Thursday, April 28, 2005

a good question

A friend just posed the following question:
If everyone had two votes, and you couldn't vote for the same person, do you think politics would be better in the US?

I emailed the following response and figured I might as well post it here too...
Maybe slightly better, but I don't think it would fix much. The problem as I see it is an electorate that is generally too stupid to govern itself, and giving voters more votes might help but wouldn't solve it. People for the most part would just count the second vote as a throw-away. We'd probably see an emergence of more parties very similar to the ones we have now; like Dems and Reps they'd talk the talk but when it comes down to records and pandering there wouldn't be much difference. And people want that kind of baseless, easy-to-agree-with politics so they'd just get more of it. Political parties have to be that way to appeal to a broad enough base to be taken seriously so they either have to keep giving in on more and more issues or be content to never be in the mainstream (and thus have very little chance of ever fielding a popular candidate) for the foreseeable future.

Methinks to fix the problem you need to hack away at the roots. But when the vast majority of voters are educated (or not educated) by the pathetic system we have now and are getting their views of the world handed to them by the big media folks it's kinda hard to do much about it. I think the Founding Fathers had it right with limiting the vote to a select few that had (for the most part) proven that they were intelligent and capable of making decisions based on reason and not emotional appeals. It wasn't perfect but I think it was a heck of a lot better than the chaos we have now. But how to fix it...that's the hard part. I have plenty of ideas but I'm not convinced any would actually work.

A barely related book plug: "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Neil Postman. Non-political, talks about how culture in general and TV in particular has dumbed down the populace over the past few generations. Good stuff.

Anyway, guess I'd better get back to studying for another one of those pesky weekly exams. But add this issue to the list of things I'd love to write a lot more about sometime in the near future...

Friday, April 22, 2005

more on matt jones

The NFL draft is tomorrow so we'll know before long, but both ESPN mock drafts I've seen have him going at #31 (yeah, that's in the first round) to the Eagles. That would make the second year in a row the Eagles spent their first rounder on a Razorback (Shawn Andrews at #16 being last year's pick but he got injured before the season and hasn't played a game for them yet I don't think).

On last night's pre-draft special, I was lucky enough to turn it on just in time to see a pretty lengthy Matt Jones interview, so apparently ESPN's NFL crew is in on the hype too. They said he's shown as much improvement over the camps and combines of the last few months as any player in the draft, and Mortensen says he's one of the top five players in the draft. Jon Gruden (Bucs coach) says he's got the best body control--I guess that's agility and dodging tackles and stuff--of any player he's ever seen.

Should be interesting...hopefully he'll go high and live up to expectations.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

it all comes down to this

Wow...the championship and the entire Hairy Ticks season will come down to one day and two stats. Going into the last day of the season the Gnostics have three categories locked down and are clinging to a slim lead in FG% and assists, and so they need to keep both in the win column thru tomorrow (well, this evening) to win it all. Problem is, they're undermanned by four players and the Pope has better players on the floor. I like my chances to keep control of shooting percentage; the Gnostics shoot well and should be able to hold a slim lead thru one day. But keeping assists, with a 21-assist cushion but undermanned by four guys? Not so much. Tough to see that happening, but if it does the Gnostics will assume their proper place at the top of the heretical powerhouses. And if not then I don't guess losing to the Pope is such a disgrace. And the Pope is even taking it easy this week and leaving Duncan on the bench for two games. Of course Okafor's unspeakably costly injury at such a bad time could even the tables a bit.

May the best team win...


Just got back from the Muse & Razorlight concert in College Park. Razorlight was actually very good, which surprised me given their style of music, but Muse was incredible. They could be the best concert band I've ever heard. Everything in their set is louder and harder than on the CD (a great thing for folks like me) and their lead singer is a one man talent show on guitar and keyboard. I had assumed they'd have an extra play some of their piano parts but he actually does it all himself and even switches back and forth between instruments during songs. Amazing. And definitely a must-see if they ever come around again. So if Muse is playing near you, do whatever it takes to see the show. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

more on the anti-family courts

Vox is back on his marriage soapbox, though this time he seems to veer a bit off course. In continuing his crusade against the not-so-family courts, he posts a letter that goes through what has become an all too common experience. The part I like best is his opener:

"The reason men need to be far more careful about deciding to get married doesn't have anything to do with their feelings for a specific woman or even women in general. It has to do with the wisdom of voluntarily sticking your head into a quasi-legal system that is designed to destroy men and their families."

