Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Almost Too Easy

no comments. the video speaks for itself. and, yes, i am glad i didn't get a job with the apollo alliance. i wish i had all of these facts before i sent them my resume.

This Is Why You Can't Negotiate With the GOP

one of the main problems with the current GOP is their unwillingness to compromise or discuss anything in a sane, rational manner or to be a good-faith partner (see this great article by ezra klein about why the "west wing" was bad for democrats, re: judging the intentions of GOP). i have always thought their inability to compromise is squarely rooted in their christian fundamentalist ideology. when dealing with fundamentalists of any religion, whether it be jewish, christian, or muslim, it is always "my god vs. your god and since your god is inferior because my god is the only true god despite what you say, you are always wrong". that is why god v. god never works...each side is convinced that they are right because their god is the real god and your god is a false idol. you can't make any progress.

that is what i was thinking when reading this politico article about how congresscritters can't hold town-hall meetings anymore because members of the audience are being too disruptive. like this story from rep. tim bishop (D-NY):
“I had felt they would be pointless,” Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO, referring to his recent decision to temporarily suspend the events in his Long Island district. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”

In Bishop’s case, his decision came on the heels of a June 22 event he held in Setauket, N.Y., in which protesters dominated the meeting by shouting criticisms at the congressman for his positions on energy policy, health care and the bailout of the auto industry.

Within an hour of the disruption, police were called in to escort the 59-year-old Democrat — who has held more than 100 town hall meetings since he was elected in 2002 — to his car safely.

Is This Guy F**king Crazy?

ladies and gentleman, please meet paul campos. mr. campos is the author of a book called "the obesity myth", which from what i can tell, makes the argument that obesity is not a public health issue at all. that thesis is so outrageous on its face that it actually makes the birthers look sane (only in comparison...the birthers are still batshit crazy).

based on the quick and dirty from amazon, there is one argument that i do agree with that BMI is a horrible statistic. there is nothing wrong with calculating BMI, per se, i just think the formula is off. my BMI is on the high end of where it should be, and i am tipping the scales a little bit higher than i would like to right now, but in no way am i in danger of being obese. based on the current BMI formula, i bet 90% of professional athletes would be considered overweight or obese, but guys who play in the NBA who are 6'3", 205 lbs (my height/weight) are not overweight: they are solid rock.

but back to the point. this moron campos did an interview with megan mcardle of the atlantic about the obesity myth. in the interview he said "The correlations between higher weight and greater health risk are weak except at statistical extremes. The extent to which those correlations are causal is poorly established. There is literally not a shred of evidence that turning fat people into thin people improves their health. And the reason there's no evidence is that there's no way to do it." is he fucking kidding me? there is no evidence that being fat is bad for your health? really?

reading further down the interview it seems that his main argument is slightly off-base. his argument is with the BMI, which as i said before, i agree that the BMI is meaningless, not because the BMI itself isn't a useful statistic its just that the formula used to calculate the BMI seems off.

campos just seems like another one of these right-wing assholes (without actually knowing his ideology) who doesn't think that governmental policy can change behavior and influence outcomes. megan poses a simple question:
What should we do instead if we want to reduce health care costs? Here are some proposed ideas I've heard:
  • Taxes on soda
  • New urbanism (make people walk more)
  • Bring back physical education in schools
  • Make gym memberships tax deductible
  • Menu labelling.
Will any of these make us healthier, if not thinner? And if not, what will?
campos answered:
Some of those ideas may have merit independent of whether they'll make people thinner (they won't). It's good to encourage physical activity, but NOT if the purpose of encouraging it is to try to make people thinner. Then it's counter-productive. People will be healthier if they're more active and don't smoke and if they avoid eating disordered behavior (like dieting in particular).

But Americans are actually very healthy and getting healthier all the time, despite the massive inefficiencies and dysfunctions of our health care system.
how can one argue that new urbanism, which encourages daily walking, won't make people thinner, which on the balance will make people healthier? same for bringing back phys ed. and menu labeling helps people make smart choices about what to eat. new york's experiment in menu labeling i think is great. i love having nutritional info in front of me when eating out (although, i have to say that i rarely go into chain restaurants which are the only ones required to post this info, so its impact on me is slightly limited). and a soda tax? i'm all for it. we tax the shit out of beer and cigarettes, so why not soda? soda leads to unhealthy outcomes and therefore its true cost to society goes unrealized. people complain that this is government interfering in daily choice. this is untrue. it is more accurate pricing of a good. soda is negatively impacting society, like carbon, and needs to be priced. look at what increasing cigarette taxes has done. almost no other crop, save for maybe cotton and cord, has had the impact on our history that tobacco has had, but yet it is not a right to be able to smoke tobacco (full disclosure: i am not arguing that tobacco should be banned. adults can make their own decisions. it just has to be accurately price to reflect its true cost on society). drinking soda is the same...its not a right, its a privilege.

but to claim that we do not have an obesity problem in this country is nonsense. obesity leads to a whole host of health issues from diabetes to heart disease and those people are driving up health care costs. i want to scream when i see fat-ass little kids drinking soda, eating chips and other crap who obviously have never exercised in their life. they are the people who are going to have serious health problems when they grow up. no one can argue otherwise. if your issue is with the BMI, fine. but dont confuse the point: obesity is bad for you. we need to find a new statistic, whether it is a new BMI or otherwise, to accurately measure this so we can predict its impact on health and costs in the health care system.

