That Sums It Up Nicely

The last line of this story, about a principal at a charter school who uses RFID in the student IDs to keep track of the children, really sums it up properly. To address the concerns of the critics who think this might be problematic and invade the privacy of the students, he says:

“It’s as private as anything else can be when your information is stored on a server,” he said.

Anyone here who would accept that as a valid answer, please send me an e-mail with the reasons why that’s okay. Be sure to add your social security number and mother’s maiden name for validation purposes. Thank you.

(Link seen on /..)

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Michael Kinsley Says, “Because I Said So”

In an editorial in the Washington Post, Michael Kinsley’s latest piece bears the headline “One Reason Not to Like Bush” and he starts with a lead of:

Conservatives wonder why so many liberals don’t just disagree with President Bush’s policies, but seem to dislike him personally. The story of stem cell research may help to explain.

He offer some blah blah blah about Bush opposing fetus stem cell research and how Bush pretends to think it’s immoral, but:

None of this matters if you believe that a microscopic embryo is a human being with the same human rights as you and me. George W. Bush claims to believe that, and you have to believe something like that to justify your opposition to stem cell research. But Bush cannot possibly believe that embryos are full human beings, or he would surely oppose modern fertility procedures that create and destroy many embryos for each baby they bring into the world. Bush does not oppose modern fertility treatments. He even praised them in his anti-stem cell speech.

Got that? Kinsley starts putting beliefs into Bush’s head to make his point. Lookie der, lookie der, Bush cannot adhere to his principles because he has not specifically addressed this particular permutation! HYPOCRITE!

Finally, after some blah blah blah about Bush being a hypocrite and moral poser and not a very good one at that (undoubtedly, Kinsley would probably intimate, like you and me, wink-wink-nudge-nudge-say-no-more!), Kinsley finishes with:

This is not a policy disagreement. Or rather, it is not only a policy disagreement. If the president is not a complete moron — and he probably is not — he is a hardened cynic, staging moral anguish he does not feel, pandering to people he cannot possibly agree with and sacrificing the future of many American citizens for short-term political advantage.

Is that a good enough reason to dislike him personally?

Actually, if I were falling for the straw man Kinsley’s hung in effigy, I might still think it was a policy disagreement if I left out every impure motive he so applied so dilligently to the policy discussion.

As it stands, I can only summon forth a “Poor form, Peter” and continue to disregard Michael Kinsley as a serious thinker. Is it good enough reason to dislike him personally? But, Mr. Toohey, I don’t think of you.

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Chutzpah, as Defined by Shjon Podein

In John Buccigross’s column on hockey this week, Shjon Podein, the former Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues winger, defines chutzpah as only a hockey player can:

“So, I’m in my rookie year in Edmonton and it’s my birthday. We had just come home from one of our infamous 15-20 day road trips and my family is there to celebrate. So, the family and I go out to have some dinner and drinks. We’re just relaxing when one of my brothers gives me a four-foot high, inflatable tyrannosaurus rex for a birthday present. My other brother gives me a sombrero.

We get back to the hotel and get mom back in her room. As we’re leaving mom’s room, my brothers jump me and rip my suit off in the hotel hallway, leaving me with just my boxers, a sombrero and my 4 foot high inflatable tyrannosaurus rex.

So I’m wandering the hallways of the hotel trying to find where my room is. We’d been on the road for 15-20 days, it’s late, and I can’t remember my room number. I stick my room key in a number of doors, hoping to find the right one. All of a sudden, I look up and there is one of Canada’s finest security guards.

I go, “Hey, what’s going on!”

The security guard says, ‘We’ve had a complaint that some guy is walking down the hall in his boxers, wearing a sombrero, with a bottle of Bud in one hand and an inflatable dinosaur in the other, making too much noise.’

I looked at him and said, “You’ve got the WRONG GUY, brotha.”

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Richard Roeper Crosses the Line

In his column today for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper discusses the marketing creation “metrosexual.” He’s spot on when he says nobody but people who are selling something to men who want to be “metrosexuals” every really uses the term “metrosexual.”

However, he goes over the line with his clincher paragraph:

Uh, I don’t think so. And after I finish my Guinness tonight, moisturize and then read a few pages of The Devil Wears Prada before I watch “SportsCenter,” I’ll sleep well, knowing this whole metrosexual thing is just media-fueled nonsense. Hell, I don’t think I even know any metrosexuals.

Dammit, were I in Chicago, I might feel the need to defend my manliness by having a slap fight with him or downing a Budweiser just to prove I could. As it were, I shall finish my Guinness, read a chapter of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, and ….

