Sunday, February 29, 2004

Ask and Ye Shall Receive the Vote

This article in the New York Times recounts how much most of the Democratic candidates have spent to get each vote they have received so far (divide the total campaign dollars spent by the number of votes received). Inexplicably, the New York Times did not include the two men currently in what everyone is calling a two-man race: John Kerry and John Edwards. The results:

Dick Gephardt: $600 ($1,300 if you only count votes when he was actually in the race)
Joe Lieberman: $200
Howard Dean: $100
Dennis Kucinich: $80
Wesley Clark: $60
Al Sharpton: $7

These figures are particularly disturbing in light of the fact that I have sent letters to Kerry, Edwards, Dean and Clark asking them to explain why I should vote for them. So far, only one reply has come in out of four, and not from anyone currently still seeking the nomination.

My vote can be bought for a first-class postage stamp. All a candidate needs to do to get my vote is send me a reply. I'll accept a form letter, but at least acknowledge that you want my vote! So far, the only candidate who has spent the 37 cents to buy my allegiance is Howard Dean, and he's since dropped out of the race, leaving me unsure as to whether he actually wants me to vote for him or not. Is 37 cents really that much of a financial burden to the campaign when the lowest-spender in the field is shelling out almost 19 times that per vote? Edwards and Kerry have one more postal delivery day to buy me off, since I'm not sure I will check my mail before heading to the polling place Tuesday. I have my preferences between the two, but I'm still willing to vote for the one who personally asks me to vote for him. All they have to do is ask me directly for my vote. I'll say yes, but they have to ask.

I'm Back...

I know I promised you a guest blogger in my absence, but Elie got blogger's block. He actually had a post all typed up, but decided it wasn't up to the standards of Penguin Perspectives. His exact words were "This sucks." We'll have to ease him into guest blogging gradually, because he has some great things to say that should be shared with people other than me and the cats.

At any rate, my first draft of the paper is done, with seven pages of over-thinking nuances, so I will be back to my daily posting. However, I will not address Oscar predictions, as I have managed to see absolutely none of the films mentioned in the nominee list. I'm holding out for 2006, when Star Wars: Episode III should be in there somewhere.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

BS-ing for the BFA...

My apologies for the lack of blogging last night. First of all, it was a King George III day: nothing of interest happened. However, the primary reason for sparse posts is that I have a paper due on Wednesday and until my first draft is done, most of my creative energies will be focused on writing 6 pages of BS on the theme of nostalgia in Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and the Simon and Garfunkel album Bookends, or as I pitched the topic to my professor, "the impossible quest for conditions in the past that no longer exist." So far, I've managed to eat up one full page with theories of time travel and how the laws of physics allow for time travel into the future, but the space-time continuum does not have a rewind button, which only seems to intesify humanity's desire to turn back the clock. Now, I just need 4-1/2 pages of picking the book and CD apart to lead up to my conclusion involving one of Arthur C. Clarke's latest novels, which deals with the social impact of time travel when it allows people to look into what the past is really like.

The entire paper is an exercise in the art of bullshit, but oddly appropriate for a creative writing degree. I'll try to post a little even before it is done, but please bear with me if the writing quality isn't up to what you've come to expect from Penguin Perspectives. The creative juices are focused on the first of two papers that are the last things standing between me and my Bachelor's degree (the BFA of the subject line).

In the meantime, check back for Elie's guest blogging. He will be picking up the slack for me for a day or two.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Speaking of Constitutional Amendments...

How did I miss the 27th Amendment? It seems that in 1992, while I was a freshman in high school, we had a constitutional amendment ratified. Bear in mind that in 1992, I was taking high school civics classes. You'd think they might have mentioned a freakin' constitutional amendment happening right under our noses. No, I found out about this two months ago, 11 years after the fact, while standing not 50 yards from the actual, original Constitution of the United States flipping through a brochure given to us by the nice people at the National Archives to take our minds off the long lines. Sure, the amendment was some minutiae about when congressional pay raises could go into effect and not something exciting like flag burning or gay marriage that might actually hold the attention of 14-year-olds for a 43-minute class period. Nonetheless, shouldn't one of my highly qualified public school teachers maybe let slip that something happened to our Constitution that has only happened 18 times in 194 years? People make a bigger deal out of Leap Year, which happens more than twice as often.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Happy Mardi Gras! and other Lent Thoughts...

