Rear Window Ethics Rear Window Ethics: October 2007

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church -- Pay UP, Bastards!


All I can say is thank God someone stood up against these people. The only things more disgusting than their politics are their methods.

NYT
BALTIMORE (AP) -- The father of a fallen Marine was awarded nearly $11 million Wednesday in damages by a jury that found leaders of a fundamentalist church had invaded the family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress when they picketed the Marine's funeral.
For those of you not familiar with their philosophy and tactics, they're pretty easy to describe and pretty hard to understand.

Basically, they believe that "God Hates Fags". Okay.

Here's where it gets a little trickier. So "God Hates Fags", but because the US is so tolerant of homosexuality (you know, the US is SOOO tolerant, right?), God hates America, and shows His anger by allowing US soldiers to die in the Middle East.

Hmm, seems like a stretch. So if God were happy with our treatment of homosexuals, there would be no US casualties in a protracted, destructive, region-wide engagement?

But get this: Because "God Hates Fags" so much that He kills US soldiers to teach America a lesson, the Westboro Baptist Church picket the funerals of fallen soldiers -- right in front of their loved ones. Yep, they wave signs saying "Thank God for Fallen Soldiers".

So let's recap: The families of dead American soldiers need to be taught a lesson -- one beyond the tragic death of their loved one -- because America is too tolerant of homosexuals.

Seems logical enough, doesn't it?

So here's a big fuck you, Westboro Baptist Church. I hope you get served with as many of these lawsuits as funerals you disrupted with your awful, insane, and Godless ways.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

World Series Champs 2007!

In case you missed it, the Red Sox swept the Rockies on their way to their second world championship in four years.

Strange sounding, isn't it?

It was a great season, an amazing post-season, and a gratifying, all-hands-involved series. Guys who had been disappointing all season stepped up and played like October was a different universe. Lugo, Drew, even Kielty all played with renewed purpose, and supported the youngest members of the team who were the stars of the post-season.

I don't think there's anyone in this town who would say that this year could match the energy that exploded onto the streets after they won in 2004. The excitement was real as Papelbon threw that last pitch, but let's just say I didn't spend the next hour hugging, high-fiving and crying while on the phone.

That's not to say it was a let down in any way. This was a completely new feeling. It was an enjoyable feeling. It was all the excitement and gratification of a World Series victory without the years of pressure and anguish simultaneously rupturing out of your body. There's no comparison between 2004 and 2007, but I'm happy about this new era because the weight off of each moment has been lifted.

If that means that the Red Sox are now just another winning baseball team, then so be it. Sure, it changes a Red Sox fan's identity completely, but you know what? I'll gladly make the trade.

Oh... and of course, Wins Needed for Free Couch: 0, Baby!

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Just 1 More Win, Sox!

What a great night for the young guys! Pedroia and Ellsbury: 7/10 with 4 RBI. Round it out with another good night for Lowell, and the Sox are one game away from winning it all.

Boston's hitting in this series is so timely. Very different from the first half of the ALCS. There was a scary moment when Colorado came within one, but just in time we tacked on some insurance in the next frame.

Interesting pitching match up tomorrow between two players who have had to overcome serious health issues -- Lester's cancer and Cook's blood clot problems. A great (paraphrased) quote from Wakefield about not being on the WS roster and Lester's start tomorrow:

Things happen for a reason. Maybe it's John Lester's turn to shine.

Maybe.

Wins needed for free couch: 1 (!!!)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

World Series Game 1

That was just total domination. I know it was probably our best scenario -- what with Beckett as nasty as that and the hitters still locked in from last series -- but if we could get something like that even once more we'd be in great shape.

Granted, Colorado may have had some rust on their bats, but the way Beckett was throwing he could have silenced almost any offense in baseball.

That is not to say that I think this series will be a blow out. I'm quite wary of how the Sox will fare in Denver, with that huge outfield, NL rules, and the altitude. Winning tonight is very important, because I could see them dropping a few out West.

Could be Schilling's last game at Fenway tonight. Here's hoping he'll dig down and give a classic "Schilling in the spotlight" performance for posterity.

