Monday, April 28, 2008

Laughter of the (Green) Gods

You have got to love the split-personality San Francisco. The liberal bastion of the west is not only forcing people to be environmentally conscious, but forcing them to be humble about it as well.

In order to promote environmental protection, San Francisco is starting to enforce regulations that require landlords to recycle. Not a terrible idea, considering the state of our environment. Toss those empty cans into the blue bin instead of the black one, and they can be made into new cans, or into anything else that aluminum is part of, instead of just wasting away in a dump somewhere. Not a terrible idea, in my humble opinion, to "encourage" this kind of environmental consciousness. Call it paternalism, call it liberal overreaching, call it whatever you want. I call it a good idea.

I should note at this point that my family has had and used a recycle bin for as long as I can remember.

But now, not only are residents forced to recycle, but to hide the bins as well? It now has come out that San Francisco is handing out $100 fines to residents who do not put empty recycling bins out of sight. On the side of the house is no longer good enough. Now these giant bins have to be put completely away in a garage or otherwise out of sight.

Again, I should note that the bins are always placed in my family's garage so that we have easy access to them.

Is San Francisco that hard up for cash that it has to fine both the recyclers and the non-recyclers? I do not care how deep the treasury's debt is. This is ridiculous. The government can take a loss for a good purpose, and supporting recycling certainly meets this requirement. I can understand requiring a resident to pull the bins off the curb, but the side of the house seems like a perfectly reasonable place to store them.

As for eyesores, the giant contractor's truck that is always parked on my street, or the white, windowless van that always blocks the fire hydrant, seem more like sight pollution than a few recycling bins will ever be.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This is the Primary that Never Ends..........

And the Democratic party continues to implode and cannibalize all of the goodwill it might have had, as the last remaining pretenders to the throne continue to bash each other in the hopes of being able to take on John McCain come November. With the Pennsylvania primary falling right into line with the rest of the country, the party headed (at least nominally) by Howard Dean still cannot define which sort of history it wants to set.

But at the same time, nearly every analyst and pundit is saying that there is no realistic way for Clinton to get the nomination, and that in the end it will be Obama getting the nod and the nom. As long as Hillary believes she still has a chance, however, this psychotic game will continue, and just go on and on ad inifinitum.

Clinton runs well where NO DEMOCRAT WILL WIN in November, and the Democratic voters there will vote for whatever Democrat gets nominated (see: rural Virginia). Obama has a chance to win the middle, and actually compete with the perceived-moderate McCain. That's the great thing about spin, though. If you look at his voting record, McCain is a lot more conservative that people think, but he still gets the "moderate" tag.

When this primary finally spits out a nominee in this political race to the bottom, they will be either battle-tested or mortally wounded. Either way, it is not the truth that matters, but how the truth is perceived. And in this election year, here is how I view the perception of the truth: A Republican who can compete for the center has months to shore up his right flank, while the Democrats engage in a protracted duel to the death that will just wind up killing them both.

Oh, happy day.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Population Bust?

What the hell is going on in the Bay Area? Today I was listening to KGO online to keep up with some local issues even while I still live in Boston, and every other commercial is for Pacific Fertility Center. Is there a rash of impotence going around the Bay? I am horribly confused. Why the sudden need to inundate the airwaves with commercial after commercial for fertility treatments? Maybe they are just trying to make it seem like there is, so anyone with the slightest difficulty conceiving will come charging into their office. Maybe it is the variances of internet radio, where not every commercial gets broadcast online. All I know is that I half expect to see no newborns when I am home next week.

Chalk one up to the advertisers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Living the Dream

Another anniversary to mark, another life to celebrate, another loss to mourn.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. There is no better tribute to the man than to present his own words.

"I submit to you that if a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn't fit to live." - June 23, 1963, Detroit.

"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. ... Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - 1967, Where Do We Go from Here : Chaos or Community?.

"Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a molder of consensus." - March 31, 1968, Washington, D.C.

"I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good." - as quoted by Jeffrey Alexander in 2006.

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - 1963, Strength to Love.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - 1963, Strength to Love.

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - 1963, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

"I have consistently preached that nonviolence demands that the means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek. I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends." - 1963, "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."

