Archive for April, 2007

Second Verse

Monday, April 30th, 2007

same as the first:

The partial report by a government-appointed committee probing the Second Lebanon War on Monday accused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of “severe failure” in exercising judgment, responsibility and caution during the outset of the war.

The report, officially released at a 5 P.M. press conference in Jerusalem on Monday, says Olmert acted hastily in leading the country to war last July 12, without having a comprehensive plan.

Seems to be a trend, doesn’t it?

Montana: Oro y Plata y Dinero de Colorado

Saturday, April 28th, 2007

Colorado has a money problem:

9Wants to Know discovered Colorado is failing to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from some drivers, which could pay to repair the roads. The drivers are avoiding state taxes by registering their expensive vehicles in states like Montana that have no sales tax and low registration fees. The drivers form a business entity in Montana which then can legally register the vehicles in Montana.

Why is it happening?

Drivers who avoid Colorado taxes by illegally registering their expensive motor homes, cars, boats and planes out of state complain that Colorado state taxes and registration fees are too high.

But leave it to the crack squad at 9News to answer that assertion boldly!

But it’s not true.

Well, that settles it.

Actually, let’s look at what they say to justify the “it’s not true” response:

A review by 9NEWS shows other than five states that have no sales tax, Colorado has the lowest state sales tax in the nation at 2.9 percent.

Which is then piled upon by counties and cities and transportation agencies also looking to make a buck, with the end result that I pay closer to 9 percent than, you know, 3 percent. This doesn’t make much of a difference when buying a week’s worth of groceries, but if you’re buying an $80,000 motorhome…

However, the complaint is not that the sales tax is too high compared to other states, but that it is too high in general. If California jacked their sales tax to 92%, it wouldn’t save me a penny in Colorado. Similarly, if the State of Colorado kicked me in the nuts weekly, it wouldn’t make me feel better for them to justify it by saying “yes, but Florida does it hourly.”

End result: I’m going to buy a big ol’ Montana cup for my goolies.

Colorado’s motor vehicle registration fees are also among the lowest in the country, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Colorado ranks 35th out of 50 states for motor vehicle fees per capita.

Per capita strikes me as a pretty useless measure for comparing motor vehicle registration fees between states. Not only do the fees vary, but so do the demographics and the infrastructure that can affect how many actually buy vehicles – and what kind they buy.

How about an actual comparison of fees paid on a specific model and year of vehicle?

I’ll start you off: in 2006, the registration fee for my 2006 Ford Fusion was almost $500. This year it was nigh on $400. Conversely, in Alabama, when I bought my 1996 Mazda MX-6, my registration fee was maybe $80-100. I think by the time I left, I was paying a whopping $17 a year or so. It’s going to be quite some time before my Fusion costs so little to have the right to put it on the roads of Colorado.

And, mind you, this car only cost $24000.

So, yes, 9News, the problem is that sales tax and registrations are too high in Colorado; missing the point and creatively playing with numbers won’t change that. Continuing to assess these rates, rather than seeking something more reasonable, is the difference between collecting nothing and collecting something – and that leaves one’s face without a nose.

Oh, to Have a Second Life…

Friday, April 27th, 2007

So, on a whim, former WWR-contributor Tom and I checked out the massively multi-player virtual world of Second Life last night.

Maybe we’re missing something, but – as Tom pointed out – what is the appeal in living a virtual life that is actually more dull than your real life?

Sure, maybe I can’t fly in the real world, but I can drink real beer, go to real restaurants, and touch real boobies. I guess at least two of those are ruled out when some folks live in their mom’s basement though.

Seriously, are we missing something? Help a coupla brothas out, yo.

New Canceled Fox Series: Drive

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Well, that sucks: they lure you in with a big promotional campaign, get you interested (at least somewhat) in who wins and why they’re racing, and then…

They go and cancel the damn show.

How am I supposed to spend my Monday nights if I can’t gawk at the ever-so-cute Melanie Lynskey and the “why can’t my character find a bra to hold these things properly” Mircea Monroe? And, you know, worry about if they’ll win the race – and, maybe, if there’s a tie, they have to make out with each other or something. Indeed, in order to win, WHO CAN MAKE OUT THE LONGEST??

See, if I was writing the show, it wouldn’t have been canceled.

Public Service Announcement – A Series

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Hey, you – are you one of those people who uses the self-checkout at the grocery store and then pays with a handwritten check?

Do you realize that this is actually slower than letting the cashier ring you up, because you could be making out your check while they scan items? And you wouldn’t have to walk it over to them for approval? And you wouldn’t have to walk back to wait for your receipt?

In short: you’re being dumb.

Now, knock it off.

OK?

Note: A similar sentiment applies to those people who wait until the cashier is done ringing them up to remember they need to find their checkbook, as well as those who will spend three minutes looking through every produce menu on the machine to find “cilantro” rather than just reading the PLU codes on the sheet taped to the machine.