More Thoughts on Digital Pricing

just for the record, i am not alone in my thoughts on the ridiculous pricing of some elements of cell phone plans. case in point, this piece from the new york times (and check this out on the true price of sending an SMS):
TEXT-MESSAGING FEES Why has the price of a text message gone to 20 cents, from 10, in two years? There was no big technology shift. There was no spike in the cost of electrons.

And speaking of anticompetitive: Isn’t it a little fishy that all four big United States carriers raised their text-message fees at essentially the same time?

Furthermore, why do text messages get special premium treatment at all? Why are e-mail messages (which require much more data) included with basic Internet service, but text messages require either a per-message fee or a separate package?

The carriers can’t possibly argue that transmitting text-message data costs them that much money. One blogger ( calculated that the data in a text message costs you about 61 million times as much as the same message sent by e-mail.

Give or take.

the rest is worth a read as well. the article also touches on another personal crusade of mine, those annoying messages when you leave a voicemail, instructing you to press 5 to leave a numeric page or to hang up when you are done. i have always thought those messages were scams to increase the amount of time you spend on the line in the hopes that you will increase you minutes used, hopefully to the point where you go over your usage and have to pay extra money. clever. but there is something that can be done with the new campaign "take back the beep".

send a complaint to your carrier. lets see if we can't stop this farce.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mike Pence (R-IN), You Have Violated the Medicare Rule

i will not tolerate people badmouthing the public option while simultaneously defending medicare.

2 Quick Thoughts

just saw a CNN piece about drought in texas (here is a WSJ article on the same subject). how long before secessionist governor rick perry begs the federal government for disaster relief?

thanks to TPM there is a great story about the latest GOP lie on health care that obama is going to promote euthanasia. this can mean only one thing: obama is preparing to institute a soylent green tax.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No More Seniors on Medicare Complaining About Health Care

if i hear one more damn senior (apologies to seniors, including my grandparents) complaining about the cost of health care, what operations they can or cannot receive (some lady asked about hip and knee replacements to give you an idea of where she was coming from), and what reform should look like, while at the same time receiving medicare i don't know what am going to.

please. just stop. now. if you have private health care, fine, you can speak. but no one, i mean no one, on medicare should have the audacity to question a public option on health care.

medicare was created to take care of you and to ease the burden on families and society. now, can i have a turn? am i somehow less deserving?

Cronkite Remembers

this weekend discovery aired a series called "cronkie remembers" which featured walter cronkite reminiscing about his long and storied career.

watching it, i couldn't help be amazed about his career. my grandmother is 93 years old. she has lived through almost every major historical event of the 20th century. she has amazing memories of the events that transpired over the course of her life, but what is so amazing about cronkie is that not only did he live through the same events as my grandmother, he WAS those events. he covered it all.

he did early radio, broadcasting sports games via ticker tape and morris code. he covered eurpoe in the run up to WWII. he covered WWII and the aftermath. he lived in moscow at the beginning of the cold war. he covered the cold war and the korean war. he was a pioneer in early television and helped shape the medium of TV news into what it is today. the list goes on and on.

its really amazing to hear this man, in his own words, about the events that transpired throughout his life. he is no doubt history's greatest historian, and has provided mankind with a tremendous record through which we can study ourselves and our civilization.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Does John Yoo Believe In Any Laws?

another WTF article from the new york times today. it appears that our favorite lawyer, john yoo, did not feel that the posse comitatus act prohibited the president from using the US military in a domestic law enforcement action. really? well, i ain't no fancy big-city lawyer, and i don't teach law at berkeley, and i certainly don't write op-eds for newspapers (BTW, i am still not reading the inquirer), but the language of the posse comitatus act seems pretty clear, no (from wikipedia)?

The text of the relevant legislation is as follows:

18 U.S.C. § 1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Also notable is the following provision within Title 10 of the United States Code (which concerns generally the organization and regulation of the armed forces and Department of Defense):

10 U.S.C. § 375. Restriction on direct participation by military personnel

The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel) under this chapter does not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.

like i said, i am not the 21st century's greatest legal mind (that title belongs to jefferson beauregard sessions, III) but i don't think this language could be any clearer. you need direct authorization by congress, not some blanket coverage that yoo feels was granted to the president in the legislation passed after 9/11, in order to deploy the armed services domestically. this is one of the rare instances where cooler heads, led by bush, prevailed. can you imagine that? this issue was so clear-cut that even bush knew it wasn't right. god help us all.

another interesting tidbit from the wikipedia article. apparently as part of the FY2007 defense authorization act, language was inserted to change the posse comitatus act as follows "The President may employ the armed forces... to... restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition... the President determines that... domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order... or [to] suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy if such... a condition... so hinders the execution of the laws... that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law... or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.[3]"

this language is so broadly written that it almost gives the president carte blanche to use the military in whatever capacity he wants domestically, all without congressional oversight. fortunately, this passage was repealed in 2008.

john yoo should be disbarred, and in my mind, imprisoned for his failure to protect and defend the constitution of the united state and his general disregard for the rule of law.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My New PAC: Common Sense PAC

its very simple: i will support candidates who exhibit otherworldly common sense, or in the case of congress (or any other legislative body, for that matter) just average common sense.

