Sunday, October 28, 2007

Funk Fund -- Week 8

For the latest in an experiment that has gone horribly awry, here are this week's picks, per week one's guidelines:

-- $20 6-point teaser on Colts (-7), Giants (-10), & Saints (-1) (payout: $52)

-- $10 straight bets on Colts, Giants, & Saints (payout: $20 each)

-- $5 3-game parlay on Colts, Giants, & Saints (payout: $36)

This week's total possible payout: $145

Current account balance: $-104

Karol is insistent I start providing updates after each Sunday. I said it's too embarrassing to report that my vaunted strategy is failing week in and week out.

Nonetheless, like so many weeks before, week eight missed out on a profit by a mere point. The Colts won 31-7, the Saints won 31-10, but the G-Men gave up a late-game touchdown to win by just 3, thereby losing the teaser. Once again, the only bets to hit were two straights. Ironically, I was pulling for the Dolphins to make it close, as I was personally predicting they would cover the spread.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Question of the Day

Should dueling be brought back?

What about public hangings?

Please discuss. Thanks.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Karol Sent Me This

And it is terrifying.

She also sent me this -- a helpful explanation of why my interest in converting to Japanese is waning.

Huffington's Huff of the Day

Bob Cesca, a "writer, director and producer," on why America isn't generally conservative:
The United States of America is composed of around 300 million mostly good people who are sometimes misguided, destructive, religious, arrogant, ignorant and self-important -- conditioned to consume everything. We're fat, prone to addiction and we love awful things like Steve Doocy and BK Stackers. We're a lot of crazy things, Senator McCain, but America is definitely not "right of center."
Also, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson asks where the National Guard is:
In California, the Guard force is authorized to have over 21,000 members. Today, that number is just under 15,000. Why the decline? I believe it has nothing to do with a diminished commitment to service, but rather is a frustration with having that commitment abused, and families turned upside down, just so President Bush can continue to pretend his war can succeed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quote of the Day

Via The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary:
"I have never before witnessed such a disgrace in professional journalism.... I should know. I live in Jena. My wife has taught at Jena High School for many years. And most important, I am probably the only reporter who has covered these events from the very beginning.... According to the expulsion committee, the crudely constructed nooses were not aimed at black students. Instead, they were understood to be a prank by three white students aimed at their fellow white friends, members of the school rodeo team. (The students apparently got the idea from watching episodes of 'Lonesome Dove.') The committee further concluded that the three young teens had no knowledge that nooses symbolize the terrible legacy of the lynchings of countless blacks in American history. ... As with the Duke Lacrosse case, the truth about Jena will eventually be known. But the town of Jena isn't expecting any apologies from the media. They will probably never admit their error and have already moved on to the next "big" story" -- Craig Franklin, assistant editor of The Jena Times, writing in the Christian Science Monitor (available at

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Around the Web

  • An anti-tobacco activist says New York City's health czar, Dr. Thomas Frieden, manipulates the science of second-hand smoke in the tradition of the infamous Tobacco Institute.
  • A British editorial says a proposed regulation that will "warn" parents of obese "seem to assume a level of stupidity among the general public." It also has an intriguing suggestion for remedying obesity: "eat less and exercise more."
(hat tip to my pops & the Center for Consumer Freedom)

Monday, October 22, 2007

This Should Solve It

Responding to a recent proliferation of nooses, New York lawmakers are proposing "to make it a felony to etch, paint, draw or otherwise place or display a noose on public or private property."

From the press release:
"This is a vile act that must be dealt with harshly," said New York State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Dean G. Skelos [who sponsored the legislation]. "There is no place for racism and intimidation in America and this rash of incidents clearly demonstrates the need for tough new penalties. The Senate will act today to make displaying a noose a felony and I encourage the Assembly to reconvene and pass this legislation as soon as possible."

