Yes, it should be legal

Good post from Mark Cuban about the hypocrisy involved in having partially legalized gambling like we have in this country. Why is it legal some places and not others? Beats me. I ask the same question about why marijuana is illegal. More ramifications of a country founded by Puritans, and the case of marijuana, laws passed by racists (yes, I’m serious, look it up).

Jesus Adam, I thought Arkansas had a bunch of wackos…

Boy, those Indiana videos you do are really being put into perspective:

According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother through assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation,and egg donation, must first file for a “petition for parentage” in their local county probate court.

Or, in more real language, from the Pandagon blog:

Indiana’s legislature is considering a law mandating that a man better get laid if a baby is being made. Seriously, that’s pretty much how the bill is worded.

Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will make marriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana, including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do become pregnant “by means other than sexual intercourse.”

Damn those doctors and their playing god in baby making. There’s only one holy way to get the baby juice to the baby juice recepticle, and that’s with the lights off in the missionary position.

Two perspectives on Intelligent Design

University of Arkansas, Fort Smith had a recent lecture on Intelligent Design. Delagar, a blogger I quite like, represents his perspective on the meeting here, and KFSM, which I think is a fairly poor excuse for a news organization and always has been, represents their perspective here. Notice the spin on both. Very interesting any time you can see documentation of two perspectives of the same event, especially something as controversial as ID. As far as my opinion, rebranding Creationism as Intelligent Design and then starting the same old argument all over again, is just arguing. Unless we want to tell the story of all the creation myths in our schools (some of which are pretty damn cool), I’d say lets leave the creation stories to evolution and the scientists.

I didn’t vote!

Couple of comments in the last post about me not voting in the last presidential election. Well, as with all things I don’t do it usually comes down to laziness. I moved to Washington and didn’t get around to registering to vote here, because I had never changed my drivers license to establish residency. I was still registered in Arkansas, but I didn’t get around to setting up to vote absentee. So I didn’t vote. However, I’ve never bought into the idea that since I didn’t vote I can’t complain. I tend to take the George Carlin view of things, which I’ll quote here:

“I don’t vote. Two reasons. First of all it’s meaningless; this country was bought and sold a long time ago. Secondly, I believe if you vote, you have no right to complain. People like to twist that around – they say, ‘If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain’, but where’s the logic in that? If you vote and you elect dishonest, incompetent people into office who screw everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You caused the problem; you voted them in; you have no right to complain. I, on the other hand, who did not vote, who in fact did not even leave the house on election day, am in no way responsible for what these people have done and have every right to complain about the mess you created that I had nothing to do with.�-George Carlin

Blog War!

I love Politics. It gets people so riled up, myself included. To give you an update, since this has been transpiring in the comments sections of our blogs, Sarah wrote a post, which basically asks, if you were a photographer and George W. Bush was drowning, would you take a Pulitzer winning photograph or save the man. I left this comment on her blog:

Sadly, in a situation like this, anyone who would look at anyone as anything other than a human being is no one I’d want to be associated with, I suppose yourself included. However, this “Moral Question” is total crap to begin with, and either if you wrote it yourself or are simply passing it along makes me wonder why anyone would bother to read your ramblings.

I thought it was pretty appropriate. Obviously, I pissed her off, because she left this comment:

Judging from your comment on my blog, you must be a republican. (There’s a warning in my profile that you won’t like what you read if you’re a republican, btw)–so why didn’t you just heed the warning and pass it by? I know how repugs don’t like to read anything that doesn’t agree with their own skewed view of the world.

You say I’m a horrible person for “not treating people like human beings”. Are you KIDDING me?! Do you REALLY think George W. Chimp treats the average Americans as a human being? Give me a break! Georgie doesn’t even KNOW any poor people–he’d have to PAY some poor guy to come visit or talk to him just so he could say he KNEW a poor person.

Georgie-Boy didn’t give a rat’s behind about all those poor folks trapped in New Orleans. It took him FOUR DAYS to even get off his couch in Crawford and reluctantly schlep back to Washington.

That being said, why do you think our Chimp-in-Chief should be treated any better or with any more respect than he treats the average middle class or poor American?

Firstly, she assumes I’m a Republican. I tend to vote Republican in a lot of positions, but I’m a swing voter. I would have voted for Kerry had I have bothered to register to vote in State of Washington. Secondly, what is up with people and their hatred for and assumptions about someone they don’t know? It can’t possibly be healthy to hold that much resentment for someone to where you spend the majority of your waking life filled with hate and spite for someone who merely holds a political office. I wonder about these people, especially the political bloggers, because they are consumed by their politics. I don’t even think the politicians are as consumed by their politics as these people.

