“A separate government report last month showed that the median price for a new home fell 6 percent in September to $215,700. Half the homes sold for more than the median and half for less.”

— CNN explains statistics

Chad me harder, baby!


So, after all the fuss about how the dangerously obsolete mechanical voting machines would corrupt the special election held to kick out Davis and elect Arnold, what did I find at my local polling station this morning? The same darn chad-cutters I used last time.

Good thing, too, as reports come in about the problems with the first live test of the new electronic voting machines. Not to mention their complete lack of accountability.

“The chad is great!” (the movie sucked, though)

Dear San Francisco Chronicle,


Please hire at least one writer who is vaguely familiar with guns. In this story, in response to their suspicion that a woman’s car window was shot out by a “sniper,” it is reported that the police were “combing the woman’s vehicle in an attempt to find bullet casings.”

So, either they think she shot out her own window, the quote was seriously garbled over the phone, or the reporters were deeply clueless. Bullets, sure. Bullet holes, absolutely. Bullet casings?

And what exactly makes the person responsible for these (so far death-free, fortunately) shooting incidents a “sniper”? Ooh, there’s a rant we can save for another day.

What a difference a few years makes…


This from the people who basically invented the concept of the Asshole Player-Killer:

"EA owns your gold, your swords, your characters --- they are all just digital bits. If your entertainment is to destroy other peoples' entertainment, you're going to be tossed."

(in fairness, I should note that they pretty much dumped the entire UO team sometime after all of my friends gave up in disgust)

On gay marriage


I’m starting to think that the best response to an amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and woman would be one defining marriage as a relationship requiring emotional commitment and sexual fidelity. That’d shut everybody up.

Smoking gun on obesity?


While reading the entertaining (if occasionally credulous) book Tobacco: A Cultural History of How an Exotic Plant Seduced Civilization, I was struck by the repeated mention of nicotine’s role as an appetite suppressant. As a non-smoker, I was vaguely aware of this trait, and the problem many people experience with weight gain when they attempt to quit, but I hadn’t thought to tie it to the current hysterical claims of an obesity “epidemic”.

Some of the available data argues against this connection, but other sources are rather coy about weight gain by former smokers. It’s pretty hard to accept the NIDDK’s simplistic approach to the subject after they admit that 10% of former smokers gain 30 pounds or more.

Do I think the anti-smoking movement has a causal relationship with the obesity “epidemic” (which, by the way, is also plagued by sins of omission when it comes to data quality)? No, not really. It’s simply one of the many lifestyle changes that took place during the same period, all of which undermine the simplistic cause-and-effect scenarios put forth by greedy lawyers, nitwit busybodies, and activists with thinly-veiled agendas.

But it does make me wonder, especially since so much of the data on both subjects is based on self-reports over long periods, rather than actual measurement. The nicest thing I can say about them is that the claims aren’t as far-fetched as the ones made for second-hand smoke, red meat, carbs, fat, grilling, butter, salt, etc.

Dear Terry McAuliffe,


I’m writing today to thank you for your recent pre-approved offer for The NEW Democratic Party VISA Card, and to explain why I won’t be applying for one.

It’s not that I dislike the “five attractive card designs,” although as a former Boy Scout I find it a bit offensive to swipe a flag through a card reader.

It’s not that I find the 11.99% interest rate too high, although it’s higher than any other credit card offer I’ve received in the past two years. For that matter, even though the 19.99% cash advance rate is higher than I’ve seen from any non-sucker offer, that’s not it, either. Nor is it the 3% balance transfer fee.

It’s not even the optional “donate my 1% rebate to the Democratic National Committee” feature, even though I never have, and never will, donate money directly to any national political party.

No, it’s the fact that I plan to vote for George W. Bush in the upcoming presidential election.

Why? Because, while I strongly disagree with many of the Bush administration’s domestic policies, I believe that American liberty is safer in the hands of John Ashcroft than American lives are in the hands of Johns Kerry or Edwards.

Global Warming and Intelligent Design: Separated At Birth?


This commentary in The Washington Times struck me as being precisely the right approach to take when biblical literalists attempt to force their beliefs into the science classroom.

Actually, if you could count on the existence of quality science teachers in the public schools, I’d be delighted to see “Intelligent Design” brought up in class, as an object lesson in how to distinguish between scientific theories and religion.

This article might be useful as well, applied to both types of hot air.

Trudeau opens mouth, inserts foot, shoots self in foot


As the evidence piles up that George W. Bush’s military service record was completely satisfactory, with no irregularities (certainly nothing on the scale of John Kerry awarding himself a medal for beaching his boat and abandoning his crew to chase down a wounded enemy soldier), Garry Trudeau offers to pay ten grand to anyone who can confirm the President’s service.

The only question I have is, will he give ten grand to each person who has already come forward? You know, all the folks that this hip, sophisticated media critic hasn’t managed to notice?