i just saw a story on CNN about how historic reenactors on an historic canal in lehigh, pa. the canal offers historic barge trips via mule-drawn boats. unfortunately for the reenactors, and the mules that pull the boats, must get federal background checks, per homeland security regulations. seriously. the lehigh canal, with its mule drawn barges, is a HUGE potential target, and checking the background of the reenactors who guide the mules is clearly necessary and cost the park $1200 to get the check complete.

republican rep. charlie dent of PA recently spoke with DHS secretary napolitano to get this cleared up, but so far no action has been taken. clearly the law, as written, is just a little too broad and needs to be fixed. so, congrats, rep. dent. this is probably the first common sense move you have made in your entire congressional career.

the next person i will support with common sense PAC is ANYONE who challenges new york state senator pedro espada, jr, who represents the bronx but lives in westchester. espada is one of the geniuses behind the new york state senate shutdown earlier this month and has an incredible knack for graft. it is just common sense to run someone against espada. if no one will sign up for the job, i'll do it. senator nutbag. has a nice ring to it, no?

here are my qualifications to take on espada:
  • while i don't live in the bronx (neither does espada) at least i live in new york city (he lives in westchester)
  • i am not an asshole. espada clearly is. check out these youtube videos where he is outraged - outraged! - that a reporter would ask him legitimate questions about his residence and graft. the nerve of that reporter!

so, thats pretty much it. vote nutbag! i live in a more geographically alligned municipality than espada, and i am not an asshole, unlike espada.

winning campaign slogan, no?

Sorry Gates, I Think I am With the Cambridge Police On This One

read the police report, via the smoking gun.

from this report, which verifies other reports, it seems that gates was totally out of line. the officer had every right to figure our what was going on, as a neighbor had reported seeing two men with backpacks attempting to force their way through a door. OK, they were both black, but so what?

gates' reaction was totally unnecesary and over the line. sure, i can imagine his instinctual reaction might be to automatically assume the police were targeting him because he is black, but cooler heads should have prevailed. if gates had simply stepped out onto the porch and talked to the officer calmly and rationally, he would have realized what was going on and that his initial reaction, that he was being profiled, was off base.

but that didn't happen. everyone knows that when you press a cop, it will be you who loses. gates should know this. could the cop have turned his back and just walked away? sure. but gates was 100% uncooperative the entire time and refused to let the issue die.

i also think it was a mistake for pres. obama to wade into this issue. i understand that gates is his friend, but his presence in this issue will only exacerbate things, not make them better. he should learn a lesson on this issue and next time not wade into a controversy that is this parocial.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2 Shows 2 Thoughts

America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV): no youtube channel? really? you are perhaps sitting on the goldmine of ALL youtube channels and yet you do not have one. why is not every clip ever shown on the show NOT ON YOUTUBE AND CAN BE FOUDND ON THE AFV CHANNEL? hello? ever heard of failblog? it is essentially your show. you were youtube before there was youtube. why are you not there now?

The 700 Club
: please give your guests better talking points. case: robyn o'brien, author "unhealthy truth: how our food is making us sick". she was the guest on the 700 club tonight (yes, i was watching it. it looked interesting) talking about additives in our food supply. the weird thing was over and over again, at least 3 times, she complained that certain additives were allowed into food AFTER 1994. she said it over and over and over again. 1994. 1994. do you know what happened in 1994, mrs. o'brien? the republican revolution. deregulation. remember that? she also went on to complain that most, if not all, european countries do not allow certain additives in their food and she wondered why we don't do that here. jee, i wonder. when was the last time a republican politician talked nicely about a europoean government regulation? they certainly don't like european style health care, so why should we take some frenchie's advice on what poison we can serve our kids?

think about it, mrs. o'brien. you are a smart lady. according to amazon, you have your MBA. so since you can add, put two and two together: the republicans, with the help of pat robertson and the 700 club, have systematically targeted the regulatory functions of the united states government in an attempt to eliminate them or render them completely useless. think about that the next time you feed your kid yellow #5.

Yay For Taxes!

oakland, ca has become the first municipality in the united states to officially tax marijuana. as i said in an earlier post, this is the first time in american history that an industry wanted to be taxed. so, congrats oakland and all the dope-smoking inhabitants of your fine city. i suspect that no other cities will jump on this because it just makes too much darn sense!

from CNN:
OAKLAND, California (CNN) -- Oakland's bid to become the first U.S. city to tax proceeds on medical marijuana passed Tuesday by a landslide vote.
About 80 percent of people voting in the Oakland election approved the new medical marijuana tax.

About 80 percent of people voting in the Oakland election approved the new medical marijuana tax.

About 80 percent of voters chose to impose the tax on Oakland's medical marijuana facilities, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Some celebrated the news at Oaksterdam University by hand-rolling large marijuana cigarettes or stuffing cannabis into pipes. The school trains students for work in the medical marijuana industry.

"It is important because the city of Oakland is facing a massive deficit like many jurisdictions in California," said Steve DeAngelo, a leader of one of the city's cannabis clubs. "And we decided to step up to the plate and make a contribution to the city in a time of need."

DeAngelo, one of the people who led the effort to get the tax approved, said his business will now have to pay more than $350,000 from the new tax next year.

Oakland's City Council was also behind the move.

