Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Ten Hidden Gift-Giving Rules

This week marks the kickoff of the Holiday shopping season, so from the wonderful Unplug the Christmas Machine:

The Ten Hidden Gift-Giving Rules:
  1. Give a gift to everyone you expect to get a gift from.
  2. If someone gives you a gift unexpectedly, reciprocate that year. (Some people have pre-wrapped generic gifts for just this event.)
  3. When you add a name to your gift list, give that person a gift every year thereafter.
  4. The amount of money you spend on a gift determines how much you care about the recipient.
  5. Gifts exchanged between adults should be roughly equal in value.
  6. The presents that you give someone should be fairly consistent in value over the years.
  7. If you give a gift to a person in a certain category (for example, a co-worker or neighbor), give a gift of roughly equal value to everyone in that category.
  8. Women should give gifts to their close women friends.
  9. Men should not give gifts to their close men friends—unless those gifts are alcoholic.
  10. Whenever the above rules cause you any difficulty, solve the problem by buying more gifts.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Now that the Republican Party is looking for it's next standard bearer, we all have been compiling lists of what qualities the ideal candidate will have, and what priority we should impose on those qualities.

Let me state that whoever leads the party and whoever becomes the candidate in 2012 must be, in the words of Joe Biden, "...articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking."

She aces "bright," "clean," and "nice-looking;" but much as I love Governor Palin, she did not demonstrate "articulate" during the recent campaign.

Why is this so important? I think that while we have seen that George W. Bush has been an effective administrator in protecting the country for the last 8 years, his inability to communicate his plans and directions ceded to his opponents the marketplace of ideas and opinions. So his accomplishments (no attacks on the order of 9/11, forstalling a depression in 2002, etc.) became not victories, but clubs used by the left to beat him.

James Pethokoukis points out that if the Democratic plans for US health care policy proceed unopposed, Conservatives may never recover the ground. He makes this observation:

3) Republicans better learn to competently talk healthcare.
John McCain's healthcare plan was perhaps the most provocative policy proposal of the entire 2008 campaign. Too bad he could neither fully explain how it worked nor persuasively argue why it was better than Barack Obama's plan. Also too bad since his plan would have smartly reduced healthcare costs by getting companies out of the healthcare benefits business and empowering individuals to buy insurance on their own. This would have helped fix what economist Arnold Kling calls the insurance vs. insulation problem: "Insulation relieves the patient of the stress of making decisions about treatment. The patient also does not have to worry about shopping around for the best price. The problem with insulation is that it is not a sustainable form of healthcare finance."
Mr. Pethokoukis ends with this:

Another interesting healthcare reform option is highlighted by Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam in the book Grand New Party. Uncle Sam would require individuals and families to put 15 percent of their income into health savings accounts. If you run out of money before year-end, the government steps in. If you don't, you get the money back or it rolls over into a retirement account. Of course, any conservative alternative would be easier to implement if it doesn't first have to kill an existing nationalized health plan. But thanks to Tom Daschle, that is just what might have to happen.

The Constant Reader will remember that I endorsed this idea when it was proposed by Megan McCardle.

If the Government Built Cars

Michael Moore told Larry King this:
In an interview Wednesday with CNN's Larry King, Moore criticized the automakers for ignoring the desires of consumers, building instead bigger, more profitable cars as foreign automakers pursued both SUVs and more fuel-efficient sedans and compacts.

Moore suggested that Congress demand change in exchange for the money, including a call to help rebuild mass transit in the country.

"President-Elect Obama has to say to them, yes, we're going to use this money to save these jobs, but we're not going to build these gas-guzzling, unsafe vehicles any longer," Moore said. "We're going to put the companies into some sort of receivership and we, the government, are going to hold the reins on these companies. They're to build mass transit. They're to build hybrid cars. They're to build cars that use little or no gasoline."

What would such a Congress-mandated car look like? Why, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition!