Uh oh.

Looks like there might be some awkward conversations at Thanksgiving when I come out of the walk-in closet.

Oh, wait, my beautiful wife dresses me, so I guess I am not a metrosexual after all.

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Know The Enemy: The Box Cutter

With all the handwringing about Nathaniel Heatwole and his “hide the box cutter” stunt which has left him facing ten years in Federal prison for pointing out the folly that is the TSA and its passenger searches, I think it’s time to inject a little perspective into the anti-box cutter hysteria. I understand they were used in the hijackings on September 11, 2001, but it was a different world then. People expected that hijackers wanted to fly to Cuba, or wanted some political hostages released, or some ransom money. People did not know then that doing what a hijacker wanted was certain death, too.

Otherwise, no one would be hijacked by someone wielding one of these:

A box cutter compared to a 6" ruler.

Not exactly a machete, now, is it? This is your garden variety box cutter favored by retail stockers and warehousemen everywhere. Note the less-than-shiny razor blade with almost a whole half inch of cutting surface exposed. This is not a piercing or stabbing weapon, folks. This is a little slasher, and it’s got far less than an inch of penetration power. No bad man is going to stick you in the heart or lungs with it, and it’s probably not enough to cut through your stomach wall if you’ve done any extra situps recently or have been eating a lot of fast food. Keep it away from your neck and you should be okay if someone pulls one in a fight. Granted, I’d rather be the guy with a case cutter if one of the two of us in the fight has one, but it’s not instant death, and it’s not even that intimidating.

Even if the bad guy pulls the razor out, he’s only exposing 1.5 inches of slashing blade, and it’s a hell of a lot harder to hold:

A box cutter disassembled, with razor out.

Of course, maybe when the press describes box cutter it means a utility knife. Utility knives come in all shapes and sizes, but they’re all designed to have a small, sharp cutting surface but also to be safe for people to handle. As a result, they don’t make that effective of a weapon, especially if you’re a terrorist with a plane full of resisting people.

So we, the people, know that the measures that strip grandmothers of their pinking shears and businessmen of their nail clippers are mostly cosmetic. That the TSA is making a show of security all the while telling us to please be quiet so that the TSA can fool the bad men into thinking the planes are secure. By taking away some of the most effective makeshift weapons available. This effort inconveniences air travellers and probably doesn’t even phase the bad men. It also could lead to prosecution of innocent people who make a small mistake.

When I was working in retail, the box cutter just became a part of the gear I carry in my jeans pockets. After each work day, I dumped it onto the dresser with my wallet, keys, and change. Every morning, including some upon which I did not work, I picked the gear up and put it into my pockets. If I were to do that today, on a day whereupon I was to catch a plane, don’t doubt the TSA would make an example of me.

So let this be a series of lessons to you. Our TSA is creating, for its own benefit, an illusion of security by isolating innocuous items and hoping against all hope that the terrorists continue to use things TSA screeners are looking for and that the terrorists are foolish enough to get caught with them. The TSA will ruin countless innocent American (not that Heatwole’s innocent, mind you) lives to make its point, which is not worth much.

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Down the Creek Without a Paddle, Go To Jail!

Apparently, going over Niagara Falls without a barrel is illegal, according to this story:

It was a stunt — not a suicide attempt — that sent a Michigan man over the brink of Niagara Falls yesterday. That’s according to Canadian police, who say they will charge 40-year-old Kirk Jones of Canton, Michigan with illegally performing a stunt.

I’m not sure which stunts are legal in Canada, but just in case, it’s probably a good idea to not leap through any flaming hoops when visiting our nothern neighbor.

No word from our legal counsel yet whether wearing clown shoes violates Ontario ordinance.

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Criminalization of Stupid Things? You Don’t Say! (II)

Tyler Cowan of The Volokh Conspiracy expounds on the overcriminalization of economic conduct.

He quotes:

“Estimates of the current size of the body of federal criminal law vary. It has been reported that the Congressional Research Service cannot even count the current number of federal crimes. The American Bar Association reported in 1998 that there were in excess of 3,300 separate criminal offenses. More than 40 percent of these laws have been enacted in just the past 30 years, as part of the growth of the regulatory state. And these laws are scattered in over 50 titles of the United States Code, encompassing roughly 27,000 pages. Worse yet, the statutory code sections often incorporate, by reference, the provisions and sanctions of administrative regulations promulgated by various regulatory agencies under congressional authorization. Estimates of how many such regulations exist are even less well settled, but the ABA thinks there are “[n]early 10,000.””

