Archive for October, 2011

Need something to wear tonight? Here’s a geeky Halloween costume

by David McElroy

If you have a couple of iPads lying around and you want to make a very cool and geeky costume for tonight, I have just the right idea for you. Get started now. You still have time. (Note that each has to be an iPad 2 since the first generation didn’t have a video camera.)

NEWS LINKS: U.S. troops in Iraq being sent next door to Kuwait

by Staff Monkeys

  • After pulling troops out of Iraq, the Obama administration plans a new military build-up in the Persian Gulf, according to officials and diplomats quoted over the weekend by the New York Times. So the troops aren’t really coming home. They’re simply being shifted next door to Kuwait — to be available for the next war, whether it’s back in Iraq or maybe even invading Iran. Isn’t it a good thing that we have a president with a Nobel Peace Prize? Imagine what a warmonger he might be otherwise.
  • The managers of a Florida Domino’s Pizza location were having trouble beating their rivals from a nearby Papa John’s store. So what did they do? Well, if you can’t beat ’em … burn ’em down. Yes, the Domino’s managers torched the Papa John’s to help their business. They’ve been caught and arrested. It sounds like a good potential movie about rival pizza joints in a small town.
  • We don’t know whether he’s right or not, but a British write who works in the financial sector is predicting that the continent’s bailout plan will fall apart within two weeks. He’s hoping it can survive longer than that, but he’s not hopeful. He says that Greece and Portugal need to be kicked out of the eurozone until and unless they can get their acts together.

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When things get bad, human nature starts looking for new scapegoats

by David McElroy

Few people like to take responsibility when their lives go off the expected path and end up in a ditch. So what do we do? Instead of finding the real source of problems, we have a strong tendency to find other people to blame.

The ancient Hebrews had a practice that we get our modern word “scapegoat” from. (The word was actually a mistranslation from the Hebrew, but that’s another story.) To oversimplify it a bit, basically the Hebrews would keep a record of their sins all year and then they would “transfer” that sin to the goat — before driving it out into the desert wilderness to die alone. In this way, the people were considered to be clean from their sins.

The ancient Greeks had a practice that was a bit the same, but was closer in spirit to what we do today. When there was a disaster of some sort — famine, invasion or plague, for instance — the Greeks would choose a pharmakos, who was a slave, a cripple or a criminal who was cast out of the community as a sacrifice to quiet the gods. (There’s scholarly debate as to whether they were actually killed or simply expelled from the community.)

Throughout history, humans have chosen people to blame. When bad things happened in some communities — such as a crop failure or a baby dying — unpopular women were sometimes accused of being witches and were burned as punishment. In other cases, entire groups of people were blamed. For much of history, Jews in Europe were blamed for a variety of problems. For instance, because Jews as a group did well financially, people who didn’t do as well blamed them for their problems, ascribing all sorts of negative character traits to the more-successful Jews.

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THE McELROY ZOO: Here’s why Merlin enjoys autumn and spring

by David McElroy

Merlin’s favorite times of the year are the fall and spring, simply because that’s when windows can be open and he can watch (and smell) the birds and squirrels that he’d like to be outside chasing. Here, he peers intently at the back yard through the open window right next to my desk earlier this week. Merlin is the one who disappeared for a couple of days after an escape through a screen about two years ago. He doesn’t seem to eager to leave the comforts of home behind after that adventure.

NEWS LINKS: Miami cop speeds at 120 mph to get to off-duty job

by Staff Monkeys

  • Some police officers think there’s one set of rules for them and a different set of rules for everybody else. A Miami police officer on his way to an off-duty job is clearly one of those. He was about to be late for his off-duty job, so he was driving — in a city police car — at speeds up to 120 miles per hour, weaving in and out of traffic. A Florida state trooper saw this little stunt and gave chase. For the next 12 miles, the Miami officer tried to get away, but finally gave up. He was handcuffed at gunpoint at that point. The Miami Police Department isn’t sure whether there will be any punishment. Seriously. They said that.
  • Just two months before the Iowa caucuses, the lead is still up for grabs. According to a new poll, the surprising Herman Cain leads with 23 percent and is closely followed by Mitt Romney with 22 percent. (Considering a poll’s margin of error, the men are essentially tied.) Ron Paul is third at 12 percent, which isn’t far from the overall 10 percent support level that would be expected for him. At least five other candidate followed in single digits.
  • In a rare case of official sanity, the city of Chicago might decriminalize small quantities of marijuana. It’s not that Chicago officials are suddenly getting smarter, though. They simply say they can’t afford the cost of arresting, prosecuting and jailing all those minor pot smokers. We think smoking anything is a dumb move, but putting people in jail for it is even more ridiculous.

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Herman Cain’s GOP support causes confusion for Demos’ race narrative

by David McElroy

It seems that some Democrats’ heads might explode from the mental contortions they’re going to through to justify their enduring belief that Republicans must be racists.

I’m certainly not a supporter of Herman Cain, but I’ve enjoyed watching some Democratic commentators trying to explain away Cain’s growing support among many Republicans. You see, if Republicans don’t support black candidates, it’s because they’re racist. But if they do support a black candidate, it’s also because they’re racist. Got that?

If that logic doesn’t make sense to you, it’s clear that you haven’t learned logic in the same place as Democratic strategist Karen Finney. On MSNBC Friday, Finney gave her spin on Cain’s surge in popularity, saying, “I think [Herman Cain] is giving that base a free pass and I think they like him because they think he is a black man who knows his place.”

