Friday, September 21

Fade out

I've moved to a different blog, Letters In Bottles. Provided that works out fine, I probably won't be around here much. It was a fun.

In case you're wondering, I made 205 posts over 18 months and got 5,260 visits.


Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 12

Is it really mysterious?

The headline on CNN's business page is The Mystery Behind Surging Oil... what's pushing oil to $80?.

Some short-term factors are plain to see. There's the big drop in crude inventories and a reported shutdown of nearly 200,000 barrels from Alaska's North Slope - a fourth of the region's total output - and a gathering storm in the Atlantic.

Yet at the same time, crude inventories, while declining recently, remain above average for this time of year...


Add to this the end of summer driving season and the rise of oil prices to eight times what they were in the late 1990s remains something of a mystery.


Perhaps the answer is in the other big headline of the day: No relief in sight for battered dollar.

The dollar is down across the board. The Euro is at a record high. If you're traveling, prices are brutal.

We import oil from other countries, so if the dollar is weak, then oil should cost more, duh. All imported products should be more expensive.

A weak dollar comes from two places: the Fed 'injecting' money into the economy, which reduces the value of a dollar, and our trade deficit with other countries, especially China, who now have lots of dollars so they value payments in dollars less and less against their own currencies.

Friday, September 7

Some more thoughts on the debate

Remember that diner in which Fox News had a correspondent talking to average New Hampshirians that they cut to from time to time? Turns out that restaurant does breakfast and lunch and closes in the afternoon, apparently.

It's not that I thought that it was random people in the midst of a meal, there was a strange lack of food and it was 9-10:30 pm their time, but I never recalled them letting the viewers know that it was staged. Of course I figured there was some kind of casual screening--so many people showed up and they only let in enough people or only republicans. I think they tried to play it as normal as possible considering they could have had a few people in a room with a tv or the front row of the debate and do the same exact thing.

They did ask some good questions, thought. That one to Romney made him look like a deer in headlights.

The other thing that's been going around in my head is when Huckabee said that the Republicans should stick with their war plans even if it costs them elections. In comparison to Ron Paul, who as a republican is drawing Democrats and independent voters, that might be one of the strangest things I've heard lately. If some of the Republicans want to keep up their whatever in the face of public opposition and jettison those who disagree with them, then they're going to go the way of the Whig party within the next few election cycles.

I've only recently been able to start asking myself this: what exactly is there to win in Iraq?

Thursday, September 6

Republican Debate, Activate!

There was another Republican debate this evening, this time on Fox News. I'd say they put on a better debate than CNN (excluding the first question about Fred Thompson which invited a Republican "situation where people are stroking each other's ego without producing anything of value" (I didn't want to write out the certain two word phrase), by most of the candidates). First of all, there were three rotating moderators so no moderator seemed to be an active participant like Wolf Blitzer often did. Furthermore, they spread out the talking time more evenly amongst the candidates than it's been distributed so far in a debate. Fox also had a good format of podiums with a few 'average people in a restaurant' breaks to break it up. The CNN debates started with podiums and then went the candidates sitting in chairs, which seemed strange with a large group.

Back to the average people in the restaurant, they had some pretty good comments. One man called out Romney on saying that his sons are helping the country by getting him elected in place of joining the military. Towards the end, a college student directly pointed out how Rudy doesn't exactly jive with the whole 'family values' thing. Overall Romney was the one taking the most flak.

This debate was much more lively than past ones. The crescendo had to be the confrontation between Huckabee and Paul over the whole war thing. I walked back in from the other room and Ron Paul was talking about withdrawing completely right in the short term. Then the other candidates went through the various degrees everywhere from 'phasing out soon' to 'long term presence'.

Finally it got to Huckabee who was next to Ron and they starting going back and forth. (the Hippie Perspective posted on it) It must be dorky to say, but I realized that I had that exciting feeling in my stomach when Ron Paul started actively defending his stance on Iraq. Or maybe it was just the first time in these many months that we've actually had something similar to what happens at an actual debate happen amongst the presidential candidates. Or maybe someone was just saying what needs to be said.

Iraq is probably issue on which I agree with Ron Paul the least. I don't think we should drop everything and run. Huckabee, using the same words as I've used before, said that 'we broke Iraq and now we've bought it'. After screwing up that country and region even more than it was before, I can't see us just packing up. At the least, we should learn from our misadventures for the future and not interfere in future events. Paul made the point that Israel has enough weapons to take care of Iran themselves without us. That's the one thing we owe the world--not to go around messing up their stuff. Thinking about it, international welfare makes about as much sense as domestic and corporate welfare.

Here's how I think the candidates did:


Like I said, Romney seemed to be getting criticized the most. Tonight he just seemed flat, like that old, mostly empty 2L bottle chilling in the back of the fridge--not much of a pop or spark to him in his answers.

Guiliani's appears to have gotten off his streak of mentioning 9/11 and terrorism in every answer. As a lady in their focus group said afterward, paraphrasing, 'he talks about what he did in New York City. I want to hear what else he's got' then she did the disappointed frown/head tilt thing right into the camera.

The reporter asked their focus group who did the best and they said McCain. I agree, despite having a collapsing campaign, he seems to be on the rebound. He tied himself to Iraq and the immigration debate which turned out to be quite a faux pas for him. News from Iraq has been sounding good lately and he's put enough distance between immigration and himself.

McCain had the pop this evening. Things started off on a good note for him as the others mentioned him. Rudy said he'd support him if he weren't running and Huckabee complimented him. He was able to score big on taking the principled stand on being against all torture from his own experience. Thinking about it, he didn't necessarily have the best solutions but he had good paths in that he could take the 'wise elder' decision making strategy.

Nothing remarkable stood about about Hunter, Duncan, or Tancredo. Going from nine to eight candidates doesn't seem like it'd make a big difference, but the stage seemed much smaller and more manageable.

Huckabee's done well lately. He was lingering around in the bottom with the just mentioned three, doing well in the Iowa straw poll seems to have given him credibility. Naturally I'm still supporting Ron Paul, but Huckabee is a palatable alternative, not in an ideological sense, but as far as how the candidates come across. (Unfortunately he's got a bit of that religious aura, which is a big turn off for me in selecting politicians.) I first saw him on Tucker on MSNBC talking about healthcare in response to Sicko in addition to tonight and in general I agree with what he says. He does a good job at appearing to be a level, common-sense person, though delivery shouldn't be how one votes. After all, what politicians say is mostly fluff. Send in the Pander Bear!

Ron Paul seemed particularly motivated this evening. Unfortunately, being as straight up front as he is about withdrawing, I can't imagine he'll chase away a few average republicans.

On the bright side, I hear increasing talk of this 'Constitution' thing and the 'federalism' stuff. Off the top of my head, this evening Rudy said it's the only pledge the president should make. I like to think that since Ron Paul's main spiel is constitutionalism, the other candidates are starting to mention more of it to not let him get more of a conservative stance than them. I can only hope they look into what they're starting to talk about and try to actually stick to the spirit of the document.

