Obama Infomercial.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Since it's sort of unprecedented that a presidential candidate aired a 30 minute infomercial, I thought I would post here for folks to watch (if you, like me, didn't actually see it on TV).  However, I haven't watched it yet, so I'll hold off on saying anything about it until I've seen it.

Wednesday Random Ten.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

With the election less than a week away, a 30 minute Obama infomercial, and more attack adds on TV than I can shake a stick at, even I, the political junkie that I am, is sick of politics. Really, one lesson that the US can learn from Canada is to have shorter election cycles. Seriously we don't need more than 20 months of campaigning for a term of office that's only 48 months long. That being the case, I've decided that today I'm going to post about something completely unrelated to politics.

While I was driving to the office I heard the Darkness on the radio and thought about the weird fuzzy thing that hugs the singer in the video for their song, "I believe in a thing called love". That made me want to watch the video. That made me think about other videos that I really enjoy. So here are the 10 music videos that I really want to watch right now.

The Darkness - I Believe in a Thing Called Love

Rancid - Salvation

No More Kings - Sweep the Leg Johnny

The Weakerthans - Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)

Corb Lund - Truck Got Stuck

Iron Maiden - Run to the Hills

I have no idea - Awesome God

Slayer - Bloodline

Snow - Informer

David Hasselhoff - Hooked on a Feeling

Sheriff Andy and the Fonz support Obama? And Jon Lajoie, which is totally unrelated but whatever, it says random in this blog's title.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

When I was a little kid I used to love the Andy Griffith show (to be honest, I still love it and watch it on syndication whenever I can) and Happy Days (for a period in time in junior high I wore a leather jacket just like the Fonz's, which I thought was totally cool but was probably really lame).  So when I saw this video, I thought that I'd have to share it with all of you.

On the same site, I found the video that's below.  It's pretty good.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

It seems that Sarah Palin still doesn't know what the Vice President does.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm sure that everyone has already read about this or seen this video but it surprises me a little that Sarah Palin still doesn't seem to know what the VP does (or perhaps she's just continuing her trend of inaccurately describing things).  I'm pretty sure the VP isn't in charge of the Senate and I'm damn sure that the VP, being part of the executive branch, isn't supposed to mess around with the Senate (part of the legislative branch) or is the US just giving up on that whole checks and balances thing?

Granted the VP does get to break tied votes but I wouldn't say that breaking ties ought to be described as getting "in there with senators" to "make a lot of good policy changes".  And really, if the VP did have that kind of power, would you want Sarah Palin to be the VP?  

I mean, if you think about it, whatever you think of Dick Cheney, at least Cheney seemed to know what he was doing.  Granted, what he did might have been wrong-headed, and perhaps even morally wrong, but at least he was cognizant of what he was up to and the machinations and dynamics of US politics.  I would be rather worried about what a powerful Palin might do in office.  Public Safety Commissioners across the country will have to be running for their lives (or at least be constantly firing folks that have upset Palin to keep their jobs).

Is John McCain gonna have to smack a bitch?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I've been spending the last couple of days trying to wrap-up a behemoth of a paper, so I'm far too lazy and unmotivated to actually write something substantial so I thought I would put up a captioned pic that made me laugh.  Now, since I made it, it should make me laugh but whatever....

Caption Fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

After spending some time perusing the comedy gold that is superpoop.com, I thought it would be fun to introduce pictures with fun captions on this website.  Furthermore, here the readers can join in the fun and come up with captions of their own!

Dude, that was a wicked party last night
but look, I didn't puke once!

McCain Comics on www.superpoop.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A.M.  just introduced to me to what might be my new favorite website, superpoop.com.  They're done by a dude named Drew, who happens to be a fellow Ohioan.  You should check it out, it's full of the funny.

Well Done Browns, Well Done!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being the giant Browns fans that we are, so far A.M. and I have been rather disappointed with the NFL season.  Things were looking pretty bad for the Brownies.  However, it's starting to look like things might have turned around.  Last week, the Browns beat the Bengals in a hard fought, if somewhat ugly game and this week they destroyed the Giants in what have been the biggest upset this season.  Moreover, they're starting to look pretty decent.  Braylon Edwards has gotten over his fear of the ball and Derek Anderson, while still not completing nearly as well as he can, actually looked really good today.

Further, Eric Wright (whom you can see above) managed to run in a totally sweet 94 interception for a TD.  It was a great game!  So, I have to say again, well done Browns, well done!  

