Angry Immigrant Rants


Piracy, like most disasters, is much more interesting when it happens to someone else. While schadenfreude here at 12 Angry Men is usually limited to individuals, seeing it on an international level (where the U.S. is -not- on the receiving end) makes for plenty of nice copy.

Piracy in the modern age has yet to really conquer the image of 17-19th century pirates that dominates the American mind. Modern headlines colored by movie images and Internet memes make for interesting juxtapositions, such as the pirate vs. ninja showdowns whenever Japanese ships are taken for ransom.

However, lately two instances of the theme have so many juicy bits to them that they might finally wrench the image of a pirate into the modern consciousness. But a good deal of modern silliness comes along for the ride.

The first one is a fairly straightforward ship, but the cargo’s final destination was in doubt: Ukranian ship (MV Faina) carrying 33 T-72 Soviet-era tanks to Kenya (on behalf of raiders in the Sundan). Kenya denies that they were for the Sudan, but tanks keep appearing in the Sudan, and they didn’t arrive overland to the land-locked south Sudan…

That ship is surrounded by warships, and pirates are still asking for $20m ransom.

The second one sounds like something from an action movie. The Iran Deyant (also spelled Iran Deyanat is owned by the Iranian government. It left China in late July and was bound for Germany through the Suez Canal to deliver 43 tons of iron ore and ‘industrial products’. On August 21st Somali pirates decided that this was a ship they wanted to take and hold for ransom. Bad for them, interesting for everyone else.

The cargo was an enormous amount of -something-, but it’s not clear that it was iron ore. The reports are spotty and changing, ranging from “gritty oily sand” to “crude oil” to “minerals”. The pirates who opened the cargo developed severe skin burns and hair loss in the following days, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Ironically, the latest conspiracy theory surrounding the Iran Deyant comes closer to that movie than I thought possible.

The symptoms experienced by the pirates seem consistent with massive radiation exposure. A ship full of radioactive sand would make a huge mess if it were to spill. Or if it were to detonate…

An Iranian ship, a floating dirty-bomb full of Chinese radioactive waste, wouldn’t really be of much use in Germany, but delivery to Germany makes a good excuse to float it through the Suez Canal, and next to Tel-Aviv in Israel. Depending on its travel schedule, it would have hit right about October 9th… Happy Yom Kippur.

Iran was hoping not to be captured, and even happy to pay the ransom on this ship straight away before anyone looked at it too closely. But now things seem to be bogging down as the U.S. and others are taking a real interest in what the cargo here actually is. If Somali pirates have actually managed to block Iran’s long-talked about attack on Israel, that would certainly establish modern piracy as a force for change in world events.

And a worth a dang good laugh at Iran for not managing to bribe their way through Somalia properly…

So while we wait to hear what the facts actually are about the Iran Deyant, it’s certainly fun to watch the theories abound. This year might be the tipping point for Somali piracy where the big players suddenly don’t tolerate them anymore and just sink every ship on the Somali coast out of spite.

But until then, we will still get lovely implied headlines out of it:

Japan Executes Surprise Raid Against Pirates
Russia/US Form Joint Piracy Squad
Somali Pirates Save Israel and Prevent World War IV

Yay for the Somalis. They put the “piracy” back into conspiracy!

On a personal note, this will officially become my favorite conspiracy theory once someone completes the circle and finds a way to blame Bush, Bin Laden, and/or Palin for it.

The National Review Online also reported this (and also linked the US presidential campaign into its post, kudos), and now has sources saying most of this is bogus (no surprise here), but I’m still munching popcorn and waiting to see how Iran maneuvers through its explanation of this…

Anyone reading through the list of bribes attached to the bailout bill passed last week eventually runs across this entry, and is utterly confused.