Preach on, brother. Sometimes I think I'm just overly cynical, but after reading enough horror stories and looking at what people I've known have been through, I actually think I'm right on this. Scary as that may be...and it ought to be I guess, but it's the truth. That's the country and the world we live in these days. Sometimes I really wish I were married and then I read stuff like this and...well, things could be much, much worse. And as Vox says, the powers that be aren't exactly getting more friendly toward us guys. [This is where you ask, "So why get a legal marriage license?" Ah, good question. Look a couple posts down.]

But VD then launches into a discussion on how to "protect yourself" in the unfortunate case that signs of a pending divorce begin to surface in your marriage. He even goes so far as to point out some signs to watch for. So, Vox, if things aren't going well husbands are supposed to give up on the marriage and start looking out for themselves first and foremost? Really? Where did you find that in the Bible? Maybe in Well I guess mine doesn't have those pages. Or what about that "until death do us part" thing? Yeah, life's little commitments always seem to get in the way. Or maybe we are to assume marriage vows have some escape clause these days that lets one or both parties off the hook whenever they wish? Well, okay, this is the 21st century...but none of the ones I've heard say such things.

Seems to me that if you're in a marriage you're in, period. If it isn't going well then you do what you can to change that. A good place to start would be to seek God's will and chances are that's gonna rule out divorce. It's worth repeating that one should look hard at any potential spouse. And if the confidence and trust isn't there, better to suffer some pain now than tons more later.

Overall Mr. Day's post contains some wise words to live by but it's certainly not his greatest display of wisdom. Though since I have little experience with such matters (and zero firsthand) perhaps I should just leave them alone. But I've never been short on opinions and I'm not very good at keeping my mouth shut at the right times either. I do, however, need to get some sleep and hopefully pass an exam tomorrow. Enough for now, maybe more to come...?

UPDATE: Vox responds to similar comments. Some good points there and even some Scripture but I still disagree with him on the pursuing legal defenses part. Perhaps I'll write more on that later.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

the mexican army's idea of border patrol

Chris Kelly links to a disturbing WND article over at The Immigration Blog about the Mexican army's aid of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. I knew Mexico had no problems with encouraging its citizens to break our laws, but dispatching the army to aid with border crossing and even drug smuggling? I guess the Mexican government has no shame at all. But that's one thing they have in common with our leaders on this issue, save a few voices of reason like Rep. Tancredo.

From a strictly economic standpoint one could make the argument that Mexican officials are simply looking out for the best interests of their countrymen. Not only do families get support but the influx of currency is a huge boost to businesses at home. Problem is, the illegal immigrants are breaking countless laws in the process. But the Mexicans obviously have no problems with illegal cash flow, as long as it's flowing the right direction. And judging from the information presented in the article they don't mind taking in drug money at their neighbors' expense either. Hey, currency is currency I guess. With friends like Mexico who needs enemies?

But there is some good news here. The Minutemen Project is clearly having an profound effect, as (according to the MMP) border crossings in their area are down from thousands to dozens per day. Even though the total number of illegals coming in probably isn't changing much, it's good to know that the MMP presence is at least getting some attention on both sides of the border. Now, if only those Republicrats over there in Washington would take notice and actually do something instead of hoping the biggest problem our nation faces would just go away.

In a weird way the Mexicans have one up on us. At least they have troops at the border.

Monday, April 11, 2005

christian marriage, not state marriage

As usual, Vox Day is dead on. His latest column discusses the state's boundless control over the institution of marriage. At least the secular institution anyway, or what's left of it. It's worth reiterating here that any man who marries a woman on the career path who shows even the slightest signs of being a feminazi is so dumb he almost deserves whatever he gets. And anyone who wishes to include the government as a third party in their marriage would be well advised to add provisions in the contract that make divorce next to impossible. Go read his blog and, well, just look around for plenty of examples of what could happen if you don't.

