Friday, March 31, 2006

For Dave D.


Just for you...

Freedom? Nah, we don't want that...

We want to be sure that we'll have a house, tv, car, and cell phone; never hurt or be hurt; never be hungry; and never die of something unpleasant.

As usual, The Agitator sums up the new American view of Freedom.

Advocates for liberty are increasingly facing a new challenge. Used to be that our main fight was against the ever expanding size and scope of government. But it's fast becoming the case that half the battle is convincing people that freedom is actually a good thing in the first place. People would rather have a massive government that makes all of their decisions for them, ostensibly because they'd rather have someone other than themselves to blame when they make the wrong decisions. Hence, the uncomfortable number of smokers who support smoking bans because they think it'll help them kick the habit.


Is it time for a revolution, yet?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Aha

I've seen something like this before, but this is a more detailed explanation about why men don't listen to women. Interesting.

Radney Foster

Ah, he's got a new CD coming out (so does Keane! - June 20), and he's playing the Opry on Saturday. If you live in Nashville, or will be there, you should totally go see him. He actually doesn't play outside of Texas too much anymore, so it's a great chance. I hope he comes back to Georgia for this album.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

What I did on Saturday

Stacy and I drove to the Sheraton on Courtland downtown and met up with Russ. From the outside, this is a hotel clearly built in the 50s or 60s. On the inside, it has a pool, lots of trees, and the balconies make it look like New Orleans. It's really really cool.

Anyway, we went down there to try out with Russ for the VH-1 World Series of Pop Culture Trivia. Russ has a full breakdown of the experience, but he has left it to me to tell the story of my middle name.

If there's any question about my connection to and love of pop culture, it is put to rest when the story of my middle name is told.

When I was born, my parents did not give me a middle name. There's a bit of a legacy here, but just for simplicity's sake, I'll leave it at that. Anyway, when I was about six or so and going to school, I realized that everyone else had middle names. At the same time, I was a big fan of The Facts of Life, and tomboy through and through. I thought Jo was the coolest girl ever. Today, she'd be a lesbian, but back then, she was just a cool tomboy with a motorcycle. So, in school, I started putting Whitney Jo on everything. The school even sent my progress report home with that name on it. My parents had no idea where it came from and why I started using it. I kind of moved on beyond it for a while, but in the seventh grade or so, starting using it again. And as a Christmas gift that year, my parents legally changed my name. This is not expensive, but also not an easy task, and they went to a lot of trouble to do it. It was such a great gift.

So that's the story of Whitney Jo. It's not, like most people think, because I'm from the South, but because I loved Jo on Facts of Life. Actually, there's an irony there that I've never realized before. And it goes back to the reason I never had a middle name in the first place that I wasn't going to tell. My grandmother and some of her 10 brothers and sisters all had good small town southern names like Betty Ruth, Emma Lou, Hugh Frank, etc. My grandmother hated it, so when she had children, she insisted on only giving them one name. Because of that my mom and her sisters only have one name. And, when my parents had me, they only gave me one name. Then, I ended up with a very southern name, when in fact the single name thing goes back to my grandmother's distaste for the classic southern double-naming tradition. I never thought of it that way.

OK, moving on. It's time to do lots and lots around the house: laundry, clean the kitchen and bathroom, vaccuum, and catch up on my DVR watching. Hope you have a nice Sunday.

Friday, March 24, 2006

So out of it

I was in NYC yesterday and gave six hours worth of presentations. It was actually the same presentation four times. I enjoy visiting New York and wish I could have stayed a little longer. I've been five times now, and two of thsoe times, my hotel room had a view of the Empire State Building. I've still never been there, though. I also rode by it in a cab on the way to my hotel Wednesday night.

Day trips are so hard, though, and I'm completely out of it today. Traveling is getting harder for me, not easier. What's up with that?

More on SWAT

How long is it going to take before people realize this REALLY is a problem?

Elderly couple injured by SWAT team invading the wrong house.

From The Agitator - link on the blogroll to the right.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SWAT

While watching V for Vendetta, I kept coming back to the agitator's focus lately on the over-use of SWAT teams in our country. More and more often SWAT teams are being used to serve warrants for non-violent crimes. Regardless of whether or not I agree that gambling with your friend in your own home or smoking a little pot should be illegal, it's ridiculous that SWAT teams are being employed to bust these type of criminals.