Now, the humorous thing about this is that Sarah is obviously a Democrat, and immediately, with no prompting from me, you can see her attempt to steer the debate to Bush being ignorant of the problem of poverty in the US. Nice diversion, but I’m not falling for it. Hell, I totally agree that Bush has a terrible track record on addressing poverty. However, this firstly wasn’t about Bush, it was about Sarah, and secondly it certainly wasn’t about poverty. My comments were merely about that I felt the question was incredibly crass and stupid to begin with, irregardless of the politics. If I saw Adolf Hitler drowning I’d attempt to save him (besides the fact that it’s nearly impossible to recognize a drowning man), because no matter what a man has done in his lifetime, he deserves the same amout of respect in an emergency as anyone else. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use caution, since there’s no way of telling how much respect they’ll give you.

To Sarah: again, this wasn’t about politics. I happily read perspectives from both sides of the aisle daily. I enjoy good writing and healthy debate. Zealots are of no interest to me. If you’re unable to see why I felt your “Moral Question” post was both inane and inhumane, if you can only see the world in red and blue, if everything is about your political affiliation and nothing is about actual people, caring and human decency, then there’s really not much else to talk about. If you’ve lost your ability to empathize with a drowning man, no matter the man, and extend out your hand to help save him, then I am truly sorry for what must have happened to you to make you look at the world in that way.

Middle America Explained

In December 2001, Daniel Brooks headed to Franklin County, Pennslyvania, a short distance outside Montgomery County Maryland (just outside of DC), to see what life was like in a Red area, shortly after the election. What he found is what those of us who have lived in both areas already know, that there isn’t a class divide between these areas. These are not the areas of the poor and downtrodden, these are the areas of the content. These people think they have it pretty good, and largely they’re right. They’re hurting, they’re losing their good-paying middle class jobs offshores and have been for years and now the jobs they’re sending their kids to school for are being outsourced as well, but overall they’re a very happy and genial people. These are the people I was raised around, and overall they’re just a much happier people. It’s not that they’re friendlier, they’re just happier. Life isn’t about getting ahead, it’s about providing something a little better for your children. They’re much more concerned with what people in the neighboring county or the neighboring block have than the rich opulance of the cities within driving distance of their hometown. We have not so much a class divide in this country as a cultural one, and until the left can come to understand these people as people who already feel they’re rich, no matter what disaster the Republican Party finds themselves in, they will continue to lose election after election. Reaching these people is about telling them not how politicans are going to improve their lives and help them better themselves, it’s about telling them how those politicians agree with their way of life and their choices. As someone who’s lived in Red America and someone who is seriously considering if not already decided to move back there, I know that’s what I want to hear. A choice quote from the article:

The kinds of distinctions we make in Blue America are different. In my world the easiest way to categorize people is by headroom needs. People who went to business school or law school like a lot of headroom. They buy humongous sport-utility vehicles that practically have cathedral ceilings over the front seats. They live in homes the size of country clubs, with soaring entry atriums so high that they could practically fly a kite when they come through the front door. These big-headroom people tend to be predators: their jobs have them negotiating and competing all day. They spend small fortunes on dry cleaning. They grow animated when talking about how much they love their blackberries. They fill their enormous wall space with huge professional family portraits—Mom and Dad with their perfect kids (dressed in light-blue oxford shirts) laughing happily in an orchard somewhere.

Small-headroom people tend to have been liberal-arts majors, and they have liberal-arts jobs. They get passive-aggressive pleasure from demonstrating how modest and environmentally sensitive their living containers are. They hate people with SUVs, and feel virtuous driving around in their low-ceilinged little Hondas, which often display a RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS bumper sticker or one bearing an image of a fish with legs, along with the word “Darwin,” just to show how intellectually superior to fundamentalist Christians they are.

You have to read this article. It’s a detailed account of the differences in our society that everyone should read. Yes, you did read right, I am currently seriously considering moving back to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Sometimes you don’t realize what you’re missing until it’s gone. More postings on this subject later. Other words of wisdom for the day, “The love you take is equal to the love you make,” John Lennon (I’m assuming, could be McCartney).

Keith Olbermann says it better

I was going to write a long blog post about my frustrations and anger over the situation developing in New Orleans, but Keith Olbermann says it better (via Dave Winer):

Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said it all, starting his news briefing Saturday afternoon: “Louisiana is a city that is largely underwater…”

Well there’s your problem right there.

If ever a slip-of-the-tongue defined a government’s response to a crisis, this was it.

I can’t imagine a time in my memory where the government, in doing the job it is fundamentally in the business of doing, has failed us this badly. This will marr Bush’s presidency and his legacy to the world. The saddest thing is, throughout this crisis, he and his administration have seemed oblivious to all the facts anybody who is watching CNN knows.


I just read Doc Searl’s post on IQ. There looks to be an interesting conversation going. Doc wrote:

One of my many IQ scores, by the way, was 103. That was in the 8th grade. It should have meant nothing. Instead it meant that the school wanted me to go to a “technical” high school to learn a “manual trade.” And that my parents had to hunt down a private school. Every one of those schools administered an Otis IQ test. Because I got all the answers right on the test, the Cartaret School (long since deceased) wanted me desperately. Because I choked terribly on the same test, another school (Mount Hermon) told my parents that I was borderline retarded and at the very least I needed to go back a grade. (In fact, I had a crush on a girl who was headed to Northfield, Mount Hermon’s sister school, and that was all I could think about during the test.) According to this table, my best SAT scores (nearly the worst in the now-deceased school that did take me, by the way), translate to an Otis IQ score of 119.
Meaningless, of course. But highly consequential, as it tends to turn out.
Which is why IQ sucks.