Wins needed for free couch: 3

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

White House Censored CDC Climate Change Testimony

With everything the public knows about global warming, is this really necessary or effective?

WaPo:
Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that White House officials heavily edited testimony on global warming delivered to Congress yesterday by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, downplaying the specific health problems that could arise.

Bush administration officials cut CDC director Julie L. Gerberding's testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee on "climate change and public health" from 12 pages to six, removing sections that detailed how global warming would affect Americans and suggested the government has yet to fully respond to the potential risk posed by climate change.



Apparently the administration didn't want the testimony to include the fact that

"...the public health effects of climate change remain largely unaddressed. CDC considers climate change a serious public concern."

or that the Northern US

"...will likely bear the brunt of increases in ground-level ozone and associated airborne pollutants. Populations in mid-western and northeastern cities are expected to experience more heat-related illnesses as heat waves increase in frequency, severity and duration."

Also cut was the belief that

"...people of lower socioeconomic status are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events [...] Members of racial and ethnic minority groups suffer particularly from air pollution as well as inadequate health care access, while athletes and those who work outdoors are more at risk from air pollution, heat and certain infectious diseases."

It's one thing for the administration to push back against attempts at climate control -- it is unconscionable, but not pathetic. But to try and obscure information from Congress and the American People, at a point in time when Nobel Prizes are awarded for awareness of global warming, is just too ridiculous.

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Boston Community Boating Sail Season



The end of this month marks the end of the Community Boating 2007 season. If you're new to Boston or just looking for something new and fun to do during next year's fair-weather months, do yourself a favor and go down for a free orientation to the program.

Sailing this past year was probably the best bargain activity I've ever found in the city. Unlimited sailing, seven days a week, April through October, all classes included... for $200. It's insane! You can't get a kind of deal like anywhere in Boston.

If you needed any further encouragement, the staff is almost all volunteer, everyone is incredibly nice, and your membership fee goes toward subsidizing their Boston youth program (where kids sail all summer for $1).

So go check it out, either before they close on 10/31, or when they open up in April.

Community Boating

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Red Sox: ALCS Champs!

What a series, what a game, what a ride. It's really eerie the way this post-season has mirrored 2004. A crushing sweep of the Angels in the ALDS. A rough stretch through the ALCS ending in a streak of wins to grab the series.

You can't say enough about Josh Beckett's performance in October. 3 Wins, 26Ks, 1.17 ERA, 0.61 WHIP. Ridiculous! His start in Game 5 absolutely turned the series. Clearly the MVP, even with Youkilis' outstanding work at the plate.

I'd like to take this time to thank everyone involved for the wonderful barrage of text messages I received between the hours of 11:01 and 11:37.
"Yes!"

"FUCK YEAH!"

"Make it Rain!"

"F Yeah!"

"Go Sox! World Series Here We Come!"

... and many more...


Wins Needed For Free Couch: 4

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

DonorsChoose: 3rd Graders Make Movie Magic

DonorsChoose.org has been a recent phenomenon in the teaching world. Educators post a proposal for a project, or piece of classroom equipment that they need, and people just like you and me directly fund them. How simple!

It just so happens there's a Boston-area project near and dear to my heart that I'd like to promote: 3rd Grade Producers, Directors and Actors Make Movie Magic!

Take a look and see if you'd like to contribute toward the class's project. It's a good one!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

A New GI Bill for a New Military


When US troops came home from their WWII tours in Europe and the Pacific, they received something more than the thanks of a grateful nation. America's appreciation for its veterans was made tangible in the GI Bill -- a measure that not only rewarded returning soldiers, but also helped create what we today consider the "middle class".

The GI Bill provided money for tuition at any university or trade school program a veteran was accepted in, as well as funds for living expenses, books, and associated fees. Almost 10 million veterans used the GI Bill to advance their education, when previously only 5% of the country's population had earned college degrees before the war.