"This legislation recognizes that a noose continues to be a powerful symbol of racism and intimidation towards African Americans, and that it is solely meant to harass and threaten another person or a group of people. Today the Senate Majority will take decisive action to protect all New Yorkers from the menacing and disturbing actions of a few," [Republican] Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said.
Yes, banning the drawing of nooses (even on private property) certainly does qualify as "decisive action." Whether it's a decisive in the direction of common sense is, alas, quite another question.

Congestion Indiscretions

"Mayor Bloomberg says congestion pricing will raise $390 million a year for mass transit, but that figure is nothing more than an educated guess," The Daily News reports.

Reviewing internal documents made available through a Freedom of Information Act request, the News finds that in January 2007 the Department of Transportation was developing a congestion-pricing "System [that] runs 346 days each year, capturing cars and trucks four times on every trip, processing 6,052,000 transactions each day. Each license plate costs 75 cents to read. The annual operating cost is $884,168,938, or 44.4% of total revenue."

But by April, after some tweaking to predicted costs, the numbers changed: "System runs 248 days each year, capturing cars and trucks two times on every trip, processing 2,796,000 transactions each day. Each license plate costs 15 cents to read. The annual operating cost is $232,640,000, or 35.2% of total revenue."

In London, operational costs consumed nearly two-thirds of the system's revenue in its first year. Afterward the toll was raised to $16 from $10. By nature governmental programs cost more to run than anticipated -- New York's especially. The News therefore notes that Bloomberg's estimated $390 million in new MTA revenue can't be counted on: "While the mayor's plan assumes it will cost $232 million a year to operate the system, just two little tweaks in the model -- four sensors per trip, and 75 cents to read a license plate -- would raise the cost to $685 million per year, leaving nothing for mass transit."

Meanwhile, Richard Lipsky at the Neighborhood Retail Alliance says Bloomberg's prediction that congestion pricing will ease traffic volume 6.3 percent seems to have been pulled from thin air.

Spitzer News Wrap

  • Despite calling only months ago for a "new humility" in politics, The New York Times says Spitzer has gone "on the attack once again."

  • Officials at the Board of Elections worry Spitzer's drivers' licenses-for-illegals plan could lead to widespread voter fraud, The New York Post reports.
  • New York Democrats are worried Spitzer could harm other Democrats at the ballot box -- even threatening the presidential chances of Sen. Hillary Clinton, The Post reports.
  • "Gov. Spitzer touted support yesterday from terror expert Richard Clarke for his plan to issue illegal immigrants driver's licenses -- but critics promptly revealed the former federal official had raised concerns about the idea just months ago," The Post reports.
  • "Critics of Gov. Spitzer's plan to let illegal aliens get drivers' licenses tore into the administration yesterday for backing off a policy they say would have made it tougher for illegals to unlawfully register to vote,"The Post reports:
    Social Security numbers cannot be required to get motor-voter registration forms from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the administration now says, marking a policy shift reported yesterday by The Post.
  • The Spitzer administration, which has pledged "full cooperation" with investigations into the dirty-tricks scandal, has "officially notified the Senate Investigations Committee that [it] will fight subpoenas issued to Spitzer's top aides seeking documents over an alleged plot to smear Senate Republican Leader Joseph Bruno," The Press & Sun Bulletin reports.
  • "Illegal immigrants in New York who don't drive but nevertheless want official state identification will be eligible to receive nondriver IDs under Governor Spitzer's new policy," The New York Sun reports:
    The contentious debate over Mr. Spitzer's immigration policy has focused on his recent decision to grant driver's licenses to state residents without regard to their legal status.

