Iran Lends a Helping Hand

Mrs. Clinton is proving to be quite the diplomat – why, just today Iran promised to kill American troops in Iraq “help” in Afghanistan:

“I did think that the Iranian intervention this morning was promising,” she told reporters of Akhoundzadeh’s speech.

While Clinton did not hold discussions with the Iranian delegation, she said U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke had what she called brief and cordial contacts with Akhoundzadeh on the meeting sidelines.

It did not focus on anything substantive. It was cordial; it was unplanned and they agreed to stay in touch.”

Ah, shoot, I mixed up my quotes there. The last paragraph was actually a summary of Obama’s presidency.

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iTunes Is the Worst Program Ever

For a year or so I’ve been using Microsoft’s Zune software – despite the fact that I don’t have a Zune – because of how cool the online community features are. It’s a memory hog, it does janky things with your library’s metadata, and not all of your plays are tracked as they’re supposed to be. I’ve always felt a little guilty, operating on the assumption that iTunes was far superior software.

I was wrong. iTunes sucks. Want to add some music to your library? Give iTunes a few months to move everything… and convert it to a proprietary format. Want to get art for the 90% of your CDs whose album art was not recognized? You’ll have to sign in to the iTunes store. Then you’ll have to go to the website to confirm your identity. Then you’ll have to log in on the website again. Then when you’ve updated your account info (which requires you to provide a credit card), you’ll have to log back in through iTunes.

Congratulations! For all your trouble, you’ve earned the right to sync your music to your iPod. If you want to copy said music onto a different machine… good luck. If you connect a different iPod it will be logged in to your iTunes account, and you may have to smash it with a rock to sign it out. Each time you connect an unregistered iPod, it will try to register itself to your account until you’ve told it not to four times. If you need to charge someone else’s iPod, you’ll have to sync it with your library — or all the iPod’s contents will be deleted. Really, Apple? It takes some seriously aggravating “features” to make me wish I were using a Microsoft program.

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MSNBC is good for something

– a laugh. I went to Wendy’s for lunch, and made the mistake of sitting near the TV playing MSNBC instead of the one playing ESPN. Between a stilted interview that made it abundantly clear the afternoon host had no clue what she was talking about, there was a commercial for some of the network’s prime-time programming.

Cue President Obama gazing into the future, hopeful yet somber: splashed next to him, the words “Save the economy” as a voice-over asks “Will the American people support President Obama’s efforts to save the economy?” Followed by a dramatic flyby of the logo for Chris Matthews’ show, whose title should be changed to Slowpitch until the end of Obama’s term.

Here’s President Obama signing a bill, serious and triumphant, as the narrator asks, “Can President Obama’s budget make it past the Republican ‘No’ Machine?” A shot of Keith Olbermann looking, as ever, like San Francisco’s third-best used car salesman.

I wonder how often MSNBC teased a Bush-era broadcast with an implicit endorsement of Dubya’s attempts to “save” something. I wonder how many times Congressional Democrats were referred to as a No Machine (a contraption integral to the manufacture of NoesTM) from 2001-2008. It seems cruel that Robert Gibbs is forced to flounder through his daily press secretary responsibilities; why not cut costs by directing any questions for the Obama administration straight to MSNBC’s news headquarters?

What’s laughable is that people whine and cry about what partisan beasts Fox hosts are… and then return to watching MSNBC. Fact: Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann are clowns. If you think one is an angel and the other a demon, you too may qualify for oversized shoes and a squeaky nose! Unfair as Fox News may be in their selection of personalities, imagery, topics, and tone, let’s not pretend MSNBC is any fairer.

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Cultural Enrichmet: Dollhouse

This past Friday’s new episode of Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” turned a mediocre and entertaining show into a good, possibly great, show. Part way through the episode I began to expect some important characters to begin dying, but what actually happened was far better than I could have imagined. I like the direction the show is taking, and cannot wait for Alpha to be revealed (Alan Tudyk – crossing my fingers that the rumors are true).