Excise Tax Exemption for Wooden Practice Arrows Used by Children. Current law imposes an excise tax of 39 cents, adjusted for inflation, on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used to produce certain types of arrows. This proposal would exempt from the excise tax any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means to enhance the spine of the shaft used in the manufacture of an arrow that measures 5/16 of an inch or less and is unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more. The proposal is effective for shafts first sold after the date of enactment. The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years.

I took it upon myself, being fond of archery, to look into this as a service to our loyal readers, and hopefully find something that made this make more sense.

Fortunately, there were a number of other sites more devoted to the topic, and with longer, more detailed write-ups of the issues, so here’s the summary:

In 1900, the Lacey Act helped return hunting to a for-sport hobby or for-food necessity, rather than a for-profit cash-crop mega-harvest that it had been, and the remaining hunters have had a key interest in proper wildlife management.

In 1937 the “Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration” program (referred to as the Pittman-Robertson program) was enacted and signed by FDR. This enacted that fish and hunting license fees would be used only for wildlife management and for hunting safety and training (such as setting up state-run shooting ranges).

In 1969-1972, in quick succession, an excise tax was imposed on hunting arms and ammunition as well as hunting archery equipment. This was mostly spearheaded by a prominent archery manufacturer and conservationist, Fred Bear. The archery tax was intended to be split 50/50 between the state for wildlife preservation and archery clubs for setting up instruction and shooting facilities — to help encourage the hobby. Because of a bit of politicking, the money for the archery facilities was never released, and all of it was kept by the governmental departments.

In 1997 collection this tax was moved from being at the point of retail sale (that is, at every mom & pop archery store — which was a serious headache) to further back up the supply chain at the manufacturer. Arrows, for various reasons, have to fit the individual archer and bow, and so are best assembled and finished at the point-of-sale. This tax change encouraged the continuance of point-of-sale arrow finishing.
But this specified that the tax on arrows would be on arrow components, not on finished arrows. This opened a loophole in that imported finished arrows did not have the tax assessed on them.

From 1997-2002, domestic arrow manufacturers increasingly lost market share to importers because of the unlevel playing field. ($.43M, $1.6M, $3.2M, $7.8M, $11.0M)

In 2003 the loophole was closed by taxing the first-sale of completed arrows regardless of where they are manufactured.

This eventually resulted in a $.43 tax per arrow. (Real arrows tend to cost between $5 and $10, so $.43 isn’t a huge deal.)

However, children’s practice arrows can be very cheap, even into the $.36/arrow range. This means the excise tax for these arrows is 120%! This priced archery as an activity out of the range of most youth programs when the price for the core expendable more than doubled.

Starting in 2005, a wooden arrow manufacturer in Oregon (Rose City Archery), whose business orders from youth programs had died off 40% that year, began lobbying for an exception to this tax for youth arrows. (Note: I’m not entirely sure where Rose City was getting their numbers (quoted from the link above) from here, since even their cheapest kids’ wooden arrows are $39/dozen = $3.25 per arrow ($2 per arrow for do-it-yourself), of which tax would be around 13%, still not ridiculous)

In 2008, this bill that didn’t have the weight behind it to get passed on its own, and it just sat around waiting for the right spending free-for-all to get attached to before it could pass. And now, voila! Youth archery is blooming abundantly this week and upwards of four (yep, just 4) U.S. manufacturers of wooden arrows are back in the cheap wooden arrow business! The economy is saved!

Verdict:
Overall, I didn’t know that hunting licenses and taxes paid for so much of the state fish & wildlife budgets. This seems proper that people benefiting should pay most of the cost.

I began thinking that the wooden arrow thing actually made -more- sense because it was correcting a fault in the tax code, and the new version would encourage youth archery, and lead to more adult archery, resulting in higher tax revenue amounts (not least of all because adult archery equipment is expensive). However, aluminum arrows were invented in 1939, and carbon arrows invented in 1983, wooden arrows are only used by “purists” and historical reenacters. Most real youth archery programs use aluminum or carbon arrows, and aren’t affected by this change.

