Archive for December, 2007

 

Year-End Round-Up

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Hard to believe, but yet another year has passed here at the samaBlog. And has been tradition since I’ve started the blog, we will review the year that has passed, and bring the best of the past year’s blogging to your attention in one long list. So without further delay, here we go:

Well, that just about does it for 2007. I promise to do my best to post honeymoon pics and tell the Belize story real soon. And to all the samaBlog readers out there, have a safe and Happy New Year!!!

 
 

Sting

Monday, December 31st, 2007

I caught this over at Drudge. Basically, police send a topless woman into a park to sunbathe (legally, apparently) and have her ask male passersby to do lewd things in front of her. Naturally, she fonds some men who think it’s their lucky day, and they get arrested. Key quote:

Law enforcement officials say that such sting operations are an extremely effective means of lowering crime rates and stopping the criminally minded before they commit worse offenses. From early 2006 to the spring of 2007, there were 160 citations for public indecency in the city, according to an investigation by 10TV News. Among those who were caught in the stings: an Ohio State University doctor, government employees and a retired highway trooper.

But such operations veer dangerously close to entrapment, say lawyers, civil libertarians and defendants who’ve been caught in sting operations.

At Garrison’s trial, his attorney argued that it was a case of entrapment. “Columbus police utilized this topless woman to snare this man,” said Sam Shamansky. “He sees her day after day. He’s not some seedy pervert.”

Echos of Larry Craig. Seriously, I think the police are a far more dangerous threat than perverts in public parks. I’ll say it again, if you’re actually having trouble with perverts in public parks, then patrol the parks, in a very public kind of way. But don’t encourage people to do lewd things and then arrest them. That makes life more dangerous for everybody.

Read more here, including video.

 
 

I’ll Take The Bait

Monday, December 31st, 2007

So William Safire prints the NYT office pool prediction list for 2008. I’ll take the bait and play along. Note my responses are in bold below (and may of them are wither wild guesses or best approximations of my real answers). Safire’s are in italics. Where we agree, they’re in bold italics:

1. The business headline of the year will be:

(a) Big Bounce to 15,000 Dow After Soft Landing

(b) Recession Has Brokers Selling Apples for Five Euros on Wall Street

(c) Subprime Mess Was Greatly Exaggerated

(d) China Buys Boeing

2. The Academy Award for Best Picture will go to:

(a) “There Will Be Blood”

(b) “Sweeney Todd”

(c) “American Gangster”

(d) “The Kite Runner”

(e) “Charlie Wilson’s War”

(But don’t expect winners to cross picket lines to pick up their Oscars.)

3. The Roberts Supreme Court will decide that:

(a) gun rights belong to the individual, but the Second Amendment’s key limitation is that gun possession should be “well-regulated”

(b) states can require voter ID to prevent fraud even if it reduces access

(c) lethal injection is not cruel or unusual punishment if it isn’t painful

(d) the “ancient right” of habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo detainees no matter what law Congress passes

4. The fiction sleeper best seller will be:

(a) “Missy,” a first novel by the British playwright Chris Hanna

(b) “Shadow and Light,” by Jonathan Rabb, set in prewar Germany

5. The nonfiction success will be:

(a) “American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the W.P.A.,” by Nick Taylor

(b) “What Do We Do Now?” interregnum advice by Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution

(c) “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History” by Ted Sorensen, President Kennedy’s alter ego

(d) “Basic Brown,” a memoir by Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco

(e) “Human,” by the neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga

(f) “Come to Think of It,” by Daniel Schorr

6. The media world will be rocked as:

(a) fizzling ratings for a China-dominated ’08 Olympics induce G.E. to sell NBC Universal to cable-departing Time Warner

(b) “pod push-back” by music customers threatens Apple’s dominance of digital music space

(c) Google challenges telecommunications giants by taking steps to provide both telephone and video on the Internet

7. In United States foreign policy debates:

(a) success in Iraq will embarrass cut-and-run Democrats

(b) failure in Iraq will sink stay-the-course Republicans

(c) Iraq muddling along won’t affect the American election

8. The de facto dictator truly leaving the political scene this year will be:

(a) Hugo Chávez

(b) Vladimir V. Putin (afflicted by the Time cover jinx)

(c) Robert Mugabe

(d) Fidel Castro

9. By year’s end, American diplomats will be negotiating openly with:

(a) Hamas

(b) the Taliban

(c) Iran

10. The two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute appears when:

(a) a free election or civil strife in the West Bank and Gaza brings a unified, neighborly government to the Palestinians

