Category: politics

Topics I will no longer argue about

This is a long-overdue list of Topics I Will No Longer Argue About. The list is far from complete, and I will almost certainly be adding stuff to it.

  • religion
  • politics
  • bike helmets
  • two spaces after a period
  • iOS vs. Android
  • Mac vs. PC
  • English spelling and grammar
  • what “football” is
  • what an “architect” is and does
  • the value of professional and trade certifications
  • the Oxford comma

I hope it’s the stupidity

As the Daylight Saving Time change disturbs my circadian rhythms once again – arbitrarily and for no good reason – I set out to ponder, with a foggy mind, why so many things around us don’t make sense.

Daylight Saving Time is just one of myriad examples of absurd and idiotic constructs that permeate today’s society. You can come up with many more on your own. So, is there some sinister force behind each of these nonsensical phenomena, causing adverse societal consequences for its own benefit, or is it just random stupidity colliding with other random stupidity to create unpredictable and inexplicable results?

I hope it is the stupidity.

My final political commentary

After a long-time professional acquaintance reacted adversely to , I realized that it’s time for me to stop commenting publicly on political affairs. It’s bad for business. But before I make my exit, let me share what I’ve learned from the recent government shutdown debacle:

  • The country is clearly not being run by the people’s elected representatives. I don’t know by whom, but .
  • The forces that run the country clearly don’t have the American people’s best interests at heart. If they have hearts, that is.

So this is my final political commentary. From now on I’ll stick to dick jokes.

The filibuster shoe

One unintended consequence of is that the running shoes she wore on the Texas Senate floor for 11 hours have become an instant sales hit on Amazon.

Mizuno Women's Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe
Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe

This is not unprecedented. Sarah Palin’s glasses also sold well while she was campaigning for Vice President on John McCain’s ticket in 2008. And Paula Deen’s book (not due until October) is already ranked #1 on Amazon. [UPDATE June 29, 2013: Deen’s publisher has dropped the book, and she has in earnings over the N-word controversy.]

Which proves yet again that all publicity is good publicity. [UPDATE June 29, 2013: Does not, apparently.]

You can order the Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 16 Running Shoe from the Amazon link below (I will make a small commission). While there, read the funny product reviews.

Mass peaceful protests in Bulgaria

I have not seen since I left for the US in 1991. I stay in touch with Bulgarian family and friends via email, Facebook and telephone, but have been somewhat removed from the political process there.

Yet something significant is happening in Bulgaria these days, causing me to pay attention. Mass citizen protests have flooded the streets in major cities — Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas — for six days and counting. The protests are peaceful. But what do the protesters want? Bulgarian Georgi Marinov (“a very internet person”) offers an excellent analysis.


At first glance, beautiful Bulgaria has a lot of democracy going on — laws, elections, a parliament, a president, markets, EU membership, free will, the works, we have it. Look from the outside, and it’s clearly there. The inside of this strange hologram, though, feels very different, especially if you’re a Bulgarian.

Marinov’s on Medium.

Bulgaria citizen protests 2013. Sign says: "The citizens strike back!"
Bulgaria citizen protests 2013. Placard says: “The citizens strike back!”

PRISM and a Soviet-era joke

Generations of Eastern Europeans grew up with jokes like the one below. As a result, this Eastern European isn’t surprised in the slightest by the current PRISM “revelations” — just amused by the ensuing tempest in a teapot. Friends: Develop a sense of humor.

USSR, 1975: Arkady Ivanov travels on business. He must share a hotel room for the night with two strangers — Boris and Vadim. Arkady wants to sleep, but Boris and Vadim keep telling political jokes, laughing hysterically after each one, keeping Arkady awake. Arkady asks them to stop, Boris and Vadim won’t.

Arkady leaves the room to go to the bathroom (one on each floor), and asks the concierge: “Can you please bring some tea to room 307 in ten minutes?” Arkady returns to his room, and after a while leans into the ashtray and says: “This is Major Ivanov. Please bring tea to the room.” In a minute the concierge knocks on the door and brings in the tea.

Boris and Vadim look at each other, then at Arkady. Dead silence sets in. Arkady finally falls asleep.

Arkady wakes up next morning to see that Boris and Vadim are gone. “Where are the other two?” — he asks the concierge. “Oh, Major Ivanov took them. He was supposed to take you, too, but he liked your joke very much so he cut you a break this time.”

Canada targeting San Francisco Bay’s Intelligent Immigrants?

[UPDATE June 7, 2013] The New York Times ran an article titled , using a photo of the same board.


This photo got 17,088 Flickr views in eight hours. There’s a strong message in this. I wonder whether the US is listening. [UPDATE July 25, 2013] The original Flickr photo was removed. Below is a facsimile:

Canada immigration billboard in San Francisco advertises new start-up visa H-1B
Canada immigration billboard in San Francisco advertises new start-up visa H-1B

Billboard says:

H-1B Problems?


New Start-Up Visa

Low Taxes

Google Reader as a surveillance tool

If I were a giant corporation aiming at collecting as much data about my customers as I possibly could, I would cherish a tool like , giving me daily insight into what stories millions of users are interested in (and what stories they choose to ignore).

If I were a government aiming at collecting as much data about my citizens as I possibly could, I would cherish a tool like Google Reader, giving me daily insight into what stories millions of citizens are interested in (and what stories they choose to ignore).

Google Reader usage stats are so much more meaningful than , which are often fake. Still, unbelievably, Google Reader is .

Could it be that its owners are blindly unaware of its enormous surveillance potential (hard to believe), or that they are not interested in collecting data on users/citizens (even harder to believe). Or could it be that there is no giant scheme, no secret master plan, but rather that events and consequences are occurring happenstance, similar to the way ?

Today I am more confused than ever.

PS This is not a cry over the loss of Google Reader, which I stopped using over a year ago. Users’ reaction to the end of Google Reader reminds me of my anguish over the end of iGoogle last year.

“Dumb as an Orcutt”

Everyone knows that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get elected to public office, but Washington state Rep. (R–Kalama), a ranking member of the State Transportation Committee, takes the qualification requirements to a new low.

In an email to a bicycle shop owner Mr. Orcutt argues that bicycling is bad for the environment and says bike riders should have to pay a tax to help maintain the state’s roads. He rationalizes his position thusly:

“[…] a cyclists [sic] has an increased heart rate and respiration. That means that the act of riding a bike results in greater emissions of carbon dioxide from the rider. Since CO2 is deemed to be a greenhouse gas and a pollutant, bicyclists are actually polluting when they ride.”

Below is a facsimile of Mr. Orcutt’s email:

Ed Orcutt bike tax email
Ed Orcutt bike tax email