The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

“Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

–William F. Buckley, Jr.

(H/T, Balko)

I'd like to make a deposit...

On my way home from work, right around the Montrose Blue Line stop, there is a billboard for Midwest bank. Every time I see this billboard, I'm amazed. The reason that I'm amazed is that I think this billboard is kind of dirty, and I think it's kind of dirty on purpose. This is what it looks like:

I'm not crazy, right?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Vouchers Work

From Alex Tabarrok:

Thus, this paper shows two things. First, that the test scores of the students in the public schools improved when vouchers gave the schools better incentives to perform. Second, at least some of the improvement comes from changes in how students are taught. The author's note, for example:

...we find that schools receiving an “F” grade are more likely to focus on low-performing students, lengthen the amount of time devoted to instruction, adopt different ways to organize the day and learning environment of the students and teachers, increase resources available to teachers...

It is not true that "nothing can be done to improve the schools." Incentives matter.

Quote of the Day: Fred Dooley

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

- Inigo Montoya

Occasionally I pick on Fred Dooley, who writes the poorly titled Real Debate Wisconsin blog. In reality there is very little debate that goes on there, and Fred has a nasty habit of banning those who offer contrary opinions. However, because of his stubbornes, picking on him can be entertaining as he will never, ever change his mind to the point of absurdity.

Anyway, Fred can be counted on to parrot the conservative talking points of the day, and last Friday, he wrote this:

Obama spoke in Milwaukee just after the Virginia Tech shootings...

Now he is in Milwaukee just after the tragedy at NIU yesterday...


I know what Fred was trying for here. He was probably not trying to say that Obama causes mass shootings. He was probably trying to be glib and funny. Unfortunately, it's pretty obvious that he does not know what the word "Karma" means.

kar·ma /ˈkɑrmə/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kahr-muh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun 1. Hinduism, Buddhism. action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation: in Hinduism one of the means of reaching Brahman. Compare bhakti (def. 1), jnana.
2. Theosophy. the cosmic principle according to which each person is rewarded or punished in one incarnation according to that person's deeds in the previous incarnation.
3. fate; destiny.
4. the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something.

You see Fred, Karma implies causation. I know that you did not mean to write that Obama caused mass killings, but that's what you did. Also, making light of mass killings is not funny.

I attempted to correct Fred on this point as I would not want such a sound-bite appearing on my blog (unless I was quoting someone else, of course), but he would have none of it.

So maybe Fred does think that Obama causes mass killings.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are My Friends Married: Update

If you have read this blog for awhile, you may remember the story of my friends Jay and Jen, who were married by their uncle, a minister who was ordained over the internet. Their marriage was put into legal limbo by a stupid Pennsylvania law (and an even worse court ruling) that requires your church to have a brick-and-mortar facility in the state. For a recap, click here.

Jay and Jen are not taking this lying down, and with the help of the ACLU they're taking their case to court:

The ACLU filed the first three lawsuits in a planned statewide effort to address what they contend is a flaw in the state marriage law.

"What we want is to fix a problem that never should have existed in the first place," ACLU attorney Mary Catherine Roper said. "The state has no business invalidating marriages just because it doesn?t like the kind of minister who officiated them."

The couples in the three ACLU lawsuits - including the O'Neills, who filed in Bucks County, are seeking judicial declarations that their marriages are valid under state law.

"For a judge to retroactively decide ... that our marriage is no longer valid seems unfair and hurtful for both of us," said Ryan Hancock, who was married to his wife, Melanie, in 2005 by a friend who was a Universal Life Church minister.

I wish Jay and Jen the best of luck in this case. The state has no business telling its citizens what is and is not a legitimate church. Think about all of the problems something like this could cause. Most of your major purchases after you are married are performed as a couple. You buy a house together, insurance together, and you might have a will which refers to your "wife" or "husband." Declaring that a group of people are not married after the fact throws all of these major transactions into a gray area. Taking care of the problem is stressful, and expensive.

If they eventually triumph in their case, it will not just be a victory for them. They will also be performing a public service.

Good luck, Jay and Jen.

It was probably trying to kethcup.

It's funny enough that the Wienermobile was recently in an accident, but this bit of crack journalism by George Osgood kicks it up a notch.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ken Tremendous Is My Hero

One of my favorite websites is And one of my favortie shows is The Office. Today, the FJM crew revealed their true identities, and Ken Tremendous is actually a writer named Michael Schur who writes for The Office, is married to Regis Philbin's daughter, and plays Dwight Schrute's cousin Mose on The Office.

Ken, you're my hero.

And Junior writes for South Park. Talented bunch.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Quote Of The Day, Part 2

"In The Brothers Karamazov, Alyosha expresses the idea which panicked Dostoyevski more than any other: Without God, 'everything is lawful'. But as Mohammed Atta can explain, the opposite is true. Without God, murder is forbidden by human law; it is only for those acting on behalf of God, that everything is permitted."

-- Jonathan Wallace

(Hat tip, Overcoming Bias)

Quote Of The Day

"Well," Rowlands said carefully, turning the Land-Rover into the road. "I am not at all sure what it is that is going on all around us, Will bach, or where it is leading. But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else. You are like fanatics. Your masters, at any rate. Like the old Crusaders -- oh, like certain groups in every belief, though this is not a matter of religion, of course. At the centre of the Light there is a cold white flame, just as at the centre of the Dark there is a great black pit bottomless as the Universe."

