Monthly Archives: November 2013

Chris Farley Died Too Soon

If I were inclined to waste my life even more than I already do, I would have totally made this mashup:

[youtube http://youtu.be/RUY6lDja-DE]

Compare and contrast:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGEOolwE03M]

It is funny.  But it’s also sad.  We’ve seen Rob Ford’s story before and his ending is likely the same as Chris Farley’s if he doesn’t get any help soon.

The Day Before Thanksgiving Is The Worst Friday Ever

You know how Friday afternoons at work always seem to drag on and on like a sentence that doesn’t quite want to end even though it should have ended long ago but the sheer weight of it seems to make it continue ever more slowly as the words tick by until you just wish that it would all just end already and release you from this never-ending torment?

Yeah, take that and multiply it by infinity and that’s how the Wednesday before Thanksgiving feels.  First off, four day weekend!  Am I right?  Then there’s the fact that work is like a ghost town only it would be more interesting if there were ghosts somewhere.  And since much of my job is interacting with those non-existent clients and answering their non-existent questions, it translates to even less to keep me occupied than usual.  Not to mention that the whole interwebs is also already in Thanksgiving mode and the most interesting thing to read is a post about whether cranberries are better fresh or in a can.  Answer? Cranberries are evil and should be burned.

There’s also the anticipation of seeing family and stuffing myself full of delectable dishes and Dionysian delights.  And don’t forget Second Thanksgiving.  If you do not celebrate Second Thanksgiving, you really should.  What you do is take First Thanksgiving and do it again only bigger and with a lot more strangers.

So yeah, all in all, today is full of ugh.

Warmongers Are Weeping This Week

The big world news this week is a temporary nuclear non-proliferation deal between Iran and the world.  For six months, Iran agrees to halt its nuclear enrichment activities in exchange for a moderate lifting of crippling economic sanctions.  After the six months of compliance elapse and trust has been established, a longer agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions could come to fruition.

The whole thing almost didn’t happen because of France of all nations.  They issued a series of last minute demands that caused Iran to walk away from the negotiating table.  And if that weren’t weird enough, it also caused Republicans to praise France.  That’s got to be a first.  It’s hard to believe that Freedom Fries was only a decade ago.

This agreement obviously proves that Obama is an appeaser and we are falling right into the hands of the evil Iranians.  Or at least it does if you’re John “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” McCain.  After all, Iran is just six months from getting a nuclear bomb and they have been for over ten years.  Clearly, a deal to stop them from pursuing it that doesn’t involve pounding them back into the stone age can only end in failure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also come out vociferously against the temporary agreement saying that it was an “historic mistake”.   I swear I can’t tell the difference between him and Dick Cheney these days.  All either of them does is sell visions of mushroom clouds dancing in childrens heads with zero evidence.  He also proclaimed the boilerplate “Israel will defend itself” blah blah blah.  Fear is so easy to sell.

That isn’t to say that skepticality isn’t called for.  Iran is not exactly the most trustworthy of governments to work with and they do sponsor terrorist groups with regularity.  And with so many players wanting so many different things, getting even a six month agreement is fairly low on the probability charts, let alone getting them all to come up with an agreement that extends past six month.  But if the six month agreement fails, we’ll just be six months later and Iran will still be just six months from getting a nuclear bomb.  This seems like a win-win agreement to me.

Goodbye, Grandma

My grandmother died yesterday.  She was the last of the grandparents to shuffle off this mortal coil.

There is a bit of surrealness to her death.  Most of you don’t know this, but this will mark the second time that she has died.  The first time Grandma died, Grandpa was still alive but mostly immobile.  The family hired nurses to help Grandma with Grandpa’s care.  Grandma, in true sit-com fashion, would fire them one after the other.  No one was going to take care of Grandpa except her even if it kills her.  And it almost did.

One evening, Grandma was in the kitchen and fell and hit her head really badly.  I don’t remember how she was found or how she got to the hospital, but I do remember the phone call to gather everyone to her side before she died.  We were all expecting the eventual phone call saying Grandpa had died.  None of us were expecting this phone call.  It was devastating.

All of the local family was able to gather by her side before she died and the neurologist came and explained the situation.  There was a lot of internal head trauma from the fall and there wasn’t a lot they could do.  All there was left to do is say our goodbyes and disconnect her from the machines that were giving her artificial life.  There was lots of crying and comforting and hugs as we attempted to come to terms with this unexpected turn of events.

Then something strange happened.  She twitched.  I didn’t think much of it when I saw it, but another doctor also noticed it and muttered something under his breath and quickly left.  Next thing we know they’re prepping her for surgery.  What happened next is a bit of a blur.  I remember a waiting room and frayed nerves.  Then the neurologist comes in and says that Grandma’s not out of the woods yet, but she’s appeared to be doing ok and it was a miracle that she was alive.  He actually used that word, miracle.  I chalk it up to plain old Grandma stubbornness.  She still had a husband to take care of.  What, she’s going to let someone else do that job?  Oh, hells no.  And while she certainly couldn’t take care of Grandpa by herself anymore, she had many good years of life to live still.

This time around, the family’s psychologically, if not emotionally prepared for it.  She hadn’t been doing well for quite a long time.  That doesn’t mean that there isn’t this doubt in the back of my mind.  That I’ll get a phone call and hear that, once again, she was only mostly dead.

