Pie in the Eye

Alright, I have to address something posted by my good buddy Wertz over at his blog, The Wertz Generation. Here is Wertz’ post:

Kristol Kreme

You may be thinking, “OK, dude, just reply over at his blog.” Well, it’s not going to happen.

See, I like Wertz. He’s a great guy. We originally met online after he liked what he saw over at America’s Debate. He joined up and “got it” right away. He was one of the first two staffers ever on the site, the other one being the wonderful Cyan.

Wertz and I have met in person several times, and he has even enjoyed the hospitality that is my humble home. We have had several engaging debates live and in person, and Wertz knows that I will often take a very odd position to make a point.

I don’t intend for my comments to be seen as mean, rude, hateful, or disrespectful. Any perception of this by The Wertz Generation audience would be mistaken. I don’t want to cause trouble over at Wertz’ site (although I really don’t want to cause trouble over here either!). So, out of respect for Wertz, I am not going to post this at his blog.

So, let me cut my comment from Wertz’ reply form and paste it into mine:

You may have heard that Bill Kristol, neocon founder of the Project for the New American Century and one of the greatest enemies this country has ever had, got pied while addressing students at Earlham College the other night.

Kristol-1 Kristol-2 Kristol-3

This innocuous act of civil disobedience has apparently caused even more outrage than the attempted “assault” on Anne Coulter a few months ago, with calls for the expulsion of the students involved. Puh-lease. This was a joke – and the mildest possible response to someone like Kristol, who is lucky he wasn’t driven off campus by villagers brandishing pitchforks and torches (as he would be in any setting which harbored a handful of genuine patriots).

Best take on the incident is from Rising Hegemon. Hilarious!

Hypocrisy at its finest here!

Let’s look past the political prejudice and emotion and look at the State of Indiana’s laws, shall we? Bear in mind that I don’t agree with either of the assaulted parties.

(Impertinent parts edited out)
Battery
Sec. 1. (a) A person who knowingly or intentionally touches another person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner commits battery, a Class B misdemeanor.

IC 35-42-2-3
Provocation
Sec. 3. A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in conduct that is likely to provoke a reasonable man to commit battery commits provocation, a Class C infraction.

Yep, that sure seems to be battery and provocation to me, both misdemeanors.

Let’s look at the Ann Coulter situation, which occurred in Arizona. Arizona law reads:

(Impertinent parts edited out)
13-1203. Assault; classification

A. A person commits assault by:

3. Knowingly touching another person with the intent to injure, insult or provoke such person.

OK, so it was a misdemeanor there, too. And, they were arrested.

So what is the lesson here? The law is the law unless The Wertz Generation disagrees.

Let’s extend this with a hypothetical. Let’s say that someone, for whatever reason, decided to throw a pie in the face of a speaker at a homosexual rights rally.

The Wertz Generation would be outraged. There would be calls for arrest, and if it happened at a university at the hand a student, there would surely be calls for suspension or expulsion.

Charges of “assault” would be cried from the treetops! The “law only applies when it favors me” crowd would be calling for prosecution under hate crime statutes– after all, the victim was gay.

And The Wertz Generation would applaud in hypocrisy.

FBI Declares Earthquake Not Terrorism

(3-28-2005) 4:32PM EST – Washington, DC.

The FBI announced this afternoon that it has ruled-out terrorism as a cause of today’s magnitude 8.7 earthquake that rumbled off the northwestern coast of Indonesia.

“While the cause of the earthquake is yet to be determined,” the U.S. government’s Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin on its Web site issued almost three hours after the quake, “the FBI had already ruled out terrorism as a cause as early as last Friday.” The U.S. Geological Survey is still investigating the cause of the massive earthquake.

Calls to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III were not immediately returned.

Savannah NWR and Harris Neck NWR

Last weekend, Jaime and I went out to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.

The Savannah NWR is only about fifteen or twenty minutes north of here. The entrance is in South Carolina, but it is geographically large, encompassing some 28,000 acres and spanning two states and three counties (Chatham and Effingham Counties, GA and Jasper County, SC).

