Friday, June 29, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MORRIS ON IMMIGRATION BILL AFTERMATH

Thursday’s defeat of the immigration bill will boost the chances of a Democratic victory in 2008, giving Hillary Clinton – the probable Democratic candidate – a strong advantage, according to political strategist Dick Morris.

But a stronger move would have been to legalize 12-20 million people poised to vote for Democrats?
Morris added that the price Republicans will pay "is likely to be compounded by the probability that a Democratic Congress and president after the 2008 election will pass some form of immigration reform, probably a bill even more to the liking of the Hispanic community than the Bush proposal Congress just defeated.”

Wrong! This bill would have made amnesty a foregone conclusion and Hilary could have easily ignored enforcing the borders, and found ways around the other parts that she didn't like. Republicans have been very hesitant to oppose Bush the last 6 years and went along with him on things like the Medicare Prescription Drug benefit and No Child Left Behind. Those things never would have passed if a Democrat had been President. Hilary in 2008 will give Republicans even more reason to dig in and filibuster a new proposal. If for no other reason than the fund raising opportunities it offers.

And an anti-amnesty Republican candidate versus Hilary in 2008 makes this a live issue. Does Hilary really want to defend the idea that entering the country illegally should come with no penalty and citizenship is a product of border cunning?
How do you think Newt would frame it? The right Republican can make this issue stick to a Democrat.

I can't leave without commenting on this nugget.
"In 2004, George Bush made progress among Latino voters, coming within 10 points of John Kerry among Hispanics after losing them by 30 points to Al Gore four years before. But in 2006, Latinos voted Democrat by more than 40 points, according to exit polls, because of their anger at the harsh Republican immigration proposals.

Bush comes from a state with a large Hispanic population. He has an Hispanic sister-in-law. Has an understanding of the Hispanic culture that Kerry doesn't. He lost the vote by ten points. It's possible in a generation or two that Hispanics will become more politically conservative as they prosper and assimilate, but there is no scenario in which Republicans by importing uneducated Hispanics yield a majority of them for the Republicans. And there is no indication that current conservative Hispanics favor the illegals getting away with it.

Do you see the pattern where Bush is always on the defensive thinking that any Democrat idea is a slam dunk and he better hurry and think of a Republican version. Therefore we get No Child Left Behind and a drug benefit under Medicare. If he would have put the same effort towards comprehensive tax reform instead of immigration, voters in both parties would have supported him to same extent they opposed this. He had both houses of Congress and never even mentioned it. That's the sadness of this whole administration and why I won't be sorry to see it go.
TALK RADIO

You should hear Senator George Voinovich on Hannity’s radio show. Voinovich really sounds out of his league. First, he doesn’t even know what the fairness doctrine is and Hannity has to explain it before Voinovich remembers to oppose it. Then he tries to hang up when Hannity asks tough questions about the Immigration Bill. I’m impressed with Hannity here who is usually too deferential to Republicans even when he disagrees with them. Voinovich is obviously voting for the bill, but he keeps telling Hannity that he’s reserving judgment until it’s all together, although he won’t read the bill before the vote. Coward!

UPDATE: Voinovich flips. Was it Hannity or was it the reality that it would fail with or without him?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

HERITAGE FOUNDATION ON THE IMMIGRATION BILL

What does it cost?

1. Individuals without a high school degree impose significant net costs (the extent to which benefits and services received exceed taxes paid) on taxpayers.

2. The net fiscal cost of families of immigrants who lack a high school degree is not markedly different from the net fiscal cost of families of non-immigrants who lack a high school degree.

3. Immigrants are disproportionately low skilled; one-third of all immigrants and 50 to 60 percent of illegal immigrants lack a high school degree.

4. Unlike low and moderate skill immigrants, immigrants with a college education will pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits; therefore. immigration policy should increase the number of high skill immigrants entering the country and sharply decrease the number of low skill, fiscally dependent immigrants.[3]

Heritage research has shown that low skill immigrants (those without a high school degree) receive, on average, three dollars in government benefits and services for each dollar of taxes they pay. This imbalance imposes a net cost of $89 billion per year on U.S. taxpayers. Over a lifetime, the typical low skill immigrant household will cost taxpayers $1.2 million.[4]

Future taxpayer costs will be increased by policies which increase (1) the number of low skill immigrants entering the U.S., (2) the length of low skill immigrants' stays in the U.S., or (3) low skill immigrants' access to government benefits and services. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the Senate immigration bill does:


* The bill would triple the flow of low skill chain immigration into the U.S.

* By granting amnesty to at least 12 million illegal immigrants, the bill would greatly lengthen their stay in the U.S., particularly during retirement years.

* The bill would grant illegal immigrants access to Social Security and Medicare benefits and, over time, to more than 60 different federal welfare programs.

* Although the bill does not currently permit Z visa holders to bring spouses and children in from abroad, this would likely be amended at some future point on humanitarian grounds, resulting in another 5 million predominantly low-skill immigrants entering the country.

Heritage research has concluded that the cost of amnesty alone will be $2.6 trillion once the amnesty recipients reach retirement age.

Friday, June 22, 2007

CELEBRITY LOOK-A-LIKES OF 3/4 of the JUNTO BOYS
(Sorry E, I didn't have a Pic of you)

Here is what the latest face recognition tech will do for you: (but here is the real question, how much of the personality of your celebrity do you have? Hmmmmmmmmmm...)



OCEANS 13 (2007) – A Movie Review

This series is my favorite guilty pleasure of the decade. What works for me is the interplay between the cast and George Clooney and Brad Pitt in particular. The dialogue is clever and the actors have the charm to really pull it off. I think Clooney is the closest thing we have to Cary Grant these days and Brad Pitt is somehow a looser version of young Paul Newman, handsome, tough enough, and with a sense of humor. In other words, they’re real stars and leading men in a time where that seems scant.

In the first movie after the theft and when Clooney convinces Julia Roberts that Garcia is a bum, she chases Clooney down as the cops are carting him off to prison. She realizes that he did it all for her and they have a great but brief moment. I think it’s as good as the similar scene at the end of Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Holly finally gives in to Peppard who loves her. It works here because Clooney has a rare ability to combine charm and earnestness and you like the idea that he did it for more than the money. How can you not root for Clooney? What guy wouldn’t want to live a moment where the girl he loves is won over by his heroism?

Clooney and Pitt are thieves and yet they really trust each other in way that usually only happens at the end of most buddy films after the characters have fought and cussed each other out. Near the end of this film Clooney and Pitt are standing in front of the Belagio talking about the famous Casinos that use to stand in this area, the Sands, the Dessert Inn, etc. They both tell stories about how they met Elliot Gould’s character and how he was a mentor to them. The movie buff can sort of think back to young Eliot Gould in Robert Altman’s 70s poker film, California Split. It tackles in one scene their motivation for the entire scheme against Al Pacino, the current heavy. What impressed me is that these kinds of scenes almost never work, because they’re forced motivation written in for justification of earlier or later actions. Here Pitt, Clooney and Soderbergh make it seem from the heart.

This series has a lot of quiet moments and comic moments and the music is always just enough off-beat to be refreshing even if the heists or double crosses are beyond preposterous. Maybe it’s because they commit to the nonsense so much that you laugh with them. There’s a funny scene where Don Cheadle is digging a tunnel under Pacino’s casino in order to create a mock earthquake later in the movie. Something happens to the current tunnel digger and Cheadle says that they’ll need $30 million to buy the one that dug the chunnel. Another character says he thought that this was the one that dug the chunnel. Cheadle replies that this one dug from the English side and he needs the one that dug it from the French side. You just laugh and accept that you can fly the thing in from France and get it down into the tunnel in a day’s work.

The train station scene in the second film is fun every time. Clooney is self-conscious because someone says he looks 50. He polls the other guys and doesn’t like their answers. Matt Damon then asks Brad Pitt if he noticed how similar Julia Roberts’ character looks like the real Julia Roberts. It’s another scene meant for exposition since that becomes a plot point later. But instead of nodding Pitt says, it’s not his nature to be mysterious but he can’t talk about it and he can’t talk about why. It becomes a punch line that hides the foreshadowing.

At the end of OCEANS 13, Clooney, Pitt and now Matt Damon, who has graduated into the upper tier of thieves, sit in the Vegas airport waiting for their planes. They say their goodbyes like friends who don’t know whether they’ll see each other again. You kind of get the feeling that getting the cast back for another one is out of the question and you’re seeing the last of it. It made me feel melancholy.