I conclude that this is just another piece of pork for congresscritters from woody states, and won’t really have any affect at all on archery in America, except to draw a bit of attention to it from all the chatter about how ridiculous this tax exception is, especially compared to the actual matter at hand that it was tacked onto.

-AI

The LA times is flabbergasted that amongst large numbers of entries in a database:

  1. There are similar entries
  2. People who have been banking on people’s bad understanding of the statistics of large numbers are reluctant to have them re-educated about the reality of the situation.

Here is the story.

The FBI DNA database has some close matches (strangers matching at 9 points of the DNA profile). Defense attorneys are jumping on this trying to make DNA not be the nail in the coffin for their clients. Prosecutors have been lazily overstating the uniqueness of a 9-point match. The FBI, rather than just acknowledge that a higher match level might be necessary to ensure uniqueness, is seeking court orders to stop wide match searching in its database. This to me seems retarded from the FBI. Wouldn’t you rather crawl the database once, find all of your close matches, then resolve those cases (a few hundred out of 65,000+) so that you can be aware that any of the people involved in those matches will require 11 or 12 point matches if they are on trial. The FBI should just crawl their own database (Google iFBI !) once, and publish the numerical results to DA’s offices nation-wide.

It would seem that you’d want to eliminate the uncertainties that you can, so they don’t bite you in the butt unexpectedly.

The complaints about tying up the database or violating the right to privacy are ludicrous. My laptop could do billions of comparisons in a day. Depending on how hard a comparison is, this shouldn’t take more than overnight, unless the FBI database is running on a TI-85 graphing calculator. Borrow time on a DoE supercomputer overnight and get it done. Doing numerical compilation of the results while havingthe names stripped off the numbers would be sufficient to not violate someone’s privacy. Yes, the whole DNA strand is mostly unique (twins being the outliers), and the profile is apparently less, but still significantly unique. But the counts of comparisons between profiles aren’t unique. It’s analogous to comparing the names of the people in the database and returning the amount of matches among the letters of the names. The names might be private, but the match numbers won’t be.

Cars are manly. That is, they used to be. Some of them still are. Minivans never were. Because men stopped doing manly things like strip mining, offshore drilling, and refinery construction, gas is expensive. Because gas is expensive, cars are becoming girly and nancy-boys with girly cars (Prius, Smart Car, anything hybrid, and anything that has to slow down to go over a speed bump) are clogging to road. People out here are starting to claim that hybrid drivers should get to park in handicapped spaces. I readily concur that any many driving a hybrid qualifies as being handicapped.

Suffering through the high energy costs brought about by unmanliness does raise a quandry for real men — how to not pay your beer money to the gas man (or worse, to tax-lustful politicians). Especially when buying a new car (for when the Lotus is back in the garage for the winter) this is a question that will weigh on the mind (a space that should only be full of its rightful contents — sports, explosions, etc.)

The two least manly results of car buying are 1) to by an unmanly car (see aforementioned list) and 2) to get ripped off by paying too much for -any- car. The big selling push lately has been towards hybrid cars for their vaunted mpg ratings. As we’ve covered here before with proper hard numbers analysis, the overall money-in-your-pocket savings is questionable, since putting two engines in a car is costly (and heavy). Plus, you get the added shame of ending up with a hybrid.

In what seems friggin’ obvious, but ends up being pretty useful (as all true manly innovations are), a dude recently started making noise about it being easier to tell how much cash you’re saving by looking at your car’s gallons-per-mile rating instead of the mpg. Figure out how many gallons it takes to drive 1 mile (or 100, or 1000). You’ll start seeing the real difference, instead of the crap that the weasley car dealer is trying to push on you.

“The reality that few people appreciate is that improving fuel efficiency from 10 to 20 mpg is actually a more significant savings than improving from 25 to 50 mpg for the same distance of driving,” Larrick said. (See table below.)

