Thursday, May 31, 2012

Time to Smuggle Soda in From Jersey

I've always enjoyed taking trips to NYC, to visit friends and fambly, but also to enjoy the great and varied food that the huge city has to offer.  Generations of immigrants and a massive customer base have resulted in one of the top food locations in the country (beating out other great food cities, like New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia). 

So what does this have to do with the fact that Lord and Keeper Of All That's Good, Mayor Bloomberg, is now imposing restrictions on the sale of sugary soft drinks?  Let's just follow the logic here.

Bloomberg, like all elite politicians who can afford personal trainers and assistants, sees the obesity problem in this country and says "clearly people are weak, and they eat and drink unhealthy things because they're not as enlightened as me, so let's just restrict what they can consume so they'll be left with healthier options!"  After all, that massively overweight guy who has to ride around on a scooter will find that without being able to buy a large soda he will stick to carrot juice instead.  Right?

Wrong!  Anyone who truly loves soda enough to buy it by the tub will just buy multiple smaller cans.  Or, as Bloomberg hopes, they'll learn to make do with smaller drinks of the empty caloried stuff.

But let's say Bloomberg's initiative is successful, measured in noticeable health effects for NYers and that this can be traced to the soda restriction.  Why stop there?  Pizza, which is in my opinion the one thing NYC does better than anywhere else in the world, is also a calorie-laden food that shouldn't be eaten in excess.  Why not ban slices above a certain size, or purchases of more than one slice at a time?  Why not shut down fondue restaurants and iced cream parlors?  Hell, beer is also a lot of calories--maybe ban that in any size above an 8oz can.  Who cares if the city's food industry suffers?  We can get everyone thin and healthy, through sheer force!

Don't stop there though.  Most people are fat due to lack of exercise, and a part of this is taking cabs for short distance when they can clearly walk.  Women can learn to carry a bag with sneakers if their high heels are uncomfortable for a ten block walk.  Elevators can be programmed (by law!  Bloomberg wills it!) so that they do not stop at the lobby except for handicapped passengers, so that people can walk a couple flights before riding up the rest of the way.  Escalators?  Ban 'em! 

After all, why should people be allowed to make their own unhealthy choices when their political leaders clearly know what's best for them?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Curse of the Comments

There's stupid, there's weapons-grade stupid, and then there's the Facebook Political Argument.  If you've never been in one of these, consider yourself fortunate for having avoided the online equivalent of slamming your head into a tree.  If you have been in one of these, let me enlighten you:

You think you sound like: Pithy statement, followed by carefully reasoned argument, added to a dose of genuine wit.  Everyone reads, and "likes" your quote, because you have enlightened the Facebooksphere.

You actually sound like: Nasty trollish comment, followed by straw man argument, added to a dose of ad hominem attack, sprinkled with pure douchebaggery.  Some bored idiot reads, and "likes" your quote, because they're sure it'll piss off the conservative/liberal who has to douse their eyes with bleach to unsee the awful and stupid thing you just wrote.

Both the beauty and the curse of the Internet is its unregulated nature, meaning all statements have equal footing, whether you believe that a change in the tax structure could benefit key parts of our economy or you think the Devil is literally on the rise in the opposition party.  It's like cable news, except broadened for everyone with an online account.

It's easy to say that next time you see a political argument brewing on Facebook you should just ignore the bait and let the cranks go back and forth.  But what do you do when your otherwise benign post  gets threadjacked by commenters into a political bog?  (Say you make the original post "Happy Memorial Day Everyone" or "Avoid Chicago's pizza because it's crap" and your friends comment "Memorial Day only serves to support our needless wars!" or "Chicago makes pizza as bad as they make presidents!  NO-bama!")  Here are some options:

1) Delete the comments off the thread.  This is a pretty cowardly way out, though.  Anyone noticing that the comment was deleted is going to think you're a hypersensitive wuss who shrivels in fear at the sight of glorious dissent!  Even if the dissent itself is completely stupid.

2) Respond to the comments as they are.  Point out that "no, Phil, Memorial Day is more about supporting our war dead regardless of the cause because they sacrificed for our country, and frankly as a big FDR supporter I'd think you'd be okay with targeting civilians in our bombing raids, after all he seemed just fine with that you hypocritical idiot" or "if Obama was really as bad a president as Chicago's 'pizza' tastes, then he would have accidentally nuked California by now and stapled his own foot to the Oval Office floor".

3) Get the comment thread back to your original point.  Say "I'm just acknowledging that on a day I can eat hot dogs and drink beer in my yard with friends it'd be nice to take a moment to think of those who cannot do that because of what they sacrificed to this country" or "what the hell does Obama have to do with gross gooey pizza pot pie?"

4) Ignore the comments and just let other commenters swirl everything down the drain.  This is generally the best approach.  It allows the dumb comment to linger on for all to see, and speaks only for the commenter.  Because frankly, there's nothing you could possibly write that would make such a commenter think "hey, good point.  You've given me much to think about." 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why So Syria

So now it looks like the vaunted Syrian military, with a vaunted 0-4 record against Israel, is trying to improve its target practice on Sryia's own civilians at close range.  I guess you gotta start small scale, right?  Otherwise how else can you move up to the big leagues, like attacking Lebanon?

After this latest massacre--numbering over 100 dead civilians so far--the United Nations is weighing its options, between (a) writing a strongly worded letter, (b) writing a very strongly worded letter, and (c) writing a strongly worded letter with a photograph of an angry Secretary General.  Meanwhile, people with a sense of right and wrong are suggesting a different set of options for Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad, including (d) roasting him on an open spit, (e) feeding him to fire ants, or (f) put him in a room with dogs that shoot bees from their mouths when they bark.

But as the calls for international intervention increase, it raises the usual question--what is our threshhold for intervening in foreign internal conflicts?  Millions being murdered is one thing, but how about a few thousand?  Or a few hundred?  Does it matter how they are murdered--lined up in gas chambers versus gunned down into ditches, or forcibly starved a la Stalin or Mao?  Does it matter whether the victims are armed, completely unarmed, or armed with laughably pitiful weapons?

I don't think there really is an answer to this--basically, we intervene when we are offended enough by what is happening and think we can accomplish the most good with the least risk (Haiti), and it doesn't hurt if we have something to gain (Spanish American War).  Sometimes our intervention backfires (Somalia).