In response, Bob V wrote:

IQ application is fraught with danger. Doc Searls’s post does a pretty good job of illustrating this with examples. If you want the same message with a bent towards genetic testing, watch Gattaca.

I have always been a proponent of standardized testing, even with its many downsides. Perhaps this is because it worked out well for me, but unfortunately I can’t think of a better way that doesn’t involve massive amounts of spending.

I think the problem, as always, is with time management. The problem is the same when you go in for a job interview. How are you to assess the quality of a potential candidate for any sort of program, job, etc, in a brief period of time? Education has the same problem as employers do, which is that gauging someone involves the use of some predefined criteria as to which there will inevitably be some who score better than others, thus giving a basis on which to choose someone.

I always scored well on standardized tests. I was always in the top 1% on every standardized test I ever took, and my IQ tests were always between the mid-140s and the low 160s. When asked, I usually give 155 as my IQ, as that was the most recent test I took. Obviously, with those kind of scores, education was never a problem for me. I’ve not done so well, I think, in my interviews. Interviews make me nervous, but tests never did. Some people are exactly the opposite. This is unfair, but unfortunately so is the majority of life.

The difference between education and employee interviews is the case history. This is where I believe education, relying too much on testing and IQ application, fails. Again, this is a time management issue. It takes a much shorter time to make a determination on one number than to totally review a person’s record over time. While you’re being educated, you come across many people whose job it is to assess your competency. When I was selected for the Gifted and Talented program during elementary school, I was given a test, which I later was told I didn’t do so well at (it was an IQ test and, as with anything, I learned to do better on those tests), but I was admitted to the program based on my teacher’s strong recommendation. This is exactly the thing education needs to be doing. Teachers have years of wisdom and experience, and a file on a student should bear much more on their education path than testing. Any system that makes determinations based purely on a number of a set of numbers derived from a test to route a student is unconscionable.

However, teachers can also be wrong, and they carry with them their natural human biases. This is why testing is necessary. Every system needs checks and balances, and testing offers, as best as possible, the unbiased opinion that is needed to hopefully find promising students that aren’t showing it due to various other conditions in their lives (teacher isn’t good, bad home life, etc).

It is an unfortuante fact of life that testing decides so much of people’s opportunities. Throughout life, almost all major life changes in terms of education and career are decided by some form or other of a test. For education, using only the results of a test to decide a student’s fate is wrong. At any point at which such a decision would be made, they have volumes of data by which they can make a decision, but they seem to choose the easy path and decide purely based on a set of numbers that someone else administers for them, rather than take the time and effort to decide based on that student’s history. For employers, it’s much more excusable because of a lack of access to that employee’s history. This makes it unfair for people with excellent track records who may not do well in interviews, but the rules are setup to make it fair for people who want to start over and not have a bad history follow them around for their entire lives. Changes probably could and should be made, and maybe I’m an apologist, but I’ve not seen many systems that can catch all exceptions. No one number should decide anyone’s future, but assuming it’s only part of the decision, I think the benefits far outweigh the exceptions it creates and the hardships that people like Doc endure because of it.

Update: Bob V. responds to me. Apparantly I smell. 🙂

MPAA continuing its assault on the Broadcast Flag

The MPAA has, predictably, drawn up draft legislation to hand to some patsy Congressman or Senator. Basically, this legislation would extend the FCC’s power to regulate something like the Broadcast Flag. The legislation would allow the FCC to “have authority to adopt regulations governing digital television apparatus necessary to control the indiscriminate redistribution of digital television broadcast content over digital networks.” Prevailing theory, at least from the article, is that everyone is in a holding pattern, waiting for the outcome of the Grokster case, and we will see legislative activity beginning in earnest, depending upon who loses the case. I still don’t see any representative, other than Fritz Hollings, willing to introduce this legislation. It’s one thing to get un-elected representatives to do your bidding, but Americans really don’t want the people they’re voting for fucking with their TV and their right to record off of it.


As much to piss Landon (grndzero) off as much as anything else, I’m providing a link here because I haven’t read the legislation, but people I agree with are concerned, so I went ahead and sent my largely-uninformed opinions to my senators anyways. After all, I’m just part of that mob mentality. Dogpile on our senators!

Basically, legislation that would require national standards for ID cards and create a national database of citizens has been attached to an appropriations bill that has already passed Congress. Functionally, there’s probably nothing that can be done at this point, because the appropriations bill is going to pay for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can’t imagine a politician in their right minds who would vote against this, but lets hope the system works. Check out: