2/28/07

For the other two readers of this blog


Seasonville

Excuse me?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and claim that Kip Hawley is a lying bastard. On the off chance that you haven't heard of him, he's the administrator of the Transportation Safety Authority. Here he is explaining why TSA workers should continue to be denied collective bargaining rights:
“We require an infinitely flexible security regime that allows us to change what we do and where we do it,” Mr. Hawley said, adding that hiring staff members to handle union relations would cost $160 million. |link|

Now that I'm on the record, here's a question. How much does it cost to administer a union contract? I'm looking for an answer uninfected by spin from either the AFL-CIO or the Chamber of Commerce. Hawley's numbers work out to $3700 per employee, and would seem to posit hiring a staffer for every 50 or so employees under contract.

Addendum: I forgot to mention one of the most remarkable things about the Hawley quote, which is the way it pairs the truth about management's actual interest in maintaining absolute control with a wild exaggeration about the costs of the policy management opposes.

2/27/07

couvade

[French, from Old French, from 'couver', to incubate, hatch, from Latin 'cubāre', to lie down on]

n.
A practice among some peoples, as the Basques of Spain, in which a man, immediately preceding the birth of his child, takes to his bed in an enactment of the birth experience and subjects himself to various taboos usually associated with pregnancy.

Notes (mostly) on shorts

  • How in the world did Binta y la gran idea get a nomination? Leaving aside the fact that it was awful, it was released in 2004.
  • You would think that, what with youtube and all, we would now be in the golden age of shorts. That doesn't really seem to be so. But I wonder: what are the chances that a great viral video could make it into the Oscar running?
  • Relatedly, are there technical requirements for shorts? For example, do they have to be shot on film rather than, say, digital video? The shorts I saw this year were pretty obviously distributed in digital format rather than film, and the showings suffered in exactly the ways you'd expect.
  • The film I saw last year that I liked the best was The Science of Sleep. I can understand why people didn't like the film, but it seems to me that it should have gotten at least some recognition based on the fact that it was visually stunning. Just the other day I was talking to some fully bonded film buffs who not only hadn't seen it, but expressed no interest in seeing it. What's up with that?
  • Relatedly, you'd think that shorts, or possiblly animated shorts, would be the Oscar category where eye candy was most likely to be recognized, and yet none of the nominees in either category were particularly interesting to look at.
  • If I had a vote I would have cast it for The Savior, but I'm not really surprised that it didn't win. At the showing I attended, I was falling out of my seat laughing, but nobody else seemed to find the film remotely funny.
  • It seemed to me that Eramos Pocos was the richest text among the nominated films, but it suffered from being a shaggy dog joke.
  • Come to think of it, West Bank Story might have been the only nominee with a plot that wasn't a shaggy dog joke. Maybe that's why it won.

Really?

Note to Hillary: Your husband cheated on you and was fined $90,000 for lying about it to a federal judge. Everybody thinks he's still cheating on you. |The execrable Mickey Kaus|


...I mean, is this the conventional wisdom, or is Kaus just casually throwing around unsourced slanders?

2/26/07

James Cameron claims to find the coffin of Jesus

Seriously! Of course,
Crucially, he is not denying the resurrection - as there were no bones in the caskets.

...and hilarity ensues.

labile

[Origin: 1400–50; late ME 'labyl' from LL 'lābilis', from 'lāb(ī)' to slip + '-ile', a suffix of capability]

adj.
1. Apt or likely to change.
2. In chemistry, of a compound capable of changing state or becoming inactive when subjected to heat or radiation.

Please note

The reply, "yes, but my hand is a little bit cramped" is not an appropriate answer to questions about your weekend, as it cannot be assumed that your interlocutor will apprehend the connection between hand cramps and Guitar Hero.

2/23/07

Attention pundits:

When Obama plays hardball politics there is some truth in saying that it reveals his call for a new kind of politics to be hypocritical. This is not, however, a stumble for the simple reason that Obama's hypocrisy is unlikely to be noticed by actual real voters. For evidence on this point, please recall that our beloved decider successfully campaigned as "a uniter, not a divider" while at the helm of the nastiest political attack machine in memory.

edited for clarity

2/22/07

Link

This post at Crooked Timber about the origins of surnames is neat, neat, neat. Don't skip the comments.

Blackface?

Remember my prediction?

I'm sure that guy pictured would say something like, "Dude, black is totally the color of mourning! Duh."

To which I say, get a clue. Self-righteous ignorance isn't an excuse.

On the "mistake" and other nonsense

Nothing has changed for Hillary, and John Edwards is seizing on that to try to get a little traction:
When Edwards spoke a few minutes later, he seemed to aim his rhetorical barrels right at Clinton, emphasizing repeatedly how he was, indeed, wrong to have voted for authorization of the war. “I should have never given George Bush authorization,” he said. Arguing that America needs a president who can is “honest, open, and moral” he said that after 6 years of Bush not taking responsibility for the war, it was no longer acceptable to dance around the issue as he implied Hillary was doing.

Meanwhile, Matthew Yglesias--who claims he is saying something nice about Hillary--says that Hillary isn't avoiding admitting a mistake. Instead, she just thinks it wasn't a mistake. Is that really being nice, or is he actually being a dick?

Lastly, one of my favorite politicians weighs in on Iraq:
Dennis Kucinich got his licks in, trashing all the other candidates. “It must be hard for these politicians to say they were misled, tricked and deceived by George w. Bush,” referring to their positions on the war in Iraq. “Here’s one who wasn’t. I organized 125 Democrats in Congress to oppose the war and I saw all the same information these other candidates did.”

Lest the "realists" amongst us get bent out of shape, I don't think Kucinich can win, but I don't think his candidacy hurts anybody either. He's one of my favorites not only because of his honorable positions, but also for stuff like this:
He then ended his talk by saying he was the only candidate who had no strings attached to him. Then he lifted his arms up to his shoulders and slowly twirled around on stage repeating: “No strings. No strings. No strings.”

2/21/07

Hey!


Have any of y'all seen this video? It's on heavy rotation on public access hereabouts and is high-larious. The basic story is that that African Americans shouldn't vote for Democrats today because the Democratic Party was full of racists in the 1860s. For example, did you know that it is a historical fact that the KKK is an arm of the Democratic Party? It's true! Also, the Texas Republican Party was founded (mostly) by blacks!

Anyway, I'd post a video, but I can't find one. Maybe one of the many readers of this blog has better google skillz.

Gotta go. Don't want to miss out on any history. David Barton, our narrator, just suggested that reparations for slavery should be paid by the Democratic Party, rather than by the federal government, and I'm eager to hear his other awesome ideas.

Little Miss Sunshine


As long as we're talking about film, I would like to say that Little Miss Sunshine, while not actually bad or anything, does happen to be very trite and manipulative. I thought that perhaps I was the only one in the world whose pants were not charmed right off by the film, but today I read this:
The Top Ten Most Misunderstood Movies Ever Made

8. Little Miss Sunshine


What everyone thinks the message is: Life sucks ass!

What it actually is: Life rules!

I didn’t say you had to agree with the true moral of every movie, especially considering how sappy and mainstream the otherwise-adequate Little Miss Sunshine is, but them’s the breaks.

Despite cramming as much forced familial dysfunction and philosophical cynicism as humanly possible into the first 90% of the movie, the writers make a complete 180 at the film’s climax and decide that, despite the fact that one of the characters is dead and the rest have had their lives ruined in literally every way conceivable, that life is actually pretty neat!

Even if your gay lover left you for someone who now has your job, and even if you can’t realize your dream of becoming a jet pilot due to biological defects beyond your control, and even if your self-help program didn’t sell (thus leaving you nearly bankrupt with two kids to support), everything can be okay if you dance!

If the movie had gone on for another week, most of the main characters would have committed suicide out of depression.

Exactly.

2/20/07

Notes on film

  • Children of Men - Honestly, it rocked my world. My only complaint was that the politics were hitting me in the face a little bit too often. Hard to say how that will look twenty years from now, though, when the images of Abu Ghraib aren't quite so fresh. Also, I forgave the film for it's optimism when the fighting started back up. All in all, a must see for anyone with even a passing interest in the cinema of post apocalyptic dystopia.

  • Sgt. Bilko - In the opening scene Steve Martin's Bilko deliberately loses a $500 dollar bet so that he can double the stakes and win, triumphantly, $1000. Do the math.

  • The Big Chill - I liked this film well enough back in the day, but have systematically avoided it for most of the last fifteen years. Seeing it again, now at more or less the same age as the characters, made me wonder why my college buddies didn't all stay so skinny.

  • The Butterfly Effect - I'd say it was unwatchable, but I watched it.

  • Pan's Labrynth - Pretty enough, and maybe worth seeing again, but at first blush the existentialism as answer to fascism stuff seems a little dated and naive.

shambolic

[Chiefly British slang, probably from alteration of 'shambles']

adj.
Disorderly or chaotic.

2/18/07

The Bush Administration

In 2005, when government scientists tested 60 soft, vinyl lunchboxes, they found that one in five contained amounts of lead that medical experts consider unsafe -- and several had more than 10 times hazardous levels.

But that's not what they told the public.

Instead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a statement that they found "no instances of hazardous levels." And they refused to release their actual test results, citing regulations that protect manufacturers from having their information released to the public. |CNN|

They play nintendo

According to a survey conducted by Gametart, a game rental service in the UK, chicks who game get more lovin' than those who don't. Out of a sample of 200 ladies (or should that be "laid-ees"?), the ones who gamed got, erm, fragged 1.1 more times a week than those who didn't. |WIRED|

(Even though I got the link via Feministing I'm pretty sure that I'm a bad person for posting it)

Hillary's not going to apologize

Joshua has a politics class this year, and one of his projects is to map out a victory strategy for Hillary Clinton. I've told him that the war is going to sink her, but he thinks that the war won't be the main issue in the '08 campaign. We've got a bet on that, but it will be awhile before we find out.

In the meantime, there's this kerfuffle about Hillary's refusal to "apologize" for the war vote. Joshua today sends me this NYT article that gives some background and then says that she's not going to apologize, and people who don't like it can suck it. Suck on it:
“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.”

I'm impressed by her moxie, but here's the thing: This isn't some semantic quibble. This is the frustration of many people who understood that the war was a mistake from the beginning--and who were abandoned by their party where the rubber hit the road--finally bubbling to the surface.

She's sticking to losing line of John Kerry's, "If I knew then what I know now, I would not have voted for the war."

Well, fucking DUH.

Okay, so the reason so many of us are pissed is because the war looked like a disaster from the start to a significant portion of the Democratic party. I'm not just talking about pacifists, I'm talking about realists who saw the "we'll be greeted as liberators" talk as obvious, rank propaganda (or frighteningly naive). Add in the completely unconvincing SOTU and Colin Powell's dog and pony show, and the final result wasn't that we "respectfully disagreed" with the vote to authorize the war.

Instead, it looked like John Edwards, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and the rest of the Democrats who voted for the war were running scared from a very popular President on a very popular issue. In other words, it didn't seem like a principled vote at the time. If Hillary or the others had looked around, there was ample evidence that the intelligence was being cooked, that there was no real plan for the occupation, and that therefore a blank-check vote like that was a serious mistake.

I know there was ample evidence, because we blogged about it at the time.

If she can't call it a mistake, fine. But it's not that I want her to "apologize" to me or anyone else. I want her to acknowledge her questionable judgment at the time, knowing what she knew then, not what she knows now. If she wants my vote, she would help herself enormously by dealing with this issue, so I can have confidence in her future judgment.

Mark Penn says that it's a mistake to call her vote a mistake, because the mistake is the President's. But I say to Mr. Penn, there is plenty of blame to go around. He may be right... it may cost her more votes to call it a mistake than to continue with her fiction that her vote was a good one at the time. But it's not helping her with me.

2/16/07

It's about time

The University of Illinois' American Indian mascot, Chief Illiniwek, no longer will perform at athletic events on the school's main campus after Wednesday — the last men's home basketball game of the season. |Chicago Tribune|


I predict that the Chief's final performance will be an over the top racist hatefest.

Addendum: Oh hey, how about a shout out to Janna, Ruxandra, and Brooke and Lian who all (a) have blogs; and (b) put in a lot of work on this back in the day.

The Manchurian TrimSpa Model


We actually have a label for Anna Nicole Smith on the blog. Fantastic!

2/15/07

Why do I hate Mark Penn?

I'm not sure exactly. I suppose he symbolizes, to me, what's wrong with the Democratic party at the highest levels. And I sure hope that Hillary (who I think would make a good president) will fire his ass before he turns her into John Kerry.

I've been calling Penn some bad names in email, saying things too harsh to post on the blog. So I was pleased to see TDH handle it more appropriately and more hilariously:
Why won’t Hillary Clinton call her vote on the war resolution “a mistake?” We don’t have the slightest idea—nor do we really understand why some voters care so much. (The notion that she should “apologize” strikes us as utterly silly.) But in Patrick Healy’s Monday report, he quoted a major Clinton adviser explaining the thinking behind Clinton’s stance. We groaned, then said: “It figures:”

HEALY (2/12/07): Some advisers believe the issue of her vote will fade with time; even so, they emphasize that she is taking a principled position of responsibility for it.