Whatever happens here it'll be nice to see Assad tossed out and his regime toppled, but I'm not holding my breath.

Wedding Weekend

This Memorial Day weekend was great fun, leaving Friday for Long Island to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends.  Normally, travelling to and from Long Island from D.C. on Memorial Day weekend would mean stabby rage, but instead of going by car we were fortunate enough to catch a ride with some friends in their private plane.  Shrimp cocktail and champagne for a 45 minute jaunt instead of 12 hours each way?  Yes, please!

We also treated ourselves by staying at the hotel where the wedding was to be held, in what turned out to be a recreated chateau.  This was also my first full-scale Persian wedding, which meant the following:

1) Extremely large number of guests--closer to 400 than 300.  In fact, the rehearsal dinner crowd alone was larger than the wedding crowd for any wedding I've ever attended.

2) Intense amounts of food.  The cocktail hour(s) alone featured great food in abundance (raw bars, caviar, roast lamb) plus plenty of top notch alchohol.

3) For a non-drinker (for this year) it was incredibly difficult to refrain from having drinks--they had a lot of interesting things I hadn't seen before, including vodka infused with various fruits and spices.

4) There was a great deal of dancing, both for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception.  By this I mean dancing started at the very beginning (during the salad courses) and continued all the way through.  This crowd partied well through the night.

5) Exhaustion is the only thing that eventually slows you down, and even the older guests have a great deal of stamina.

In all, it was a terrific time and great to see my friend join the ranks of the married folks.  Returning Sunday, we managed to be back early enough to catch a BBQ with some friends and wind down a bit before coming into another week.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Damn Snakes

There are times in my day when I'm sitting on my apartment balcony and saying to myself "it's just great to not have a 15 foot snake slithering out of a tree and landing on my unsuspecting head right now."  In fact, D.C. is one of the most snakeless parts of the country (in the literal sense, of course, we still have Congress).  I can take comfort in the fact that I know my neighborhood does not have a very large reptile slithering around in it, waiting for a moment to cause mayhem.  Unfortunately, this guy has no such omfort. 

The man is in his yard in Columbia, South Carolina, enjoying the late spring in the Palmetto State and probably thinking "what a great day to not have to see a giant snake" and then he forgot to knock on wood because there lay a beast long enough to strangle a small car.  He snaps photos and calls the authorities at the Department of Natural Resources, figuring they'll come by and remove the menace, only to be told that from the photos this was clearly a "rat snake" and not a python, meaning it would be a good thing for the neighborhood (in that it eats rats, not South Carolinians).  This is why when you want to remove a dangerous animal, you don't call some hippie state authority--you call Skeeter and his buddy Clete!  They'll take care of it for twenty bucks and a six pack of Busch.

I sympathize with this homeowner--who wants such a giant snake crawling around in his backyard where he doesn't know when it will show up next and demand a place to stay?  But especially silly is his refusal to fork over $150 to have a professional (like maybe Skeeter!) come remove it.  It's sort of like saying "I'm afraid for my kids getting eaten, but not $150 afraid!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pakistan, You Just Went Whackistan!

If your potatoes aren't royally boiled over this new outrage, then it's just possible that you are in fact a robot that has been programmed to think you're a real person.  Congratulations, robot person!

It turns out that Pakistan has sentenced the doctor who tipped off the U.S. about Osama bin Laden's whereabouts for treason.  Treason?  Really, Pakistan?  I seem to recall what happened the last time a country equated protecting bin Laden with its own national objectives.  It was called Taliban-era Afghanistan!

Why even elevate this clod?  Let's try and look at this from even the most pro-Pakistani and anti-American point of view.  All bin Laden succeeded in doing during his tenure as a terrorist was to (a) kill a lot of innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and (b) bring the rain of hell down on a lot more Muslims in the form of American firepower.  He exhorted young men and women to sacrifice their own lives in trying to blow up American troops and civilians in a number of countries, forcing his own followers to live in caves and get hunted like rats by much better trained and better equipped troops.  But at least he was right there in the mountain caves with them, right?

Oh wait no, this jerk lived in a nice suburb in his little compound, periodically sending out missives.  His very cause was a total failure, and lost favor across a Muslim world that has been throwing off tyrannical shackles for the past decade and outgrowing old dictatorships.  Bin Laden himself admitted his recruiting efforts were failing and Al Quaeda was desperately trying to remain relevant ten years after the 9/11 attacks.  So what person in their right mind would be defensive of this clown?

If anyone should be charged with treason it should be whatever corrupt bastard was running the Pakistani "intelligence" services, who should have found and handed over the persistent problem to the U.S., rather than the doctor who upstaged him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looks Like Stupid Has a New God

There's stupid, there's weapons-grade stupid, and then there's what I'd like to call "Re-make of Red Dawn Stupid"--a new level that very few things can ever sink to the depths of.  It is hard for my regularly functioning brain to fathom the extremes of horrible that are inherent in what is planned for this particular re-make. 

Let's pretend for a moment that you're a Hollywood executive.  You're already a craven, lowly worm of a being, and just spent the morning eating babies and stomping on kittens to pay tribute to your Dark Lord, and now you need to push out a movie to sell to the public which you assume are all stupid (see, success of "Transformers" franchise--but also see failure of "Battleship").  Because taking a risk on a new story idea goes against why you went into the movie business (which of course is cold hard cash and the ability to strangle hookers without ever getting arrested) you decide to do a remake of an old hit.  Rather than a remake that needs to be done (like "Smokey and the Bandit", or "Exorcist") you decide to pick an already dumb, implausible film about awful liberal peaceniks agreeing to total disarmament and causing the sneaky Soviets to forget about grain shortages and alchoholism for a few minutes so they can invade the United States, starting in landlocked Colorado because that's not totally stupid or anything.  Wolverines!  Yes, I'm talking about re-making the already horrible "Red Dawn". 

But wait!  The Soviets don't exist anymore, and the "public" you want to appeal to will not be able to fathom an alternate reality that took place during the Soviet era!  They might choke on their popcorn while yelling at the screen, and then you'll have to pay medical bills and have less money left for hunting homeless people for sport!  What do do?

Well, there's always the Chinese, the largest rival power to the U.S., also an economic and military powerhouse.  Sure, our military is still far superior to theirs, but with those damn liberals cutting the military and conservatives not being willing to actually fund it, it's possible the Chinese could catch up.  So let's make the Chinese the enemy, and have them invade us because we defaulted on our Treasury bonds that they hold, or something.  Perfect!

But wait.  Looks like China is buying some serious stakes in the film industry!  Can't dare to offend our new masters, so let's just change the enemy in post-production to the North Koreans.  Never mind that the Norks are basically eating tree bark these days, and their plywood rockets can't launch properly, and the idea of their army taking over even a shopping mall is pretty ludicrous.  The mindlessness of the original film can now be eclipsed.  But why not just have Zimbabwe ally with the Norks, to make it a bit more sporting?

I suppose it's far scarier that our primary propaganda industry--film--is so under the thumb of China that we are in perpetual fear of offending these new masters.  Someone should make a movie about that.

Bond Film Coming Out

The news that there is a new James Bond film coming out this year has me all excited, as I have seen every one of them (including the 1967 spoof, Casino Royale, with Woody Allen and Peter Sellers) and am well steeped in the lore behind this brilliant secret agent who somehow lives well on his British government salary (who says they're practicing austerity there?) and never seemed to seriously consider going private except in that one movie with Timothy Dalton?

Sure, we could get caught up in the lack of realism in the films, such as:

1) Bond rarely wears any disguise, and almost always introduces himself as "James Bond".  Even if he decided that there's no need for secrecy with the hot chick he's currently trying to sleep with, isn't that still a bit of a security risk?  A lot of people want him dead, and at the very least his security clearance is in jeopardy.

2) Bond seems to frequent special casinos where everyone is dressed black tie--not a fanny pack, slot machine or obese weirdo in sight.  Where are these casinos?  Definitely not on the Strip, that's for certain.

3) We never see Bond ask what drinks are on special, or wince at the price of a martini.  Government expense accounts usually don't cover alchohol, though maybe Ms. Moneypenny fudges Bond's reports for him.

4) Bond always has to seduce a good looking woman, and these women never tell him they have a boyfriend.  Don't secret agents ever have to cozy up to ugly chicks?  Or chicks who are at least faithful to the men in their lives?

5) Bond never has to fly coach.  I would very much like to see how Bond deals with the screaming baby problem.

6) Bond never happens upon a supreme, eccentric overlord's lair, only to discover that the overlord isn't actually doing anything illegal or wrong at all.  Just a very rich guy with a lot of business ventures, who likes to have armed minions and femme fatales around, in his remote underground lair.  Bond would have to reconcile himself to just playing ping pong with the guy before going back to London and telling his superiors that there's nothing to report.

7) Bond never discovers the bad guys' evil plan, and then just phones in air support and takes off.  After all, in real life it seems silly to waste a top intelligence resource on a mop-up mission when they have trained SAS teams and RAF bombers that can knock out the bad guy and his army in one swoop.

But the fantasy is what draws us in--the impossibly exotic locales, the gripping situations that we know Bond is going to get out of, the great and beguiling women he will encounter, and the formidable bad guys who like to describe their entire nefarious plans to the hero even though if they really just want to impress someone with what they're up to they can just as easily tell one of their minions (maybe the Chief Minion).  Do they really need Bond's approval so much?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Battleship is Battleshi**y

I'm not planning to see the movie "Battleship" because my brain is still at least partly alive, but having read this review which describes the major plot points, I can say there's no way this turkey is going to do anything more than give a soulsucking major Hollywood studio a nice tax writeoff for 2012.  In a nutshell, the film actually features gum-pop singer Rihanna in an acting role, for crying out loud.  I honestly can't read past that. 

Or maybe I can.  The film also has something to do with aliens, and naval vessels, and what is this I don't even.  Not to disparage the heroics of naval warfare, but ever since the fall of Japan there just hasn't been much in the way of major naval engagement.  If we stupidly attack Iran, the most action our naval vessels will see is picking off speedboats loaded with TNT before they can get within a mile of any of our craft. 

Could something better have been done with the rights to "Battleship" board game?  How about a film where some evil crazy terrorist is holding the president hostage, and forcing him to play the game "Battleship" with him?  Picture this dialogue:

President: You're quite mad, you know. 

Terrorist: Mad like a fox!  A-6.

President: Miss.  I have to say, this is far better than Chutes and Ladders.

Terrorist: Chutes and Ladders is a decadent game for apostates!  B-4.

President: Hit.  Can we do Hungry Hungry Hippos after this?  We should have enough time for one more game before the Delta Force Commandos bust in here and shoot you in the head.

Add a bunch of tense closeups, and a love triangle, maybe a car chase through D.C. that can give locals a chance to point out the inaccuracies of having Georgetown right next to the Capitol, and you have yourself a movie. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tips for Naming Children

People often come up to me and say "please bless my children, oh Dark One" (I get that a lot, especially when I have a goattee).  Seeing as I don't actually have magical powers, I generally decline, and the followup request is that I suggest a good name for their newborn children.  What can I say, I have a gift for nomenclature!  It was my idea to name a colony in Maine that was made up of migrants from Newfoundland.  We called it "Newnewfoundland."  Anyway, here are some top drawer baby name ideas:

1) If you want your kid to think he's British: Nigel, Julian, Declan, or Rupert.  When he's 18, you can tell him he was born in Muskogee--he'll be so surprised he'll drop his monocle into his crumpets.

2) If you want your kid to think the family is secretly rich: Constance, Abigail, Harrison, Tripper, Spencer, Mitt.  When they're 25, and expecting to get their trust fund handed over to them, you can sit them down, break out the cigars and scotch, and tell them you really really need to borrow $8.50 and will totally pay it back in a month.

3) If you want your kid to think her parents are morons: Blue Ivy.

4) If you want your kid to grow up hating and resenting you: Dakota, Serrah, Madison, DuQuan, Daffidth.  Make sure there's always a locked door between you and this kid who has very good reason to murder you in your sleep.

5) If you want your kid to remind you of what you love most: Bud, Amber, Porter, Al(e), Jack, or Guinness.  You'll be needing plenty of these things when the kid hits the terrible twos.

6) If you're new to this country and English is your second language so you already have an exotic last name and don't need to weird it up like ho-hum folks do: John, Mary, Steve, Michelle, Frank.

7) If you are a half-wit former Alaskan governor: Togg, Trunk, Trogg, Tuff, Klunk, and Frugg.