    Republican lawmakers hostile to the governor's policy are now trying to draw attention to the fact that undocumented New Yorkers, many of whom don't own a car or drive to work, can apply for nondriver photo identification cards, which serve the same identification purposes as driver's licenses. Lawmakers argue that granting nondriver IDs to illegal immigrants undercuts one of the main arguments Mr. Spitzer has articulated in defense of the policy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Funk Fund -- Week 7

This weeks picks, per week one's guidelines:

-- $20 6-point teaser on Steelers (-3.5), Pats (-15.5), & Bengals (-6.5) (payout: $52)

-- $10 straight bets on Steelers, Pats, & Bengals (payout: $20 each)

-- $5 3-game parlay on Steelers, Pats, & Bengals (payout: $36)

This week's total possible payout: $145

Current account balance: $-89

Friday, October 19, 2007

Selective Health Paternalism

From today's Best of the Web:
The Associated Press reports, "[San Francisco] health officials took steps Thursday toward opening the nation's first legal safe-injection room, where addicts could shoot up heroin, cocaine and other drugs under the supervision of nurses."

Meanwhile in Portland, Maine, the AP reports that "school officials on Thursday defended a decision to allow children as young as 11 to obtain birth-control pills at a middle-school health center."

In both San Francisco and Portland, however, smoking in bars is strictly prohibited. It's bad for your health, after all.

Meanwhile, in other health news:

-- Hillary Clinton makes fun of Americans for being fat.

-- New York City's Health Department will be visiting homes in Harlem to ensure nobody is smoking around children.

Friday Funk

From prison guard to soulstress hero, a short CNN clip on Ms. Sharon Jones.

Completely unrelated but also worth checking out is this compendium of foreign movies nominated for Oscars.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Fact of the Day

Bluefin tuna can accelerate faster than a sports car. Also interesting is that they weigh up to a 1,000 pounds and are worth as much as $15,000 each.

The Noose Nuisance

Mirroring my own thoughts on the matter, New York Sun columnist John McWhorter says, "The next time somebody plants a noose, let's just ignore it. Really. No press conferences, no news stories. Nothing."

Since a hangman's noose found its way onto the office door of a Columbia University professor and a media kerfuffle ensued, reports of noose sightings have been popping up everywhere: Downtown Manhattan, Long Island, Coast Guard locker rooms, and, I'm sure, elsewhere. My own suspicion isn't that a budding white power movement is responsible, but rather rascally teenagers toying with the media. Teenagers love nothing better than making trouble, and what easier way than simply hanging up a piece of knotted rope?

The simplest remedy, then, is just ignoring them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We're #1!

Today I'm brimming with patriotism. I've just learned that American Internet users lead all other nationalities in Google searches for "burrito."

To be fair, I deserve most of the recognition, considering my tireless efforts. But I don't mind at least partially sharing the glory with my fellow compatriots. Americans are indeed intrepid explorers of the vast wilderness of the World Wide Web, and something tells me our efforts could soon clear the way for a more peaceful world.

(The above image comes from a Google image search for "burrito"!)

UPDATE: Thanks to my bro for the new & improved version.

This Is Going To Be Fun

The Times' editorial board now has a blog. And judging from its first posts, there'll be even less restraint than usual.

(H/t: Mr. Wilson)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

'It Shines for All'

The paper with the best movie reviews in the city is in my opinion The New York Sun. Its website recently went totally free, and these movie reviews are now available in an online archive here. A great resource for any cinephile.

Monday, October 15, 2007

TREND WATCH: Proposed NY Bans

Note: I'm now including a category for New York state. I'm sure I've missed a bunch, so don't hesitate to bring others to my attention. I'm also including older proposed bans, too.

The latest ...

