Archive for the 'Quick Hitters' Category

Quick hitters – Taxes, the DMV and hell

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • This whole brouhaha about the Bush tax cuts is fascinating to me. I never thought I’d see the Democratic base turn so quickly on Obama like they have over this. He’s even had to call in former President Clinton to his defense. For what it’s worth, this is an area where I see both sides. I see our deficit and wonder if we can afford to keep taxes so low (and the wealthy are more able to take that hit). On the other hand, the income tax code is already HORRIFICALLY biased towards taking taxes from the wealthy. What I pay in taxes now with 3 kids a big mortgage an only 1 income is less than a tenth, yes you read that right, 10%, of what I paid 10 years ago without the kids and two incomes that was only 50% more than I make today. Heck, I’ll give you round number specifics: I paid around $2k in taxes for 2009 on about $50k of post deduction income ($80k pre-deductions). In 2001, I paid around $30k in taxes on $120k of income (and we had no deductions). An additional $28k in taxes for $40k in increased income!?! Something’s not right with that.
  • There’s a story in today’s Chronicle about a transgender person who’s ticked off because the DMV person who took their gender re-assignment paperwork, took their address and started soliciting them with religious material. Let me go on record as saying it was highly inappropriate of the DMV worker to do that. When it’s your job to preserve someone’s private information for the government (and anyone who takes an address down is), you’ve got to do their job, no matter how deplorable the actions of the person are. The transgender person is absolutely right to object to that.
  • That said, it’s just baffling to me that our society allows people to “change their gender”. What does that even mean? We define sex by our chromosomes… and those can’t be changed. Sure, you can slice off the penis, drill a hole in their pelvis, put breast implants in their chest, and give them hormone injections, but the chromosomes don’t change. At some level I understand why because of our noble insistence on liberty in the US we allow the surgery to go forward (although I can make a compelling argument why our liberties end before that). But there’s no reason why someone’s birth certificate/driver’s license should be able to be changed. Those surgeries didn’t change their fundamentals. While it wasn’t right for the DMV worker to take advantage of their role to notify this person of their perversion, the perversion of the nature of our humanity is quite real, as is the associated risk of hell that goes along with it.

QHs – Big logs, SCOTUS decisions and TGD progress

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • I took my elder 2 boys (6 and 5 respectively) on a power boat ride yesterday down to the Delta and had a grand time despite the deteriorating weather (will someone please tell who ever is in charge that it’s mid-May and us California folks do not accept rain after the month of April). I always ask them on our way home from events what they liked the best. Usually, they purposely pick different things but yesterday it was a unanimous decision: The big log we fished out of the water. It was floating down the slough we were anchored in and we went and got it. It was easily 10″ in diameter and 5 feet long. It looked a lot smaller in the water until I tried to pull it into the boat. It must weigh 100 lbs. And nothing says fun to boys like BIG THINGS!
  • I never know what to make of Supreme Court decisions because it’s always far more nuanced than what the press says. Today’s two rulings about the ability to keep prisoners who are a threat (like sexual predators) after they’ve served their terms for public safety (the court says yes we can) and making it a requirement that juveniles be given the possibility for parole for everything but capital cases are no exception. I lean towards backing the juvenile decision and being critical of the served term decision. However, it generally seems to me that the court mucks in far too many areas (although to be fair, the served term decision, although overturning a lower court decision, made it so the court was not interfering). Generally speaking I’m a fan of letting the electorate make the decisions and only let the court step in for truly egregious situations.
  • Never fear on The God Delusion. I’m still reading. I finished Chapter 4 over the weekend. For what it’s worth, because I’m blogging the book chapter by chapter, it’s taking me a lot longer than it does to read a regular book. Between taking notes and re-reading sections that trouble me or I’m having a hard time understanding what he’s getting at, plus stopping reading at the end of each chapter so I can blog about it without polluting my comments by what comes in later chapters, it’s been a laborious and slow project. Expect a chapter 4 summary shortly.