8) If you want your kid to be one of those kids who gets a Chinese-looking tattoo on their leg that they think means "rare flower" but really means "hold the MSG": Paige, Shasta, Brynn.

9) If you want to make sure your kid never gets a job writing children's books: Attila, Genghis, Sarpedon, Pharaoh.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rambo? A Ram-blast!

Watching the latest installment of the "Rambo" series (this one titled simply "Rambo") I just have one thing to say--I loved every Ram-bit of the film!  Sure, it was unrealistic as hell, but the minute you see Vietnam Vet John Higgenbotham Rambo selling cobras to Thai merchants, and hunting fish with a bow and arrow, you know you're not exactly in documentary country.  You can be assured that (a) John Rambo just wants to live a peaceful life, (b) some cartoonishly evil people who wouldn't know nuance if it hit them over the head are going to do some awful things that will force Rambo out of "retirement", and (c) there's going to be a lot of worm food by the end of this kill-crazy death-a-thon.  Of death.

Here, some do-gooder Christian missionaries take a break from protesting outside of gay abortion clinics to deliver medical supplies to oppressed tribespeople in Burma.  They ask Rambo to take them upriver so they can make the delivery, at which point Rambo says "absolutely.  I must kill again to appease my gods."

No, of course he refuses and of course the hippies go anyway, and of course they get captured and of course John Rambo has to slaughter an army of Burmese troops who seem to have been trained exclusively in the art of murdering unarmed villagers.  (Note--these movies might be more suspenseful if it shows the bad guys actually putting up a good fight against trained troops, so you see what Rambo is up against!  Also, maybe some nuance?  Where the bad guys aren't abosolutely Saturday-morning-cartoon evil all the time?  No?  Okay)  The special effects are terrific, and Rambo is at his Ram-best.  (Okay, that was the last pun)

Sylvester Stallone, the star, of course is getting on in years so there likely won't be any further sequels.  But I imagine the money-sucking automatons running Hollywood have a prequel in development--maybe something showing a young John Rambo going from troubled '60s teenager to Special Forces maven in 'Nam, and with Colonel Trautman and the rest of his squad, and getting captured in the tiger cage and all that.  (I also imagine that tigers aren't that fond of human cages either)  A young unknown actor could restart the franchise from an earlier point in time though the studio will probably use James Franco.  They could even feature a young Sheriff Brian Dennehy (yes I don't know the name of his character from the first film, and can't be bothered to look it up) beating up hippies at a college campus.

Friday, May 11, 2012

High Cheekbones? Oy Vey!

A couple weeks later and the Elizabeth Warren "Cherokeegate" mess has not gone away.  (Note--what's with adding "-gate" after every Watergate-esque scandal?  If the President took bribes from a gate construction firm, would we have to refer to that as "Gate-gate"?  I almost wish he would take such a bribe just so we can use that term).  I blogged previously about how revelations that Masshole Senate Candidate Warren is taking criticism for claiming Cherokee ancestry, despite a very distant possible relation to the tribe and whether "diversity points" should really be used for such tenuous claims (as opposed to someone raised on a reservation or who has a close connection to the culture at issue). 

But mainly, the rule is when you're in a hole, quit digging.  Every week spent trying to argue that it's just fine for Harvard to claim credit for hiring nonwhites by using a woman slightly whiter than the cast of "Friends" using D.C. Bikeshares program on their way to Whole Foods is a week not spent reminding the residents of a dark blue state that they have a Republican representing them in the Senate. 

(To be sure, I'd like to see that particular Republican, Scott Brown, re-elected, as well as Montana Democrat Jon Tester, if only so that there are some Senators left who actually have to consider the opinions of constituents from the opposite party.  We dont' need more Jim DeMints and Barbara Boxers, in my view)

The right response for Warren would have been something along the lines of "I checked the box honestly because of my ancestral background, how my employer chose to use that is their policy.  Now let's talk entitlement spending...."

The wrong response?  This.  Namely, doubling down by claiming that a grandfather had "high cheekbones" as "Indians often do" and that poof, this should end the criticism.  (I shudder to think what she would have said if she were claiming Jewish or Italian ancestry)  Yep, that should kill the story!

My best guess out of all this is that Massachusetts has been dominated by the Democrats for so long that they forgot how to fight a spirited campaign.  How else can you explain so much amateurism?

Worst Pop Culture Year Candidate--1980

It sometimes takes the benefit of hindsight to determine just how awful a given year really was for pop culture.  And with this hindsight, I submit for you the worst year in the past four decades for pop culture--1980.

Sure, some don't agree, and point out movies like "Empire Strikes Back" and "Blues Brothers", both of which came out that year.  But 1980 is also responsible for Xanadu, Flash Gordon, and Roller Boogie which should be enough to counterbalance a dozen Godfathers and about a half dozen Casablancas. 

Yes, during that year of malaise, gas shortages, inflation and recession, we also had the last dying gasp of disco, which even at its best was a pretty awful musical category.  While we waited to hear about how we were going to rescue our hostages from Iran only to find out the mission collapsed in disaster, we had BJ and the Bear, a hit TV show about a trucker and his pet ape getting into adventures across the American South. 

We may have had Springsteen and Billy Joel at their primes, but we also had Lipps Inc.  We had Dukes of Hazard, but people were enjoying it UN-ironically.  Glorious feathered hair gave way to helmet-heads for women, and the outfits were so unflattering--culminating in jumpsuits--that it is a wonder anyone was conceived that year (though Billy Beer might be the reason).

Yes, if there's one year we should wipe from the pop culture universe, I nominate 1980.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Daily Bit of Punditry

Every two-bit wannabe pundit in the land has been making blowharded predictions about this year's presidential election.  And this two-bit wannabe pundit is no exception!  Here are the things to watch for you political junkies:

1) Forget all the overanalysis of whether Obama or Romney can win key "swing" states (by this we mean Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada, and in some circles, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, New Mexico, Arizona, and Pennsylvania).  How those states will go will be closely tied to the national numbers for each candidate.  If Romney gets say 53% of the vote, it is hard seeing him not take most of the "swingers", and vice versa.  The swing states usually tend to "swing" together, as they have since the '90s.