'Tis the season for our local grocery stores to translate "jelly doughnut" into Polish and jack up the prices 300% as people prepare to give up things for Lent tomorrow. As for me, I gave up Lent years ago, long before I gave up jelly doughnut for Atkins. If I am judging my readership correctly, I am not alone, either in the jelly doughnuts or in eschewing organized religion, though I will try to be sensitive to those among you, my readers, who still involve themselves in one or the other or both.

Even the least religious among us have probably heard the big Lenten news this year: the new Mel Gibson movie. In a departure from previous positions on the need to protect our vulnerable children from cinematic violence, pastors are actually encouraging their flocks to take underage children to see this R-rated movie for the particular reason that it is violent enough to receive an R rating. Think I'm kidding? Click here. If you clicked, you read that right:

"Honestly, I think the R-rating will work to that advantage for students to be interested in seeing it. "


"I've read about the brutality of crucifixion, but I've never felt the emotion of the crucifixion like I did when I saw Mel Gibson's movie."

To recap: violence in movies is bad, unless the violence serves the divine purpose of searing images of bloody, sadistic deicide into the psyches of teenagers who may be questioning their beliefs. Letting teenagers into R-rated movies is harmful unless they are bringing their heathen friends to be converted by the images of a man being tortured.

I don't suppose anyone has considered that, if the church is looking for converts among teenagers, they may want to try a softer sell and save the graphic scourgings for later on in the conversion process. If someone wants to point out how truly evil people can be, I have a taped interview with a pediatric hospital physician, in which the doctor recounts the cause of death of an infant admitted into his ward. That story is far more effective than any cinematic special effects at showing just what kind of suffering a person is capable of inflicting on a completely innocent human being.

But, heck, it's Mardi Gras. Have a happy Tuesday.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Dangers of Office Supply Requests...

All I did was ask for small Post-It Notes in the next office supply order. I didn't expect a simple office supply requisition to degenerate into a shouting match in an office the size of my bathroom. If I had seen it coming, I would have just cut the large Post-Its in half and ran far, far away from the debate over brights and pastels. At one point, my boss threatened to take the cost of pastels out of the salary of the person who, among many other things, compiles our office supply orders.

The only reason I even got involved in the debacle was to show them what size I wanted; Post-Its are the only things in my office that aren't color-coded, so I don't care. They backed me, literally, into a corner with the paper shredder arguing over the relative merits of brights and pastels. In the end, I went with the well-known business principle of agreeing with the person signing your paycheck.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Let Me Clarify My Previous Item...

Democracy could be summed up as options. Totalitarian regimes have elections, but the defining difference between totalitarian regimes' elections and democracy is that in a democracy, the people have a real choice. How arrogant is it to tell someone not to run for office because if they run, your preferred candidate has less of a shot? Maybe having Nader in the race will hurt the Democrat's chances of winning, but so does having Bush in the race and no one is telling him not to run.

Apparently, there is a large contingent of Americans who pay great lip service to democracy until democracy means that their person might lose an important election. So, don't vote for Nader if you don't want to, but for the sake of our American values, do not tell other people they can't.

The Obligatory View on Nader's Candidacy...

I think Ralph Nader should run for president if he wants to, not because he's Ralph Nader and I like him, because I rather don't, but because the one great thing about democracy is that he can run. He has a point that the democratic process is being hijacked by the two main parties. (That's paraphrasing. Click here to read the Reuters article that actually quotes him.). If the populace as a whole does not want Nader as president, they won't vote for him, but the entire point of this democracy we pretend we have and love is that we have options to which the voters can say "no."

I spent about a year and a half as an eligible voter in Oregon, one of the few states that allows issues to be put to a vote of the people both through the initiative process, where the voters request something be put to a vote, and through the referendum process, where the state legislature makes the request. In that time, I tended to put my signature on any petition for a ballot initiative that I was asked to sign, not because I agreed with all of them, but because I believed then and still believe now that disagreeing with something does not give one the right to take the issue off the table. It is perfectly legitimate to say one disagrees with what is under discussion and to later vote it down; it is not legitimate to say that because one disagrees with something, there will be no discussion.