QH’s – IVF, surrogacy and respect for life

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Two days in a row of thematic quick hitters:

  • I saw this story on about a fight over 2 fetuses. The basic story is that one couple used Invitro Fertilization and had 4 left over embryos and then donated them to another couple who used two and then a legal fight ensued over the remaining two. Most people read stories like this and take sides as to who is right and who is wrong, but I think they’re all missing the key issue: IVF. If there was no IVF, there would be no left over embryos. There would be no debate over whether disposing them is OK. There would be no debate over donation. There would be no “embryo contracts”. The root issue is the stupidity of IVF. It’s treating the human creation process without the reverence it deserves.
  • Which brings me to story number two about botched surrogacy with Indian women from the Brisbane Times in Australia. Again, the average person look at these stories and pick sides without recognizing the root issue: surrogacy. How dehumanizing is it when we can rent out our bodies like it’s a car or a boat? Womb for rent here. Vagina for rent there. Most people still recognize the wrongness of prostitution, but when it’s renting the womb, it doesn’t seem to cause the same reaction. Even if it’s not renting but “gifting”, is “sympathy sex” any better?
  • The root issue here is that we’ve dehumanized the reproductive process. It’s no longer about a man and a woman coming together and receiving the gift of a child whenever that gift may be given. No, now it’s about controlling the process. No children when we don’t want them, even if it means killing them in the womb when we make a mistake. And however many children we want and WHEN we want them. Even if it mean abusing poor people by renting their bodies like they’re poor prostitutes or freezing a bunch of embryos and donating them to each other. All of these problems would just go away if we just respected the sexual act as the wonderful, potentially reproductive act that it is, a gift when it bears fruit, but also a gift when it does not and let nature take its course.

QH’s – Golf, my nemesis, and fear

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • There’s a story out about Obama declining to play golf with Limbaugh. First, let me be clear that I think Limbaugh is a master public relations person and he knows how to play the media game. He knows he’s going to look like the nice guy by letting this play out the way it did and he knows he’ll never have to play with Obama. And even if it went through, he’d make it work to his advantage. He’s that kinda guy. So I won’t be fooled into thinking Limbaugh is the naive nice guy here, he’s as scheming as the rest.
  • But it led me to think about who my nemesis is. Is it someone like Dawkins? Is it a political type person? Is there someone out there who I loath so much that I wouldn’t play golf with them? And while there are definitely people who it would take talking myself up to play golf with, it would be an eminently good thing for me to play golf with whoever that person was. I think what’s lacking in today’s culture is a lack of personal connection and personal sympathy. If we all played golf with each other more often, the resulting personal sympathy would keep political foes as merely political foes and not hated people who we treat as subhuman and abuse worthy.
  • Which brings me to my last link of the day. Bronstein, the SFGate editor, interviews to Tea Party activists. He does a good and fair job of interviewing them, so kudos to him. But what struck me is the fear those two ladies felt coming into SF for the interview. They both state it explicitly and you can see it in their body language and timid voices. And it’s a valid fear. They are hated in some circles and those people would abuse them if given the anonymous chance to do so. As an example, they fear that people would vandalize their cars if they left their signs up in their cars while they did the interview. And who could argue that wasn’t a real possibility? That’s the opposite of playing golf together. That’s the hatred that has us dehumanizing our foes so much that perfectly regular people who would never damage a “regular” person’s property, would do it out of hatred of the “teabaggers”. Everyone needs to take a collective breath, play some golf, and learn to respect one another despite our different views.

QH’s – Pixar, SCOTUS nom and perfect games

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I’m going to get back on track with doing daily Quick Hitters:

  • I’m a big fan of Pixar. Their ability to make hit after hit without getting at all formulaic has been astounding. I was glad they were bought by Disney because they really are the rightful heir to the Disney legacy. In any case, I’m here to report I’ve re-ordered my ordinal list of Pixar movies after a re-watch of the Incredibles last week:
    1. UP
    2. Finding Nemo
    3. Ratatouille
    4. Monsters Inc.
    5. Wall-E
    6. Cars
    7. The Incredibles
    8. Toy Story
    9. Toy Story 2
    10. Bugs Life

    For what it’s worth, I have a particularly hard time placing 5-7 right now. The change was to bump The Incredibles above the Toy Story movies and now is in a dead heat with Wall-E and Cars. They’re all REALLY close. In fact, when I started conceiving the new list it was going to go Incredibles, Cars, Wall-E, but there’s something about Wall-E that I really like and the freshness of Incredibles wore off resulting in the exact opposite order for the published list. In any case, the rest are more obvious to me with 3-4 being the next closest two. But what’s remarkable to me is that even Toy Story 2 is better than just about every other childrens movie in the last 10-15 years.

