Friday, April 28, 2006

How I Think It Will Play Out

OK, so Governor Corzine suggests that we implement self-serve gas in NJ, because it could save "up to 6 cents a gallon". At least, that's the figure I heard on NJ101.5's news this morning. And sure it will, for the first couple of months. Then, though, I'm willing to bet serious cash that gas station owners will creep the price up by a few cents at a time, until all of the savings that self-service renders are rendered solely unto gas station owners. Look at other states, self-serve gas is *more* expensive, even if that state has ports to bring in oil, or a relatively low gas tax.

Also, I *hate* having to get out of the car in the cold or the rain. That could be clouding my judgement, here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dog Help Me

It's "take your child to work day" at my office, and I forgot to call in sick.

There are children everywhere.

When I was 17, I was looking to see what college I was going to go to. I wanted to go to Mason Gross School of the Arts for vocal music. I auditioned. I could tell that they were not as impressed as one would hope for.

"Have you ever considered music education?" one of them asked. I could tell that this woman felt for me. She felt like I had some sort of musical talent, but that I just wasn't ever going to be a performer for a living. Perhaps if I wanted to become a music teacher, this was the path they could help set me on at Mason Gross. I could see all that in her face, and I knew that music education was going to be the only way I was going to get into that college.

"No," I said immediately, without any hesitation.

I do not like children. Sure, sure, I like the odd individual child, but I dislike the random ones, and I especially dislike them en masse.

And now there's dozens of them, maybe hundreds, walking around my office. In the cube next to mine, I hear someone teasing a 7-year-old boy about why he doesn't have a girlfriend.

Why didn't I stay home?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Cool, but not yet worth $6 million

Biped Robot Legs

When I saw the headline about robotic legs on Slashdot, I had images in my mind of replacement legs, or exoskeletons, or something. Very comic book.

As cool as the idea of a biped chair is, what with it's improved accessibility over a wheeled chair, it's still no Steve Austin, if you know what I mean.

Ok, childish fantasy TV images aside, this is pretty cool.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Context Surprises

OK, we all know the phrase, "an eye for an eye", right? Well, I was just reading Exodus 21, the source of said phrase, and I was surprised by the context it's found in. Apparently, there's a whole list of punishments for different crimes/offenses, and one of them deals with the people who would perform an abortion:
22 And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 But if any harm follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

So if the person performing an abortion harms the mother of the aborted fetus, the husband of said woman (or father, one would assume, in his stead) is supposed to cause equal harm to the one who dealt it. Crazy. And let me say, the burning line is more than just a little disturbing.

Funny I never noticed that before, it's not like this is my first time through the Bible, or anything.

Too Lazy to Make My Own II

Over at the fabulous Shakespeare's Sister, she's using terrific phrases like "mendacious shill", and laying on the obvious snark I love so well.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Human Factor

A friend of mine pointed me at an interesting article from the weekend:
A video game that seeks to make peace, not war
'PeaceMaker' simulates Israeli-Palestinian conflict in all its complexity
In "PeaceMaker," players choose between the role of an Israeli prime minister or a Palestinian Authority president. They make policy decisions, communicate with the international community and monitor opinion polls while coping with "black events" -— bursts of violence that threaten to throw the game off course.
... okay....

What the article doesn't say is how you're supposed to win a game like this. Establish peace, maybe? The truth is that no game can actually simulate what goes on the middle east unless they hit it by pure, unadulterated luck. No one can actually predict what humans will do under duress, no matter which scenario is most likely. The thing about the odds is, that one chance in a million is still a chance.

When you factor humans and their whims into the situation, you have to know that you can never predict exactly what will happen. After all, if this kind of thing were predictable (in the purest sense of the word), someone would have worked it out by now. Seriously.

In the end, I'm not saying that this game is pointless. Teaching people about tough decisions and their consequences is worthwhile, it really is. But as you know, the lack of winning ability in a game really brings me down.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Yup, Still Futile

Today, I am not in the most giving of moods.

Why are people even bothering talking about this "peace process" crap with regards to the middle east? Are things going so much better these days because of all the outside involvement? I'm thinking that the answer is "no".

Israel Preparing to Retake Gaza Strip
Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer, ending 38 years of military occupation. Since the pullout, militants have fired rockets into southern Israel on a nearly daily basis.
All right, then. Why, I ask you, did Israel pull out of the Gaza Strip? To "help the peace process", that's why.

Oh, no, Israel said, we need to be there to keep our enemies back a few steps.

Just pull on out of there, everyone else said, and they'll behave like reasonable people, just glad that there's a process in motion.

Are you sure, Israel said? Because we think that they'll just get even more violent...