I’m not sure who should be more insulted — Cain or his Republican supporters.

Finney isn’t the only Democrat to trot out this bizarrely irrational approach. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) said the same thing last week. Democratic partisan and actress Janeane Garofalo has wondered out loud who is paying Cain to be a black “token” for the Tea Party. And, of course, there’s the black novelist who goes by the name, Toure, who says that Cain’s views are an insult to the black community.

Does it cross the mind of these narrow-minded folks that maybe Cain is just saying what he believes? And does it cross the mind of these bigots that a sizable number of Republican voters like what he’s saying — and couldn’t care less about his race?

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Homeless freeloaders upset those who want to freeload off ‘the rich’

by David McElroy

At Occupy Wall Street, protesters have been saying that those with more money should be required to “share” with them. But after weeks of homeless freeloaders “sharing” in the free meals prepared by the protesters, the socialist utopia is already a bit shaky.

Volunteers have been preparing three excellent meals every day for the protesters and word has gotten around among the homeless and professional bums that the way to get a good free meal is to go to Zuccotti Park. So the volunteer cooks got angry and demanded that something be done to keep “those sorts of people” from taking all the food. The irony of the situation seems to have escaped them.

After taking their complaints to the “general assembly” of the protest, the kitchen staff decided to serve nothing but bland and unappealing food for three days — during which time they would provide directions to local soup kitchens in order to get rid of the poor undesirables who are trying to help themselves to food from the community pot.

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NEWS LINKS: Public support for ObamaCare plummets to 34 percent

by Staff Monkeys

  • Only 34 percent of Americans have a favorable impression of ObamaCare, according to a new poll. For months, support and opposition were pretty evenly matched, but the time is strongly turning against Barack Obama’s plan. Unfortunately, unless Republicans retake the Senate with overwhelming numbers and take the White House, the plan isn’t going anywhere.
  • Speaking of ObamaCare, we didn’t know that companies can apply for permission to be exempt from the new health care laws. We’re having trouble getting a clear explanation for why some companies are being able to get exemptions and some can’t, but House minority leader Nancy Pelosi isn’t making things any more clear. In an interview about the 1,800 companies that have gotten exemptions, she defended the exemptions as a way to help small companies. One of those “very small companies” is McDonald’s. You might have heard of them.
  • A Tea Party group leader in Richmond, Va., is calling on the city’s mayor to charge the local Occupy group $8,000 in order to comply with the same policies the mayor forced on Tea Party protests in the city. Although the Tea Party group was required to have $1 million in liability insurance and was required to have a certain number of police and emergency personnel on hand, no such requirements have been made of the Occupy group. Surely it wouldn’t have anything to do with the political leanings of the mayor, though. Right?

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Sad, but true: Neither Ron Paul nor any libertarian has chance to win

by David McElroy

If you’re a libertarian who still participates in the majoritarian political system, it can only mean that you’re in denial or that you fantasize reality will suddenly change. You’d be better off looking for a genie to grant you three wishes, because voter reality is very stubborn.

I’ve written before about why Ron Paul can’t win, and I’ve also explained why I won’t be voting for him (or anyone else) when it’s time to vote. There’s no other politician in the state political system who I admire as much as Paul, but the simple fact is that the vast majority of people don’t want the policies he favors. As I’ve said a number of times before, most people don’t want individual liberty. It’s a losing platform, even though it’s right.

I’ve worked around politics for more than 20 years, so it’s very easy for me to separate my preferences from my analysis of what’s really going to happen. Most people who work in the business can do the same thing, even if they’re not likely to admit publicly that their favored candidate can’t win. The wisdom of insiders isn’t perfect, but it’s more accurate than you might realize. So let’s take a look at what Republican and Democratic insiders are saying about the Republican candidates they believe have the best and worst chances of winning the GOP nomination.

Among Republican insiders, Paul’s chances are rated as eighth out of the eight candidates tested. He comes in just below Michele Bachmann. Even John Huntsman has twice the score of Paul. It’s simple. People with knowledge of the process and how voters usually behave don’t think Paul has any chance. And they’re right.

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FRIDAY FUNNIES

by David McElroy

We’re trying something new this week. If enough people like it, maybe it’ll become a regular Friday feature. I share a lot of silliness with other people — some political and some not — that never makes it over here. This is a sample of five of my favorites from the last week. In honor of Halloween, we start with the pumpkin that I’d like to duplicate if I still did Halloween decorations each year.

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Start over here

When this site launched in 2011, it was intended as a way to find others who were sick of partisan politics and wanted to connect with like-minded people who were ready to go beyond politics and find ways of escaping. It has shifted focus in ways that reflect my own shifting thinking. I’m less interested in politics and more interested in looking at the things that make life worth living, such as love, creation, self-understanding and connecting with others. Every article I have posted since 2011 is still in my archives, but everything I write is a reflection of my current thinking. Sometimes I’m wrong — and that’s fine with me — and I don’t always end up agreeing with what I wrote five years ago. For now, you can still read what I wrote about the site’s purpose in 2011, but I should rewrite this. Read more.

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David likes email, but can’t reply to every message. I get a surprisingly large number of requests for relationship advice — seriously — but I rarely have the time to respond. (Sorry.) Besides, with my own romantic track record, maybe my advice isn’t worth taking. I’d like to find a wife one of these days, so maybe I should add an “application.”

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