New York City:

  1. City Councilmembers using public funds for personal ads
  2. Styrofoam containers in food services
  3. Various contributions to city politicians
  4. Etching acid
  5. High rises in the Upper West Side
  6. 'Stealing' recyclables
  7. Peeping toms
  8. Videotaping in public without a permit
  9. Smoking in cars with minors
  10. The word "bitch"
  11. The word "ho"
  12. Free formula samples for new mothers at city hospitals
  13. Teenage possession of spray paint
  14. Businesses from leaving their windows or doors open while air conditioners are on inside
  15. Dogs from being tied up three-plus hours
  16. Talking/listening/playing while walking crosswalks
  17. Skinny models
  18. The "N-word"
  19. Electric-assist pedicabs
  20. Public pension investments in companies with business in Sudan
  1. pit bulls
  2. trans-fats
  3. aluminum baseball bats
  4. the purchase of tobacco by 18- to 20-year-olds
  5. foie gras
  6. pedicabs in parks
  7. new fast-food restaurants (but only in poor neighborhoods)
  8. lobbyists from the floor of council chambers
  9. lobbying city agencies after working at the same agency
  10. vehicles in Central and Prospect parks
  11. cell phones in upscale restaurants
  12. the sale of pork products made in a processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., because of a unionization dispute
  13. mail-order pharmaceutical plans
  14. candy-flavored cigarettes
  15. gas-station operators adjusting prices more than once daily
  16. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
  17. Wal-Mart
  18. the process that makes steaks pink
  19. subway ads poking fun at outer boroughs
  1. Loud car alarms
  2. Vendors from Ground Zero
  1. Cell phones during public performances
  1. Toy guns
  2. Soft drinks and snacks in city public schools

New York:

  1. Using I-pods/cell phones while crossing the street
  2. Plastic bags
  3. Nooses
  4. Spectating dog fights
  5. Smoking in cars with minors
  6. Plastic water bottles
  7. Styrofoam used in food services
  8. Thin models
NOTE: List updated again as of 12:12 PM, October 16th.

Huffington's Huff of the Day

Marty Kaplan offers a primer on the Constitution:

Article V explains the process for amending the Constitution. An amendment is like a PS; it's something that the Founders forgot to say. Examples of things they forgot to say include: gay love is sin, abortion is murder, and flag-burning should be punishable by death.

Article VI says that no religious test should be required as a qualification for public office. Isn't that marvelous? In practice, this means that Christians never have to take a test to prove they believe in Jesus; that Jews get the benefit of the doubt because they're on the road to being perfected as Christians; and that Muslims have to swear on the Koran that they're not terrorists.

This Probably Won't Go Anywhere ...

But it says quite a lot that after only 10 months in office, New York assemblymen are talking about orchestrating a recall effort to oust Governor Spitzer from office.

In other Spitzer news ...

-- A new Siena poll finds that fully 22 percent of New Yorkers support Spitzer's plan to furnish illegal immigrants with drivers' licenses.

-- "Gov. Spitzer has lined up a Manhattan lawyer - at taxpayer expense - to help him quash subpoenas sent to his office by a GOP-controlled panel investigating the Troopergate scandal," The Daily News reports.

-- After Democratic Assembly Minority Leader confessed to being in on a plot with Spitzer to sic the IRS on Republican Senate Majority Speaker Joe Bruno, Spitzer "angrily called Smith and 'questioned his ability to remain as the minority leader,'" Fred Dicker reports today in The Post.

-- Dicker also reports today that "even Democrats fear 'dirty tricks' from Spitzer.

-- Spitzer's most powerful political ally, Assembly Leader Shelly Silver, is asking the governor to call off the attack dogs after it was reported last week he was behind in the IRS plot against Bruno.

-- The Post editorializes today that Spitzer's plan to cure upstate New York's economic maladies will only make things worse.

-- And, finally, The New York Sun's Albany reporter, Jacob Gersham, imagines himself inside the mind of our beleaguered governor:
I was once Wall Street's top cop, the "enforcer," the "crusader of the year." Now, I'm taking orders from Sheldon Silver. My most powerful political ally is an obscure comptroller. And I'm insulted on a daily basis by a discredited, retired boxer named Joe Bruno.

'It was time, I felt, for an Agonizing Reappraisal of the whole scene.'