2) Watch the job numbers in the next few months.  It is less important how the job numbers stack up in comparison with 2008 than it is how the "trend" appears.  If job growth appears steady--consistently 200K jobs added per month or more, for the spring and summer months at least--Obama will get re-elected.  If job growth is closer to 100K per month, it gets very dicey for him and Romney has an opportunity.  If we actually saw net job losses for any month between now and November--which is unlikely--Obama is toast.

3) The VP pick by Romney can only help him if it reinforces a strength; it will not add a new strength.  In other words, if Romney picks someone with business experience, or who appeals to moderate suburbanites--his own strengths during the primaries--it can help him.  Picking a Latino or woman or hard core Tea Party conservative will not have any real effect in giving him support among these groups.  It also doesn't really matter what state the veep pick is from--gone are the days where LBJ as VP would bring Texas with him for Kennedy.  And a catastrophic pick--think Sarah Palin--will actually give him a net loss in votes.  Based on this, expect Romney to go with a safe, establishment pick.

4) Foreign affairs won't really matter as much as the economy in this election--unless we go to war this year, which doesn't seem likely.  Voters are more concerned about flat incomes, and whether the deficit will be handled with higher taxes or spending cuts that will affect them.

5) Where the conventions will be held--in Charlotte for the Democrats and Tampa for the GOP--will not make any difference in the voting for their respective states.  Which is why convention location should only be based on where it's most fun for the delegates!

6) Pay little attention to the debates in terms of how they will affect the election.  There will only be a few of them, the candidates will be well-coached, and no matter who gets better zingers, each side's supporters will be convinced their side won.  Unless there's a major Rick Perry level gaffe, these should be uneventful.  Remember anything big from the 2008 presidential debates?  Neither do I!

7) Watch for some big advantages Obama has--besides the fact that Romney has had to contort himself to fit a GOP electorate that just isn't convinced he's conservative enough.  Obama has raised a great deal of money, and while at a certain point you can only put so many commercials on TV, the extra money is also being spent on a sophisticated ground game, targetting and focusing on key voters for a get-out-the-vote effort that will surpass Karl Rove's old operation for Bush.  Romney's team will have to surpass this, and likely they don't have the resources for it yet and much was spent on the primary.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Team Names for the Redskins

Among my many other reasons for rooting against the Washington Redskins every year is the fact that the team is named after a casually offensive racial slur.  One retort I usually hear from Redskins fans (when they take a moment from cleaning themselves with sticks and leaves as they desperately try to learn to walk upright) is "hey!  It's not offensive, the term 'redskin' is an homage, a term of endearment!  Now help me pick grubs off of my back hair."

Of course, my assumption that the term is offensive isn't really based on a personal sense of offense--I'm 0/32 Native American, which makes me 1/32 less Native American than "whiter-than-Whole Foods" Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.  However, I'd be equally uncomfortable rooting for a team called the "Blackskins" with a racial caricature of a black guy on the helmet, or the "Yellowskins" with a racial caricature of a Chinese guy scrawled on the playing field. 

I'll grant that most defenders of the Redskins team name aren't trying to insult Indians--but beyond the discomfort with this politically incorrect name there's also the issue that there's not a large Native American population in the D.C. area.  When you think "D.C." you don't generally add "ah, the city with a lot of Indian tribes native to the area!"  Unless I don't know my history, about the times when Chief Gaithersburg led the Rockville tribe in forging a treaty with Chief Arlington, leader of the Lorton.  With that in mind, might I suggest some more appropriate team names for D.C.'s NFL franchise:

1) The Lobbyists.  Bow down before their influential glory!

2) The Interns.  They accept no pay, merely summer stipends! 

3) The Protesters.  Tremble before their loud, ineffectual screeching!

4) The Tourons.  Much like their namesakes, they will block any attempt to get by them, whether on the gridiron or our city sidewalks.

5) The Immune Diplomats.  Don't try to penalize them, they have immunity! 

6) The Bigots.  They can laughably keep the title "civil rights hero" while speaking out against Asian shopkeepers trying to do business in their Ward!

A Speech Rombama Should Give

With the news that North Carolina just amended their state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, one can look with great disappointment at our acclaimed liberal Nobel Peace Prizewinning President for some moral guidance on the civil rights issue of our time.  Oh, wait, no, Obama's "still making up his mind" on the issue.  Do they give out "Profiles in Cowardice" awards?  Because at this point the sad pandering to what can only be explained as bigotry is no longer exclusively the duty of Mitt Romney.  Fortunately when LBJ was president he didn't decide that his opinion on racial segregation was "still evolving."

So Obama and Romney are sadly wimps--what else is new?  Here's the speech it would have been nice to hear one of them give:

"I understand North Carolina is voting today to decide to make sure that gay couples cannot get married.  For those of you who support this effort, I want to ask a few things of you.  First, please make sure to never refer to yourselves as Christians.  My own Christianity--as well as that of my opponent, has been challenged by morons for years now.  However, despite the hurtful suggestions of these mouth-breathers, I am a Christian and I really don't want to be lumped in with the sort of people who aren't content to just disapprove of another person's personal behavior but are willing to use the power of the state for no real purpose other than to insult and humiliate others.  Nobody is telling you that your churches have to sanction gay marriages, or that you personally have to approve of them--though it would be nice if you did so.  Instead, they're only asking that the state not deny them the same marriage rights heterosexuals enjoy--including hospital visitation, tax benefits, and inheritance to name a few.  But you just can't allow that--okay, just don't sully the Christian faith by using it as an excuse.

"Second, I ask that you stop pretending this is about protecting marriage.  It's not, and you know it.  If you really wanted to protect marriage so badly, you'd be working to make it harder to divorce, easier to get marriage counselling, or something to that effect.  Denying marriage rights to another couple furthermore has nothing whatsoever to do with your own marriage.  If you can show me one heterosexual couple that fell apart solely because a gay couple was allowed to marry, I'll retract this.  But I'm not holding my breath.

"Third, I ask that you consider getting some sort of 'bigotry cure.'  If you can devote resources to psychological counselling to cure people of their homosexuality, I'm sure you can do the same to cure yourself of whatever strange condition is causing you to fear gayness so much that you need to use government power to fight it.

"It was only half a century ago that some states still outlawed racially mixed marriages--stupid laws that would have prevented our current president from actually existing, if you can believe it.  And again, we're talking about a case where the power of the state was used solely to insult and humiliate and deny rights.  No one is trying to outlaw bigotry--you can disapprove of whatever you want, for any reason you want.  But there's something profoundly wrong with using the state in this way, that has real-world consequences for people who are not bothering you.