(ScienceDaily)

Miles Per Gallon Gallons Consumed per 100 Miles Driven Gallons Consumed per 10,000 Miles Driven
10 10.00 1,000
15 6.67 667
20 5.00 500
25 4.00 400
30 3.33 333
35 2.86 286
40 2.50 250
45 2.22 222
50 2.00 200

(table also from ScienceDaily)

Since real men aren’t afraid of math (as evidence, see any post on this blog, cause math is friggin’ manly), this is just a chart of a function that is O(1/x). The same delta to x at a lower range of x values will have a greater effect than that delta at a higher range of x values. It’s a case of diminishing returns. Save the money you would spend on a hybrid car and spend it on a car with decent mileage, and comfort for you and your crew. The extra mileage increase from 30-35 mpg just isn’t going to pay you back.

Naturally, this is as naturally obvious to any real man as throwing a spiral or grilling steaks. But as a public service to any real men who may have been too distracted by the overall girliness of the world lately to allow his manly intelligence to reach this conclusion, I thought it bore repeating. (hat tip Darren at RightOnTheLeftCoast.)

I included a graph to help you explain this to people who struggle with numbers if there aren’t enough pictures (eco-women, unmanly men, congresscritters, etc).

Don’t be taken in and buy a hybrid. It bears repeating. Real men only need one engine, unless they’re driving the space shuttle. The only acceptable hybrid is a steak/bacon hybrid. That cannot be stated too often. Steakcon.

I’ve long thought that the death penalty as implemented here in the U.S. is expensive, unpopular, ineffective, inaccurate, and ought to, itself, be put down. It’s popped up in the news again lately, and parts of the recent flurry of comments are interesting to note.

It looks like I may have to revise my opinion of ‘ineffective’. Naci Mocan and R. Kaj Gittings have a few papers investigating links between executions carried out vs. future homicides committed. They finds that executions cause fewer homicides, while commutations of sentences cause increases. Their second paper finds that crime may be preventable with the proper conditions that produce incentives to work for gain legally.

From the AP:

“Science does really draw a conclusion. It did. There is no question about it. “The conclusion is there is a deterrent effect. The results are robust, they don’t really go away. I oppose the death penalty. But my results show that the death penalty [deters] — what am I going to do, hide them?”

I have to applaud Prof. Mocan for sticking to his observations when they fly in the face of his personal views. Parts of both papers show the echoes of reviewers and emotionalists attempting to chastise him for publishing findings that are inconvenient to their pet causes:

“Although these results demonstrate the existence of the deterrent effect of capital punishment, it should be noted that there remain a number of significant issues surrounding the imposition of the death penalty. For example, although the Supreme Court of the United States remains unconvinced that there exists racial discrimination in the imposition of the death penalty, recent research points to the possibility of such discrimination. Along the same lines, there is evidence indicating that there is discrimination regarding who gets executed and whose sentence gets commuted once the death penalty is received. Given these concerns, a stand for or against capital punishment should be taken with caution.”

The fact that Prof. Mocan has to add that to his papers is a sad demonstration that his colleagues are no longer scientists (even when loosely applying that term to a science as soft as economics), but activists — determined to further their cause regardless of the actual empirical data. Nearly a full page of his second paper is spent explaining that ‘just because his findings show a deterrent effect, that doesn’t mean that everyone should drop what their doing and kill a death-row inmate.’ This shows that his colleagues, newcomers to the world of moral reasoning, are still adjusting to how to deal with research that conflicts with what they decided the result “must be”.

So capital punishment is apparently slightly effective. It’s still expensive, unpopular, and ridiculously inaccurate. (Way to Go, Illinois! You’re #2!) It will be interesting to watch the lawyers-cum-researchers stretch their pundit wings and opine back and forth about this for a few years before deciding to sue each other into silence. The flurry of comments this year are significant because the author is stating the unfashionable opinion (but still distancing himself personally from it). The real state of the practice in this country will likely go untouched by these numbers, as most people approach this question emotionally and morally; they are usually immune to statistics-based arguments from either camp.