It's true that there were many more complicated reasons for enacting the GI Bill -- most notably to avoid over-saturating the post-war job market -- but those objectives can't take away from this list of accomplishments by GI Bill recipients:
  • 14 Nobel Prize Winners
  • 3 Supreme Court Justices
  • 3 US Presidents
  • 12 Pulitzer Prize Winners
  • 230,000 teachers
The GI Bill did cost a substantial amount of money: $50 Billion (in today's dollars). The result, however, was actually a net gain in government revenue, as the increased earning of the new middle-class created $350 Billion in additional income tax dollars.

That was then.

In its current form, today's GI Bill pales in comparison. It pays active-duty veterans roughly $1,100 per month for 36 months. Anyone even remotely familiar with today's tuition costs knows that doesn't measure up. Military pay is better today, and members of the all-volunteer force receive an enlistment bonus, but it all boils down to this: We can do better.

Sen. Jim Webb, himself a veteran and former Navy secretary and whose son is currently serving, has proposed the most generous update of the GI Bill to date. The bill is stuck in committee and may remain there for the foreseeable future, but the members of our strained military deserve for it to see the light of day.

Some detractors of Webb's bill point out that making the transition from the military to higher education more accessible would impact re-enlistment rates. Regardless of that possibility, the men and women who return home from performing the duty asked of them by their country deserve options. They deserve opportunities. They deserve more than to be funneled back into service because its their only available course of action.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

ALCS Freak Out!

The baseball playoffs are a funny thing. One day you're riding high, confident as ever that your team might have dodged two Cy Young bullets, and a few hours later you're not sure if they'll win another game this season.

I don't think I'd recovered from Saturday's marathon loss to Cleveland -- even by the first pitch last night. Even if I had, however, last nights anemic offensive showing would have scared any confidence away.

So it comes down to this: Timmy Wakefield, whom I love, but who also hasn't pitched in almost a month. The bats need to wake up tonight, or we'll be down 3-1, and that's not good for anyone.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Craigslist Fun: M&M Wars

My good friend Vanessa sent me this amazing craigslist post a while back:

Whenever I get a package of plain M&Ms, I make it my duty to continue
the strength and robustness of the candy as a species. To this end, I
hold M&M duels.

Taking two candies between my thumb and forefinger, I apply pressure,
squeezing them together until one of them cracks and splinters. That
is the "loser," and I eat the inferior one immediately. The winner
gets to go another round.

I have found that, in general, the brown and red M&Ms are tougher, and
the newer blue ones are genetically inferior. I have hypothesized that
the blue M&Ms as a race cannot survive long in the intense theater of
competition that is the modern candy and snack-food world.

Occasionally I will get a mutation, a candy that is misshapen, or
pointier, or flatter than the rest. Almost invariably this proves to
be a weakness, but on very rare occasions it gives the candy extra
strength. In this way, the species continues to adapt to its
environment.

When I reach the end of the pack, I am left with one M&M, the
strongest of the herd. Since it would make no sense to eat this one as
well, I pack it neatly in an envelope and send it to M&M Mars, A
Division of Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ 17840-1503 U.S.A., along with
a 3x5 card reading, "Please use this M&M for breeding purposes."

This week they wrote back to thank me, and sent me a coupon for a free
1/2 pound bag of plain M&Ms. I consider this "grant money." I have set
aside the weekend for a grand tournament. From a field of hundreds, we
will discover the True Champion.

There can be only one.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

YouTube Fun: Stacey Hedger's Star Wars

Thanks to my friend Ed for sending this beauty along.

It's actually some kind of spectacular feat that she never manages to play a single not in tune the entire time...

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

TDS: Lewis Black on Congress

MoveOn.org, Rush Limbaugh, flag pins -- these are the important things our elected representatives spend their time debating.

Lewis Black takes them to task:

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CharlestownSingles.org

Signs of the same quality and sketchiness as the "Sell Your House in 2 Days!" and "Lose 50 Pounds Fast!" placards have cropped up around the neighborhood. Their message?

SINGLE?
CharlestownSingles.org

I love the idea that dating websites with a larger sample size -- say America, or even Boston -- clearly weren't cutting it in Charlestown. How can you expect to find a partner on eHarmony who'll go to Old Sully's with you every night? You would probably never meet someone seriously into Youth Hockey leagues and scratch tickets on Match.com. No, somehow a 1 square mile neighborhood was too big for you to meet your Townie mate through conventional means.