I’m tough on movies, but this series gets to me despite the shortcomings that I would ridicule in most films. It really captures the beauty of friendship, and fighting for the things you believe in and the people you love. And yet it's a comedy with surprising laughs and clever moments. It's refreshing because it lacks cynicism in a cynical age. I really am sorry to see it end.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

CLINTON SOPRANOS PARODY

I'm sure you have seen Hilary's take on the Sopranos finale. It wasn't a bad idea for a parody and they even got Johnny Sack to guest as the lunch counter guy, but Hilary exposed something about herself that wasn't smart. She comes off as a humorless policy wonk for the most part in her speeches, but here where she was supposed to be having fun she is all business. And it's not like she was acting. The schtick about carrot sticks instead of onion rings is funny on paper and Bubba did his part with the reaction shot, but she comes off as the shrill first wife and my God what man wants to listen to that for the next 8 years? The bit was also a great example of the way she wants to take care of the entire country despite itself. But an audience could have forgiven anything if she only seemed like she was having a good time with it. She made the whole exercise look like work. Aniston's problem on the screen seems to be Hilary's problem in this campaign. How can you trust someone that is incapable of having a good time or being fun? These are the co-workers we avoid.

The pundits keep playing down the inevitability of her nomination, but not only does she have the best machine, she's just the kind of personality they love to go with. Why take an engaging candidate when you can pick a drab one. That's how you get Mondale, Dukakis, Gore and Kerry. Only when the major candidates sat out could you get an engaging Bill Clinton. If I were Hilary Clinton I would have spent the last 6 years learning to have a good time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SOPRANOS AND TV

I thought the Sopranos finale was just fine. I didn't like the first half of this last season that ran in the winter of 2006, but these last 10 episodes were solid like the early days. I think people are disappointed with finale episodes because they want to think that they invested all that time for some important season that will eventually be revealed. But TV isn't about resolution. It's like the old movie serials with better production values. They tell novel writers or screenwriters that you have to know your ending up front. No one ever suggests that to a TV writer.

We were discussing the Sopranos at work and I mentioned that finale episodes are still somewhat rare. The old David Jansen FUGITIVE was probably the first event finale. Mary Tyler Moore did one. MASH was the first one I watched at the time. One of the guys said that the MASH finale sucked and another guy agreed. The last 5 years of MASH sucked really. The show went south after Trapper left and Alan Alda took over as producer and comedy was replaced by too many poignant episodes. But the finale was about as good as you could expect. The war ended. There were some ridiculous subplots but the ending was true to the pathetic mess the show had become.

Seinfeld took a lot of criticism too for its ending. Did they want to see Jerry and Elaine get married? George and Elaine? The show was about nothing and except for that George/Susan engagement it had few running story lines. Why not put them in jail. The idea of them sitting there talking about nonsense for a year seems about right.

I all but stopped watching episodic TV as a regular thing after the first season of NYPD Blue. John got me onto it and I still remember it fondly. By the second season, Caruso was gone, the show became about Dennis Franz and his drinking problem and it just got easier to ignore. I have no patience for commercial breaks and I hate waiting until the next week to find out what happens. And how do you start watching anything new? Early episdoes are usually tough because it's either all exposition that wears it down or too little exposition to get an idea of what its about. If you start watching the show 6 or 7 episodes in, you feel like you missed something.

I remember reading good things about the Sopranos before it debuted and even sat down and watched the first episode the week it aired. I grew bored with characters I didn't know and got up and did something else. I finally saw Season 1 four years later courtesy of Netflix. It was perfect. I could watch as many episodes as I liked one after the other. After that we started renting THE SHIELD, DEADWOOD, THE OFFICE and SEX AND THE CITY. I found that I liked TV much better like that.

I still haven't seen an episode of 24, but we're going to tackle it after we finish BAND OF BROTHERS (refresher for me, new to Trish). It's almost like I don't want to watch anything from the middle anymore. If it's good we'll see it later on DVD otherwise forget it. I'm not about to start watching HEROES or LOST until there is a consensus as to whether they're worth it for a couple of seasons.

For some crazy reason Netflix suggested FELICITY based on my renting of TV shows. It didn't read like something that I would like. Smart quiet girl goes chasing the popular boy from her high school across country even though he hardly knows her name. Still I have learned that nearly any subject matter is worth watching or reading if the topic is handled well enough. I groaned when Trish wanted to rent SEX AND THE CITY and then after 4 or 5 episodes the style and wit grew on me. My favorite example of enjoying something despite the subject matter is the book REMAINS OF THE DAY. The story of a WWII era butler and his efforts to be the best servant possible doesn't seem like much, but it is a remarkable book and movie. FELICITY though was what I expected, typical TV fare geared towards teenage girls. Maybe SEX AND THE CITY skewed my cyber tastes according to Netflix.

What have you all been watching the last few years?

Monday, June 18, 2007

CHARITY AUCTION

I had an interesting weekend. A pal who works for Verizon scored six tickets for the Roger Waters show at the Verizon amphitheater in Irvine. It was a horrendous 200-minute drive through Friday rush hour traffic to get there but it was fun to get out and do something different. It was a strange mix of young and old at the concert. There were some guys pushing sixty who were wearing ties and cell phones as if they drove straight from work.

We were still walking to our section (the lawn) when the show was about to begin. I ducked into the mens room where the line was seven deep at every urinal. Waters took the stage and plucked out the first few chords of "In the Flesh" from THE WALL. A moment I will never forget is dozens of men, young and old, singing along while they stood ass-to-belly in the bathroom - "So ya thought ya might like to go to the show..."

I sat on the lawn with my pals for the first set which was comprised of early Pink Floyd favorites and some latter day solo stuff. People were up and down and coming and going and more than once I got my hand stepped on, so I decided to stand during the rest of the show. After a break, Waters came back and played the second set which was DARK SIDE OF THE MOON in its entirety. This was what I came for and I wasn't disappointed. The music and effects sounded just like the CD - only with a faux David Gilmour lending vocals. The wailing on "The Great Gig in the Sky" was note for note. The encore consisted of a handful of songs from THE WALL. The whole affair was kind of surreal - with men peeing through chain link fences and women puking on themselves; the venue was outdoors so people were smoking liberally and mostly it was not tobacco that I smelled. The drive home - same distance - took about 70 minutes.

Saturday night, Marci and I were invited to a charity auction to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank. Marci's coworker serves on the board and organized the event. It was "black tie optional" so I wore the suit that I bought for my sister-in-law's wedding last year and Marci wore a swanky dress. We already had $50 invested in a babysitter and weren't planning to spend very much, if anything, at the event.

Before dinner, there was a silent auction in which you bid on paper and can see what the highest bid is at any given time. We got into the spirit and bid on three items. The one we didn't win was a two-night stay at some cool looking cabin near Yosemite. There were three different photographers who had donated family portraits and for reasons unknown to me, they were priced at three disparate price points: $500, $350, and $150. First we bid on the $350 because we came upon it first and the top bid was only $130. Then we reneged on that bid when we discovered that the $500 studio was in Woodland Hills as opposed to Pasadena. We bid $165 and took it. I don't know why the prices were so different but even though we paid more, it seemed like we got the better value. The other one for $150 we discovered just as the silent auction was about to close. It didn't even have a first bid for $30 for whatever reason so we decided to stick with the other studio. Not only do we help the boys and girls of Burbank but we've been overdue for a family portrait and have paid it lip service for years, and now we've actually got a session on the books. The other item we bid on was for $150 worth of food and fun at the ESPN Zone in Anaheim. That's just the kind of thing I'm looking to do with the kids this summer so I paid $75 for top honors.

At dinner, I was seated next to the single lesbian and her brand new adopted baby. She was in her late forties and gave me the whole story about how she began the adoption process with her partner years ago after seven years of being unable to get pregnant. She was willing to take any baby that came her way and she wound up just a couple months ago with a white baby born of a college girl who had hidden the pregnancy from her folks. The baby is beautiful and healthy and it's really a triumph of the adoption process that people are able to score some good ones without resorting to the black market. There was one other baby at the event which I had assumed was accompanying grandma and grandpa until I saw baby suckling on grandma's booby. A little tidbit I noticed about the lesbian mom is that when she held the baby and gave it a bottle, she then initiated a conversation with Marci who was on the other side of me, and she completely ignored the baby during the feeding process. One thing about having a baby sucking on you boob is that you never feel closer to another human than when you are nourishing your little guy. Even the grandmotherly mommy was staring deeply into her baby's eyes during the process which is the natural instinct. It made me wonder if I was witnessing one of those nurture versus nature moments on how adopted kids get screwed.