Balko links to a recent BBC piece on SWAT teams, and does his own review primarily of the study often used to debunk the claim that SWAT raids are often excessively violent.

2) Those who cite Klinger's study as evidence that that the massive increase in SWAT deployments is harmless wrongly assume that the only harm done by paramilitary raids is done is when shots are fired. That's most certainly not the case. I've documented dozens of cases in my upcoming paper in which SWAT teams have broken down the door to the wrong home, and needlessly terrorized an innocent family -- and it's almost certain that the number of actual botched raids like these is exponentially higher than the number reported in the media.

In other words, there's significant harm done when heavily-armed tactical units break down doors in the middle of the night, and drag innocent men, women, and children out of their beds at gunpoint, even if shots are never fired. Two of the more infamous botched SWAT raids resulting in death -- Alberta Spruill in New York and Accelyne Williams in Boston -- involved no gunfire at all. Both died from heart attacks after SWAT teams mistakenly raided their homes. There are also several cases of botched SWAT raids resulting in the death or injury of innocent people due to misuse or malfunction of the "flashbang" grenades police often use to distract the targets of a raid.

3) We also need to ask ourselves, quite simply, if we want to live in a society where its appropriate to serve warrants on nonviolent offenders with cops dressed in battle garb. I sure as hell don't. Does a pot smoker really deserve to have his door beaten down while he's sleeping? To be sworn at, forced to the ground at gunpoint, and handcuffed? Go back to that Churchill quote: "Democracy means that when there's a knock at the door at 4 am, it's probably the milkman." What does it mean that we've reached the point where not only can we no longer be sure it's actually the milkman, but that police don't even bother to knock?


I certainly know how I feel about this. Do you? If you don't see that this is a problem, why not?

Monday, March 20, 2006

V for Vendetta

Saw it this weekend. As a movie and entertainment, it was great. Fun, good acting (especially Stephen Rea and Stephen Fry), pretty well-directed, and enjoyable. As a political statement, it was heavy-handed, especially when it showed a flag made out of the American and British flags with a big swastika in the middle.

I can't get behind the idea that this movie is all that risky, either. It's nothing people haven't been saying for years. The book was written in the early and mid-eighties, actually, referencing the Thatcher government. And of course there's the obligatory pharmaceutical companies are in league with the government conspiracy bit. Also nothing new.

But it was still fun to watch. I think that says a lot, since I generally disagreed with the message.

And I do agree that governments should be afraid of their people, just not because I think our government is going to outlaw homosexuality and Islam.

SP, Isaac Hayes, etc.

In my first post on this topic, I wondered about the Isaac Hayes protest being staged. Another interesting tidbit here.

So now I wonder again, if the whole thing wasn't staged for publicity's sake, even the Tom Cruise protest and all.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

South Park ... I'm pissed

So after Comedy Central advertises the showing of "Trapped in the Closet" on both TV and their website for last night, they show the stupid Sundance Film Festival episode! I'm furious.

Update: So apparently, as a sue-happy Scientologist, Tom Cruise has his panties in a wad over this episode. Comedy Central and Paramount (which is distributing Mission Impossible 3) are both owned by Viacom. So very aware of his power it this situation, Cruise decided to let Viacom know that he wouldn't do publicity for MI3 if Comedy Central aired the episode (that has already aired once). Well, I guess figuring they'll make more off of MI3 than they do off of South Park, Viacom and Comedy Central caved.

(Props to my friend Adam who called it within five minutes of the wrong episode starting on Wednesday night. He said, "I bet Comedy Central pulled it for some reason. They've caved before.")

I bet Matt and Trey are so angry and can't wait to see how they cover this in another episode.

I don't have contacts at any of these companies to verify this story, of course. It's simply a rumor traveling the web.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

South Park

I kind of wonder if Isaac Hayes' decision to leave South Park and announcement of that decision today isn't a little staged. The episode in question aired back in November, but he's just announcing his departure today? Today happens to be the day the episode is being aired again. Hmmmm.

If he is serious, his argument that this time South Park has crossed the line of satire to "intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others," holds no water. But you see, tonight, it's his religion they're picking on. And that just won't do. From Opinion Journal, I think we have the best remark on this whole story...

Well, after all, it's one thing to mock Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals, blacks, gays, whites, Mexicans, Asians, Canadians, Frenchmen, people with birth defects, women, transsexuals, Democrats, Republicans, lawyers, cops, cows, people with red hair and freckles, goths, the handicapped and fat kids. But satirizing Scientology--that's just intolerant!