He ends with an excellent point:

"But is it possible for a Christian couple to avoid the state's machinery of control and still marry before God? Yes, according to pastor Matt Trewhella. 'What's recorded in a family Bible will stand up as legal evidence in any court of law in America. Early Americans were married without a marriage license. They simply recorded their marriages in their family Bibles. So should we.'"

Which raises the question, since when did the state actually have any God-given authority whatsoever over marriage? Off-hand I can't think of any Scripture that would imply such a thing. After all, marriage is an institution ordained by God and entered into before God, right? So another obvious question is, why bother with a state marriage license anyway? As Pastor Trewhella points out, a notation in the family Bible should do the legal trick. And between two Christians, legality shouldn't be an issue. Their first allegiance is to the Lord and His law, and when it comes to marriage I think God laid a solid framework that any couple should live by. In fact, it's perfect--the state can't add anything to it and shouldn't try to. A license takes away rights and has no obvious benefits that a will can't grant. So I fail to see the logic in getting one.

That being said, anyone who's about to enter into said covenant had better be pretty damn sure they're with someone God-fearing and trustworthy. Who would buy a house, change jobs, or even purchase stock without touching all the bases and finding out everything they could first? So why treat differently what will, for better or for worse, be the biggest move of your life? But that seems lost on so many people these days.

All of this reminds me of an article Vox had written about some time ago. European working women were lamenting the lack of available men with any interest in marriage. Gee, I wonder why.

here come the gnostics!

The wait is almost over. For those in The Hairy Ticks version 2.0 who haven't already figured it out, the Gnostics are less than a week away from being crowned League Champions. It's been a long season, with injuries and underperforming players taking their toll on even the greatest team. But the Gnostics warned everyone at the beginning of the season what the consequences would be of stepping in the ring with the oldest and most heretical of them all. Unlike others, they have been content to let their players do the talking and patiently wait for the title to come home. Upstarts have come and gone, lesser heretics have opened their mouth a few too many times, and others have even promised victory. But as the dust settles the Gnostics are the ones still standing and will soon be the ones on top. Only the Pope stands between the Gnostic army and glory now, and he's about to get what's been coming to him all season. So brace yourself, Pope, and don't bother screaming for mercy because there's none to be found in Gnosticism. Happy trails, suckers.

May I have your attention please: YOU ARE ALL LOSERS!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

gotta know da rules

This blog gets no traffic as it is so it's basically a journal of sorts and I haven't bothered to worry about what someone might put in a comment. But if you ever post here...

1) No embarassing comments please.

2) Light on the professional details please. Specifically, no mentioning who I work for or what industry I'm in. Maybe I'm paranoid but I don't want to feel like I need to censor any potentially damning stuff out of my posts for fear of it bringing undue attention to the wrong folks.

3) I post whatever I want to post. If you can't take it, don't come back. Criticism is welcome. Bitching about something or other is not--that's my job.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

a new twist on magic cards

Those of you who have played or know about Magic: The Gathering might enjoy this. If not, it might not make sense but you'd probably still get it. It's based on an idea for a new version of Magic cards, inspired by Aaron's Blogopoly pieces (see link on right side).

Check this out and let me know what you think. The picture's missing because the site won't let me save the card itself; I can only copy a link that generates the same card but without the picture. But there are programs that would allow me to create and save my own cards. I may actually buy one for the purpose of generating some political Magic cards. Would that be cool or what?

uhh, you sure that's liberal bias?

As often as Malkin is right, she departs from reason and rational thought every now and then and says something so stupid you'd swear someone hacked her blog and put it there, as in this post. Now I'm no CBS fanboy myself, but can showing a Final Four game instead of coverage of the Pope's death be called another example of "libs in the media...showing their true colors[?]" That could actually be the most outrageous thing I've ever seen over there. Perhaps it's just proof that if you look hard enough for bias you'll find it anywhere and everywhere.

