Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Liveblogging Part 2 - Bobby Goes National!!

Next up: Bobby Jindal, the up-and-coming young Republican governor of Louisiana, to give the Republican rebuttal. This guy is largely viewed as the next Obama, but for Republicans, and has made a big show of refusing some of the stimulus money that passed Congress a few days ago.

10:24PM - Jindal sounds like he's lecturing to a group of students, with a really REALLY rehearsed speech.

10:26PM - Ok, are we seriously going to have an entire speech of this? It sounds like a commercial.

10:27PM - I take that back, it sounds like a campaign commercial.

10:27PM - Ok, memo to Bobby: don't use the government's response to Katrina as an example of why government isn't a good idea. America's pretty much internalized that Bush was in charge then.

10:28PM - Ok, decent bit about buearucrats.

10:31PM - I'm not sure what the bit about private health insurance was about. If you're going to say that you're in favor of private insurance, then you should know that the prohibitting factor for most people right now is that private health care is too exensive.

10:34PM - Jindal talks about Republicans losing the trust of the people after they've strayed from their principles. That would be a bit more believable if it didn't come right as a Democrat took the presidency.

10:36PM - 9/11!!

10:36PM - 12 minutes. Wow, that was short.

Final Verdict: eh
The rebuttal is always difficult, but honestly, I don't think Jindal did himself or the Republicans any favors tonight. The entire thing sounded too much like a campaign commercial ... too many talking points with really few details with a weird voice inflection that made it sound like he was always ending the address.

It was also very short. My best guess is that they had something in there about Obama raising taxes, but after Obama's clear explanation of who would get tax increases and who would get tax cuts, they probably had to cut it out, since it would've just seemed stupid.

Triumphant Return of Live Blogging!

There hasn't been an opportunity to live-blog since the election ... until tonight!!Ohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnessohmygoodnesssoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcitedsoexcited ... here we go!!

8:24PM - Oh dear, I turn on CNN and the first thing I see is something called the "Economic Real Feel Index", which is some utterly incomprehensible combination of unemployment rate, personal income, personal savings, and some other factors that they ran through MUCH too quickly. Could be useful to provide some context, but they need to spend more than 45 seconds explaining it.

8:36PM - Anderson Cooper has his hands in his pockets.

8:38PM - Cooper and Blitzer tell us that Bobby Jindal (governor R-LA) will be delivering the Republican response, and that he will probably say he'll be refusing some of the stimulus money. It's an odd game of chicken Jindal's playing. On the one hand, if previous reports are accurate, Jindal's only refusing 2% of the total aid to his state, which isn't exactly a staggering risk. On the other hand, if you advertise that you're not going to take stimulus money and your state's economy tanks, you can kiss your political future goodbye, even if you actually took pretty much all of it anyway.

8:45PM - One thing worth keeping in mind: as of today, Obama's been in office for a grand total of 5 weeks. People wondering where all the promised change is hiding need to take a deep breath and chill.

8:47PM - Kerry's hair got gray, almost silver even. Weird.

8:49PM - Some senators have been at the Congress since 8:30 this morning to stake out an aisle seat. Gives you an idea of just how anxious some are to be seen with him.

8:50PM - Candy Crowley's lost weight. Good for her.

9:03PM - Justice Ginsburg, who's recovering from surgery related to pancreatic cancer, is getting a standing ovation. Well deserved.

9:04PM - Laura Bush's dresses were always quite conservative. Michelle Obama's dresses decidely less so, but quite tasteful.

9:05PM - WHOA .... Hillary Clinton's pant suit is H-O-T-P-I-N-K. Is the attempt to draw attention to herself conscious, or unconscious, I wonder?

9:16PM - Obama messes up the start of his first congressional address by trying to talk over Pelosi. Whoops.

9:17PM - Pelosi's dress is very Californian.

9:18PM - Strong start. After acknowledging that we're in some pretty difficult times, he says "We will rebuild. We will recover." which only reinforces that there's something very wrong now.

9:20PM - Goes right into a laundry list of what else is wrong, like energy, healthcare, schools, etc. "Surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy." Heh, that's gonna raise some conservative hackles.

9:23PM - What's the shiny thing in front of Pelosi? Looks like some kind of intricate memo holder.

9:24PM - 57 police officers are on the streets tonight in Minneapolis that would've been laid off if not for the stimulus. Good piece of data.

9:25PM - Good line about tax cuts.

9:25PM - "Cause nobody messes with Joe." If that doesn't go on a mug somewhere, someone's not doing their job.

9:27PM - Spends just a little time reassuring that savings are secure, and that it's lending and credit flow, or lack of it, that's the real problem. He did it in a good way too, not dismissing it, but just matter of factly saying it's not a problem.

9:30PM - Says pretty clearly that he doesn't care if Wall Street goes down, no-strings-attached bailouts won't solve anything, and that banks will be held accountable. Standing ovation now for the dig at CEO's.

9:32PM - Obama does a much better job of talking to Americans instead of to Congress than his recent predecessors did.

