Thursday, December 20, 2007

Surprise! Study: Inkjet printers are filthy, lying thieves

I've been using Canon single-ink cartridges for several years, and the nice thing about the Canon cartridges is that they are clear; You can visually confirm they are empty. So I ignore the low ink warnings, which do start up many, many pages before the out-of-ink message flashes. And when that message comes up, I can see that the particular color is, in fact, empty.
Crisis? What Crisis: Malpractice Rebate for Md. Set at $84 Million

Maryland's Republican Governor in 2004 called the legislature into a special session to push through the subsidy, based on hysterical premium increases and threats that doctors would have to stop working in the state. Overreaction? History suggests exactly that.

Note that Maryland's Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society planned to pay two-thirds of the rebate to the state and one-third to the physician shareholders of Medical Mutual, despite the fact that the surplus funds were generated by a taxpayer-financed subsidy. While the new Maryland Insurance Commissioner has mandated that all the rebate go to the state, guess who remains screwed: you guessed it, the taxpayers who had to pay it out in the first place.

I'm glad I don't live in Maryland any more.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

It has bothered me for some years how the Republicans and right-wing types have been referring to the other party as "the Democrat Party" in a perjorative fashion. Now it bothers me even more. According to Marty Peretz, the practice hasn't been used in half a century, and was a product of Joe McCarthy "who, with his twisted mouth often oozing the charming brew of beer and saliva, would snarl out the words "Democrat Party," as if they referred to vermin."

Boy, that'd make me proud, if I were a Repub.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Resports -- largely unreported -- of routine torture in U.S. facilities in Afghanistan:

When Captain Carolyn Wood assumed control of the prison in the summer of 2002--she ran it until taking over Abu Ghraib a year later--interrogation tactics came to include beatings, anal violation with sharp objects, blows to the genitals, and "peroneal" strikes (an incapacitating blow to the leg with a baton, a knee, or a shin). We know about these tactics because an internal Army investigation into two prisoner deaths was obtained by The New York Times. These detainees--a 22-year-old taxi driver and the brother of a Taliban commander--were found dead and hanging from the wrists by shackles. A coroner's report said the two men died after being subjected to dozens of peroneal strikes. According to the coroner's report, the "pulpified" legs of one of the corpses looked as if they had "been run over by a bus."

Dammit, that's not who we are, or need to be. At least, so I thought.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sad news from Grand Cayman. Back in August 2006, I got a chance to dive with a Grand Cayman policeman named Paul, who was from England. Last weekend, he was hit by a car and critically injured. My thuoghts and prayers go out to him and his family. My log of that August 2006 dive follows:

Got a 3d dive for this day. I hooked up with Paul, a CI policeman from London originally. He's been here about 9 months, I believe. He's a good diver, and blows his air even faster than me! We surface swam out to the far buoy, and dropped down on the Nicholson, a sunken landing craft that I last dove in 2003. Right next to the Nicholson was a half eaten carcass of a nurse shark; the rear was intact, but everything in front of the dorsal fin was eaten away. All I could see was the white fibrous tissue.

On the Nicholson, we swam into the small cabin toward the stern, and then up and out through a hatch above us. A close fit; I took it real easy going up through it.

Then it was a short swim to the mermaid. From the bow of the Nicholson, we swam at a 10:00 angle. Some fish were hovering around me, and wouldn't be shooed away. Strange. Then I felt a gentle nip under my left arm on my torso. A grouper or red snapper had actually nipped at me! That was a first for my 80 or so dives in GC. A grey angelfish and one of those yellow trimmed jacks were also getting too close for comfort. I spend some energy paying attention to them and trying to get them away from me, because they were FOLLOWING me. Territorial, or just looking for a food handout, I don't know.

We got to the mermaid, and it was again an anti-climax. As we left the mermaid, the fish finally laid off. We swam back toward the ladder with Pau leading. I think he thought I was short on air [I wasn't], and we avoided the rain, which had started and stopped while we were down. A good dive, except for the aggressive fish!

This news only underscores the new philosophy I've been trying to inculcate: Carpe the diem; you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, or the next week, or the next month.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Glenn has posted at times on red light traffic cameras. Courtesy of the Howard Stern Show [he doesn't endorse, he just reports], here's a product that defeats the camera system. Seems a good way to thwart the inevitable mistakes these automated systems make. And by the way, how does one cross-examine an automated camera, if one contests one of these tickets?

Is this Photoblocker spray legal? Who knows? I recommend you speak with your jurisprudential professional before using it, though

Monday, March 05, 2007

All of a sudden, conservatives everywhere are shocked, SHOCKED, at Ann Coulter. While I agree wholeheartedly with Sean Hackbarth's sentiments, I nevertheless must say, "too little, too late." As one of the commenters to the linked open letter said, this invective is nothing new for Coulter. Like it or not, she is one of the leading faces of the conservative movement.