"Given that the medical cannabis dispensaries are something that was legalized in California, why not have revenue from it?" said councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan.

There was no formal opposition to the effort, but some drug fighters say the tax sends the wrong message.

"The taxation of a federally unlawful drug is just not something that the community should accept," said Paul Chabot of the Coalition for a Drug Free California. "With the state in dire straits in finances and the country looking for ways to pay down debt, looking at illegal drugs is the absolute wrong thing to do."

The measure, passed in special mail-in election Tuesday, imposes a 1.8 percent gross receipts tax on the four licensed medical cannabis dispensaries in Oakland.

These facilities would have to pay about $18 in taxes for every 1,000 in marijuana sales.

Letters From The Edge of Insanity

ever have those days when you feel like larry david in an episode of "curb your enthusiasm"? you know, days when you try to accomplish simple activities but are unable to and it feels like the entire world is conspiring against you to make sure you can't? well, today is one of those.

being unemployed will make you do things you probably shouldn't. things like applying to a job that does not accept emailed resumes. seriously. welcome to the 21st century, new york public design commission. not accepting emailed resumes for your open job makes no sense. none at all. strike 1.

because the new york public art commission is too stupid to accept emailed resumes, i was forced to deal with the geniuses at the USPS. if you are anything like me, you probably don't mail letters too often and therefore do not have a cache of envelopes and stamps lying around, so i went to the post office to get a single, stamped envelope.

the post office was busy, but fortunately the cooper square PO is equipped with these new-fangeled automated postal centers which are supposed to make mailing a snap; they are to the PO what ATMs are to banks. but you know what you can't buy at one of these? a single, stamped envelope. that would be too easy. so i asked a postal employee why not. he told me that buying such an item doesn't make much money for the postal service, to which i replied "but doesn't it cost more to have a teller sell them than it does a machine"? apparently this was too much for him as he just stared at me and directed me to stand in line. strike 2.

after a few mins i made it to the front and asked for a single, stamped envelope please. i handed the teller a 20 because it was all i had. she rolled her eyes in disgust, so i asked her for her opinion on why single, stamped envelopes are not available at the machine. before i fell you what she said, i want to warn those reading this (dad) that your head might explode do to the sheer stupidity of her answer. consider yourself warned. she said that the reason i cannot buy a single, stamped envelope at the automated postal center is because in 2001 the anthrax letters were mailed with such an envelope purchased on such a machine. i kid you not. strike 3.

so, thanks USPS. You have really made a good decision there. that'll learn those evil-doers. i bet they can't figure out how to get single, stamped envelopes now! judging by how hard of a time i had getting one, this might not be a bad idea because i generally consider myself smarter than your average, run-of-the-mill terrorist and if i had trouble getting a single, stamped envelope i can only imagine how difficult it must be for them. this is also good for the USPS because people just love going to the PO, so anything they can do to make it easier for customers to get what they want would just make too much sense. and they wonder why they are losing money...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Look Who Wasn't Mentioned

from an ESPN article on the 2009 NBA summer league:
The Point Guard Class
Several point guards who came to Las Vegas made strong impressions. Jonny Flynn, despite all the turmoil surrounding Ricky Rubio, stood out. Though many in Vegas questioned the wisdom of playing Tyreke Evans at point guard long-term, few doubted that his strength, size, and capacity to get to the rim would make him a scoring machine. Observers had reserved praise for Brandon Jennings and Stephen Curry, the former for his unrefined shot, the latter for looking more like a gunner than a floor general. Some of the mid-first-rounders earned a lot of praise. Dallas' Roddy Beaubois led Vegas point guards in oohs and aahs, zipping through the lane in traffic and filling it up from beyond the arc. Of all the point guards in Las Vegas last week, Darren Collison was among the most polished before going down with an ankle injury. After starting Summer League 1-for-15 from the field, Ty Lawson bounced back to turn in three dominant performances, averaging 23.7 points over that span. Lawson is the kind of point guard who needs to be surrounded by scorers to excel. He'll have that in Denver.
if memory serves, there was another highly touted point guard taken in the first round. doesn't sound like this unnamed point guard stood out...

Sports News Online

today, the big development in the sportsosphere is the launching of three new local sports sites: ESPN new york, LA, and dallas. for the past few months ESPN has been running a local site for chicago, and according to dan shanoff, it has been such a rousing success that it has earned the title of the go-to place for chicago sports news, analysis, and commentary. the story was also talked about on the daily dish. it seems like ESPN is going to deliver a death blow to the one part of the newspaper that i still consider essential: the sports page.

one question, though: why did ESPN choose NY, LA, and dallas for expansion. chicago makes sense because there are a lot of sports in chicago and chicago is a good sports town. LA makes sense for the arguments laid out by shanoff and friedersdorf, and NY makes sense for the same reason as chicago. but dallas? dallas is a shitty sports town. only the cowgirls really hold anyone's attention in that town. the mavs are popular of late, and i guess having a beat devoted to mark cuban is good for traffic, but other than that, sports fans in dallas are a pretty lousy bunch. no one cares about the rangers or the stars. texas, so by extension dallas, has tons of college sports, so maybe ESPN thinks this is what will generate a lot of traffic for the dallas market. it could also quite possibly mean that the guys who do sports for the traditional news operations in dallas suck, so ESPN sees an opening there. i guess dallas isn't atlanta, but still...