  • I have no idea what to think of the Kagan nomination at this point because I’m entirely not familiar with her and the raging talking head debate is full of half truths and ad hominum attacks that just can’t be trusted. Without the ruling history for me to appeal to, it’s very hard to determine anything meaningful about her, which is precisely what Obama wants from where I sit. A cautionary tale for Obama: Be careful. Sometimes Souter ends up not being the conservative that nobody can prove anything about and ends being a turn-coat Souter who was really a liberal all along. You may end up getting a closet conservative if you’re not careful.
  • I’m a lifelong casual A’s fan. I grew up in Oakland and have attended my fair share of games (from as young as 8 or so to as recently as a month ago on a bobblehead day). So I take great joy in hearing that Dallas Braden threw a perfect game over the weekend. I wasn’t there (although I take great pride in having been at games 19 and 20 in the 20 game winning streak, the most impressive regular season team performance in modern baseball history) although I wish I had been. For those keeping score, that makes 2 of the 19 perfect games in MLB history from the A’s (Catfish Hunter in ’68 being the other). For you cross bay Giant fans, you’ll have to wait for your first. :)

Quick hitters – New pastor, still working on TGD

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • Our parish is getting a new pastor with Father Liam retiring. We just got word last weekend that Father Steven Foppiano from St. Thomas More Parish in Paradise, CA will be replacing him. It sounds like he will be missed in Paradise, which I’ll take as a good sign. Thank you St. Thomas More for your generosity, forced or otherwise. Just as interesting is that Fr. Foppiano seems to be a tech-savvy priest with a facebook page and everything. That’s awesome. Welcome Fr. Foppiano!
  • Don’t take the lack of post on TGD as a sign that I’ve given up. I lost access to the book over the weekend in a library snafu when it had to be renewed. I think my wife has it back now. I’m still going to push on and read it. Life just occasionally gets in the way.

Quick hitters – 13th day, nasty politics and TGD

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • I watched “The 13th Day”. It was pretty good, the production quality was surprisingly good in fact, but I felt like it tried to be a bit too artistic and was shorter on facts and details than I would have liked. I’m not a big follower of Marian apparitions, so I don’t know a lot about Fatima, and I was really hoping to learn more details than the movie gives out. However, it does cover the basics and does a very good job of humanizing the events. Sometime miraculous events are depicted in such a sterile fashion, but the movie did a good job of showing the range of human emotions associated to one. I definitely recommend the movie: 3 1/2 stars. (I’m a tough grader)
  • I got a political advertisement in the mail recently that really ticked me off. It was for the CA governors race and the ad was from Meg Whitman who is winning due to her 60 million dollar personal war chest. The print ad attacks Poizner for his pro-choice views. Talk about the kettle calling the pot black! Whitman’s pro-choice herself. Now in “fairness” to her, she’s a “soft” pro-choicer in that she’s against VERY late term abortions (last 3-months) and is in favor of parental notification as the interview linked makes clear. But the ad she attacks Poizner in goes after him for positions she herself holds like public funding of abortion. Unbelievable…
  • As for the good news, I should have time this weekend to read and post about chapter 2 of TGD.

