Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


Sunday's links: Some self-lovin', some bad writin', some fatwa issuin', and Signs of the Apocalypse!

Ah, Sunday ... the Sabbath, when there's really nothing better to do than sit around and wonder why prime-time starts an hour earlier than the rest of the week, sign my GuestMap, and check out some links! (Do you like how I slipped that in there? You know you want to sign my GuestMap!) By the way, I think if you click on the pictures, they become bigger. If that's your thing. Try it!

Without further ado, here we go:

The Next Blog button. Because who knows what lurks out their in cyberspace?

Okay, this wasn't the first one that came up. Those of you who have done this know that very often ads for various crap come up, and I got two of those before hitting blog gold. Yes, it's The Secrets of Self Loving: Reflections of my sex life. Venture there if you dare! Next we have Stranger than Fiction, "a soulful girl's painful metamorphosis into herself." I would never be that pretentious, would I? I mean, she might as well have named her blog in Latin or something! Then we have ... something in Portuguese. Portugal, I think, is a hotbed of blogging. After that we have a liberal blog, and last we have New York City taxi photos. It's actually pretty interesting - photographs taken from a taxi, not of taxis. Let's move on.

Humorous stuff. Because just before you go back to work, humor is a good thing.

Pages ripped from high school textbooks! So that's why education is in the state it's in! As usual with Jay Pinkerton, bad language and possible sex stuff abounds, so be warned!

Danielle wants this shirt. So do I. Show your love for Jesus! (I'm serious. No foolin'.)

Ah, yes, the bad writing contest. The man who "won" compared a woman's anatomy to a carburetor. I think the guy wrote that India "hangs like a wet washcloth from the towel rack of Asia" is totally awesome. Go here for more details on the contest.

The Hanging Stranger links to Overheard in New York. Sweet Fancy Moses, it's funny. Check the whole thing out, but here are some highlights: Are these Asian girls racist?, Where is the Preparation H?, Lots of weird ideas about rape, and What not to say to a homeless person.

The Lindsay Lohan sex video! Oh, it's nothing dirty! Would I steer you someplace icky?

Thomas has discovered the real reason people hate America.

Ace of Spades directs us to the Pundit Guy, where we get horribly male chauvinistic humor!

Yes, it's male chauvinistic. But it's pretty funny, too. And I bet if either of those gentlemen actually, you know, had a woman, they'd be pretty whipped too. Posted by Picasa

Matt Taibbi nails the interview. Man, this is funny (and long - be patient). I got this from Firedoglake. Who is Matt Taibbi, you ask? Well, he wrote this book, which sounds brilliant.

Mike Sterling clues us in on the types of comic shop customers and clerks. Funny even if you don't read comics.

Steven Wright's quote of the day. Because Steven Wright is freakin' hilarious.

Poetry corner. Get some culture up you!

Chris "Lefty" Brown, the Disgruntled Chemist, Shane Bailey, and Roger Green were all inspired to try my wacky build-a-poem adventure that I stole from Adjunct Kait. My insidious power spreads! Check them out - as usual, everyone does things better than I do.

Latigo Flint tells us about his excellent childhood poem. Plus, there are poop jokes!

Bill Reed gives us ... Haiku!

Comic book crap. I have to make up for last week, so there's a lot here!

It's Kobra week at Dave's Long Box! He doesn't need the traffic because he's so freakin' famous (I'm not jealous at all), but check out: Kobra versus Batman and the Outsiders, Kobra versus Wonder Woman (Part 1), Kobra versus Wonder Woman (Part 2), employee motivation the Kobra way, Kobra versus his twin brother, Kobra versus the Suicide Squad, resolving interpersonal conflict the Kobra way, Kobra threatens Superman's parents, and workforce management the Kobra way. Getting into the spirit, Loren breaks down the trial of Kobra!

Scipio really, really, really, really, hates Hal Jordan.

Who can blame him? Posted by Picasa

I agree with Scipio - DC needs to bring back THE GREEN ARAB!

Jim Roeg breaks down Fantastic Four #176, which starred the Impossible Man, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, George Perez, and Jack Kirby! It's a long essay, but very interesting.

Liberality For All! This comic book, if you haven't heard, presents a nightmarish future of 2021 if liberals had been in charge when September 11 happened. Osama bin Laden is the ambassador to the UN! Chelsea Clinton and Michael Moore are president and vice-president! Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, and Oliver North have to thwart bin Laden's plot to nuke New York! You must check out the five-page preview!

Dougbot has seen the V For Vendetta trailer, and it reminds him of Mystery Science Theater 3000. God, I miss that show.

Scott looks at what could have helped Superman after his fight with Doomsday that killed him. Other than, you know, the editors changing their minds about killing him.

Chris talks about the unusually creepy JLA #168

I like how the cover talks about an "unholy ritual"! You don't get many unholy rituals in comics anymore. Posted by Picasa

This is an excellent review of New Avengers #4. If you're interested.

Speaking of New Avengers, here's proof that Brian Michael Bendis is a hypocrite. Proof, I tells ya!

Dorian gives us proof that Jughead is gay:

He has a bunch of other fun Archie comics covers this week, too, so check them out! Posted by Picasa

Find out why Jack Kirby rules.

Lots of pictures of people wearing Hulk hands. Hulk hands are cool! I got this, not surprisingly, from the Incredible Hulk's diary.

Sigh. Politics never goes away, does it?

