Saturday, December 30, 2006

Drunken Notes

1. My dog just turned up his nose at my taco bell Grilled Stufft Burrito. Now some background on my dog. We found him while on a family vacation in Puerto Rico when he was a young pup near starvation. He has since acclimated to his suburban D.C. surroundings with aplomb. He is known to bark for Foie Gras. No, but seriosly, my dog can down five pounds of any substance in a matter of seconds. What does this say about TACO Bell that a former Puerto Rican street dog finds their food products beneath him (and yes, it is a him, we have not neutered him. I refuse to cave into feminist nazi conspiracies)? Literally he eats everything. What does this say about me, that I paid five dollars for a product that my dog will not eat? Secondary theory, my dog is named Taco (he looked like a rat with big ears when my parents found him, akin to the yo quiero taco bell dog, thus his name), maybe he is cognizant and thus resentful of his namesake and so turns up his nose not due to absence of epicurean delights in a taco bell treat but rather out of personal resentment? I don't know. But none of this bodes well for Taco Bell. Though, they can count me as a loyal customer.

2. Oddly, I think Brittney Spears is hotter now that she has been married/divorced to K-fed. It just amps up the whole trailer trash chic thing.

3. Cats are evil insolent, disloyal animals. I admire them so. My cat is named Izzy, I named him after Izzy Stradlin of Guns n Roses when I was eight years old. He was neutered, we fondly call him Izzit. He is now sixteen years old and has killed more mammals than Ted Bundy thus making him a bad ass cat in spite of his neutering. My mom is to blame for the neutering, I fought her vigorously on the matter, but I was eight years old.

4. Every time I am at an Irish pub, there is somebody with an Irish accent (who is not the owner) there. I wonder if there is some federal subsidy whereby the Irish are paid to frequent Irish pubs in the U.S.? Just a thought. If such a subsidy exists, I support it, and this is coming from a small government conservative. I think it would maximize some measure of utility (say the joy derived from listening to pleasant sounding feriners).

5. Brittney Spears is trailer trash chic, I am standing by this assertion, and that is hot.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holy crap, it snowed

Forgive the title, but that's a lot of snow.

In late summer, I had a good feeling about this winter in Wyoming. Temperatures dipped into the twenties in late August, and flurries arrived in September. My sister and mother came to visit in mid-October, and we were blasted with single-digit windchills, icy roads, and a blanket of snow. On October 18th, our overnight low hit 2 degrees fahrenheit, tying us with Chalkyitsik, Alaska, for the lowest temperature in the nation that day.

Then - nothing. Sunny, mild days. Brown grass. Last winter, grooming on the cross-country ski trails outside of town began just after Halloween. This winter, grooming still had not started as of Monday. Disappointment set in; my wishes for arctic/alpine weather became more fervent by the day.

So, I beg forgiveness if I had anything to do the snowstorm that just finished pounding the front range.

The university closed early yesterday afternoon; I practiced avalanche beacon searches in the quad. Last night, I skiied to my friend's apartment - down 8th street. Sections of interstates 80 and 25 are closed. The I-80 summit webcam, perched at an 8,400 ft pass just outside of town, shows a white-out.

Denver seems to have gotten the worst; I just got a phone call from two friends who are on hour 32 at DIA and counting.

That's a lot of snow.

ANTI-EVERYTHING’S AWESOME SCALE OF AWESOMENESS

So as of last week I am done with finals and ready to make my miraculous return to the beloved blog. But since it is almost Christmas and I am rather busy doing nothing at work and killing time until I have next week off I decided that I don’t really feel like paying attention to anything serious that is happening throughout the world.

Instead I have decided to come up with a system of ranking things; I have decided that this system will be called ANTI-EVERYTHING’S AWESOME SCALE OF AWESOMENESS. I figure that I will devote the rest of the week to figuring out exactly how this scale works and what exactly defines a certain items level of awesomeness.

However, judging from past efforts to create something pointless simply for the sake of creating something pointless I will probably quit before I am even close to completion.