So for those of you scoring at home, that’s +1 for Prof. Mocan — he gets his little attention-boost like a good news-seeking lawyer/researcher. ‘Law and Economics’ reviewers get a -1 for demanding all results be fashionable. But overall, capital punishment in the US still gets a really really low score.

-AI

So, possibly this wasn’t quite the right year for a Bejing Olympics. Maybe we should wait until after the oppressive, restrictive, truth-optional government falls this time, unlike the ’36 olympics (and 1980, for that matter). Much like the debacle that will be the 2010 South Africa World Cup, it’s probably not a good idea to have a nationalist competition in a country with Freudian “nationalism issues.”

On the bright side, this is the first time in decades that the Olympic torch relay has garnered more than passing notice by any media and won more than B-reel footage to fill the gaps between the Iraq war, financial meltdown, and the foreclosed house owners not knowing whether to evict the tenants to avoid vandalism or to encourage them to stay to keep the value of the house from plummeting.

Londoners took to the streets for a game of “snatch the torch”, followed by having governmental inquiry as to why Chinese special forces were allowed to manhandle British police and dignitaries just because they were within 10 feet of the magic “Bunsen burner of peace”. Then Parisians took a break from burning their own city to the ground to try the novelty of putting out flames as it was jogged/driven through town.

San Francisco, in a true American media-savvy style, went all in by preparing its protests ahead of time, so that the news footage would draw out more protesters on the actual “torch day”. Also, celebrating their city full of athletically-fit crackpots, three protesters climbed “Big Red” to fly protest parachutes over the city.

I guess pissing off people who hope one day to climb big rocks in the country you’re subjugating leads to more interesting displays, at least.

It will be interesting to see if San Francisco gives a warmer welcome to the Chinese military than they do to the U.S. military…

The current tally stood, last I saw it, as:

  • French Government considering boycotting the opening ceremony.
  • US considering boycott of opening ceremony. Congressmen calling for boycott of opening ceremony and games.
  • English government is conflicted over whether to boycott, since they’ve supported the Chinese too much already.
  • Chinese Government, due to its crystal clear transparency and always reporting of the truth, proclaims that everything is peachy and “passionate crowds” are welcoming the torch along the route.

They must be referring to their army squad and the driver of the “extinguished torch bus”.

Update:
There’s a great game of “find the torch” going on in San Francisco as I’m writing this. Pro-China and anti-China groups were shouting at each other all morning, separated only by a mutual hatred of cooties (and the SF riot police). After a quick opening ceremony, the torch was put on a mystery bus and driven around in secret throughout downtown, trying specifically to avoid being noticed.

Resorting to a “secret parade” can only be topped by… a secret closing ceremony!
via KPIX San Francisco (CBS):

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said the planned closing ceremony for the Olympic torch at the San Francisco Bay waterfront was canceled Wednesday afternoon and another one would take place at an undisclosed location. [emph mine -ai]

PS: Fascism

A bit of background: I work in the midst of a slough of professional artists who, like most artists, cover their work areas in artwork of varying quality and propriety. The walls of the office are saturated with artwork ranging from pencil sketches to internationally renown masterpieces. Like anyone around a wide variety of anything, a few of the pieces I find extremely irritating and patently inappropriate. However, being a reasonable person, I go about my day and get my work done. Little things like that don’t ruin my equilibrium, because, being an adult, I’ve learned that not everything goes my way and I save my effort for the important fights.

That being said there is one place in the building where there is a creative ongoing comic strip that is written and drawn entirely by software developers, not artists. Obviously, the quality of artwork pales in comparison with the best stuff made by the pros in the building, but it’s hardly the worst thing decorating a wall (that honor typically belongs to newspaper comics). I’m a big believer that good artwork doesn’t have to be complicated, especially not good comics.