"I realize this may lose me some votes--screw it.  There's no point in being president if you can't stand up for what's right."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Various Cities' Sports Fans

As all the major pro-sports leagues have been plagued by the constant trading of players like so much cheap merchandise, the one bit of constancy we can see year in and year out is each city's fans.  Fans generally don't switch their allegiance from one team to another, unless something egregious happens, such as a worthless idiot like Dan Snyder buying the team and causing a long period of deep sucking.

However, before you decide to adopt a hockey, baseball, football or basketball team as your new favorite, keep in mind the unsavory company you may be joining in terms of your fellow fans:

1) Boston area fans.  These townies tend to be unduly aggressive, building up the sort of frustration that comes from a 90 year lack of World Series victories.  They may lash out unexpectedly at you, so watch out! 

2) Cleveland area fans.  Be extra cautious around these folks, because they are sort of divorced from reality.  Their long beloved Cleveland Browns went and moved to Baltimore, which says a lot when Baltimore is a step up from your city.  Then, rather than going with a fresh start and a new team name when Cleveland got a new franchise, the city opted to stick with the name "the Browns."  This is like your girlfriend leaving you, and you decide to call your new girlfriend by the old girlfriend's name so you don't have to change your tattoo.

3) Detroit area fans.  These people actually don't exist.  The people you see in the stands at games are all there just to ask for directions for how to get out of Detroit.

4) Pittsburgh area fans.  Be careful around them so you don't get run over by their overwhelming sense of smug.  It is impossible for a Steelers fan to have a conversation with you without slipping in the number of Super Bowl victories their team has had.  If you ask them how baseball's Pirates are doing this season they will change the subject back to the Steelers.

5) New York area fans.  Don't point out that their two football teams share a crappy stadium out in Jersey.  They've heard it all before.

6) Los Angeles area fans.  These people also do not exist.  Everyone in Los Angeles is from a small farm in the midwest, trying to make it in the "business", they just have to get a producer to read their screenplay.  Any team loyalties they may have would be towards the Denver or Kansas City or Minneapolis teams, but they don't really follow sports anyway.

7) Washington area fans.  These bloodsuckers will root for whatever team they got free tickets to go see.

8) Philadelphia area fans.  This is the lowest form of fan.  They are violent, criminal, and nasty.  Remember that scene in Rocky II when Rocky was running down the street with all the kids following him?  What they left out was where the kids caught up to Rocky and beat him to a pulp and stole his wallet.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Advice for Politicians

When I get critical of today's politicians, the usual retort I get from mouth-breathers is "oh yeah?  Garble garble mush mush" which doesn't make any sense, but then a halfway intelligent person steps in and says "what Mongo here is trying to say is what would you do differently, smart guy?"  Glad you asked, halfway intelligent person!  Here's where my unconventional leadership would shine:

1) I'd avoid any easy labels like "Reagan Republican" or "Clinton-style Democrat".  Everyone uses those labels!  I'd instead offer myself up as a "Gerald Ford Republican" and when people ask what that means I'd say "I'm planning to pardon the hell out of lawbreaking former presidents.  So Bill Clinton, this is your chance to do that crime spree."

2) If my opponent calls me a Social Darwinist I'd retort that they're an anti-social Darwinist and their parties suck.  While they're reeling from this and trying to figure out what that just meant I'd say "any day now, Poindexter!"

3) When I get called before a congressional committee, I'd flip the questions around on the committeemen by asking for their IDs because there's a rumor going around that some rogue miscreats are around town posing as congressional commitees and I want to make sure they are who they say they are.  After they produce their drivers' licenses, I'd ask for a second form of ID to be certain, and of course they all won't be carrying passports so we'd basically use up all their allotted time arguing over their IDs.

4) When meeting foreign dignitaries I'd establish dominance by calling them by the wrong name and asking if they're sure that the countries they say they're from are really independent nations, because there's a lot of scams going around where colonizers trick countries into thinking they've been made independent and they totally weren't.

5) On all treaties and laws, I'd sign the name of the previous president, just to see if that makes it good law.  At the very least, it'd give the Supreme Court something to work on.

6) When giving televised addresses from the Oval Office, I'd time it so instead of having to pre-empt TV shows I'd be speaking only during the commercials. 

7) I'd happily expropriate the catchphrases from long-ago campaigns, because retro is back, baby.  So in debates, I'll say "There you go again!  Where's the beef?  You're no Jack Kennedy!"  There's just no way to respond to that.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Romantic Comedies Can Use Some Realism

Everyone knows romantic comedies suck, but were you aware that they are also poisoning the minds of stupid people?  It's true!  Generations of young men and women are growing up expecting that their lives will turn out like romantic comedies, only to have their worlds dashed by harsh reality.  This article cleanly sums up a number of lies told by romantic comedies. 

When I watch a romantic comedy--which is all the time, because I clearly hate myself--I try to think of how the film could have injected some real life lessons that would better prepare younger, more impressionable viewers for the realities that lay ahead.  Here are some features that could improve the learning experience of these educational films:

1) Guy and girl are "good buddies" but one of them wants something more.  Instead of making their feelings known, s/he decides that this is just a "proximity crush" and that they really wouldn't be better off as a couple, and so soon finds someone more suitable.  The friendship will continue platornically, or fizzle if it turns out that it was held together by an unhealthy crush.

2) When the guy discovers his true feelings for the girl, but she's about to board a plane to some far-flung locale, he checks to see if he can buy an immediate ticket to the same place so he can meet her there and tell her his true feelings with roses and crap.  The ticket agent tells him the price, which is really steep for a last minute ticket, and the guy decides that's outrageous and instead goes home and writes the girl a nice email.

3) A guy and girl are bickering at work, because one is too stuffy and driven and the other is too much of a fun loving slacker.  Rather than getting turned on during a heated argument, they instead decide that their fighting could hurt both of their careers, and so they ask Human Resources to transfer one of them to a separate department so they don't have to interact.

4) A woman dates a "player" who seems to not respect women, but this is because he's been hurt bad once before and it's just a defense mechanism.  Instead of teaching him the error of his ways, she decides who needs the drama and finds a more suitable mate.