After dinner, there was a paddle auction in which you bid by holding up the paddle at your table with your unique number on it. Before this event, my only experience with auctions were baseball card auctions from Pensacola with Tom. My all-time favorite auction moment isn't even my own, but is when Roger Thornhill shouts out "How do I know it's not a fake?" in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. There was a volunteer auctioneer to kick off the bidding for the first item, which was a little yorkshre terrier puppy. The excitement in the room was incredible with the auctioneer doing his thing and the bidding coming from all four corners of the room. The dog wound up going for $1200 to the emcee's wife who outbid the lady who sang during dinner.

Most of the other items for auction were travel packages. The final item was a three-night stay at some rich family's Lake Arrowhead home. Kim, the lady who organized the event was seated at our table by this point and when the bidding stalled at $1200, she looked at Marci and me and said "are you in?" I hadn't even considered on bidding on this package but I gave it the quick once-over and saw that it was a four-bedroom house with all kinds of amenities. I gave Kim the "we're in" response and her paddle went up. She wound up taking it with a $1400 bid. So, that last one cost us nothing out of pocket up front but come August we will pay Kim $350 for three nights of luxurious communal living with a family of our choice and another of her choice - Kim comes solo. Fellow Junto Boys are invited to become that family if you get yourself out here in about six weeks.

Friday, June 15, 2007

GRAPHIC DISPLAY OF US ECONOMIC MIGHT

Sort of an interesting map, if you like maps that are sort of interesting. Each state's total GDP (not per capita GDP), the market value of all goods and services produced in that state in a year, is compared to a foreign country with approximately the same GDP.

Although China and India's economies are growing rapidly, the US still dominates the world economy, with total GDP nearly equal to the next four countries combined (Japan + Germany + China + UK). Russia would not like to know that they are about as powerful as New Jersey, and we have Reagan to thank for treating them that way.



BEN SAYS

In the spirit of Junto, I should start quoting some Ben Franklin.

From Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1739:
A Man of Knowledge like a rich Soil, feeds
If not a world of Corn, a world of Weeds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

FREE PARIS

Who doesn't enjoy the sense of moral superiority we derive from the Paris Hilton saga? But enough already, she's learned her lesson. Or she hasn't, and more jail time won't change that. The rest of her sentence is just for our perverse pleasure.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

JUNTO BOYS BRAINTRUST

This just in...three-quarters of the Junto Boys will be in the Orlando area for one week of cigar chomping, Scotch swilling, and poker playing during late August. Dude will be arriving in the evening hours of August 17th and staying at a location to be determined on Disney property with his immediate family. Mrs Dude will be fresh in from assignment in Puerto Rico and will be busy commuting to Lakeland most days, necessitating Dude to rent a car for the week. In summary, Dude and the Dudelings will be mobile and available for dinner/debate between the days of August 18-24, so start planning your event now. More details as they come available.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

HOW TO WIN ANY DEBATE IN FIVE EASY STEPS

Over the years I've watched many debates. Every debate by politicians to activists to average everyday over zealous (and over educated) college grad-students all have one thing in common: They think they are right. Of course when you are in a debate, you simply know that you are right. However, often in debates objective truth seldom manners. What matters is whether you win the debate or not. In political debates, the after-action commentary always centers on who won and very marginally, who got facts correct. If you are ever in a debate with anyone over anything, the following are quick and easy solutions/techniques to disarming them that I have come up with through my many years in the study of human behavior.

1. Evoke an Emotional Reaction that is in Counter-flow to your opponents oration.
This is the most powerful method and is always your number one choice. Emotion always over rides reason or logic. For example, your opponent is debating you on why gas prices are too high. Begin to ask asinine questions like, "Then why aren't you driving an electric car?" or "Then why don't you walk." or "If you really cared about the environment you would live in a yurt and only eat local produce. It's obvious that you're just a enviro-poser." Making your opponent angry and displaying an emotional reaction that is in counter to his speech makes them expend precious energy. If you can evoke an emotional reaction, you're 90% on your way to winning. Further, emotions that are in counter flow to a desired emotion, blocks the energy behind an argument and blunts it's persuasion effects on others. Emotions can have a powerful effect on an audience, so you always want to minimize your opponents emotional impact and maximize your own.

Other counter-flow methods include:
a. Get childish if your opponent is too serious or stuffy. Acting the fool can make them seem very rigid and closed minded by comparison. Think of any Bill Murry comedy. He is the master at taking on the stuff-shirt and defanging them with just a look sometime.
b. If your opponent gets childish first, then get very parental and condescending.
c. If they get teary-eyed, then laugh; if they mock and laugh, then get teary. Again, this will counter-flow their emotional stream.
d. Tell them, "I know what kind of family you came from and this is not what your family stands for." This causes counter-flow by evoking old complexes in them tied to their family of origin. Further, it implies that you know something about them that they weren't aware that you knew.
e. Evoke a religious complex by saying, "Well, I'll tell you this, when I stand before God someday and have to give an account of my life, I'd hate to have to justify it with your beliefs." This causes counter-flow because there is viritually no comeback. Also try, "Well God told me that this is not right." or say "That's not what the Bible says!" or try a more intellectual/philosophical take by stating, "Every great religious teacher and philosopher from Jesus to Kant have stated otherwise."
f. In the face of indisputable logic, make an outrageous statement and have an extreme emotional reaction, "WHAT! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HITLER WROTE IN MEIN KOMF" or "THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE SOVIET MODEL OF (whatever)."

2. Memorize quotes from at least 3 or 4 very obscure intellectuals or philosophers then throw them at your opponent.
No one likes to think they are stupid. But the fact that you might know something that no one else does really spins your opponent for a loop. Worst yet, if you can frame it in such a way that you imply that your opponent, should know who are are talking about, will freak them out further. For example, say you are debating big government vs. small government. Say to your opponent, "Yes that is interesting. Hearing your argument reminds me of Wilhelm von Humboldt who stated in his classic work 'On the limits of State Action'...blah, blah, blah." You don't even have to be exactly correct in your quote. Wait for a reaction of your opponent. If they say, "Who?" Then over exaggerate your shock and dismay at their ignorance, "What! Sir I'm shocked that a supposed learned man (or woman) of your alleged caliber would not know the work of von Humboldt! And I thought I was debating with an equal." Then storm off and grab yourself a beer.

This process also works by throwing out obscure statistics or data that supports your argument. Again, the truth or fact of the stats is irrelevant. By the time they check you data, you'll be long gone or can just laugh it off.

3. Create hetero-erotic or homo-erotic tension.
It's a well known fact that men can't think about anything sexual and reason properly at the same time. Women are similar but to a lessor degree. In the middle of the debate or speech by your opponent make a suggestive look at them by licking your lips or winking or repeatedly placing your right index finger into a circle formed by your left index finger and thumb. Then suddenly deny that you are trying to do anything remotely sexual and return to the debate. They'll be so put off by the thought of your "actual" intentions that you'll win by default.

4. Create strange images or thoughts in others by negative inference.
Humans have this ability that is beyond the ability of the machine (at this stage) to grasp. To know things indirectly through negative inference. For example, the statement, "It is certainly good to see my opponent sober today." While directly this statement is the truth, your opponent is indeed sober, it leads to a negative inference assumption. It implies that there are days in which he is not sober. In fact, one might conclude that there may be many days in which he is a raging alcoholic. Further, it is not a statement that can be flatly denied. If your opponent says, "No I am not!" You can say, "I see. So you are not sober?" Of if they agree, then they've simply further strengthened the negative inference. Instead, they have to counter the argument with an awkward, circuitous argument that will leave the audience scratching their heads. Here are some other examples: "It's nice to see that mental illness is not a problem on your mother's side" or "I'm glad my opponent is on time today and actually drove himself to this debate" or "I'm happily surprised to see my opponent eating healthy." etc. etc.

Other ways to create strange thoughts in others:
a. Make a motion with your finger such as the "come here" finger wiggle that is just out of sight of the audience but can be seen by your opponent. If they walk over say, "What are you doing?" if they stay put just smile.
b. Make eye contact then look just past them and over the shoulder, then furrow your brow or look surprised. When the look back quickly switch drinks with them or put a peanut in their drink.
c. Subtly place your hand over your crotch and every time they start talking, you start scratching. When they stop then you stop. This will unconsciously reward them for keeping quite.
d. In the middle of the debate ask them if they were spanked or harshly toilet trained as a child. If they say yes, then you say, "I thought so!", If they say no, then you say, "Yeah, I can tell", If they ask why you are asking this question say, "I think it would really help to explain a lot of tonight's behavior."
e. In the middle of the debate, motion for someone else to come over, keep eye contact with your opponent and whisper something funny to the other person. When they laugh, wink at your opponent.
f. After they make their initial argument, simply sigh long & loud, then roll your eyes. Put on some sunglasses and pretend to go to sleep.
g. Make an flattering comment about their hair.
h. Pretend to speak a few words in a foreign language. Ask them if they are familiar with that quote.
i. If you know their political persuasion, use it against them. For example, if they are (D) them tell them, "WOW! Newt Gingrich published an article on the Heritage foundation website on that very topic agreeing with your argument. Amazing! You must be a republician at heart."
j. Ask them, "What kind of medication are you taking? Is it prescription?"
k. Hold your ear as if you have a "hidden" ear piece, look down and slump down slightly and turn slightly to one side, nod your head while saying, "yes, yes, ok, no not now, no he's not ready, ok, yes, ok." Then continue your conversation. Deny that anything at all just took place.