After being up in its location for several years, and the latest episode being posted for over a year now (it’s not the world’s most prolific comic team — they’re busy writing software to support the artists, after all), someone complained about the handgun in the picture, and now it’s all been taken down. The one exposure in the building that the artistic ability of the software staff have next to the hundreds of thousands of elements from the art group, and this one is ruining one of those pitiful whiner’s day enough to get it canceled.

Now if someone has some serious gun trauma in their background, I can understand that they might not like reminders of the violence, but the current primary project of the company involves elements including a helicopter gunship and missile-firing motorcycles. Missle. Firing. Motorcycles. Good thing the pencil sketch with a handgun in it got removed. Someone was almost in danger there… might give someone ideas…

Today it trickled down to me that the official reason given for removing it was that the quality of the artwork was too low. That “you can’t make good art if you look at bad art”. Seriously. That’s the reason they gave. Now, being a logical sort of guy, I’m puzzled how people who believe that can expect to ever create the world’s most amazing artwork in their field — which is their stated goal. A motto like that means that you can’t ever be the best — what artwork on the wall would inspire you to create something that the world has never seen? Wouldn’t any existing artwork only serve to “bring you down”?

Continuing along that illogical train of thought, the new insistence is that the space should be filled with artwork of previous company projects. Now, that’s even worse if you’re so dependent on that magical space for inspiration to new world-beating heights. You’ll only be looking at stuff you’ve seen before, not anything that makes you think of anything new. And at the end of the day, all you’ve served to do is to squash a whimsical bit of entertainment from folks who are typically constricted in their tasks.

And another bit of fun dies in the name of political correctness.

It’s the sense of entitlement with which it was done that really get to me, though. If I were the vindictive type, and since some amount of control over what now appears in that space falls to me, I might be tempted to take advantage of that situation, given that it evidently affects the artists’ performance so critically…

The AM highlighted this article for discussion.

Angry Midwesterner:
Ah….Republicans.
Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when they stick it
to the poor and help out their rich buddies?

Angry Immigrant:
Yeah, those dang “Republicans” who took 6,000 acres of her land without any payment in the 1930s… And that $0 of repayment was worth more back then…

Angry Midwesterner:
At least they weren’t skipping over the nearby resort and the local Bush friend.

Angry Immigrant:
Well, for now they’re skipping over everyone and not building anything. But as for making the case for skipping Republicans, argue about the Hunt plantation/trade corridor — that one’s easier. The golf course doesn’t seem to have direct connections up the chain anywhere, and could just be avoiding rich people.

What pisses me off even more than regular government bureaucracy (apart from the ridiculous spelling of the word) is partisan bureaucracy (admittedly, these fence shenanigans seem applicable at the moment). The last thing I want is a CIA more loyal to Clinton than the U.S. and a DHS more loyal to Bush. With that policy we’ll eventually end up with the INS kicking down the door of some Indian family with the “same name as” and finding a CIA wet team waiting for them instead. And how is HillaryCare going to reimburse the widows after that mess?

I want anyone appointed to their job to be loyal to the country, not to the DNC or the RNC (GNC, P&FNC, BIRPNC…). You get your Obama dude to fix that by 2012, and I’ll consider voting to re-elect him.

Plus, this isn’t the right response of a poor-or-brown-people hating Republican. This is hosing our own people — that’s the Democrats’ job. A good evil Republican looks at this as says, “The problem comes from Mexico, so the solution goes inside Mexico.” We want to build the fence outside the flood plain, but there’s no reason to build it on our side of the river… If Mexico doesn’t enforce their own border, we’ll do it for them, with a 2 mile deep occupational fence zone. Any fence will piss them off, so why not go all the way? Plus, if they want to push us back from building the fence, they’ll have to send their military to the border; which will fix the original problem of them not policing the para-military groups running border incursions… Q.E.D. Where’s my consulting fee?