Andrew Sullivan points us to story of the jailed Iranian who has become a hero to the Republicans, even though he doesn't sound like a terribly nice guy. According to this, Bush would prefer that he dies (he's on a hunger strike) so that the Republicans can use him as a martyr.

Join the Christian Exodus! I'd tell you what it's all about, but it's best if you discover it for yourself. This, as a lot of my fun Christian stuff does, comes from Tom Peyer.

Krys is back for now. She's been busy doing motherhood things, while I waste time on the Internet. Somebody has to! Go check her out - she has some interesting things on her mind.

Somebody actually wrote this: "It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile." Yeah, I laughed too. Do even his most ardent supporters (besides this guy) describe him like that? I stumbled across this in one of the Rude Pundit's angry posts.

More crazy stuff from Rick Santorum. I watched him on The Daily Show last week, and although I don't agree with a lot of what he says, he doesn't seem crazy and evil in a Dick Cheney kind of way. I could be wrong. I do like how he can't support his family on $162,000 a year and needs to borrow money from his fixed-income parents. Go, Rick!

Of course, according to this, Santorum is not running for president in 2008. They don't cite any source, but it is a site devoted to all things Santorum, so they might know something we don't.

Did everyone hear about those Iranian teenagers who were hanged for being gay? It happened a few weeks ago. Well, here you can see pictures. Don't worry, it's not anything stomach-turning, except for the fact that the whole scene was stomach-turning. I found this on Andrew Sullivan. I'm just glad something like that could never happen here.

Whoops. I spoke too soon. The home of a gay couple torched in Florida. This stuff just makes me wonder what kind of world we're living in.

The Disgruntled Chemist links to Benedict Arnold and the Republican spin team. Hmmm ... those people look familiar. I wonder if it's treasonous to link to this?

A Utah woman can have GAYSROK on her license plate. A while back I linked to a story about the religious license plate that Vermont disallowed. Now this has been allowed. This is ridiculous that we worry about stupid vanity plates. Maybe gays DO rock, after all. Freddie Mercury did.

Stories about the war on terror - whoops, make that the "global struggle against extremism."*

* You like how they changed it? So it could mean pretty much anything they consider "extreme," like a woman's right to choose, or some wacky thoughts about the environment, or even, hell, extreme sports (sorry, "X-treme"). Those Republicans - always thinking!

This is a pretty interesting (and long) post about the differences between Churchill and Gandhi and how it relates to the war on terror. You may not agree, but it's interesting.

Here's something interesting. Some people want those who criticize the war not only censored but imprisoned. Ah, the land of the free! More here.

Fatwa issued against terrorism. That was nice of them. It won't do a damned bit of good, but that was nice. This is from Andrew Sullivan, but I'm sure it's elsewhere as well.

All right! The Patriot Act is now permanent! Tell me again how the terrorists aren't winning this "struggle"?

The police in England say they may shoot more innocent people. Awesome. At least they're up front about it, right? This comes from the Strike the Root blog.

Osama bin Laden and Harry S Truman: birds of a feather? You be the judge! I found this on Catallarchy.

Harry Potter and the war on terror. Seriously.

Signs of the Apocalypse. Because I want you to be ready when the Rapture comes!

Disney and Sprint are marketing cell phones to 8-12-year-olds. I read this in other places, but got this story from Brian Hogg.

Huey Lewis will star in the latest Broadway version of "Chicago." Richard Gere was fine, but Huey Lewis????

A woman pleads guilty to having sex parties with teenaged boys. She's 40. She claimed she wanted to be the "cool mom." Here's the strange thing: it does not say in the article whether she has any kids or not. I guess the coolest mom is the one who isn't actually a mother.

This is just wrong. Won't you be happy when I rule the world? This certainly won't happen. Posted by Picasa

Newsworthy miscellaneous. Sometimes the miscellaneous gets all lumped together, so I thought I'd break it up a bit.

An umpire in Massachusetts orders Little League players to stop speaking Spanish on field. They lost the game because they were "demoralized," according to their coach (which I think is a crock), and the Little League said afterwards the umpire was wrong. Here's the thing: I wouldn't even think of telling a bunch of kids that. What's the deal with this guy? Was his great-grandfather on the USS Maine or something?

I'm sure you're dying to get your degree in tribal gaming from San Diego State! I got this from the Education Wonks.

A ghost ship haunts my old hometown of Portland. Spooky! This is from Ace of Spades.

Fun miscellaneous. Let's end on a happy note, shall we?

You want to know the meaning of life, don't you? Of course you do.

Find out what happens to this car thief. It's awesome. Anytime it's a link to a television station, you can be sure I stole it from Dancing the Polka with Miss El Cajon.

The Rhodester once almost killed Gwyneth Paltrow! Read the terrifying tale!

Even a straight guy like me can tell that this is a really ugly outfit. That's Bai Ling, by the way. She recently posed naked in Playboy. I can see why - she doesn't know how to wear clothes! This is from the fine folk at Go Fug Yourself. Posted by Picasa

Also from Go Fug Yourself, we get this. This is the chick from that NCIS show, by the way. I know you want to be a celebrity, but when you have to advertise your own name on your shirt? That's sad. Posted by Picasa

This is an interesting article about being a "hostess" in Japan.

Have you heard about the "chunky" models? Check them out. That's what Richard Roeper, the film critic, called them, by the way. He received death threats for his words.

A python terrorizes an Austrian pizzeria! Austria is pretty weird these days.

