Monday, March 27, 2006

Herding Cats

2006 will be an important year, and not for any of the reasons your Republican task-masters want you to think. Sure, millions will be stirred to the polls--as in 2004--to ban gay marriage with their votes. Along the way they will check every Republican box. Then, they will happily pile back into their church busses and probably attend a potluck of some kind.

But that’s not why 2006 will be important. No. It will be important because it will not be like 2004. 2006 is the year the anti-Republican wave comes crashing down and the twelve year hold on our government is released. Though the Bush administration has done its best to distract us from the war—no draft, no tax cuts, no problem!—all that Iraq news is finally starting to take hold, driving indicators the wrong way for Republicans.

The war is a quagmire, and so is Bush’s job rating. It sits, de-railed at 39%. 60% of Americans feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. The wave is slowly turning into a tsunami. "The only question is how high, how big, how much force it will have. I think it will be considerable,” says independent electoral handicapper Stuart Rothenberg.

It seems like everyone in the Republican Party is now distancing themselves from Bush and Cheney. The botched UAE ports deal sent a wave through the ranks. The result? People now see Republicans criticizing Republicans. Not a good sign. When that happens, people vote for the other party. Thankfully that will be the party trying to uphold your civil liberties for the last twelve years.

In a recent Time Magazine poll, when asked who people think would be better at rebuilding New Orleans, controlling spending, up-holding your rights, and finding Osama Bin Laden, people picked the Democrats. To counter this alarming trend gay marriage bans will be placed on your local ballots to strike the fear of God into you and scare you to the booth. But, personally, I’d rather allow same-sex marriage than have an ineptly handled war and bloated government response to our countries real problems. Call me crazy.

We all know getting Democrats united and to the polls is no easy task. It’s a lot like herding cats. That would, of course, make Republicans the dog party. Dogs like to guard and they want someone to tell them what to do. They stink and they chase their tail (I couldn’t resist). Voting for them seems like a good idea at the time until they’re soiling all over your rug and spending your money rampantly. How much is that doggy in the window? Too much; way too much.

Republicans are also nosey. They want to dig around in your underwear drawer where they clearly don't belong. They want to bury things and then dig them up again to impress you. Democrats, on the other hand would rather just leave you alone. Personally, I like that kind of government. Like cats, they're independent thinkers. If they don’t like a candidate they’ll just vote for Nader. What dog would ever go against the party line in that way? That’s why when Bush comes out so decisive--barking loudly at pedestrians--the Republicans are pleased, while the Democrats appear to be soft.

Of course the argument will be made: what would you rather have guarding your house? The dog or the cat? But dogs can be over zealous. Their enthusiasm gets the best of them when confronted with a nice piece of laced meat. Don't believe the hype. What dog has ever stopped a highly motivated and highly intelligent criminal?

The real question is: how do you motivate those frisky Democrats and get them to the polls? What is the catnip they seek? This very question, I’m sure, is on the mind of Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Sure, Democrats can point to Republicans chasing their tails and ask: would you follow that? But Democrats also have to prove that they can unify and lead as well. After-all, given the choice between a crazy dog chasing it’s tail and a bored cat, most people seem to find the dog at least amusing. If people want to turn things around in 2006 they have to build the wave and then ride it. Personally, I think it’s time to kick the dogs out of the House and into the doghouse where they belong.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

For Professionals Only

"I prefer Pit Stop® over urinating in a coolant or milk carton!
I like the long hose, large container to go in, and that's it's leak proof.

I prefer to empty Pit Stop® into a restroom or rest area over a milk carton,
any day of the week!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Wont Get Fooled Again

George W. Bush is back in Ohio because the state that gave him his second term now wants it back. Ohio is also the state where the President unveiled his doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. In a speech given in Cincinnati, on October 8, 2002, Bush masterfully tore into the raw emotions exposed after 9/11. The target of American anger was to be Iraq. And it would kick off in Ohio.

“I want to discuss a grave threat to peace and America’s determination to lead the world in confronting that threat,” Bush said. “That threat comes from Iraq.”