It is one of the worst subversions of the democratic process--worse than these "activist judges" that have the Republican's knickers in a knot--that the Democrat's leadership would actually come out and say that Nader should not run because it would hurt the Democrat's nominee's chances at winning. They tend to argue that Nader's run took votes away from Al Gore in 2000, thus costing him the election, and the same would happen this year, dooming us to another 4 years with Bush. Looking at it from another perspective: the lack of options is the only thing that is keeping votes in the Democrat's camp. One would think they'd be more worried about that.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Life Imitates Art...

As a pet owner, I can appreciate the decision George W. Bush just had to make to put down his 14-year-old dog (Click here for the AP article). We're facing the same decision here at PP over our 16-year-old cat, who has been diagnosed with an incurable but manageable (for now) condition. Putting a pet to sleep is not a decision that is made lightly or entered into using false or sexed-up intelligence from the veterinarian.

In the interest of not making this blog a total downer, I feel compelled to point out that this was an episode of "That's My Bush" on Comedy Central back when everyone thought Bush was an idiot. (Click Here for the synopsis and clips)

Friday, February 20, 2004

Thank You, Captain Obvious...

At Media Play tonight, I started flipping through a book called Feng Shui of Love, or something along those lines, consisting of a couple hundred helpful hints for arranging one's house to optimize one's love life. One of the hints: "Do not place altars to a deceased lover in your romance area."

That's not Feng Shui. That's just plain common sense. I can't imagine many things more off-putting to a current romantic partner than having a freakin' altar to your deceased predecessor in the budoir, and I have a pretty fertile imagination.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Sounds Legit to Me...

Instructions my boss gave one of my co-workers who was looking for firewood:

"Call the tattoo parlor on airport highway. Ask for Jimmy. Tell him his cousin Fred is selling firewood and you want some."

Wednesday, February 18, 2004


I can count on one foot the number of times I have agreed with something William Safire wrote, and I still disagree with the premise of today's column that Howard Dean should drop out of the Democratic nomination race to give John Edwards a fighting chance at John Kerry, but he did write one thing that crystallized for me the reason I grow increasingly less fond of John Kerry.

"He has offered only a high-carb diet of populist platitudes in stump speeches. For a serious man running for a serious job, Kerry has not made a policy speech since December, when he was nobody. " Click here for the entire NYT column.

Every time I see Kerry on CNN, which is pretty much constantly now that he's "the presumptive nominee," he says the same thing: nothing. If college students haven't made a drinking game out of Kerry speeches, it's a matter of time. A shot every time you hear the phrases "band of brothers," "I know something about aircraft carriers for real," or "Benedict Arnold CEOs." Two shots for "Bring it on."

Soundbytes, not substance. I thought he just has the charisma of cauliflower without all the flavor, but it's more than that. He doesn't have solutions.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

San Francisco...

I can appreciate the statement that the city officials of San Francisco are trying to make in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I personally don't care who is allowed to marry whom, and I can see some benefits to permitting people to marry any consenting adult they choose. No one is harmed, and this is not foisting same-sex marriage on religious institutions, who have always been free to refuse to officiate marriages to which they disagree. Churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. would still be free to refuse to officiate same-sex marriages if they are eventually declared legal. Judges would probably wind up officiating most same-sex marriages, just as they officiate many heterosexual marriages now--mine included.

The city officials call their issuance of gender-neutral marriage licenses an act of civil disobedience. Putting aside the question about whether the government can engage in civil disobedience, I really hope the officials do not extend their demonstration to the point of failing to abide by the letter of any court injunction to stop. If their intent is to force the issue into court, I respect that and appreciate their choice of tactics; if they start flouting court injunctions, they will be in the same position as the Alabama state supreme court judge who refused to obey a court order to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse. He abused his position to further his personal beliefs. My problem with the Alabama judge was not so much the display, though I think the Ten Commandments have their place outside our secular judicial system, but rather with his putting the advancement of his personal beliefs over the execution of his job. The current situation in San Francisco toes this line and may cross it. At the moment, they are in a legal limbo in which they are doing something of dubious legality that, thus far, the judiciary has refused to halt. I'm reserving final judgment until after they have court orders to react to.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Plan an October Surprise...

