. I don’t need to listen to the details to know they’re wrong.

Consider: This is a special time and place. In modern day America, there is no right of succession. There is no primogeniture (one of my favorite words). There are no dowries. Girls can succeed in life just as easily as boys. There is no societal reason to prefer boys over girls.

But throughout most of human history, the opposite has been true. For tens of thousands of years males were preferred. The fate of kings and empires rested on the ability to produce healthy male children. Even today, it is common in much of the world to kill female infants. The incentives are enormous to find a way to influence the baby’s sex.

Across the globe, over tens of thousands of years and billions of births, I am confident that if any method existed, it would have been discovered. If it was as simple as using a certain position, or nutrition, or the right mate, or the time of month, we would already know about it. The fact that we don’t tells me that none of that is true.

So if you want to talk about DNA, or sorting sperm in a centrifuge, or anything modern, I’ll listen. Anything else, I’ll give you a polite smile, but I’m not really paying attention. It just ain’t so!

(On a tangent, there is some weak evidence that some species, possibly including us, can change the male/female birth ratio in response to environmental pressures.)

Muttroxia Updates

1) The randomized tagline at the top. Suggestions are welcome. It’s alarming how many hours of programming* it took me to make this happen.
2) The header image is just a color block, but I can control it now. Submissions for header images are welcome also. Note that the text and search box has to show up clearly though.
3) Down at the sidebar, there’s a count of spam deleted. This is since mid-February 2007. Mostly it’s there because it’s easy to put in, but I also wanted to show how much crap comes along with even a pissant blog like this. I automate as much as I can, but I have to do a lot of manual maintenance also.

The next thing I would like to tackle is comments, making them more readable, maybe easier to enter also. What would y’all like to see? You’ve surfed around enough to know how blogs can be formatted, what features should I work on?

* Muttroxia is built from a combination of HTML, PHP, and databases. I know HTML. I know databases, but don’t know how to access the Muttroxia one. I don’t know PHP, but it’s like HTML. So when I say programming, I mean trying things and seeing what happens. Going to other blogs themes, seeing how they’re coded, copying key bits over, realizing it doesn’t work, trying to cut and paste other things that seemed to be called, or referenced or something, why isn’t header.description left-aligned like I told it!, does changing the color work?, no, so I’m not controlling what I’m controlling I’d better do a text search on all the files for anything about color, nothing has color that doesn’t even make sense, oh I get it, my version will be headerimg.description, I think I get it now, allrighty then… This is what I mean by programming.

At this point, the Muttroxia theme has been heavily customized, so I’m not sure I can switch to another theme without losing all the work I’ve done.

Our Do-Nothing Congress

Congress is widely viewed as having accomplished nothing. That’s half perception and half truth. Guess why they haven’t accomplished much?
GOP sux

The chart is hard to read, so here’s the gist. The reason why Congress can’t get a lot going is because the GOP won’t let it. It filibusters, or threatens to filibuster virtually everything. They are very open about their obstructionism.

In fact, the Senate Republicans are so accustomed to blocking measures that when the Democrats finally agreed last week to their demands on a bill to repair the alternative minimum tax, the Republicans still objected, briefly blocking the version of the bill that they wanted before scrambling to approve it later.

Going After Borrowers

From a NYT editorial today:

It turns out the library can do more than just shush you. If you accumulate enough unpaid late fees, some New York libraries are ready to hit you where it really hurts: your credit score. They have reported millions of dollars in such bad debts. Most people make good before their creditworthiness is damaged. But there is something chilling in this kind of threat from a library.

I don’t see the problem here. You take a book from the library, you get fined. If you don’t pay the fines, you are a collection issue. Debt is debt, and the library deserves its money back just like any other debtor.

This editorial says that debt from libraries is different, that is is distateful for such a good and pure institution to come after a borrower with something as low and tawdry as a collection agency.

But exactly what is so special about libraries? If I run up credit card debt and don’t pay it, I suffer all sorts of financial penalties, including a ding to my credit score. It doesn’t matter if that debt was incurred by paying for prostitutes or Proust, debt is debt. Nor does it matter that the debt is from the government. If I don’t pay my parking tickets or property taxes, I suffer the consequences.

Xmas Thoughts from a 4-year old

We did presents this morning, since we’ll be traveling on Christmas day.

* He can ruin your faith with his casual lies:
Me: Kids, come on down! Look who came?
Him: Who?
Me: Look at the tree!
Him: Presents! Santa! Presents!
Me: That’s right! Santa came by last night to bring presents early.
Him: I saw him too!

* A future lawyer at work:
Later, at dinner, he tried to figure it out.

Him: Today isn’t Christmas? Why did Santa come today?
Me: Because he’s very nice. He knew we weren’t going to be here on Christmas, so he came early.
Him: Did we get the first presents in the whole world?
Me: Um… so anyhow, he knew this was the best time to come.
Him: He knew we were flying tomorrow? Really?
Me: Yep!
Him: But Daddy, I thought Santa only knew if you’re awake or sleeping, and good or bad!

Happy Holidays!

Did you know John Mayer Rocks?

You might not know that John Mayer rocks. After all, he made his reputation from a solid string of wishy washy nothing songs. On his breakthrough album, Songs for Pussies, every song sounded the exact same. True story: For our first child’s birth, I bought this album so we’d have music to play during the delivery that my wife liked. When it first went on, she gave a big grin and squealed at how thoughtful I was. Five songs in, she suddenly sat up in bed and yelled, “Turn this crap off! Find me something that rocks to distract me from this pain!” I gratefully put on some Aerosmith.

Yet, John Mayer is an absolute monster. If you get a chance to see him live, do it. We saw him a couple months back. The first two songs were exactly what I dreaded, mid-range acoustic ballads. But when those were over, he threw away the acoustic, picked up an electric and went nuts. For the next 90 minutes, he shredded and shredded. The songs are so-so. His voice is boring. His patter is annoying. But boy can he play. Every song featured extended solos that he ripped to pieces. It’s the closest thing to Stevie Ray Vaughn I’ll ever see, with a healthy dose of Clapton thrown in. If he would release those songs, he’d be a rock star instead of a pop star.

Here’s some good acoustic stuff.