Mr. Whedon continues to amaze me with his character development. Just as you begin to enjoy a character for who they are, they become awesome (typically by the way in which they die, but not always). If you still haven’t fallen in love with every character in “Firefly,” you should watch the series. I cannot imagine how a person would not enjoy that show. It has a good story, great cast, and every character is one to enjoy. Joss Whedon continues to impress with the characters in “Dollhouse,” even if the show is not as good as “Firefly” was.

If you haven’t caught any of the show, I believe you can catch up with most of it on Hulu – www.hulu.com (I would put a link in there, but that seems to be an issue with my blackberry, so you get the web address instead). For those of you out there who are not Whedonites, new episodes are on Fox every Friday at 9:00, enjoy the show!

[Update: Now that I'm at my PC, here's a link for you.  Hulu]

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March Madness, etc…

It’s that time of year again. The NCAA basketball tournament is here yet again, and so far it has been a fun ride. Office and facebook pool titles are being hotly contested this year since there haven’t been too many cinderella stories. In fact, I would argue that the sweet 16 doesn’t have a single cinderella. The top three seeds are still going in each region I believe, but that hasn’t robbed us from any excitement. As per usual, there have been a plethora of close games, including some overtime (and double overtime) games.

I am currently in several pools, and am near the bottom in every single one of them. Try as I may, I never seem to do very good with these things. I am typically somewhere in the upper middle of the pool standings, but this year I am doomed to finish at or near last place in every single pool that I am in…very sad considering I follow college basketball fairly well throughout the entire season. Oh well, there’s always next year!

It was unfortunate to see Ohio State bow out in the first round, but a big congrats to the Bucks and Thad Matta for another successful season. It amazes me to watch Thad Matta turn a mediocre team into a 20+ win team – a testament to his great coaching ability. Granted, this year there was a decent amount of talent on the team, and they possibly could have done better, but a great job nonetheless. Hopefully we have some key players return and our great incoming freshman class lives up to its hype. Here’s to another NCAA tourny appearance next year!

On another sports specific note, the Jackets are continuing their excellent play. They are keeping a step ahead of the 7th and 8th seeded western conference foes, and with 10 games left, hopefully will win at least half of them and get into the playoffs for the first time in franchise history! I think Columbus is ready to support a playoff hockey squad, I keep seeing more and more Blue Jackets gear all around Columbus, and hope to see much more! I don’t know how difficult it will be to get tickets, but I would love to be able to make it to a playoff game.

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Pot: Kettle’s Squandering Money!

From the AP:

WASHINGTON – Denouncing a “squandering of the people’s money,” lawmakers voted decisively Thursday to impose a 90 percent tax on millions of dollars in employee bonuses paid by troubled insurance giant AIG and other bailed-out companies. The House vote was 328-93. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.

Congress spending trillions = hope for the downtrodden. Bailed-out corporation spending millions due to contractual obligations that preceded the bailout = squandering The People’s money.

“We want our money back now for the taxpayers,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “It isn’t that complicated.”

Nancy is right – it isn’t that complicated. See the following graph, which I obtained from one of my many important, ingenious, and anonymous DNC contacts:

pelosonomics

To the credit of the Associated Press writers who filed the story, they mention the uncomplicated fact that Democrats knew about – and could have dealt with – the issue well before this week-long presentation of The Old and the Clueless began:

Republicans took Democrats to task for rushing to tax AIG bonuses worth an estimated $165 million after the majority party stripped from last month’s economic stimulus bill a provision that could have banned such payouts.

“This political circus that’s going on here today with this bill is not getting to the bottom of the questions of who knew what and when did they know it,” said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

Worst of all from my perspective, there are GOP Representatives having just as much fun stretching the ol’ grandstanding muscles on this issue.

He voted “no,” but 85 fellow Republicans joined 243 Democrats in voting “yes.” It was opposed by six Democrats and 87 Republicans.

It would be too much to ask that Congress read all the bailout and stimulus legislation the Democrats have been ramming through lately. Representatives criticizing the stupidity of AIG and others that contributed to this mess – and then moving on to real business – also seems to be in the realm of wishful thinking. At least a contract is still a binding legal document.*

* – Contracts remain binding legal documents, unless Congress deems it necessary to remove or redefine any legal obligation from any contract for any politically convenient reason. Retroactive to always.