My colleague Steve Couzzo took to the pages of yesterday's Sunday Post (in the brand new Post Script section) to offer the definitive account of Bloombergism -- the "independent" form of governance wholly preoccupied with busybodying even as core responsibilities (infrastructure, power, civil services) suffer -- in all its messy infamy:

The city's still in sound shape, and Bloomberg is entitled to a share of the credit. Crime is at record lows and the town is more bustling and cosmopolitan than ever.

But are we having fun yet? Not enough for the mayor, who wants us to take our medicine and be happy about it. He's left the Republicans and the Democrats behind to forge a new kind of political philosophy: Benign Billionaire Knows Best.

For him, our waistlines, our sex lives, even the behavior of our pets are fair game for improvement. Just as rezoning will produce a more sleekly contoured New York, so will tinkering with our everyday habits yield a bountiful future where no one need be fat -- or even, God forbid, stuck in traffic.

In Mayor Mike's ideal metropolis, the town would be cleansed, not only of cigarette smoke, but of a lengthy hit list of real and presumed urban evils -- among them, dogs that bark too loud and fast-food restaurants that fail to warn you of every calorie.

If you read one piece today, read this one.

Extra Credit: Anyone know where the hed for this post comes from?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Funk Fund -- Week 6

I hope none of you are playing along at home. Here are this weeks picks, per week one's guidelines:

-- $20 6-point teaser on Eagles (-4), Bengals (-1) & Cardinals (-6) (payout: $52)
-- $10 straight bets on Eagles, Bengals & Cardinals (payout: $20 each)
-- $5 3-game parlay on Eagles, Bengals & Cardinals (payout: $36)

This week's total possible payout: $145

Current account balance: $-54


Out of curiosity, I looked to see how the Funk Fund would have performed in Week 1. (I hadn't started it until Week 2.) The picks would have been: Steelers (-4.5), Eagles (-3), Seahawks (-6). The Steelers and Seahawks both covered; Eagles lost by three. That means the straight bets on the Steelers and Seahawks were good, the parlay failed and the tease hit. Because the Eagles lost by 3, that makes that game a push in the tease (as it "teases" the spread six points in the your favor). When there's a tie, the payout is reduced by one game -- in this case, the "decimal multiplier" is reduced from 2.6 to 1.83. So a $20 bet would have paid $36.6. That means week 1 would have actually won $21.

Because this is an experiment in the interests of furthering science, I am going to retroactively adjust the net balance as if the Funk Fund had been in around for the entirety of this season (i.e., Week 1). This post will be retitled Week 6, and the current account balance is changing to -$54 from -$75.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Fact of the Day

Ninety-four percent of Japanese women in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton item.

Video of the Day

Does Stacy Hedger even need an introduction?

Gotham's Butter Cops Run Wild

The first fines in New York City have been issued for illegal possession of margarine. The so-called grace period, where restaurants received warnings as opposed to fines for use of trans fats, expired September 30th. From Oct. 1 through Oct. 5, 20 restaurants received trans-fats citations -- most for possession.

The Post reports:
The fines ranged from $200 to $2,000, and all the restaurant owners are entitled to challenge the summonses at hearings.

Nearly all of the ticketed eateries were cited for using trans-fat-laden margarine.

Only one, Ballato on East Houston Street, which has hosted the likes of Sophia Loren, Roberto Benigni and Daniel Day-Lewis, was cited for using oils that lacked proper labels about the trans-fat content.

In other words, it's now illegal to possess unlabeled containers of oil. So much for those exotic, high-end olive oils retailed in ornate bottles -- too much work for the food cops to determine whether the law is being broken.
Owner Emilio Vitolo said he'll fight the summons because the oil in question was peanut oil -- one that doesn't contain the offending fats. He insisted that he never uses trans fats in preparing his meals.

Workers at nearly every restaurant contacted by The Post said the infractions were for stray containers of spreads or oils that hadn't been tossed out -- and they insisted their cooking is trans-fat-free.