He then went on to explain that although Iraq was supposed to cease creating and destroy its weapons of mass destruction, it had failed to do so, violating UN requirements. “It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons,” Bush explained. “It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

Then he carefully linked Iraq and 9/11 in the minds of his listeners. “On September 11, 2001, America felt its vulnerability—even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from every source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America…We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons, and diseases, and gasses, and atomic weapons.”

He then increased the sense of urgency. “The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time. If we know Saddam Hussein has dangerous weapons today -- and we do -- does it make any sense for the world to wait to confront him as he grows even stronger and develops even more dangerous weapons?”

“We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq.”

“Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

“Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”

Wow, I mean even reading that speech today, three and a half years later, I am almost moved. I can still remember how I felt hearing it. I wanted blood. It’s a dark and shadowy speech designed to channel American anger at Saddam. It was only later, after it was too late, that we would learn that none of the facts Bush mentioned above as cause for war turned out to be true. Of course there were no WMDs and thus no UN violation, and thus no threat. The 9/11 commission itself later revealed there was no Al Quada link and minimal terrorist harboring in Iraq.

And now Bush is in Ohio, giving another speech. He is trying to rejuvenate support in the state where he kicked off his Iraq plan, his doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. What a difference three and a half years makes. Now we are in Iraq, just like the president wanted. And now Bush has to answer for the possibility of us failing in Iraq, or of Iraq slipping into civil war. But rather than address facts our President will continue to live in a fantasy world. Yes, that is the world in which Saddam Hussein posed a grave threat to America. Now that we’ve solved that “problem” we can rest assured that things are going well rebuilding Iraq because that is what the generals are whispering in his ear.

Sure. And so in Ohio Bush now says, "I believe that as Iraqis continue to see the benefits of liberty, they will gain confidence in their future. And they will work to ensure that common purpose trumps narrow sectarianism. And by standing with them in their hour of need, we're going to help the Iraqis build a strong democracy that will be an inspiration throughout the Middle East, a democracy that will be a partner in the global war against the terrorists.”

But when you line up the two speeches side by side, it’s really hard to take anything the president says seriously, isn’t it? The only smoking gun we have here is the President’s inability to make the right call. His judgment and vision immediately come into question when hindsight is applied. Personally, I don’t blame people in Ohio for being fed up with the rhetoric, because that’s all it is and ever has been. It is one thing to be a fool, but it’s another to follow him.

Three and a half years later terrorism is still rolling off the president’s tongue. Harnessing fear is what got him this far. He learned that by tapping into and heightening America’s fear of the unknown, he can have the leverage to do whatever he wants. Saddam now sits on trial and George W. Bush tours Ohio giving more speeches.

Respect and trust must be earned. And when it is abused or misused it is hard to get it back. Mine has vanished like a bullet from a smoking gun.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Nothing a Good Panel Can't Fix

March 19, 2003 will represent the three year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. 2311 American military personnel have died, along with 17004 wounded, since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What started off as an optimistic endeavor, bolstered by patriotic fervor, has turned out to be a disaster with no particular exit strategy. To rectify this situation congress has unveiled an independent panel assigned to study the war and make policy recommendations for Capitol Hill and the White House.

Leading the bipartisan group will be former Secretary of State James Baker and former 9/11 Commission member Lee Hamilton. The goal is to get a “second opinion” on the war in Iraq, and to ascertain if the war is going well or poorly, and to decide what the consequences for failure would be.

The group includes five Republicans and five Democrats, including Rudy Giuliani and Leon Panetta. Rumor also has it that retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor may also join the group—perhaps as a swing vote. Yes, that's how desperate things have gotten: We may call a former Supreme Court Justice out of the bullpen. Deploy the Bat Symbol immediately and hold my calls.

I’m heartened that a group has been formed to attempt to assess the state of the war in Iraq. Personally, I don’t put much stock when the Secretary of Defense or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says that the war is going well. What would you say if you were in their shoes? I also have to laugh when congressmen go to Iraq and speak to soldiers and ask them for their honest opinion. Their “honest opinion” is whatever makes their superiors look good, so they can be left alone.

But I am also a little dismayed that it has taken three years, a large body count, and public outcry for this panel to be formed. Isn’t this the kind of thing that should be investigated before invasion? The issue was never whether or not we would be strong enough to defeat Iraq and topple Saddam. The issue has always been what do we do once that has happened?

