The Titanic was unsinkable.

Yesterday, Senator Hillary Clinton visited San Francisco to headline a Democratic fund-raiser. During her remarks, she made an interesting comment. Consider:

“Many of you are well enough off that … the tax cuts may have helped you,” Sen. Clinton said. “We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Ignoring the obvious point that she is not a mother hen who can “take things away”, I’m going to move on to the productive aspect of my concern. Senator Clinton, please explain “the common good”. If you mean that we’re going to work to be fiscally responsible by reducing spending, ending the deficit, and repaying the national debt, I accept that definition. If you mean increasing revenue, ending the deficit, and examine the national debt, then I do not accept your notion of the common good.

I hate taxes, but no one will say they love taxes. I love fiscal responsibility, but no one will say they hate fiscal responsibility. We agree on basic ideas. However, the federal government is not entitled to any specific amount of revenue monetary inflow. The federal government’s role is to do things for the citizenry that it can’t or shouldn’t do for itself: national defense, public education, infrastructure, etc. But now, thanks to spending increases and tax cuts, we see an additional, expanding item added to the federal government’s responsibilities that shouldn’t exist: servicing the national debt.

We do nothing to reduce this balance. Indeed, in the last few years, we’ve increased it. We don’t stop spending, though. It’s irrelevant that the interest payments will continue to grow. We don’t care that this will become an economic tumor, consuming more of our nation’s wealth the longer it is left unchecked. This must stop.

During my undergraduate years, I created a debt mountain for myself through irresponsible use of credit cards. This cycle continued throughout my 20’s as I made payments that covered interest without touching principal, while continuing to spend on credit for necessities. I struggled like this for years until I began to earn a higher income. Once my income increased, I stopped struggling, but I continued to pay the consequences of my previous decisions. As I contributed more to principal, I watched my debt decrease. That lasted for several years. One day, after much discipline, I paid my last credit card debt in full.

The part of that story that is ignored is the true impact. As my income rose, I didn’t increase my spending. I didn’t get to enjoy the new cars, clothes, and computers. While many of my friends were able to acquire these items, my spending remained at my poorest levels. When my friends bought houses, I did not. I’d earned as much as them, but I wasn’t able to save for a house. I still rent the house I live in.

I don’t regret my mistakes because they’ve given me the life I have now. But I do not perpetuate them. As a nation, we’re perpetuating our mistakes. We believe that we’re invincible and no harm can occur from our debt. The dollar is the most respected currency in the world, but that doesn’t guarantee its future. We have to begin treating our economic future with respect and understand that our debt cannot continue to grow. America has acted like a trust fund baby for too long. Changing one side of the tax inflow/outflow equation is insufficient.

Joe’s insurance claim can wait.

Is talking on a cell phone in a public bathroom a habit exclusive to men? Answering a ringing cell phone?

I’m serious. I don’t have any clue if women do this or not. I assume not, but I’d like to know. Men do this all the time, despite it being a vile habit that must cease.

To the men who do this (yes, I’m talking to you, That Guy&#153): you don’t mind transmitting the sound of me urinating, so perhaps I will come to your house and transmit the image of you sprawled on your couch with your hand stuffed in your underwear.

No? Fine, but stop being an asshole.

My gay side is ok, mmmkay.

I’m not a big fan of America Online, but I use it for dial-up while I’m at work. It offers the easiest connection and a few *extras* (of which I never partake…), so I chose it to “be my company’s internet provider”. Translated, that means tax deduction.

Recently, I read an article in which the author mentioned that he uses AOL for the same thing. In parentheses, he mentioned that he used the UK version of AOL. I didn’t know this existed, but I had to have it. So I downloaded it.

This version is infinitely better than the American version. The voices are cooler, the software is easier, and the gossip is smarter. Point one was my pre-download reason for this software. Reason three is my post-download reason for keeping it. Instead of “my house done blowed up from ther tornada”, I get “more violence likely on Big Brother”. Somehow, that seems to be more intelligent. The writer is winking with me, knowing that this isn’t news and it’s ok to laugh at the ridiculousness of the story. The American version just wants me to feel superior, which is useless since I already feel that way. I don’t need reinforcement.