Pet Peeve

I would say that abuse of the word "literally" is my biggest pet peeve. And it certainly does come up more often than another one that I have. But it's not as important in the grand scheme of things. My number one pet peeve is...

people who continue to talk about America being a democracy. This bothers me when anyone does it, but I can somewhat understand it from the general public. They've been told over and over and over again, in school and elsewhere, that ours is a democratic government. The ones, though, that really infuriate me are those who most definitely know better. It would seem that these people refer to America as a democracy because of ulterior motives. Take the New York Times, for instance.

The Times does not like the Electoral College because it enables a candidate that did not win the popular vote to win the presidential election. The problem for them? The Electoral College for US presidential elections is mandated in our Constitution. It's difficult to get an amendment to the Constitution ratified. So, they're in favor of a new idea that would eliminate the need for a constitutional change. I have two major problems with their justification of this process.

Americans are rightly cautious about tinkering with mechanisms established by the Constitution. But throughout the nation's history, there have been a series of reforms affecting how elections are conducted, like the ones that gave blacks and women the vote and provided for the direct election of United States senators. Sidestepping the Electoral College would be in this worthy tradition of making American democracy more democratic.


I agree that Americans are cautious about changing the Constitution, and that they should be. But then they justify this attempt to disregard constitutional intent by referencing changes to eletoral process that were actually changed by amending the Constitution. Right to vote for blacks - Amendment 15. Right to vote for women - Amendment 19. Direct election of Senators - Amendment 17.

And in the last sentence we come to the pet peeve, "making American democracy more democratic." As I said before, these are the ones that infuriate me. The writers at the NY Times know very well that this is not a democracy in its form of government. We are a republic. As a matter of fact, our founders abhored the idea of a democracy as a form of government.

"... democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths, " James Madison, The Federalist Papers "Essay #10".

We may be a democratic society, but ours is NOT a democratic form of government. The Times knows the distinction. They are not talking about a democratic society in this context, but a democratic form of government. Whatever their disagreements with the Electoral College, they should present their arguments on a factual, reasoned basis, instead of closing with two sentences full of distortion. If this was some random blog, I might be more forgiving, but it's the NY Times. There is should be no question that they know the truth, and insist on printing lies instead. Then again, if their editors do not know the truth, that is an entirely different, and perhaps more disturbing, situation.

Thanks to Opinion Journal.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Another Hills Review

Odd Todd posts funny reviews and he goes to see lots of movies. I always check to see what he says, even if I don't agree. He's a real guy talking about movies, not a movie critic being paid to find symbolism that doesn't exist in shitty movies. Anyway, he gave Hills Have Eyes two cookies, which I think is too much. But he said exactly what I was thinking in many places, particularly, these quotes...

It's totally a shame that I had to break my long movie fast by chowing down on this near-rancid overcooked slab of blecch. But whatever. Movie beggars can't be choosers. But by the way, Hey Hollywood! If I hear you complain once more that people aren't going out to your movies anymore because of dvd piracy I'm gonna yack! Look at the stinky chum you're now consistently churning out! At this rate you're eventually gonna put the friggin dvd pirates out of business! I can steal movies all day if I want to! But I don't because I like seeing them on the big screen! Everyone I know likes the big screen! The people who are really busy stealing your precious movies are your friggin kids who have megaplasma giant screen surround sound in their houses! The same kids who burn your Oscar screeners and put them on the market for friggin X money! Clean up your own backyard before pointing fingers at us regular folk! Eh? Feh! Ok.

All in all don't bother with this. Besides being stupid-- they stoop into desperately tacky here and there. Put it this way, (although this is a slight spoiler. sorry.) Just because they can have a gross mutant faced freak hold a gun to a baby's head while he sucks breast milk from the mother's boob -- doesn't mean they have to go there. Sort out your issues with your shrink on your own time.


Check out the whole review. It's great, though I'm a little confused how this got a higher rating than Flight Plan, which wasn't great, but certainly didn't suck worse than The Hills Have Eyes. Not even close. He also gave it a higher rating than Longest Yard and equal to Sahara. I know the ratings are meant to be exclusive to the movie being reviewed, and reviews always come down to initial expectations, but this one was just horrible - I'd have given it no cookie. No cookie for you!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Walking out of the theater...