So take the bus to your local CM dealer today and find out why the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the only car endorsed by President Barack Obama. One test drive will convince you that you'd choose it over the import brands. Even if they were still legal.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Merry Christmas. Get ready for Mad Max

Daniel Henninger writes in his November 20th "Wonder Land" column about the link between Christmas (or the lack of it) and the current economic meltdown:

What really went missing through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility, restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.

Responsibility and restraint are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."

It has been my view that the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.

The point for a healthy society of commerce and politics is not that religion saves, but that it keeps most of the players inside the chalk lines. We are erasing the chalk lines.

No Ogoodey-Boogedy?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I love the sound of it.





UPDATE: Oogedy-Boogedy!!

MORE UPDATE: I was amused by the controversy over the idea that Christians should vote like we are told and drop the "Oogedy-Boogedy" stuff.

As I pointed out last month:

Many critics stand ready to mock Palin’s Christianity. Fair enough. Will they also mock Obama’s and Biden’s?

Christianity is a miracle religion. Absent belief in the miraculous, there is nothing left of Christianity worth the name.

I don't ask that my political allies believe in the miraculous, I just don't what them to expect me to deny it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kiss a Wookie, Kick a Droid

If you want a big, overbearing, orchestral movie score, John Williams is the man.

I kid! I kid because I love his work.

But not as much as this:

UPDATE: Just to be clear, the video is of a chap lip-synching to an acappella quartet. The quartet is called "Moosebutter," they approved of this video. For more Moosebutter, check out

Crazy Pills

Back in mid-October, Ben Smith published an email that really shocked me. It was about focus group results from a test of a McCain ad:

Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....

When I read that I knew that a) Republicans had "lost the brand," and b) many of the people voting for Obama were doing so for non-rational reasons.

Now there is this video. It consists of excerpts from Obama voters fresh from the polling booth. After viewing this I know that a) Republicans have to quit whining about the "media bias." This isn't the result of just "media bias," it's the result of cultivated stone ignorance.

I so much love the part where they ask people where they get their news. And the woman who declares, "NPR, PBS, & The New York Times" was as pig-ignorant as the people who got their news from the Comedy Channel.


I have, in the last few weeks, enjoyed watching several of the Republicans who were in the Presidential campaign. Some have retreated to their tents to sulk, some to their caves to lick their wounds, and some have started laying foundation for future campaigns.

The king of this last group is that Energizer Bunny of Conservative Ideas, Newt Gingrich. Newt writes books, founds think tanks, and turns up on the news talkers as frequently as most candidates inhale.

But now Newt is being joined in his Long March by Huck. Mike Huckabee now has an interview show of Fox and had released a new book: Do The Right Thing: Inside the Movement That's Bringing Common Sense Back to America. Time magazine reviews the book:

Many conservative Christian leaders, who never backed Huckabee despite their holding very similar stances on social issues, are spared neither the rod nor the lash. Huckabee writes of Gary Bauer, the conservative Christian leader and former presidential candidate, as having an "ever-changing reason to deny me his support." Of one private meeting with Bauer, Huckabee says, "it was like playing Whac-a-Mole at the arcade — whatever issue I addressed, another one surfaced as a 'problem' that made my candidacy unacceptable..."

...Huckabee describes other elders of the social conservative movement, many of whom meet in private as part of an organization called the Arlington Group, as "more enamored with the process, the political strategies, and the party hierarchy than with the simple principles that had originally motivated the Founders." Later Huckabee writes, "I lamented that so many people of faith had moved from being prophetic voices — like Naaman, confronting King David in his sin and saying, 'Though art the man!'— to being voices of patronage, and saying to those in power, 'You da' man!' "

He calls out Pat Robertson, the Virginia-based televangelist, and Dr. Bob Jones III, chancellor of Bob Jones University in South Carolina, for endorsing Rudy Giuliani and Romney, respectively. He also has words for the Texas-based Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed the more moderate John McCain in the primaries, as someone who was drawn to the eventual Republican nominee because of the lure of power. Huckabee speaks to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement, while the former Arkansas governor is preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes of his conversation with Hagee. "I didn't get a straight answer." Months later, McCain rejected Hagee's endorsement because of controversial remarks the pastor had made about biblical interpretations.