How Rare is Our Earth?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

I’ve no idea, but it’s looking less rare than before:

The most enticing property yet found outside our solar system is about 20 light years away in the constellation Libra, a team of European astronomers said today…

It is the smallest of the 200 or so planets that are now known to exist outside of our solar system, called extrasolar or exoplanets. Moreover, it orbits its home star within the so-called habitable zone where surface water, the staff of life, could exist if other conditions are right, said Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory.

“We are at the right place for that,” said Dr. Udry, the lead author of a paper describing the discovery that has been submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Yes, it is too soon to say very much about this planet – but it does begin to kick the legs out from under yet another creationist argument: that our planet is situated “just so.” And we found this within 20 light years of Earth, which is nothing compared to the billions of light years which comprise the universe; planets within the habitable zone would seem to be, statistically, quite common.

American Idol: (Almost) Live Recap, April 24, 2007 – Idol Gives Back

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Tonight is the charity event “Idol Gives Back.” Just watched Simon and Ryan poking about a poor African village.

Oddly, when Simon says that it’s horrible and wrong for people to live in such abject poverty, I’m reminded that he lives with millions and millions of dollars – he could bathe in the stuff. Of course, I am pretty comfortable myself, so perhaps that makes me a bit of a hypocrite – but it makes Simon like a million times bigger hypocrite. So there.

My conscience is eased, for at least the next hour.

Up first, it’s Curious George Richardson…I see he’s brought his trademark raised eyebrows, cheesy grin, and head wag. That doesn’t bode well.

Wow, who thought that changing the world could be so damned boring? Although the run at the end was decent I suppose.

Apparently the judges were piping in a different song than the one I was hearing.

Melinda Doolittle: OK, I missed all that because of the family. Was it any good? She’s a consistent performer, so I’m not too worried that she mangled anything.

Blake Lewis: Hmmm, did he just turn a classic into a lame version as if it were performed by Keane while stoned?

I think what “Imagine” really needs is some human beatboxing to communicate the essence of world peace and love.

Lakisha Jones: Decent performance, although I think her star has faded since the first weeks. Perhaps she shone so brightly back then because the comparisons were being made to, oh, Haley’s boobs and not Haley’s voice.

Phil Stacey: Sorry, Ewan is lying on the floor and screaming… not sure if it’s because of Phil’s performance or because we told the boy to quit playing with his peepee in front of the family. Must deal with this crisis…

…ok, emergency situation has passed.

Now, about Phil. Yeah, that was ok, although the song choice was dull. I guess “Friends in Low Places” isn’t really an inspiration-in-the-face-of-suffering ditty.

Jordin Sparks: Since Jordin is 27 feet tall, I’m guessing that set she’s on must be a good 30 feet. Now, about the performance: I like Jordin, but I must confess I only understood about 27% of what she was singing.

She could be the Michael Stipe of American Idol at this rate.

And that’s that…did I miss Bono?

If so, I shall console myself with the Ujena Bikini Jam airing on the channel next door.

In The WWR Kitchen: A Series

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Tonight’s dinner? Glad you asked!

Crisp Chicken Tacos with Tomato-Cucumber Salsa, served with a Chateau St. Michelle Riesling to offset the burn of the serrano peppers in the salsa.

My only complaint with the recipe provided is that the suggestion of frying each taco for 1-2 minutes per side in the hot oil is far too much, at least on my stove. Forty-five seconds per side was plenty. Next time around, I might try a good quality pepper jack cheese as well for some extra kick.

All in all, though, I give this a yum factor of 42,928 monkeys out of a possible 50,027.

The Dawkins Factor

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

Thanks to Janus Online for pointing out that the Richard Dawkins / Bill O’Reilly segment is available now on YouTube.



I’ve only watched the first few moments and O’Reilly opens up with the argument from personal incredulity (i.e. “I can’t believe this all happened like science says, so you lose.”).

His intellect continues to astound.

Let’s see if it gets any better…

Oh, lordy:

I’m throwin’ in with Jesus, rather than be thrown in with you guys, because you guys can’t tell me how it all got here.

The thinking here continues to amaze, does it not? “Modern science doesn’t have all the answers, so I’m going to bank on a 2000+ year old book of stories written by ignorant men in the Middle East. Take that, atheist!”

Shortly followed up by the “it’s true for me” and “you can’t prove Jesus isn’t God” arguments. Wow.

Now it’s time for “look at all the people atheism has killed!” – demonstrating that O’Reilly’s understanding of political systems and motivations is pretty much akin to his understanding of, well, just about anything more complex than a ham sandwich.

And then closing with what can best be called “God exists because religion is the opiate of the masses.”

Um, huh?

Well, that segment added exactly nothing of value to the national discourse on atheism. The most enjoyable part was Dawkins’ continuous smirk in response to O’Reilly’s idiocy.

P.S. Bill, the next time you have a guest on the show and plug their book, you might actually want to read it – or, preferably, understand it.

Only in San Francisco…

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Should the Blue Angels be allowed to continue their performances over cities?

Good golly, no, it scares the dogs and cats.

I like to think that the SF Gate picks people with extreme opinions, if only because these nutjobs make Boulder look like a bastion of conservative reason.

(found via Angie)