Recently I moved from a semi-bustling metropolitan suburb to a much quieter suburb. The sort of quiet that comes from rolling up the sidewalks at 8pm. I’m still getting used to the lack of noise, but it’s nice, and it’s part of the reason I moved into this neighbourhood in the first place. I prefer living in a comfortable electronic cave, having lived and worked in them most of my adult life. A zen-like sense of calm at home is a good thing.

Christmas decorations hang from the telephone poles on Main Street – all 3-4 blocks of it. The decorations are the fake plastic garland shaped into Santas and angels and chrysanthemums and other things I can’t remember, lit up with strands of lights. Part of me (admittedly a very, very small part) wants to raise a minor objection, on the grounds that church and state need a large distance between each other. It’s not exactly fair to people who do not celebrate a holiday during this part of the year which is similar enough to not feel slighted. On the other hand, I don’t even know for certain that the city government actually put up the decorations. And I have a hard time seeing the decorations as endorsing any religious beliefs or worldview… more likely endorsement of tackiness and gratuitous use of electricity. It’s more like a time warp back to an idealized version of the 1950s that I never saw.

Of course, there are some things that make one realize it’s even a little farther out than you might expect at first glance. It’s big enough for several grocery stores. However, I still need to drive into town – the neighboring town 5 miles down the road – to find a hardware store or housewares. I’m not yet sure that I can get any food delivered. Older gentlemen with large belt buckles who know only my appearance raise an scowling eyebrow at me, at least once every other day. I secretly get a thrill out of that, and hum Ministry’s “Everyday is Halloween” to myself. But, seriously, the nearby pizza restaurant is awesome, and I’m a local there (and at the Starbuck’s) after going there one time with a friend who chatted with the staff. There are advantages to standing out in a crowd, even in a small town where my fingers outnumber the stoplights.

Monday ~ December 1, 2008 by b

Posted in news | 6,958 Comments |

the divide

In Obama’s acceptance speech, mentions of McCain were met with cheers.
In McCain’s concession speech, mentions of Obama were met with booing.

There’s a long, hard road ahead. We just took the first step, not the last.

Wednesday ~ November 5, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 6,787 Comments |



I think this is going to be the hardest presidency in memory for many, many people. The economy is shot, corruption is bad enough to be openly discussed at even the highest levels of government, the national government is in gridlock, we have 3 full-blown wars going without any clear and winnable goals, our international credibility has been dropping like a rock, our healthcare system is a sham among modern civilizations, and the normal evolution of civil rights stalled. Obama’s coattails are not as wide as the most optimistic people had hoped. I would not wish president-elect upon any close friends; I’d rather have them alive and sane in eight years. Especially not one who has “attend funeral of person who raised me” on their todo list. But I think we picked the better person for that job.

Remember Bill Clinton, the last guy whose presidency looked like an 8-year-long all-nighter (the academic kind, not the raging kegger kind)? He didn’t look like he got younger during those 8 years.

But, really, at the end of the day? Americans just elected a intellectual ethnic minority person with a funny name and a common perception that he’s a bit liberal. Something between 15-20% of us even think he’s a completely different religion than the majority. I’m surprised that there aren’t widespread rumours that he’s a martian, after the weird attacks upon him during that campaign. Clearly, we don’t have qualms about shirking reactionary politics when the opportunity presents itself.

Things are changing. It’s hard to not be a bit more patriotic tonight. Those times that make us proud to be Americans, where people ask “where were you?” in decades to come? This is one of them.

Wednesday ~ November 5, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 6,844 Comments |

actual plumbers

also, from the article below:

But before Obama supporters fret about losing the plumber vote, it’s worth noting that the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters has endorsed the Illinois Democrat, in part because the union thinks he has the best economic agenda for its members.

Thursday ~ October 16, 2008 by blog

Posted in news,poli | 6,803 Comments |

What’s up, Joe?

So, Joe the plumber?

He isn’t a legally licensed plumber and has problems paying his taxes, already.

Thursday ~ October 16, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 2,732 Comments |

do I really need to?

So, tonight:


McCain wasn’t even in the debate, or trying to win. He was only scatter-shooting buzzwords.

Wednesday ~ October 15, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 6,262 Comments |


If you’re not watching the debate on tv, like I’m not, you can catch it online live at My only concerns now are how much bandwidth that stream will leave me, and will actually stay up under the load rather than crash because someone was too cheap with the IT department’s budget.

Wednesday ~ October 15, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 6,611 Comments |

Obama / McCain @ Belmont

I watched last night’s debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I didn’t expect much; I’ve made up my mind on who I’m voting for, how each candidate stands on issues that matter to me, and the arguments for and against those platforms. I was actually a bit surprised, and pleased that the candidates put each other under some stress. The President of the United States is an extremely stressful job, and I’d like to see how they handle stress as part of the relatively easy job interview.