5) A woman's "sassy black friend" actually stays out of her affairs, because even sassy black friends have lives of their own and dont' want to waste their time with other people's bullcrap.

6) The girl is into a working class "bad boy" who her parents don't approve of because of his hardscrabble ways.  Turns out they're right because the guy's also kind of a jerk and insensitive.

7) The guy tries to win over the girl, by climbing a ladder outside her bedroom window and serenading her with a lute.  She immediately gets a restraining order because this is creepy. 

8) A self-proclaimed "pickup artist" finds a woman who just won't play his games.  Rather than relishing the challenge with her, he decides he'd rather aim for easier targets and moves on.  She barely notices.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If You Can't Stand Up to Homophobes, How Can You Stand Up to Iran?

The Romney campaign seems to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  Right now, with the GOP nomination basically sewn up (as it has been since Rick Perry flamed out, because there is no way in hell anyone's going to nominate Newt or Santorum unless it is for the category of "least likely to ever be in charge of anything") the smart play is for Mitt Romney to move hard for the political center.  Die-hard liberals will never abandon the Democrat, and hard core conservatives will never abandon the Republican.  The moderates--those who may not hate Obama but aren't thrilled with him either, who are leery of big government but can see its value at times--are going to decide this election.

I've suggested before that if Romney wants to be competitive with Obama, he needs a "Sister Souljah" moment, where he chastises the more extreme or polarizing elements in his own party to signal to moderates that he is not beholden to these toxic folks.  He failed to do so during the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle, and these opportunities don't come too often in a campaign.  But they do recur.

The latest was the hounding of Romney campaign aide Rick Grennell, who recently resigned from the campaign amid some criticism from the party's right wing.  Some of this criticism had to do with blog posts and tweets (seriously, Twitter really should have been left for pre-teen girls and not grownups) by Grennell, but some of the nastier attacks were prompted by revelations that the aide is--horrors!--gay. 

It appears that Grennell's resignation may have been a surprise to the Romney team, so it seems unlikely that he was asked to resign.  However, this would have been a good chance to jump on the issue and make a public statement to the (sadly) far too influential gay-haters in his party--namely, to say that Romney couldn't care less what someone's sexual orientation is and that anyone focusing on that is just plain weird. This wouldn't require any policy discussions that would antagonize the base, but would be a good showing of loyalty to his aide--signalling that he'd defend them from bigots, and signalling to moderates that he wouldn't let the extreme elements of the party push him around.  Plus, how risky is it for Romney to stand up to these thugs?  It's not as though they'll sit idly by and let Obama get re-elected.  They're stuck with Mitt at this point.

Romney's failure to take this not so risky stance instead demonstrates that this is a timid candidate, too cowed by the more bigoted elements in his party.  Ironically, George W Bush--beloved by "Christian" conservatives and never really in danger from his party's right flank--would likely have done this, as the Bushes tended to be loyal to their aides, to a fault.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

By These Standards I May Be Jewish

In one of the more interesting Senate races going on this year, Massholes are going to decide whether to re-elect moderate Republican Scott Brown or replace him with his challenger, Professor Elizabeth Warren.  The result will be a test of just how "blue" the Bay State actually is.

But as is often the case this year, the latest flareup isn't about what policies either of these candidates would pursue on taxes, spending, regulation, etc., but Prof. Warren's listing of herself as a "Native American" for purposes of her colleges taking credit for diversity hiring.  Brown's team is of course criticizing her for taking credit for supposed Cherokee ancestry (at best, her claim is based on having a great-great-great grandmother who is listed as Cherokee--or 1/32 Native American).

There is a great deal that fries my bacon over this whole mess.

1) Let's start with Warren's campaign manager Mindy Myers suggesting that the line of inquiry was "sexist".  Er, what???  I'm not sure what challenging someone's minority status claims has to do with sexism, unless you take the idea that women are all wilting flowers who get the vapors at political attacks of any type.  I couldn't stand when Sarah Palin's defenders acted as though every attack on her was "sexist" and it's no less disgusting here to hide behind that.  If this typical political salvo from Brown's camp is "sexist" then I'm afraid "sexist" has no meaning.  If anything, such a defense is condescending.

2) Whether you agree with race-based affirmative action (or "diversity hiring") this is a real perversion of its goals.  The entire idea is to provide access and opportunities to those who have previously been denied these things, as well as to diversify an otherwise homogenous pool.  (Again, the relative merits of these arguments, which are currently being tested before the Supreme Court, are another matter.  Let's assume this practice to be beneficial).  How on earth does letting an elite school faculty bring on Elizabeth Warren--a woman so freaking WHITE that she only stops at Costco to ask for directions to Whole Foods because they have a better organic hummus selection--in any way add a Native American flavor to their staff, or provide an opportunity to a Native American who has racial or individual obstacles to overcome?  By giving her this slot, it's being denied to someone who may have actually been born on a reservation or had parents who still practice Cherokee traditions.  If anything, this should be a good argument for limiting affirmative action to individuals with personal obstacles or who actually can promote diversity in the pool.

3) How should Warren have responded to this attack?  Minimize damage and move on--announce that you listed Cherokee ancestry because you believed it was proper, and it was in accordance with the employer (the school) standards.  Acknowledge that maybe this is a good reason to reassess how diversity hiring is implemented, as the practice as-is would tend to give institutions cover for not really promoting actual diversity. And then steer the campaign back to the issues--Brown is at a disadvantage as a Republican in a state that is likely to go for Obama by 20 points, and letting the race get to be about personalities takes away any advantage the Democrat may have.

One of Those Long Bible Posts!

One thing anti-homosexual advocates point to when trying to make their case is the Bible's condemnation of homosexuality.  Often it gets raised as a discussion-ender--the Bible prohibits man laying with man, therefore as a Christian (or conservative Jew) you have to oppose it as well.  QED.

Of course, this shouldn't be conceded, particularly when we're talking about a very long and complex bit of writing from thousands of years ago.  (Consider also that the U.S. Constitution, which is a tiny fraction of the length of the Bible, written only a couple hundred years ago by people who are known to us, still is the subject of scholarly debate as to how it should be interpreted.)  In a recent dustup with young Christians, columnist and gay activist Dan Savage basically argued that people should disregard the "bullshit" about gays in the Bible the same way they disregard other "bullshit" in the Bible, such as proscriptions on shellfish.  The youngsters, offended, walked out of the event.