"I didn't know [the new rules] applied to bakeries as of yet," said Rajandra Mahase, owner of Little Guyana Bake Shop in Queens.

That's also news to the Health Department -- from a recent press release: "This first phase of the regulation applies to oils, shortening and margarines used for frying and as spreads. It does not apply to baked goods or prepared foods, or to oils used to deep-fry dough or cake batter. Those products are covered by the second phase of the initiative, which takes effect on July 1, 2008."

And all this while the science behind the ban is dubious at best.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Councilman Oddo Threatens to 'Beat the S**t Out of' a Female Reporter; Daily News Cheers

Councilman James Oddo would appear to want nothing more than to go down as the guy who pried metal baseball bats from the hands of New York City's little leaguers. The Staten Island councilman, a self-described "conservative Republican," insists wooden bats are far safer.

It's a good thing bats of either variety were absent from his recent interview on Ricket's Rost, a Colbert Report-type fake-news show in Norway. After Oddo quickly realized he was to be made the butt of a joke, he called in his assistant and demanded an explanation. Anger then morphed into rage: "Get the fuck out of my office!" Sixteen f-bombs later, fully inebriated by his own rage, Oddo threatens "to beat the shit out of" the interviewer, a cute 26-year-old Scandinavian comedienne.

Today The Daily News editorializes in favor of Oddo's outburst. "We salute the man as a genuine Stand-Up New Yorker," the editorialists write. "Our compliments."

Here's the video -- judge for yourself whether his behavior is commendable:

Oddo's mistake was his own, in that he believed European media was actually interested in seriously interviewing him. While it's certainly understandable that he was upset his time was being wasted on a prank, it takes a righteous sense of self-importance to fly off the handle so quickly. A classier, cleverer man would have turned the joke back around on his interlocutor -- "May I ask you something? Is it true that only left-handed Norwegians know how to read?" Or, "On what day does Thor's birthday fall? Or are there other holidays you pagans celebrate?"

A great statesman Oddo is not. At least as compared to masters like Winston Churchill. When Lady Astor huffed, "If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your coffee," Winston curtly replied, "If I were your husband, I'd drink it!" My colleague John Wilson reminds me of another: Once at a dinner party, a woman at the prime minister's table angrily accuses him of being drunk, to which Winston responds, "This may be well and true, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly."

These of course require being quick witted and bright. Oddo instead is just your stock school-yard bully.

Full disclosure: I am eminently biased on this subject. As part of my day job I was once required to call up Mr. Oddo to ask whether his bat-banning bill included a school-budget supplemental to finance the costs of replacing the wooden bats that would inevitably break throughout the season. Oddo was displeased The Post's editorial page would be weighing in against the ban yet again, shouting words to the effect of, "You f*cking think I'm going to f*cking give you the bullets to shoot me down. You've already shot me down three f*cking times. I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid." It was pretty much like the video, except that it went on for about 10 minutes. Here's the editorial.

Dr. Frieden, Call Your Office

New York City may have already sicced its food cops on anyone using trans-fats, but according to a new report, that may have been premature. John Tierney reports in yesterday's New York Times:

In 1988, the surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, proclaimed ice cream to a be public-health menace right up there with cigarettes. Alluding to his office’s famous 1964 report on the perils of smoking, Dr. Koop announced that the American diet was a problem of “comparable” magnitude, chiefly because of the high-fat foods that were causing coronary heart disease and other deadly ailments.

He introduced his report with these words: “The depth of the science base underlying its findings is even more impressive than that for tobacco and health in 1964.”

That was a ludicrous statement, as Gary Taubes demonstrates in his new book meticulously debunking diet myths, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” (Knopf, 2007). The notion that fatty foods shorten your life began as a hypothesis based on dubious assumptions and data; when scientists tried to confirm it they failed repeatedly. The evidence against Häagen-Dazs was nothing like the evidence against Marlboros.