5. Create Cognitive Dissonance in your opponent.
Cognitive dissonance is a psychological phenomenon which refers to the discomfort felt at a discrepancy between what you already know or believe, and new information or interpretation. It therefore occurs when there is a need to accommodate new ideas, and it may be necessary for it to develop so that we become "open" to them. For example, people who smoke know smoking is a bad habit. Some rationalize their behavior by looking on the bright side: They tell themselves that smoking helps keep the weight down and that there is a greater threat to health from being overweight than from smoking. Or they relieve their Dissonance by telling themselves "Oh well, we all have to die someday." Others quit smoking.

The key to using this strategy is to create cognitive dissonance and therefore psychological discomfort then at the moment of their peak discomfort, offer a way out of their discomfort that brings them to your side. Televangelists are experts at this. The above mentioned #4 is a subset of creating cognitive dissonance. Black and White thinkers have no cognitive dissonance because they usually reject arguments that are opposed to their beliefs by simply disbelieving or rationalizing the argument.

Way's to create cognitive dissonance:
a. Sit up on the edge of your seat. Crouch toward them with your elbows on your knees, look as serious as you can, widen your eyes, make a fist with your left hand and point at them with your right, say, "As sure as Moses crossed the Red Sea, everything I am saying tonight is correct."
b. Say with equal conviction, "Every fiber in me, every molecule of my essence, every thing I know about (your chosen profession or field of expertise) tells me you are flat wrong."
c. Say the opposite of what they say no matter what it is. State your statements as a fact.
d. Say, "Well I don't expect you of all people to understand any of this, but....." Then report some obscure fact.
e. Start beating your head and say, "How many times do I have to have this debate with you people."
f. Agree with them but disagree with one small facet of their argument then conclude this is why the entire argument is wrong.
f. Whatever they say, sing it back to them word for word then say, "That sounds like musical theatre to me."

g. True Cognitive Dissonance is created when you use Statistics and the individualized personal story. Clinton was a master of the personal story. It would go something like this. Bush1 would say, "Only12% are actually in the poverty level and of those only 2% have families." Then Clinton would say (without ever addressing the statistic or it's impact on public policy, "I was in Mississippi the other day on the campaign trail when a young mother and her 3 month old child came up to me. They were wearing rags and the child was starving to death. I gave him a fry from my McDonald's super sized meal and his mama said maybe he'd now survive another day..." Again, emotion always trumps logic. The best way to handle this is the counter a stat with a personal story that emphasizes the statistical argument. Republicans did a great job of this on capital hill when they paraded dozens of small business and family run businesses before congress to testify against the horrific practices of the IRS. They told us about the stats and the abuses of the IRS enforcement models but then also let us know about how this impacted a single person. It makes it more real. They should do more of this with property tax reform here in Florida.


That's my take. What do you say Junto Boys? What are your methods for winning debates? What are the core assumptions people have about who wins in debates and why? What makes someone a good orator vs. a lousy one? Would a debate in the style of Lincoln work today? Would any of my techiques above work for a nationally televised debate?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

GOOGLE

Google does everything for free, yet has a market value of $937 trillion dollars (approximately.) Google, as we speak, is driving cars around major cities taking pictures; you’ll be able to view street-level views of all big towns online. Next year I expect they’ll buy everyone’s DNA and put that online, followed by digitized versions of your nightly dreams, acted out by student theatre troupes and uploaded to Google Video so everyone can check out your roiling subconscious.

I'm too serious these days. I thought it might be fun to post something humorous.
GIVE US YOUR POOR, YOUR TIRED, AND YOUR SOMEWHAT CROOKED

The Senate voted 51-46 to reject a proposal by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to bar criminals - including those ordered by judges to be deported - from gaining legal status. Democrats siphoned support from Cornyn's proposal by winning adoption, 66-32, of a rival version that would bar a more limited set of criminals, including certain gang members and sex offenders, from gaining legalization.


And you have to ask yourself why 39 Senators could vote against this:

While several Cornyn amendments failed, he prevailed on one matter opposed by the grand bargainers. That amendment, adopted 57 to 39, would make it easier to locate and deport illegal immigrants whose visa applications are rejected.

The bill would have barred law enforcement agencies from seeing applications for so-called Z visas, which can lead to citizenship if granted. Cornyn said legal authorities should know if applicants have criminal records that would warrant their deportation.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

BUCS WIN

Though a lifelong Pirates fan, I have no personal attachment to their dramatic 1960 World Series victory because I was not yet born. All I really knew about it was that Mazeroski hit a dramatic game-winning homer in the bottom of the 9th, that more people claim to have been there than could really have been there, and that that homer probably delayed Mazeroski’s entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame by calling attention to his power numbers which were not among his more important contributions.

So it has delighted me to read firsthand accounts of that series by Yankees and Pirates who played in it. WE PLAYED THE GAME: 65 Players Remember Baseball’s Greatest Era 1947-1964 is 643 pages of wonderful baseball stories told by old-timers who played the game because they loved playing the game.

All I knew about the Series was that Mazeroski ended it in historic fashion. The players tell the rest of the story.

Joe de Maestri, Yankees:
When we won, we destroyed them. We did everything right in that Series except win the final game.
[In bottom 8] Hal Smith hit a 3-run homer off Coates to put them ahead 9-7. That homer completely shocked me. Still, we came back to tie the game in the top of the ninth. Mickey’s base-running prevented a double play and kept the rally going.
Of course, I’ll never forget what happened in the bottom of the ninth. Ralph Terry threw the first pitch of the inning right down the middle to Bill Mazeroski. He didn’t swing, but Casey went to the mound to talk to Terry. He turned around and he was coming back toward the dugout. He was walking right toward me and was about 3 feet from the dugout when he heard Mazeroski lay into Terry’s second pitch, the same pitch. Casey [Stengel] never looked at the ball, but just made a left turn and walked toward the clubhouse. He didn’t have to look. Mazeroski really crunched that ball—it cleared the wall in left center and that was a long, long way. It was a devastating loss. I know Mickey cried. Other guys did too.

Bob Turley, Yankees:
We didn’t blame Ralph Terry for the Mazeroski homer. They guy who gave up the big hit was Jim Coates, who gave up Hal Smith’s 3-run homer in the 8th to put them ahead. He shouldn’t have been in there when we had Ryne Duren and Luis Arroyo sitting down in the bullpen. I’m sure that contributed to Stengel being fired.

Ryne Duren, Yankees:
Stengel brought in Coates too soon. He should have left in Bobby Shantz to face Bob Skinner. It should have been a left-hander against a left-hander. More important, it was a bunt situation and you don’t take out the best-fielding pitcher in baseball and replace him with one of the worst. Skinner was able to move up the runners. One out later, Clemente hit a slow grounder down the first-base line. Coates didn’t get off the mound quick enough and Clemente beat Skowron to first. Then Smith followed with his homer. That loss to the Pirates in the World Series was devastating to me.

Dick Groat, Pirates:
They hit about .340 that Series and outscored us 55 to 27. They killed us 16-3, 10-0, and 12-0. There was no contest... But the great teams always win the close games. And we won every close game in the Series.
[In Game Seven, bottom 8] Bob Skinner was the next batter. It was then that Casey Stengel made a huge mistake. Sportwriters could have had a field day with him if they understood what was going on, but they never questioned his decision to take out Shantz, the best defensive pitcher in baseball and a left-hander, and bring in a right-hander, Jim Coates. Until my single, we hadn’t hit one hard ball off Shantz. And Skinner was going to bunt, without question, and Shantz was great at defensing bunts and forcing the runner at third. One thing about Danny Murtaugh was that he never went away from the book. They Yankees had scouting reports from Mayo Smith and Bill Skiff, who had been traveling with us for two months. They knew what we ate for breakfast, so they certainly knew Murtaugh would have Skinner bunt. So against Coates, Skinner bunted us to second and third. Then Rocky Nelson hits a fly ball that wasn’t deep enough for us to advance. So there were 2 outs and we were still 2 runs behind and Stengel’s decision hadn’t backfired yet. But then Bobby Clemente hit a high chopper to Bill Skowron, and he looked up and saw that Coates forgot to cover first base. Clemente beat it out. Now we were behind by one run, with the left-handed-hitting Hal Smith facing the right-handed Coates. Hal hit a 3-run homer and we went up by 2 runs. The Yankees had semi-beaten themselves.
[When Maz hit the home run] There was dead silence. The crowd swelled, but there was no sound in the dugout. Nobody said anything. Everybody was just kind of hypnotized, and when it went over, we just exploded out of the dugout.
Everything was shut down and you couldn’t go anyplace, and everybody was racing into town. Yet only about 3 windows were broken, nobody was beaten up, no cars were burned, no property was destroyed. Most of the cost for the cleanup went to remove confetti. Pittsburgh, then a baseball town, had the happiest celebration in the world.