Now that I’m using the UK version, I’d like to add reason four to the mix. How else would I know that someone offered one million quid for Bros to reunite? (I voted “yes”.)

Sadly, it seems as though it will not happen for more than a little bit of touring, according to Matt Goss.

“I know for a fact we’ll never reform, that will never happen, never in a million years. I know that I’m not for that, Luke’s not up for it and I know Craig isn’t.”

“But one thing I would be up for is doing a one-off summer gig and having a good old sing song.”

Please, please, please let that happen. That would rule! “I Owe You Nothing”, “When Will I Be Famous”, “Life’s A Heartbeat”, and “Chocolate Box” are etched in my brain forever. At a reunion tour, I’ll be the little 12-year-old girl in the front row, singing along ever so sweetly with every word. I might even get braces again just to complete the look. I have enough British Airways Executive Club miles for a free flight, so I can pretend I’m using my allowance money for the trip. Seriously, say the word.

Thank you, AOL UK.

P.S. Did I mention that I’m going to see Hanson in two weeks?

The sun is free [bring your own lightbulbs].

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is showing himself to be an astute politician. Consider one of his many solutions for solving the state deficit:

On fiscal matters, Mr. Schwarzenegger considers himself an old-school Republican determined to ferret out waste. No item is too minor to escape his attention.

For instance, since Mr. Schwarzenegger took office on Nov. 17, the toilet paper in the Capitol has been switched from two-ply to one-ply, a saving of thousands of dollars over the years. “It’s not anymore the two-ply,” he said. “Because you know what? We’re trimming. We’re living within our means.”

How about coin-op? Wouldn’t that be even better?

Truth in advertising

Since I still have Yahoo e-mail (while waiting to migrate to Gmail), I browsed the wonderful Yahoo site to get to my inbox. As I’m sure everyone knows, they put ads throughout their site for your surfing amusement. Or, it’s because they’re unscrupulous fucks who would swipe your credit card to steal $10 because they know you won’t go through the effort to sue them. Either explanation is possible but the root cause is the same. They believe their consumers are stupid.

Consider this wonderful ad found on Yahoo:

I've already told Yahoo that I won't spend any more money with them.  Don't bother trying to sell me your service.

how do am “rhetorical” meen, yAhoo? I’s whented too Colledge but i did’nt never lurn know werd like “r-h-e-t-o-r-i-c-a-l”. pleeze egsplane you meenin! butt i likes payeing mor, expeshully if it foor dial-up wit dat moedum thingy in mie conpootur. Hellp.

Got perchlorate?

Anyone wondering what perchlorate is? I didn’t, until today. So I looked it up. Perchlorate is an interesting little chemical:

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and manmade chemical.

Hmmm. That doesn’t answer the question. I guess I should read a little further. Read along with me.

Naturally occurring perchlorate, for example, is found in nitrate fertilizer deposits from Chile.

That still doesn’t explain it. Why can’t the FDA get to the point. Continuing:

Most of the perchlorate manufactured in the United States is used as the primary ingredient of solid rocket propellant.

I still don’t know what it is, but I now know enough to understand that I don’t want to ingest it. But what are the other uses, since only “most” of the manufactured perchlorate is used in solid rocket propellant? Oh, there are good uses. Dare I even say it? There are great uses.

Perchlorate is also used in a wide variety of industrial processes, including, but not limited to, tanning and leather finishing, rubber manufacture, paint and enamel production and additives in lubricating oils. Perchlorate is also used in pyrotechnics, such as fireworks, gun powder, explosives, and highway flares.

As if perchlorate wasn’t cool enough, it’s even found it’s way into California cows. That’s right, folks. It’s floating around in the milk produced by California cows.

While California health officials propose a maximum level of 6 parts per billion in drinking water, the EPA proposes a standard of 1 part per billion.

The [Environmental Working Group] tests, conducted by researchers at Texas Tech University, found the chemical in 31 of 32 samples from milk purchased at grocery stores in Los Angeles and Orange counties. The average level of the chemical was 1.3 parts per billion.

The EWG said the Food and Agriculture Department tests found an average level of 5.8 parts per billion of perchlorate in 34 samples it tested from milk silos in Alameda, Sacramento and San Joaquin counties.

Are you concerned? The government isn’t.