Mark Penn, Mrs. Clinton's chief strategist, said in an interview: ''It's important for all Democrats to keep the word 'mistake' firmly on the Republicans and on President Bush. Senator Clinton has been very clear that we, as a party, should keep the focus on Bush—these were his mistakes. Ultimately that's very important, not just for her, but for the entire Democratic party.”

We don’t know if that is the real explanation. But only Penn could ever come up with this sort of tortured reasoning. Only Penn would advise a client: Don’t speak English for the next several years.

Money changes everything

Like all Americans, I'm very excited about todays release of another generation of dollar coins. I was, however, a little put off by this:
One coin will be issued for each president, except for Grover Cleveland, the only one to serve non-consecutive terms, who will be honored on two coins, the mint said.

Grover freaking Cleveland gets two shots at glory! How did that decision make it out of committee?

Oh Anna, we hardly knew you

After a week of wall to wall Anna Nicole, I'm coming around to the view that maybe there's something compelling about her life story. Probably there's more than one thing.

Here's something that occurred to me. Anna Nicole is Horatio Alger turned inside out and bent. She came from the lower class, and by all rights had no reason to expect anything better than soap operas, trailer parks, and the occasional big night out at TGI*Fridays. But then she married way, way above her station and won herself a life of privilege and luxury.

In a weird kind of way, Smith deserved all of the riches she got. Whereas Alger's heroes embodied the values that nineteenth century America held to be indicative of desert -- exhibiting compassion, determination, and a strong work ethic -- Smith embodied the artificial, superficial and transitory attractiveness that signal merit in our modern reality tv culture.

The thing is, when we turn our attention to Anna Nicole we aren't basking in her success so much as marvelling at the trainwreck of her life. Part of this is just an everyday fascination with spectacle, but it also has to do with the ambivalence we feel about the worthiness of the criteria by which she won success. At some level we see Anna Nicole as illicitly occupying a place beyond her station, and we see her dislocation, indignity, and death as a form of comeuppance. We think, that is, that her success was undeserved and that she has been justly punished for the path she took.

I don't know what any of this implies about where the body should be buried.

2/14/07

She's not bad, she's just drawn that way

Actually, I've never heard of her. Also, my wife is kind of a superhero. [Deleted incredibly dorky joke about competing comic-book universes.]

Click on through to take the test, but you might have to try a few times: It's been Digged to death. Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentines Day


I'm celebrating by going to the dentist. My safe word is "bwaarghahum!"

A friend of mine asked me to write some Valentines Day poetry for her to share with her favorite baristas. Since I'm no poet, I wrote bastardized haiku. Here's one:

Coffee like love needs
A little bit of sugar
A whole lot of cream.

Addendum:

Be mine barista
Coffee consumates
Our gluttinous lonely lust

2/13/07

Sloganeering for '08

Here's one I will provide free to the Obama campaign:

"It takes Obama to get Osama"

Yep.

2/12/07

What's wrong with this argument?

Spencer Ackerman reports that, while drunk, he found no effective response to the following justification for the coming war with Iran:
It's not us declaring war on them. They have declared war on us. They attack our troops. Your position amounts to requiring soldiers in a firefight to check the nationalities of their assailants before returning fire; and so you have reached absurdity.

While blogging and, presumably, sober Ackerman notes that the argument is disingenuous. That is, the real reason for war with Iran has less to do with Iran's supposed machinations in Iraq than with the Bush Administration's broader strategic, uh, vision.

Be that as it may, it's still worth figuring out how to answer the argument above. Here are a couple of points:
  • Although the idea of declaring war may by now have become a quaint anachronism, there does seem to be a difference between beligerant acts and declarations of war.
  • As beligerant acts go, supplying an armed insurgency is less beligerant than, say, the attacking Pearl Harbor or assassinating a spare duke.
  • It's far from obvious that these beligerant acts justify an escalation to wholesale war. Which is to say that there's a difference between returning fire in a firefight and bombing the bejesus out of a large nation.
  • Wars are really outrageously bad, and are worth avoiding even when justified. Or, as Jesus and Woody Guthrie[1] put it, there's a better world awaiting for the meek.
----------
1 Though I hasten to add that my own acquaintance with this chestnut derives, sadly, from Kenny Rogers.