ElRoy Face, Pirates:
I wasn’t surprised the [Maz] homered. People forget he had power and had 19 homers in 1958. He had homered off Coates in Game One to put that game out of reach.
I was thrilled, but not surprised we beat the Yankees. We were confident we could win. We knew we could win close games because we’d done that all season long.

Dick Schofield, Pirates:
The Yankees were fantastic, probably a better team than us…but in that year…we knew we were going to win. We were even more confident than the Yankees.
So many bizarre things happened in Game Seven. There was so much drama. But since so many guys on our team did things to help us win, it wasn’t surprising when Mazeroski homered to win the game, even though a right-hander homering off Ralph Terry was an unlikely prospect.
The town went nuts. 1960 was a tough year to top.

Tom Cheney, Pirates:
Against the Yankees, we were in a whole lot of trouble all the way down the Yankee lineup. They said don’t let certain guys beat you, but what’s the difference when you let the guy behind him beat you? Any 9 guys they put up there were capable of beating you. We couldn’t match up our lineup against theirs, so we talked at length that we had to beat them on defense and pitching in low-scoring games. And other than the seventh game, that’s how we won our games. As Gino Cimoli said, “They set the records and we got the money.”
Game Seven was a thriller. We were lucky because we beat them at their own game, a high-scoring game. After it got tied up and Ralph Terry pitched the bottom of the ninth, Bill Mazeroski led off. He was strictly a high-fastball hitter. The first pitch was a letter-high slider and Maz took it. I was in the bullpen. All the color drained out of my face. It was right in his wheelhouse. I couldn’t believe it. I would always tell him that I wanted to punch him for taking it. Maz claimed, “I was baiting him.” Terry came right back with the same pitch and Maz jerked it. Everybody knew it was gone when he hit it. By the time he reached home plate, it had been torn up and he had scratches and claw marks all over where people had grabbed him.
I was elated when I saw that homer. I was a tight as a guitar string. Everyone else was too. I had thought we’d lost, but then Hal Smith hit that 3-run homer in the 8th. Hal Smith made the statement about Mazeroski’s homer, “Hell, yes, I’m jealous. I was supposed to be the hero.”It was 2 a.m. before I could get a cab to take me home. People parked cars wherever they stopped, often right in the middle of the street. The police couldn’t do anything about it, so they just joined the people who went into bars to celebrate.
FRED WINS DEBATE NIGHT

I missed the GOP debate last night (turned it on at 9 to watch it, in time to see Wolf wrap it up) but I did catch Fred Thompson on Fox News afterward in the coveted post-debate slot previously owned by Newt Gingrich. Admittedly, he had the rare opportunity to speak in paragraphs without interruptions, heckling and counterpoints, but he really nailed every issue Hannity tossed at him. He's the real straight talker, tough, common sense, unapologetic, firm, trustable and likeable. What I really liked was that he spoke only of what *he* thinks, how *he* interprets the issues and what *he* would do. He didn't talk about others, just himself. That is a winning message.

He generally agreed with Hanson's argument below. Americans have not been talked to about the war, so we are not engaged. If someone would like to talk to us about it, there is still the good chance that we will understand and agree. That is Bush's major failing -- not wrongheadedness, not wrong strategy, not stubbornness, mainly a failure to communicate. I don't get him at all.

So what to do?

We can quibble and fight about tactics on the ground, manpower numbers, strategic postures toward Iran and Syria, the need to prod the Iraqis, but our problem is more existential. Either stabilizing Iraq now is felt critical to the United States and the West or it isn’t. If the Left is right that it isn’t, then we should flee; if they are wrong, and I think they are, then we must start using our vast cultural and media resources to explain what is at stake — in a strategic and humanitarian sense — and precisely what it is costing America and why it in the long run is worth it, and how we have adjusted to counter our enemies who in the last four years have not won in Iraq or anywhere else either.

By our relative inaction on these critical informational fronts, we are only raising the bar impossibly high for General Petraeus when he reports back to Congress in the autumn. For election-minded Republican senators and representatives (whose defection alone can end the war) the barometer of success unfortunately may be soon not be improvement in six months, but only an impossible demand for absolute victory in 2007.

So more explanation, less assertion; more debate with, rather than dismissal of, critics. And the final irony? The more brutal honesty, the less euphemism and generalities, the more Americans will accept the challenge.

WHITE HOUSE PERJURY

Perjurer the victim of vast Right-Wing conspiracy in 1998.

Perjurer a part of vast Right-Wing conspiracy in 2007.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

What were they investigating? Fitzgerald knew that Richard Armitage leaked Plame before he even spoke with Libby.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, stood calmly before a packed courtroom as a federal judge said the evidence overwhelmingly proved his guilt and left the courthouse without commenting.

"People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem," U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said.

What was it again that Libby did to hurt welfare and security?
"It is respectfully my hope that the court will consider, along with the jury verdict, my whole life," Libby said in brief remarks to the judge.

You wrote a couple of novels but otherwise you were a sleeper cell for the vast Right-Wing conspiracy.

"We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much," Fitzgerald said.

Good thing Libby hadn't bonked Valerie Plame or the whole case would have been dismissed in so much as everyone lies about sex.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

DUDE'S MOVIE REVIEWS

THE LIVES OF OTHERS (2006) 4.5
The other best picture of last year (non-English division) is the most satisfying film I have seen in years and indeed one of the best films I have ever seen. It is the debut of a young German filmmaker which is at once a lesson in history and in screenwriting. The film is flawless and I urge you to see it, hoping only that my advance accolades won't lessen the experience for you. The protagonist is introduced as an East German Stasi automaton giving a seminar in interrogation. This man lives and breathes the state - it is no coincidence that the film is set in 1984. It is his lot in life to infiltrate the lives of others and ferret out the heretics. I assumed I was being introduced to the antagonist because this Cold Warrior doesn't seem to fit my definition of hero, but that is the beauty of dynamic characters - they change. When he is ordered to eavesdrop on a supposedly partyline artist and told to find dirt on him, his loyalty to the state directs him to question the motives of his superiors, who seem to be abusing their authority. In entering the lives of the artist and his circle, the hero becomes deeply emotionally drawn into the predicament of his subjects to the point where he can understand their motives when they do begin expressing some anti-establishment ideals. He becomes sort of a guardian angel to the resistance by providing cover for their exploits from behind the scenes while failing to inform the party of these enemies of the state. I have already said too much and I don't want to completely ruin the experience for you which ends beautifully. You may have to wait for DVD, but you must see this film and post your comments.

LITTLE CHILDREN (2006) 4.0
Children grow up and still act like children only with the stakes raised. Kate Winslet has no outlet for her thirst for knowledge as she is consigned to babysit the daughter who is a product of a marriage to a man she no longer loves yet keeps her in a good home. She runs into her male counterpart who feels the same ennui despite the knockout successful wife. They spend time together and ultimately begin an affair and agree to run off together. It is never discussed who would be the breadwinner in this new relationship as both are skilled only in shuttling the kids from one diversion to the next, but the romance of seeking a more fulfilling life drives their passion forward. Meanwhile, lurking in the background of this happy little town is the oddball with a psychosexual disorder which compels him to do perverted things in front of little girls. It is great how he is first introduced only in mugshots, and then much later is personally introduced in very much the same way as the shark from JAWS when he invades the tranquility of the community swimming pool. The story does justice to this character by making him a real person with real problems rather than being out-and-out evil, or worse, wrongly convicted. He's got problems, he knows he's got problems, he is severely persecuted for these problems and heck, even the normal people have problems - they are just easier to hide beneath the surface and behind the smiles. All the threads converge in the final moments and the ending is rather hopeful if somewhat unsatisfying dramatically.