Grandma was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.  She had strength when it counted and managed to raise a remarkable family.  The one question I wish I could have asked her before she died is, “How did you do it?”  I am fairly certain that her answer would be “I just did.” as she shrugs.  Her physical presence will be missed, but her absence will not be felt.  As the family gathers together for Thanksgiving this year, all I have to do is look around the table and see Grandma in the faces of her children, hear Grandma in the stories that we will tell, taste and smell Grandma’s cooking in the food that will be passed, and feel Grandma in the cries we will share.

More Things Happening

I think I can now officially say that I own something more than a hole in the ground.
image

First floor should be finished by Monday.

Something!

Do you know what’s better than nothing?  Something!  Framing has begun!

image

So Long, Filibuster, And Thanks For All The Fish

The big news today is that Senate Democrats voted to remove the filibuster for judicial and executive branch nominees.  Supreme Court nominees and laws are still subject to filibuster rules.

Good riddance, I say.  Ideally, the filibuster would be used sparingly and would require a “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” level oratory to prevent a nominee from coming up for a vote, but that has long not been the case.  So be done with it.  In its present form, it only serves to prevent the party in power from ruling effectively.  You may think the nominees are spawn from the pit of hell, but that’s the consequences of elections.  The nominees reflect the priorities of the ruling party to enforce the laws.  Your opportunity to do something about it was lost at the voting booth.  Now you can just write blog posts to complain about it.

In response, Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY jelly) threatened to do away with the filibuster completely if he ever became Majority Leader again.  It is amazing to me how people ignore Mitch McConnell.  You want to know what Republicans are up to, just listen to Mitch.  Trust him when he says that’s what he’s going to do.  If you think the filibuster should stay for Supreme Court nominees or laws, do not vote Republican.

But now that judicial nominees are filibuster-proof, it’s time to change some other things.  There should be a law that limits the terms of judges.  This includes Supreme Court justices.  I would be perfectly fine with removing the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees if there were term limits imposed on them.  Maybe 10 years?  I’d even be ok with multiple terms.  It baffles me that one of the co-equal branches of government has no term limits.  Giving someone that much power for life is not good for democracy.  Filibusters are stupid, lifetime appointments are stupider.  Maybe removing the filibuster will get both parties to realize the real evil of lifetime judicial appointments and give impetus to act.

Hey Ladies, How Would You Like 17 Inches…

…of rain…

…in ninety minutes.

Yeah, probably not.  Anyway, everyone knows that after the first six or seven inches of rain, the rest is just for show.

That’s exactly what happened to the island of Sardinia, Italy on Monday night.  For reference, Sardinia normally gets 17 inches in half a year.  This much rain obviously caused apocalyptic flooding and killed at least 16 people.

In still horrible, but slightly more amusing news because of its incongruity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia got 0.79 inches of rain in a 12 hour span.  This also caused massive flooding that killed 4 people.  That 0.79 inches is double what Riyadh normally gets in November.

Time To Make You Dorks Jealous

Who has two thumbs and got an invite to the beta of Elder Scrolls Online?  This guy! *points to self*

The Elder Scrolls games are some of my favorite games I’ve never finished.  Open ended game worlds and I don’t get along very well.  Or maybe we get along too well.  I usually end up getting lost in the world after playing for 100 hours or so and have a hard time remembering what the storyline quest was.

For the online game, it looks like they are planning on only one seamless world instead of multiple shards.  It will be interesting to see how long that lasts.  It looks like all of the races are represented and they’re loosely broken up into three alliances.  It’s hard to tell how that will work.  Maybe that’s the PvP teams or something.

The game also appears to be one of those open class games similar to the stand alone games which I’m excited about.  Of course, it also means that it will likely suffer from horrible balance issues or everyone ends up being specialized the same.  I think I’ll start with a High Elf mage before I inevitably end up playing a fighter because Elder Scrolls doesn’t seem to do mages well.

An open ended world with open ended classes.  Sounds right up my alley.  I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

What If There Were No More Inflation?

If you ever want to know how much a person actually knows about economics, ask them if inflation is good or bad.  If they say that it’s good, you should immediately laugh in their face and never listen to them about economic matters again.  If they say that it’s bad, you should also immediately laugh in their face and never listen to them about economic matters again.  The only correct answer is to say that it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish.  Another somewhat related question you can use is to ask if we want a strong dollar or a weak dollar.  Again, the only answer is it depends upon your goals.

All that to say inflation can be a very useful tool to manipulate economic conditions.  But it is generally accepted by economists that it is only useful because of a persnikity number.  That number is zero.  Or, to be more precise, the zero lower bound of short term interest rates, a situation we find ourselves in now.  If you are at the lower bound and you want to increase demand, your main weapon is inflation.  You set an inflation target high enough so that businesses and individuals would rather spend their money now than lose purchasing power due to inflation.

But what if you got rid of the zero lower bound?  What if you could go negative on interest rates?  In other words, what if we could make it so that you would have to pay banks to hold your money?  Economist Miles Kimball is proposing just that.

The details of it elude my rudimentary economic knowledge, but it has to do with a switch to electronic money.  If I understand it correctly, paper money doesn’t work because if you go with negative interest rates people/businesses will simply not put their money in the bank.  Electronic money forces you to have a holding company for your money which also makes you suceptible to negative interest rates.  The Federal Reserve can then use their power to manipulate short term interest rates to effectively eliminate inflation and, theoretically, recessions.

It’s a fascinating idea.  It reminds me of Bitcoin, the underground all electronic world currency.  If Kimball’s proposal achieves acceptance, it sounds to me like we’ll soon have a governmentally controlled version of Bitcoin.