We're sure! We're sure, the rest of the world said, and Israel agreed, and pulled out, and had to bitterly fight its own people to do so in some instances.
Well, Israel did pull out, and what they got for their trouble was more bombing, but now the bombs could get closer more easily. I'm sure they're glad about that decision.
"If the price we have to pay becomes unreasonable as a result of increased attacks, then we shall have to take all steps, including occupying the Gaza Strip," Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, head of Israel's southern command, told the Maariv daily.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Turkey's state-run news agency Friday that reoccupation of the Gaza Strip would be a "deadly mistake."

It's all a deadly mistake. Don't they see that already?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

McClellan Makes a Break For It

I was going to write a post about how I found out that there's a guy in my building named "Peter Gunn", but then this came up:

White House spokesman resigning

I cannot blame him. Hell, who really wants that job?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Going Back to Jersey

Not that I ever physically left, mind you. Well, except the occasional day trip to New York or Pennsylvania. Or, if I'm going to the cheap gas station by my office, the 5-minute detour through Suffern, NY, as that's shorter than going down to 17 and going back up Franklin Turnpike.

Anyway - I used to blog over at Blanton's & Ashton's, yes? What's that, you say? I was never taken off the authors list, I've just been falling down horribly on my obligations? Why yes, I suppose that's just it! It was all brought home to me yesterday when engaging in an email exchange with DBK and Tata (also from Poor Impulse Control and Running Scared).
T,tOT: BAM! You never see logic coming! It's like lightning, but without the teeth!

The main reason I was blogging at B's&A's was that it was a very Jersey-centric blog (and, of course, still is). Previously, if I had New Jersey news to express an opinion upon, I would usually put it up over there. Lately, I've been neglecting my fair state in writing. Well, I promise, that if not before, then definitely while DBK is off on his lovely vacation, I will be diving back into telling you all what I think about the state I live in.

And cheese. I'm going to also tell you about cheese.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Defining Self-Defense

Maybe I'm crazy, but the first definition I looked at seemed like it had the basics down:
Use of force is justified when a person reasonably believes that it is necessary for the defense of oneself or another against the immediate use of unlawful force. However, a person must use no more force than appears reasonably necessary in the circumstances.
Immediate use of unlawful force, no more force than appears reasonably necessary, OK, that looks rational to me.

Suicide bomber kills 9 in Tel Aviv
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called the attack "a natural result of the continued Israeli crimes against our people."

"Our people are in a state of self-defense and they have every right to use all means to defend themselves," he said.
I call bullshit. There's nothing in self-defense that implies that you'll be dead when you finish committing whatever acts it is you're committing in "self-defense". In fact, I'm pretty sure that strapping dynamite to yourself is not defending yourself at all so much as going on a desperate offensive.

I have no sympathy for those who target shoppers and civilians and claim "self-defense".

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Strike That Thought, Please

I popped over to my "My Yahoo!" page to look at the headlines, I saw "Bomb Kills 26 at Iraq Mosque". I thought, "I should start counting how many days in a month I see a headline that starts "Bomb Kills". Then, I realized how sad that was.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Can Someone - Anyone - Get Them to Stop, Already?

Iran says has enriched uranium
"I am proud to announce that we have started enriching uranium to the 3.5 percent level," Gholamreza Aghazadeh said in a televised address, adding that the pilot enrichment plant in Natanz, south of Tehran, had started working on Monday.
He's proud? Why? because of the technological achievement, or the "stick it to the U.S.A." factor?
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Iran was "moving in the wrong direction" with its nuclear program and if it persisted, the United States would discuss possible next steps with the U.N. Security Council.
See, now the whole thing where Scott McClellan says that Iran's doing something wrong, that makes me nervous.
President George Bush on Monday dismissed reports of plans for military strikes on Iran as "wild speculation."
Oh, thank goodness. I was all worked up into a frenzy. Now at least I know I can relax. The President said so, right?

Monday, April 10, 2006

What Do We Think We're Doing?

Reading around the blogosphere today I'm noticing a lot of people predicting that the U.S. is going to invade Iran.

Are we complete idiots, now? I'm just checking. Because wouldn't we have to be complete idiots to go to war with a country full of religious fanatics when so many people around the world already hate us, *and* our armed forces are spread thin trying to do any kind of good in a zillion other places. OK, Afghanistan and Iraq are the big ones, but there's troops all over this damn world, trust me.

I don't want to live in the land of idiots. Any suggestions as to what country I should run for when the revolution comes? Ooh - maybe we could make New Jersey it's own country. That might work.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Friday Random Ten, the 30% 30's Music Edition

In the spirit of Rox Populi, my random ten of the morning:

1) Angel of Mine - Monica
2) Turning Japanese - No Use for a Name
3) Holiday in Cambodia - Dead Kennedys
4) Ballroom Blitz - Testify
5) These Foolish Things - Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
6) Leash - Pearl Jam
7) To Keep My Love Alive - Blossom Dearie
8) Down in the Depths - Lisa Stansfield
9) Believe - Cher
10) The Price You Pay - Bruce Springsteen

The problems with my iPod:
1) I put an entire CD's worth of mp3's on it given to me by my ex (when he was my "current") without checking what they were, as a show of affection.
2) That's how "Angel of Mine" got on there.
3) That's not how "Believe" got on there.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Well, Hell.