WORD PLAY (2005) 3.5
This is a fun little documentary about crossword puzzles and those who love them. It is firmly entrenched in the docugenre with SPELLBOUND and WORD WARS about geeky people engaged in word game competitions. In the commentary, the filmmakers admit that the original focus of the film was New York Times crossword puzzle editor Wil Shortz. He is an engaging and interesting fellow but the film did justice by broadening its outlook to include puzzle constructors, puzzle aficionados, competitive solvers, and the annual competition originated and hosted by Shortz. The best segment involved watching a constructor create a puzzle from scratch, starting from the concept of the words 'word' and 'play', then cutting between disparate luminaries solving the puzzle on camera - Bill Clinton, Mike Mussina, John Stewart, Ken Burns and the Indigo Girls. It was interesting seeing these people interrupt their daily lives to begin this ritual which begins with folding the paper a certain way and grabbing a trusted pen. I could have spent more time with Clinton since there was something really fascinating about watching a former "most powerful man in the world" do something so mundane, and deriving so much enjoyment from solving a puzzle. I like John Stewart, but I could have stood much less of him in this context since he was trying too hard to force comedy into the process which I think detracted from the impetus of the film which otherwise showed that one can leave his ordinary self behind once the paper is folded and the pen uncapped.

THE UPSIDE OF ANGER (2004) 3.5
I'm an admirer of mature beauty and I find Joan Allen rather foxy so I've been wanting to see this one and finally got my chance. Allen's husband has up and left her with three girls still at home and a tendency towards hitting the bottle. Kevin Costner is old reliable as the washed up ballplayer who spends his days getting soused and signing baseballs. The two become drinking pals and ultimately more as they come to enjoy the low-maintenance of the other while they commiserate their failed lives as the young girls go about building their lives without proper role models. Mike Bender writes, directs and supports as Costner's cradle-robbing pal who gets in good with one of the daughters. It's basically a pleasant melodrama which is supposed to be but really isn't made more meaningful by the O Henry ending which is cute but not necessarily revelatory.

FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS (2006) 4.0
I knew I would love this movie and was surprised when I didn't. I didn't fall asleep, I wasn't diverted, I sat and stared at it the whole while and just got nothing out of it. That was a big surprise as Eastwood is one of my all-time faves. I imagine I'll give it another go in a few years and I will hope to enjoy it then. This time around I was just kind of bored. It seemed like it kept repeating the same two notes time and again. First, war is hell and every few minutes, we get another flashback to remind us. Second, duty comes first and even if you weren't the hero everyone thinks you were, just shut the hell up and sell war bonds. I've said before that Ryan Phillippe is the biggest blank slate in movies and I think he proves it again here. Meanwhile, Adam Beach creates a character whom I just wanted to kick in the teeth every time he came onscreen. I'll go back and read Tom's review to see what I missed and I'll rank it higher than I want to just because I know I should.

16 BLOCKS (2006) 3.5
This is a pedestrian, easily forgotten actioner, watchable only because Bruce Willis commands the screen like few of his generation. That said, this was an odd role for him - he doesn't really play a loser very well because he so effortlessly rises to the occasion that it is impossible to believe him when he's trying hard to portray a loser. The real performance here is David Morse, who is just a guy who is always great and someday will find the role that brings home the Best Supporting Actor accolades. I never know that he is going to be in a movie but I am always delighted to find him there. I will be equally satisfied if I never again see Mos Def in any movie ever - my god, this guy was annoying from start to finish. I guess that's all - I figured it might be this way, but I watched it anyways. That is the power of Bruce.

TAKE HER, SHE'S MINE (1963) 3.0
Tivo thought I might like this and I gave it a whirl based on the presence of latter day Jimmy Stewart. Turn him into Rod Taylor and the film is basically unwatchable but Stewart has the gravitas to make any sort of drivel at least seem meaningful. It begins at some sort of community meeting where the conservative Stewart is confronted with photo after photo of him embroiled in the most outlandish beatnik predicaments. There is of course an explanation which can be summed up by "I've got an unmarried daughter of reproductive age." The rest of the film is his recounting of episode after episode in which he followed his daughter to all ends of the earth to maintain her chastity and just as the mayhem hit its zenith, there was always a photographer around. The script cheats a bit by allowing the paparazzi to confuse Stewart's character with some famous movie star to whom he bears a striking resemblance. The daughter is played by Sandra Dee of look-at-me fame. In the end she is safely chaste and engaged and the movie ends with a great Jimmy line as he notices his younger daughter's newfound figure: "When did THAT happen?"

OPEN WATER (2003) 3.5
This looked like one of those magical little indies when it came out a few years ago and I made up my mind that I would see it as soon as possible. That day came about four years later and I was let down by all the hype. It is obviously shot on a digital camcorder which is not necessary a bad thing except that the acting is only a notch or two above what your next-door neighbors could give you if you pointed a camera at them. It's easy to get sucked into the plight of the characters once they are abandoned in the eponymous arena because the last thing anybody wants is to get eaten by sharks, so we really can't wait to see how this couple will avoid the dreaded fate. Then the guy gets a nasty sharkbite and later dies from the wound. Oh, wow, that sucks, but at least we still have the girl and, yay, there is a rescue boat on the way. But, wait, she gives up, takes off her flotation gear and offers herself to the sharks before the boat arrives. Okay, is that a stab at realism? Because as a story, it's pretty lame - I don't remember anything like this in Greek mythology and that was fairly bleak at times. I'm not sure what this conclusion offers as insight to the human condition, which is fine if the film is just going for nihilism and cheap thrills, but it wasn't. Instead, it seemed like it was leading me in one direction but then pulled the rug out from under me. Maybe it was going for a UNITED 93 kind of vibe of doomed heroes, but at least the ill-fated passengers in that film achieved an objective and became heroes, they didn't just expose their carotids to the box cutters.

SLEEPER (1973) 4.5
I can't remember if it is in actual reality or in some kind of parallel fantasy land in which this film is considered a comedy classic because the version I saw was amateurish and silly and really kind of lame. It looked like it was shot over a week and a half before the high wore off from the brainstorming session. Woody Allen, in his last broad comedy of the "early phase" of his career, is awakened after 200 years and expected to save society from itself. The banter is so Woody Allen that it plays as a caricature of the genre. There was only one gag that made me laugh - when Allen disguised himself as a robot butler and was forced to pass around a metal ball at the equivalent of a futuristic key party. The ball brought ecstasy to whomever held it and Allen was the intermediary between all the guests as the orgasmic ball was passed around. Before long, he looked dopey and was slapping away the hands of guests who tried to take it from him. Now that's funny. The rest of it, not so much.

GROWING UP BRADY (2000) 2.0
I'm consuming all things Brady this year so it was only a matter of time before I got to this. Adult Greg is the impetus behind this memoir. It is fun seeing all the brothers/sisters pair up when the cameras aren't rolling and there is one funny gag in which Greg has to try umpteen times to give his sister an onscreen kiss that can be construed as brotherly. There were mixed messages on the Robert Reed character. It is well known that he argued with Sherwood Schwartz and considered himself head and shoulders above the level of sitcom actor, but it is also evident that he loved the kids on the show and treated everybody (but Sherwood) really well. The mystery of Tiger was cleared up for me: seems the dog died after season one and the season two lookalike was such a poor performer that he was gradually written off the show. We also see Schwartz going all Partridge Family by introducing musical numbers into the show beginning half way through season three. This would ultimately culminate in the Brady Kids Variety Hour. I'm happy I watched it to round out my Brady education but I can't in good conscious recommend it.
SIR SAUNDERS TO SAVE HIGHER EDUCATION

Due to the need for decent benefits, I began applying for "full-time" teaching positions at the local colleges. (Benefits are very expensive for the small, self-employed businessman such as myself--"Full-time" for most college teaching positions are 9 months of work and 12 months of pay, sort of positions, 2 semesters of teaching, with all the academic holiday's to boot!). Not wanting to go back to the public dole via federal employment, I figured a nice college professor position might just be what the "Dr" ordered. This would also allow me to keep my lucrative private practice. I was asked to interview for a position at the University of Central Florida to teach psychology classes at the Clermont/Ocala campuses (the Western region of UCF). The first round of interviews were via the telephone. I passed those and went on to the next round. I was interviewed by 8 different people over 6 hours. The first interview was with the Vice-President of the Western Region. A professional woman who had not read my resume. But who, nonetheless, seemed mostly interested. This was at the Clermont campus. We chatted a bit and I moved on to the next person which was after lunch and over at the Orlando Campus. I then interviewed with the Chairman of the Department; a lovely gentleman who mostly talked about his own research interests.