"When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'" - August 28, 1963, "I have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.

"I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant." - December 10, 1964, Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway.

"I had received [letters] from the President and the Vice-President. I've forgotten what those telegrams said. I'd received a visit and a letter from the Governor of New York, but I've forgotten what the letter said. But there was another letter that came from a little girl, a young girl who was a student at the White Plains High School. And I looked at that letter, and I'll never forget it. It said simply, 'Dear Dr. King: I am a ninth-grade student at the Whites Plains High School.' She said, 'While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I am a white girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze.' And I want to say tonight, I want to say that I am happy that I didn't sneeze." - April 3, 1968, Memphis.

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." - April 3, 1968, Memphis.

"If your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi and nonviolence. But if your enemy has no conscience like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer."

"Let no one drive you so low as to hate him."

"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."

"Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."

"The greatest sin of our time is not the few who have destroyed but the vast majority who sat idly by."

"The time is always right to do what is right."

"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

"When evil men plot, good men must plan; when evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind; when evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love; where evil men will seek to perpetuate an unjust status quo, good men must seek to bring into being a real order of justice."

It will be a happy day indeed when the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial is completed and takes its place on the National Mall between Washington and Lincoln, finally giving a fitting honor to the man who gave the last full measure of devotion for the freedom of everyone everywhere.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Send them to Bed without Supper

Howard Dean has said that he is committed to having Florida's delegates seated, one way or another, at the Democratic National Convention. The only way I could possibly see this being done in a fair and justifiable manner is to have the delegates seated, but have no vote whatsoever. Florida and Michigan were both stripped of their delegates for moving their primaries ahead of the start date authorized by the Democratic National Committee, and both states knew in advance what the party's reaction would be. Now they come in and say that they are being disenfranchised, when they knew all along what would happen.

My parents once gave my grandmother a magnet that said "If mom says no, ask grandma!" I guess that makes Dean the grandmother in this little comparison. Either way, Florida and Michigan have to be told to sit this one out, and the total delegate count should be reduced by the voting strength of what Michigan and Florida would have been. Florida and Michigan delegates should not be seated in Denver, and their desperate cries for recognition should fall on deaf ears.

I am not saying that the presidential primary system should not be changed, nor am I saying that it is perfect as it stands today. All I am saying is that, given the procedures in place, that every state and candidate was aware of at the beginning, Florida and Michigan knew what the consequences of their actions would be. And they should suffer those consequences. The world may not be a very fair place, but this one should be a no brainer. Even for the Democrats, as they all hold hands and jump off the nearest cliff together.

I love the smell of democracy in the morning. Who's ready for the 2012 campaign to start?

Musings on NFL Rules Redux

How have the owners voted?

The college option on the coin toss, allowing teams to defer taking the ball until the second half.

I said the owners should approve the rule. Result? 30-2 in favor of the change.

Eliminating the five-yard "incidental facemask" penalty. Grabbing the facemask and turning it would lead to an automatic 15-yard penalty.

I opposed this rule change. Missed this one. Owners adopted it.

Instant replay on field-goal attempts.

Sports Illustrated called the vote a "slam dunk for the owners," but did not list the count. Either way, I agree with the move.

Ending the forceout rule on receptions and interceptions.

I said do it, otherwise what is the point in defending? Owners agree, unanimously, and I will be screaming at my television less this fall.

Changing the rule on seeding in the playoffs.

Proposal tabled after an informal vote showed strong resistance to the proposal. Good move by the owners. There has to be a value to winning the division. Suck it up if you can't pull it off.

(I did not include this one last week but) Putting a communication device in the helmet of the defensive captain.

Owners allow the change. Good move. Signals are fun and all, but if the offense can move into the 21st century, it is only fair that the defense can do the same.

Still no word on what the owners think about restricting how much hair players can have below the helmet, but the NFLPA has said that they oppose this change. Good thing, too. One analyst said that the union would probably use this as a line in the sand. Good for them, standing up for individuality, especially when the hair is a religious/cultural expression for some of the players. The NFL will be better off leaving well enough alone.

Ignoring the hair proposal and the communication devices,
My record for the owner's meetings: 4-1.