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Archive for January, 2006

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Really?

Thursday, January 12th, 2006

Senator Ted Kennedy has a children’s book coming out called “My Senator and Me: A Dog’s-Eye View of Washington, D.C.” It’s the story of a “a full day in the Senator’s life, but also explains how a bill becomes a law” as told by Senator Kennedy’s dog, Splash.

Seriously? Ted Kennedy has a dog named Splash?

<forehead smack>

(via Michelle Malkin)

Categories: Political Rantings, The World Wide Weird | 1 Comment »

Lileks on rites and rights

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Today’s Screedblog entry from James Lileks covers two topics: faith and George W. Bush. He better watch it – this kind of thing could catch on…

On faith, he quotes a Sunday Strib editorial (not available online) which suggests that:

Regular formal worship really does seem to improve a family’s economic outcomes, increased children’s chances of graduating from high school and reduce the likelihood of getting divorced or going on welfare.

I think the most useful thing I learned in my freshman year’s Statistics 101 class was the difference between causation and causality. Comes up all the time. To wit: Has this study proven that religious people are richer, smarter and more happily married? Or has it proven that rich, smart and happily married people are more likely to be religious? Or, perhaps, it proves that folks who meet certain other criteria (not studied here) are richer, smarter, more happily married and more religious as a result.

None of which matters, of course, unless someone is trying to suggest that becoming more religious will make you richer or smarter or solve your marital problems. There’s no control group for that kind of statement.

On Bush, Lileks flames those who worry more about the government trying to spy on us than the terrorists trying to kill us:

If President Clinton had used the same tools as President Bush, intercepted communications between McVeigh’s associate and, say, Philippine Islamist cells, and this nifty intel operation thwarted the OKC bombing, most Americans of all political stripes would have nodded approval, turned the page and forgotten about it. (Just as most forgot about the 1993 WTC attack.) That’s what we pay you guys for! Nice job.

First of all, as an unwilling participant in the 1993 WTC attack, I’m not sure what he means by “most forgot about” it. That certainly doesn’t go for folks around here, but maybe things are different in Minnesota.

As for government spying, I think most people would have been fine with them catching McVeigh talking to Terry Nichols, even if he wasn’t a Philippine Islamist. It’s not much of a leap to point out that folks are in favor of actions that prevent terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, this isn’t an either-or proposition. When successful spying operations raise questions about constitutional freedoms, the system is working. We’re having (or should be having) a healthy discussion about the pros and cons of an approach, and finding a way to maintain effectiveness while retaining our civil liberties.

I can’t help but feel that this is exactly what would be happening, if not for hysterics on both sides. The political left and the MSM have jumped all over the costs of this program, completely ignoring the benefits. Folks like Lileks, in turn, react by focusing on the benefits and minimizing the costs. Much to everyone’s chagrin, both exist and both need to be weighed.

Oh, and in case anyone thinks this is new, here’s something I wrote almost four years ago that hits on the same themes.

Categories: Political Rantings | 7 Comments »

Billy Joel plays the oldies…

Monday, January 9th, 2006

My wife and I have tickets to see Billy Joel in Madison Square Garden on Jan 23rd. We originally saw him together in Philadelphia back in 1989, and have long considered it one of our “first dates” (thanks, Heidi, on the off chance you’re reading this, for getting a stomach ache that night & giving up your ticket). At any rate, we got the tickets to this one, primarily for nostalgia purposes, although we both agreed we’d probably we disappointed with a 56-year old recovering alcoholic trying to recapture his (and our) youth.

Well, the tour opened last night in Florida, and check out this setlist (via SleepingPoliceman).

Laura? Sleeping with the Television On? Where’s the Orchestra? She’s Right on Time? ZANZIBAR?!?!?

This seems to be the show all the die-hard fans have always wished Joel would do – eschewing the pop hits for some of the more musical (and more obscure) selections in his vast catalog, and throwing in a few standards for old time’s sake.