Read the whole thing. It's a fascinating take on how one myth can cascade into conventional wisdom. This seems to be exactly what's happened with fears of secondhand smoke.

The Tyranny of 'Universal' Health Care

No matter how chippy the Democratic presidential primary eventually becomes, at least the candidates will always be able to agree on the nation's pressing need for "universal" health coverage. Every major Democratic candidate has such a plan, the idea being that only this way will the country's "49 million" uninsured find reprieve. But government-run health insurance carries unintended consequences -- chief among them is a loss of civil liberty.

In today's D.C. Examiner, I have a piece exploring how national health coverage necessarily entails a loss of personal freedom. After comparisons to what Mayor Bloomberg has done here in New York City, the piece concludes:

Universal coverage invites Congress to legislate approved lifestyles. And this while a recent Gallup poll finds that Americans now “express less trust in the federal government than at any point in the past decade, and trust in many federal government institutions is now lower than it was during the Watergate era.” Don’t like the decisions politicians are making for you? Have fun lobbying both houses of Congress to relinquish their new power.

The last few years have demonstrated that rare is the place politicians are unwilling to tread in the name of public health. Delegating greater responsibility to the government is a bad bargain that will inevitably lead not to better care, but to increased coercion.

Here's the whole thing.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Huffington's Huff of the Day

An oldie, from the day after Milton Friedman died:
"Did you hear? Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning University of Chicago economist, just died. 94 years old. It's true, only the good die young. Milton Friedman never had a moment of self-doubt in his life. And people without self-doubt always go straight to the burning torments of Hades. ... I'm glad he's dead. Not as glad as I was when Nixon died. Nixon knew what he did was evil. Friedman didn't know and didn't care what part of his work was right and what part wrong." -- Playwright Jeff Dorchen

John McCain's Daughter

Looks like a character from The Hills.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Funk Fund - Week 4

Merely for the sake of science, here are this week's bets, per week one's guidelines:

-- $20 6-point teaser on Giants (-3.5), Green Bay (-3) & New Orleans (-3.5) (payout: $52)
-- $10 straight bets on Giants, Green Bay & New Orleans (payout: $20 each)
-- $5 3-game parlay on Giants, Green Bay & New Orleans (payout: $36)

This week's total possible payout: $145

Current account balance: $-40

Friday, October 5, 2007

Isn't This What the Soviets Did?

Nanny-state operatives make kids rat out their parents' illicit behavior.

At what point will people say enough, I wonder? Ever?

Quote of the Day

"In a poll that should be shocking, but isn't, one out of of five Democrats think the world would be a better place if the U.S. lost the war. This means that four out of five Democrats are not being represented by their party." -- Rush Limbaugh

Real People, Fake Products!

A friend of the FunkyPundit, Matt McClain, is now writing for Super Deluxe. Enjoy one of his first skits:

Huffington's Huff of the Day

Introducing a new feature here on FunkyPundit. First, a little background: Every morning my in-box receives the Huffington Post's "Daily Brief." Generally I'll click the most offensive sounding article, read it, take umbrage, contemplate commenting, think better of it (why get lost in the weeds of pointless argument?), consider a blog response, think better of it, then, finally go on about my day, rather satisfied my life involves more than venting on a website.

Today it occurred to me that a typical Huff Post -- fallaciously argued, self-defeatingly offensive -- demands no riposte. Really, they speak for themselves. Just reprinting selected passages will do the work a thousand bloggers could not.

The first installment comes courtesy of actor Steven Weber commenting on President Bush's veto of a bill that would move two million children with private health coverage into inferior, government-run care -- it's a twofer:
"[National health care] is what the Commies would have done had they won the Cold War instead of us. They would have overrun their newly conquered slaves with affordable health care, those savages."

"George Bush would rather spend a trillion to kill Iraqi children than 35 billion to save American children."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Al Gore Debates Global Warming!