Those of you who want President Bush re-elected, skip this entry. If you're in the Anything Is Better Than What We Have Now camp, here's a plan:

If we're lucky, many of us will be getting a tax refund soon. However, if we go on a shopping spree, spending those refund checks on consumer goods, then we will boost the economic numbers, allowing Bush to strengthen his position that the economy is in a recovery, while unemployment is still rampant. Thus, I propose that those of us seeking to deny Bush a second term not spend our refund checks. Instead, put your refunds in savings. We plan to plow our refund into our IRAs. The benefits for our retirement and next year's taxes will far outweigh the benefits of Nintendo Gamecube. Not to mention it is something small we can do to not support the Republican re-election bid.

Tax Relief, My Rump!

Thanks to Turbo Tax, our taxes are done for another year. One of the perks of Turbo Tax is that their website will show you how much Bush's new tax cuts saved you. (Click here to try it yourself). According to our results, our tax relief came to $281. Woo-hoo. I hope some other average family is enjoying the remainder of that $1,600 "average family" tax savings. (Click here to read Bush saying that, because he did).

Oddly enough, though, the Tax Relief Calculator also says that our refund would have been about $200 more under the old system. Actually, I don't really mind either way. The federal government gets to keep a bit of what it sucked out of my paychecks all year, but they're giving back a substantial chunk of it. If, as the president suggests here, the changes make the new tax code more fair, then the difference simply means that the old plan was skewed in my favor, whereas the new plan is skewed less so. If that is true, then in previous years I was paying less than my fair share and now I will be paying fairly. It's only reasonable. Nonetheless, the part of me most absorbed in my own self interest wants to shout out, "Bring on the tax cut rollback!"

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Arthur C. Clarke Was Right Again...

Scientist have found a huge diamond in the core of a dead star. If you've read Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 series, this should sound familiar.

Click Here.

No wonder that man is a Science Fiction Grand Master.

Happy Valentine's Day...

People seem to enjoy complaining that Valentine's Day is just a made-up holiday for the greeting card companies, florists, and chocolate makers. Maybe it is, but aren't there far worse excuses for a made up holiday than love?

Valentine's Day is being hijacked by groups whose messages are at best wholly unrelated to the spirit of the day and more commonly are completely opposite it. One group is taking the opportunity of the holiday to post billboards reading "Give her a real present this Valentine's Day: stop looking at porn." Abstinence-only sex education proponents declared the last school day before Valentine's Day "Purity Day" and encouraged teenagers to wear white t-shirts to proclaim their vow to not have sex before marriage. Even the government has gotten in on the co-opting of Valentine's Day, declaring February National Heart Month to raise awareness of coronary diseases while everyone is getting heart-shaped gifts.

And for those of you feeling pressured or put upon because you are not in a couple: this is what the time between Thanksgiving and mid-January is like for those of us who don't celebrate Christmas.

Friday, February 13, 2004


Apparently, some people do not understand what could motivate someone to forsake an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas to go to a Star Wars convention, so, taking a page from and possibly infringing on a trademark of Mr. Grooism, I offer you Thirteen and a Half Reasons I'm Going to Indianapolis Instead of the Caribbean.

1. I sunburn easily.

2. Two words: Swimsuit Weather

3. I don't care if it is the Bahamas, nature is still full of bugs and dirt.

4. No chance of vomiting on an airplane when driving to Indiana. I can tell you from personal experience that, while the "fasten seat belt" sign is lit, there is no way to discreetly throw up in flight, especially when you have an aisle seat.

5. I have Leia hair.

6. Chance to vindicate my theory as to why Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi disappear when they die, but Qui-Gon Jinn does not.

7. Better chances of seeing Liam Neeson in Indianapolis.

8. Lightsaber Duels


10. Duty-free shops do not sell stormtrooper armor.

11. The Bahamas will still be there in May, 2005. The Star Wars Convention will not.

12. Fewer hurricanes in Indiana.

13. Celebration 2 souvenirs currently fetching higher prices on eBay than puka shell necklaces.

13 1/2. It's Star Wars...

Thursday, February 12, 2004


Every year, the insurance company that Elie works for sends the top-producing agents to a fun tropical location on the company's tab. Any agent who meets certain sales goals for 2004 can take a guest on an all-expenses-paid trip (leave your American Express at home; they even supply spending money) to the Bahamas in April 2005.