P.S.  To any Browns players who somehow magically came across this post, we have tickets to the Browns/Texans game in November, so you guys better win that one.  

P.P.S.  35 to 14?  That's what I call a serious ass-whuppin'.

Great Picture at fivethirtyeight.com.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In the last week or so, I've really come to like fivethirtyeight.com.  The picture above is one of the reasons why.  

I really enjoyed how the guy holding the sign decided to frame the "against" with exclamations points on either side all Spanish-style.  I'm glad to see that the religious right is reaching out to hispanics.  

Happy Turkey Day Canada!

It's my favorite holiday back home in Canada!  Yay, Turkey day!  That's one of the best things about being a Canadian living in the US, two Thanksgivings!

Ms. Palin, I really don't think you can do that.

Friday, October 10, 2008

From the AP:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Trying to head off a potentially embarrassing state ethics report on GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, campaign officials released their own report Thursday that clears her of any wrongdoing.

Really?  Did the Palin campaign folks actually think that would actually work?  I guess their candidate does think that living close to Russia counts as foreign policy experience, so maybe.  But, seriously?  C'mon, how dumb do they think people are?

Quick Thought: The pot calling the kettle black?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I just saw an AP article that noted that Cindy McCain has been going around saying that Obama has been running "the dirtiest campaign in American history".  She must really not pay much attention to her own husband's campaign.  

I mean who's been suggesting that their opponent is pro-terrorist?  I can assure you it's not "that one".

P.S.  Yes, I did intend to suggest that McCain might be implicitly appealing to racist sentiments in his campaign.

Random Thought: The Cincinnati Zoo, an Example of How to Go Green.

I just got home from an afternoon of attending apartment meetings and discussing politics with the other grad students in my department.  I'm not sure how it happened but a conversation about who's going to go to Philly in December to be a part of a hiring committee turned into a debate regarding the Big Bang approach to the Middle-East that neo-conservatives have endorsed.

Anyhow, that's all besides the point, when I got home I was reading the news and I came across an article about the pumpkin hunt for the gorillas at the Cincinnati Zoo.  This gave me an idea for a post, which has nothing to do with pumpkins or gorillas but has a lot to do with the Cincinnati Zoo.  

It seems to me that one thing that a lot of Cincinnatians might not be aware of is that our zoo is on the forefront for sustainable development.  While zoos in general have a mandate, or is it mission (I never get those two right), to further wildlife conservation efforts, the Cincinnati Zoo has gone several steps further and has made huge efforts to be as green as possible.

For example, our zoo is one of the few places in the world that actually has, what I like to refer to as, a poo-reactor.  That is they have a reactor (which may or may not be operational yet) that can use organic material to generate electricity.  This might sound more like a gimick than anything but in an area where solar and wind power isn't feasible, the use of a reactor that can take any organic waste and use it to generate electricity is a great way to generate emissions free electricity in a manner that also helps reduce material that's destined to end up in a landfill.

Further, the zoo has made a commitment to build Leed certified buildings using locally sourced and recycled materials, install green roofs, and develop rain water recycling systems that will result in it being one of the greenest institutions in this city.  More importantly, the zoo is working with other business to potentially sell offsets for companies like Google, which will result in their sustainability projects being economically sustainable as well.  

One of the primary barriers to improving environmental sustainability that prevents a lot of people from improving their infrastructure and practices is cost.  The Cincinnati Zoo has managed to overcome this in a number of ingenious ways.  They've worked deals with energy producers such as Duke Energy (who are quite happy to reduce loads at peak times) to lower the cost of projects.  They're working on selling offsets, which will act to improve income.  And, they've manage to develop in a manner that will result in them seeing, even with conservative projections, their investment paid back in the form of savings in less than 10 years.  

All-in-all I think a lot can be learned from the sustainability model that's been adopted by the zoo here.  It seems that a lot of public institutions that tend to be resource hogs, in particular institutions such as universities, could learn a lot from the model employed by the Cincinnati Zoo.  

Barack Obama is Speaking Today in Ault Park at 3 PM

If you happen to see this post before 3, I wanted to let you know that Obama is speaking in Ault Park today at 3PM.  Given my schedule today (and that I think I've gotten the germs more under control, so I really should go to my meetings) I won't be able to make it.  However, I saw Obama speak at UC the last time he was in town and I quite enjoyed seeing that.  So, I really would suggest that anyone who can go see him should in fact go and see him.