9:34PM - Obama talks about the budget pretty frankly and openly, and that there are going to be tradeoffs. Eh. To be perfectly honest, I will believe that when I see it.

9:37PM - Good bit about how government isn't a problem, but has historically been a catalyst for all the major accomplishments in our nation's history.

9:38PM - Obama's first term theme: energy, healthcare, and education.

9:39PM - Electric cars built in Detroit ... that run on batteries made in Korea. Heh.

9:39PM - Sets a goal for doubling renewable energy in 3 years, plus thousands of miles of power lines. Wow, ambitious. Ahh, we will do that by putting some kind of tax on carbon, which Obama just asked for. That will definitely help, and provide a good boost to revenue as well.

9:41PM - Car stuff. Completely random though, but it occurs to me that I've been watching too much Stargate lately, and it's actually a bit of a shock to me to remind myself that we don't know of any civilizations in our galaxy besides our own, and we're working completely in vacuum.

9:42PM - Time for heathcare, both in the speech and policy-wise. Standing ovation for CSHIP, which covered 11 million children, and which only got through once Obama became president.

9:43PM - He plugs electronic health records. This is one thing that I really can't understand why we haven't done anything about yet. If you walked into a bank and asked to open an account, and they pulled out a giant book and started scribbling information into a ledger, you'd walk right out. Yet our health records, arguably the most important personal records in our life, are permanently kept in rows of file-folders with spidery handwriting that nobody can read, are frequently lost or damaged, and never around when you need them in an emergency. Why the information necessary to save your life isn't up to the standard of preferred-shopper key tags eludes me.

9:45PM - Healthcare legislation next week??? Dude, Obama, you're only human. Don't take too much on at once.

9:49PM - Plugs higher education. Lots of good stuff, including incentives for some kind of national service, which is explicitly NOT necessarily military.

9:51PM - Oooo... here we go with the debt. This should be interesting.

9:52PM - "With the deficit we inherited" got a standing ovation from the Democratic side. ZING!!!

9:53PM - $2 trillion in savings over the next decade? Wow, that's pretty good if true. Hmm, eliminate unneeded farm subsidies, no-bid contracts in Iraq, and Cold War era weapons systems. Each of which is necessary, and each of which has incredibly powerful interest groups opposed to any cuts. Cautiously optimistic on this one.

9:54PM - Taxes. Less than $250K, no tax increase, and actually a tax cut, with checks on the way. It was good that he called that out.

9:56PM - Tax free universal savings accounts. Congress, and I, don't know what exactly to make of that.

9:57PM - Yes, we are finally, finally, including the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan in the budget. A lot of people don't realize that they weren't included in the budget, and that Bush used an accounting gimick to keep their costs out of his deficit numbers by using emergency appropriations bills. This will start to make reality real again.

9:59PM - He says he will expand the size of the Army and Marines, but for what, exactly? If we're truly pulling back from Iraq we don't need a million plus soldiers, and we're already dredging the bottom of the barrel.

10:00PM - "The United States of America DOES NOT TORTURE." That simple statement, seemingly so incontroversial, needed to be said, and will do a lot.

10:06PM - Eh, he's getting sappy now.

10:08PM - The silver thing is an intricate paper in/out box!! When they did the shot from behind you could tell.

Monday, February 23, 2009

More Gym Woes

Random musings from the gym today:

1) Gym after spicy Italian food. Not the best idea I've ever had.

2) I pulled into the lot a bit past 8PM, and had to drive around for a minute and a half looking for parking. Huh. Weird.

3) Ok, I understand that one of the, shall we say "perks", of single-sex locker rooms is that you can walk around naked and no one's supposed to care. And if you're going from the shower to the locker, whatever, that's fine. If you're toweling off right before getting dressed at the locker, whatever, that's fine too. However. If you insist on walking around the entire locker room, from the showers, to your bench, to the urinals, and then to the sinks to do some kind of weird intricate wiggling ritual that draws horrified looks from everyone walking by, that is MOST DEFINITELY NOT OKAY!! >:O

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Attention All Big Guys, Leave Us Alone!

There's nothing quite like the euphoric high you get by going to the gym ... unless it's the feeling of that euphoric high being replaced by sensational inadequacy when a big guy asks if he can work in a set on your machine and immediately triples the weight.

Hmph.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Oh Virginia

I swear, the Virginia GOP is like a bad rash. Not deadly, but really annoying, and really hard to get rid of. They just keep finding ways to pop up in embarrassing places.

This time, it's SB:1410, a transportation appropriations bill that really should've been an utterly boring and harmless bill.

But then Thomas Norment Jr (R-James City) added a teeny tiny provision: a clause that forces auto-makers to buy back unsold vehicles from car dealerships if the line is discontinued. This essentially lets auto-dealers cash in on the federal auto-maker bailout, by transferring 100% of the downside risk to the auto-makers instead of sharing it with the auto-dealers. In fact, the article plainly says this is at least part of the reason why the provision was inserted.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're wondering: 'Why would a knee-jerk-anti-government Virginia Republican like Senator Norment insert a provision that is the antithesis of free-market economics?' And you're right, it's a good question! Fortunately, it has a simple answer:

Good old fashioned corruption! You see, as the article also points out, Senator Norment owns a Dodge dealership. And his Dodge dealership, along with all other dealerships in the state, has been facing some tough times lately. So he decided to write a law making his business profitable again by stealing money from the feds. Charming.