Just read Bob Woodward’s book “Plan of Attack” which describes in detail inside meetings between administration officials. It’s all there, even endorsed by the President. While people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condi Rice, and President Bush all had a fever over removing Saddam, Colin Powell thought of possible consequences, Pottery Barn rules: If you break it, you own it. And now we do own it.

It’s a powerful example of how, in life, if you want something bad enough you will become delusional in the pursuit. The administration wanted Saddam out, and they had the power (the U.S. Military), and the leverage (fear of terrorism) to get it done. The aftermath was not as important as doing the deed and removing the dictator.

And that’s unfortunate, isn’t it, that our leaders did not exercise more prudent judgment. Had the idea of an independent panel to discuss the feasibility of an Iraq war been presented three years ago the idea would have been totally dismissed. Panels? We don’t need no stinking panels! But now that we’ve already done the deed, we’re there and we own it, panels are welcome. We live in a country that shoots first and forms panels later, and it’s disappointing.

And, perhaps, that’s why people like President Bush resonate with so many Americans. We don’t want to evaluate. We don’t want to be cautious. We’re Americans! And, as such, it is our right to own a giant house, and an overpriced car, and to surround ourselves with junk. Credit card debt can be paid off tomorrow.

And so, rather than exercising a little more foresight, which is what leaders are supposed to do, we are introduced to another posthumous panel.

The 9/11 Commission revealed breakdowns in security and the inability for key intelligence agencies to communicate with each other.

The Katrina Panel found that authorities failed to move quickly to save people even when faced with warnings days ahead of time.

And now the Iraq Panel will attempt to discern what the best course of action is in Iraq.

How about a panel to see if forming panels after the disaster actually prevents similar disasters the second time around. That can’t possibly be true. Didn’t we already fight an unwinable war with no concise plan for victory for a vague cause? Top minds studied how we went to Vietnam and how we could avoid making the same mistake twice. And three years ago we entered Iraq.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Global Warming Just a Bunch of Hot Air?

Is the earth warming due to manmade emissions? Or is this all just a bunch of hot air? A fire has been lit under just that question thanks to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) recent disclosure that greenhouse gases, blamed for global warming, have reached their highest ever levels in the atmosphere.

"Global observations coordinated by WMO show that levels of carbon dioxide, the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, continue to increase steadily and show no signs of leveling off," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

But others are not convinced. And by “others” I mean George W. Bush and his dwindling cadre of disciples. Last year the U.N. began the Kyoto Protocol which obliges major industrial nations to cut emissions while granting exemptions to developing countries like China and India. In 2001 Bush withdrew the U.S. from the protocol, arguing that warming is a natural, not man-made process.

The White House’s stance on global warming is nothing new and the tone has persisted throughout the presidency. Just as the administration fabricated evidence of WMDs in Iraq, in 2002 it edited findings on global warming. An official removed or adjusted descriptions of scientific research linking global warming to the rise in greenhouse gasses in what the White House called a routine process.

One thing Republicans, Democrats, scientists, and the U.N. all seem to agree on is that the globe is warming up. Indeed, carbon dioxide and methane levels are on the rise, causing what I have coined a “greenhouse-like effect” in-which those gases trap energy from the sun. Yes, like much in life, the sun too seems to have a forked tongue. Oh Mr. Sun, you bring light and warmth. You conjure up Slip-n-Slides and pool parties. But you also deliver skin cancer and if too much of your energy gets trapped in the atmosphere we shall surely die. I think, right? Or, maybe just severe flooding if you live in coastal areas.

How should I know? Like the notable documentary rhetorically asks: what the bleep do we know? I can hardly figure out how to get my car registered much less contemplate a world where the polar caps melt and the oceans rise up and claim everything they can. And, honestly, this is probably what oil tycoons and giant SUV making barons are counting on.

But as such, I think I will join the ranks of the scientists who tell me it is my fault for increased gas levels in the air. Great. I can officially add this to my list of things to worry about--terrorism, nukes, the trade deficit, rising education costs, social security, Medicare, bird flu, and rogue asteroids. Great.