See what I mean?

Thomas also featured this, but I saw it first. Nyah-nyah! It's a billboard to help a 31-year-old Mormon man get a date. His friends chipped in to buy it. Ladies, if you're interested, check out Lance's web site. I assume guys are discouraged from trying to date him - he's Mormon, after all, although it would explain why he's not married yet ...

Neil Gaiman interviews Gorillaz. Well, I found it interesting. I stole this from Catallarchy.

Hey! It's the Museum of the American Cocktail. Where do you think I found this: on 1000 Bars, of course!

The Island is a rip-off. Not of Logan's Run, as some are saying, but of something far more disturbing ... This is from Ace of Spades.

Would you get in a dark van with this woman? Okay, dumb question. Apparently some people would! Read all about the horrors of Teri Hatcher's sex van! I found this on the Great Curve. Posted by Picasa

Because I don't want you to think I'm bitter about Arizona all the time, I will say that we get some nice sunsets here. Mike Manley took this picture while visiting here from the East. He's a comic book artist, in case you're wondering. See? I can be nice about this place! Posted by Picasa

On that fine note, I will bid you adieu. Yes, I'm a cheese-eating surrender monkey for using fancy Frenchie words. Come back tomorrow as we continue or tour of Tasmania! I'm almost done there, I promise! Have a nice day.


Celebrate good times, come on!

Today is my eleventh wedding anniversary. Krys and I don't have anything planned yet, because of a lack of babysitters. We're thinking of going out to dinner tomorrow, but nowhere fancy because we're too poor. It will be nice to just get out of the house.

I don't have much to say about eleven years of marriage except that it has been wonderful. I was lucky enough to find the woman of my dreams pretty early on in life (we met when I was 21 and married when I was 23), and I'm just happy she deigned to talk to me lo those many years ago at Penn State. She knows how awesome she is, even if she constantly denies it, and I love her more every day. She just got a haircut, so I took her picture and told her I would post it so that everyone can see how beautiful she is:

See? Posted by Picasa

And you can say what you want about me - most of the time it's true - but if you say we DON'T have the most excellent wedding pictures EVER, then you are a sad, probably emotionally disturbed individual who needs to be put down like a rabid dog! I have spoken!

 Posted by Picasa

 Posted by Picasa

We didn't have a big wedding (eight people, including the best man and maid of honor, or nine if you include the minister, who looked but thankfully didn't sound like Tony Curtis), but we spent our money where it counted: on the photographs! Anyone recognize the site?

Anyway, it's been fun for these eleven years. If you love someone, tell them. It won't hurt, and it will do you a world of good. It got me somewhere I never would have contemplated going on my own, and I'm a better person for it.

Yes, I'm through being sappy. Links tomorrow, full of bad language and weird marginalia and naked museum guests and ghost ships and Teri Hatcher's sex van! You can count on me!

(By the way, we got each other presents. Occasionally we don't on the anniversary, but this year we did. I bought her a purse that looks like this, but without the buckle. Sorry, I can't find it on the site. She told me she wanted it last week, before you think I have some kind of bizarre gay fashion sense. She got me the NFL Sunday Ticket from DirecTV, because she is, as the guys at her work called her, "a good wife." It's awesome, by the way - I've had it twice before, and the years I didn't have it, it was like I had lost my arm or something.)


The saga of the Wilson 4; or, how law and justice sometimes don't get along, as Matt Murdock could tell you

Last Thursday, the 21st of July, the saga of the "Wilson 4" was settled for the moment. I wonder if most of the country knows about the Wilson 4. Maybe they heard about them a few years ago and forgot about them, but here in Arizona, it's big news. It also brings up interesting contradictions in our immigration policy and what exactly we are doing in this country.

Okay, some background. In 2002, Wilson Charter High School in Phoenix competed in an international solar-powered boat competition in upstate New York. While on a sightseeing tour to Niagara Falls, four students - Oscar Corona, Jaime Damian, Yuliana Huicochea, and Luis Nava - were detained when trying to leave the country. It turns out they were illegal ("undocumented," as our newspaper likes to call them) immigrants, having been brought here from Mexico by their parents as children. So the government decided to deport them.

Now, these were apparently excellent students. They were all in the top of their class, and they were never in any trouble. These are, if you want to be snooty, the kind of people we should want immigrating to the United States. I always wondered why they didn't just push through the paperwork to make these people legal. It turns out that although federal law requires schools to educate students regardless of status, it also says that if you came here illegally after 1986, you need to return to your country of origin for ten years before you can apply for legal status. One of the biggest objections people had to deporting these kids was that they had lived here all their life and had no idea how to live in Mexico. Except for a piece of paper, they were Americans.

The case took so long to come to trial because of a damned activist judge, who will feature prominently in this tale. In September 2002, a month after the four were detained, U.S. Immigration Judge John Richardson granted them a 14-month extension. Many saw this as giving lawmakers a chance to pass the DREAM Act. Ah, but what's the DREAM Act?

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act was introduced by Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in 2001. The bill was to accommodate college-bound students by allowing states to determine the students' residency status and to cancel their deportations. It has failed to pass yet despite changes to it, such as denying undocumented students federal education grants and placing them on an international student tracking system. Detractors of the Act say it would reward parents for breaking the law and fear it would open the floodgates to broader amnesty efforts for illegal immigrants. Those objections seem kind of weak, if you'll allow me an editorial comment.