Suddenly, I’m very much looking forward to this show…

UPDATE: I see from my server logs that over 500 of you have read this post. God Bless Google! In any case, welcome to my blog. Here’s a review of the show I posted the night of the concert. Also, if you like what you read here, please feel free to leave a comment and/or look around a bit.

UPDATE #2: Readership on this post has now passed 1,000 users. Glad you stopped by! If you liked what you read, please feel free to look around. Billy Joel enthusiasts might appreciate my reviews of the My Lives box set (Disc 1, Disc 2, Disc 3, Disc 4) in particular. Or, just check out the main page and go from there. Enjoy, all!

Categories: Words about Music | 2 Comments »

I Hear They’re Considering Using Computers Too…

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

InternetWeek is reporting that the NSA’s website has been caught “placing files on visitors’ computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.” These insidious little files are called “cookies.”

All together now….<forehead smack>

Six paragraphs in, the article mentions that “Cookies are widely used at commercial Web sites and can make Internet browsing more convenient by letting sites remember user preferences.” Of course, it then goes on to mention the recent New York Times flack regarding the NSA and the warantless phone call tapping. How many millions of people do you think will read this somewhere and take it as absolute proof that the government is spying on us through their websites?

Now, to be fair, persistent cookies on federal websites were made illegal in 2003 (session cookies are not). The NSA got a software upgrade and the software installed with persistent cookies defaulted on. When alerted to the problem, they turned them off. Sounds legit to me. But Daniel Brandt, the privacy activist who found the cookies says, “mistakes happen, ‘but in any case, it’s illegal. The (guideline) doesn’t say anything about doing it accidentally.’” That’s right Daniel – let’s throw ‘em all in jail for persistent cookies. Maybe they’ll even start calling it “cookie-gate.” Sheesh…

Categories: Political Rantings, Tech Talk | 4 Comments »

The Geeky side of a Disney Vacation

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

One more word on the disney trip, but this time for the select few people that I know read this blog with some regularity: the things my family & friends would find bizarre if I brought up in a “What I did on my vacation” conversation:

Categories: Tech Talk, The Disneyverse | 2 Comments »

The Disney Family Vacation

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

WARNING: SERIOUS GUSHING ABOUT DISNEYWORLD AND ALL THINGS DISNEY FOLLOWS. THOSE WITH WEAK CONSTITUTIONS, PLEASE MOVE ON…

My wife & I and are two kids just returned from a week in the Disney theme parks followed by a three-day Disney cruise. I had extremely high expectations for this trip, given how much I love the whole Disney experience, and how psyched the kids were about it. I’m happy to report that the trip met every single expectation and exceeded many of them.

The secret to the whole trip wasn’t just the 67 rides we went on across four theme parks in six days. Nor was it the thirty plus Disney characters we met, took pictures with and received autographs from. It was Disney’s ability to take their considerable array of well-known characters, stories and music, and create a well-insulated world for the entire family to live in. When you’re in these parks (or in the hotels, or the restaurants, or the cruise ship, or even on the public transportation between sites), you’re in an environment where everyone is in a good mood all the time, and they all believe to their core that the most famous celebrity in all the world is Mickey Mouse. Despite their almost constant presence, sightings of Mickey & his many, many friends are treasured. The kids go nuts for them. They get autographs. They hug & kiss them and tell them about their trip. The parents take pictures and video. The kids hug the parents & thank them for bringing them to DisneyWorld. It’s an incredibly well designed positive reinforcement loop, and it works even when you know exactly what’s happening & why. Bravo, Disney. Bravo.

At any rate, our entire trip is documented here: http://www.familygreenberg.com/disney. I’d humbly suggest that anyone planning a Disney trip take a look through it – it’s a pretty complete chronicle of what we did and how everything looks.

Categories: The Disneyverse | 4 Comments »

iBaby: Encouraging bad behavior

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

OK, way back in August, I blogged about this.

Now, they’re running contests for it.

Look for the action figure next…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

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