In such complicated and chaotic times it pays to ask: What Would Dubya Do? He is fortunate to live in a world where alarming warming levels are a natural process and therefore inevitable. That kind of takes the sting and responsibility out of things. He lives in a world where the risk of terrorist attack can be thwarted by attacks against terrorism. When this doctrine produces even more terrorism the evidence is shrugged off. In his world when asked for three mistakes made during his presidency he can’t even think of one. Yes, I envy that mindset.

This Sunday I listened to Arkansas Gov. Mike Hukabee talk about why he admired President Bush. And, of course, he credited the president for being decisive and for making hard decisions. And I wondered: when did making hard decisions become more important than making the right ones? You can make a hard decision and still be wrong, and isn’t that what really matters?

Anyway, you can’t bemoan the lack of scientists and engineers being produced in this country while also ignoring the work they’re producing now—results like today’s report on global warming. Why would anyone want to be a scientist anyway? You too can spend 20 years in school and get a PhD and have the White House edit your findings to sound more like the company line.

What’s the difference anyway? I suppose those who don’t care about scientific evidence plan on being dead before any of it comes to fruition. Unless they lived in New Orleans.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Jesus Wants You in the Air Force!

Did you know Jesus Christ wants you to join the Air Force? According to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Air Force Academy, that is the line some recruiters have been told to use.

Last October Weinstein and four other plaintiffs allege illegal proselytizing by evangelical chaplains, officers, and cadets at the Air Force Academy and in the service. Now another plaintiff has been added, Master Sgt. Phillip Burleigh, alleging that as a recruiter he has been subjected to persistent proselytizing by his superior officers against his will.

The 12-page court filing says guest speakers at conventions of Air Force recruiters told Burleigh and others that they “needed to accept Jesus Christ in order to perform their job duties” and “to use faith in Jesus Christ while recruiting.”

The Air Force implemented the Top Secret Operation: Recruit for Jesus in late 2003 when recruiting levels were starting to drop to alarming lows.

Though Jesus was unavailable for comment I did run into Rev. Jerimaiah Baylor, spokesperson for The Messiah himself.

“Look, the military need soldiers, sailors, and airmen, OK?” he explained. “What’s good for this great Christian nation is good for Jesus. I know for a fact that the Lord Jesus Christ wants his homeland defended.”

“But isn’t his homeland Israel, if any place?” I asked.

“What the hell are you talking about, son? Jesus aint no Jew,” he replied tersely. I thought he might take his belt off and whip me.

“Actually he was,” I corrected him.

"You telling me Jesus Christ looks like the very people he's trying to recruit against? A house divided can not stand!" After that the conversation became strained.

Under Operation: Recruit for Jesus an ideal exhcange between recruiter and recruit would go something like this:

Recruiter: Hi, I’m Sgt. Lovejoy. Did you know Jesus Christ wants you to join the Air Force?
High School kid: He…he does? What?
Recruiter: That’s right, son.

On the off-chance that the recruit scoffs at such irrefutable evidence recruiters have been told to use a variety of rebuttals such as this one:

Kid: I don’t believe in Jesus.
Recruiter: Oh, I see. You want to be a godless savage like those terrorists?
Kid: Actually, I think they were motivated by their belief in Allah.
Recruiter: Hey, I’m not recruiting for the Taliban here. Hey, why don’t you just go to Iran?
Kid: Look, I’m just saying…
Recruiter: Love it or leave it, son. Love it or leave it.

Recruiters have also been instructed to use the term “son” as often as possible. As in, “Son, I can gauntee you that basic training wont be that hard. Son, you’ll come out the other side a man. You too will be able to call unrealated weak males ‘son’. Or, when someone threatens you in a bar you can go to your belt and say ‘Son, do I need to take this off?’ because you’ll not only be a good Christian, but able to strangle a man with the very thing that holds your pants up.”