(b) an Ehud Barak-Benjamin Netanyahu rematch results in a majoritarian, rightist coalition victory

(c) the Jerusalem division issue is resolved by expanding the official city limits to embrace two capitals

11. Assuming the Iowa caucuses to be meaningless pollster-media hype, the January primary state with the biggest influence on the outcome of both parties’ nominations will be:

(a) New Hampshire

(b) Michigan

(c) South Carolina

(d) Florida

12. The American troop level in Iraq at year’s end will be:

(a) the present 152,000

(b) the pre-surge 130,000

(c) 100,000 and dropping steadily

13. The issue most affecting the vote on Election Day will be:

(a) immigration: absorb ’em or deport ’em

(b) taxation: soak the rich or lift all boats

(c) health plans: incentivize or socialize

(d) diplomacy: accommodating realism or extending freedom

14. The presidential election will hinge primarily on:

(a) a debate blooper

(b) success or failure in Iraq

(c) Hispanic backlash

(d) a personal scandal

(e) a terror attack on the United States

(f) racism/sexism

(g) the economy, stupid

15. The Democratic ticket will be:

(a) Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama

(b) Obama-Clinton

(c) Clinton-Bill Richardson

(d) Obama-Joseph Biden

(e) John Edwards-Dianne Feinstein

16. The Republican ticket will be:

(a) Rudolph Giuliani-Mike Huckabee

(b) Mitt Romney-Gen. David Petraeus

(c) John McCain-Michael Bloomberg[NOTE: I think the running mate will be Romney]

17. The winning theme in November will be:

(a) time for a change

(b) don’t let them take it away

(c) experience counts

(d) nobody’s perfect

18. The election will be decided on:

(a) charisma

(b) experience

(c) character

(d) sex

(e) money

(f) issues

19. As 2009 dawns, Americans will face:

(a) a leftward march, with the Clintons in the White House and a Democratic Congress feeling no tax, entitlement or earmark restraint

(b) creative gridlock, as President McCain finds common ground with a centrist Democratic Congress

(c) a stunning G.O.P. conservative resurgence, with the equally long-shot Washington Redskins girding for the 2009 Super Bowl

 
 

samaBlog to Met Life: DROP DEAD

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

Caught this over on Bob Novak’s column today. I was surprised, but I probably shouldn’t have been [emphasis mine]:

CHARLIE’S MONEY
Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel is on pace to raise over $7 million in campaign money in his first two years as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, far outstripping anybody ever to hold that post.

Rangel reported contributions of $2.7 million for the first three quarters of the 2007 election off-year. His Republican predecessor, Rep. Bill Thomas, raised $3.8 million for his entire six years as chairman. The previous Republican chairman, Rep. Bill Archer, took in less than $1 million in his six years.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the largest contributors to Rangel this year have been Citigroup, $59,950; MetLife, $50,500; and JPMorgan Chase, $37,600. MetLife is a major corporate opponent of repealing the estate tax, whose retention is firmly supported by Rangel.

I suppose it makes sense, that with no estate tax to escape, people’s estate planning will be simpler, and Met life won’t sell as much life insurance. Still, it feels so dirty to know that insurance companies pay government to muck with our lives like that. It really doesn’t make me want to do business with Met Life any time soon. Maybe I’ll write them a letter telling them as much.

 
 

Hillary’s Reaction

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Hillary’s reaction to the Bhutto assassination is just priceless.

(via andrew sullivan)

 
 

Letter to Giuliani Campaign

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I sent the following letter to the Giuliani campaign. I thought I’d share it with you…

Katie,

It’s a nice ad, but it’s the wrong one to be airing right now. To begin with, the central complaint about the campaign has been that it talks about 9-11 all the time. But more importantly, it does nothing to overcome what Rudy’s problem is right now.

The media did a real hit job on Rudy with this whole “scandal” about Rudy’s travel expenses with his now wife out to the Hamptons. They tried to smear Rudy, of all people, with the charge of corruption. Their charges were lies, and they only buried their corrections deep in the papers, as they always do. Regardless, the charges are sticking. Witness Bob Novak today describing the campaign as being “weighed down with baggage“.

This needs to be fixed.

First up, you need two ads that discuss corruption directly. The first ad should be read by a narrator, it should discuss the various successes that Giuliani had fighting corruption in the city (javitz center, etc). It should mention how the New York mob families actually met to decide whether or not to try to assassinate Giuliani, because he was so effective at rooting them out. And finally, it should directly talk about media accusation of corruption, point out how their corrections were buried, and how the media want to bury Rudy because he has the most crossover appeal of any of the Republican candidates. Conclude by saying how it’s ridiculous to accuse Giuliani of all people, of corruption.