Talking about constitutionalism, one of the things that bothered me the most in the debate was some of the candidates were talking about a national ban on gay marriage and then some kind of amendment about it. That is completely wrong. The federal government doesn't issue marriage licenses, therefore it has no say in them. It's as easy as that. Try to change your state and if that doesn't work and it means that much to you, you're free to move to a different state. Though I'm most definitely not for abortion, I can't force my opinion on others and I would like to see Roe overturned--it's a state's decision and I can live with that. So many things the federal government has taken up were never meant to be handled on the national level.

Tuesday, September 4

Water Cooler Break

As Carl Sandberg says:

"The school year comes
on little cat feet."

Thursday, August 23

Working at the Fair, year 2

After a few days of catching up on sleep, I think I'm finally ready to record the experience for the ages. First of all, I wrote about last year last year so I don't need to rewrite those parts.

In general, people are still dumb and ugly. Or I should say not all people, but the fair-going type. People still walk into the path of on-coming vehicles after seeing said vehicles. Children still look just like their parents. I still got sunburned.

On the bright side, this year I wasn't alone. My friend, Dave, and I were co-garbagemen. It works much better with two people than with just a single person. Being engineers, we developed a system. I was the primary driver and we'd pull up to the middle of a few barrels. We'd jump off and I'd reach for and start opening a new bag. Dave and I would walk around and check the cans. If one was found to be getting full, he'd pull the tape off and depending on how open the new bag was, one of us would grab it and pull it out and stick in the new bag. I'd carry the full bag back to the trailer and he'd tape the new one down. In full gear, we could change a can in about 20 seconds, I'd say. We could change the midway in 38 minutes including the two trips to the compactor.

For the most part, all of the food vendors were back. There were more changes in location than in the line up. I recognized most of them from last year and I think they recognized me. It was quite unnecessarily awkward that for the most part, people ignored Dave and spoke to me. I felt bad about it. Perhaps they thought he was my assistant instead of colleague?

Last year it only rained a little bit at night. This year, the fair which ran from a Wednesday to a Sunday, only had two decent days on Thursday and Friday. The other days it rained, and quite hard at times. Friday, especially in the p.m., and all day Saturday are typically the best times for the fair.

For us it was a wash. The rain kept people away, which reduced the amount of garbage, but as it turned out, by the clean-up day on Monday, Sunday alone had put a few gallons of water in each bag. (A gallon of water weighs 8.4 lbs.) We had to hide our enthusiasm since all of the other fair workers and the fair wanted lots of people to come, each admission is $7.

In addition to the rain and a second person, the fair had acquired more cans. In fact, we had more than 1.5 times as many cans this year to allocate than last year, 150 from 90. It would sound funny to say, but garbage cans seem to be the status symbol amongst carnies. They always ask for more. People wave us down and ask for them. I've developed a short list of possible things to say to requests: 'we'll look into it', 'we'll investigate', 'I'll see what we can do', 'I'll pass it on to so-and-so', etc. I suppose that's just normal office or organization hierarchy talk.

In general, there was a garbage can between each thing: a food vendor or building. One of the barbeque stands, which was on a corner kept on demanding a third can. We had already put one on the exact corner, and on the main road at the end of their slot, and they wanted one for their private seating area. The interiors of buildings, exhibits, and stands aren't in our jurisdiction, even when they're outdoors. Behind them was the music stage area and we were transporting a few empty cans to that. We turned their corner and the lady was thanking us for bringing another can and we kept on going. Awkward!

During the fair, we were the manifestation of the fair higher-ups to the vendors, as we were hired by the fair board to perform a service that is one of the most important fair services to the food vendors. They pay money to have each of those slots and a fair with trash everywhere is very different and probably a lot less hungry than a clean fair. When a food vendor or the petting zoo guy is unnecessarily disrespectful, one's first instinct is to be saucy back, but as representatives of the fair, the customer is always right. Besides there are much more subtle ways of retribution.

A few people asked us for directions and food recommendations and prices. I'm surprised more people don't ask for food recommendations. But then again, does anyone go to a fair expecting to eat good food at low prices? We see what people throw away and it's surprising. The nice barbeque stand (the other one), always smelled good and one of the things on their menu was "giant turkey leg". We saw a few giant turkey legs in the trash with only a bite or two taken. There were tons of corndogs with only a few nibbles on the ends and funnel cakes mostly intact. I don't get why people wait in line and fork over lots of money for something fried just to take a few bites and throw it away. Dave's hypothesis is that people are drawn to the flashiest stand without considering much else.

I had one possible idea which would be to go around and compile a fair guide which would list items, prices, and reviews and then sell them to the fair goers. The vendors would really scream. However, the market works better and more efficiently with more information.

High schoolers are the most annoying people. The funny thing is that when you're a freshman, the seniors look like big kids, but now as a college junior, even the college freshmen look like little kids. Most people at least move slowly out of a vehicles path, but high schoolers quite readily offer their feet to be run over. They also stand in big groups in the middle of the roads well past the time that most other people have left. They're the only ones at whom I would honk.

The other thing about high schoolers is that I drove past a few guys I recognized from my high school class. They were more of the kind of people that just show up when the bell rings and just go home when it rings again. Anyway, at least twice I saw guys from my class pushing strollers. That's unfortunate. Dave observed that wherever a person is when he starts having kids is, for the most part, wherever he'll be in life.

Out of the non-public at the fair, there are the fair board people who actually run it, the food people, the ride operators, the commercial exhibitors, the arts & craps people, and the farmers. I've never dealt with the commercial exhibitors nor the a&c people since they're in their own buildings more than picking up what they pitch. As far as the other people go, the food vendors seem to be normal. Surprisingly as I found, the wikipedia lists carnies as anyone who operates a booth, ride, game, or food stand at a carnival. The ride operators are undoubtedly carnies, their vehicles said they're from Wisconsin, but I wasn't really expecting the food people to be carnies, too. Though they participate in the mobile lifestyle, they actually have to be presentable since people are buying food from them.

Talking about carnies, I discovered some proof that carnies do exist (in case there were any doubt):

A piece of cardboard fell out on in the back of the gator and I found it. Who knows what they're planning! Could be a carnival ... or an insurrection. We got a kick out of the strange item names, 'fun makers' and 'critter puffs', and the misspellings like 'sords' and 'for wheels'.

As you can imagine, to preserve our sanity, we, two college guys, came up with some running jokes, most of which is repeatable here, though you might not get it.

The biggest one had to be the voice and character of the bee in this video:




It's pretty applicable to anything. Start with the "Oh no!" and work from there. (There are a lot of "Oh no!" situations in garbage.) In that voice say what's bad, then something positive about it, and then declare your conclusion, "which is your choice". There were a few hours there, where we may have ended up getting stuck talking like that.

On the first day we noticed one of the vendors was a "God Mobile" vehicle (the picture is from their website):

We took "God Mobile" like the cell phone company "T-Mobile", the difference being that God Mobile offers stuff like unlimited roaming in Europe and North America, you never get disconnected, and stuff along those lines. You can make up your own jokes about it.