So here's to you, CharlestownSingles.org! You're doing the most important job there is: Making sure Chucktown never loses its clannish, self-absorbed, introverted spirit.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tufts to Repay Loans for Do-Gooders


Jumbo says, "I'll give you straight cash, homie."

Boston Globe:
Tufts University is offering graduates an unusual deal: Take a job as a public school teacher or social worker, or work for any nonprofit, and the university will help pay off their college loans for years to come.
While some law and medical schools across the country have offered similar incentive programs, the effort at Tufts, a university that has long promoted public-service careers, is unprecedented. It marks the first time a university has extensively promoted relatively low-paying public service careers to undergraduates seeking bachelor's degrees in all majors.
Too late for me, sadly. You could have definitely classified my first few years of self-employment as not profiting me...

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Paranoid Townie: Defend Old Ironsides!

Went on the Charlestown online bulletin board today and found this gem. (All spellings are left as originally posted.):
Navy Yard Protection

Smebody better look at this computer. This is tshe t h ird messagae that I have been unable to finish whast I have had to say. I wlill send the major messge , which no doubt reached your office, to many of the Senators and Congresseen. It is past midight. I have to get some rest. At 91, my age catches up to me.

Why do they make it so difficult to write an e-mail. I got to a certain point and I could not write anymore. My message is extremely serious We are at war.Yet, I saw no semblance of any security, No Jersey barriers to stop suicide bombers. No armed military to down a terrorist should one or more enter the navy yard, and no apparent armed gunboats should terrorists ventusre into those waters to sink the Constitution What a victory that would be for the Anti-Americans all over the world.. Can you imagine the uproar in Muslim countries? It would be a significant blow to the American spche.I have a feeling Osama Ben Ladin may signal terrorists in America to sssts
Yep, I'm sure Osama's #1 target is a relic of the War of 1812 that gets tugged out into the harbor once a year to shoot off cannons, like the naval equivalent of an old guy in a Viagra commercial.

Not sure what 'spche' is (psyche?), but I'm pretty sure the only people that know Old Ironsides exists here are history buffs and Bostonians.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

On to the ALCS...

Great ALDS for the Sox. Game 2 was probably the best baseball game I've ever been to. Manny killed that ball! Top it all off with the fact that Beckett and Schilling were top notch, and that the bullpen was able to rescue a very mediocre start by Dice-K, and I'm feeling very good.

Indians or Yankees? To be honest, I don't think the Yanks will pull this one out. It's for the best, because I don't have the energy for another epic, 7-game series with each game lasting until the wee hours of the morning. Those weeks are absolutely draining, to the extent that whatever emotions come from the end result are wildly out of control. (Hopeless Despair = '03, Amazed Freak Out = '04).

That's not to say that the Sox are easy favorites to win me a free couch it all. Cleveland has pitched really well and played hard baseball. Even if we were able to beat them, we could face Colorado -- the hottest team in baseball -- in the World Series.

Games to win for a World Championship and Free Couch: 8

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Friday, October 05, 2007

GI to Her Familiy: Ask Many Questions if I Die


This has been somewhat of an underground story in Boston, but I'm glad that it's starting to make waves on the national stage.

Spc. Ciara Burkin was found dead by a single gunshot to the head last week at the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Because she was killed inside a secure base, and because she was part of a finance unit, the circumstances surrounding her death are quite suspect. If that wasn't enough, she told her family while on leave last month:

"I discovered some things I don’t like and I made some enemies because of it [...] If anything happens to me, you guys make sure it gets investigated.’’

Understandably, her family wants a full investigation into any event that may have lead to her death. They have enlisted Massachusetts Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy. Kerry recently submitted a letter to Sec. Def. Gates containing the following questions, which the family has asked:
-Why had the family not gotten a response to its request for an independent autopsy?

-Why did the family not receive the results of the Army’s autopsy when it was told it would?