UPDATE: Allah Says: <
A desperately needed fix of campaign drama during this post-election interregnum detox. Just give me a little hit of score-settling to get me through the day, bro. Just one hit.

Ah, that’s the stuff

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Look of Blog

So I am fooling around with the look of the blog.

So far: meh.

If anyone wants to point me to a cool template (minimalist, lots of white space, focusing on the posts rather than the graphic of Ratatouille in the heading), post the link in the comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day 2008


Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

A E Housman

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Sunshine Patriot

From Ace, this link to an article in the Seattle PI documenting the sudden fashionability of American flags in Seattle:

With newfound patriotism, Seattleites want to wave the flag, hang it from their homes and stick it on their cars.

"The thing that's kind of astounding to me is I never ever would have cared to own a flag," said Rosemary Garner, 42. "This is the first day in my life I actually feel this funny sense of pride about my country. It's a very foreign feeling, but it's a good one."

"It's just a rare feeling to feel that type of, I don't know, national connection," said Noah Kriegsmann, a 33-year-old builder from West Seattle. He feels that Obama's win will help America's standing in the world, and he bought a flag to fly on his truck, though he admitted it felt strange to see the flag in his hand.

"I have just historically felt shame for what the symbol of this country is internationally. Being in someplace like Morocco, and Canadians have their flag on their backpacks -- I would never ever do that," he said.

I'm glad that these people are finally able to love their own country. That's a positive. (I wonder how they would react to a traditional Northwest flag-burning by ski-masked anarchists. Hmmm?)

But the essence of love is that the beloved is worth love regardless of whether or not your expectations are being met. You can love someone even while you are being embarrassed by them, as the parents of small children and the children of aging parents know.

Part of love is sticking with the one you love through rough times. That's what distinguishes love from lust.

So to my newly-proud Americans I say, welcome back to the country that bore you, protected you, and whom you tore down with your childish behaviour. I hope that this time you can stick around.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Poet and Novelist Becomes the Political Analyst

A eye-opening, jaw-dropping, election-day article that atriculates a lot of what I've been thinking and feeling:

On Polling:

With polling, the collective delusion is the belief that the product of polling is the data. Remember, polls are a product that is sold like any other product. That stupid little chart that appears in the corner of every USA Today was not made for the purpose of 'research' and 'data'. It was made just to show a stupid little graph on the paper because USA Today knows that little graphs and charts 'sell' the paper more. Just because information is displayed in a chart or a graph does not make it 'scientific' or a real 'analysis'. But the product was to make the reader FEEL like it was and to sell more papers. The product of polls can and often are the readers. This became much more popular ever since polls became 'news items' themselves (before, polls were only supplements to news tories)....

One thing that is very different about this election is the omnipresence of polls and how polls are the axis around all political analysis is conducted. This has never been the case in previous elections. Real political analysts (meaning not hacks or unprofessional pundits), use historical trends, demagraphical data, and other 'truths' of past elections. Much of this cannot be translated into a chart or graph. It is a myth that analysis is done via math or graphs or computer models. The original economists, for example, used only words and essays. Political analysis is not about math. Political analysis is about people. To analyze politics, you must be able to analyze people. In other words, the poet and novelist becomes the political analyst, not the mathematician and software engineer. Politics is all about people.

It seems no one is interested in studying 'people' anymore. Look at the political analysis currently. There is very little analysis of the current 'liberal' or 'conservative', for example, or the person from Pennslyvania or person from Iowa. In fact, there are no people. There are only numbers. Stark, lifeless, numbers. The problem with leveling political analysis to nothing more than a soup of numbers is that it cannot measure intensity. What does intensity have to do with politics? Well, everything. Intense people are those who vote.

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