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Complaints and Commendations

Is there anybody who doesn’t hate Ticketmaster? If you have some reason not to hate them, I’d love to hear it. I’m looking to get a few tickets for Saturday’s NCAA Round 1 Women’s games at Nationwide, and I noticed on the Arena’s website:

Tickets are also available at the FOX Sports Ohio Blue Line location at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing and ticket outlets within Chiller Dublin, Chiller Easton and Chiller North.

I thought this was odd, but I live so close to Tuttle it seemed worth a shot to avoid all the service charges. Of course, this was the one event they did not have tickets for… no big deal. Then the girl told me they “only” charge a $2 service fee for tickets purchased at the Blue Line store. Only $2! That’s great! Ticketmaster is in the business of selling tickets, which in almost all cases are only available through Ticketmaster, and even if you go buy them in person they tack on $2 per ticket in addition to whatever Ticketmaster charges are included in the price.

Checking online, the description of the tickets reads: ADULT SINGLE GAME WITH SERVICE CHARGE, which seems to pretty clearly indicate that all the fees are included in the price. Yet after you select seats, they add a $4 “convenience” fee. I guess it’s convenient having no choice but to purchase from Ticketmaster! I don’t know what Ticketmaster’s motto is, but it should be Ticketmaster: We totally blow.

On the commendation side of things, Netflix is awesome. After a two week trial that I used mostly to test the streaming service over the XBOX, I realized I’d never need to rent another movie if I got the $8.99 monthly subscription. We’ve made good use of the instant watching feature, which is great despite a catalog that is far smaller than the physical one. I’m only using the DVD queue to catch new releases or the occasional classic that I can’t watch from the 360, so 1 at a time is fine. And today, the really impressive thing hit my inbox:

PCU was not available from your local shipping center. Fortunately, it was available from a shipping center in another part of the country. It’s on its way and should arrive within 3 to 5 days.

You’ll notice we also recently sent the next available DVD from your Queue to enjoy while PCU makes its way to you.

The movie first on my list wasn’t available at the Columbus location, so when they shipped it from someplace else they emailed me an apology – and sent the next movie in the queue at the same time! Much as I’ve gotten used to credit cards and utilities going out of their way to squeeze maximum fees out of minimum service, Netflix continues to impress! If you haven’t tried them out, I strongly recommend the free trial, especially if you have a 360 and good internet service.

[Update: On top of the $4 added to each "With service charge" ticket, they add a $3 order processing fee? Keep on suckin', Ticketmaster.]

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Fix Human Nature: Done!

Last night’s post was intended as an “I’m really sick of politics and not writing about it for awhile” sort of thing. Then I saw this story, oozing with BS like some kind of poop pinata:

Turning more upbeat, President Barack Obama said Friday his administration is working to create a “post-bubble” model for solid economic growth once the recession ends. He said that means the days of overheated housing markets and “people maxing out on their credit cards” are over.

Ha!–ahem, sorry. Don’t laugh without first letting the President’s words sink in. My roommate and I discussed a few ways the White House could stop people from maxing their credit cards:

  1. Ban credit cards.
  2. Some kind of mind control chip jammed into borrowers’ skulls
  3. Any time someone nears their credit limit, increase their credit limit

Since none of these sounds feasible, President Obama and his team of world-beaters must have come up with something really great! Had I realized the Democrats were freeing all Americans from their selfishness and ability to make mistakes, I would have “turned more upbeat” about nanny-state leftism long ago!

Administration officials were criticized earlier this year for painting too dark a picture of the economy in an effort to win congressional passage of the president’s $787 billion stimulus package. But more recently, the president and others on his team have tempered their comments…

Team Obama is all branding and marketing, so when they’re doing a terrible job even at talking, that’s a problem. But don’t worry! They’re back on message now, so everything is super awesome! But wait, there’s more — Larry Summers has encouraging words, too:

What we need today is more optimism and more confidence,” Summers said.

He called it a “very good moment” to make investments in new construction and other projects. “There are a very large number of things that are on sale today.”