First, I think McCain actually pissed off Obama. While Obama maintained composure, perhaps far better than Biden, I recognized his mannerisms. Usually in a debater confronted with an opponent entirely dodging the arguments repeatedly (rarely, it’s usually welcome) or blatantly lying about the evidence. It’s also the sort of thing that tends to clarify the required tactics and winning issues, that whole “game face” thing, which is exactly how Obama hit back. But from where I sat, McCain was quite rattled, losing both his cool and his nerve. Not a good sign, at all, for someone who needs to direct the absolutely trickiest negotiations on the planet. The “I’m crazy and have nukes” style of negotiation doesn’t actually work in the real world.

McCain also needs to take a second look at Teddy Roosevelt’s policies, if he’s going to call Teddy his hero. Also, he might not contradict himself by saying Reagan is his hero. Teddy Roosevelt caused the left to split from the Republican party by forming the Progressive party, as a result causing the GOP to become a conservative party. Teddy was the first president to advocate universal healthcare. He fought corrupt big business tooth and nail, breaking up many companies along the way. He made a very strong attempt to regulate some of the larger industries. He paved the way for FDR to enter office as a Democrat. He won the Nobel peace prize because of his focus on negotiating. To be fair, Teddy also had a bad habit of viewing all wars in racist terms, and pursued warfare specifically on the grounds that he thought his race superior. To me, that does not sound much like Ronald Reagan, and I don’t think any potential overlap has positive connotations.

Wednesday ~ October 8, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 7,132 Comments |

vee pee debate

Biden won, going off the point-counterpoint of the transcript. He gave sufficient evidence for each point, and went deeper in a concise way when the debate focused on a single point. But his presentation and style could’ve been a lot stronger (the heavy sigh was just cringe-worthy). He pulled it together near the end, but that’s not nearly as competitive as starting off the blocks with the hard hits and intellectual professionalism. I think that’s why there is discussion today about who “won” the debate.

Palin did show off her polish, and she had a better grip than in the Couric interview. She was in the game, and clearly intended to use her strengths in presentation. On the other hand, Palin lies very, very poorly, as even noted elsewhere. She struck hard at Biden’s image, throwing as much as possible to his position changing, and it clearly rattled him more than it should. She also picked exactly one issue to solidify the social conservative base, and moved on rapidly before attracting direct negative attention from Biden.

However, to be clear I’ll state it bluntly: Palin conjured up evidence for her points. To people who practice any sort of formalized debate, that is considered one of the worst breaches of ethics possible within an ongoing argument. It makes the debate itself meaningless, usually in the name of a scorched earth policy. It is a concept far more important than politeness to one’s opponent, as it is inherently disrespectful of everyone watching. Also, it backfired and snapped Biden right back into the competitive reality of the debate, which was not in her best interest.

I’m still mulling over the implications of the points. The “some of my best friends that I tolerate are… diverse” (paraphrasing) bit was just weird. The argument that patriots are war hawks until the end, ignoring the very reason for civilian leadership of the military, probably isn’t something I should discuss yet, either. Eventually, she’s going to run into someone who questions her patriotism for making arguments like that.

Friday ~ October 3, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 5,460 Comments |

econ, and market crises

I can’t say I like the deal being struck, and I don’t fully support a Wall St. bailout. I don’t want to give a free ticket to brokers and bankers of any ilk who screw up. Since they advocate laissez-faire capitalism, let them deal with the downside of market forces to their own wealth. But they didn’t screw up on their own. Legislation to liberalize and open up investment in the housing market passed quite some time ago, long enough ago to allow risk-taking for short-term gain. A revolution to stick one set of actors with the bill, or rather to let them enjoy part of the status quo, is not going to help much… it would simply be a similar risky short-term gain by someone else.

I don’t know of a better, realistic solution than a big, expensive bailout. By definition, it’s an investment, and those require money. The problem has already happened, the self-destructive market forces are already in play and working as predicted. Bankers and stock brokers will still be ludicrously wealthy regardless of what legislation passes, and how the problem is handled. Does anyone really believe that they wait until retirement to get rich, or that they don’t know how to make money from a down market? Regardless of my personal views on economics, rapidly destroying the existing system helps exactly no one. If anything, it creates incentive for war by the same people. From what little I know about market dynamics, banking collapse, the Great Depression, and my own investments, the only alternative is ignoring a large economic problem already in-progress. Nearly no one (self included, especially) likes a federal bailout, but there is simply no alternative.

History repeats itself, but those who learn from it can understand how situations differ, and avoid the worst parts of previous events. Woodrow Wilson’s economic hands-off (and isolationist) ideology will not accomplish anything positive.

Monday ~ September 29, 2008 by b

Posted in news,poli | 6,583 Comments |

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