The Air Force has tried out the new Jesus-centric recruiting approach in limited areas. Meanwhile current recruiting levels remain below demand.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thought Alarm Compares Bush to Computer Game Hitler

This just in: the irreverent blog Thought Alarm ( compared President Bush to computer game Wolfenstine's Hitler character. Wolfenstein 3D was a hit computer game in the early 90s and one of the level bosses was Hitler who emerged from the bottom of a bunker in a robotic suit. Thought Alarm compared the president's buff physique and surly attitude to said robot, and also to baseball slugger, and steriod user, Barry Bonds. Hilarity ensued.

The Right Demands Colored Chalk Removed From Classrooms

The students are over-stimulated and it's time to remove all the colored chalk from the classroom. Colorado social studies teacher Jay Bennish was placed on unpaid leave by the Cherry Creek School District on Wednesday for his remarks in the classroom. He was discussing President Bush’s State of the Union address.

In an alarming display of deviance Bennish commented of the speech “It sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say: We’re the only ones who are right, everyone else is backward, and our job is to conquer the world.”

He later made clear that he was not equating the president with Hitler, but the damage was done. A sophomore had recorded the lecture and leaked it to a conservative radio show. Those on the right have been swift to squash this attempt at classroom discussion and site it as an example of the decay of the education system.

"People today have no respect. In my day we didn't talk about the President in school. We learned how to read and write and say the pledge," an old man quickly remarked. "And women stayed home and blacks rode on the back of the bus."

Right-winger Paul M. Weyrich, of the radio show Right Hour on Rightwalk Radio Network (I did not make that up, but I will use it in the future) argues that Bennish’s methods are an overflow of the “radicalism” on college campuses these days. He even recalls how he was once taught at the University of Wisconsin by a member of the Communist Party! I too was stunned as I read this. Didn’t Charley McCarthy wipe all those Commies out in the 50s?

(Is anyone outside of Kansas really scared of Communists or Socialists anymore?)

The National Ledger makes a compelling and enthusiastic case that it is acceptable to be taught by God fearing conservatives but not atheistic Communists, much less radical liberals. Meanwhile it also goes on to credit Bennish, and other radical teachers, with the destruction of an entire generation. Or, that is to say, way worse than Hitler. Who's your daddy now?

While young minds are being forced to listen to left-wing fluff from Bennish, adult minds can eagerly feed on National Ledger statements like this: “The Left has succeeded in essentially forging a weapon out of convoluted First Amendment logic - and they’re beating America to death with it.” I for one will sleep well tonight knowing that a teacher has been suspended for disparaging the most powerful man in the world while the right-wing press keeps us safely scared to death of the left-wing mennace seeping its way into the unsuspecting minds of kids and misguided adults (aren't they one in the same anyway?).

Bleeding heart liberal blogs like Thought Alarm ( counter by saying,
"If all Bennish did was compare the president’s verbiage to Hitler’s, aren’t we overreacting a little bit? I mean, now that he mentions it, the President does remind me a little of Hitler. Bush keeps getting fitter and fitter. He works out like two hours a day or something! He’s huge, ripped, in perfect health. For godsake it seems so obvious now. When his term is up he will lodge himself into the White House bunker, surround himself with his royal guard, and force a one-man army to go in and cut him out. Sort of like the end of Wolfenstein 3D (see picture above)."

Will this scenario actually play out? I guess we will soon see. But the president’s training regimen may not be just to scare the rest of the world. He’s strutting around like Barry Bonds, that and the surly attitude he cops make me think he may also be on the juice.

But back to Bennish. The debate centers around the merit of discussing volitile yet thought provoking topics in the class room. Is it really worth harming a mind that hasn't been used in 16 years to try to get a teen ager to think about an issue? And isn't Bennish a little late in comparing Bush to Hitler? That is so 2005 (see previous blogs).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hi, I'm Crazy

"I'm still a cheerleader -- on a stretcher or not. So as soon as I heard that fight song, I knew my job and just started to do my thing."

-- Kristi Yamaoka, a Southern Illinois University cheerleader, after suffering a concussion, a spinal fracture, and a bruised lung from falling 15 feet in a cheerleading accident. She drew national attention as she was wheeled off the court. When the pep band fired up the school's fight song "Go Southern Go," Yamaoka gave a two-handed thumbs up from the gurney, then moved her arms -- the only things not strapped down -- in time to the music and cheered.

You're a cheerleader, ok? You're not curing cancer. Take a day off.