I then was taken to a conference room. Present was the assistant chair, two professors, and two professors live via video conference from the Daytona campus. I was impressed with the state-of-art video resolution, sound, and ease of discourse. This interview lasted about an hour. I then had 30minutes to prepare a teaching demonstration. I then taught a 30minute sample course (my subject of choice: The Schizophrenic in a forensic setting). Much to my surprise, my usual shenanigans were a big hit with this group and they even appreciated my off-center humor.

Last week I was called by the Chair and offered a full-time "Lecturer" position with UCF in the Western region with a nice salary and all the delicious state benefits.

Now my good Junto Boys, you might be asking "Sir Saunders, why do you bore us with this tale." It is because I need your help. My plight: What now? Although I've taught college classes before, this is my first full-time professor position at a major university. I actually want to succeed at this. Being a Junto Boy, it is both in my nature and my obligation to teach these classes according to our Libertarian/Conservative code. But how do I without being fired or offend the gentle liberal spirits of my fellow professors? In my tour of the campus, I was amazed at how much college has changed since I was taking classes in the 80's and 90's. Everything is very high-tech. There are data ports and video conferencing capabilities in every classroom. The prof's are issued a laptop that you can plug into. You move a file you want to share to the classroom intranet and all the students can download it! Impressive.

But have all these changes yielded any advancement in the political arena? Often during my tenure as a student, I was frowned upon and shunned for my more Libertarian/Conservative views. And of course as a test, my first class assigned to teach this fall? Psychology of Women! How does a cigar smoking, poker playing, beer making/drinking, Christian, conservative/Libertarian Republican like me hope to successfully teach a left-wing feminist created course?

Perhaps it's time to move Higher Ed to Higher Enlightenment. Hopefully, they are ready for my brand of high-brow spin. Either that or this will be the shortest tenure of any professor at that fine institution.

Monday, June 04, 2007

WHOLENESS AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER

Going back to E's review of THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE, I had to read the review a couple of times before I knew what E was talking about. I read that book a few years ago and I don't remember the least bit of religion in the book. It got me thinking about the original Junto and how all the members would read a book and then have a group discussion. I'm not proposing outright that we do that here but just that it got me thinking about our unique worldviews and how this forum has become an outlet for our indivual and shared takes on the world. We each have the genres we enjoy and mine is nonfiction science. I could read a book for the science and filter out all the other stuff. Only when E mentioned the New Age bent of the Holographic Universe did I even recall that the author did indeed admit some paranormal awareness in the back half of the book. Meanwhile, E reads self-improvement and religious-themed books so that is the lens through which he read this one. To E, the science was the gobbledly-gook which he filtered out. When Tom reads a book, he latches on to the politics and Steve dissects the psychology. We are a fascinating group, the four of us, so in that spirit, I will offer what I got out of THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE.

In truth, I don't recall much of this book in particular except for one thing - it introduced me to David Bohm, a twentieth century physicist of whom I was previously unaware. The reason he is not well-known to the layman despite being a great American-born thinker, is the fact that he did the majority of his thinking overseas. The reason for his self-imposed exile is because he had communist sympathies in a country and an era which would not tolerate it. This offers an avenue for Stamper to enter the debate as I'm sure he could find parallels between the thinker and the thoughts as manifestations of a leftist worldview, but that is beyond the scope of my review as I will analyze the thoughts and not the thinker.

Bohm was the originator of the concept of the holographic universe which basically says that the third-dimensional reality that we experience directly is a manifestation of a higher-ordered reality which we cannot directly experience. I don't think that is New Age, in fact, I think every religion ascribes to this position in one way or another so it could even be accepted as a scientific expression of a spiritual concept. Bohm described a distinction between the implicate and explicate order in the interaction between matter and our consciousness:
In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the "explicate" or "unfolded" order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders.
His favorite example of this concept involvied placing a drop of ink in a highly viscous substance such as glycerin. The glycerin was then rotated until the droplet became a thread and ultimately became invisible. However, by rotating the substance in the reverse direction, the droplet was reformulated, proving that the order of the droplet was implicate within the substance even when it was imperceptible.

I consider this example whenever I see steam dissipate into the air or watch salt dissolve into my pool water. There is always a point at which the thing I am watching becomes invisible. It is egocentric to claim that it no longer exists just because I can no longer account for it. Yet it is equally wrong to claim that a thing is outside of human comprehension just because it once resided behind the veil. I know I could reclaim that salt if needed - I could boil away the water until the salt reveals itself explicitly once again. This is the connection to paranormal activity - if something manifests itself explicitly, however randomly and unscientifically, then that means there is a hidden implicit order just waiting to be discerned - we simply must figure out what to boil away in order to see the thing more clearly. E and I had a long discussion about evolution vs creationism a few years ago. We have different beliefs but we were united in admitting that there is an implicit order at work behind the scenes - there is energy in the system for which nobody can account, and the argument between the two camps involves the origin of this energy: is it naturally emergent via seemingly random processes (which must be embedded in the system) or is it actively divined by a higher consciousness which some call God?

Back to Bohm, he used the hologram as his metaphor because of the way holograms work: each region of a photographic plate in which a hologram is observable contains within it the whole three-dimensional image, which can be viewed from a range of perspectives. That is, each region contains a whole and undivided image. In Bohm’s words:
There is the germ of a new notion of order here. This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular arrangement of objects (e.g. in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now, the word 'implicit' is based on the verb 'to implicate'. This means 'to fold inward' ... so we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each region contains a total structure 'enfolded' within it".
Bohm noted that although the hologram conveys undivided wholeness, it is nevertheless static. We perceive reality as a steady construct of unfolded order which streams forth from the implicate order in which the energies interact, just as our television set plucks from the ether a progressive stream of bits of information and then constructs a corresponding progression of images on the screen. Reality is where consciousness intersects with the information stream. There is really no question any longer that consciousness plays a role in reality as proven by endlessly repeatably laboratory tests using quantum theory and conscousness to direct reality how to behave. I don't know how this affects anyone's religious beliefs, but I do know that belief is one thing and fact another and sometimes we must choose one or the other when they are incompatible.

Bohm's theory is expressed most eloquently in view of the phenomenon of quantum entanglement. In the Einsteinian view of the universe, energy is information with a speed limit. There is no way that a particle on this side of the universe can communicate instantaneously with a particle on the other side of the universe given the well-defined speed limit of light. Einstein called this notion "spooky action at a distance" and the former patent clerk found it patently ridiculous. However, it can be shown without a doubt that entangled particles (subatomic particles which share a common origin) indeed can communicate instantly at great distances and the only way to explain this interaction is to admit that both particles are in communication with some third thing which resides behind the veil.

In Bohm's book, WHOLENESS AND THE IMPLICATE ORDER, he offers a nice analogy: say there is a fish in a bowl with two camera's pointed at it. The cameras are set up perpendicularly such that one shows a front view while the other shows a side view. If a viewer were watching the two-dimensional images of this fish, he might conclude that he is watching two distinct fish, yet he would inescapably conclude that the two fish are related in some fundamental way since whenever one moves, the other moves without hesitation. There is no solution to this puzzle when thinking two-dimensionally; only by moving up a dimension and seeing the two cameras pointed at a single fish is the puzzle solved. There must be a similar mechanism at work which will explain quantum entanglement to the first person who can successfully envision the higher dimension. How I would love to be that person but alas, I am a mere Junto Boy.
DEBATE ANALYSIS

First see my related post below.

Some good analysis of last night's debate ("good" because it agrees with mine) from NRO contributors:

The good news for Democrats is that only hard-line Democrats and junkies were watching."

And by a different writer: "The cable networks could do America a great favor by airing Democratic presidential debates every week... If not for the Iraq war, none of them would have any chance in 2008."


Here is a good and longer commentary.

You know you’re in trouble when Joe Biden starts to sound good. And in Sunday night’s debate, the Democrats showed they are indeed in trouble. Building up to an election that should offer them a truly exceptional opportunity for victory, they have put up a very weak lineup, filled with senators and therefore with hot air.

Americans almost never elect their presidents out of the Senate. Just about every modern presidential election has seen sitting senators vie for the White House, but only two of our presidents — Kennedy and Harding — have managed to be elected directly from the Senate. We often say the public seeks executive experience. But more likely what voters really look for is something of an executive temperament: a simplicity and clarity of purpose, and some sense of how to manage action. The Senate trains its members in almost precisely the opposite set of skills, and it shows.

Given all this, Bill Richardson should be the strongest candidate on a Democratic debate stage: governor, former U.N. representative, former Cabinet members, former member of Congress. But Richardson may well have been the least impressive debater last night.

