Monday, March 30, 2009

Miles for Mammaries

The Susan G. Komen Nashville Ride for the Cure is coming up in just a couple of weeks (April 18th), and I will be cycling the long track, which is a half-century (50 miles). This event is (obviously) to raise awareness, and more importantly money, for breast cancer research, mammograms, etc. etc. Really, we cyclists just like to think that there's some reason we're out killing ourselves on the slopes of some hill somewhere.

Anyway, it's for a good cause—after all, the world would be a much sadder place without breasts. I'm trying to raise at least $100 before the event, and would love to have your help. You can donate online through this direct link. Thanks for the help!

P.S.: alternate titles for this post could be "Pedaling for Pillows", or "Biking for Bosoms", if you prefer.

Truer Words...

As we all know, Michigan is feeling the economic crunch more than most states, due to some (*ahem*) bad decisions made over the past 30-40 years. Lots of auto industry problems, union issues, etc. But every part of the industry is affected; the dealerships in the state are starting to close as well, due to lack of business.

Such is the sad state (ha ha) of affairs at a particular Wayland-area dealership forced to close its doors. True to form, the employees are taking out their anger on each other. The kicker?

"'Had they been sober, this probably wouldn’t have happened,' [Police Chief Dan] Miller said."

Isn't that always the case?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I Never Forget a Face

We seem to have forgotten that the people working for large companies receiving bailout money are, in fact, just that: people. In our desire to see them lynched, or calling for them to commit ritual suicide (just scroll down a few posts if you don't have any idea what I'm talking about), we have shown exactly why a populist democracy is such a bad thing. Today the New York Times ran an open resignation letter from one of these recently-vilified executives, who was slated to receive bonus money but instead got a mailbox full of death threats. In case you missed it, you can read the entire letter here.

To me, at least, this could be straight out of John Galt's speech at the end of Atlas Shrugged. Unsurprising, but important for people to note. Populism is a dangerous, dangerous road to go down; and while I am disappointed in the American public for falling at such an obvious ruse as this bonus obfuscation, I am irate at the government's feigned outrage. They know better.

Well, now that I think about that, I'm not sure they do. Perhaps the blame should shift back on the public. Willful ignorance is not a justifiable defense, and voting in all these idiots doesn't help the case. So, just as a reminder, there's a reason we aren't a true democracy. There's a reason it takes so long to get anything actually done in the American system of government. Mainly the hope that, by the time some hare-brained legislation has passed through all the proper channels, cooler heads can prevail. People unfortunately have forgotten how to think straight when confronted with problems, and mob mentality seems to be the norm nowadays. There is so much misdirected outrage and offense that I fear we may never be able to return to that which was originally intended for us, and we sacrifice our freedoms by the minute to fuel the fire of our populist outcries. Why have we lost the ability to think? At what point did we decide to become ruled entirely by our emotions? That is the road to insanity! We pretend to be so cynical and world-wise, yet we take any random piece of data that's thrown at us as gospel without bothering to verify sources or even see if it passes the common sense test. We seem to want to have an opinion on every single subject, without an underlying philosophy. How is this even possible? How can anyone have enough knowledge to independently evaluate such an incredibly vast array of disparate information? Think about what you really believe, people! What are your principles? In what way to they color your view of the world, and how do your emotions and opinions fit with it? Do they fit at all? I'm especially looking at you on that question, Christians.

We will never be able to return to fiscal or political sanity in this country until we can revert back from "I feel" to "I think"...and actually mean it.
This got really stream-of-consciousness, at least for me...I'm going to try to pick through some of this stuff in later posts at a later date. Consider it an overview, if you can manage to wade through it. Stay tuned.

Biking down the Natchez

I biked 60.3 miles down the Natchez Trace on Saturday with a couple of friends, and boy are my legs tired! Ha ha ha!

No, really, it's flatter than some areas in Nashville (read: my house), but we still did over half a mile of pure elevation in the course of the ride. It was my first time out on the Trace, though, and it's very pretty. Seems like it'd be a fun place to go out and spend the day. Minimal traffic, stunning vistas at the scenic overlooks, etc.

