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Archive for November, 2006

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My son, the socialist…

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

This conversation took place over lunch at a local diner between me and my older son, Avery:

Avery: Daddy, why does that sign say “Please Seat Yourself?”

Me: So when people come into the diner, they know they can just sit down, without waiting for someone to help them find a table.

Avery: But doesn’t that take away somebody’s job?

Categories: Family Matters | 1 Comment »

Watch me Steal a Rabbit from Your Hat

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

From the “Criminals Get What They Deserve” file, we have three teenagers who tried to mug David Copperfield:

Copperfield, 50, and two female assistants were walking from the Kravis Center to their tour bus when they were approached by the teens [on] April 23. The assistants handed over money and a cellphone, but the illusionist turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing, although he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.

“He said in depositions that he had things on him, but it wasn’t difficult to make it seem like there was nothing there,” prosecutor Sherri Collins said.

And to prove that these kids still don’t get it, here’s a quote from one of the lawyers:

“Terrance was remorseful for what occurred, has told the truth about his involvement and would like everything to disappear,” said his attorney, Franklin Prince.

Hmmm….. Now who does Terrance know that can make things disappear???

Categories: The World Wide Weird | No Comments »

Three Blind Mice. See how they….see!

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Some good news from stem cell research:

BLIND mice have had their sight at least partially restored after scientists injected immature stem cells to replace damaged cells of the retina.

Maybe, given the events of last week and news like this, stem cell research will get a bit more popular…

Although, I should note, this news came from England, not the U.S.

Categories: The Future is Now | No Comments »

Christmas in November

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Ah, the joys of working in Rockefeller Center.

When I came to work this morning, there was an 88-foot pine tree sitting on a flatbed truck in front of my office building. I just went to grab some lunch, and the tree now has its lower limbs wrapped tightly in twine, and is hanging, horizontally, from a giant crane right next to the famous Rockefeller Center Ice Rink.

By the time I go home this evening, I’m guessing they’ll have it upright again, where it will stay for the remainder of the year, while workers spend the next few weeks covering it with 30,000 lights and a 550-pound Swarovski cyrstal star.

It’s times like this I regret not having a camera phone with me (stupid blackberry). Best I can do is this press photo from when they cut it down in Connecticut. Trust me – it look basically the same now, just much bigger, and surrounded by concrete, not grass.

Categories: New York, New York | No Comments »

The Plots Thicken…

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Eliza Manningham-Buller, head of the British intelligence agency MI5, says her agency is tracking plans for roughly 30 terrorist attacks originating from Britain, including a plan to blow up the New York Stock Exchange, and other plans involving chemical and nuclear weapons.

Does anyone have any doubt that if this were reported a week ago, the Republicans would have been accused of fear-mongering?

Categories: Political Rantings | 3 Comments »

One more Election Post: Voting Problems…

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

A quick note on my voting experience which, for the first time in my life, actually included a couple of glitches. Fraud! Conspiracy! Those Democrats stole the election! Nah…I can’t pull it off – my heart’s not in it…

Anyway, the local ABC affiliate ran this article, detailing problems with the voting machines in my hometown of Scotch Plains. Our machines weren’t the Diebold, touch-screen variety, but they were electronic (as they have been for several years, now, btw…). You push on a box next to the candidate of your choice, and a green “X” appears in the box. When you’re done, you push a “CONFIRM VOTE” button in the lower right corner of the ballot, the machine beeps, and the vote is counted.

While voting, I accidentally pushed the wrong box for one of the races. I tried to change my mind by pushing the other box, but the machine didn’t respond. After two or three tries, I realized that you have to push the first box again (to make the “X” go away), and then push your preferred box to make the “X” appear. I agree that this is a glitch, but it hardly seems like something that would cause “depressed voter turnout” as the Republican lawyer in the article says. People will complain about anything, especially when they’re paid to do so…

The other interesting twist was speaking to my mother after getting home from voting. When she went to vote, she noticed that my sister and I are both still on the rolls in Marlboro, NJ, where we grew up (and where my parents still live). I haven’t lived there since the early 90′s. My sister moved out of the town years ago, but has susbequently moved back. Still, they had her maiden name on the list (she got married in 1998). So theoretically, I guess I could have voted twice last night if I wanted to drive the 45 minutes from Scotch Plains to Marlboro…