In September 2004 Judge Richardson granted the students another extension, this time of 10 months, and in December 2004 Congress recessed without having passed the DREAM Act, which was deemed too controversial for a vote in an election year. Politics is very interesting in that way - things are all interconnected, and God forbid we appear "soft" on illegal immigrants in a year when Warrior Bush was campaigning on a "We need to kill foreigners" platform (sorry, I'm still a little bitter). By this writing, the DREAM Act has yet to be re-introduced.

So the Wilson 4 went to court last Thursday. In what many considered a shocking move, Judge Richardson threw the case out. The justification? He said the government engaged in racial profiling, detained the students simply because they were Hispanics, and violated their constitutional rights against illegal search and seizure and that officials unlawfully obtained evidence against the four. Linda Walters, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lawyer, said the government will appeal.

There's a lot of interesting stuff going on in this case. The students' teacher asked the border officials if it was okay for the students to return from Canada with only their student identifications. The students testified that they were held for nine hours, never offered food or water, and that the officials made several racially insensitive remarks. The officials, of course, deny this. They also say that they didn't target the students because they were Hispanic, which makes sense because all nine of the students going into Canada were Hispanic. It's also interesting that the teacher asked the officials about the students returning to the country. I had no idea of my students' legal status unless they brought it up, and in my three years of teaching, only two did (they were both working on getting their citizenship and both had green cards, unless they were lying to me). Perhaps the trip to Canada was a spur-of-the-moment thing and the teacher didn't think of telling anyone to bring along proper identification. I don't know - that point hasn't been in the papers. It's just interesting.

So now the fallout has begun. This case, not surprisingly, has divided our fair state, because illegal immigration has pretty much divided it. Although the government has said it will appeal, it really hasn't gone after the Wilson 4 all that hard, which makes one wonder if they care that much. And then there were the letters to the editor. If you'll indulge me, here are some excerpts (both pro and con):

"Granted, they were smuggled here as children by their parents, which is not their fault. But they are still illegal immigrants, and should be deported. ... They should all be able to make an excellent contribution - to Mexico."

"Laws made here in the United States are good if - if - they serve us well. But if there are special circumstances, such as these students have, isn't it better to make allowances for such people?"

"We have a solution that would benefit both the 'Wilson Four' and the country without having to change laws. In fact, we have five solutions: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard. Any of the services would be glad to have them."

"This is yet another glaring example of how the U.S. government allows Mexico and Mexicans to dictate our laws by not doing the right thing - enforcing existing laws. Perhaps it is time to burn the law books and allow the lawless to rule - they seem to be already. ... How will these four illegals put their education to use in the United States, anyway? Oh, that's right: They don't have to be here legally to get a job! One of the Wilson Four said, 'I feel like an American.' As a partner in a same-sex relationship of seven years, I feel married, but that does not give me the right to be legally married ... or does it, Judge Richardson?"

"I, too, know three young men (18, 15, and 13) who are undocumented and who have lived in the United States for the past eight years. They are exceptional students (consistently on the honor roll), have high standards and morals and are motivated to become productive U.S. residents. Should they be punished and banned from here because their parents brought them to this nation for a better life? These are not terrorists that we fear coming across our borders."

"Now that a judge's ruling makes it appear that it's legal to break the law of the land, where do we go from here? And now a new problem arises. How can the judge be permitted to continue in his capacity?"

"This incident occurred only one year after 9/11.[Knew that would come up!] The border agents were just doing their job well, while the judge in this case is breaking the law! What do law officers have except their senses to tell them whom to question? Should we search only every fifth bag on the subway, while ignoring four Islamic-looking men in heavy coats (in 90-degree heat) and backpacks, because we're afraid of offending Muslims?"

"Shame on our federal and state governments for not having had the courage to really fix the problem. Their denial of the problems of illegal immigration has placed children of illegal immigrants in a horrible position. Those authorities are accountable to these children and others. They are the cause of this dilemma, and need to protect these young people who did not come here by choice and know no other home."

The Arizona Republic, naturally, agreed with the decision (hey - they call illegal immigrants "undocumented" - what do you think they're going to do?), saying that Judge Richardson "put an intelligent, lawful yet compassionate face to the U.S. government, one consistent with the highest ideals of our nation. ... The case ... might, in the words of Phoenix attorney Judy Flanagan, 'kick start' the DREAM Act in Congress ... That is the goal, after all, of Oscar Corona, Jaime Damian, Luis Nava and Yuliana Huicochea. America is their home. It's the only home they know. They are Americans. ... They see the American dream. They can touch it. It's not in their grasp. But today, for them, it's closer. For us, it's a reassurance. America is still a welcoming nation, with common sense, compassion, and opportunity."

Now, because I'm a dirty, treasonous liberal, I think what the judge did is great. This is a case of the letter of the law failing and a judge being activist to interpret the spirit of the law. Hard-liners don't want to admit it, but there is a difference between law and justice. Most of the time they coincide, but occasionally, we need to rise above the letter of the law and serve justice. What good would it do to send these kids "back" to Mexico? They know nothing of the country, and it's not their fault that they're here. They don't cause trouble, they are good students, and they want to live a good life here. How is sending them back "justice"?

Those people who say we must uphold the law have a point, but there's a difference between deporting illegal immigrants who come here, subvert the laws, go on welfare, commit crimes, etc. and these kids, or indeed most illegals. Most illegals are here because they can make more money here than they ever could in Mexico, and we in America are taught from birth that making money means more than anything. We are taught this by our parents, our culture, and our politicians. Why should these illegals be any different?