-AI

On top of the wonders of the 12 Angry Men Blog, we have our own special internal mailing list that occasionally produces amusing gems. Every so often, you know, when the stars are right (Cthulu ftahgn!), we choose to share these dialogues with you, our loyal readers.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
What I always wonder about is why these secret cabals have such bizarre goals. Exterminate 99% of humanity in a nuclear holocaust. Brutally enslave 99% of the world. Ruthlessly (but secretly) hold power in all nations of the world through shadowy college fraternities.

I mean, in every case either just plain crazy (nuclear war) or, really, far too much work for any sane person to want to do (everything else).

I too believe there are international conspiracies of bankers, financiers, secret society members, etc. I am confident that groups like the Trilateral Commission, the Rothchilds, the Bilderberg Group, and the Skull and Bones all exist, all have actual members and actual meetings, and have an actual agenda. And here is their deep, dark, secret, terrible agenda: ensure we all get/stay rich, keep meeting in awesome exclusive locations, and keep up a steady supply of good booze, good food, and pretty girls.

Now that’s an agenda I can see a rich, powerful, sneaky bastard actually embracing as worthwhile…

After all, everyone conspires, and for pretty much the same things. Rich people just do it more effectively…

Angry Immigrant
So how about groups that avoid that agenda by their very charter — like Opus Dei? They’ve got to be all about the aliens and total world dominance…

Angry Midwesterner
Well according to a South Park episode I saw, I’d imagine they are after good booze, good food, and pretty boys…

Oops, sorry, I mixed them up with the Republicans…

Angry Overeducated Catholic
…though really this only applies to the Closet Gay wing of the Party, please. There’s also the large “Openly Interested in Pretty Girls” wing, but we try to keep things quiet because the CG wing really hates to be reminded about how much fun we’re having. Also, we don’t want them to know about our stash of good drugs and booze because then we’d have to share. Also, we don’t like to mingle with them because, well, they’re just really creepy, you know. (I mean, geesh, just look at Craig for crying-out-loud)!

Anyway, gotta go, need to arrange the strippers for the bash at Cheneys…

Angry Midwesterner
I’d think a stripper bash would kill Cheney. Besides, isn’t he more interested in watching people kill puppies?

Mildly Piqued Academician
Dude that’s why you take nitro pills. Bringing some candid shots of Larry Craig might work as well.

What happens in a secure undisclosed location STAYS in a secure undisclosed location.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
(Re: Dick Cheney watching people kill puppies)
No, that’s a vicious slander by his enemies. Cheney has no interest in watching people kill anything. He’s a player not a spectator…

And when he gets the urge, it’s not animals he sets his sights on…

Angry Midwesterner
What now you’re going to claim lawyers are humans?

Angry Overeducated Catholic
No, but bloodsucking monsters aren’t animals, the last time I checked…

Angry Virginian
And if bloodsucking monsters don’t even qualify as animals, then lawyers definitely don’t.

Mildly Piqued Academician
LINK: Che-ney t-shirts

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Heh, heh, heh…

If I were Cheney I’d totally buy one of these shirts to wear around the house…

Mildly Piqued Academician
You could look snazzy doing a “Cheney speedball”: Alternating between strippers and pictures of Larry Craig and Barney Frank, the first as a substitute for uppers and the second as a stunningly good substitute for downers. 🙂

The Che-ney thong is pretty good. I was disappointed that my homie Radical Jack didn’t have a Che thong, but I’m sure that if I looked hard enough, one could be found.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Heh. With a Che thong you could express your trendy leftist contempt for capitalism, your trendy conformity to fashion trends, and your trendy objectification of women—at the same time! A bargain for you!

Mildly Piqued Academician
*Three* birds with one stone!

If that’s not worthy of a “Mao More Than Ever” slogan, I don’t know what is! Time to make a revolutionary poster!