The second ad should be more like the 9-11 ad you promoted today, but with Rudy talking about taking on corruption in entrenched bureaucracies. He should say a few words about Javitz and whatnot. Then he needs to drive two points home: that in an age where two agencies of the federal government have been in open rebellion against the elected representatives of the people, namely the CIA and the State Department, that we need someone who knows how to reform wayward bureaucracies. He needs to say something like this, “Look, we Republicans face uphill battles in Washington, in the national media. I mean, look at the what the national media tried to do to me, accuse me, of all people of corruption (laughter)… If you vote for me, you’ll be sending a signal to the national media you’re not going to put up with their lies any more. And if you send me to Washington I will tame those rogue bureaucracies the same way I did in New York City. I promise you that…”

It’s rough, but you see what I’m saying. Take the corruption “issue”, turn it to your advantage, and then discuss how those same skill sets will enable Rudy to stop the CIA and State Department from interfering with the policy of the elected representatives in Washington. And ATTACK THE MEDIA. Republicans will love you for that. Send Rudy on the news shows to be interviewed, to demand apologies for smearing him over nothing. Send him out to talk about how he tamed bureaucracies, rooted out corruption, and how he’ll tame Washington.

You guys were on top of the world a few weeks ago. I know Rudy has been sick and all, but you’ve got to get back on it. It’s not too late to turn this thing around.

-Rob Sama

UPDATE: Now that I think about this, today’s assassination may well have changed the entire dynamic of the campaign. I’m honestly not sure what it means, time will tell…

 
 

Holy CRAP!

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. Drudge has lots of links…

As usual, the Belmont Club has good analysis

 
 

Braille-Berry

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

So I was sitting around bored, someplace I’d rather not be, and I felt my cell phone in my pocket. And all at once it dawned on me.

What we all need is the Braille equivalent of a Blackberry.

Basically, we’ve all wanted to read the net, or email, or blogs, while in a meeting. Some people pull their Blackberrys out in meetings and the like, but it’s rude, and often times, you just can’t get away with being that rude. But what it you had a Braille-Berry, where you could read your email, or favorite blogs, using your finger in your pocket? And if you added a touch pad, you could SMS with friends, tapping out messages in Morse code and then read them to yourself in Braille. And all the while nobody suspects a thing…

Hey, people learned that Palm graffiti language in the 90′s to use their PDA’s then. I bet there’s a market for people willing to learn Braille and Morse code so they can surreptitiously communicate with their friends when they’re not supposed to.

 
 

Barfight

Monday, December 24th, 2007

This sounds about right:


You’ll die in a Bar Fight.

You are the angry type when drunk, and you can’t help but be violent towards perfect strangers. Unfortunatly for you one of those strangers is a kung fu master.

‘How will you die?’ at QuizGalaxy.com

(via heart attack)

 
 

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24th, 2007

It’s Christmas time once again, which means we try our best to display a bunch of Christmas links here at the samaBlog. The graphic at the right comes to us from Mitch O’Connell, click on it to see more of Mitch’s work (via BoingBoing).

I know FSJ blogged this already, but there’s this great site that offers a collection of horrendous Christmas sweaters (via John). I’m a little surprised that Lileks hasn’t done a book on Christmas sweaters yet, come to think of it.

Check out this reading of Twas The Night Before Christmas.

The Wall Street Journal reminds us that Christmas is really two holidays fused into one, a Pagan and a Christian one.

And Reason Magazine encourages us to embrace the secular holiday that Christmas has become.

And to protest said commercialism, some lunatic took to crucifying an effigy of Santa on his front lawn (includes pic). It reminds me of this painting from my 2005 Christmas links.

Let’s not forget a perennial classic, Ding Fries Are Done!

Of course there’s always one of the best Christmas episodes of a TV show ever, The Tick Loves Santa (yes, click through, I know it’s annoying but the entire episode eventually does play).

Let’s not forget already posted Christmas links from this year, including my bad review of the Boston Pops Christmas Show and Cold Blooded Christmas.

And we need to link to my 2005 essay on the War on Christmas because it’s a discussion topic that doesn’t seem to want to die. And while we’re at it, let’s link to my previous Christmas entries in 2006, and 2003 (no 2004 entry as I was at war with my ISP at the time).

And last but not least comes this silly JibJab video presented below. Merry Christmas everyone!

Don’t send a lame Starring You! eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

UPDATE: Track Santa’s progress throughout the night at Norad Santa.