My first reaction came from the sports fan in me, i.e., "how could any American possibly downplay the significance of the Final Four so terribly?" But this isn't just about sports. I mean, let's look at the options here. Suppose you're CBS. You have exclusive broadcast rights to very popular programming, and while it's on something significant happens elsewhere in the world. Do you preempt your exclusive programming and follow the lead of every other major network or news outlet and start parroting the same so-called "breaking news" that they're all putting out in unison? Or do you stay with your original programming, knowing that millions of people are tuned in to your network for the sole reason of seeing what they can't see anywhere else? Yeah, I think CBS made the obvious right call. Now it's one thing if there's some sort of national security threat or local event (like, say, the continent is getting slammed with ICBMs) that would require immediate action on the part of viewers. In that case I think CBS would have an obligation to keep people properly informed. But even then whatever it is had better be pretty damn important.

Now let's bring in the specifics. The exclusive programming is a live event, not an episode or special that can simply be run later that day or week. And the significant event is something that has been forshadowed for days and even weeks if not longer, and has been getting ample coverage from all angles in recent days. In other words, while significant it certainly isn't a shocker. And as with any big sports event, there are millions out there that practically live and die with every twist, and to not show the event would be to incur the unspeakable wrath of said fans and earn a place in history right there with the Heidi Game. Now, do you jump over to the continuing saga that has been developing for so long and join everyone else in the news media, or do you stick to your guns and stay with the sports? If the answer isn't plainly obvious, you're (a) not a sports fan in the least, (b) too dull and simple to grasp the reasoning behind CBS's decision, (c) unwilling to admit that sometimes your personal preference isn't what's most important and may even be way out of line with the vast majority of viewers, or (d) some combination of the previous three. It's clear that CBS made the right call. And not only did they show basketball but they even had blurbs here and there about the Pope as well. For once, an exceptional job by the CBS mediacrats (even though I personally could have done without the Pope coverage altogether).

If there's anything this proves, it's that Malkin is NOT a sports fan. Not that we didn't already know that...after all, she seemed to show no love whatsoever for baseball during the Nats stadium brouhaha (although she did a good job in exposing the stupidity of subsidized sports venues) and she's even admitted to liking figure skating. Yeah, case closed.

More: The Red Stater, The Hole Card.

matt jones being discovered?

It seems that the rest of the country may be catching on to what Hog fans have known for years. Or at least Chris Mortensen is. That is, Matt Jones is a freak of nature and probably the best athlete in college football last season. The best pure athlete in the draft? Hard to argue with that. But the best prospect? Likely not since he has to shift from quarterback to receiver. (As a side note, some big-name schools like Tennessee and Texas were very interested in his wideout skills but he stayed in-state so he could play the same position as in high school. And he has dabbled as a receiver at Arkansas so the position's not new to him.) But a guy who's that tall, that fast, and can jump that high is only a couple years or so from being a phenom. Barring injuries he could be one of the greatest receivers in the game in just a few years. In fact, I'll second Mortensen and expect it to happen.

Despite all the positives and praise Mortensen points out there's one thing Jones has against him. As all Arkansas fans know, he's a game-turning disaster waiting to happen at QB. The way he ran with the ball--those awkward-looking long strides, that habit of holding the ball so far out there to be slapped loose--I was always amazed (not to mention out of breath) when he made big plays. And his passes always seemed to float for so long I wondered how he didn't throw more picks. Every now and then he'd have that bonehead play, the no-contact fumble or the floater that soared yards over any receiver's head and right to the safety, that would make me hate him until his next big play. He makes a fan spend the entire fourth quarter--or the entire game in nail-biters--wondering if he'll "do it again." With Jones, one thing is for sure in a close game: He'll either win it outright or lose it outright. But he'll play the lead role either way. Unfortunately, he just seems to make terrible mistakes at terrible times. Perhaps he tries to do too much and win games singlehandedly, or maybe he just has mental breakdowns at the wrong time (you know, with that lackadaisaical attitude and all). Whatever it is, he makes you hold your breath and pray he won't hand over the drive or the game every time he touches the ball--especially in close games. And being a QB, he touched the ball a lot at Arkansas.

I really hope he makes it big in the NFL. And not just because we share the same alma mater but because someone that exciting just has to play on Sundays. It would be an injustice for the rest of the country to miss out on seeing his unorthodox big plays and clutch-time antics. Win or lose, his quirks--the long strides and crazy open-field moves that make him seem to float across the field, the seeming indifference to everything around him while he's on the sidelines followed by his game-winning play seconds later, and the list goes on--make him one of the most fascinating players to watch in a long time.