AMA Urging Girls Not To Go Wild This Spring

The American Medical Association has released shocking findings, warning women about the dangers of spring break. The AMA is now urging women to not go wild during this annual tradition. In an anonymous poll of 644 college women aged 17-35, 83% said that spring break involves heavier than usual drinking, and 74% said it results in increased sexual activity. Conversely, 17% said they were drunk and 26% were having sexual intercourse during survey.

“Contrary to popular belief, we feel it is better if girls do not go wild during spring break,” said Mary McAllister, of the AMA. “I too once responded to the siren call of body shots and cage dancing at an exotic beach-front bar during spring break. But in the end, being irresponsible just isn’t worth the risk.”

Many women reported getting sick from drinking, blacking out, and having unprotected sex or sex with more than one partner thereby increasing the risk of sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancies.

“Duh. That’s the whole point!” Christy Stevens, a junior at Kansas State University, commented. “I wouldn’t touch most guys with a ten-foot pole, but put me down in Florida on spring break, give me a few rum runners, and I go crazy. That’s the whole idea.”

30% of women surveyed said spring break was an essential part of college life.
74% used it as an excuse to exercise in outrageous behavior such as public nudity and table dancing.

Based on this evidence the AMA is pushing for a more responsible Spring Break in 2006 such as spring break “service” trips with Habitat for Humanity.

“Where’s the booze? Where’s the unprotected sex? Where’s the heightened sense of self esteem?” Stevens wants to know. “I need that. I’ve been studying hard all fall, and winter. Spring break means summer is almost here, baby!”

When presented with the option of building a house with Habitat for Humanity she scoffed. “Build a house? Yeah, let’s raise a barn! I’m not Amish for a reason, ok?”

Still, the AMA remains resolute and undaunted.

“We’ll get our message across, one college female at a time. Irresponsible and irrational behavior wont stand up next to the logic and reasoning behind exercising self-control and helping your fellow man.”

John Pullman, of Students for a Kick Ass Spring Break, said, “Spring break does help your fellow man. It helps a lot of men, trust me. I can’t get it any other way unless I meet a woman, loaded at the club. And so spring break is educational. It’s teaching me some real life skills, unlike most of the classes I take.”

Will the ADA’s message eventually take hold? Will it be able to compete with the sweet seduction of drunken, unprotected sex, women being denegrated, while potentially being filmed by strangers for distribution onto the internet or video? Only time will tell.

Down on the Queue

Yeah, I Netflix. What, you don’t? I like being on the forefront of something. While people are hauling their asses down to Blockbuster or the Red Box at McDonald’s, I’m sitting on my thumbs and waiting for the mailman to bring me my movie. I like it when a product works for me. No late fees. No bored teenagers behind the counter who can’t tell me if “Annie Hall” is under drama, comedy, or classic. No having to get to the store at 10 am on a Friday to get the latest movie.

But now I’m starting to realize that maybe you can have too much of a good thing. Everyone is on Netflix. Everyone has a queue. And so when a new release comes out I get the obligatory “Long Wait” next to my selection. What this means is that rather than getting “Walk the Line” this Monday, I received “The Weatherman”. What a let down!

Now, I have to watch “The Weatherman”, send it back, and hope that I receive “Walk the Line” next time. The turnaround for all this shipping time is almost a week! Come on! I want to see Johnny Cash!

One solution for Netflix would be to just buy more new releases. But this would probably end up costing me money. Another solution would be to send the movie to whoever put it in their queue the earliest. Another solution would be to download the movie for free off the internet and quit bitching.

Also, it has come to the forefront that Netflix has been “throttling” its customers. This means if you rent more than a certain number of movies per month your shipments will start getting delayed. Obviously, the more movies you can get for your $17.99 a month the more you’re saving. Obviously, Netflix does not want to let this happen. The fewer movies you see a month the more money they make.

And I wonder if new releases aren’t sent out to new subscribers first, to give them a nice initial impression of the service. I never used to have “Long Wait” or “Short Wait” but I do now after almost a year. Am I being throttled in other ways?

Anyhow, I used to be up on Netflix. I’ve signed three or four friends up. But now I think I’m down on it. I think I’m down on the queue. I’m not sure.