why not philly? philly has WAY better sports than dallas, not just in terms of their teams suck (which they do - especially the cowgirls) but philly really likes its sports in the way dallas doesn't. we also are a MUCH bigger media market. NY, LA, and chicago are the top 3 media markets in the country. i guess by i was writing this i decided to look up the top MSAs (metropolitan statistical area) in the USA, and boy do i feel stupid. turns out dallas-ft. worth-arlington is the 4th largest MSA, with philly-camden-wilmington coming in 5th.

so, forget that. i'll go back to my less scientific, but still correct point that dallas sports suck and their fans are a bunch of front-running, all-cattle-no-steer, losers. seriously. dallas has a larger media market, but i wonder what the share of sports is in that market (fuck, this is where my east coast bias comes in. i forgot NASCAR. shit. there goes my whole post). you could probably analyze this by looking at ticket sales and attendance numbers across the sports universe (again another one hit me: high school football. they love that down there and i bet ESPN is looking for a good anchor into that relatively untapped market), and merch sales you can get a good idea of what it is. maybe lets make a list of sports teams/events in each area:

university of texas sports (not sure about the other schools in texas like a&m and texas tech, so lets just say U of T)
high school football
FC dallas (MLS)

penn state football
big 5 college basketball (along with a-10 and big east, but big 5 is the real one here)
high school basketball is a stretch, but i think other high school sports like the dad vail and penn relays are of significant interest, especially in the local market
philadelphia union (MLS)

were it not for NASCAR, i would argue that the "big 4" sports: baseball, hockey, basketball, and football (NFL) philly would hold the edge on the overall count (cowgirls probably generate more of a share than the eagles, but the others aren't even close), but NASCAR which has zero presence in philly but a huge one in texas just kills us.

so, in the end, i guess ESPN made the right decision in choosing dallas over philly. its also a possiblilty that they thought our print sports coverage is too good to break through, but i doubt it. oh well. maybe philadelphia will get an ESPN local in the next round. and dallas still sucks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Saved A Man's Life

i did.

i am a very aggressive street crosser. i will take risks crossing streets that i don't think most should. but i do. i have a key on the city's rhythms. sure, i am taking a chance that something will go awry, but i have a high degree of confidence that i will reach the other side unscathed.

such a situation happened tonight. i was walking down spring street towards lafayette. anyone who knows this intersection knows its kind of confusing on a good day: drivers are heading east on spring, north on cleveland place (which turns into lafayette at this intersection), and drivers can also turn south onto lafayette from spring. but there is no northbound traffic on the lafayette side of cleveland (as i said, confusing. please consult the map below for clarification).

View Larger Map

so, as i said, i was walking east on spring across lafayette, against the light. knowing the traffic patterns as i do, i walked out into the middle of the street because i could. i knew i was protected on one side by the construction area (oh yes, did i mention the construction on petrosino square [spelled it right on the first try!], just south of the intersection? it is a small, triangular park [certainly not a square] that comes to a point at said intersection.) and on the other by a lack of southbound traffic (again, consult map).

ANYWAY, i was in the middle waiting for a break in the traffic so i could complete my cross. i saw my window. two cars were coming, one was close but almost past and another was far enough down the street that i could make it across ahead of it. so i went. as i moved into the street, i saw on the opposite corner two dudes who had obviously been at spring lounge or gatsby's (read: drunk). i still had my head down because i was focused on my timing but as i got closer to the other side, one of the dudes noticed me and said to the other "OK lets go". he stepped off the curb and didn't look.

i immediately recognized the situation. he had seen me cross and assumed that because i was crossing, the coast was clear. he possibly thought he had the light. i don't know what he thought; he might not have thought. but i knew. i knew there was a car rapidly approaching where i had just crossed and he had no idea. i did...and his buddy did. his buddy shouted "dude, wait!", but his momentum carried him forward, towards me going the other way and towards the traffic, going a way he certainly didn't want.

not to exaggerate or commit hyperbole, but the next few moments were clear, yet foggy. instinctual, yet thought out. i didn't think: i acted. as the guy approached me, i simply stuck my palm in the middle of his sternum and said "watch out!". that was all. my forward momentum hit his forward momentum and we both stopped. the car zoomed by. the dude froze for a second. i continued walking, not skipping a beat. i saw the recognition in his eye after a moment had passed. he was confused at first, but got it. as i passed, i heard him shout "thanks, man!".

i don't know why i didn't stop. i almost didn't process what happened until after it was over. i don't know way i did what i did. like i said, it was instinctual, yet somehow my brain processed the situation before it happened so, in a way, i was prepared for this event and acted accordingly.

i should have stopped and acknowledged him, but i didn't. i don't know why. i should have. probably could have gotten a beer out of it :)

My First Stab At Citizen Journalism

i saw a fire today at the corner of elizabeth and kenmare.

this is my first attempt at citizen journalism.

i have always wondered how videos of events end up on the internet, but now i know. i was walking down the street today and came across this raging fire. i had never seen anything like this before, with thick, black smoke billowing from the windows so i stopped to watch along with a ton of other people. as i was standing there i decided to snap a few pics for my friends that i was meeting so i could tell them the story. i took a few pics then decided to capture some video...well...for no other reason than because i could. so i took the video below (i also had no idea how to use my video camera feature on my new phone, so i am glad i actually captured it).