All personal skepticism aside here is something that regardless of personal preference I feel everyone can agree is rather awesome…a giant Pac-Man on Highway 55.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christianity in America

Ilya has shamed Christians. But he may just as well shame all Americans. The vast majority of Americans identify themselves as Christians. However, this population is quite diverse in its beliefs and political leanings. This is one of the peculiarities of America as opposed to say Western Europe where you are Catholic or Protestant (as it pertains to beliefs if not the resulting political leanings). One need only look at my church, the Lutheran church. Anti-Everything, in his crusade against Michelle Bachmann (representative elect, should I say) made light of some of the more extreme stances of her church, also Lutheran. But we belong to different synods, that have vastly different beliefs and also political leanings. I belong to the ELCA, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. It is typically identified with the mainline or "liberal" protestant tradition. My synod, like many "liberal" protestant churches, voted on divestment of companies that do business with Israel. I hasten to add that this does ingratiate me with my church.

Rep.-elect Bachman (I know, despite Anti's valiant efforts) is a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, which in the aggressiveness and content of some of its political stances (and frankly beliefs, as Anti identified) causes it to be identified with the evangelical movement. From a theological perspective I don't really know if there is substance in such an identification. But Israeli divestment is not on their political radar. The Lutheran church is not exceptional but rather a typical example of Protestantism in America. I won't even touch on Catholicism because I will probably say something completely false and invite Pied's or Anti's ridicule. But nonetheless, I think they would also agree that there are fissures within the Catholic community as well. But Christianity in America is heterodox. Thus quite difficult to shame collectively.

Stem Cell Research

Ilya's mentioning of stem cell research aroused me from my ongoing stupor. The debate over stem cell research is an instance among many in which we, the general public, opt for stupidity. When I say we opt for stupidity I do not mean how anybody comes out on a given side of the debate, but rather we choose to have a fundamentally stupid debate due to the laziness and imprecision of our language. As portrayed by the media, the debate about stem cells centers around one's advocacy or opposition to stem cell research. This is false. It is not merely stem cell research, it is embryonic stem cell research that some people oppose, many people who oppose embryonic stem cell research support other forms of stem cell research such as adult stem cell research. Currently, if Pfizer were to chose to do so, it could invest in embryonic stem cell research. There is no federal prohibition on this and thus far none in the offing. The debate centers around whether embyronic stem cell research should be subsidized with public monies. I am frankly ignorant of the arguments against funding embryonic stem cell research and thus won't hazard an opinion as to whether they are valid or invalid. But this is one of the neat things about our federal form of governance, while we here in D.C. may choose to sidestep an issue due to fear of offending broad swaths of the country's moral sensibility, the states needn't do so, as has been the case in California, Maryland, and now Missouri (and probably others).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Biggest Disappointment of 2006: the Church

Christians: shame on you. Do you obey Caesar or God? What evils have you sought to bring to an end? Gay marraige? Come on - you must be kidding. War? Bush hasn't had so many willing fighters. AIDS? That's a start at least. Poverty? ha ha ha. As Frank Rich notes in Sunday's NYT, it seems that religious leaders have been slow to catch on to the fact that “politicians use Christian voters for their money and for their votes” and give them little in return except a reputation for bigotry and heartless opposition to the lifesaving potential of stem-cell research."

What Martin Luther King wrote in his 1963 "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" is as appropriate now as it was then:
The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Small Penis Rule, Part 2

I hasten to mention that I submit to Mr. Crowley's corollary to the small penis rule.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Overcoming Bias

Another website of interest: Overcoming Bias. This a group academic blog that features George Mason University Economist Robin Hanson. Some of you may remember around the time of the start of the Iraq War a mini-controversy about a Defense project using betting markets for predicting terrorist attacks. It was subsuquently shut down. It was Robin Hanson's brain child.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Legistorm

The title is the website Legistorm that displays the salaries of congressional staff members. Give it a look over, try to find one of your friends on the hill. The nexus of big money and politics apparently doesn't work its way down to members' staffs.