Two Completely Unrelated Issues: fivethirtyeight.com and McCain's healthcare plan.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I am full of the germs today, so rather than studying for my qualifying exam as I should be, I've been looking at stuff on the internet regarding the election.  One site that I came across that was really sweet is fivethirtyeight.com.  Apparently they're a bunch of folks who normally spend their time making baseball predictions who decided that they were going to turn their skills of a statistician towards making predictions regarding the presidential election.

Being a guy who for some really strange reason is into bell-curves and statistical analysis, I had quite a good time checking out their website.  I guess what they do is go through all the available polls, chuck in information about demographics and voting trends and then run statistical scenarios regarding the likely outcome of the upcoming election.

Then they make up sweet pie charts, scatter plots, and probability charts regarding their scenarios (their charts remind me of print-outs that you can get with Resampling Stats and SAS JMP, my favorite statistical programs).  Also, from what I can tell from looking at their models, it seems that they provide far more informative analyses than the polls that you might find elsewhere.  And as you can see from the pie charts that are above and left, they're really quite confident at this point that Obama is going to work McCain in the election, which too makes me feel good.  

Now this brings me to the next thing, which is nearly completely unrelated, that I want to talk about.  Some of you might suspect, after reading the above, that I'm all partisan and Democratic and crap.  That is totally false.  I actually think both major parties in the US are either kind of useless or totally full of the evil.  Or, perhaps they're both totally useless and kind of full of the evil.  I'm not sure which.  I just know that I don't like either of them.

However, this election I've decided to cheer for Obama for one reason, healthcare.  And this is what I want to talk about now.  After watching the debate last night, I'm surprised that Obama didn't go after McCain regarding McCain's healthcare plan.

If one really thinks about McCain's plan it seems quite clear that the plan isn't aimed at improving healthcare coverage for Americans.  It's intended to save money for the gov't to spend, I would suspect, on blowing up brown folks overseas and to try to keep the auto industry from exporting jobs to Canada.

McCain's idea that we should start moving to individual coverage, have a $5000 (per family) tax rebate, taxing folks employer health benefits, and to get rid of the rules preventing folks from crossing state lines to buy insurance, won't actually improve coverage.  

This is for several reasons.  First, a substantial number of the folks who lack coverage don't earn enough to pay anywhere near $5000 a year in taxes.  So a tax rebate isn't really going to help those folks out.  Further, with an employer based insurance program, insurers aren't allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions.  With individual insurance, they can deny coverage all they want.  That might actually lead to fewer people being covered or those who currently have a hard time getting coverage having an even harder time getting coverage.

This would be made even worse without the restrictions preventing insurers from selling insurance across state lines.  As Obama pointed out, the lack of such a restriction would lead to insurers flocking to states with minimal regulation, where they will be able to count more conditions as pre-conditions.  All-in-all, it seems pretty clear that the McCain healthcare plan really isn't intended to provide better and more inclusive coverage.  It's just a way to help big business to avoid having to pay for insurance for their workers (which really does hit the domestic auto industry hard) in a way that avoids the gov't needing to pay all that much ($5000 per family is not that much when you consider that currently individual healthcare coverage for an average sized family costs about $13,000 a year).

I really don't know why the Obama folks don't mention the above.  I think if people were really aware of the consequences of the healthcare plan that McCain has publicly proposed, Obama would get another bump in support.

My Thoughts Regarding Tonight's Debate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My first impression was that tonight's debate was rather boring.  It seemed that neither Obama nor McCain were really all that willing to stray off script.  I found that they tended to speak in the same platitudes that they have through most of their campaigns and I thought they could have addressed the questions far more directly.

The only moment that I thought there was anything interesting said was when McCain talked about whether he thought that the economy would get worse or not before it got better and what he said regarding whether he thought Russia was again becoming the "evil empire".  He provided nuanced and rather thoughtful answers to both questions.

However, I'm not sure those two nuanced thoughtful answers is sufficient for me to give McCain the win.  The rest of the debate was so dreadful that I'm going to say that I think both McCain and Obama lost this debate.  To say it was a tie wouldn't express how disappointed I am in both of them.  There were several opportunities for both Obama and McCain to actually say something substantive but neither of them really took that opportunity.  That being the case, I will say again that I think they both lost.

Top 10 Reasons that I Suspect that I Might Be Too Much of an Elitist to Serve in US Public Office.