Therein lies the problem. The Bahamas trip coincides exactly with Celebration III, the big convention/party in Indianapolis to celebrate the release of Star Wars Episode 3. We can either cruise the Bahamas on someone else's dime or go to the Star Wars convention in honor of the final installment of the Star Wars saga, a movie 28 years in the making, in which we finally get to see how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. I have the hair to make Leia cinnamon buns and a chance to go to the only place where it won't look stupid.

The Bahamas will be there later.

From the Get A Life Department...

After 43 years, Barbie and Ken have broken up.

From Mattel's official media release on the matter:
"Barbie® and Ken® have always been an extraordinary couple with so much on- and off-screen chemistry," said the pair's business manager, Russell Arons, Vice President Marketing, Mattel. "In fact, they just finished wrapping their fourth movie together, 'Barbie™ as The Princess and the Pauper,' which debuts this fall. And now they feel it's time to spend some quality time -- apart."

Has anyone told these people that they are talking about chunks of plastic?

Click here to read the rest of Mattel's announcement. It gets better from there.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Back to Current Events...

As my previous two entries have indicated, I have been a little distracted from my usual perusal of the news, and, as such, somewhat behind on my current events. I have not yet read the details of the records President Bush released regarding his National Guard service or possible lack thereof. However, one thing strikes me. If the president had records of his service, why didn't he release them when this whole dust-up began? I recall one of the arguments in the beginning of the pre-war debate over Iraqi weapons and UN sanctions being "Well, if Hussein really followed the mandate and destroyed the weapons, why wouldn't he release the records in time to avert a war?" The logic being that if one possesses the evidence to exonerate oneself, one should present it immediately. Well, if Bush really performed his National Guard duty and reported in Alabama, why wouldn't he release the records when the first inklings of the issue were raised several weeks ago?

Also, I read that Bush is putting forth his pay records as records that he performed his duty, in place of the lack of firsthand accounts of him performing his duty. Think just how much of a scandal might be caused if someone finds proof that he was paid even though he did not show up as scheduled.

Cat Update...

Thank you to everyone who has been so concerned about the fate of our little Felix. He seems to be responding well to the draining and is nearly back to his old self (minus a patch of shaved fur). The prognosis is much better today than it was last night. Felix is not ready to give up on us yet.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Campbell's Soup...

I can't be funny or acerbic tonight. We've just come from the veterinarian, where the doctor siphoned 17 syringefulls of fluid from around Felix's lungs. Felix is Elie's cat, who has been his constant companion for nearly 17 years. I met Felix when Elie and I started dating 6 years ago, and we have become very close over the years, though of course not nearly as close as he and Elie are. Our house is in a bit of a shock absorbing the grave prognosis.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

CNN Admits They Screwed Howard Dean...

This one won't be replayed 600+ times over four days like the original exuberant Howard Dean speech, but CNN's top exec has admitted they may have "overplayed" the post-Iowa speech. They are not actually admitting they did anything wrong in incessantly playing the clip, causing the Dean campaign to go into a freefall. The only thing they actually admit to doing wrong is not airing a Diane Sawyer interview earlier. The Sawyer piece reveals that, due to the type of microphone the news networks used to get the audio feed for that speech, the magnitude of the scream was overplayed. The audio feeds that did not filter out crowd noise showed that the "angry scream" was all but inaudible to the live audience.

So, to recap: CNN took a clip of a presidential candidate rallying the troops that excludes some very important audio context, replayed it incessantly for four days, covered the other two frontrunner candidates with 71%-86% positive coverage, and covered late-night talkshow hosts making fun of the candidate's speech. The cumulative effect of this was to make people doubt the candidate's ability to lead (ironically because he was leading his followers), causing his prospects for the nomination to plummet faster than a flying sheep. And the 24-hour news networks blame the nature of the 24-hour news network rather than their own failure to get a grip on their own reporting, all while not actually admitting that they screwed a man over.

And all the while, the networks made nary a mention of blatant contradictions in George Bush's State of the Union address.

Name that Baby...

Using the highly scientific method of combing expectant parents' "our favorite baby names" websites, has come up with the following lists of top boy baby names of 2003:

1. Aidan/Aiden/Aden
2. Jaden/Jayden
3. Caden/Kaden
4. Ethan
5. Caleb
6. Dylan
7. Jacob
8. Jordan
9. Logan
10. Hayden

This is going to cause mass confusion in 2008 or so when these children start kindergarten and everyone's name rhymes. Also, I really hope parents are not actually naming their children after characters in HBO's "Sex and the City" (Aidan/Aiden/Aden was one of Carrie's boyfriends in the series).