So, for the first time in my life, I left a movie theater in the middle of a movie. We even got in on "free" passes paid for by credit card points.

Spoiler alert! But seriously, I'm saving you time and money here.

The Hills Have Eyes. Awful. So many horribly cliche'd characters. Violence for the sake of violence. Gore for the sake of gore. Disgustingly gross mutant sexuality. Terrible "plot," if you can call it that. I was begging for them to kill at least two of the characters within the first 20 minutes. They all make the absolute stupidest decisions ever. Take a dirt road shortcut through the New Mexican desert? Sure! Terrible car accident in the middle of nowhere? Why don't we leave the women and 15 year-old boy behind, while the two adult men split up (!) to go find help? The dog runs off for the eighth time? Fifteen year-old boy should chase it a mile and leave the women and baby alone until after dark because he slips and falls - getting knocked out. One of the men who goes to find help, finds a crater full of old cars and decides to bring a teddy bear he found in one of these old cars back to his baby daughter. By all means, take the random (radioactive) teddy bear back to your baby girl.

Then the mutants show up for real. Don't even get me started. We left after one mutant beats the crap out of one of the girls and tries to rape her. Another mutant then attacks the other woman (the mother of the baby girl). So that he will leave her baby girl alone, she lets him suck milk from her breast. I'm serious. That's when we left. The is the same mutant that bit the head off a lovebird and turned it up to pour the blood in his mouth. I wish I could say we didn't even stay this long. But we did. There was also a man burning at a stake, another man blowing his own head off with a shotgun, and an ear in a Styrofoam to-go container. I think that about covers it.

E-mail everywhere

Over the last few months, my job has slowly devolved from that of Strategic Alliances Manager whose responsibility is to maintain productive working relationships with my company’s partners, which drives increased revenue from my channel to Strategic Alliances Manager whose primary function is writer/responder of email. I have responsibilities outside of email (see the first description of my job). Productive, revenue-producing relationships cannot be created and maintained solely through email.

While my job is primarily tactical in nature, there are certain strategic goals that I must accomplish. As I try to schedule my time to include strategy development and deployment, I find myself doing only one thing all day, every day – writing damn emails. And even though it seems this is all I do every day, at the end of each day and week, I have more unread emails in my mailbox than I had when the day/week began. I work within a time management system in which everything is scheduled in my calendar. I find myself skipping most scheduled items in favor of email (there are already four hours each day scheduled exclusively for email). I go to meetings, and come out with more to-do items that generally require communication via email. That’s if I even get to the to-do items from meetings because I’m always ANSWERING EMAILS!

I know I’m not alone in this, but I had to vent. I feel like I’ve gotten absolutely nothing done this week. But I’ve got lots of emails to show for my time. 146 emails sent so far this week, to be exact. That’s only sent, not received. There are another 32 from this week that are due responses (11 from earlier weeks). That comes out to about 4.45 per hour. Doesn’t sound bad, right? But these are all emails that require some sort of work or research prior to response. And this doesn’t take into account the 8.5 hours of meetings I had this week, pushing the total up to 5.65 emails per hour. That’s 11 minutes per email to read and respond. Sure, some are quick – “yes”, “no”, “what the hell are you talking about?” – responses. But most aren’t. And that’s why I’m frustrated.

So, if you’re someone with whom I usually communicate via email on a personal basis and you’ve noticed that I just don’t reply as much anymore, now you know why. I’m sure it will change. I’ll get a handle on it and figure out how to manage it. I’ve been through this before. It’s not the first time or the last, and I know I’m not the only one (here or at any other business). In the meantime, though, this is why you may not get a response to every email or you may not hear from me as often.

- While I was writing this, I could have answered three emails -

Update: it's now 5:45pm, and I've sent another 28 emails since this original post. Going home now.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Has it really been four years?

Wow, today is our fourth anniversary, which is just wild. I can’t believe it’s been four years already.

Mush warning …

If you’ve found the right person, I highly recommend marrying him (or her). It isn’t always easy, but what great thing is?

I love being married to Dave, and my life is better simply because of his presence in it. There is absolutely no one else on this earth I would rather spend my days and nights with. He is a wonderful husband.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

shortest 24 recap

potato face vs. spawn (characters by Television Without Pity)
potato face wins

leland palmer as vice president

edgar!