They offer a "two question test" as to whether a person is going to heaven. Being the omniscient garbage people we are (we eventually know everything) we got our hands on a copy of the test. I'm not going to type it here because it's online. Needless to say, no one short of a Ned Flanders is getting in.

The other big joke, for which Dave wants credit, is as follows: we were driving through what we called "Carnytown", the ride area, and upon passing the Fun Slide, I asked him what happens when someone gets to the bottom and asks the operator for a refund since he didn't have fun. Dave corrected me. He said the operator would say that it's actually a "Fun Slide" (pronounced FOON slide) from Eastern Hungaria, which the Eastern Hungarians used to escape to the West after the Soviets arrived. They also stayed in Fun (pronounced FOON) Houses which operated kind of like the Underground Railroad.

Like I said, those probably aren't as funny as when we randomly came up with them, but they got us through the fair. That and people watching.

The fair wasn't as much of a shock this year since I was fresh out of France last year. Dave, and I to an extent, were happy to see the Dane County sign as we rolled back to town. As I told Dave, I didn't think the people at the fair are an accurate representation of that area; they weren't an accurate sample. Also a typical county fair is pretty much the exact opposite of downtown Madison in every way possible. In the end, the world needs all types of people (even those who don't know how to correctly use an apostrophe).

Monday, August 13

One for the road

This is my last post before I leave, I promise.

I saw this video yesterday and, well, I guess he shows his true colors. To say the least, I am very, very disappointed. Where was this in 2004?



On Wisconsin Healthcare

I wrote this without really intending to post it here. I was starting to get disturbed by the blind belief in the recent state health care proposal.

I find this Wisconsin medical insurance law disgusting. There are a few major problems with it that people seem to not even be able to understand. Wisconsin is not going to magically turn into the land of milk and honey no matter how high they raise the taxes to pay for it.

For starters, 45 million people sounds like a lot, yet it is only 15% of the people in this country of 300 million. Why are we cutting down the 85% of people who are able to get coverage for themselves to match the unsuccessful 15%?

First of all, since Wisconsin will be paying for your medical bills, the state now has a vested interest seeing that you stay as healthy as possible. People seem to swallow silly cigarette taxes and bans, but that is just the start of us losing our freedom. They will tax and ban everything that's bad: fried foods, candy, soda, alcohol...driving a car, not exercising. We will lose our liberty and freedom of choice. You may say that we're safer though. Why don't they just wrap each of us up in bubble wrap and be done with it?

Secondly, they budget for only so much. They, just like every other country with socialized medicine, especially Canada and Britain, will draw up a list of how many of each procedure they can afford to perform. X number of heart surgeries, Y number of cancer treatments this year. If it's October and they just performed the last budgeted organ transplant and you need one, guess what happens.

Thirdly, anything that is perceived as free is wasted. Since it doesn't cost anything to the people, as far as they perceive, people will start going to the ER every time they get a boo-boo or something hurts or their baby sneezes. That's already been going on with low co-pays and whatnot. It will get worse as healthcare turns into the newest example of the proverbial "Tragedy of the Commons" as everyone races to try to get his fair share of healthcare out of the pot.

Remember back to grade school. I remember people who made trips to the nurse all the time 'because their tummy hurts' and all sorts of stuff. I only went once to the nurse in 13 years of public school, K-12, when I broke my finger in gym class. If they charged kids even a dollar or two for each visit, then the chronic complainers would stop blocking up the nurses office for the people who actually need it.

Furthermore, if there is a shortage of doctors right now with only 85% of the country having access to them, then when 100% of the people are covered, then they'll get 18% (100/85) more busy! Not to mention that the State will soon start regulating the salaries of doctors in order to keeps its costs down, which will encourage people to be doctors in other states if at all. Fixing the problem through government will only make the problem worse, causing the need for more government and so on it snowballs.


Now, I don't complain about something unless I offer solutions. The state of Wisconsin should definitely not provide any kind of health anything. The state (and federal government) should eliminate as much regulation as possible on the medical industry. The shortage of doctors is because the American Medical Assoc. has a monopoly. They are not a doctors' union, rather they control how many open spots per year there are in medical schools and how many can then practice. Their incentive is to keep that number as small as possible to create a shortage to raise doctors' salaries (supply and demand).

On a side note, people are trying to get around the artificially small opening via fields like chiropractics. One of the coaches at my high school was one, and I'm sure he and many of them would make fine enough doctors, but they can't and didn't ever have the opportunity to go to medical school for doctors, which a free market would have allowed them--chiropractor school is under different, freer regulations.

Moreover, Wisconsin needs to allow people the option to practice whatever profession they want without a license--make requiring a license optional. Now, upon first consideration, you may find it disgusting to think that whoever wants to, can set up shop and claim to be a doctor. Well, they should be. First of all, if it's important to you ask to see the doctor's credentials. A license should mean that whoever, a barber or a doctor, has at least enough skill to be recognized by the state as competent, but if you want to save money and take a chance on an unlicensed doctor (or barber, or teacher, or real estate agent, or lawyer), you're free to.

As an example, perhaps then a nurse with a few years of experience who knows enough about what to do with people who walk in sick, can then open up a small clinic for sick people, or for physicals, then medical capacity increases and the price decreases.

I am an engineering student. Would you believe there are few if any government regulations concerning engineering and the country operates just fine? (For all the things we design, build, and make in this country, so few things go wrong that it's big news when they do.) We have several professional organizations that have boards, mainly old and retired engineers, that draw up books of our own standards and regulations completely free of the government. If something does break, then we are legally held to those standards in court.

No matter how much kool-aid you drink, the government and the bureaucracy cannot do a better job than the market. The government does not create anything (except for long lines, space shuttles, and atomic bombs [and we all know how that worked out]); it only moves around wealth at an alarmingly inefficient rate.

I'm sure all of you have been to a sporting event, whether professional, collegiate, or high school. Have you ever seen a referee who thinks he is a player? Those games always go the worst. In real life, we, the people, along with businesses are the players. The government is instituted to be the referee. Our problems of today have all be created in the last 70 years when the government decided that it is not just the referee, it should be actively involved in shaping how things turn out.

As John Stossel says, at the least Wisconsin is going to show the rest of the country why control is a bad idea. Too bad we have to take one for the team, I guess. (Heh, that's altruism for 'ya.)

If they say Wisconsin has a brain drain now, wait until this gets implemented. People will run screaming for the nearest state line. Of course, there are some idealistic people who will move in, along with everyone else in the country with a chronic or costly ailment seeking treatment. People will start washing up on Michigan's west coast in old rusted cars and on other assorted pool accessories. (Okay, maybe not that last sentence.) I, along with other productive people and businesses, will be promptly taking our leave from this state. I'll be gone as soon I graduate.

If they implement this and the state goes to hell in a handbasket, they will never repeal it. Old laws never die.

It makes more sense to me that Wisconsin should provide auto insurance before it even starts to deal with health insurance. It's against the law in the state to drive without auto insurance! They should at least give people a decent solution since they created the problem in the first place. (Note: I'm not suggesting they should provide any kind of insurance.)

Au revoir

I shan't be posting for the next few days. I'll be too busy and at home, working at the county fair again this year. (Hint: Kenosha is the big city in my county.)

I wrote about it last year. This time I've got a friend to do it with me, but there's one thing to which I'm not looking forward: the smell of all that fried stuff. Or the fair-goers. There are two things to which I'm not looking forward: all the fried stuff, and the country people, and the trash...

But this time, I've got some Ron Paul bumper stickers. And I won't be fresh out of Europe, so it shouldn't be so much of a shock. I'd take a camera, but I'm not planning on it--it could easily be swiped, so there may be photos. Otherwise, I'll be seeing you in a week.

The Hottest Toy this Xmas:

The Ben Bernenke Action Figure. I want one! (From here) Click for a bigger image.

Friday, August 10

Political Potpourri

It has started.

The campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards accused former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) of taking “every opportunity to exploit the memory of 9/11 for political gain.”


The statement from Edwards’s campaign manager David Bonior, a former congressman from Michigan, came in response to Giuliani’s statement that he “was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers."

“Evidently, Rudy Giuliani has taken a break from reality,” Bonior said. “It is outrageous for Giuliani to suggest, in any way, shape or form, that he did more at ground zero or spent more time there than the brave first responders who worked tirelessly around the clock for many months during the rescue and recovery operation.”

The Giuliani campaign reacted with an equally strong statement.


“For John Edwards to lecture Rudy Giuliani about September 11th is laughable at best," said Katie Levinson, Communications Director for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee. “This is, after all, the same guy who thinks the War on Terror is simply a ‘bumper sticker.’”

Isn't that a classic case of the kettle calling the pot black? The swiftboats are swooping in and have just landed. Not a minute too late, I should add.

Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani said Friday that he misspoke when he said he spent as much time, if not more, at ground zero exposed to the same health risks as workers combing the site after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The former New York mayor struck a nerve with firefighters and police officers when he said Thursday in Cincinnati that he was at ground zero "as often, if not more, than most of the workers."

"I have a real problem with that statement," said Battalion Chief John McDonnell, head of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association in New York. "I think he's really grasping and trying to justify his previous attempts to portray himself as the hero of 9/11."

Does Rudy have anything other than 9/11 on which to run a campaign? Not really.

- - -

Tomorrow is the big Ames Straw Poll for the presidential candidates. Historically whoever wins it goes on to do well. It doesn't have any official consequences, but a few of the candidates that take the bottom spots are expected to pull out of the race and lighten the field.

The big candidates, McCain, Guiliani, and Fred Thompson aren't actively out in Iowa, only Mitt is. I'm sure the Iowans will remember that when the time comes. If you go on his website, his campaign, to which he gave $9 million, will buy you transportation and a $35 ticket to vote in it. In contrast common folk people are buying Iowans tickets to vote for Ron Paul.

I hope Ron Paul at least places in the middle; he might get as high as 2nd, behind Mitt. I guess what people don't understand is that he's trying to help you, not himself like most other politicians nowadays. A Ron Paul government would want to neither run your life nor your money. He's got a 20 year congressional record backing him up. He's hasn't flip-flopped and he's never voted to raise taxes. The lobbyists don't even bother trying to sway him. Since he's against the war he's the black sheep of the GOP, but does anyone think that a pro-war candidate can actually win the election?

Who will drop out? It's definitely make or break for Tommy Thompson. I hear he's spent all of his time there campaigning from county to county. Overall, he's making a surprisingly little splash. I think this might be the last hurrah of Hunter and Tancredo. Huckabee's been doing well, but still not good. Brownback is somewhere in between them. Nothing out of the McCain camp lately...

- - -

Congratulations! Your money is worth less today!

Since some people at some banks made some bad loans the Fed had to throw money at them today so they don't start to tank. Today it "infused" just an emergency $38 billion into the markets today, after $24 billion yesterday. According to the Fed there's already approximately $783.5 billion floating around out there. That's a total of 7.9% over the last two days. Expect inflation as this extra money works its way through the market.

Riders "leaking" from MSN

From the WiSJ:

Despite dramatic improvements over the past three years — including a $65 million renovation and an expansion in the number of nonstop flights — more Madison area travelers are bypassing the Dane County airport to do their flying from Milwaukee or Chicago.

Here is the problem. The percentage of passengers who bypass the local airport to fly out of other cities is called "leakage." After the service improvements at the Dane County airport, the Madison area "leakage' should have declined. Instead, it increased.

Data from Mead & Hunt of Madison show that from late 2002 to late 2003, just over 63 percent of Madison area travelers chose to fly from the Dane County airport. Most of the rest used Chicago or Milwaukee airports.

From mid-2005 to mid-2006, after many of the airport improvements had been made, the percentage of passengers flying from the Dane County airport declined to just over 59 percent.

The percentages of local passengers flying from Chicago and Milwaukee were up.

Last year I flew in and out of Madison, both times the other terminal was O'Hare to connect to go elsewhere. The Dane County airport is very pleasant and hassle-free, especially considering that there isn't much of a line in Madison to go through the same security as in Chicago.

A flaw in Madison's airport has to be this, which I experienced first hand: it's a bit isolated. I flew back on a Sunday and stopped by the info desk to ask where the bus stop was. I was quite surprised to find that the bus doesn't go to the airport on weekends. (The taxis must have a good lobby.) On weekdays between 6:30 am and 10:55 pm, it stops twice an hour in the morning and afternoon rush, and hourly during the day. I then had to pay $14 to split a cab instead of using my $600+ buss pass (see "segregated funds") to ride for free.

The lack of bus connectivity probably doesn't affect most Madisonians. They either park or ask a friend or family to stop by and pick them up. However, I imagine with a major university here, a lot of potential fliers are foreigners, especially foreign students, and students headed abroad. Coach bus tickets from Memorial Union to O'Hare run about $20 and are probably round trip.

Looking up the flight from MSN to ORD on the airfare websites shows that that a ticket is roughly just under $300, one way. I think flying to Madison or taking the bus would be a wash. After paying hundreds to fly international and spend hours on planes, I'd probably take the bus and save some money. By bus it's about 2.5 hours on 135 miles of I-90, but I had to wait that long in O'Hare for the 25 minute flight to Madison anyway.

In the end, Madison has too small of a market and is just too close to one of the biggest airports in the world to directly compete with it. However, Madison seems to be a better option for flights that go to cities a few states states away in the South or on the East Coast.

Tuesday, August 7

Bitch, please!

It appears New York City has gone from banning stuff that goes in to people's mouths to stuff that comes out of people's mouths.

The New York City Council, which drew national headlines when it passed a symbolic citywide ban earlier this year on the use of the so-called n-word, has turned its linguistic (and legislative) lance toward a different slur: bitch.

The term is hateful and deeply sexist, said Councilwoman Darlene Mealy of Brooklyn, who has introduced a measure against the word, saying it creates “a paradigm of shame and indignity” for all women. . . .

While the bill also bans the slang word “ho,” the b-word appears to have acquired more shades of meaning among various groups, ranging from a term of camaraderie to, in a gerund form, an expression of emphatic approval. Ms. Mealy acknowledged that the measure was unenforceable, but she argued that it would carry symbolic power against the pejorative uses of the word. Even so, a number of New Yorkers said they were taken aback by the idea of prohibiting a term that they not only use, but do so with relish and affection.

Bitchin'! The mall Santas are going to run into trouble.

Sunday, August 5

Ron Paul on Fox News

Ron Paul had a really good interview on Fox News in the last hour. Check it out:

Part 1 of 2 (5 mins):


Part 2 of 2 (5 mins):



Republican debate

I'm a bit disappointed. I think there's another hour of it floating around somewhere, but I can't watch it since at the commercial break in the middle of the debate, the local ABC station went to paid programming, but I will comment on the first hour.

Right away it started off pitting a Sam Brownback campaign statement against Mitt Romney over Brownback's pre-recorded phone message calling Romney a flip-flopper on abortion. Along those lines, this debated seemed especially confrontational in comparison to CNN's debates, but Stephanopoulos has done a better job of not being as easy a pushover as Blitzer by the candidates. He seemed to work in nearly all the candidates in each round at the expense of the number of questions; CNN was visa-versa.

The first round was abortion. The second round was Iraq strategy and Ron Paul got the bookends on that one. Though I support Ron Paul, the Iraq issue is the one with which I am the most unsure of about him. On the one hand, democracy and freedom is good, but you can't point a gun at people as you tell them to vote. And the war is costing us billions and billions and if we really want to spread democracy and whatnot, then basically what we should do is to invade everything between Morocco and India. I like Ron Paul's proposal that we spread democracy by being the good example. Unfortunately, that method takes generations instead of a few years.

Tancredo said last week that he'd drop the bomb on some of the Muslim's holy cities if we are attacked and he reconfirmed it today. I think that's by far one of the worse ideas, ever. Though in the immediate heat of something really bad, it wouldn't seem like such a bad idea, that'd be the kind of thing for which we'd deserve a regime change. If only he weren't an extremist he'd be more viable. On healthcare, I think it was he who said something like 'the president's job isn't to educate and care for kids, it's to protect the country'. Whether or not he said it, it is true.

Rudy was out with his normal nonsensical statements. In the past he said "freedom is about submitting a large amount of control of your life to authority". Today he said something like 'Democracy isn't about voting, it's about the military using force to control stuff' and that people were afraid to go out for groceries before he was mayor. I sure hope he doesn't get the nomination. He does this certain look that's incredibly annoying when he opens his eyes really wide and raises his eyebrows.

He got, quite frankly, bitch slapped by Stephanopoulos twice. Confronted with his words, Rudy denied the phrasing of something, and George said 'I've got the transcripts right here' and then he disagreed so George read it word for word.

Mitt Romney is annoying too. He seems as plastic as John Edwards. It's interesting to hear how their phrasing shifts over time. Today he was picking up a little Paul by saying that we need to set a positive example. He did have the funny of the debate when he said that Barack Obama "has gone from Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove" in the last week. (How I miss that mineshaft gap.)

Huckabee seemed to do well. I'd say he's my #2 candidate. A few weeks ago I saw him on tv refuting the film Sicko. He comes off as being stable, conservative, and real. I find myself agreeing with him with other issues, but he seems strong in the healthcare field for some reason, likely to the chagrin of Tommy Thompson.

I think Tommy had a good debate, perhaps even his best. Really though, healthcare is the only issue he's got and he's not particularly special on it. Other than that, he seemed like the polite, level, older gentleman on stage. Unfortunately for him, playin' it safe is leaving him in the dust with, 4% I think it was in Iowa, even after he's spent all his time going from county to county.

I'd like to see what they're talking about in the second half. This one was more of a debate in that most of them were actually almost disagreeing with each other.

Saturday, August 4

the Networks' Presidential Coverage

I came across a chart from the New York Times of the amount of time each presidential candidate has been interviewed by news channel through the middle of July. (Click on it for full size)


Some of the numbers don't quite make sense. Surprisingly, John McCain has had the most air time at nearly 6 hours spread evenly across the board yet his campaign is going down like the Titanic. The candidate with the second largest amount of time is Joe Biden, with just over 5 hours, whereas Hillary, the current Democrat frontrunner, has only had half that and she's near the bottom of air time. The third and fourth spots are held by Huckabee and Richardson who are both largely ignored.

Someone who really is ignored is our own Tommy Thompson dead last with 53 minutes. I heard one commentator mention that he'd be lucky to stay in for another two weeks. Unfortunately Ron Paul is third from last.

The most striking contrast has to be that of Fred Thompson who has only been on two channels, NBC and Fox, and despite not even actually running has the second most air time on Fox, of 101 minutes, just 14 minutes behind Rudy's 115.

It is said that the media has a liberal bias, so I took these numbers and did a little computing:


Hmm, it appears the "fair and balanced news" channel isn't so balanced. Other than that, these channels are slanted liberal, but rather moderately in comparison to Fox News. In fact summing up the swing of the other five stations yields 73%, slightly larger than Fox's 70.5% Republican swing. Fox is literally single-handedly balancing tv politics, it would appear.

Taking into account the fact that there are 10 GOP and 8 Democrat candidates the chips fall as such:

On the bottom is how much more interview time each channel gives to the average candidate from each party. Once again, Fox News is the most slanted, but overall the Democrats have still gotten 1.2 times as much tv time as the Republicans.

One last chart, each channel's top three candidates:

This chart is near even, 11 Dems and 9 GOP'ers. CNN has two ties.

Overall from the first graphic, I would say CNN and MSNBC do the best job of covering all the candidates, though leaning Democrat. CNN emphasizes the big candidates and MSNBC emphasizes the 'others' (although CNN needs to add a 'Wolf Blitzer' category). The air networks ignore the 'fringes' and Fox ignores 'fringes' and Democrats.

***On a side note, the next presidential debate is this Sunday morning at 8 am CST on ABC with the nine Republican candidates. Yikes!

Monday, July 30

Bach attack

From the west coast:

City authorities, fed up with gang activity in public places, are taking Bach their bus stop.

Transit workers are installing speakers this week to pump classical music from Seattle's KING-FM into the Tacoma Mall Transit Center. The tactic is designed to disperse young criminals who make drug deals at the bus stop or use public transportation to circulate between the mall and other trouble-prone places.

That's hilarious and quite a simple solution if it works.

Too bad people in general know little about classical music anymore. The author only mentions "Bach, Brahms and Beethoven" and "divertimentos, scherzos and polonaises". That's scraping the top of the iceberg. Sonatas, concertos, strum und drang anyone? How could they not mention Mozart? But the biggest faux pas has to be that Beethoven wasn't classical, he ushered in the romantic period.

But that's just splitting hairs of stuff that people find repulsive. If someone wanted to disperse me they'd have to play the opposite: either rap or country music. I think I'll put on a record of Eroica.

I think the great composers are more interesting than a lot of the musicians in the past century. They were all child genus people types working to make art whereas a lot of modern radio music seems to be variations of a 4 minute formula: three verses, a bridge/key change, and then wrap it up. Something all musicians have in common is being broke. The composers had to find patrons to sponsor them otherwise they had no income as people freely copied their sheet music without paying royalties. That happened to Mozart and then he dropped died at 35. Beethoven, on the other hand, went deaf; that's got to be the definition of irony.

Wednesday, July 25

In a groove


It's official, I'm spinnin' like a politician. That's right, I got an old turntable earlier this week! I've been rock and rolling these last few days.

It was strangely fun to go to the music store and crouch down to look through the boxes of records under the cd tables. I am now the proud owner of a start to a small record collection. I can truthfully say that I now have more Simon and Garfunkel records than anyone my age should know even know about (and I even know the words to most of their songs). I first heard about them from my mom, who said that one of the nuns played S&G and had then analyze songs like poetry. (She talks about other musicians, too.) I also bought some Beatles and other stuff.

Up until the past few days, the only place I had ever seen or heard a record being played was in the classroom of my grade school's music teacher, but that wasn't real music. We children could never figure out how she always knew exactly where to put the needle to play a certain song. My parents had cassette tapes. That's what I think of when I think of the 80's, my birth decade: cassette tapes, Reagan, bad taste in fashion and pop culture, the Berlin Wall, and gray generic offices.

The sound from vinyl record albums is definitely on par with cd's (and there's something hypnotic about watching the label in the center spin). To me music from a record sounds fuller and deeper than from a cd or computer. Ignoring the periodic pops from the occasional scratch, the infrequent random crackles give it some character. Teasing sound from a record is simple compared to what's involved with computer files.

It's been probably two decades since the decline of the record, at least. It doesn't help that cd's have three advantages over records: size, crackles, static, and no flipping. Also, the music companies got everyone to rebuy their favorite music on cds.

Records aren't dead; new music is still released on vinyl albums. At least half of the new albums in the store had stickers saying that they contain a code allowing the purchaser to go online and download the mp3's. Those albums are still competitive since they go for about $20 when a new cd is around $14-15 anyway.

Cd's are probably it as far as a physical medium for music. Perhaps they'll eventually be smaller, only a few inches big with better technology, but I don't think they'd ever sell music on microchips. If anything music would mostly move to downloading files on itunes and others, but I'd never buy files. I always want a hard copy when something involves money.

In the meantime, I'll start hoping for a record renaissance.

Bonus concerning the picture I took of a record playing (click it for a bigger image): Identify the band and album for a touchdown and the kick (one should lead to the other), and/or try for a field goal and name the record company.

Tuesday, July 24

The rise of minimum wage

Minimum wage has had the first of its three bumps to eventually reach $7.25 in two years. Today it went up 70¢ to $5.85. Some people are surely celebrating this triumph for the working masses who day after day toil away for a pittance. If only it were really that way.

When Congress mandates a minimum wage, as was first done in 1938 at 25¢ an hour, it makes it illegal to hire anyone for less than the minimum wage. If you were an employer and the minimum wage were $5.85, would you hire someone at $5.85 who's skills, or lack thereof, are only worth, say, $3/hour? Why would you? Businesses are not charities. Employers want the best employee they can get for what they can pay.

An example would be the student approved (yet status unknown) "living wage" referendum here on campus. It would have required the student Unions to pay a "living wage" of, I believe, at least $10.23 an hour. For that price and taking into consideration that any college campus is labor saturated, whom would the Union hire? Would they hire an undergrad? At those prices they could likely attract grad students and real adults, pushing out students who could use any job. They mean well, but haven't fully considered the consequences.

Minimum wage shuts people out of the workforce by making them illegal to hire and increases unemployment. Price floors, or a minimum price for something, create surpluses. Employers who have to pay more in salary than they would otherwise, then hire less workers.

Big companies, like national big-box retain chains who often find themselves on the other side of the table from labor groups, like minimum wage increases. They can absorb the cost of slightly more expensive labor whereas a mom-and-pop store with whom they're competing can't perhaps forcing them to close, further consolidating the big corporations' hold on the market.

Since the government wants to make it illegal for certain people to work, it then has to provide some kind of welfare to them. For simplicity, let's say minimum wage is $1 an hour, or $40 a week, then how much welfare should be given out? If the government gives anything less than the minimum wage amount to the unemployed, they're being ripped off. If welfare gives $40 a week to unemployed people, then why would someone actually do something just to get the same $40 an hour? With it still at $40, why would someone work for $50 a week? All their labor would really only be worth $10 more than they could get by doing nothing?

It's easy for politicians to promise higher wages. The positive consequences of higher wages and more money is short-term and very visible, but the negative consequences are often hidden and result over the long term: fewer people employed, more expensive products, inflation, and businesses losing their competitiveness eventually closing.

Monday, July 23

the Tragic Tragedy of the Commons

There's a bit of a debate about the tragedy of the commons going on over at Letters in Bottles and Dorshorst's.

The tragedy of the commons was a parable used to illustrate how free access to a resource dooms it through over-exploitation. Imagine a community field on which the town's farmers are able to graze their animals. Any farmer acting in self-interest would realize that he could get more money with additional animals. Moreover, he will keep the full profit of each animal and only have to absorb a fraction of the wear it has put on the field. Ergo, each farmer will cram as many animals as he can into the pasture, maximizing his profit while ruining the field that everyone else uses.

There are a few remedies:

  1. Free Market: The field could be privatized so that one farmer could decide how it should be grazed. His interest is making a profit from grazing animals while keeping the field in as good a condition as possible for future years.
  2. Mixed Economy: The government could start regulating the field. It could sell grazing licenses or set up quotas to prevent the overuse of the field. The bad side: we all know how great committees are, then the mayor would have to start sucking up to the farmers' lobby to get reelected and make promises he didn't really have any intention of keeping, and the government then has to decide who gets to graze--farmers who weren't allowed to graze (perhaps one of the farmers doesn't like the other farmers and is friends with the mayor or committee) will then go complaining about a lack of fairness and justice.
  3. Socialism/Communism: The farmers could divide up all their proceeds evenly to spread around the profit as they had to spread around the costs. It will likely be enforced by the government.

(On a side note, trying plan 2 would probably create even bigger problems, perceived as having come from plan 1, which would requiring the condemnation of plan 1 and the implementation of plan 3.)

Dorshorst applies this parable to the real world issue of global warming and air pollution--each of us gets the full profit from whatever we do that makes pollution while getting 1/6.5 billionth of the cost.