You lie down with dogs, and you get up with fleas.
Well, I've started an entirely new blog, called Certain distinguished bloggers -- clearly sick to death of listening to my off-the-cuff movie, TV and media reviews -- suggested that I do a blog containing all those (ha!) controversial views. So go link. Enjoy. Click through. Etc.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gee, thanks for all the comments, and to Instapundit for the shout out. Just responding to a few of the commenters:

It's not, in my opinion, a question of tailoring your ideology to whatever will get you elected, so much as it is choosing the candidate whose ideology connects with the maximum number of voters. The two concepts are radically different. Also, it's not just ideology anymore; it's also electability, i.e., that certain something that causes a voter to want to vote for a particular candidate. Bill Clinton had that quality; Hillary does not. I still don't believe Obama has it, at least enough to both win a nomination and a general election.

I apparently misspoke when I said that McGovern won his home state -- it was Massachusetts. My point is even more strongly made, though. McGovern stood for deeply felt left wing ideology in favor of withdrawal from Vietnam under any circumstances. As a result, he didn't even carry his home state. It was one of the most lopsided victories in recent memory.

I agree that Edwards is being ignored to a certain extent. Whether he is OK with being under the radar screen, only his campaign can say for sure. I just think that, whether its deliberate or a by-product of the MSM hysteria over Hillary v. Obama, it's smart for him to lay low. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Whether Edwards is more vulnerable to attack than Hillary is highly debatable. Of all the candidates in the field, he's got that certain something I alluded to earlier. People LIKE him, just like they LIKED Bill Clinton. That could carry him very far. He's also the most "populist" of the candidates, which bodes well in a general election campaign, should he get the nomination.

Whether this race is "fun" is in the eye of the beholder. Some people like to watch train wrecks, too.

Dudley Smith is right that Edwards is just as subject to "inexperience" criticism as the other candidates, except maybe Richardson. It's mostly a wash; the only ones who have presidential experience are, uh, ex-presidents. Perhaps being a governor helps in the public mind, inasmuch as the past two presidents were state governors. I disagree that Edwards is a Jimmy Carter clone, for no other reason than I just don't see it.

As to charges that Edwards is an unserious "huckster," again, I just don't see it that way. He's smart, educated, and his positions on the issues are mostly where I like them. He made a successful career helping those who needed help against the unlimited resources of Big Insurance. I love those perople who deride trial lawyers; they're always the ones who run to lawyers when they need 'em. By the way, what makes a candidate a huckster, anyway? Is ANY candidate exempt from such a characterization?

Hillary/Obama on the ticket? Matching primary adversaries is certainly not new, but if that happens, then the Republicans will take the general in a 1972-like landslide. For any Democratic strategists out there, that ticket is the fervent dream of any die-hard Republican out there. For God's sake, don't give them what they want.

As to Bill Clinton not being the focus of right wing hatred, I disagree strongly. For years, I would see bumper stickers around town that said, "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Bush." The right wing-funded litigation was going after Bill, not Hillary. Ken Starr persecuted [literally] Bill, not Hillary. And, the Republican Congress impeached and tried the President -- not the First Lady -- for no other reason than he was unfaithful to his wife, and in the face of a 65% approval rating. No, they were after Bill, because they just couldn't bear to have been beaten by a Democrat. Especially a Democrat that they had targeted, on which they had attempted political homicide, and who just wouldn't go away when a lesser man would have quit. Clinton's perserverence, and the continuing efforts by the Right to downplay his two Administrations, simply reinforce my theory that the Republicans will do anything -- anything -- to win.

And finally, the Catholics and Jews issues are red herrings. He didn't piss the Catholics off, a blogger associated with the campaign irked a virulently pro-Catholic pundit. Edwards was reported in a Peter Bart op-ed in Variety [that bastion of journalistic accuracy] to have said that "Perhaps the greatest short-term threat to world peace. . .was the possibility that Israel would bomb Iran's nuclear facilities." I disagree with that assessment [that's not the greatest short-term threat to world peace, whatever "world peace" is], but it's not an anit-Israel comment, and it's not an anti-semitic remark, either. Assuming he even said it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Does anybody else think that it’s ridiculous for presidential candidates to be going at it hammer and tongs a full year before the first primary? The real and implicit vitriol between the Clinton and Obama camps this early in the process is nothing short of idiotic. At this rate, those two candidates will have dropped out from exhaustion long before the voting actually begins.