Makes it hard to keep them all straight in your head, doesn’t it?

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She Wolf or She Male? Which Sub Place Tonight?

John Kass of the Chicago Tribune contrasts the current commercials of submarine sandwich chains (registration required).


The commercial starts off with two guys holding toasted subs.

“One guy asks, `What? You don’t like it? Were you raised by wolves?’

“The other guy has a far-away look in his eyes. Then there’s a flashback, and he’s in business attire, suckling at a grown she-wolf, fighting off other wolf cubs, the only thing is, he’s not a wolf. He’s a guy, in business attire, suckling on a wolf.”

We stood there, silently pondering the image, trying to figure out why wolf milk might inspire a guy to buy a sub.


This one involves a tense fellow who dresses in a cheerleader outfit, and swishes his pompoms in the middle of his driveway, with the neighbors watching, including the neighbor with the video camera.

In the commercial, the cross-dresser tells his terrified daughter not to worry, that although he’s “been bad,” he had the special sandwich. He’s absolved himself with a sub.

Makes me want to order pizza, too.

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Veterinarian Explains Hunter Pathological Psychology

After treating a black Lab for an arrow wound, a veterinarian took a moment to plomb the deep recesses of the dark soul of hunters:

A lot of hunters take the hunt as seriously as a religion, and anything that gets in their way is going to get blasted to kingdom come,” Jones said. “Of course the dog probably ran around in this woods all year round. The hunters were probably there illegally.”

Spurious assertions made to split hunters from the mainstream, where they yet remain in the suburbanifying northern Jefferson County region of Missouri? Back off, man, he’s a scientist armed with a D.V.M. degree, so he can explain the lizard-brain-mentality which undoubtedly comes from an excess of blood and not enough phlegm in some sects of the population.

If you’re going to say a lot of hunters are murderous skybusters (or ground-level busters), you can just as easily assert that quite a few black Labs exhibit suicidal impulses or innumerable veterinarians are nitwits. However, I cannot comfortably assert spuriously based on personal anecdotes. Our veterinarian is not a nitwit and the most avid hunter I know hasn’t yet blasted everything in his way to kingdom come, I’d have to think that spurious assertions only serve to make good newspaper copy, and to be a Jedi mind trick for weak minded legislators fools.

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Poor Word Choice, Peter

The New York Daily News, writing about another suicide at New York University, characterizes the incident thusly:

A 19-year-old New York University student plunged from a friend’s sixth-floor window in Manhattan last night in an apparent suicide, cops said.

The incident marked the third reported suicide by an NYU student this fall.

Ouch. Might I recommend you share my pretentious reference to this season as autumn to avert these situations?

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Outted by the Friday Five!

Acidman drinks Budweiser!

I can understand the boxed wine because of the convenience of stacking. Whenever I get a pallet full delivered, I can dolly it in and stack it to the ceiling in my laundry room wine cellar. But Budweiser in the refrigerator?

Maybe it’s left over from a party or something. I mean, I know the malternative six pack that materializes at our parties tends to last longer than its grain alternatives, but I’m no Marc Antony. I won’t drink the stale of horses even if Clydesdales produce a hearty, robust flavor.

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Nick Gillespie’s First Time

Nick’s first time took place when he was fourteen and one a cold basement floor. Me, when I was nineteen, in the dark room in the basement I called The Cave, on a bed beneath Christmas lights set to flash on and off.

The first time I read The Stranger, of course.

Nick’s got short review and reflection on American Existentialism, springing off of a tome called Existential America (christmasWishList.add(book);). Might be worth a browse. Much of my Existentialist reading has come from surveys, werd, except for the primary stuff like The Stranger, The Plague, Nausea, Existentialism and Human Emotions, and about twenty pages of Being and Nothingness.

So where was I? Oh, yes, L’Etranger, which I read when I was looking for Existenialist stuff. Man, that was a philosophy for me. All the books were thin! So I took two. The Stranger and The Outsider. After I polished off The Stranger, I started The Outsider and suddenly, I understood the circular meaninglessness of everyday existence. Deja vu with disappointment. The Outsider had the same first page as The Stranger! What an artistic statement! Or perhaps it was just that the British translation had a different title. It’s something I have speculated on in many coffeeshops.

Regardless, if you haven’t read it, I recommend it. Especially for those of you who want to impress your book clubs by selecting a philosophical novel, but a short philosophical novel.

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