Jaime and I have made the short trip up to the Savannah NWR a number of times to view the wildlife and take some photos. We have seen alligators on every single trip to the refuge except one, that being our very first trip in mid-January, the coldest time of the year here in Savannah. On any given trip, you are bound to see about a dozen or so gators, even if you never venture more than five feet from your car. During mating season, however, you can expect to see several dozen. Our record was somewhere in the neighborhood of forty or fifty in an hour and a half, I think.

There are no fences that separate you from the gators– only your common sense, and federal law. That’s right, the gators are federally protected. Feed them, throw rocks at them, or harass them in any way, and you could lose your right to vote! These are some important gators.

Most of the time we go to the refuge, we take the four-mile wildlife drive, and stop periodically to explore some of the dikes. This time, however, we decided to hike several miles into an area that is only accessible by foot. It was beautiful back there, and we got to see some wildlife that normally avoids the higher-traffic area around the road.

I’ve posted some pictures in my photo gallery:

3.19.2005 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

If you would like to view other pictures of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, you can check some of these out, as well:
06.07.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
05.24.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
04.10.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
01.11.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

We went to Harris Neck NWR the day after. I discovered it while looking up the Savannah NWR, and we decided to check it out. It’s about an hour south of here, so we loaded the bikes up on the car and headed out.

Harris Neck NWR is about a tenth the size of the Savannah NWR, but it has more paved areas to ride bikes. The refuge is a combination of saltwater marsh, forest, and open fields. About 1200 acres of the refuge consist of an old airport that was originally built by the appropriately-named Department of War for use during WWII. The property was eventually transferred to the county to use as an airport, and they in turn mismanaged it to the point that the federal government took it back. It was established as a refuge in 1962.

The triangular runway and taxiways have cracks all over them, and we pretty much concluded that people put them there. The plants have grown in the cracks to make a strange landscape. At several points, the cracks have been taken over by little cactuses.

There is a rather large pond at the refuge that was brimming with animals of all sorts. There were four or five groves of trees on little islands in this pond filled with what I think are called great egrets. There were probably several hundred of these huge white birds.

Here is the photo album from Harris Neck:

3.20.2005 Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

In the future, we’re thinking about going to the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge up in South Carolina, and we’re also considering going camping in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a massive twenty-five miles by thirty-eight miles across, totaling about 396,000 acres!

Until then…

(not) Terrorism.

I am quite frustrated by the fact that the FBI is so quick to announce that an event was “not terrorism.” They do it all the time.

Do you remember the power outage in the northeast in August 2003? That was declared “not terrorism” the same day the blackout occurred.

There are countless other examples that I do not feel like researching right now. Sorry.

Today’s FBI-jump-to-judgment is brought to you by the BP explosion in Texas. Again, the FBI declared that it was not terrorism on the same day as the incident.

Now, how exactly can the FBI make these determinations so fast?

The investigation regarding the September 11th, 2001 attacks took years. Years!

But any other event is immediately “not terrorism.”

FBI = Federal Bureau of InstantDeterminationsOfNonTerrorism.

St. Patricks’ Day Yesterday, Buddy Guy Tonight

So yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day. For those of you who don’t know, St. Patrick’s Day is a huge deal in Savannah.

Our little city of a couple hundred thousand doubles in size for a few days. Our riverfront is perpetually packed, our parade is massive, and the beer flows continuously.

We headed out to the parade yesterday for a couple of hours. The weather was pretty crummy– about 48 degrees. Compare this to last year when it was in the 70s, I believe, and you can see that it was a bit chilly. It looked like rain all day, but we were lucky enough to stay dry.

The parade was fairly uneventful. The weather really seemed to put a damper on everything. We basically hiked the parade in reverse, starting at the tail end of the starting point, and ending up at the end of the parade. Apparently we move faster than the marchers.

I did get to take a few pictures, and a couple of them actually turned out OK. Here is my favorite:

St. Patrick's Day

TONIGHT we’ll be heading out to the Trustees Theater to see Buddy Guy. I can’t wait!

I’ve seen him quite a few times– three or four times at Legend’s, once at the Rockford Waterfront Festival, once at the Rosemont Theater with BB King, and another time or two I can’t remember.

If you haven’t seen Buddy Guy before, you must see him. His is the best blues guitarist alive, and will blow you away.