The case of the Wilson 4 once again points out the failure of our immigration policy. Like the war on drugs, we're looking at the problem the wrong way. Illegal immigrants are a problem, but they're a problem because of employers who hire them. We don't crack down on those employers, although politicians are starting to realize it starts there. People will always look for work, and if there is a supply of jobs for these immigrants, they will fill them. We have made manual labor a dirty word in this country by destroying unions, keeping the minimum wage low so that those who earn it are already under the poverty line, and marginalizing people who perform manual labor, and therefore Americans don't want to do these jobs. There is absolutely nothing wrong with landscaping, but Americans don't want to do it anymore. We are a country that has become soulless, in that we look for external trinkets to give us worth (witness these gold-collar kids I just posted about) instead of believing in an honest wage for honest work. The problem of illegal immigration is one we all share in, because we have allowed businesses to get away with employing these people and because we have fed this idea that we're too good for some jobs. It's ridiculous.

The government, as I mentioned, says it's going to appeal the judge's ruling. This may go to the Supreme Court. Who knows? Guess who's paying the tab for persecuting four young people who want to go to school and get an education? That's right - you and me. Don't we have more important things to waste our money on? Aren't there Iraqi civilians to kill and forests to cut down? The immigration problem in this country is a perfect example of how we don't take things seriously and how we want everything to be easy and flashy. Sure it would be easy and flashy to deport these kids to a place they don't belong and say we're getting tough on illegal immigration. It would be more difficult to identify the illegals who are really causing the problems, and the employers who are cutting corners by hiring them, and try to sort through the "good" immigrants and start talking about an amnesty program. That's right, I said amnesty. Sue me. It's better than building walls on the border like some crazy people want to do.

I don't know what's going to happen with the Wilson 4. I don't know what's going to happen with illegal immigration, especially in the current political environment of "Don't trust any swarthy people!" I do know that I'm very proud of the judge for treating this case like the waste of time and money it was, and I hope the four students and the thousands like them can be helped to gain citizenship and begin contributing in a real way to what makes this country great. Maybe this case will have significance far beyond its limited purview. I hope so. Just like many things in this country, we need to deal realistically, compassionately, and wisely with this issue, and this is a tiny first step in the right direction.

For more information:
This is the story about the judge's ruling.

This is a story about the thousands of kids who are in the same situation as the Wilson 4.

Migrants in court often get different treatment than citizens. That makes sense, I suppose, but not in the way they mean. Congress has almost complete authority to regulate cases about immigration law.

Laurie Roberts mentions the illegal triple murder suspect who has been in custody twice but not deported. I can't remember his name, but again, it shows the stupidity of our immigration policy. Someone please tell me why we're worrying about these four students when this guy is on the loose?


More people who better hope I don't become dictator!

Usually, my anger is aimed vaguely at idiotic celebrities like Pauly Shore (Gordon's suggestion to be sent to Siberia) or Kenny G (Harvey's bete noir) - both excellent suggestions, gentlemen - which is why I don't explain who will be sent to the camps when I'm dictator. Suddenly, however, there's an outbreak of stupidity that must be controlled!

In yesterday's Arizona Republic, this story about "gold-collar" workers appeared. It was about people (mostly 18-24-year-olds) who bought extravagant things on salaries that couldn't support them. It made me sick. Here are some excerpts:

"I'm really in awe of name-brand things," said Garcia [who's 23], who moved back in with her parents to pay off mounting credit-card debt. "I want to feel glamorous." [Emphasis mine, because it's important later.]

"This is the best-dressed, least-able, least-equipped generation ever," Pierpoint said. "If you're 24 or 25 and you're still at home, you're not doing a lot of things, like paying your own utilities. They are in some ways very experienced, but they are more coddled than other generations." [Emphasis mine again.]

Garcia has never heard the term [gold-collar], but her lifestyle and spending habits fit the bill: She once exchanged $305 Chanel sunglasses for $325 Christian Dior shades because her friend had bought the same pair. [You guessed it.]

"I want everyone to look at me. I want to have a lot of attention," [Garcia] said. "I realize how shallow it sounds, but you know what? It's just what I like. I can't help what I like."

[Jason Leong, 24] holds up his right wrist to show off a prized find, a canvas Christian Dior bracelet. "This one was $180," he said, [for canvas????] "but it makes me happy, so it's worth it."

Though Leong is more restrained than some of his gold-collar contemporaries, he recently shelled out $55 on Osmotics antioxidant for his eyes and $250 on a pair of Dolce & Gabbana jeans.

Okay, so the kids are being sent to deepest, darkest Siberia - that's a given. But the parents will really feel my wrath when I rule all. They will be sent to the Atacama desert for hard labor. These people are 24 and living at home not because of the lousy economy or because their parents are ailing, but because they want to spend their money on sunglasses instead of, I don't know, food! If I tried to pull this shit with my parents, they would laugh at me and physically throw me out on the street (and that's my mom - I don't want to contemplate what my father would do). These parents need some ass-kicking before they kick their kids' asses.

(I can't help make a snide political comment - this is a Republican's dream, right? People spending money to stimulate the economy? Too bad these kids are inept at anything else, but who cares, right?)

All will be better when I rule the world.