As we approach Christmas (or as the quaint locals here call it: “Parking Lot Season”), I thought it would be helpful to present to the world a list of things that don’t make me angry. Many many things fail to deliver on their promises, and so few live up to them that I feel it’s valuable to offer to you, fair reader, a few gems that in my own personal experience, don’t suck.

Item 1
Situations High-Back Microsuede Manager’s Chair, Black

Having done heavy computer use for years being only supported by my friends, family, and a folding chair, my lumbar was in need of some lumber. Bringing about much relief was this chair. It’s cheap (by chair standards), easy to assemble, and — most importantly — it doesn’t suck. There’s a headrest if you feel like using it, and enough controls to get you comfortable( up/down, tilt/no tilt, and tilt-tension ) without the ridiculous Aeron problems of 1) needing a chair technician and 2) always having that sneaking suspiscion that your chair adjustment could be more optimal.

Unfortuntely for you, fair reader, this chair seems to be discontinued. If you can find it anywhere (ebay?), it doesn’t suck.

Cost: $70.
Savings: back spasms.
Overall Rating: Doesn’t suck.

Item 2
Best Wheel Products Folding Hand Truck

Mrs. Angry Immigrant and I are moving to a new apartment, so I popped out to the atrocity that is the local mega-strip mall and picked up one of these folding hand carts. While compared to a real hand truck this is a glorified luggage cart, you don’t need anything more for moving boxes of books.

It holds ~200 lbs of boxes without breaking (it wobbles, but doesn’t fall down). It has big wheels for a small unit, it folds up very flat, and it’s light enough that it’s easier to carry it than roll it when it’s empty.

Cost: $40.
Savings: taking 3 boxes to the car per trip instead of one (and the aforementioned back spasms)
Overall Rating: Doesn’t suck.

Item 3
Forearm Forklift

These (admittedly hideously colored) straps help transfer the weight of bulky objects so that you can maintain good lifting posture and use larger muscles when trading your valuable weekend time for pizza & beer while helping people move.

Especially helpful for mattresses where there are no good handholds, these let you concentrate on steering through doorways rather than just maintaining your grip. When my parents moved a few years ago, Dad stumbled on these, and it really made the whole thing a lot smoother. Yes they’re “as seen on TV”, but that doesn’t mean it’s a 100% cheap plastic kitchen gadget.

Cost: $25
Savings: Helps get a grip on bulky objects, saves back strain (notice a theme?)
Overall Rating: Doesn’t suck.

Item 4
Firefox keywords

Hopefully everyone visiting this site already uses Firefox. If not, please stop reading and go install it. Unless you’re reading from work. Then send an email to your sysadmin (copy your PHB) insisting that he install this on all company workstations. Then continue reading.

They’re quick, they’re easy, and they help you quickly navigate to common places you have to get to. To set it up, right-click over any search input box, and select “Add a Keyword for this Search”. Next time you want to ask the Internet a question, just use the keyword.

The company I work for uses web-based source code navigation tools, so I use these to quickly move through the code and the versioning system databases rather than starting at the search page each time.

Cost: One right-click
Savings: Repetitive Typing Time
Overall Rating: Doesn’t suck

Item 5
Heat-reflective Window film

Given that the local pagan populace here is so amazingly adept at appeasing their sun god with burnt offerings of Malibu canyon homes and other low-lying shrubbery, it’s important for those of us with south-facing patio windows to take steps to repel the major effects of the day star.

Although this is a little annoying to install, (and looks terrible if you do it wrong) the effect is immediate and significant. After applying the film to one patio door, you could feel the difference between the heat still coming through that one relative to the heat coming through the empty door. It’s basically like sunglasses for your house.

It made my living room much more bearable as the outside temperatures got over 110F in the summer. Plus the shininess adds to the privacy for a window that’s a bit too close to a sidewalk for my taste.

Cost: $50
Savings: gallons of sweat, and $$ on A/C bill.
Overall Rating: Doesn’t suck

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. Your mileage may vary.

Merry Parking Lot Season!

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