Emphasis mine. What we need today is for Congress and the White House to adjust the policies that contributed to the housing bubble instead of throwing around taxpayer money like Barney Frank at a gay strip joint. You’ve got to give these guys credit. Before, I thought they were just making things up! Now, I know they’re just making things up.

Finance ministers from those 20 nations, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, were meeting near London this weekend to discuss the April agenda. Geithner was seeking a commitment from the other countries to increase stimulus spending. But many in Europe are calling for better financial regulation, not spending.

Again, emphasis mine. It’s March, and Obama’s already dragged us left of Europe. Good.

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The Government We Deserve

Nancy Pelosi exhibits deft leadership skills and is a master of political maneuvering when it really counts:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday would not commit to holding a vote on a bill to do away with the annual cost-of-living increases. She pointed out that Congress recognized the economic crisis by voting this week to skip next year’s raise.

Everyone needs to buckle down and make sacrifices, but don’t expect Congress to make very many. The past two weeks I’ve been struck by how deeply unserious a place Washington is. Take last week’s fuss over Michael Steele’s comments about – and rapid apology to – Rush LimbaughPolitico’s story from March 4th says all we need to know in the first paragraph.

Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House.

Millions of people listen to Rush every week. I am not one of them because politics annoys me enough when I’m barely paying attention, but I agree with just about all of Rush’s opinions I’m familiar with. Most of them line up with what should be the core of the GOP: lower taxes, minimal government intervention, vigorous national defense. I wish there were more elected officials who could communicate like Rush at his best! Sadly, the DNC only wants to talk about how offensive Limbaugh can be. Um… he’s a talk show host , right?

Does it matter that Treasury Secretary Geithner still has provided few specifics on the Obama Administration’s bank rescue plan? That Barney Frank and Chris Dodd continue to influence American lending policy? That when President Obama brags of spending cuts, he means tax increases and fudged Iraq projections? That instead of correcting unrealistic accounting rules and terrible lending regulations, we’re “stimulating” the economy with more entitlement debt? The list goes on, but the answer is always: No. It does not matter.

Currently, the focus is on Michael Steele and how he’s not ready for primetime. Tomorrow maybe the story will revert to “If it’s broken, Bush broke it,” or talk of how Republicans are the party of “the wealthiest 2%,” or promises of lifelong employment in green energy and lollipop manufacturing. Bottom line, it’s all messaging, and the billions wasted are simply one more talking point for the opposing sides to spin. And we elected them.

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Jackets fever!

Hart may have a point, I should possibly be making posts about our beloved Columbus Blue Jackets.  So here goes…

I think it is official, Columbus has the oft wished for Jackets fever.  It is a rare (one time occurrence thus far) disease whose symptoms include excitement, loyalty, paying money to watch hockey and possibly throwing a little Canada into one’s daily life (drinking a Labatt Blue, the occasional use of the term ‘eh,’ etc…).  The fans are finally getting some enjoyment out of some meaningful March hockey.  The Columbus Blue Jackets desperately need to make the playoffs this year.  Their fans have been very very patient, and have continued to attend games, even though their team has been fairly awful, and is the only team to have never made the NHL playoffs.  This year promises to be a year in which our playoff dreams become a reality.  I could think of nothing better for the city of Columbus than playoff hockey against our rivals from that state up North – the Detroit Red Wings.  Take advantage of Columbus’ already extreme hatred of all things Meeeeechigan, and use it to turn all of the casual hockey fans into die hard CBJ fans.  Now we just need everything to fall into place to make sure we get seeded correctly for such a matchup.

If you haven’t seen a game yet this year, you most definitely should.  The guys are playing with an intensity that has never been seen before from the Blue Jackets.  They have an increasing desire to make the post season, and it shows each and every game.  If you didn’t catch either of the past two games – an 8-2 victory over the Red Wings, and a 2-0 win over the Bruins – you missed out on some of the best and most entertaining hockey Columbus has ever seen.  Every game is broadcast on Fox Sports Ohio (FSNO), which is also available in high definition.  Games typically begin at 7:00 PM or later, especially on weekdays.  There are just about 15 games left in the regular season, and every point the squad can get is needed to stay in playoff contention.  Check them out, and catch the fever!

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