Mike

These people are clueless

Naperville ranked No. 1 least stressful city
Naperville (Illinois) is Number One in a ranking of the nation’s least stressful cities.
American City Business Journals publishes metropolitan business newspapers and came up with the listing after a study of 245 cities with more than 100-thousand residents.

The group says Naperville earned the top spot because of its high incomes, low unemployment and stable families. (Naperville is about 30 miles west of Chicago)

Alright, I speak from firsthand experience on this one. I have been to Naperville, IL, many many times. Well, that’s not entirely accurate– I’ve been through Naperville many times. It is not the kind of place most people want to be.

So, I did some research on the group that did the study. Here is a link to an article written by the people who actually commissioned the study. They require a login, so you can use bill@nowhere.com for the login name and bugmenot as the password.

Here’s what they say:

The seven factors included in ACBJ’s study were:

* Percentage of people living below the federally designated poverty level
* Ratio of households with low annual incomes (below $25,000) to those with high incomes (above $100,000)
* Unemployment rate
* Percentage of adults (25 or older) who didn’t graduate from high school
* Percentage of households defined by the Census Bureau as “linguistically isolated,” meaning that no one older than 13 speaks English well
* Percentage of families headed by one adult, with no spouse present
* Percentage of homes sitting vacant (not including vacation homes)

Let’s rebut these points, shall we?

Percentage of people living below the federally designated poverty level:

The percent of people living below the federally designated poverty level in Naperville is very low. This is caused by incredibly inflated real estate prices, encompassing both purchases and rentals. For a one bedroom apartment in Naperville, you are looking at approximately $1,000 – $1,500 per month. That is quite a lot of money, considering that I can name at least 10 suburbs within 20 miles of Naperville where rentals cost about half of that or less, and purchases significantly lower as well.

Ratio of households with low annual incomes (below $25,000) to those with high incomes (above $100,000):

When you price poor people out of your market, is it a surprise that they don’t live in your city?

Unemployment rate:

You’re damn right there is a low unemployment rate in Naperville. If you are unemployed and you live in Naperville, your first order of business– even before finding a job– is to relocate to one of the less-expensive suburbs that are relatively close to Naperville.

Percentage of adults (25 or older) who didn’t graduate from high school:

Yep, this percent is low. Is it a surprise that people with money complete high school at a greater rate than people without money? Compare these numbers to geographically-close locations: Aurora, West Chicago, etc.

Percentage of households defined by the Census Bureau as “linguistically isolated,” meaning that no one older than 13 speaks English well:

Well, duh. Naperville is surrounded by poorer areas, with Aurora and West Chicago being holding the largest hispanic population of the surrounding cities (judging from observation). Of course the number of “linguistically isolated” communities is lower– the hispanics are not welcome in Naperville. How do I know this? Well, try to buy a house without being a legal citizen of the US. Try passing the credit check required to get an apartment when you are here illegally, paid only cash, and don’t have a social security number. Naperville has shut out the hispanics.

Percentage of families headed by one adult, with no spouse present:

Honestly, I’m surprised at this one. With the amount of money in the area, and the apparent lack of sense from the residents (speaking from experience now), I would have placed my money on the divorced family being the most prominent in Naperville. But, I guess that the divorced families have less money, and therefore move outside of Naperville as soon as possible.

Percentage of homes sitting vacant (not including vacation homes)

The homes are not vacant because of reports like this. Reports that tell people that Naperville is the place to be, when in actuality it is a miserable place to be.

Now, let me explain why I hate Naperville. I can sum it up with one word, and I am confident that every single reader can relate to this. It is one of the largest causes of stress in many peoples’ lives:

TRAFFIC

Naperville has the worst traffic in the western ‘burbs. It is known as “the land of the two hour left turn.”

During morning and evening commutes, you are simply not allowed to make a left hand turn in many places.

Simply driving through Naperville will drive you nuts if you are like me. I like driving the speed limit, and then a little bit more. That is simply not an option in Naperville. A 5 mile ride will take a good 20-30 minutes.

If that’s not stress, I don’t know what is.

So, to all you folks in Naperville, enjoy your rich, English speaking, booksmart, white bread community. You’ll see a lot of it while waiting in traffic.

Suckers.

Throwing Stones

So this morning started like every other morning. We’ve only got one car, so Jaime and I headed out to drop her at work at ten to nine. The ride is only about 2.5 miles, so it is usually pretty quick. But not today.