The second strongest candidate should be Hillary Clinton. She has no executive experience, but she should have a good sense of what a president sounds like. Last night was not a strong performance for her, but she made no significant errors, and for the front-runner, that’s a successful debate.

The other two top-tier candidates — Edwards and Obama — are both empty suits that seem to grow emptier and emptier. They showed an appalling lack of seriousness regarding the country’s security. Quite apart from having no solutions to offer, they offered no evidence that they understand we are at war with a determined enemy.

Senator Biden — while he did nothing to endanger his title as the king of hot air — showed now and then that he did understand the situation we are in, and that George W. Bush did not cause it. Biden won the debate, and Hillary was not far behind. She will be a formidable candidate next year, and no Republican candidate should imagine otherwise.

But at least so far in this early campaign season, the Republican debates have shown a much more serious, responsible, and seasoned cast of front-runners than the Democrats. That will offer Republicans a real advantage when the public starts paying attention next year. And they’ll need it.

FRED HITS NAIL ON HEAD

At a Virginia Republican Party dinner Saturday, Fred had this to say about immigration:

"We are a nation of compassion, a nation of immigrants," he told the crowd. "But this is our home, and whether you're a first-generation American, a third-generation American or a brand newly minted American, this is our home and we get to decide who comes into our home." At that, much of the crowd rose and applauded midspeech.

I certainly heard nothing of that sort from (D) last night.
COMMENTS ON LAST NIGHT'S DEBATE

I listened this morning to most of last night's Democratic debate and learned enough to confirm that I will not be voting Democrat in November 2008.

Clear themes:

1. We have to quit subsidizing the oil companies, strip away and redistribute their profits when they get too high, and investigate them for price gouging and price fixing. John Edwards, after he loses, may be just the man for the job.

2. We have to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for universal health care. Robin Hood not available for comment.

3. Fence along Mexican border, bad. Rather, increase the number of federal employees along the border, and don't forget Canada, that's a really big border with the opportunity to create many new federal employees to drink coffee and read the New Yorker along it.

4. We must not only do away with "don't ask, don't tell" in the military and let gays and lesbians serve (one another?) openly, we must follow the lead of the enlightened New England states and embrace domestic partnerships and civil unions. (Applause.)

Hillary's position on why she voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq is now that she assumes President Bush would allow time for the investigators to complete their job of verifying whether Saddam had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, and that she never thought (with dismay at the inhumanity even now as she speaks of it) that he would fail to do that before abusing his power and using force in Iraq. Check back tomorrow for an update on what her position was at that time.

Hillary says it is absolutely imperative that Iran not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon. I guess the same imperative did not apply to Iraq.

Joe Biden assures us that Iran is "decades away" from obtaining an effective nuclear device. However, if they were to develop one "and stick it on a pad," he would "take it out." Well, that's comforting. Maybe they'll put strobe lights on it too.

Call me a prude or a bigot, but in light of what President Clinton took the country through because of his sexual improprieties (which I know assumes some standards of morality to which the candidates on the dais and the applauding audience do not subscribe), I think that Hillary coming out as a lesbian while serving as President of the United States would be a net negative for the nation.

And John Edwards wants to talk to me about restoring trust in the presidency. John Edwards. Okay.

Wolf was pretty good about going back to the questions he asked that the candidates did not answer. Not that it helped, but I give him credit. He still won't ask the obvious questions like:

"What would you have done as President following 9/11?"

"What do you expect to happen when you pull the troops out of Iraq, and what will you do about it?"

"What are America's political and economic interests in the Middle East, without referring in your answer to the current administration?"

"Are you opposed to the use of military force generally, or only in Iraq? What is your specific philosophy regarding the purpose and use of the US military?"

"If you go on defense against terrorism and a catastrophic terrorist event takes place on American soil, will that be your fault? Would your policies change in that circumstance?"

"What is your argument for having both houses and the executive all Democrat-controlled?"

"What do you personally stand for, using positive language only?"

But such direct questions will never get direct answers. I kid myself.

The choice is clear, the majority of Americans do not support the core ideals of these candidates, and if the Republicans had the nuts to take opposing positions and call the question, we could skip all this b.s. and get on with conservative rule.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

DIVIDED COUNTRY

I saw an old friend from work this week. He’s sort of the henpecked guy who was raised conservative but now gives his vote over to Gore and Kerry because he married the daughter of two college professors. He’s worried about voting for Hilary because he thinks she’s too divisive and the country needs a President that can unify the country. I could have nodded and hoped that he come back into the fold, but no President can unify this country.

George Bush was the least partisan guy the Republicans could have elected. He’s always reaching out to the other side and where does it get him? Ted Kennedy writes the education bill and now the immigration bill. President Clinton is sent on goodwill missions around the world. If 9-11 isn’t going to unify the country behind killing terrorists then there is no unifying the country.

The campaign finance reform guys said that there is too much money in politics, but instead of tackling the cause, big government, they tackled the industry that has risen to have influence over a government that dictates too much of their lives. Lobbyists wouldn’t have any power if the size of government was smaller.

In the old days you could pretty much live and let live. You could raise your family and run your business. A president was elected to run foreign policy. Now we have thousands of bureaucrats who exist to “protect” us from everything and they do this by wielding unelected power. Once you name something “The Department of Education” it’s almost automatic that such an organization will then run amok without any oversight or common sense. The intentions alone of such a body vaccinate it from real scrutiny.

Who controls the size of government controls the real power in this country. They can forward their own causes and stymie the causes of their enemies. It was all evident in the fight to create additional airport screeners. The Democrats insisted on federalizing and unionizing the jobs rather than hiring less expensive private firms. If Haliburton made a killing on the war, then Democrats made a killing on security at home. No wonder they would rather play defense.

It shouldn’t matter that much who becomes President. The American people make the country great, not politicians. But the government beast has gotten so far into our lives that it’s become too important. The idea that Barrack Obama is going to change that fact and unify the country is a misunderstanding of the problem.
A DIFFERENT OPINION ON ILLEGAL ALIENS

From Reason Magazine Blog in support of open borders:
In his 2004 paper, Boom Towns and Ghost Countries, World Bank socioeconomist Lant Pritchett uses the example of mid-19th century Ireland to illustrate the inefficiencies of today’s labor market, where bureaucratic barriers have never been more intractable. To leave a country that is failing, Pritchett explains, it helps to have somewhere to go. But in important ways it is harder for today’s immigrants to relieve pressure on a failing economy than yesterday’s.

The simultaneous opening of markets for goods and closing of markets for labor has sparked a strange dissonance in debates about free trade. The same Republicans who will go to the mat for your right to buy cheap widgets from Bangladesh will fight as hard to keep the widget makers safely behind the fence.

How does it follow that I want cheap widgets therefore I should want to assume the public costs of uneducated low skilled labor?

Immigrants are a risk because they have to achieve a certain level of productivity to compensate for the public services that they will consume. Free trade lets some other country assume the social costs. How much of the health care crisis is really a result of an overburdened medical system treating 12-20 million aliens that can’t pay?

Work conditions in America were rough 100 years ago, but it was still work and was much better than starving in Ireland. Using unskilled labor freely helped to build our economy. We’re too sophisticated to allow unskilled people to work for $2 an hour now. They need to live in free housing and get checks from the taxpayers instead. Bangladesh is stepping in to fill the void.

Post-War Japan is a prime example of a country that rebuilt with cheap labor and cheap products and improved to the point that Americans would rather own a Lexus than a Cadillac. Our consumers benefited without the social costs. Mexico could do the same thing, but it’s more expedient for them to export their citizens and then import our dollars.

A libertarian magazine like Reason should understand the benefit of cheap labor elsewhere versus the costs of inviting it into our welfare state. And any benefit currently realized will diminish with legislation that brings these people out of the shadows, especially with modern-day Boss Tweeds ready to troll for votes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

THE "STAGGERINGLY STUPID" IMMIGRATION BILL

Krauthammer cover a litany of evils in the immigration bill, including this one.

Until now we've had a special category for highly skilled, world-renowned and indispensable talent. Great musicians, athletes and high-tech managers come in today under the EB-1 visa. This apparently is going to be abolished in the name of an idiotic egalitarianism.

I suspect this provision is a kind of apology for one of the few very good ideas in the bill -- taking skill, education and English proficiency into account rather just family ties, and thus cutting back on a chain migration system in which the Yemeni laborer can bring over an entire clan while the engineers and teachers desperate to get here languish in the old country.

The price for this lurch into rationality appears to be the abolition of the VIP fast track, which constitutes less than 2 percent of total immigration and, from the point of view of the national interest, is the most valuable. This staggeringly stupid idea is reason alone to vote against the immigration bill.