Quick Hitters – fair use, Fatima and fatwas

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Today’s quick hitters:

  • I saw this article today about how YouTube has taken down a bunch of the Downfall movie parodies. What a shame. A number of those were very good. The article makes a good point. I saw the movie after I saw a couple of those parodies and the movie was very good. I’ve recommended it to others. The parodies are the best thing that ever happened to that relatively obscure movie. Not to be outdone, a member of EFF, made a new parody about Hitler complaining about the parodies. (Caution: 2 f-bombs and a couple other minor language issues.) How awesome is that? And for good measure, he posted it on vimeo instead of youtube.
  • Tonight I’m going to watch the movie The 13th Day: The True Story of Fatima. We’ll see if it’s any good. Sometimes B-rate Catholic movies can be great finds. Other times they can be complete bombs. Most of the Netflix reviews are positive, but that too can be misleading as the desire for it to be good can color one’s perspective. I’ll have a short review tomorrow.
  • I heard about this on the radio this morning and then saw the article later. The creator’s of South Park are being physically threatened, just as Theo Van Gogh was murdered for his film. I’m glad the offending site was taken down, but it seems to me it’s more proof that a brewing storm is coming. The worst part is, it doesn’t seem there is a good solution to the problem. I will say this, anyone who think “all religions are the same” needs to appreciate situations like this. South Park has been making fun of Christians and Jews and all sorts of Eastern religions for years. Heck, their first ever episode was a show down between Jesus and Santa Claus over the true meaning of Christmas (which I thought was hilarious). And never in those times did anyone threaten the creators of the show physically. Sure there was the occasional call for the boycott or whatever, but that’s entirely different than calling for someone to murder them.

Quick Hitters – Crazy busy

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Today’s extra quick hitters:

  • I’ve been amazingly busy at work. For some reason they don’t want to just give me the paycheck for free.
  • I’m kinda an anti-Apple guy, although not to the degree my brother is. However, Jobs statement that there will be no porn on the iPhone App Store puts me in their camp. There’s no need for that. People who want porn can always use their browser.
  • If word ever got out about the power parents have by keeping their kids home from school in CA, there would be HUGE changes to public after all the boycotts started taking their toll. Case in point, after two years of trying to get a teacher removed, the school district caved after ONE DAY of 80% of the kids staying home for a boycott. Losing $9,000 in state funds per day will do that to a school district.

Hopefully I won’t be working extra hours soon and I can get back to TGD.

QH’s – Fundraisers, derangement and 20 weeks

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Quick Hitters for the day:

  • I’m someone who was a fan of Palin (to the degree that I knew who she was before she became the VP candidate, and endorsed her for that) who’s soured on her significantly. Turns out she’s nothing but a fundamentalist (both politically and religiously) tool of the neocons. Nevertheless, this whole controversy over her upcoming speech at CSU Stanislaus is stupid. What she’s doing isn’t uncommon (both being paid and the fee being confidential) and the false attempt to tie endowment foundations to the state government. Everything from Cal athletics to alumni associations to foundations for particular colleges at each University have ALWAYS operated independently and without oversight. Since they can’t take tax money, only contribute, why should they need to be? But that’s not the underlying issue here. This is just “Palin Derangement Syndrome” run a muck.
  • As a general question, is “politician X derangement syndrome” really a new thing? I’m a relatively young guy so anything before Bush #2 is before my political time. But it seems to have taken off with Bush #1 and we’ve seen it with Obama, Hillary and Palin since then, at least those are the most visible cases. It also seems like there’s some vestiges of it with Reagan, but it’s not as clear. It’s a really troubling trend to me, but perhaps it’s just the same old, same old.
  • I’m glad to see Nebraska taking a lead on abortion, limiting abortion to the first 20 weeks. One of the unknown truths of the abortion debate is that there is a popular middle ground of limiting abortion to somewhere between the 1st trimester (12 weeks) and 20 weeks. In fact, if you look at the 3rd most popular comment by ‘moxichick67′ in the linked article, and the heavily favored thumbs up to thumbs down, it shows that truth ( leans heavily liberal). I think the debate would be calmed down significantly if the 1st trimester limit were put in place (or at least if individual states were allowed to). Sadly, the debate has been hijacked by the radical pro-abortionist who’ve very successfully framed the debate as a binary issue, not a gradient issue of where it should be cut off. Of course, I’d prefer to see it outlawed entirely, but the reality is that the compromise that would best reflect the mind of the country is somewhere between the 1st trimester and 20 weeks.