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

How I Voted…

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Since Jeff accused me of voting by foregone conclusion, I said I’d mention who I voted for and why. Looking at the results this morning, it seems just about everyone I voted for lost. No one ever listens to me…

Senator: Tom Kean, Jr (Republican)
Both candidates played extremely dirty pool throughout. All I knew about these two guys were that Kean was with Bush on the war (according to Menendez) and Menendez was corrupt (according to Kean). My vote here was, ironically, to keep the Democrats in check over the next two years (see my Pre-Election Thoughts). As expected, Mendendez walked away with it, though…

Congress: Linda Stender (Democrat)
I don’t know much about Ms. Stender either, but my wife met Mike Ferguson recently, and he acted like a absolute, total idiot (quick summary, before someone thinks he did something illegal: my wife was meeting me at Yankee Stadium with the kids and had car trouble. With everyone dressed in full Yankee regalia, she made it to our local mechanic, who was figuring out the car, when in comes Mike Ferguson – big smile on his face – and wants to campaign for Congress. Apparently, it took several “now’s not a good time” messages before he left her alone to deal with the crisis at hand). Party affiliation aside, I see no reason to send an idiot to Congress. That said, he won, so whatcha gonna do…

Freeholders: Her, him and the other gal (Republicans)
I’ve never heard of any of these folks, nor can I honestly say I know what a Freeholder does. My guess is not much. As a New Jersey resident who works in New York City, I’m much more interested in local politics in the city than I am in my home town, but they don’t let me vote in NYC. So I went Republican on the off chance they vote my way on some tax increase down the line. Meanwhile, the Democrats won. Ah, well.

Township Council: The grey-haired guys who I met at the train station four times leading up to the election (Democrats)
Again, these folks are low impact as far as I’m concerned, but they seemed nice enough, and the one guy actually recognized me after a couple of meetings, so it seems like his heart is in the right place. Good enough for my vote on town council. Apparently, two of them won and one of them lost. So, technically, I’m batting more than .000, although I’m pretty sure the one that lost was the guy who recognized me.

On the upside, I’m 4 for 5 in picking Presidents, so there’s that…

Anyway, I hope this little tour will convince Jeff to revoke my knee-jerk, neo-con status… Jeff???

Categories: Political Rantings | 5 Comments »

2006 Election Thoughts (Post-Election)

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

First it must end, and then it will begin.

Here we are again at Election Day+1, and there are still significant races to be decided. The voters are done, and now it’s up to the lawyers and the conspiracy theorists. All I have to say is this: Please, God, let the Democrats take the Virginia and Montana senate seats. Although I prefer a Republican senate and know next to nothing about any of the four candidates involved , I just can’t bear to listen to the result of two Democratic leads turning into Republican victories in a recount. Mark my words: people will blame everyone from Karl Rove to the CEO of Diebold.

As it turns out, all the carping about how totally disastrous the first major election with electronic voting machines was going to be has proven to be nothing more than paranoia and fear-mongering. I’m happy to see the other party take the senate in exchange for a vote of confidence in the election process. Forgive me, for I am weak…

In either case, it’ll all be resolved by January, and that’s when it all begins. The question everyone’s asking this morning, of course, is the one I asked last night: What, exactly, is about to begin? If it’s significant progress in Iraq, progressive policies around immigration, stem-cell research, gay marriage, etc. then I’ll be glad to see it (and happy to vote for a 2008 Democratic nominee who will continue that progress). If it’s a series of subpoenas and congressional hearings, followed by emboldened terrorists in Iraq and elsewhere, then we’re in for a world of shit: including sweeping Republican victories in 2008 with a mandate to blow the crap out of just about everything. I’m exaggerating, of course, but I do believe that quite a bit rests on Ms. Pelosi’s ability to restrain herself. We’ll see what happens…

One other note: my iPod spit this out on my way into work this morning:

Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call;
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall.
For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled;
The battle outside raging will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls,
For the times, they are a changin’

Heh…

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

2006 Election Thoughts (Pre-Election)

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

OK, so I’ve been blogging so much about politics lately, I guess I should say something about the election. It’s hard, though, because my feelings are very conflicted this time around.