Department officials confirmed those results, but spokesman Steve Lyle said the findings didn’t show any need for consumers to drink less milk.

“At this point, there is not enough information to suggest that eating foods with low levels of perchlorate poses a significant health concern,” Lyle said.

Just because perchlorate causes thyroid malfunction, which can lead to “lowered IQ, mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skill deficits,” why should we worry? A few chemicals can only work to strengthen our immune systems. Consider:

California’s dairy industry will work with state and federal officials to find out how perchlorate is getting into milk and how to remove the chemical, said Michael Marsh, CEO of the Western United Dairymen, which represents the state’s $4.5 billion dairy industry. But Marsh said there is a “paucity of science” showing perchlorate’s harmful effects on human health.

I do not need overwhelming proof from the scientific community to realize that drinking rocket fuel isn’t smart. It’s good that I’m a vegan.


Now, I must announce a nifty little secret. California cows are getting their perchlorate from the multiple-state water supply.

After beginning my entry, I finished reading the article. The study wasn’t slanted, but the articles about the study bury the full details in the bottom of the story. I slanted my story to prove something I take pride in: I won’t slant facts to prove a point I wish to make. But I slanted my entry against milk to show how easy it is to spin a story. The lesson from the EWG study is deeper than the danger of drinking milk, but the headline will be used to prove the advantages of veganism. (Cow milk isn’t meant for human consumption. Don’t hurt the cows.) Or to prove that President Bush is decimating the environment by allowing perchlorate. (Perchlorate is used in missiles. Bush likes missiles. etc., etc. etc.) Or whatever other pet issue someone needs to push.

Spin occurs on every point of the American political/ideological spectrum. For some reason, we don’t understand the concept of debate and the logic that fuels it. I won’t go as far as to say that we’ve forgotten how to do this, that the “good ol’ days” were more civil. One only needs to look at the muckraking of Yellow Journalism and the coerced paranoia of McCarthyism to understand that this is the basic mode of thought for most humans. We have the ability to rise above it but rarely choose to do so. I’m being sincere when I ask this next question. Why?

I don’t claim to be superior to anyone in this regard, but I do value intellectual debate and reason in promoting beliefs. “Because” has never been acceptable to me. I don’t accept it when it’s offered, so I won’t offer it back. Please know that when I write about something that interests me, I’m going to do my best let the facts lead the discussion. I’m going to push my beliefs, but I will not bend the facts to support them.

Some things are gonna change around here

Today is Father’s Day, but for me it’s just another day. Not because I want it to be, but because it has to be. When everyone else makes the obligatory call to dad, I do nothing. I have nowhere to call.

My father died in March 1977. I’m now more than four years older than he was the day he was shot while sitting in the passenger’s seat of his friend’s pickup. A mindless game of quick draw with their handguns and an accidental pull of the trigger and my brother and I were sentenced to a lifetime of wondering how our father’s presence would’ve impacted our lives.

I don’t have children yet, but my brother has a 3-year-old son, the same age we were when our dad died. Knowing what we missed and not wanting The Boy&#153 to miss any of it, my brother dotes on my nephew with all the attention and love every child should be so lucky to receive. He doesn’t spoil The Boy&#153, but he embraces every moment he shares with The Boy&#153 as his best moment ever.

The Boy&#153 has what we lost. He has a father to share every joy and every pain, no matter how big or small, monumental or inconsequential. If I ever have children, I hope I can do the same. I want to pass on to my children what my brother has taught The Boy&#153: although he’ll never meet his grandfather, he got the best possible father because of it.

Bow before my media savvy

Walking around downtown DC today, I noticed something interesting while looking at the front of newspapers. Obviously, all the major papers are covering the state funeral for President Reagan, but I’m amused by how each newspaper offered a peek at its editorial marketing with its front page. In newspapers, it’s important to put your “money shot” above the fold. Consider:

The “liberal bias” of The Washington Post focuses on the pageantry and order of a state funeral rather than President Reagan himself.

The “conservative slant” of The Washington Times emphasizes the personality of a Republican icon.

The “McPaper” aspect of USA Today highlights the human loss felt by the nation through the emotion of Nancy Reagan.

You’re amazed at my intellect, aren’t you?