I'd actually take it a step further than Savage did though, and not even concede that the Bible--or a healthy belief in Christianity for that matter--is anti-homosexual.  To accept this interpretation, consider what the actual purpose was for all the "rules" in the Old Testament.  (This is where the condemnations of homosexual acts, as well as the shellfish ban, etc., came from.  To the extent that the New Testament accepts any of these proscriptions, it is based on following the word of God in the Old Testament)

Everything God ordered his Chosen People to do in the Old Testament can be summed up in two general goals--maintain your loyalty to God, and do everything possible to prevent being wiped out or assimilated into any competing tribes.  The "loyalty to Me" thing makes sense--without that, there's no point in being "Chosen" people, and the Israelites become no different from the Canaanites or Egyptians.  Keeping from being wiped out meant procreating as much as possible--this is why if a husband dies then the brother should "lay with" the wife, and other weird hillbilly stuff that seems weird now but probably made sense for a small desert people surrounded by enemies and susceptible to dangerous primitive living conditions.  This also meant avoiding "unclean" foods, such as shellfish or pork, that by 3000 BC standards could easily wipe out large groups of people with diseases.  This also explained why God seemed to be okay with war against neighbors, which seems to violate the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" thing--no killing, unless it's necessary to protect the tribe.

With this context, one could understand why any form of non-procreative sex was banned--homosexuality, sodomy, etc.--every bit of sexual effort had to be channeled towards keeping the population up.  Remember this was a time when plagues hit regularly, and health standards were low.

And based on that reasoning, it also makes sense that none of those condemnations from thousands of years ago actually mean that God would consider them applicable today--it's no longer necessary to maintain a fragile population, any more than it's unsafe to eat pork or lobster.

Granted, not everyone would agree with this interpretation, but by no means should anyone have to concede that one cannot be Christian (or any other Bible-based religion) without condemning homosexuality.  Though as Savage suggests, if you're going to hang your justification for bashing gays on one of the Bible's many "rules", you should be ready to explain why you can ignore the rest of them.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Basketball--And How To Improve It

Despite the fact that any sports fans with taste and class are watching truly great sports like baseball or German Rules Hackeysack, there's a lot of popularity right now for basketball.  This makes no sense, because basketball is to sports what a plate of rocks and sticks is to fine cuisine.

But, you protest, basketball is a game of great skill and endurance!  Those athletes are truly great!  I have no doubt that great talent is wasted on the sport, as Michael Jordan is one of the all-time greatest athletes second only to Jim Thorpe.  And it does take great skill, as does playing billiards with a rope instead of a cue.  However, that does not mean it is worth watching.  I'll explain.

What do football, hockey, and professional bullriding all have in common?  That's right--in each of those sports, the event doesn't come to a total momentum-destroying standstill every time someone is touched by the opposing player. 

Yes, basketball is the only sport of which I'm aware that players from one team will intentionally "foul" in order to bring on penalty shots (and don't bring up delay of game penalties in football, because football would obviously be vastly improved with a continuously running clock as they have in soccer).  How many games are a matter of dribble, dribble, pass, dribble, pass, shoot, rebound, dribble, okay getting boring but interesting, dribble, dribble, ooh look it's exciting now, dribble, pass, dribble, dribble, FOUL okay now let's give the fouled team two free throws.

Why not just eliminate the game entirely and let each time take a fixed number of free throws to determine the score?  That's what it ends up being, anyway.

How to fix the game?  Here are some easy steps:

1) Play clock doesn't stop.  Figure on a game taking 120 minutes, with a clean start and end time. 

2) A true foul is one that injures another player or at least knocks them flat on their backs.  The penalty, instead of free throws, is you have to stand still while the fouled player hucks the ball at you with all their strength, and you can't block it with your hands.

3) The whole thing should really be done on ice skates. 

4) Defenders are allowed to goaltend, but offense is allowed to form human stepstools to get serious leverage and height.

5) Travelling?  Where I come from, we call that initiative.

6) Add three more players on each team.  Won't help the game much, but will certainly help the nerdy kids feel less left out.

The Latest Civil Rights Controversy, Courtesy of the Cornpone State

Have you ever encountered someone who is not just stupid, but weapons-grade stupid?  I submit for your review the following scenario

Classy bar in Iowa City (which is sort of the Paris of Johnson County) allows its attention whore customers to dance on a platform when they get drunk enough and the bar plays their favorite radio-dreck on the jukebox.  Overweight student tries to dance on the platform, and the bar's staff allegedly informs here that she's too fat and can't go on the platform.  Allegedly-wronged fat girl complains to local paper, and bar owner issues an apology while not actually admitting to the "discrimination".  Apology apparently isn't enough, and allegedly-wronged fat girl wants a public apology "to every single person they've don ethis to" and for the bar "to admit that they do discriminate" as well as posting in writing that every paying customer "will be allowed in this establishment and allowed up on the platform and on the dance floor."

I need a moment to digest this.  There is a great deal of stupid here, and sometimes, the stupid burns a bit.

First off, Genius McMoron, no business is going to publicly admit--in writing, no less--to discrimination, even if the discrimination were legal.  So drop that idea right now.  Second, it's not exactly safe to have large-bodied, drunk morons dancing on platforms where they can fall and injure other moron patrons.  The bar doesn't seem to raise that issue, so this was likely more of a "you're not good looking enough to attention whore at our bar" thing.  It sucks, but some clubs will do that--pick only people with the right "look" out of the line.  I'm a bit surprised that this happens in Iowa City, better known as the city that doesn't shut down until 9PM, but there you are.  Granted I'd feel differently if this were more of a "no Mexicans or Asians allowed in the club" sort of thing.  But weight is something people for the most part can control, and can have serious negative effects on other innocent parties.  A person next to you on an airplane might not only have parts of their body spilling into your seat, but they also can present a hazard if you can't get around their bulk in an emergency situation.  A large person bouncing around on a raised platform with six beers in them does in fact effect others.

But the bigger issue is this--why of all things plant your flag on the right to do something so stupid and attention whoring as platform dancing at some stupid bar in the middle of nowhere?  Yes, college kids have dumb priorities, but you know what college students in China are doing while we're fretting over whether our overweight university students have a right to dance on platforms?  They're learning how to build bridges and power plants.