If the Republicans hold on to Congress, I have a pretty good idea of what to expect over the next couple of years: continued slow progress in Iraq, tough talk (or worse) with North Korea and Iran, continued tough policies on preventing future terrorism, tougher immigration laws, no change in tax policy, continued over-spending at the federal level, and lots of “sound and fury signifying nothing” over social issues like abortion, stem cell research, and same-sex marriage.

As a general rule, I’ve never bought into the whole “Republicans are evil, especially Bush” meme that the Democrats have been selling. If anything, their decision to constantly pound that message has made it more difficult to stay informed on world events, especially in the last two years. That said, I think the Republicans are drunk with power. And while the criticism flung their way is often distorted or unfair, I hate the fact that they’ve got so good at using it to distract us from valid criticism. I get the sense that this strategy has left them feeling immune to criticism of any stripe, which gives them an “above the law” mentality. Also, if nothing changes today, the 2008 presidential election will be more of the same “vote for us, we’re not them” messages, which won’t help me pick the next president at all. So, on balance, I’m for throwing da bums out.

But…

If the Democrats take control of Congress, I really don’t know what to expect. Their position on Iraq seems to be “Bush is wrong on Iraq.” Their position on immigration is “Bush is wrong on immigration.” Their position on taxes is “the Bush tax cuts were only for the rich.” And the list goes on. With this much time on the sidelines, it’s absolutely reprehensible that I’m not aware of 3-5 bills that will be sent to the President on inauguration day if the Democrats take control. Ironically, I can draw direct parallels to their criticism of Bush in the Iraq war: they have a plan to win, but then no plan for what to do after they’ve won.

Also, there’s this: the level of vitriol coming from the Democrats right now has me worried that if they gain control, they’ll spend the next two years ripping Bush to shreds in the form of investigations, hearing, and possibly even impeachment proceedings.

As I’ve said many times before, one of the unfortunate side effects of defining yourself solely by the shortcomings of your opponent is that you find yourself rooting for your opponent to fail, in order to reinforce your message. When your opponent controls the Presidency and both houses of Congress, though, this amounts to rooting for your own country to fail, which is subsequently perceived by the rest of the world as what Lincoln called a “house divided against itself.” Up until now, I’ve generally bit my tongue and accepted this sorry state of affairs as the price we pay for freedom of speech. Now that the enemy has CNN (and CNN.com) just like we do, our choices are either to crush dissent out of fear of emboldening our enemies, or assume that they’ll eventually understand our bickering as politics and not policy. And so while the consequences are real, we accept them in exchange for the benefits of the American way of life.

When the bickering becomes congressional hearings, though, a whole new legitimacy is granted, and the message to our enemies becomes very different. So aside from my opinions on whether or not the President deserves to be impeached (he doesn’t), I worry that steps in that direction will strongly embolden our enemies – either in the form of additional attacks, or in the form of a recommitment to keep fighting in hopes of America eventually backing down.

The bottom line: the Republicans are the devil known, the Democrats are the devil unknown. I’m sufficiently disenchanted with the Republicans to vote them out, and would probably do so if I could be assured that the Democrats would act like adults over the next two years – governing in the best interests of the country, rather than using the opportunity to institutionalize six long years of Bush-bashing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go vote…

Categories: Political Rantings | 6 Comments »

A quick check on High School Football…

Monday, November 6th, 2006

In writing the last post, I pulled up my High School’s football schedule, just to remind myself how many games were in a high-school schedule.

The Marlboro Mustangs weren’t exactly a football powerhouse when I was in school, but even so, I was surprised to discover that this year (with one game left to play), they are 0-8, and have been outscored by their opponents 364-27.

The most they’ve scored in a single game is 7. By contrast, the least their opponents have scored is 35, when they lost the opening game of the season in a sqeaker: 35-6. Also of note is the game against Toms River North, who defeated Marlboro by a score of 67-0.

The only word that comes to mind is “Wow…”

Categories: Sports Talk | No Comments »

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