His warm, deep voice ended, and there was only the roar of the engine. Will looked out over the grey-misted fields, silent.

"There was a great long speech, now," John Rowlands said awkwardly. "But I was only saying, be careful not to forget that there are people in this valley who can be hurt, even in the pursuit of good ends."

Will heard again in his mind Bran's anguished cry as the dog Cafall was shot dead, and heard his cold dismissal: go away, go away... And for a second another image, unexpected, flashed into his mind out of the past: the strong, bony face of Merriman his master, first of the Old Ones, cold in judgment of a much-loved figure who, through the frailty of being no more than a man, had once betrayed the cause of the Light.

He sighed. "I understand what you are saying," he said sadly. "But you misjudge us, because you are a man yourself. For us, there is only the destiny. Like a job to be done. We are here simply to save the world from the Dark. Make no mistake, John, the Dark is rising, and will take the world to itself very soon if nothing stands in its way. And if that should happen, then there would be no question ever, for anyone, either of warm charity or of cold absolute good, because nothing would exist in the world or in the hearts of men except that bottomless black pit. The charity and the mercy and the humanitarianism are for you, they are the only things by which men are able to exist together in peace. But in this hard case that we the Light are in, confronting the Dark, we can make no use of them. We are fighting a war. We are fighting for life or death -- not for our life, remember, since we cannot die. For yours."

He reached his hand behind him, over the back of the seat, and Pen licked it with his floppy wet tongue.

"Sometimes," Will said slowly, "in this sort of a war, it is not possible to pause, to smooth the way for one human being, because even that one small thing could mean an end of the world for all the rest."

A fine rain began to mist the windscreen. John Rowlands turned on the wipers, peering forward at the grey world as he drove. He said, "It is a cold world you live in, bachgen. I do not think so far ahead, myself. I would take the one human being over all the principle, all the time."

Will slumped down low in his seat, curling into a ball, pulling up his knees. "Oh, so would I," he said sadly. "So would I, if I could. It would feel a lot better inside me. But it wouldn't work."

-- Susan Cooper, The Grey King

(Hat tip, Overcoming Bias)

Why would you vote for any of these people?

Politicians should be viewed with suspicion because they spend millions of dollars of donor money gathering the power to spend millions of dollars of your money. And telling you to thank them for the privilege. Ergo, most politicians are evil.

Some are just stupid. Mike Huckabee is apparently stupid. And evil.

Mitt Romney belongs to a crazy religion. If you ask him the famous "boxers or briefs?" question, he would have to reply that he is wearing crazy Mormon underwear. His favorite book is the product of an even crazier religion. He is also a conservative who would probably expand government health care at great cost. Weirdo.

John McCain sponsored one of the most unconstitutional pieces of garbage ever to emerge from the Senate. I will not forgive him for this. Here's a fun quote:

"I work in Washington and I know that money corrupts. And I and a lot of other people were trying to stop that corruption. Obviously, from what we've been seeing lately, we didn't complete the job. But I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."

Nothing cleans up government like silencing opposing views.

My problem with Democrats is that they always stick their noses where they don't belong. They're bossy, they tend to be economic illiterates, and they smell bad. Well, that's just Teddy but if he hangs out with you long enough it starts to spread. With Hillary, I am worried about draconian environmental laws. I'm an environmentalist, but if the government gets involved I suspect that they will overreact.

I don't know much about Obama, except that he wants change. Well, I also know this, and this.

If I seem softer on the Democrats it is only out of ignorance. There has been the usual empty rhetoric spewing forth from both candidates. As far as I can tell they are both in favor of lower taxes, higher taxes, lower spending, higher spending, more freedom, and more government intrusions.

I do not believe that any of these people are as qualified as I am to be president. Why should I vote for any of them? I can't see any of them on TV without either cringing or laughing.

I'll probably go with my brother's old method of selling his vote for beer.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fun Friday: Movie Review

Writing in Slate, Josh Levin just eviscerates the multitude of recently released, idiotic parody movies. Meet The Spartans was #1 at the box office last week. This cannot stand. I will give you a few choice excerpts:

Isn't it massive consumer fraud to charge $10.50 for a barely hour-long movie? Perhaps, but it would've been unforgivable to make Meet the Spartans any longer than an hour. This was the worst movie I've ever seen, so bad that I hesitate to label it a "movie" and thus reflect shame upon the entire medium of film. Friedberg and Seltzer do not practice the same craft as P.T. Anderson, David Cronenberg, Michael Bay, Kevin Costner, the Zucker Brothers, the Wayans Brothers, Uwe Boll, any dad who takes shaky home movies on a camping trip, or a bear who turns on a video camera by accident while trying to eat it.

Moving ahead a bit...

In Meet the Spartans, the mere act of referring to Transformers, Happy Feet, Spider-Man 3, Ghost Rider, Rocky Balboa, Stomp the Yard, Shrek, Lindsay Lohan, Kevin Federline, or Deal or No Deal is presumed to be hilarious. (If you'll indulge me for a second, I will pause to crack up Friedberg and Seltzer: "Paris Hilton.")


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