What I've been reading

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explains the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
242 pages, 2005, HarperCollins Publishers/William Morrow

I first heard about this book on The Daily Show a few months ago and became intrigued by it. I bought it not long after and decided to break my alphabetical-by-author reading jag I'm on to read it, because, like the last book I read, it seemed pretty relevant and immediate. I am now back on my alphabetical thing. Don't fret.

Levitt is the economist and Dubner is the reporter. Levitt claims he doesn't know how to write, so Dubner helped him out. The ideas, I would assume, are Levitt's - he's gone rogue! If you've heard of this book, it is probably because of the section dealing with abortion - we'll get to that. However, the whole book is worth a read, and it's pretty quick to read. It took me about four days to finish it, and that was when my parents were here. So do yourself a favor and pick it up.

I don't know enough about economics to know if Levitt is really on the ball or not with his conclusions. He claims that he doesn't have an overarching theme, but that's not really true. His theme is: challenge the conventional wisdom. He points out that John Kenneth Galbraith coined the phrase "conventional wisdom," and that he didn't mean it as a compliment.¹ Galbraith claimed conventional wisdom is convenient and comforting, but not necessarily true. Therefore, we must challenge the conventional wisdom to find the truth, even if it bothers us. This is something people don't like to do (I know I don't), and it's interesting to see it expressed in a book about economics.

Levitt and Dubner break the book down into a series of questions about life. They look at cheating among teachers and sumo wrestlers; the culture of fear that allows experts to rule our lives (experts like real estate agents, although they manage to tie things into the Ku Klux Klan as well); why drug dealers live with their moms; why abortion prevents crime; what makes a good parent; and if names of children matter in their professions. Again, I don't know enough to argue with his conclusions. Take the abortion issue, the most controversial argument in the book. He looks at the drop in crime in New York during the 1990s, which "conventional wisdom" says is because of Rudolph Guiliani and his police commissioner, William Bratton, and their efforts to stamp out small crime, which will show that even small crime won't be tolerated. It sounds good, but Levitt shows that it's crap. Crime fell 20 percent from 1990 to 1993, and Guiliani didn't become mayor until 1994. Other cities didn't try Guiliani and Bratton's innovative techniques, and their crime rate fell pretty much the same way.² Levitt points out that New York hired a lot more police officers in the 1990s, and this is the only factor that was recognized by the media as leading to a crime drop. Levitt points out that in Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu outlawed abortion in 1966. Kids born after 1966 were much more likely to be criminals. He links this to the post-1973 American landscape. He makes the case that a woman who wants to have an abortion usually has a good reason for it - she is too poor, she is single, she is an alcoholic or a drug addict. As Levitt points out:

"What sort of woman was most likely to take advantage of Roe v. Wade? Very often she was unmarried or in her teens or poor, and sometimes all three. What sort of future might her child have had? One study has shown that the typical child who went unborn in the earliest years of legalized abortion would have been 50 percent more likely than average to live in poverty; he would have also been 60 percent more likely to grow up with just one parent. These two factors - childhood poverty and a single-parent household - are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future. Growing up in a single-parent home roughly doubles a child's propensity to commit crime. So does having a teenage mother. Another study has shown that low maternal education is the single most powerful factor leading to criminality."³

He asks if there is any link between abortion and the fall in crime rate. He looks at states that legalized abortion prior to Roe v. Wade, all of which experienced a crime drop before the rest of the country. He also looks at the states that had the highest abortion rate, and yes, their crime rate fell more than the rest of the country. He has other correlations too, but I won't go into them here.

This is not to say that Levitt wants more abortions. He never tells us if he's pro-choice or pro-life. That's not his point. None of these arguments that he makes are couched in moral terms - he explicitly makes the point that he isn't interested in making moral arguments. What he is doing is asking questions about behavior that no one else has asked. The interesting thing about this book is that Levitt asks these questions and tries to find out the answers and what they mean. He wants to challenge what people say in the media and how policy is determined. Unfortunately, with a lot of stuff, government policy gets determined because of what people believe, even if they believe with no scientific backing to it. Levitt explains that many people have made up figures just to pursue their own agenda, and that, he says, is asinine. We need to discover if there really is truth behind what people say, and we need to ask tough questions. You may not agree with Levitt, but that's not the point. The point is we need to think more. That's not such a bad thing, is it?

This is a provocative book, and I recommend it highly. It might piss you off, it might not, but it will stimulate your brain. Stimulation = Good!

¹ Page 89. I love footnotes!
² Pages 129-130. Footnotes rule!
³ Pages 138-139. That's right, another footnote!


When I'm dictator ...

I should explain some of the rules under which the world will operate when I rule it. Just so you know.

I just saw a commercial for some clothing store (I was too full of righteous indignation to notice which one). A bunch of punk kids were modeling typically stupid-looking clothing. Some boy who couldn't have been older than 18 was wearing an AC/DC "Back in Black" shirt. I realize these things are trendy these days, but once I become dictator, there will be a new rule:

If you cannot name ONE song by the band, you're not allowed to wear one of their shirts. For this kid, "Back in Black" doesn't count. I wonder if he could name one. I really do.

Make sure you know these rules! More may come, and you have to be ready.

This is kind of fun ...

I stole this idea from Adjunct Kait, so blame her. The idea is to put together a ten-line poem (that makes sense) using lines of text from other web sites (I used all blogs, but I suppose from anywhere is fine). It has taken me a long time, but I think I have one:

She wakes up in one of those moods every morning
Making believe the sparkler was Tinkerbell burning up upon reentry
I don't understand the nature of cruelty
This goes against everything I have always believed in
You have outdone yourself with this one

What scares you the most?
Save the righteous indignation for someone who cares
We are one large dresser away from domestic tranquility at this point
Finally, maybe people are starting to wake up a little bit
Why can't they have a bagel place here?