It seems that my high school friend who gave birth shortly after graduation was ahead of the trend. One of his two middle names is Tjaden (after the character in All Quiet on the Western Front), and he should be about seven years old now.

Every year, the Social Security Administration releases a list of the top baby names based on infants' Social Security card applications. This list is far more representative of the population as a whole than lists based only on parents who decide to put their favorite names up on a website and have the capability to do so. I'll wait to see how the two lists compare. Maybe it is only net-savvy parents bucking the generations-long trend of naming their sons John.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Penguin News...

Penguins made the New York Times today. A devoted, monogamous pair of penguins has successfully reared a chick in the Central Park Zoo. Normally, this would not be of interest, as penguins successfully rear chicks in captivity all over the country, and penguins are known to mate for life, barring any unfortunate incidents with leopard seals or the opportunity to prostitute themselves out for nesting materials. What makes this chick-rearing noteworthy is that the penguin couple in question, Roy and Silo, are both male.

Click here for the article. As always, you'll need to register for the New York Times.

Thanks to ME for pointing it out before I could find it on my own, as I inevitably would have.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Adventures in Aisle 4...

Peanut butter comes in a squeeze tube now. Are we so lazy that we can't even spread peanut butter manually? The next step, I'm sure, is to use the highly secretive technique they use to put the stripes in Aqua-Fresh to incorporate peanut butter and jelly into a single squeeze tube.

There's more. The Otter Pop principle (some may know them as the Fla-vor-ice) has invaded the Skippy jar. First it was portable yogurt (as Ellen Degeneres observed, "Did we really have a yogurt portability problem?"), now peanut butter has gone to the single-serve tube. Have we become such hygiene freaks that we can't even eat straight out of the jar with a spoon and put the remaining half jar back into communal use?

By the way, click here to find out more about Otter Pops for your dog. Yep. You read that right. Otter Pops for your dog. It's at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

A Pattern Emerges

Last Thursday, President Bush went to New Hampshire to talk about the economy, two days after the New Hampshire Democratic Primary.

Today, President Bush went to South Carolina to talk about homeland security, two days after the South Carolina Democratic Primary.

On Monday, President Bush will go to Missouri (topic TBA), six days after the Missouri Democratic Primary.

According to NPR, "A Bush spokesman called it just a coincidence, that the President always travels to talk about important issues. He added, 'Primaries are happening all over the country.'"

I've done the math. Not counting the nonbinding primary in Washington, DC, nine states have held primaries so far. Those nine states account for 546,038 square miles of the country, leaving 84.6% of the United States, by area, that has not held a primary in the last week and a half. There's a lot of country left that wouldn't look quite so suspicious.

New Hampshire might be called a fluke. One can even accept South Carolina as a coincidence. By the third time, people suspect a pattern is emerging. Missouri may, in fact, be a coincidence, as Bush has traveled to that state at least 14 times since taking office (info courtesy of the Springfield, MO ABC affiliate), and Bush has not yet visited 2/3 of the states that have held primaries. However, assuming next week is just part of his regularly scheduled ass-kissing of Missouri, the other two states both hosted Democratic debates recently, whereas the six states Bush has not visited did not, to my knowledge, host nationally televised debates among the Democratic candidates who called into question Bush's policies and record. Yet this is not a political move, as evidenced by the fact that the taxpayers and not the Republican Party are footing the bill.

Even if his motives are purely apolitical, one must avoid the appearance of impropriety even more than actual impropriety.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Having a King George Day...

As King George III noted in his journal on July 4, 1776: nothing of importance happened today. Certainly nothing blogworthy.

Thanks for Visiting...

If you don't read News From ME daily, you should. He's just had an intriguing episode of being plagiarized that is definitely worth your time to read. In a nutshell: a guy in Iowa lifted a few paragraphs from one of his blog entries, signed his own name to it, and sent it off to around 50 newspapers as a Letter to the Editor. At least one of the papers published the plagiarized letter. ME, being a famous professional writer for longer than I've been alive, tells the story much better than I do, so click here to read it from the man himself.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Replies are Coming In...

I got an envelope in the mail today responding to my political experiment of writing to each of my four preferred Democratic presidential candidates.

