A good analogy

2006/01/31 at 09:32

Here’s a great analogy from Fred Clark, a.k.a. Slacktivist:

I might be less skeptical of the Bush administration’s claim to be planning to cut the federal deficit in half over the next five (now four) years if they produced even the hint of something resembling a plan or an explanation of how they intend to do this.
It doesn’t help their credibility on this point that they’re also playing “Mom, I’m pregnant” every year with their deficit projections.
My friend Michelle got a tattoo, a modest, but conspicuous little dolphin on her ankle. This was bound to freak out her mom. So before showing her mom the ink, she told her she was pregnant. After letting her really freak out over that for a bit, she said, “Relax, mom, I’m not pregnant. I just got a tattoo and I didn’t want you to blow this out of proportion.”
No offense to Michelle, but this is a pretty dishonest trick. In her defense, she only did it once. The Bush administration has done this same thing year after year.
They project record-shattering deficits of half a trillion dollars or so, so that later, when the merely record-breaking figure of around $400 billion comes out they can claim that they’ve actually reduced the deficit from their previous, Mom-I’m-pregnant projection.

The pains of home ownership

2006/01/31 at 09:10

In his article, Early Retirement: Where to Live?, Philip Greenspun offers the following advice:

If you can rent anything decent, try to avoid buying property. Think about the most interesting people you know. Chances are, most of them are renters. People who rent talk about the books that they’ve read, the trips that they’ve taken, the skills that they are learning, the friends whose company they are enjoying. Property owners complain about the local politicians, the high rate of property tax, the difficulty of finding competent tradespeople, the high value of their own (very likely crummy) house or condo, and what kinds of furniture and kitchen appliances they are contemplating buying. Property owners are boring. The most boring parts of a property owner’s personality is that which relates to his or her ownership of real estate.

His article doesn’t apply to me, but his insight about home owners hits close to home nonetheless. For us middle-aged suburban homeowners with school-aged kids, the concerns include: property values, the quality of the schools, how new development (especially new rental property!) will lower the quality of the schools and our property values, traffic, planned maintenance and upgrades to our homes, etc. Boy, he’s right. That is boring stuff.
(via Rafe Colburn)

Project Censored

2006/01/30 at 12:36

Common Dreams’ list of the top ten underreported news stories of 2005 is interesting, though I have issues with Common Dreams’ referring to the stories as ‘censored’.

Running man

2006/01/29 at 12:57

This morning, I ran the 3M Half Marathon for the third time. I’m happy to report that I’m getting faster as I age. I ran it in 1998 and finished in 1:40:00. In 2001, I finished in 1:38:30. This morning, however, I finished in 1:36:00! That’s a 7:20 min/mile pace. Here are my general results and detailed results.
The half marathon is always a lot of fun. Here are some of the things I saw along the route this morning:

  • a lederhosen-clad accodianist
  • a kilt-clad bagpipe player
  • unicyclists
  • jugglers
  • a juggler riding a unicycle
  • a live band
  • a terrified whitetail buck (with a big rack) next to Anderson high school

Bumper sticker humor

2006/01/27 at 09:13

Keep Austin Weird bumper stickers are all the rage these days, but this morning this bumper sticker made me smile:
keep_round_rock.jpg
(Round Rock is a suburb of Austin)

So, who’s reading my blog?

2006/01/25 at 16:56

I really have no idea how many people read my blog. If you do, I’d like to hear from you. Either add a comment to this post or drop me an email. I’d like to know:

  • How long you’ve been reading my blog
  • What you like and dislike about it
  • How you found my blog, if you remember
  • What you’d like to see more of

Thanks, Stan

The Clergy Letter Project

2006/01/25 at 16:52

I’ve forwarded the link to The Clergy Letter Project on to my pastors and other liberal Christian friends. From the project’s home page:

For too long, the misperception that science and religion are inevitably in conflict has created unnecessary division and confusion, especially concerning the teaching of evolution. I wanted to let the public know that numerous clergy from most denominations have tremendous respect for evolutionary theory and have embraced it as a core component of human knowledge, fully harmonious with religious faith.
In the fall of 2004, I worked with clergy throughout Wisconsin to prepare a statement in support of teaching evolution. We were called to action by a series of anti-evolution policies passed by the school board in Grantsburg, WI. The response was overwhelming. In a few weeks, nearly 200 clergy signed the statement, which we sent to the Grantsburg school board on December 16, 2004. Additionally, groups of educators and scientists sent letters to the Grantsburg School Board and to the Superintendent of Schools protesting these policies. In response to all of this attention, as well as the efforts of others, the Grantsburg School Board retracted their policies.
The outpouring of support from clergy around the country encouraged me to make this a nationwide project. If you want to read more about it or join us in sharing this important perspective, click here. Encourage your clergy to consider signing the statement and please feel free to link to these webpages. And, while the current focus is on Christian clergy, please let me know if you are willing to write and/or host a statement from other religions.
Sincerely,
Michael Zimmerman
Dean
College of Letters and Sciences
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

As a side note, I notice that University United Methodist Church in Austin is already signed up to celebrate Evolution Sunday. Makes me wish I were still a member there.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

2006/01/24 at 09:12

I don’t usually read science fiction, but I’ve been reading writer John Scalzi’s blog for several months, so I decided to give his fiction a try. Old Man’s War was a nice, imaginative and compelling read. Nothing earth-shattering about it in any way, but I enjoyed it.

Male bonding

2006/01/23 at 09:41

On Saturday, Samuel and I had a male bonding experience. We installed wire fencing around the bottom of our picket fence to keep his puppy Penny from escaping the back yard under the fence. Samuel and I went to Home Depot together to get the supplies, and then he helped me cut the fencing into strips and staple the strips to the bottoms of the pickets. He worked willingly and got tired before he got bored. Afterwards, he told Katie that he and I had had a really good time together.
I just wanted to document this experience to read again in eight or ten years when, I suspect, Samuel will not be so forthcoming with his help.

eMusic.com rox!

2006/01/19 at 09:33

Taking the advice of my friend Rafe Colburn, last night I signed up with eMusic.com. I was not sure about it, since I couldn’t view their catalog before signing up, but since they offered a no-strings-attached trial (I scrutinized the entire agreement), I decided to give it a try. Last night, I ended up downloading ALL of my trial songs (for the curious, I downloaded songs from Richard Shindell and They Might Be Giants) and converting to a subscription. I was impressed with their selection, their price and the fact that the MP3s aren’t encumbered by DRM. The price and lack of DRM beats iTunes hands down.
As for their selection, it’s not as extensive as iTunes, but it fits my music tastes perfectly. This is from eMusic’s FAQ about their music selection:

Do you…
a) Already buy or download about one CD per month?
b) Listen to college radio or other non-profits? (Like KEXP or WFMU?)
c) Read music criticism? (Like Pitchfork, NYTimes, or Salon.com?)
d) Already troll the ‘net for legitimate free Mp3s? (At Epitonic, BetterPropaganda, Insound?)
e) Go to three or four live performances a year?
f) Ever listen to stuff that is not pop, rock, or hip-hop?
If you answered yes to at least one or two of these questions, eMusic is probably for you. You’ll be able to find plenty of stuff to listen to. Start by *browsing* rather than searching and check out what’s really here. Also, you can ask on these message boards and you’ll get a lot of recommendations, fast. And, of course, even if you aren’t a hardcore music addict yet, eMusic is a great way to become one. You’ve been warned.