Even more charming, he doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with this.
Norment, a lawyer and one of three owners of a struggling Yorktown dealership, said he does not have a conflict of interest in carrying the measure, because it applies to all vehicle franchises in Virginia. The state has 525 new-car dealers and has lost 25 in the past year during the recession.

"Clearly, I don't have a conflict of interest from a legal standpoint," Norment said. "Perceptually, someone might raise the question that, 'As a minority owner of a dealership, isn't there an incidental benefit to you?'"
Yes Norment, I'm sure that, perceptually, someone might raise that question. Thanks for clearing it up for us in advance.

Your Virginia GOP at work, folks. All you have to do to get a risk-free business is draw up some government-enforced arbitrage, call it 'incidental', and ensure that at least 524 other people benefit as well.

Sheesh.

Another Sunday with Drag Queens

If you live in Richmond and you haven't been to Godfrey's Sunday Brunch, you need to go. Period.

Fabulous people, fabulous food, fabulous friends, and of course, fabulous queens!

Grinding with Danielle.

The Mad Hatter

It was this guy's 50th birthday.

Queen Latifa!

Queen in training

This is what happens to Julie after she has 3 bloody mary's, 2 beers, and some hollandaise sauce

I am a pretty bird!


Blue bird of happiness

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy St. Bitters Day

While the couples run around making lovey-dovey kissing noises (and also making really bad puns on to pet's names, you know who you are), the cold and bitter among us are putting hexes on our exes! Fun! Who would you hex if you had the chance?

Also, is it just me, or is there something very I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summer-esque about google's banner today? It reminds me of a warning note scrawled in blood telling some poor sap they're about to die a gruesome death.


Happy Valentines Day!

For Those in the Know: Jerk Wad

Oh sssNAP!!!!

Only 5 people in the world should be expected to get this, and 3 of them don't read my blog.

The rest of you are welcome to make your best guess :)

Friday, February 13, 2009

I Love Idiot Drivers

Every place has its fair share of bad drivers, but they seem to be popping up a lot more in Richmond these past few days.

A few days ago it was the person in an SUV who decided that a two-lane road was actually three lanes and tried to pass in the middle.

Yesterday it was the person on I64 who took her eyes off the road, drifted across two lanes of highway, and then jerked her car all the way back to her original lane ... thank god the people around her were paying attention and gave her plenty of room.

And then this morning I discovered the idiot who couldn't be bothered to park his/her car more than 1/16th of an inch away from mine. I swear, I didn't stage this picture, this is exactly how I found it this morning. I mean c'mon, seriously?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Interesting Facts of the Day

Fact #1
Despite being dried, raisins still contain some moisture, and will explode if microwaved.

Fact #2
The Case of Exploding Mangoes is the title of a fiction novel by Salman Rushdie. I discovered this while searching for a picture of "exploding raisins" to spruce up Fact#1.

Just thought you might like to know.

Me and the Recession

Like a lot of other people I know (which is admittedly a very biased sample, keep reading), to me the current economic recession seems very surreal.

I read about the economy losing 600K jobs in January, but I don't personally know anyone who's lost their job, except a passing acquaintance that I've met exactly once. I read about companies cutting back, but everyone I work with still has their job and full salary. I read about the stock market and IRAs tanking, but I'm fresh out of college and retirement isn't even on my radar. I read about the credit market drying up, but I'm not looking to borrow anything except monthly expenses on credit cards, which I pay off every month which means I don't really care if the rate goes up.

I know I've got it pretty good: I'm young, I'm healthy, I work at a company that's got one of the best balance sheets in the country, I have friends who are all pretty much in the same boat, and I have a good job that I enjoy and that gives me disposable income. Because of an incredible series of good fortune coincidences, I haven't really felt any impact. I read the papers each day and try to wrap my mind around the fact that the economy is in free-fall and that people, LOTS of people, are suffering, but it's like trying to convince myself to ignore everything that I've observed and believe the opposite.

I don't really know why I'm writing this on the blog, but it's something that's been bugging me for a bit, and I guess I just wanted to see what other people thought.

Anybody out there?

Not a Good Start

For whatever reason, I overslept this morning and didn't wake up until 8:45AM. A huried shower and a quick Lucy-pet later, I grabbed my laptop case and rushed down the stairs. Got all the way outside and half-way to my car when I realized that my red windbreaker was caught on one of the case's zippers and I'd been dragging behind me for half a block, which explained why everyone was looking at me really funny.

*Sigh, it's going to be one of those days.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Pikachu!

Gaze upon the glory that is the picture below, which will single-handidly make my blog trigger all sorts of filtering softwares.

This is quite possibly the best motivational poster EVER!