The winner of the bonus points for being the first to respond is Howard Dean, with a turnaround time of 7 post-office days. I received what appears to be the standard "thank your for writing" form letter and summary of major policy points. However, the bottom quarter of the form letter carries the following handwritten note in blue ballpoint pen:

Dr. Dean was my governor for 11 years and I felt he did an outstanding job. This is the first time I have been motivated enough to work on a presidential campaign in my life. Regarding domestic violence, as governor, Dr. Dean was very sensitive to this issue regarding both men and women. He linked much of this problem to its roots in early childhood and established programs in the state to address it.
A Dean Volunteer"

The handwriting is neat, without being that cutesy girly kind of neat. Actually, it looks like what Elie's handwriting might if he were right handed. As a review, I asked Howard Dean if he would extend his rhetoric on domestic violence to cover male victims, who comprise about 1/4 of domestic violence victims.

So points awarded to Howard Dean for promptness of reply, addressing and acknowledging the question (while not actually answering it or providing concrete details on these "programs"), and getting a campaign volunteer to add a personal note. Also, he keeps all points awarded for grammatical correctness, with one extra bonus point awarded for employing a campaign worker who can construct four coherent, reasonably complex sentences without a major error in spelling or grammar. You'd be amazed at the number of people for whom that is an insurmountable challenge.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Context is Key...

Everybody's talking about yesterday's halftime show and Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," so I will weigh in even though I only saw the incessant replays on CNN and not the actual event.

During a broadcast of a football game--a game where people crash violently into other people--interspersed with beer ads and ads for no fewer than three erectile dysfunction drugs, is a momentary glimpse of a breast really the worst thing your chilren could have seen?

Happy Groundhog Day!

The rodent says we're in for six more weeks of this.

Click here for the official word out of Punxsutawney.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

More Polls...

In a Newsweek online poll asking the question "Who will be the next Superman?" Ben Affleck and Keanu Reeves are running neck and neck, each with 36% of the vote. Our other options are Nicolas Cage and Will Smith. What I know of Nicolas Cage and comic books gives me confidence that he would present a faithful portrayal of the Man of Steel; however, he is too old to be a credible Superman. I think the other three would do to Superman what Ang Lee did to the Hulk: we would not get a Superman movie. Instead we would get a Ben Affleck or Will Smith or Keanu Reeves flick with one of them dressed in tights and a cape. Frankly, I would like a "none of the above" option on the vote. Superman has enough box-office-draw power that I do not think the studios need "star power" in this movie, and I am concerned that the star power would overwhelm the Superman aspect unless they hire a relative unknown. This is the kind of expertise that has made me the movie studio head that I am.

Purely on the basis of names, Keanu Reeves has a decided advantage of those on the Newsweek list, as two of the previous Superman actors were George Reeves and Christopher Reeve (no relation, to my knowledge). Of course, that did not turn out well for either one of them. For those of you not up on your Superman history, George Reeves met an untimely demise through a gunshot that some still contend may not have been self-inflicted, and Christopher Reeve had an unfortunate accident with a horse that has left him paralyzed from the neck down. I believe the non-Reeve Supermans have fared a bit better. Kirk Alyn died in a hospital at age 88, and Dean Cain is still alive. If Elie were not en route to Indianapolis right now, this is where he would chime in with the fates of every actor to ever portray Superman, but we'll have to wait for that.

Click here to vote for who you think would do the least harm to the Superman franchise while DC comics before DC comics has to give up the franchise. More on that later.

Are You Ready For Your Head To Explode While You Contemplate This?...

George W. Bush has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Let me repeat that for those of you who, like me, had a hard time grasping the internal logic of the statement. United States President George W. Bush, the man who declared war on two countries and a common noun, has been put forth as a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. Don't think about that for too long or your head might explode from trying to reconcile the logical paradox.

Can just anyone be nominated? One would think there should be some sort of guidelines, for instance, "nominees for peace prize should not have started a war, ordered military action, or otherwise contributed to a general lack of peace in any region."

Fortunately, according to reports (click here), he pretty much has a snowball's chance of actually receiving the peace prize. Apparently, the Norwegians are probably smarter than that. Yes, the Nobel prizes are given out by the Swedes, but for reasons even the Nobel Peace Prize committee can only speculate upon, Alfred Nobel gave the administrative duties of the Peace prize to the Norwegians.