Is that why John Edwards is waiting, and watching, and generally keeping his mouth shut? If so, I would call that good strategy, and urge him to keep a low – and statesman-like – profile, for as long as possible.

What nobody seems to be looking at is the substantive qualifications of either Clinton or Obama to be president. The former has completed one term in the Senate, and is the wife of a former president. The latter is still in his first term in national office. Aside from name recognition [Clinton] and perceived charisma [Obama], what do these candidates bring to the table?

Of course, one could have asked the same questions about Bill Clinton in 1992, or George W. Bush in 2000, as well. Well, at least they had experience governing. So, maybe it’s unfair for me to question these candidates’ qualifications on such a basis. On the other hand, and as a middle-of-the-road Democrat, neither one excites me much, either as to presentation of their positions, or more importantly, their ability to be elected in a general election.

Because that’s what it’s all about, folks. Who stands the best chance of winning a general election in an electorate that clearly is in the middle of the road? If you don’t care about winning, it’s all well and good for the far left [or far right] candidates to stake out a marginal position, and then go down gloriously and virtuously in flames, because their message did not sell to the electorate. George McGovern did just that, and look how well he did in the general election – against a wartime president and during a war that was perceived as widely unpopular [McGovern won just one state, his own, and D.C.]. The comparisons between 1972 and 2008 are illuminating, to say the least. You cannot lead your party’s voters where they don’t want to go, and the majority of Democrats don’t support the position of getting back at Bush at the expense of our troops. The Republican anti-Clinton sentiment fed the impeachment proceedings; in the same vein, the anti-Bush feeling fans the fires of this "withdraw from Iraq under any circumstances" position.

To govern, you’ve got to get elected, and the Democratic candidates seem to have forgotten that small point. They seem to be marginalizing themselves by making a litmus test over the vote for war in 2003, or support for the troops on the ground. Thus, the perception is that to get the Democratic nomination, you’ve got to be vocally and vociferously anti-Bush [read anti-war, anti-war funding]. Anti-Bush is fine, but a candidate who commits to cutting support for troops on the ground is doomed to failure in the general election. After all, that candidate can’t take that position back once the nomination is secured.

The Republicans love this in-fighting between Clinton and Obama. They don’t really care which one takes the nomination, because they can cut either candidate off at the knees. And they particularly love that the Democratic candidates collectively are painting themselves into an un-winnable position, by moving farther to the left on the war issue than the electorate can tolerate.

Have the Republicans, who appear to have a better grasp of the long-term picture than the Democrats, maneuvered the Democrats into this corner? It makes some sense:

* Push Hillary, who they can beat under almost any circumstances, given her negatives.
* At the same time, get Hillary to punch herself out with Obama, who is aggressively anti-war, African-American, and inexperienced in national/foreign affairs and governance generally.
* Ignore and thus minimize the candidates who pose the biggest general election threat – Edwards, Richardson – and flog Clinton and Obama.
* MSM, the beast who must be fed, and the bloggers [son of the beast?] will go [and are going] to town just for the splashiest story.
* Chiefly because of the far-left anti-war stances the candidates are being forced into, the perception is created that Democrats are all wild-eyed lunatics who want to cut and run, and don’t support our troops [see Vietnam].
* Following the internecine primary carnage, whoever gets the nomination is already bloodied and exhausted.
* The nominee also has major baggage picked up with the positions they had to take just to win the nomination, as well as the underlying negatives [in Clinton’s case]. If Hilary is the nominee, then they pound her negatives, as well as the northeastern liberal mantle she inevitably carries. With Obama, they grind him down on his inexperience, and, subtly his color [see Harold Ford campaign
in Tennessee].

Either way, the Republicans dance to victory in November ‘08. As icing on the cake, they finally “get” a Clinton, even if Hillary isn’t really the one they wanted to “get.”

It really doesn’t matter whether the Republicans are sly enough to maneuver the Democrats into this position, or whether the Democrats are dumb enough to do it to themselves. The result would be the same: Democratic sacrifice of the presidency on the alter of the far left’s “principles.”

The Democratic leadership wants to believe the mid-term elections were a mandate for the far left. Not so. The mid-terms were a rejection of the far right in favor of centrist populism. If the far left holds sway over the Democratic presidential contest, the electorate will reject that nominee just as handily as it did the far right. Which is OK by the Republicans.

The Democratic leadership ignores these realities at its peril. We’re talking realpoltik here. To govern, you’ve got to win. To win, you’ve got to appeal to the broadest base. Given popular dissatisfaction with Republicans in general, the Democrats, as in 2004, would have to work real hard to lose this election.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This is what law students [and lawyers, regardless of age] have to go through. And for anyone who went to school in the D.C area, the punch line at the end of the piece really rings true.