Monday, October 6, 2008

During this election cycle, I've repeatedly heard folks attacking Barrack Obama as being an elitist.  At first, I didn't quite understand what this all meant.  This was particularly the case given that Obama grew up working class in a single parent family, while John McCain grew up fairly privileged and is now richer than fuck after marrying a rich lady.  However, I think after thinking about this for the last few weeks that I kind of understand what Obama's detractors have been going on about.  However, in that understanding, I've realized that I may be elitist.  Here's why:

10.  I only have one apartment.  This must indicate that I must feel that my shitty little student apartment is particularly special.  I could give other domiciles a chance and live in them too.  I mean John McCain has so many houses that he can't even remember how many he owns.  He's willing to give every house out there a chance.  Me, I think my apartment's so special that I reject all others.

9.  When I was little, I was lucky enough that my parents took time reading to me.  As such I know words other than "maverick" that have more than two syllables.  

8.  I know that we're not neighbors with Afghanistan and I think that such knowledge is important for my foreign policy credentials.

7.  I know which side of the microphone to point towards my face.  Also, I'm proud that I know this.  Moreover, I've never pointed the other side to my face.  It's probably because I'm not old an potentially senile.

6.  I'm not old and potentially senile, I'm at my peak.  This must make me think that I'm particularly special or something.

5.  I've never been tortured by the Viet Cong.  Such a privileged life I lead....

4.  I actually did well in school.

3.  My face isn't lumpy.

2.  I've never shot a moose in my life and think that it's kind of wrong to shoot wolves from a helicopter.

1.  I think that if you name your kids Trig and Track that you lack the judgment to serve in higher office.  

Blogging the VP debate live!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I've been quite excited to watch this debate, so I thought I would write down my thoughts about it as I'm watching it.

9:06 After the first question, I'm quite surprised by how well Joe Biden is speaking.  I tend to expect him to kind of say crazy things and engage in hyperbole.  So far though, he seems rather disciplined and outlining the Obama plan was good.

Regarding Palin, gauging economy by talking to folks during soccer games?  Also, it seems that Palin's answers so far have really just been platitudes and speaking points.  However, she hasn't said anything completely stupid yet but I have hope that she will in the next few hours.

9:15:  Joe Biden is sort of a debating pitbull isn't he.  I haven't seen anyone so explicitly call shenanigans on someone during a political debate as when Biden busted Palin on her failing to talk about deregulation and on her claim that Obama voted to raise taxes 94 times.

9:18  I'm not sure if Palin understands what wealth redistribution is.  How is a tax cut wealth redistribution?

9:20 Joe Biden's appeal to figures is a good strategy, he making it quite clear that he knows more than Palin.  Also, I'm glad he's talking about the failings of the McCain health plan.  The one thing that I really don't like about the McCain platform is his healthcare policy.

9:25 Palin shouldn't have pointed out that she's "been only doing this for 5 weeks".  

9:27 Palin sounds panicky, she really stumbled on the question regarding whether she would support McCain's vote for the bankruptcy bill.

9:28 Now Biden is saying something that sounds sort of silly to me.  He's suggesting that folks should be able to adjust the principle for their mortgages.  That's not going to work.  How can you owe less than you borrowed?  I also have no idea why Palin is ranting about energy?  I'm not sure what this has to do with the bankruptcy bill.  I think she needs to take a moment and breath and to calm down.

9:20 Climate change!  Something I actually know something about!  Palin's denying anthropomorphic climate change.  It looks like she's pulling a Bush.  Also, I'm not sure how the all above approach (including domestic drilling) will prevent other countries from emitting GHGs.  I actually feel a little bad for her, I want her to get at least one question.  

Joe Biden is doing a good job answering this question too.  He's clearly winning at this point, he's being far more specific than Palin is.  I don't think he should have said "drill we must" though.  Drilling is a distraction from the real energy issues.

9:34 Re: Palin: Natural gas isn't clean, burning any hydrocarbons result in the emission of GHG and there really isn't any such thing as clean coal.  Re: Biden: Coal gasification is a better alternative to regular coal burning.  Coal mining really does make a mess of things.  I'm glad that Biden is voicing his support of same-sex marriage.  This whole hatin' on gay folks is getting old.

9:37 Palin is missing the point about the visitations, it's already the case that gay couples can't visit each other in hospitals other than during visiting hours.  It's because there isn't legal recognition of same-sex marriages and as such a same-sex partner isn't regarded as family.  Biden shouldn't have backtracked on his apparent initial support of same-sex marriage.