I might go to the internets and just download everything. Or, I’ll pay more $$ for more cable channels and just TiVo everything. I think I might do that. I don’t like the Red Box from McDonalds. If I rent from there I have to return the movie within 24 hours or they start charging me $1 a day until I own the movie. Another problem is that when I rent or return to the Red Box I inevitably walk out with some of those yummy McDonald’s fries.

Friday, March 03, 2006

New Hurricane Katrina Video Reveals Truth

A lot of people are talking about the newly leaked Hurricane Katrina video, but no one’s really saying anything. We all know it shows disaster officials emphatically warning President Bush that the category four storm posed a catastrophic threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, while Bush asked no questions and simply recited rehearsed statements. We all know government officials knew what might happen, what to do if that happened, and that it simply fell on its face. The video confirms all of these facts, but is it really news to anyone outside of Wyoming? We all knew this anyway.

But what we didn’t know is that the government still knows how to run a damn good meeting. Damn good. Dr. Strangelove would be so proud. I for one was worried that this may have been a lost art due to Bill Clinton’s easy going, laissez-faire manner. But all of those fears have been assuaged thanks to this video. I’m glad to see some good order and discipline has been restored to administration meetings. I’m proud to see that our great leaders, like our founding fathers, still know how to give a good meeting.

After all, this great country was built on the solid structure of good meetings—from the Sons of Liberty in the taverns of Boston all the way to modern, clandestine affairs in Nixon’s Oval Office. I’m proud to see that our current leaders still have it in them.

By all appearances this meeting was smooth, well-organized, and even included teleconferencing. Everyone had microphones and laptops and sat around a nice expensive table with the briefer—in this case Michael Brown—at the head. Expert opinion was asked for and received. Even the President of the United States dialed in to offer his support, his image appearing on a sharp LCD screen on the wall.

Sure, critics will point out that the meeting did not accomplish anything. But those people are under the assumption that meetings are supposed to produce something or solve some problem. Those people have obviously never spent a day in their lives in a world where meetings are set-up solely for the purpose of giving managers something to do, brown nosers a chance to brown their noses, and know-it-alls a stage to perform on. When is the last time you ever walked out of a meeting with a clear sense of what to do, or how to do anything? This is America, people. We practically invented red tape.

And, as it is in our private businesses, so it is in the government that represents us. President Bush, like any good figure-head, sat at the meeting and gave canned words of encouragement and support. He is the out of touch CEO, playing the role to perfection. Michael Chertoff, like upper management, sat in a polo shirt, very relaxed and unscathed, while the fate of thousands was being decided. The only one who seemed to have a grip on the situation was Michael Brown, who warned that maybe the below sea level Superdome wasn’t the best place to send people in case of a flood. Unfortunately he was stuck in middle management and largely ignored. Experts, people in the field gave warnings that would prove to be correct, but their words, like those from any low-level worker, feel on deaf ears.

However, it is good to see that the government knows how to conduct a well-run meeting, and the video certainly featured this. Everyone spoke one at a time, and clearly and precisely. There was no shouting, no confusion. Concerns were raised, support was pledged, and the result was 1300 people died because nothing actually happened. It was a showcase management and those who hold meetings will study for years: how to talk a good game for the troops, but do as little as possible and still keep your job.

If I’ve learned anything from working in corporate America it’s that if you don’t have a good meeting you have nothing. And, that’s exactly what thousands of people in New Orleans were left with too.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

2006 Winter Olympics Reported Ended

Well, the 2006 Winter Olympics are finally over. They...they are over, right? I'm pretty sure they are.

Here are some highlights.

Bode Miller completed a raucous 0-fer, winning zero medals in five events. Buy his t-shirts on discount at

Scott Baird, 54, became the oldest Winter Olympian ever. He "competes" in the "sport" of curling and looks like my father. He still isn't the oldest Olympian ever. That honor goes to Sweden's Oscar Swahn, 72.

The Winter Olympics entered the digital age by awarding medals that resemble large compact disks. Actually they look more like laser disks. Remember those things? The Winter Olympics entered have entered the 80s!

My notes end there.