so now i know how these things happen: because they can.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Manny vs. The Mick

i just saw on sportscenter that manny is set to pass mickey mantle "sometime soon" on the all-time home run list, and according to the anchor manny's legacy will be tainted due to his suspension for PED use. ok, manny was suspended for PEDs. but what about mickey? he visited the notorious max jacobson, a.k.a dr. feelgood, many, many times during his career and jacobson would inject him with all kinds of stuff from amphetamines guessed it...steroids!

and this isn't even the he said/she said steroid allegations that we see today. the mick was hopped up on goofballs during the legendary 1961 season. no one seems to care about this though...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wilbon and Bob Ryan Got It Wrong On Pedro

first of all, pedro, welcome to the WFC phillies. glad to have you on board. i think i had forgotten how nasty your stuff was when you were with the red sox (thank you ESPN for the highlight package).

last night on PTI, wilbon and bob ryan had a debate in oddsmakers as to whether or not you would pitch in the playoffs. wilbon went 100% and ryan went 92%, but the backbone of their logic rested on the fact that the phillies would make the playoffs, not whether or not pedro would pitch in the playoffs.

there is a slight, but significant difference. of course, the phillies are going to make the playoffs (on a side note, they managed to get through the whole segment without mentioning that the phillies are the DEFENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS, yet at the same time blasting the NL east as weak and even offering that the florida marlins could catch the phils for the division), and pedro is currently on the team, but pedro pitching in the playoffs is no slam dunk. he hasn't pitched in the bigs in quite some time. we know we aren't going to get the pedro of old, but we could get the pedro of the not-so-distant past (i.e. his tenure with the mets). if we get the pedro of mets vintage, the phillies front office would have NO PROBLEM shutting him down, especially for the bargain price of $1 mil. the pedro signing is low-risk/high-reward. if he pitches adequately, it will be a great signing. if he sucks, the team will be no worse off for rolling the dice.

i respect wilbon and bob ryan a lot, but on this case, their analysis was dead wrong.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm Pretty Sure I Do Not Want This Thing Built

A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies.

Robotic Technology Inc.'s Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot — that's right, "EATR" — "can find, ingest, and extract energy from biomass in the environment (and other organically-based energy sources), as well as use conventional and alternative fuels (such as gasoline, heavy fuel, kerosene, diesel, propane, coal, cooking oil, and solar) when suitable," reads the company's Web site.

That "biomass" and "other organically-based energy sources" wouldn't necessarily be limited to plant material — animal and human corpses contain plenty of energy, and they'd be plentiful in a war zone.

and, no, that is not from the onion. it's from fox, so its close.

All-Star Game Thoughts

if all roy halladay needs is a helmet to come to the NL and play for the phillies, i will gladly purchase him one.

its weird to see a phillie (victorino) get a hit to advance a met (wright)

tim mccarver to joe buck: "we have been together for 14 years..." bromance, anyone?

i am enjoying the commentary on twitter much more than i am mccarver and buck. they are essentially doing what i am doing, but the people i follow, you know...have followers!

My War Against Pricing in the Digital Age

the digital age has ushered in a new era of consumer freedom. comparison shopping, lower overhead costs, and convenience have all lowered prices and increased competition for goods sold over the internet, as well as in traditional brick-and-mortar stores. some companies, however, still think that they can charge whatever they want for their goods and services because they think us, the consumer, are just a bunch of rubes. i present two examples:
  • yesterday bill simmons tweeted about a book on sale at amazon. his recommendation, "Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers, and Guests", was on sale for $4.64 (this price no longer seems to be available for the book, but my point is still the same) at amazon so i decided to go and check it out and see how much they were charging for the kindle version (i no longer purchase physical books). i remember purchasing "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" one day for $0.99, so i thought i would see if i could get the SNL book for a similar price, but you can imagine my shock and surprise when i saw the kindle price was $9.99!!!!! i thought to myself "you have to be kidding is this possible, because, you know, the digital copy of the book, which costs $0.00 to keep on inventory should ALWAYS be less than the physical book". right? i mean, there is a cost with distributing kindle books because amazon had to invest in the network to deliver the books, but still, if there is a physical copy of the book on sale the kindle version should be priced competitively because that is the point of the kindle: books cost less (not taking into account the cost of purchasing the device itself, but once you have bought the kindle, that becomes a sunk cost and no longer factors into the cost of purchasing a book) on the kindle!!! HOW CAN THIS BE? does amazon think i am a moron? i think so...
  • the next example is from the kind folks at AT&T. recently i was shopping for a new cell phone and cell plan (thanks to the fam, i am no longer responsible for my plan and i got the sweet new blackberry tour out of the deal) so i went to AT&T to see about getting myself an iphone and what the iphone plans cost. the iphone is like a kindle, once you get it, it becomes a sunk cost. $200 for the new iphone? sure. i can do that. but the plans...the plans... $40/month for unlimited data. fine. $30/month for 450 mins with rollover. ok. but SMS delivery is where AT&T goes off the deep end and shows their utter contempt for the consumer. AT&T has a 3 tiered texting plan: $5 for 200 texts, $15 for 1500 texts and $20 for unlimited. let that just sink in for a minute. here is where the problems start. $5 for 200 texts a month is a decent deal, but who only sends 200 texts a month from an iphone? too low. the next is 1500 texts. that is a lot of texts, so if you go with that plan, you should be safe from overage charges and if you think you will go over, an extra $5 for the unlimited isn't a bad idea either, but there is nothing in the middle! the jump from 200-1500 is quite significant. what about 500 texts? or 1000 texts? these seem like more reasonable texting plans. but thats not all. lets say you go with the 1500 text plan for $15/month. texting is a data transmission. a small data transmission at that. 140 characters. very, very, very small, and for $15/month you can send a total of 240,000 characters. but what about that $40/month data plan i have already signed up for? that is transmitting HUGE amounts of data, from email to maps to apps to whatever, so why do i have to pay this OTHER data charge on top of that? ok, so SMS gets transmitted over AT&T's cell netowrk and the data is transmitted over their 3G or any available wi-fi network, but still! come on AT&T! you can send instant messages over the data network, which when sent from a cell phone is essentially a text message. see the problem here? now that cell phones can transmit all kinds of things, there is really no difference between the various kinds of messaging you can engage in. my new blackberry does email, SMS, MMS (whatever that is...i think its multimedia messaging service for pics and vids and stuff), BBM (blackberry messenger), and various forms of IM (aol, yahoo messenger, google talk). they all get funneled into the same messaging center, and at times, it is rather confusing which message is which and what service it was delivered on. the point is this: with so many messaging options enabled on cell phones what does it really matter what format it was delivered in? and this is the insanity of companies like AT&T and verizon charging for separate SMS plans on smartphones: it is a double data charge and they think they can get away with it because they think we are too stupid to realize the difference.
so now you know. don't be a rube.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A New Constitution for California

