Here are a few items I’ve noted might be post-worthy, but ultimately never got around to expanding on. Anyway, I thought I would clear them off my ledger and offer some brief thoughts.
1. Maybe Hugo Chavez should run for office in Dover, PA. After last week’s election in York County resulted in the ouster of pro-Intelligent Design school board members, evangelist Pat Robertson said that Dover citizens shouldn’t look to God if there’s a disaster there, because they’ve “rejected” God. Here’s a nice local response. I guess I’m confused because I thought ID wasn’t supposed to be, necessarily, about God. You know, if I were writing a movie about a situation like this, the evangelist character would eventually snap and do something like take out the dam above the town, so he could “prove” that God had foresaken the people. I’m not saying Robertson would do something like that, but he spends a lot of time predicting disasters. So much time that one might think that his credibility would eventually hinge on him being correct. I’m just saying.
2. Perhaps I don’t have the credibility to say this after snarking at Pat Robertson above, and I really don’t want to start a fuss over it, but let me just say that I think it’s possible — just theoretically possible — to say the phrase “Happy Holidays” and not necessarily mean “I hate Jesus.” And that’s all I’ll say about it.
3. This may be the weirdest story I’ve seen in a while. The title is “The Hustler, the Heiress, and the Soft Porn King,” and if that doesn’t lure you in, no headline ever will. As the author notes, it’s like Six Degrees of Separation meets “Girls Gone Wild.”
4. Here’s an interesting essay in “The Weekly Standard” about how the Republican Party can reach out to lower- and middle-class voters. There are some good ideas in here, but I don’t think the GOP will adopt many of them. But it’s nice to see conservatives recognize that having so many uninsured Americans is a real problem.
5. Here’s one from Judge Posner in “The New Republic” about how the federal government, by its nature, may be incapable of dealing with catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. (It has a lot to do with not being able to take the long view and do cost-benefit analysis.) I’ve been doing some reading about this issue, and I may have more to say later.
6. Last week the Freakonomics bloggers asked “Why Vote?” and noting that economists almost universally consider voting to be a worthless act, because there’s essentially no chance your particular vote will be the one that matters (and even if it were the single vote that mattered, it’s not as if the candidates would know that in time to make it worth casting your vote for one of them). I can understand these arguments, but I still vote (most of the time). For one thing, as some of the commenters there posited, voting is a social act, and people want to think of themselves as someone who participates in the system and fulfills a civic duty. That has value to them. Also, the best analogy I’ve ever heard for voting is that it’s like cheering at a sporting event. It’s almost impossible that your individual cheer will make any difference in the outcome. But you still do it because it’s an expressive act, you feel good doing it whether it matters or not, and perhaps because of a sense that the game/election is better if more people participate — an election where a lot of people vote is like a game where the crowd gets really into it. So anyway, that’s why I vote: it’s like cheering for Team America!
8. Speaking of voting, here’s a funny story from the Sacramento Bee “Insider” blog. Last week, when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger went to vote in the state’s ballot measures, it turned out that he was listed as having already voted. Problem was, he hadn’t. “Schwarzenegger” seems like a hard name to make a mistake with. The Gov. wasn’t trying to stuff the ballot boxes. It seems that poll workers had used his name to test the voting machines, and then had forgotten to erase their test. So even though all the ballot measures Schwarzenegger backed were defeated, at least his vote was counted (but only once).
9. Speaking of Schwarzenegger, he’s about to face another difficult political test. As noted in sveral stories linked at How Appealing, Crips gang founder and death row inmate Stan “Tookie” Williams has petitioned Gov. Schwarzenegger for executive clemency. The execution is scheduled for December 13. I’ve been following this case since way back here, and I will be interested to see what Schwarzenegger does.
10. Lots of good stuff lately at Warren St. John’s Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer blog, the Fanopticon (and see my review of RJYH here). I’m sure Warren’s down after the Tide’s loss yesterday, so I thought I’d send some traffic his way. It’s worth a visit just for the pictures he has up now.
11. I’ve recently discovered the web comic Questionable Content. It’s probably semi-work-safe at best. But it’s funny and insightful. It’s the adventures of a “frustrated 20-something music nerd” and his friends. I’ve been working my way through the archives, and there’s a lot of good material there.
12. On a personal note, I feel like I’ve been suffering from a brain cloud lately. Maybe it’s seasonal. Maybe I’m just missing Fitz. Maybe…never mind. Anyway, I’m not going to do anything drastic, but I feel like I need to shake things up a little. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: 7. As Dylan helpfully pointed out, I misnumbered and forgot #7. So, here’s a bonus item, Mike Tyson and Bobby Brown singing “The Monster Mash” on Jimmy Kimmel’s Halloween show. I’m not saying Dylan reminded me of those guy, though.