After refusing countless invitations to debate a global warming skeptic, the folks over at have gone ahead and sponsored a debate on his behalf:

Steve Milloy explains the value:
Last March, the prestigious New York debating society Intelligence Squared sponsored a debate on global warming, which may be viewed here. A pre-debate poll indicated that, by 2-to-1 (57 percent to 29 percent, with 14 percent undecided), the audience believed that manmade global warming was a crisis. But in the post-debate poll, the audience reversed its pre-debate views - the ranks of the skeptics swelled to 46 percent, the believers plummeted to 42 percent and the undecided declined slightly to 12 percent.

"That's the power of debate," said Milloy. "Though Al Gore aggressively promotes global warming alarmism, he unfortunately seems to lack confidence in his ability to debating climate change against others. But Al Gore's curious reluctance will hardly stop the public from being able to see how his points stack up against that of climate experts," Milloy concluded.

America Falling Behind

The Pew Global Attitudes Project is releasing a survey today showing that while the rest of the world is moving ahead, Americans are becoming less understanding of the values in free trade. A few key findings:
  • Large majorities think international trade is benefiting their country and multinational corporations that dominate global commerce generally receive favorable ratings.
  • Still, enthusiasm for global trade has waned over the last five years in the West, especially in the United States.
  • In most countries, majorities think people are better off under capitalism, even though that means some may be rich and others poor.
  • Support for capitalism increased most in Latin American and Eastern European nations where satisfaction with income and personal progress have increased markedly over the past five years.
This would seem to confirm the WSJ poll Karol highlights: Republicans Grow Skeptical on Free Trade:
The poll shows that six in 10 Republicans believe free trade has harmed the U.S. economy by reducing demand for domestic goods, wiping out American jobs and importing products that may be unsafe.
The solution, I think, is obvious: People need to stop watching Lou Dobbs!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Jimmy Rollins, Prophet?

Last January the Philadelphia Phillies shortstop caused a stir in predicting the Fightin' Phils were "the team to beat" in the National League East -- this despite the Mets only looking stronger than last year's near-World Series season. Well, 162 games later, the Phils fought from a disappointing, last-place start to the division title. The late-season surge marked the biggest comeback in Major League Baseball history, having been down seven games as recently as Sept. 12th. It's the first time in 14 years they've reached the playoffs, but for this Phillies fan, it seems far longer than that.

What accounts for this dramatic comeback? Many of the qualities that animated, and I do mean animated, the '93 team are seen in this team. Think of '93's stand-out players -- Lenny Dykstra, Darren Daulten, Micky Morandini, John Kruk, Mitch "The Wild Thing" Williams, Pete Inkavelia ... these weren't coddled, well-manicured professional athletes, but a rag-tag bunch of hard-nosed ballplayers who hustle every play and only blame themselves when things don't go well. Today's Phillies -- Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand -- exhibit many of the same qualities: a lot of personality, little ego, and an obvious passion. No steroid scandals here. In the last stretch, the Phillies late-game bullpen -- J.C. Romero, "Flash" Gordon, Brett Myers -- were being worked like dogs. Asked how his body was holding up, Myers said concerns for his physical health could wait; the playoffs were his priority.

Contrast this with the Mets, where instead of collective sense of purpose competing egos tore the team apart. Billy Wagner, a former Phils closer now with the Mets, blamed Mets Manager Willie Randolph and pitching coach Rick Wilson for the bullpen's late season fall-off. "We've been throwing four innings a night!" he whined to New York Magazine. "[Wilson] has no idea what if feels like. And neither does Willie. They're not a lot of help, put it that way." It's attitudes like that that plague a club house. (After Wagner left the Phils, he criticised the team for apparently not sharing his own professional qualities. Burrell said Wagner is "a rat.")

Anyway, congrats to my boys. The last two times they've made the playoffs, they reached the World Series. My prediction of a Yanks/Phillies series is looking less ridiculous every day!