Libby said Bush cleared leak: filing
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush authorized the leak to the media of classified material about Iraq, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney said according to court papers filed by prosecutors and made public on Thursday.

The aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, also testified that he was specifically directed by Cheney to speak to the media about the intelligence information and about Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had criticized Bush's Iraq policy, according to the papers.
Wow. Conspiracy theory proven correct. What the hell am I supposed to think about that?

Oh, yeah - that someone very powerful is a petty, vindictive, immature man who was willing to destroy someone's career in order to get "revenge".

Maybe I'm the Crazy One

OK, read this today:

How UMDNJ became a 'patronage pit'
The harshly critical findings, in a report released yesterday by the federal monitor overseeing the university, also found a top administrator systematically abused his expense account, including the freewheeling use of hotel rooms after "late-night meetings" that never occurred, and the rental of an Alfa Romeo for a business trip.
I read the whole thing, I promise. What I got out of it was that people with personal recommendations from politicians got a number assigned to them, a "rank", if you will. The article also alleges that there were instances where powerful patrons intervened to keep people from getting fired. There's not any actual examples of that cited in the paper, so I'm going on their word, there.

Other than that, I see a lot of people who had their resumes forwarded to UMDNJ by politicians. That's not actually a crime, in my eyes. I guess, if there was a lot of winking an nodding going on like, "Of course we'll hire your guy, Bob!" then yes, this is indeed favoritism, but not anywhere near as appalling to me as the guy who rented an Alpha Romeo on the company's dime. That's obvious abuse that I understand. The hiring thing, well, I'm probably wrong, but it just doesn't read as all that bad to me.
A resume for another individual seeking an operations manager position forwarded by Menendez, then a congressman, was similarly marked with a priority number. The candidate barely met the technical requirements of the job, according to the university's own internal memos.
"...Barely met the technical requirements"? Like no one ever applies for a job that they don't meet the requirements for? Jeez, the last job I applied for required knowledge of a programming language that I've never written in. I went for it anyway, because the department seemed like a good fit for me, and I figured if they liked me, they wouldn't mind waiting for me to pick up that particular skill.

In my mind, the phrase "barely met the technical requirements" reads a lot like "almost late". Instead of "almost late", I like to use the phrase "on time".

As I said before, I'm probably wrong, and I'm probably just coming away with this impression because of the way that the article is written. I know enough about human nature to know that most of the time, where there's smoke, there's fire. If that's not it, though, and these cases of patronage are just in fact politicians recommending people for jobs, why is it the main thing focused on in the title of the article? Why not just dedicate yourself to talking about the slam-dunk topic, the wide-spread misuse of funds? Am I, in fact, the crazy one for thinking this?

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

I Know Art When I See It

For a while now, I've been wondering if I just don't like poetry, or if I've only been finding bad examples of it. After popping over to Rox Populi this morning, I now know that yes, I've only been seeing bad examples, lately.


by Maxine Kumin
And suppose the darlings get to Mantua,

suppose they cheat the crypt, what next? Begin

with him, unshaven. Though not, I grant you, a

displeasing cockerel, there's egg yolk on his chin.

His seedy robe's aflap, he's got the rheum.

Poor dear, the cooking lard has smoked her eye.

Another Montague is in the womb

although the first babe's bottom's not yet dry.

She scrolls a weekly letter to her Nurse

who dares to send a smock through Balthasar,

and once a month, his father posts a purse.

News from Verona? Always news of war.

Such sour years it takes to right this wrong!

The fifth act runs unconscionably long.
Posted in celebration of National Poetry Month.
When I finished reading this, I realized I'd been sighing the whole time.

P.S. - no, I don't mean that your poetry is bad, silly.

Heard it on the Radio

More stuff you didn't want to know about me: I find David Lee Roths' speaking voice really sexy, especially when he drops it low on purpose. I have no idea why, but man, that sound just wraps around me like a blanket.

Damn. Is there ever a post where I don't wander off my point?

Well, anyway, now you know why I was tuned into David Lee Roth this morning. I listened for a while, and was thrilled to hear that he was talking to John Beltzer from Songs of Love. I love music, and I love compassion for those who deserve it. I cannot think of anybody who deserves compassion more than a sick child. Beltzer's organization composes original songs for ill children and has celebrities (of all levels) record them. This morning I heard Roth's donation of a song to a girl named Ashley with leukemia. If I was a sick kid, I'd love that. AS it is, I'm an adult, and I love the idea.

Then Roth talked about the next guest coming up, and it was a former porn star. Since I could care less about healthy attractive women talking about having lots of sex, I turned it off. She doesn't need my help.