9:40 Regarding the funding the troops thing, Palin is mincing words the same way that McCain did during the first presidential debate.  I hope Biden calls shenanigans like Obama did.

9:41 It seems that Biden isn't going to call shenanigans.  Nevermind, he's calling shenanigans.

9:43 Palin suggesting that time-tables is equivalent to surrender is old bustedness.  However, she did score a point with noting that Biden would have ran with McCain.  

9:48 "Nucular", "hate us for our rights", when did Bush join this debate?

9:50  Ooh, this should be a good question, what did this administration do well regarding Israel.  I wonder if Palin will be able to say much about it.  

9:52 Israel has been good at achieving peace?  Also she apparently couldn't tell us what this administration did well.  This question is also playing to Biden's strengths.  He really does seem to know a lot regarding foreign policy.  I hope the comfort on this issue results in him saying something crazy for the sake of my entertainment.

9:54 I think Palin actually scored a point in suggesting that Obama/Biden has been rather backwards looking in this campaign.  Biden did have a good response though but I think Palin might have scored this point.

9:56 Palin's answer about nuclear weapons doesn't make sense, I don't even know what to say about this.  She seems to panic and then just rant when she gets hit with a question she isn't ready for.  She needs to take a moment and think before she starts talking when she gets a question that surprises her.

9:59 Biden almost said something crazy but he caught himself.  Palin did respond well regarding what "McClelland" said (though his name is actually McKiernan).  Biden also had a weak response.  So it seems that Palin scored another point, albeit a point where she referred to a civil war general.

10:08 What would you do if you were president?  Fluff question!

10:09 I think Wasilla, AK needs some reality from Washington, D.C.

10:11 "There you go again" c'mon get your own soundbites, I know you like Reagan but don't steal his gotchas.  Also talking about Biden's dead wife?  She does seem to know something about education but I wish she didn't talk in platitudes.

10:15 It seems that Biden expects to have a strong vice-presidency.  Though, it seems pretty safe that he won't pull any Dick Cheney's.  At least he shouldn't shoot anyone in the face.

10:18 Regarding Palin's weakness, I don't think it's lack of experience, I think it's lack of knowledge about what's going on.  Regarding Biden's weakness, it isn't lack of discipline, it's an overabundance of creepy smiles.  

10:21 Actually, Palin has an excess of creepy plastic smileyness as well.

10: 24 Final question!  But it was a fluff question.  Stupid fluff questions.

10:29 Final statements.  
Palin: busting the chops of the mainstream media and saying that they're proud to be American and want to fight for the middle-class?  C'mon give me substance not platitudes.  Wait?  We'll tell our kids about a time we were free?  What the fuck?!?

Biden: Platitudes....  Talking about old neighborhood....  Mom's and dad's telling you to believe in yourself....  Dad's old expression....  God bless everyone....  Yawn....

Final Thoughts:
I'm pretty sure Biden kicked ass.  Also the last debate is at Hofstra?  I'll be presenting at a conference at Hofstra in March!  Palin seemed sort of panicky throughout the debate until the end.  Biden maintained discipline didn't say anything crazy, though it seemed that at times he wanted to.  Now, I'm going to sign off and see what the professional pundits say.

CeaseFire - Cincinnati

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I was just reading the news before heading off to bed and I learned that today there were 4 separate shootings in Cincinnati resulting in 2 deaths.  Moreover, in the two years that I've been living in this city, I've heard and read about more gun crime occurring here in that period than I did about gun crime occurring in Calgary for the 10 years that I lived there.

Indeed, it seems that gun crime is so rampant here that it often even fails to garner a reaction.  In my two years at the University of Cincinnati, there's been at least two incidents where there were exchanges of gunfire immediately outside the residence halls and most people seem to not even be all that concerned about it.  Further, I myself once called in a report of shots fired (I was lucky enough to hear a gunfight going on while I was sitting on my balcony enjoying the fresh spring air) and the police weren't even all that interested in my report.

Now, I'm not calling for gun control or anything like that.  I'm just noting that there seems to be a ridiculous amount of gun crime in this city and I wanted to give a shout-out to the people over at CeaseFire Cincinnati, who are a bunch of average folks who have taken upon themselves to actually go out, engage in some grass roots activism, and try to do something to help reduce the numbers of shootings that occur in this city.

For anyone who's interested in getting involved with CeaseFire Cincinnati, click on the link above and sign up to get involved.

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