Today, as we drove at 35 miles per hour in a thirty five mile per hour zone, a girl, if you can call her that, decided to whip a rock at my car. It hit my windshield and bounced off. I though I saw someone throw it at us, but wasn’t sure. Then, Jaime says, “That girl just threw a rock at the car. I saw her do it!” I immediately pull a u-turn, and stop in the middle turn lane, right in front of these kids.

Now, calling them kids is not entirely accurate. One was definitely older, and could have quite possibly been the mother. See, Savannah’s poor has a major parenting problem. Well, I’m not sure if it’s a parenting problem. It’s more of a “lack of parenting” problem. I just don’t understand how you can not spend time with your children when the government provides everything for you– a home, food stamps (via the poor-life-lesson EBT card), healthcare(I assume), and even fully prepared meals served for free to their children at school. But I’ve digressed.

If I were to guess ages, I would place these three girls at about 6, 7, and about 14. Jaime says that the older was more like 12, but I don’t think so. She seemed to be the “parent figure” of the group.

So, I pull up, put my car into park, and get out. I tell the girls, from the middle of the road, that I don’t appreciate the fact that they are throwing rocks at vehicles moving at 35 miles per hour. The oldest says, “We didn’t throw no rocks at yo’ car,” to which Jaime replied, “I saw you do it.”

At this point, this little girl– the older one, likely charged with ensuring her two little sisters arrived at school safely– takes off running! She gets about 50 feet away, and her other sister– the 7 year old– takes off behind her, leaving their 6 year old sister standing on the side of the road with no supervision at all! Great example to set.

I couldn’t believe it. I wondered where they were running, so I looked around. It turns out that there was a police officer on the other side of the park, and she was headed to cry to him. Of course, that wasn’t going to fly.

I pulled around the corner, right up to the officer. They’re already telling their story to him, and I can’t imagine what they were saying. I walked up to the officer, and said, “Sir, that girl (pointing to the oldest) threw a rock at my car. We watched her do it.”

He walks over to look at my car, and I stated that it hit my windshield and bounced off, likely causing no damage. I told him, “That isn’t the point though. These girls should not be throwing rocks at cars, plain and simple. This is a public roadway, and people are traveling to work while trying to remain cautious of the children that are walking to school. Throwing rocks at cars is unacceptable.”

The officer agreed, and apologized. Why he apologized, I don’t know. He did nothing wrong.

But, this girl, the rock thrower, still insists that she didn’t throw a rock. We call her on her lie, and tell her we saw her do it. There was no denying that she threw the rock (Imagine– a 14 year old girl thinking she could out-debate the owners of a debate site!).

She says, “I’m sorry. Do you believe me?”

I say, “Of course not. I don’t believe you for a second. You threw a rock and lied about it, why would I believe you are sorry?”

The cop said, “I’ll take care of this.”

We thanked him for his time and effort, and continue on our way.

My Government Is Bigger Than Your Government

My Government Is Bigger Than Your Government. It’s not a title I really like, but it’s a title nonetheless. It makes the point that I will make, short and sweet.

Consider:

  • This Article.
    China now has 46 million government bureaucrats, new statistics revealed yesterday, a number almost as great as the entire population of England.

  • These Statistics. 1,301,206,312 people in China.
  • These Statistics. 295,621,225 people in the US.
  • This Math. 1,301,206,312 divided by 295,621,225 equals 4.4. China’s population is 4.4 times bigger than the population of the US.
  • This Math. 41,000,000 (bureaucrats in China) divided by 4.4 (population factor between China and US) equals 9,318,182. If China were the size of the US, it would have 9,318,182 bureaucrats.
  • These Statistics. Government jobs in 2003: 16.6 % of the total non-agriculture workforce of 129,900,900 = 21,563,549 government jobs.
  • These Statistics. There are 1,416,275 people enlisted in our military.
  • This Math. 21,563,549 (# of government employees) minus 1,416,275 (enlisted military) equals 20,147,274 bureaucrats.
  • This Math. 20,147,274 (number of US bureaucrats) divided by 9,318,182 (adjusted Chinese bureaucrats) equals 2.16. As a percent, this means that the US has 116% more bureaucrats per capita when compared to China.