since i have some time on my hands these days, i think i will set out to solve a HUGE problem: to rewrite the constitution for the state of california.

california is a messed up state, and like goldman sachs, is too big to fail. it is the 5th largest economy in the world, and while it might seem odd that i would take such a keen interest in the laws of a state that i have never lived in, there are some benefits to me for solving all of the state's problems. for starters, because california's economy is so large, the better off the state is, the easier it will become for me to find a job there ( me!). actually, thats about it. i am motivated completely by self-interest.

just to give one example about how fucked up california's government is: i did a search to find the text of the state constitution. how is it that there is no place on the web that lists the constitution and all of its articles and amendments in one place? the best place is the state government link, but you have to click through each article independently.

que lastima!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Updated Thoughts on Halladay

where there is smoke, there is fire. this morning on sportscenter, buster olney said the phillies are the team with the best position to land halladay and all we would have to give up is a pitching prospect (drebek or even happ), jason donald (path to the majors blocked by the phillies stellar infield), and someone else (most likely). and this afternoon ruben amaro addressed the media over the position the team is in and danced around the subject of halladay, prospects, and pedro (i'll go on the record here with my thoughts on pedro coming to the phillies: bad move if they fail to land halladay and fall back on pedro. he is washed-up. dunzo. fin. however, this is where economics comes in - the phillies might balk at their payroll going much higher than the $13o million it is now and pedro is rumored to be asking $5 mil [which would be pro-rated]. i really, really, really hope that the economics of this don't doom halladay and that if halladay falls through, the team has a backup plan other than pedro martinez).

A First In American History

one of the reasons why the united states came into being was because king george III and parliament levied unfair taxes on the colonies. this has been a common theme throughout american history, and americans, more so than our european counterparts, are generally tax-adverse. we even needed a constitutional amendment to institute a national income tax.

so, in what i believe is a first in american history, we actually have an industry, a multi-billion dollar industry no less, that wants to be taxed. the founding fathers would be rolling around in their graves! but what industry, you ask, could be so foolish? i'll give you a hint: its not big oil, nor is it the auto industry. its not investment banks. and its not the construction industry.

give up? its *gasp!* the marijuana (aka the demon weed, reefer, grass, smoke, ganja, herb, wacky tobbacky) industry. again, in the history of the united states has there ever been an industry that has so desperately wanted to be taxed and regulated? estimates for california alone place the value of the crop at $13.8 billion. $13.8 billion. that is a lot of money. taxed at 10% you are talking about over $1 billion for the state of california. this doesn't even take into account the other industries surrounding the sale and consumption of marijuana. downtown oakland is already seeing the benefits of an agglomeration economy emerging around the cannabis co-ops operating in the oaksterdam section of the city (strategy for urban renewal, anyone?). this is something that could be replicated in every state in the union. bringing the underground marijuana economy out of the shadows into the light will help farmers, consumers, states, prison systems, and countless others.

reasonable people can disagree over the health benefits of marijuana or the effect that some argue it has on society (they are wrong on this point...responsible adults can consume marijuana and not have negative effects on society, but whatever) but you cannot argue that there is not a valid economic reason to, in the words of peter tosh, "legalize it".