Crazy moderates

By this point it's probably uncontroversial to say that Bush is the worst president in memory, and yet his approval rating is holding steady in the low thirties. Relatedly, pick the nuttiest wingnut proposition you like (e.g., 'Bush has been anointed by God to lead the West in a clash of civilizations against the Islamofascists') and you can bet that 15-20% of the electorate is going to agree with it.

Obviously, though, the right doesn't have a monopoly on crazy thinking. I love my lefty brothers and sisters, but some of us are a little bit irrational some of the time. Let me just point to aromatherapy and leave it at that.

But here's a more controversial claim that came to me in a dream about Cokie Roberts:

Resolved: Ten to fifteen percent of self-described moderates will believe the nuttiest proposition you pick so long as it is delivered in a carefully measured tone.

Discuss.

2/10/07

Definitely unusual

Tennessee's procedure manual for executing prisoners is a jumble of conflicting instructions that mixes new lethal injection instructions with those for the old electric chair, an Associated Press review found.

Before a lethal injection, the 100-page "Manual of Execution" instructs prison officials to begin by shaving the condemned prisoner's head -- as if preparing him for electrocution. They would also need a fire extinguisher nearby, it says.

...

The manual's minute-by-minute guidelines for lethal injections includes the instruction: "The Executioner will engage the automatic rheostat." A rheostat controls the voltage flowing to an electric chair.

The guidelines also tell the facility manager to disconnect the electrical cables in the rear of the chair before a doctor checks whether the lethal injection was successful.

Bredesen said Tennessee's execution teams have relied on an "oral tradition" and routine drills have ensured that lethal injections have been given properly. |CNN|

2/7/07

Where the hell is the bathroom, Pedro?

I feel bad making fun of John Derbyshire, as he tries very hard (and usually fails) to keep The Corner anchored in something resembling reality, but this is too funny.
My son starts Middle School in September.  We just got a flyer from the school board asking him to choose a foreign language class.  The choices are:  French, Italian, Spanish.

My advice to him (which of course he will ignore) is just to be hard-headed about it & pick the language most likely to give him an "edge" in future employment. 

That rules out Spanish, since the USA is choc-a-bloc with Spanish-speakers, so the market value of this skill must be low. 

I don't know where Derbyshire lives, but in my neck of the woods it would be very helpful to speak Spanish if one wants to do anything at all in the community... for example, if one wants to open a small business.

Or to put it another way: The USA is already "choc-a-bloc" with English speakers, and the market value of that skill is commensurately very high.

2/6/07

See marriage don't change, nothing but your name

I'm taking a few minutes to read through the Michigan Appeals Court's recent decision interpreting the marriage amendment and this jumped out:
Finally, we note that our interpretation of the language of the marriage amendment is one of first impression, insofar as it concerns a relatively unique phraseology. Thus, while other states have adopted constitutional amendments and/or statutes that place limitations on governmental recognition of same-sex relationships, no court in any of these states has had the occasion to interpret language approximating the “similar union” language found in Michigan’s marriage amendment. Consequently, guidance from the decisions of other jurisdictions is unavailing.

Insofar as other states use similar language, and the Michigan Appeals Court notes that Kentucky and Wisconsin do, this decision could end up providing guidance in interpretation, so it's pretty significant. The text of the Michigan amendment, for the record, is, "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

I may post again later after I've had time to think about the court's reasoning. In the meantime, curious lawyers and fellow travellers are welcome to follow the link and offer their thoughts.

Dumb game blogging: A Triangle Adventure


Check it out. It's an oldschool Choose Your Own Adventure type of adventure. Give it a try, and try not to blow up the world. Also, look out for Manticores. Here it is

Though I may roam, I'll come back to my home


Silohomes are definitely cool, but at $1.8 million for a fixer-upper, a missile silo is way out of my price range. The real deals are on hardened communications bunkers:
Orleans, Indiana, Hardened Underground Communications Vault on 3.21 acres, 1960’s vintage nuclear war-proof communications center with 9,589 sq. ft. usable floor space. Hardened 24” thick walls and ceilings with 2’ to 4’ of earth over with metal shielding around entire structure, heavy blast doors, air vents with filters and blast valve closure mechanisms. 3 phase grid power to site, plus a large 225-230 KW generator in place. 20’ by 20’ above-ground entry with man doors and a push-button commercial over-head door with electric hoist to move equipment in and out. Lots of original equipment in place and functional. Asbestos has been removed. Tower has been removed. Dry and relatively clean.


Price: $227,000.00

Surprisingly affordable.