I think another example of the tragedy of the commons is city garbage collection. No matter how much trash any individual makes, it all goes on the curb to be collected. The cost from the collection service and landfill expense is then divided amongst the town, so any large trash producer doesn't experience any incentive to not make huge amounts of trash--he pays the same as the grandma who puts out one bag. It would be more fair for the townspeople for the trash to be weighed or volumed and then divided up by amount contributed that way. In that way, people would have an incentive to make less trash.

Or how about considering Wisconsin's plan for state-wide health insurance. Is this not a Commons being set up for a giant Tragedy? People who go to the doctors will spend money on unnecessary extra procedures, devices, and care because they get the full benefit and pay only a tiny fraction of the additional cost. This kind of stuff already goes on with medicare, medicade, social security, or any kind of insurance driving up the costs for all. They're not intentionally evil, the system is just set up so that it's in their interest to do so.

Another example is the way transportation works in the U.S. The government has spent countless billions building highways and airports--the cost is divided somewhat equally amongst all taxpayers--yet some people fly and drive like crazy, using their share much more than others, creating polluting all over the place. If the government did not subsidize and give out corporate welfare then people would pay for the price of the airport in their airfare, gasoline costs, highway tolls reflecting the true cost of transport which would discourage them from doing so. In fact, with the subsidies removed, $558.7 billion to $1.69 trillion per year, the true price of gas is somewhere between $5.60 and $15.16 per gallon, for example.

The government started meddling with the economy to expedite the development of certain industries. The booms in the '20's and '50's could partly be explained as having come from the auto industry and then the nation's development of a road system, respectively. The government spends money and creates jobs and everyone's happy, but the actual costs get displaced onto the taxpayers and consumer's prices decrease spurring more demand.

There is one main problem with a mixed and/or centrally planed economy, besides its lack of flexibility and speed. In a free market, if someone makes a bad decision, he or his company, which may involve a group of stockholders, may lose their investment and go bankrupt while everyone else barely notices a blip. When the government makes a plan, if it makes a bad decision, everyone (who is involuntarily involved) pays the cost. (You can make up your own scenario about involving the farmers, the common field, the mayor & committee, and the town's taxpayers involving, say, a drought.)

And I can reasonably conclude that the government should not interfere with the economy as much as possible.

Dorshorst even brings up prisoners' dilemma, another example of cooperation versus self-interest. In a nut shell, if both parties agree to cooperate, the total benefit is greater than if one cooperates and the other self-interests or if they both self-interest. In my opinion, the prisoners' dilemma makes the case for voluntary exchange i.e. capitalism, over simple stealing or taking by force by means of the government. Given the commons and farmers, I think the best solution would be for the farmers to get together and figure it out themselves. I think the ideal solution would be to privatize the field, why is the government in the field business?

Finally, he concludes that government is formed as "a behavioral instinct to form rules and laws to limit our individual self interest". I disagree, government is formed to protect our property. What is property without a government? People realized that cooperation is in their best interest, and so we form and maintain a government to enforce what is mine and what is yours. If I want your property, I attempt to cooperate with you by involving the voluntary exchange of money. I don't run up and beat you and steal it, and I don't go whine to the government about "justice".

Thursday, July 19

This just in

I was sitting in my dining room reading. Out of nowhere I heard screeching brakes.

The collision sounded like a soda can being crumpled underfoot, though on a much larger scale, and just as quick. As soon as I made it to the window on that side of my place, the neighborhood folk were gathering with cell phones out dialing.

I walked and crossed the street to see the top side of the minivan. All of the side windows were smashed out and I was grateful to find that the driver had escaped, unharmed. He was fine and removing his wares within minutes. The other car was one of those big old low cars and it was damaged, but I didn't see its front.


At this intersection on Brooks Street, the minivan had the right-of-way and the cross street has stop signs. Apparently, the young man in red shorts completely blew through the stop sign and into the side of the van. It was a Plymouth minivan.

The emergency people quickly arrived and the firemen poured sand on leaking fluid and swept up the glass. No one was hurt and as of now the van is on the back of a truck. Though the neighborhood turned out gawking and I got to meet the neighbors, I still felt too much like a voyeur taking this picture.

Don't be envious

I came across an interesting article that argues that envy is the motivation behind collectivism, and not jealousy.

In 1966, the German sociologist Helmut Schoeck wrote a classic book, A Theory of Social Behavior. He argued that envy is the root cause of socialism and other forms of compulsory wealth redistribution.

Most people think the cause is jealousy. The jealous person says: "You’ve got something I want. I’m going to take it away from you." Schoeck said this explanation misses the more intransigent underlying outlook: envy. "You’ve got something I want. I can never possess it. So, I’m going to destroy what you have. I don’t want anyone to have it until everyone can have it."

Schoeck said that a jealous person can be bought off. He is willing to settle for a piece of the other person’s action. The envious person can’t be bought off. The fact that someone else is in a position to buy him off enrages him. His sin therefore is self-reinforcing.

Envy undergirds socialism, he argued. He therefore concluded that it is impossible to buy off hard-core socialists by offering to share a larger percentage of national wealth with them. They will not go away. They will demand all: complete equality. Will this undermine economic production? They don’t care. They are not jealous. They are envious.

It's on the long side, but a good read.

Wednesday, July 18

Music Video Mittwoch

Today's music video is Feist's My Moon My Man:


This song, which I believe was part of a recent cell phone commercial, is from her recently released album, The Reminder. Overall, it is pretty good, I'd give it a 'B'. She's got a few rather catchy songs (check out this and this) on it, but the album, in my opinion, is weighed down by a couple of slow songs. Normally, the songs I immediately don't like on an album end up growing on me, but they haven't so far. Regardless, she's on the rise so she ought to be putting out more good music in the future.

Friday, July 13

Like pulling teeth

These were my left side wisdom teeth. My spring break trip was to the dentist. After a few months of oral asymmetry, the planned exit strategy for the righties will commence tomorrow. I'll be down and out this weekend.

Why soccer won't overtake football

I was just watching the news on the cable news channels. Today is evidently the unveiling of David Beckham and a great day for American soccer, I guess. Fox had a British guy in L.A. reporting, among other things he said that Britain was happy to be getting rid of them as celebrities. Then CNN covered it and I think the business channel was interviewing a team business man.

I think that in America in the near future, soccer won't overtake football here. Between the US and the rest of the world, football and soccer are like water and oil. The division is a lot more deeper than a nation's attention span. Football is a pretty good demonstration of American success in comparison to soccer, which is a socialist success model.

Football is very American. Though it's a team sport, it's individualistic in that every player has a special set of skills and job to do: big people play on the line, fast people are receivers and runners, quarterbacks are smart, kickers kick. Yet everyone is willing to work together, at least enough, to achieve a bigger goal.

War imagery is used a lot in football. Offense and defense, attack the opponents, blitz, etc. Everything is measured out and every movement is defined by strict rules. Both teams line up in neat little formations and take turns, "downs" as they say, attacking each other with plays. It's not unlike Napoleonic Warfare which was the style of fighting in use from the War of Independence through the Civil War.