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Phillies MUST Get Halladay

the phillies have been at a juncture like this for the past as many seasons as i can remember. there is always a point around the beginning of the all-star break through shortly after when the team must make a decision: how do i get a new starting pitcher. this season the decision is more acute than in years past due to the injury of brett myers and the generally underwhelming performance of the pitching staff this year from the starters to the bullpen. in years past the team has not made a major move, getting guys like moyer and blanton while eschewing the bigger name pitchers like sabathia.

but this year we have an opportunity, it seems, to pick up roy halladay from the blue jays. halladay is an exceptional pitcher and is one of the only guys in the majors who pitches complete games these days. to give up a kyle drebek or one of our other pitching prospects and a few other guys is worth the price of halladay. the phillies actually have a decent stock of young arms, so to part with one of them to acquire a cy-young caliber pitcher for 2 years (he is signed through 2010 and while it would balloon the payroll some, i imagine the phillies management would be happy with another world championship, those being the cash-cows that they are) would not be a bad thing considering it would put the phillies in the drivers seat to repeat as champs and do all the things i outlined in the parentheses.

also, by getting halladay now, we make the first move in the pitching market and have the chance to set the price for pitchers at the deadline. while i like blanton and what he has done fior the team, he came at a pretty high price (or so i recall). make your investment really worth it this time - get halladay.

i trust that ruben amaro studied well under pat gillick. but all of the situations described above were gillick's moves. now its amaro's turn. will amaro emulate his mentor, or will he strike out on a path of his own? we will see...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Palin Thoughts

so sarah palin's lawyers have now threatened to sue anyone who dares disagree with her in public. sounds like how scientology deals with their critics.

one refrain that i have constantly heard from her side is that she despises attacks against her family and that influenced her decision to step down. i can understand that, but seriously, can anyone actually point to an attack leveled at palin's family? sure, david letterman made an off-color joke about one of her kids, but i recall john mccain doing the same to a certain chelsea clinton. so, aside from that, who has been attacking palin's family? the blogger who photoshopped a different head on trig's body? how is that an attack on trig? speculation that bristol is actually trig's mother? that rumor has about as much credence as the obama birth certificate story (someone from the MSM ask palin this: since she is so sensitive to rumors and accusations thrown at her that she claims are untrue, then does she feel obama would be justified in suing bloggers who claim he is not a natural born citizen?). what else? who has actually attacked her family? is it "attacking her family" to point out that bristol's advocacy of abstinence-only education is remarkably hypocritical? plus, doesn't bristol being an adult and taking on a public role in her new role as the spokesperson for the abstinence-only crowd, make her a legitimate target for people who oppose what she (allegedly) stands for? and, lest we forget, palin, more than any other politician that i can think of, thrust her family into the spotlight and made them a part of her campaign and public image. she relies on them as props and tools to further her own ambition, so is it not a complete double standard for her to rely on them to serve her needs yet claim them off limits for any commentary? look, the obama's are very protective of their daughters, and rightfully so. the palin children should be afforded the same luxury, and they have. NO ONE HAS EVER ATTACKED TRIG. OR WILLOW. OR TRAPP. OR WHATEVER OTHER WEIRD-ASS NAME HER OTHER KIDS HAVE (whoops, i just attacked her family!). the only palin child that has faced any sort of criticism is bristol, and that was of her own making.

i just don't get it. are pitbulls this thin skinned? are pitbulls this deranged that they think every form of criticism, legitimate or not, is part of some nefarious plot to destroy her family? are pitbulls quitters? i guess we know the answer now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Merry 4th of July

on this independence day lets take some time to think about all the peoples around the world still fighting for their independence.

i am especially thinking about the brave iranians who are standing up against their government to have their votes counted and voices heard.

where are all the ben franklins, thomas jeffersons, john adamses, and george washingtons today?


i don't claim to be no political expert, but i think i have a pretty good understanding of how this politics thing works. despite being the astute observer of politics that i am, i was quite baffled by sarah palin's announcement yesterday that she is stepping down as governor of alaska to...well, its kind of unclear what her next step is. some are speculating that there is a major scandal on the way (could be true). others think she just isn't interested in the job of governor (could also be true). she might be retiring from politics (god i hope this is true, but unlikely). or she could be prepping for a presidential run (unsure if i want this to be true or not). and, as the dude on CNN just said, depending who you ask, this is either the smartest - or dumbest - political move ever. depending on who you ask.

here is my take. barring the scandal scenario, i think this could prove to be a shrewd move. allow me to explain. right now, the republican party is essentially leaderless. none of the republican senators or representatives really commands the national spotlight. there is no governor, save for palin, that really commands national attention either. the power base of the republican party right now is in the media with rush, beck, hannity, and the rest, but despite being popular and influential, none of them can really be considered the leader of the republican party, politically speaking.

this is where palin comes in. i think nominally she was the de facto leader of the party, but from alaska it is very difficult to really command the national spotlight. now freed of the encumbrance of being governor, palin is free to tour the country for the next 3 (!) years and act as a steady opposition to obama's policies. what form her opposition will take is unsure but i think this is what she is doing. she is attempting to position herself as the leader of the party, and as we all know, when it comes to republican presidential primaries, the front runner normally wins.

i wonder if it will pay off for her. i personally don't think its a sound strategy. she could have waited a year and announced that she isn't running for reelection. but this will give her the time to do her homework on domestic and foreign policy and if she devotes herself to full time campaigning for 3 (!) years, she could emerge as a much more polished (read: comprehensible) candidate.

time will tell.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Big Shot Is The Only True Sixers Mascot (updated)

UPDATED: i originally posted this on 8/10/07 and had forgotten that the video of big shot was of him dancing to michael jackson.

i am waiting for the return of big shot. hip hop is a false god and all who worship him are praying to a false idol. the only road to salvation is through big shot.