But man, after 60 miles, those pretty, old-growth forests on either side of the road start to get boring. Oppressing, even. Like they're starting to bend over the road, leering at you as you struggle vainly to find the last few calories of glycogen stored somewhere, anywhere, in your muscles so that you have the energy to keep the pedals turning over the next hill.

We really enjoyed ourselves, actually, but we did come to the conclusion that every professional cyclist (and many an amateur) is a total masochist. As my friend noted, "They enjoy going to the dentist."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

See, It's Because of Crap Like This...

That I hate Apple. When you see that they intentionally cripple their products (this isn't the first time they've been accused of it), and have to buy OS upgrades every year (say what you will about Microsoft, 5 years is the minimum release cycle for them, usually more); it just isn't work it for "t3h shinys".

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rhetorical Rhetoric

"Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation.

"The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community."

James Madison, Federalist Paper Number 44, 1788.

How angry are you over the AIG bonus hullabaloo?

At whom are you upset?

If you answered, "very" and "AIG executives", why? Is it because you've heard pretty much every media outlet and every politician railing on the subject for a week?

Why are you so angry? Is it because people are getting paid bonuses after taking taxpayer-funded bailouts?

How much do you actually know of the details?

Did you know that the bonuses are contractually obligated, and protected under Sections 9 and 10 of Article I of the Constitution? Did you know that Congress knew of these bonuses, in fact specifically carved out an exception allowing them, in the last couple of bailout bills? Did you know that the government has given AIG in particular so much money because they're basically using them as a giant money laundering scheme? That, through this scheme, they've managed to send over $68 billion of bailout money overseas? And that, conversely, a mere $44 billion has stayed in the USA?

Why haven't you heard about this anywhere? Why is it that you listen when Congress tells you to ignore the $8 billion, or approximately 2%, of the congressional budget designated for earmarks? Why do you also listen when they tell you to get outraged over $165 million, or 0.097% of the bailout money AIG has received, going to contractually-obligated bonuses for people who actually made the company money?

Do you not see the hypocrisy in this thinking?

Do you understand why the right to contract is so incredibly important in our society? Why it is mentioned so many times in the Federalist Papers, or outlined so firmly in the Constitution? Is it more important to you than holding on to your completely un-Christian vindictiveness? Why or why not?

Did you hear that both the people receiving their bonuses and their families have received numerous violent death threats, including threats to decapitate them one at a time with piano wire? Did you see Congress respond to this news with a collective "meh", then say they were going to try to release the names of these people to the public anyway? Does this not worry you? Isn't the role of the government to protect its people from the initiation of physical harm?

Do you trust your news source?

Just why do you think everyone in government (on both sides of the aisle) are talking about this so much, anyway? Are they trying to distract us? Is this their version of bread and circuses? If so, then from what are they trying to draw our attention? Is it the aforementioned money laundering scheme? Is it their total disregard for the Constitutionally-granted right to contract, protection from ex post facto law, and protection from bills of attainder that they're currently exercising? Does it feel like an under-the-table power grab to anyone else?

Does this not anger you?

At whom should you really be upset?

Today's Sign that the Inmates Are Running the Asylum

AIG has some people's blood pressure running pretty high, but there are a couple of pretty amazing things being said lately. The first, from President Obama:
Noting that AIG has "received substantial sums" of federal aid from the federal government, Obama said he has asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner "to use that leverage and pursue every legal avenue to block these bonuses and make the American taxpayers whole."
As a lawyer, Obama should know that this is a truly stupid idea. If they don't pay those bonuses that they are contractually obligated to pay, the guys who were to receive them will sue for breach of contract, and then not only will AIG have to pay the bonuses off, but also will have to pay attorney's fees as well... and I guarantee the lawyers for the executives won't be charging $200/hour, try closer to $600/hour. I've written about this elsewhere so I won't expand on it, but c'mon, guys.

The second, and even more ridiculous item, comes courtesy of Iowa Senator Charles Grassley (R), who insinuated that the AIG executives should either quit or commit seppuku. Seriously? Can I have some of what you're smoking?