Okay, it's not great, but give me a break! The two Kait did are far superior. Give it a try - it's harder than it looks!


Monday means photos!

Yes, it's another picture day here, and that means a few more pictures of my journey through Tasmania in 1992. We'll get off the island soon enough!

First, our map: today we're in Port Arthur, on the extreme southeast of the island. You can see it if you squint:

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Here's the actual Tasman Peninsula. It's practically an island. Port Arthur is there on the south coast.

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Port Arthur is the famous penal colony in Tasmania. We wandered around during the day and took a "ghost tour" at night. One of our stops was the Haunted Chapel:

I can't remember who haunts it, but I didn't see anyone. Posted by Picasa

Here's the hospital in the center and some of the grounds:

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This is the penitentiary. Note the dramatic skies!

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Finally, we have a nice photo along the coast. A lot of Tasmania is like this - it's a very beautiful place.

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More exciting content tomorrow! Still, these are nice pictures, right?


Today's links: Margaret Cho's terrorist dog, Ebonics, made-up countries, missing garden gnomes, and zoophilia (more than one example!)

I'm sure you're all dying to sign my GuestMap! The latest fools ... er, cool people ... are Jackie, Roger, my old friend Frank, Thomas, Nik, and David, awesome people all. Don't get left behind!

Let's get to the links!

Politics. We must get the bad taste out of our mouths right away.

If you haven't checked out the CIA factbook yet, you're missing interesting stuff.

This is sort of political. First, Margaret Cho names her dog after the female leader of the Baader-Meinhof Gang. This comes from Andrew Sullivan. A bunch of conservative bloggers ripped into her, so Margaret Cho responded. I just point this out because of the "tempest-in-a-teapot" nature of the blogging world. Sheesh.

A Christian adoption agency won't allow Catholics to adopt from them. Because, you know, Catholics aren't "real" Christians. This comes from Heretical Ideas.

News about some anti-American saber-rattling in Central Asia. Of course it hasn't gotten any coverage here. This comes from Blog for Arizona.

Did the Bush Administration try to rig the Iraq election? This is from Democracy Arsenal. An angry reaction can be found here.

Is J.K. Rowling anti-American? Well, the evidence is stupid, but this guy still tries to make a case. I stole this from Donklephant.

Hey! Ebonics is back! Yes, I'm white, so I'm probably biased and racist, but this is ridiculous. I got this from Education Wonks.

A charming story about our government's idiotic war on painkillers. Our tax dollars at work!

The nurse who was maimed by Eric Rudolph (the anti-abortion crazy doctor-murdering dude) responds to his conviction. It's a nice inspiring story.

Catallarchy links to the this fall's arguments in front of the Supreme Court. Of interest (to me, at least): a case about Oregon's assisted suicide law on 5 October, and two abortion cases on 30 November.

Chris Cope is disturbed by Wal-Mart's new environmentally friendly store in Texas. So are we all, Mr. Cope, so are we all.

What do you know? There is a lot of carbon dioxide in the air, almost all caused by humans! Sheesh. This is from those evil, science-using left-wingers at the Huffington Post. Damned scienticians!

Iraq is kind of a big mess, isn't it? These are from that damned treasonous Huffington Post again.

Balloon Juice gives us more creationist fun.

The Athenian Sicilian expedition during the Peloponnesian War is ancient history, right? Maybe not ...

More fun unconstitutional stuff - we get the Patriot Act renewal and anti-Fourth Amendment bag searches on the New York subway. But we all feel safer, don't we?

An interesting group of people who wanted to leave Saddam Hussein in power.

Bush tells Congress he will veto anything trying to curb torture. Yeah, I can't believe it either. This has also been making the rounds, but I saw it first at Andrew Sullivan.

Andrew Sullivan also points us to nuts on the left and the right. On the Left: Bush is more to blame for Sudan than the Sudanese government, the ones, you know, doing the killing. And on the Right: Porn physically damages the brain and, as a "toxic material," should be outlawed. The actual story is here - I found it on Heretical Ideas.

Leonard Peltier loses another appeal. If you don't know who Leonard Peltier is, go here. If you know who he is and think he's guilty, read this book. Krys is most disappointed in Clinton because he didn't pardon Peltier.

Here's an interesting post about the difference between nationalism and patriotism.

The Faux Faulkner award goes to Bush spoof and causes a minor flap.

This is a fascinating article about made-up nations. I want to live in the Republic of Minerva, man! And here, you can build your own nation! Would I lie?

Enter the funny world of cyberspace.

Chris Cope links to The Holy Land Experience. You must check this out - it's too bizarre for words.

The Disgruntled Chemist points us to an open letter to the Kansas School Board. It includes this graph:

Trust me, it's science! Posted by Picasa

It's's worst sellers!

It's the tragic and hilarious tale of R. Kelly's concept videos. Not for the squeamish!

Thomas wonders who to cast in the movie about his blog. He thinks Kevin Smith would make a good me.

The Disgruntled Chemist weeps for society. Find out why!

Jay Pinkerton presents: doctored comic strips! Not for children!

See? This is most kid-friendly one! Posted by Picasa

Cats review the latest Harry Potter book. No spoilers, I promise, just humor! This is from Balloon Juice.