-Why had the Army not made Durkin’s will and other paperwork available to the family so they could plan her funeral?
It isn't right to speculate or fly off into conspiracy theories. It is, however, important to keep this story in the forefront of the often amnesic Media's mind.

The Patriot Ledger

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Red Sox Fan Beaten in New York

Boston Globe:
BOSTON --A Quincy man is nursing multiple facial fractures after a group of men who had earlier asked him if he was a Red Sox fan went on to attack him in New York.
Police in Yonkers say two men from Pennsylvania were arrested and charged with second-degree felony assault.
Wait a minute... two guys from Pennsylvania?! What the hell do they care about the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry? This seems fishy...
He was watching a Red Sox-Angels playoff game with colleagues at a bar when another patron asked them if they had pride in Boston.
That man was later joined by two other people who approached the construction workers from behind as they left the bar.
Police said they attacked Ortez after he parted ways with two colleagues. The assailants fled after the two returned to help him on witnessing the assault.
Hmm... still doesn't make any sense. The Yankees hadn't even played their game against Cleveland at that point. Wait a minute... I know what it is! Philly fans! The worst fans in sports! Think about the timeline:
  • 6:15pm - The Phillies lose to Colorado in Game 1 of their series.
  • 6:20pm - Notoriously angry Philly fans are pissed.
  • 6:30pm - Red Sox game starts, beginning a beautiful shutout by Beckett
  • 6:31pm - I'm enjoying the game at Fenway Park (just had to throw that in there. Going tonight too.)
  • ?:?? - Philly fans decide to take out their anger on nearest sports fan enjoying a team that is winning.
  • 10/4/07 - Newspapers immediately suspect NY/Boston rivalry as the source of the conflict, without using their brains to deduce what I just did.
  • 10/5/07 - I gloat about deducing what they didn't, and in doing so, totally draw my own ridiculous conclusions based on 3 paragraphs of information.
  • 8:30pm - I go to the game at Fenway tonight (told you, I can't help myself).

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Daily Show: Starting Kids Young (In Partisan Politics)

It's not a secret that I hate parents indoctrinating their children into partisan politics, especially doing it years before they can even comprehend the concept. Jocelyn teaches at a school where kids, in a "guess the famous person" game that included George W. Bush, shouted clues of "We all hate him!!!"

The Daily Show took on the new trend of political children's books.
"Who wants to be segregated by constraining sense of pre-defined political beliefs?"

Kids: "Meeee!"

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Myanmar Update: Nighttime Roundups

More troubling news from Burma. Violent crackdowns and death, intimidation of reporters, full internet blackout, and now this:
Myanmar's junta stepped up its campaign to intimidate citizens Wednesday, sending troops to drag people from their homes in the middle of the night and letting others know they were marked for retribution.

"We have photographs! We are going to make arrests!" soldiers yelled from loudspeakers on military vehicles that patrolled the streets in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.
Link

One of the overnight arrests targeted a U.N. worker and her family. Protest groups have estimated that over 6,000 people have been detained since the uprising began.

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Craigslist Fun: New York Dating and Marriage

Another fabulous find by my friend Vanessa. This episode: A 25 year old New Yorker looks for love... and money.

Original Post:

What am I doing wrong?

Okay, I'm tired of beating around the bush. I'm a beautiful
(spectacularly beautiful) 25 year old girl. I'm articulate and classy.
I'm not from New York . I'm looking to get married to a guy who makes at
least half a million a year. I know how that sounds, but keep in mind
that a million a year is middle class in New York City, so I don't think
I'm overreaching at all.

Are there any guys who make 500K or more on this board? Any wives? Could
you send me some tips? I dated a business man who makes average around
200 - 250. But that's where I seem to hit a roadblock. 250,000 won't get
me to central park west. I know a woman in my yoga class who was married
to an investment banker and lives in Tribeca, and she's not as pretty as
I am, nor is she a great genius. So what is she doing right? How do I
get to her level?