(via)

2/5/07

GM management = a bunch of clueless idiots


For football fans, the drama will be over the second the clock runs out on Super Bowl XLI. But for General Motors Corp. (GM ), the moment of truth will come the following day. That's when consumers and the media will weigh in on the latest crop of Super Bowl ads, among them GM's spot about an anthropomorphic robot. This isn't just a one-off spot: GM wants the robot to star in its ongoing effort to convince drivers it's as obsessed about quality as Toyota Motor Corp. (TM ) If the $5.2 million ad fizzles, it's back to the storyboard. |Business Week|

Many pastors felt that -- as Christians -- they had no choice but to cancel their parties

Today I learned why superbowl parties are illegal:
The intent of the law, which dates to the 1960s, is to protect the NFL's television ratings by preventing large crowds from gathering to watch games in public places — where their viewing habits aren't measured by the Nielsen ratings. (The ratings only measure viewership at home.) Sports bars and other businesses that rely on televised sports to draw patrons are exempt. |LA Times via Drum|

So the reason that it's illegal to have a superbowl party is that such parties make it more difficult for television executives to track viewer behavior. One can only hope that improvements in surveillance technology will someday make it possible to relax these lamentable restrictions on the scope of our liberties.

protologism

[coined by Mikhail Epstein from Greek 'protos', first + Greek 'logos', word]

n.
A newly coined word or phrase defined in the hope that it will become accepted into the language.

2/4/07

Notes

  • In a roman candle fight, having more roman candles than your opponents confers a significant tactical advantage.

  • From now on they should always play the superbowl in the rain.

  • Grad unionists will be interested to know that the word on the street is that the kids in corn country reached a tentative agreement on Friday.

  • Memo to GM: When you've spent the last several years buying out and laying off actual real human workers, it's bad form to put together a superbowl commercial that features a robot arm daydreaming about all of the shit jobs it will be consigned to if it loses its position on the GM assembly line. Having the robot arm dream of committing suicide is a particularly nasty touch.

  • Guitar Hero is a really fun game.

2/3/07

He's got brass ones

Gotta love FOXNews. Bush is on right now talking about the huge tax increases that would be necessary to meet the "Democrat's appetite for spending." He also says that next year he's going to submit a budget that will "balance the budget in five years."

He won't be prez anymore, but dammit, he's got a plan to fix this mess!

Foreshadowing

2/2/07

Winning, losing

Resolution passed by the AFT Executive Board this week:
Whereas, the American Federation of Teachers has stated, "as trade unionists, we believe that our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters unequivocally deserve the same protections and beneits as their brothers and sisters"; and

Whereas, the American Federation of Teachers "calls for programs to increase access to quality healthcare for all Americans, while pledging to fight programs that would decrease or deny such access based on age, sex, race, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression":

RESOLVED, that the AFT call on its members to fight existing barriers and discriminatory practices and ensure access to healthcare services, including fighting for transgender-inclusive healthcare and insurance policies covering all medically necessary transgender transition services and procedures.


Newspaper article from today:
Public universities and state and local governments can't provide health insurance to the partners of gay employees without violating the state constitution, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

A three-judge panel said a 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits.

``The marriage amendment's plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose,'' the court wrote.

The decision reverses a 2005 ruling from a county judge who said universities and government agencies could provide the benefits. |Associated Press|


Addendum: The bright side of the Court of Appeals ruling, such as it is, is that this result will probably tend to worsen the outlook for anti-gay marriage amendments in other states, since the policy mix supported by the majority of Americans would ban gay marriage but allow gay couples access to marriage-like legal protections. This ruling shows that you can't split the baby.

Usability complaint Friday


You know what chaps my hide? Aggressively bad design.

I'm renting a Chevy Aveo this weekend, and I honestly think that it's the worst car I've ever driven. It's loud. It's small. It's underpowered. The seat is uncomfortable. Visibility is bad. The car doesn't even get particularly good mileage.

But what I really want to talk about are the cupholders. Take a look at the photo to the left and ask yourself, "where does scalding hot coffee go?"

If your answer is, "Behind the emergency brake, under the armrest" then you've had the misfortune of driving this disaster of a car.

Everything about this car seems intended to communicate to the prospective buyer or renter that they'd be better off spending a little more. Which, you know, goes a long way toward explaining why it's downright idiotic to buy American[1] if you're in the market for an economy car.

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1 Note that the Aveo, despite being a Chevy, is actually built in South Korea by Daiwoo.
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