Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hopefully this will put that stupid fad to rest

If you've ever chuckled at those dorky teenagers that run around in pants that A) won't stay up, or B) are wider at the leg than they are at the waist, this article will give you reason to pump your fist in the air.

I was a teenager 20 years ago, and I recall that we wore some pretty wacky stuff, but none of it was as impractical as the low-rider jeans you see kids wearing these days.

Now if we can just get them to wear baseball caps correctly, all will be right with the world.

Holes in the floorboards

If you don't have access to western Pennsylvania news, you probably haven't heard about the murder of twelve-year-old Gabrielle Bechen by a total scumbag.

Maybe that's too harsh a word for the suspect they've arrested. Maybe the problem isn't him, but the system that let him loose from the chains that should have kept him out of society in general and poor Gabrielle in particular.

If you haven't the time to read the article, here's the Cliffs notes. He's been in trouble with the law for things ranging from DUI and bad checks to telephone harrassment. In almost every case, he was let off of probation while still owing something, whether it be fines, restitution or services required to expunge his record. And to make matters worse, the system knew he wasn't going to make good, and still let him loose:

"He's not really capable of holding a job," said Craig Wise, Greene County's chief probation officer. "We try to hold people in the system for as long as we can in hopes of getting the money they owe. He's one of those who would never be able to pay."


If something like this were to ever happen to my child, I can guarantee that the system wouldn't fail her: He wouldn't make it into the system, if you know what I mean.

The things we talk about at work

One of my coworkers is a huge fan of HBO's Big Love series (Bill Paxton, polygamy, you get the picture), and conversations about the show always lead to polygamy. We decided as a group that polygamy just doesn't make a lot of sense. Really, who needs more than one "honeydew" list? And just how would you work out things like living wills, powers of attorney, and deciding who is the benificiary of your life insurance?

After a time, this discussion migrated toward its natural end: the NHL. We decided that just as polygamy is a bad thing for America, so is NHL expansion into areas of the country that aren't naturally covered in ice for part of the year. We feel pretty strongly that hockey should not be played in places like Arizona, southern Texas and Florida. Hey, we don't have championship rodeo and frog-gigging contests up north here, so please leave the hockey to us.

Yeah, it's starting to look like a slow day here at the office.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yep, let's all go home now

"Stay the course", he said. "We won't leave until we achieve victory", he said. Well, hells bells!

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A blueprint for trying to start a war between the United States and Iran was among a "huge treasure" of documents found in the hideout of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraqi officials said Thursday. The document, purporting to reflect al-Qaida policy and its cooperation with groups loyal to ousted President Saddam Hussein, also appear to show that the insurgency in Iraq was weakening.


While the coalition was continuing to suffer human losses, "time is now beginning to be of service to the American forces and harmful to the resistance," the document said.

The document said the insurgency was being hurt by, among other things, the U.S. military's program to train Iraqi security forces, by massive arrests and seizures of weapons, by tightening the militants' financial outlets, and by creating divisions within its ranks.

What would these captured Al Qaida documents be containing right now if John Kerry had been elected in 2004? I'd wager Iraq would be making the seventh circle of Hell look like Club Med.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Stupidity in media

If you've been shacking up with bin Laden over the last few days, you probably missed out on the exhaustive media coverage of Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle crash. The rest of us in western Pennsylvania did not, I can tell you, because we're all fervently praying for "one for the OTHER thumb" in 2007.

The most interesting aspect of all of the coverage is how the media is driving local watercooler discussions, rather than just feeding them content. An excellent example is this headline from today's post-gazette.com:

Ben's case unlikely to change Pa.'s helmet law

This is an obvious "well, duh!" moment if ever I've seen one. Of course it isn't going to change the law. Even if Ben's gourd had been broken into three pieces that resembled Donovan McNabb (though you can bet that goldenpalace.com would have paid top dollar for them), the law would still be there the next morning, month, and year.

Just another example of how the media thinks we're all stupid.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Living in the dark ages (or how Pennsylvania could grow if it really wanted to)

Here in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we can't marry our sisters any more. That was a great first step in moving the social direction of our state a little closer to the rest of the country.

However, we still have to buy our wine and liquor from approved state-owned retailers, and a big chunk of the price of a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 is tax. According to this article, we've been paying an 18% tax on liquor to pay for the clean up of the Johnstown Flood.

Now I understand that over 2,200 people died that fateful night in 1889. It's a tragedy in anyone's book, no doubt. However, I can't believe we haven't paid for the damages many times over already with that 18% tax. In fact, a quick examination of this PLCB audit shows that they took in an average $173,000 each year over the last five years in "Emergency Tax". Work that forward for seventy years and you get a little over twelve million dollars.

Another example of this at the Federal level is the Federal Excise Tax, which was enacted in 1898 to pay for the Spanish-American War. It was repealed just recently. It manifests as a 3% charge on all local and long-distance phone services and is also paid on cell phone bills. Imagine how much coin this one brought into the government coffers over the years. Makes you wonder why they even need income tax.