Here are my questions specifically:

- Where do you single rich men hang out? Give me specifics- bars,
restaurants, gyms

-What are you looking for in a mate? Be honest guys, you won't hurt my
feelings

-Is there an age range I should be targeting (I'm 25)?

- Why are some of the women living lavish lifestyles on the upper east
side so plain? I've seen really 'plain jane' boring types who have
nothing to offer married to incredibly wealthy guys. I've seen drop dead
gorgeous girls in singles bars in the east village. What's the story
there?

- Jobs I should look out for? Everyone knows - lawyer, investment
banker, doctor. How much do those guys really make? And where do they
hang out? Where do the hedge fund guys hang out?

- How you decide marriage vs. just a girlfriend? I am looking for
MARRIAGE ONLY

Please hold your insults - I'm putting myself out there in an honest
way. Most beautiful women are superficial; at least I'm being up front
about it. I wouldn't be searching for these kind of guys if I wasn't
able to match them - in looks, culture, sophistication, and keeping a
nice home and hearth.

it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial
interests

The Response:

Dear Pers-431649184:

I read your posting with great interest and have thought meaningfully
about your dilemma. I offer the following analysis of your predicament.
Firstly, I'm not wasting your time, I qualify as a guy who fits your
bill; that is I make more than $500K per year. That said here's how I
see it.

Your offer, from the prospective of a guy like me, is plain and simple a
crappy business deal. Here's why. Cutting through all the B.S., what you
suggest is a simple trade: you bring your looks to the party and I bring
my money. Fine, simple. But here's the rub, your looks will fade and my
money will likely continue into perpetuity...in fact, it is very likely
that my income increases but it is an absolute certainty that you won't
be getting any more beautiful!

So, in economic terms you are a depreciating asset and I am an earning
asset. Not only are you a depreciating asset, your depreciation
accelerates! Let me explain, you're 25 now and will likely stay pretty
hot for the next 5 years, but less so each year. Then the fade begins in
earnest. By 35 stick a fork in you!

So in Wall Street terms, we would call you a trading position, not a buy
and hold...hence the rub...marriage. It doesn't make good business sense
to "buy you" (which is what you're asking) so I'd rather lease. In case
you think I'm being cruel, I would say the following. If my money were
to go away, so would you, so when your beauty fades I need an out. It's
as simple as that. So a deal that makes sense is dating, not marriage.

Separately, I was taught early in my career about efficient markets. So,
I wonder why a girl as "articulate, classy and spectacularly beautiful"
as you has been unable to find your sugar daddy. I find it hard to
believe that if you are as gorgeous as you say you are that the $500K
hasn't found you, if not only for a tryout.

By the way, you could always find a way to make your own money and then
we wouldn't need to have this difficult conversation.

With all that said, I must say you're going about it the right way.
Classic "pump and dump."
I hope this is helpful, and if you want to enter into some sort of
lease, let me know.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Iran? Are They Serious?

I'll be writing a more thorough series of posts about Bill Richardson in the next weeks, but his recent remarks on the administration's PR ramp-up toward Iran gave me good blog fodder.

Last week the Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution that stated the Senate should be prepared to use military force against Iran in response to their actions in Iraq. (This after they deemed a bill giving soldiers more time at home... to not support the troops.)

Meanwhile, President Ahmadinejad's visit to New York provided an opportunity for every maniac to express a level of hyperbolic outrage that could only aid the US and Iranian administrations in their hard-line politics.

Bill Richardson responded to the sudden escalation of rhetoric on Face The Nation:

"I believe it would be enormously unwise for the Bush administration to start
another war before ending this tragic war we're in today and it does sound
like the administration is ramping up. You can just see it.

"Once again the administration seems to be preparing the American people for a ramp-up in action, and it would be, I believe, another disastrous foreign policy decision.

"Calling them names, labeling them terrorists, drawing up military options is just making the situation worse and inflaming the Muslim world"
Seems pretty reasonable to me, considering Ahmadinejad's public statements are just base-stirring politics. As Richardson points out, 40% of the vote in Iran's latest presidential election went to a moderate candidate.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score, frontrunner Hillary was the only candidate in the Senate to vote for the aggressive resolution...

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