Six more random links o’ interest

Dennis Leary and Lenny Clarke’s hilarious guest-broadcasting at the Red Sox game. Lots of great ethnic humor, and see how far Mel Gibson’s stock has fallen.

Watch a woman being animated from the inside out (I reccomend the 4x button)

How not to read a book

An enormous map of Springfield (from The Simpsons). Someone spent way way too much time on this. That’s a good thing.

Forget whether what you believe is right — test how self-consistent they are (I was pleased by my 20% score)

Scott Adams cures himself of Spasmodic Dysphonia, the first ever cure. (This is a serious piece, not Dilbert comedy).

Guess what’s going to swing the election

Charles Murray (the man who helped to bring you The Bell Curve and similar discredited attempts at science) brings you some more foolishness today in The New York Times editorial page. His column regards the recent law that tries to make online gambling much harder. It contains this pip:

In the short term, this law all by itself could add a few more Democratic Congressional seats in the fall elections. We are talking about a lot of people (an estimated 23 million Americans gamble online) who are angry enough to vote on the basis of this one issue, and they blame Republicans.

Please. He might as well have said, “We’re talking about a lot of people (Over 200 million people have heard of the game of poker), and they all hate Republicans enough to declare war and bring down the Republic.” 23 million people represents almost 8% of the US population, and almost 20% of voters. Reading this you might think that 20% of the voters have actually swung into the Democrat column. You’d think we’d hear about such a huge landslide change in the electorate like this. No? Hm, maybe 23 million isn’t the right number, let’s dig a little deeper.

How many of those 23 million are not active gamblers (one bet last year shouldn’t count)?
How many of them aren’t eligible voters?
How many of them even know about the new law?
How many of them aren’t particularly mad because they know how to get around the new law?
How many of them aren’t particularly mad because they believe it’s a good law?*

What’s left is people who are genuinely annoyed by this. Of those…

How many are so mad, it overwhelms any other political ideas they have? (I sincerely hope the answer is very low.)
How many of them ever vote? (If the answer is yes, doesn’t that imply they do have some pre-existing political ideas?)
How many of them actually blame the Republicans (the vote passed overwhelmingly by both parties, and was part of a big security bill)?
How many of them already vote Republican (so their vote doesn’t change)?
How many of them are in districts that are heavily tilted to either side (so their vote doesn’t matter)?

I don’t know what number comes out of the other end, but my guess is that it’s insignificant. Charles Murray is an idiot.

*I myself play the lottery once in a while, even though I think they’re immoral.

Just make it stop

Today is October 15th. Tonight, while having dinner at a restaurant, they played Christmas music. On October 15th.

To make it worse, we were eating at a Chinese buffet! Somehow I don’t think the owners religious beliefs were influencing the programming decisions.

If I had a business, I would have a big banner outside that said, “No Christmas music until December 15th. Shop in peace!”

Do garbagemen get the day off?

Whenever there is a holiday, there is no garbage pickup. But we never actually miss a day.

One of our pickup days is Tuesday (yes, one of our pickup days. I like DeKalb county).
If the holiday is Monday, pickup is normal. If it’s Tuesday, they pick it up Wednesday. And of course, if it’s Wednesday, pickup is normal.

On Wednesday, the garbagemen have to pick up garbage for twice as many people, all the Tuesday and Wednesday pickups. They have to work twice as much.

So how is that a day off? Imagine if you got July 4th off, but then had to work a 16-hour shift on July 5th. I think they’re getting robbed.

A bunch of good links

Voting Suppression

For those who don’t know, the GOP has been gunning for some time to require photo IDs and create other barriers to voting. In a previous post, I came out for photo ID. Now, I’m not so sure. There are a few reasons.

One, I’ve become convinced that many citizens don’t have photo ID for perfectly valid reasons. The elderly, poor, and rural often don’t have them. Two, the political motivations have become more and more blatant. Consider this recent article.

“You have to show ID for almost everything — to rent a Blockbuster movie!” said Mr. Pearce, a Republican in the State House of Representatives. “Nobody has the right to cancel my vote by voting illegally. This is about political corruption.”

See, here’s the thing. There have been virtually zero cases of voter fraud, of “voting illegally”. This is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. So why is the emphasis being put here, instead of say, on electronic voting machines. (Computer scientists have demonstrated how elections could be stolen without anyone knowing. This is not to say it’s been done, but there is absolutely no way of knowing. Scary.)

And then there is the obvious codeword, “Cancel”. Why do all the Republicans who talk about this speak of canceling votes? Who says that these people will all vote for the opposite as you? It’s as if Republicans are for it because the people without formal photo ID are overwhelming Democratic. It’s like they’ve all been told to use the codeword “cancel” instead of using their own words. It’s like they are ignoring all the serious problems with elections for trivial little ones that favor their party. Why, it’s almost as if this is a partisan ploy, designed for partisan purposes!

Anyhow, here’s my real thoughts. People shouldn’t need voter ID cards, they should have minimal civic knowledge cards. If it comes to cancelling votes, I don’t like the idea of my vote being potentially cancelled out by people who just don’t know the basic facts. I don’t mind voters believing things I don’t or having different priorities. That’s just democracy in action. But what about the people who can’t name a senator, or how many branches of government there are, or what century the Declaration of Independence was signed in, or vote for candidates because they have good hair, or have the vaguest conception of what the office they are helping to determine actually does. That’s the crime.