Just like war and traditional adult life, it's the males doing battle and the women are on the sidelines cheering them on. Consider the uniforms. Sure they make playing safer, but they accentuate certain areas like the shoulders and other spots to make the players look bigger and stronger, more manly. It's the same for the cheerleaders. Their uniforms highlight their femininity and they're assigned to doing what they do best: making noise and looking pretty.

In football, like capitalism and war, the point is to win. Both teams may score dozens of points, but there's a definite winner. In soccer the scores are often less than 5 points total and there's often no winner, just a tie.

Soccer, like socialism, is more team oriented. In soccer there are ten players on the field and a goalie. With the exception of the goalie, there's no exceptionally special skill to soccer other than running around and kicking. For the most part the players are all interchangeable and virtually the same, striving for the glory of the team. Players are much more equal on the soccer field than they would be on a football field.

Soccer is the main sport of the Europeans. I think it fits well. For example, the French are upset that their new president jogs every morning. They hate jogging so much that they call it "le jogging"--they haven't even made up a French word for it, which they do for everything because they hate using foreign words. Whereas we'd see jogging as maintaining one's health, they see it as "Sarkozy [fueling] a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans." Talk about cutting the tall flowers.

Though, I suppose, it's not completely black and white. Touchdowns are often made after a team working down the field and soccer goals can only be kicked in by one foot.

Wednesday, July 11

An engineer attemps political analysis

I think things are on the rise for Ron Paul, especially after last week when it was revealed that after a Q2 donation boom, he's got more money on hand than John McCain. Furthermore it seems that McCain is on his way out as yesterday, four of McCains top campaign people quit.

I had a little fun putting together a table about the candidates:

Candidate

Asset

Liability

Hillary Clinton

already been president

she’s a Clinton

Barack Obama

youngish/hipness?

no experience

Al Gore

seasoned and well-known

sound of voice/one issue

John Edwards

dashing good looks induce the vapors in voters

all style; average people don’t care for rich guy who says he’s a poor guy

Bill Richardson

got the credentials and executive experience

he's quite Fred Flintstonesque

Candidate

Asset

Liability

Rudy Giuliani

America’s mayor

going to get swiftboated with 9/11 response mistakes and personal life

Fred Thompson

an actor, therefore very Reagany

Watergate, not very smart “but he’s friendly” said Nixon

John McCain

War experience

bet on success of failed immigration bill and Iraq, compromises too much

Mitt Romney

was a governor

GOP’s John Edwards

Ron Paul

fiscal policy

anti-war

Tommy Thompson

several term governor, cabinet secretary

“generic older white man” campaign has failed to excite voters


Like I listed, I think for Paul his 20 year record of low taxes and small government make him stand out. As I recall, Republicans are always talking about making the taxes low and the government small. He dominates in cyberspace, but he/they/us need to figure out how to turn that into name recognition in meatspace.

For Republicans that have heard his stand, I think the anti-war thing turns people off. Excluding him, it's black and white between the GOP and Dem candidates on Iraq. I'm not for any kind of immediate withdraw but Paul makes the case that for the past 50 years, when something over there goes wrong, we stick our hand in deeper, intervening, and then when they get upset and do something, we wonder why it happened. That's what he was saying when Giuliani confronted him during one of the debates.

From among the other candidates, Rudy is hanging by a thread--all of the positive feelings from 9/11--while people have overlooked his personal life. On MSNBC they were starting on him by talking about how they put the command center in the bottom of the World Trade Center, they sent in people to help without worrying about air quality, etc.

There's no love here. He's said some pretty discomfort-inspiring things:

We see only the oppressive side of authority. Maybe it comes out of our history and our background. What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

"Freedom" says wikipedia, in case you're curious, "is the right, or the capacity and ability, of self-determination as an expression of the individual will." I guess at least he's against socialized healthcare, though if we're going to go totalitarian, what's the point of holding out, I'd rather have it with a side of socialized medicine anyway.

John McCain tied his campaign to supporting the president. It's obvious that the support the president had is eroding considerably and sinking with it is his candidacy. I can't tell what the main support driving Romney is exactly. Isn't he the 'double Guantanamo' guy? Besides going on vacation with his dog in a cage tied to the roof, belonging to a, how to say without offending anyone, non-mainstream religion, and a little flip flopping, there really isn't anything too big holding him down.

I think Fred Thompson's still got the glow since he hasn't announced yet so he hasn't had to take a stance or answer questions. Also being an actor, he's likely somewhat good at telling people what they want to hear in a way they want to hear it. His skeletons are from Watergate and apparently Nixon said that he wasn't very smart. Perhaps people like him because he seems like a nice, simple guy who couldn't do too much harm. That really hasn't panned out with the current administration.

It's been floating around the past few days, especially on Drudge, that the White House is floating around how to get out of Iraq. Once we're on the way out of there, the war wouldn't be much of an issue. (That's why the democrats are so pushy about it. They want it lost by the election, so it doesn't impair them.) If it happens soon, I think it would benefit Paul because then his major barrier for a typical republican would have evaporated.

So then, the only thing is that Ron Paul needs to get his name out there somehow, so far it seems like most of his support growth is coming from word of mouth and not just hearing his name like the other candidates. It's a little disappointing that the media ignors all but the main few candidates. They don't talk about them because they're fringe candidates yet they wouldn't be fringe candidates if they reported on them more. But, this'd be the perfect time to talk about all the candidates.

On the bright side, Ron Paul stands out and his support seems to be solid. I think the differences between the McCains, Rudies, and Romneys are small and for the most part superficial.

I hope I don't sound like I've been sipping kool-aid. Like Ron Paul says, "Freedom is popular."

Saturday, July 7

A massive, hypocritical fraud

Today Al Gore had a giant Earth concert thing, which I only managed to watch for about a minute before changing the channel. (What can I say? Dave Matthews was playing.) The Mail points out how it's "a massive, hypocritical fraud" that a bunch of celebrities, who live in giant houses with lots of cars, are jetting around the world playing concerts to crowds promoting the environment while using enormous amounts of energy.

I had an environmental studies class this spring and it was very clear that the environmental people take it to religious levels. The temperature of the Earth is always rising or decreasing and the effect humans have on it is a drop in the ocean compared to the role the sun plays.

This spring I saw Al Gore's film and in honor of his concerts, today I watched the Great Global Warming Swindle. It's online in eight 10 minute clips. Ignoring my feelings on their content, the Swindle is a better film than Gore's.

It does an excellent job laying out the facts and de-bunking all the stuff that the environmentalists say. Turns out carbon dioxide levels, the basis of Gore's film, run 800 years behind temperature change, in contrast to Gore who says CO2 causes temperature changes. Rather solar activity, both in brightness and atmospheric cloud formation, more directly correlate as the cause of temperature changes.

I want to remain brief, but the film also covers the government funding monster that propagates global warming, it exposes the abuse of science and scientists, and shows how environmentalists want a return to and have romanticized peasant life (which works well with their communistic agenda).