Astrid is right: I'm totally addicted to Factum: Face the Fact. But when it has pictures like this, why wouldn't I be? Posted by Picasa

I've seen this before, but what the hell: 40 things that happen only in movies. From Various and Sundry.

My brother-in-law hails from the most toothless state in the nation. He'll be so proud.

It's been a while since I checked out McSweeney's, so I thought I'd give you Although I Like a Good George W. Bush Joke As Much As the Next Guy, Some of Them Seem Mean-Spirited and Gratuitous and a sestina about Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot.

New (and probably short-lived) category: Blogging about blogging.

You're a dedicated blogger if ... I'm sad to say that pretty much everything on this list applies to me.

This guy really hates blogs. Okay, it's all true and very funny, but you know what? I'm going to keep doing it. This is from Andrew Sullivan.

Comic books. Not a lot this week, for some reason (I don't know why, honestly), but still 100% geeky!

Interesting article about why Robin sucks.

Double Articulation is a relatively new blog about comics. Be warned: it's dense and full of thoughtful commentary!

I wrote a whole post about this yesterday at Comics Should Be Good, but I thought I'd link to it anyway. Tom Peyer links to a bunch of right wing and libertarian commentators who LOVE Batman Begins. Find out why!

Dorian gives us this out-of-context comic book panel:

He has another one up too! Posted by Picasa

Miscellaneous. Where the Wild Things are.

Well, this is nice: unborn babies carry pollutants. How swell. I saw this first on the Anti-Corporate Patriot. Sigh. Is nothing safe?

John Cole points us to this story, in which a man claims to be Ben Roethlisberger and Brian St. Pierre to pick up women. Some people might know who Roethlisberger is, but if you don't, they're both Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks. He actually signed a jersey of one woman with Roethlisberger's signature, thereby "ruining" it. I always tell women I'm James Denton. It hasn't helped yet, probably because my wife always tells them differently. Confound her!

How hot has it been in Arizona? Ice cream melts in 8 seconds in Phoenix! Awesome.

TiVo wants you to watch commercials. Maybe they shouldn't have invented a device that lets you skip them, then.

Here's a charming story about a coach of a T-ball team payingonee of his players to injure an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so the coach wouldn't have to play him. I'd say more, but what else is there to say?

Check this out. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but if you thought we couldn't do more to make sure we have more automobile accidents, you thought wrong!

Ex-Black Panthers want to sell hot sauce using the phrase "Burn, Baby, Burn!" I think my dad is right - everyone sells out in the end.

The mystery of the missing garden gnomes! Seriously. Where's Encyclopedia Brown when you need him?

Chris Cope asks the tough questions: Where do all the cute girls go?

Let's rethink sex in the 1960s, shall we?

Self-suffocation is on the rise among children. Maybe I was too normal, but I never knew anyone who suffocated themselves for kicks. This is icky.

You know you're dying to see the MRI pictures of people during sex! Don't worry, it's very clinical - and cool.

A group of London teachers wants to remove the word "fail" from their verbiage and replace it with "deferred success." It's nice to know American teachers aren't the only crazy ones. I've seen this a few places, but I saw it first on Upon Further Review.

Did you know Congress wants to add two months to Daylight Savings Time? John Cole did, and now so do you!

Nick gives us Indian myths. Vaginas all over Indra's body???? Ram testicles???? Myths are awesome.

Read about the creepy ten dollar note! It really is creepy - and not just because it's Australian money!

The Ashes have started! What do you mean, you don't know what the Ashes are? Don't you people follow cricket? What's wrong with you?

Scientologists object to a Glamour magazine article. Might they have something to hide???? I found this on the Huffington Post.

Malls of America gives us the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania! Yes, for those of you unlucky enough never to have been to PA, that's the name of a town.

Doesn't it look idyllic? Posted by Picasa

If you've ever been confused about the exact nature of the Trinity, it's all explained here! Now, be warned: although the explanation comes from a Christian, it's not necessarily your parents' Trinity.

Phillyist, the blog about Philadelphia, found a fun magazine called Philth. This is the cover of the third issue:

Yes, that's a woman pouring what I hope is melted cheese onto another woman. If that sounds like your kind of thing, pick up a copy! Posted by Picasa

My pal Roxy links to personal ads for women in prison. Truly excellent. Check out Kelly - she's a 27-year-old bisexual hottie. Oh, too bad - she's not eligible for release until August ... 2024. What the hell did she do?

This diver is apparently okay, but man! that looks like it hurts. I stole this from Donklephant. Posted by Picasa

Doctors put maggots on a wound. I would probably welcome amputation instead. It did work, by the way.

This week at Scene from my life: pictures of Portland.

Is it any wonder that I miss it? Posted by Picasa

I worry about Layne, up there in Winnipeg. He has time to find links to: Cook your placenta, make your own dildos, and a FAQ on how to have sex with dolphins. Let me retype that: A FAQ on how to have sex with dolphins.

Just so Layne wouldn't be the only one trolling the dark corners of the Internet, Tom Peyer finds a man who has died after having sex with a horse. But he also gives us this nugget: Mathematics prove that God raised Jesus from the dead. So there's no more doubt about it, I guess.

That's all for this week! I hope you found something you liked - as long as it wasn't information you were seeking about how to have sex with dolphins. Seriously - get a girlfriend or boyfriend or blow-up doll, for crying out loud!