Conclusion: The US government, factored on a per capita basis, is well over 2 times as large as the Chinese government.

The Deal King

For those of you who may not know it, I am a master when it comes to finding great deals. It has even earned me the nickname of “The Deal King” from some of my friends. If there’s anything you need, I can most likely find it for between 25% and 75% off retail.

How do I do it? That’s a secret. Well, actually, it’s not. I’ve made a list of websites that I’ve found that offer excellent deals on a wide variety of products. I check the sites every day, several times a day, in hopes of finding that amazing deal that just hit the web.

Now, I’m not about to give out my list of sites. It’s taken me several years to build this with sites that have a high signal-to-noise ratio for good deals. It seems that most of the deal sites out there are referral sites– the owner signs up with Commission Junction and Linkshare, and tries to pass off their coupon codes and promotions as legitimate good deals, which they are not. The sites I visit do use referral sites like these, but they do not limit their content exclusively to deals that make them money.

So, the other day, I stumbled upon this Omaha Steaks deal. Now, I fully understand that Omaha Steaks charge a premium price for their merchandise. Because of that, I would never buy their products at full price. Never. I do not enjoy getting ripped off.

Anyway, this deal I found is amazing. I ordered one of them, and was pleased with the discount I received. The order total, without shipping or the coupon code, would have been $205. With my discounts, the total was reduced 70.7% down to a total of $59.99. Not a bad deal at all, considering the product was initially very overpriced.

Yesterday, however, I called and cancelled my order. It turns out that I discovered this coupon code that would allow me to save even more. I called Omaha Steaks, and they contacted the warehouse to cancel the order. They were very friendly, and the call only took about 3 minutes from start to finish. They get an “A” for service so far, although I have a feeling that the customer service is only that good as a result of charging triple what their products are worth.

So anyway, here are the specs on this deal:

List price: $235
Final Price: $63.99
Shipping: $13.99
Out the door: $77.98

Here’s what I got:

The American Celebration $205.00 $59.99
4 (5 oz.) Filet Mignons
4 (5 oz.) Top Sirloins
4 (4 oz.) Boneless Pork Chops
2 (4.5 oz.) Stuffed Sole with Scallops and Crab
8 (3 oz.) Gourmet Franks
4 (4 oz.) Omaha Steaks Burgers
10 portions Potatoes au Gratin

For a true all-American feast, you can’t go wrong with this combo. You’ll find a wonderful variety including Omaha Steaks Filet Mignons and Top Sirloins. Plus, you’ll also get a delicious assortment of Omaha Steaks gourmet selections. It’s the perfect way to enjoy all your favorites!

2 (1 lb.) Packages Shrimp & Crab Parmesan Dip $30 $24 $4

Large pieces of shrimp and crab blended with quality ingredients to create a unique and versatile seafood appetizer. Just bake and serve hot as a dip or spread.

6 Burgers, Cutlery & Cutting Board

Free Gifts (free)
6-Piece Cutlery Set including an 8 inch Chef’s Knife, an 8 inch Carving Knife, Boning Knife, Utility Knife, Paring Knife and Sharpening Steel accompanied by a handy, dishwasher-safe cutting board. Plus, you’ll receive six old-fashioned Omaha Steaks Burgers absolutely FREE

Omaha Steaks Goodlife Guide & Cookbook

Here’s how you can get this deal, too:

  • Click this link to activate the $20 off $75 purchase coupon.
  • Click “Order From a Mailing” in the upper left underneath the search form.
  • Enter Priority code BA5085 and hit Continue.
  • Enter Item# 7819bbb
  • click Add to cart
  • Browse their catalog for another item of your choice totaling $15.01 or greater. I chose the Shrimp & Crab Parmesan Dip. Another cheaper option is the Italian Chicken, for about $24 as well. There are four of five items that come in for between $22 and $25. Add one of them.

NOTE: Make sure the $20 off $75 appears on your order before you supply your credit card information. If the discount doesn’t appear, clear your cookies, close your browser, reopen it, and try again. It will work.

If you order the same “filler item” that I bought, your order will end up costing $63.99 + $13.99 shipping = $77.98. Basically, that is 72.8% off their regular prices!

Enjoy, and don’t be afraid to send some to me as a gift. ;)

Mike