Archive for October, 2006

Last Thursday I posted a quick question about what I believed was a questionable school project. The responses I received to that post verified for me that I was not completely insane in objecting to this project (especially since they are currently covering Colonial American politics and not current events). Even so, I wanted to make sure I had all the facts (which is damn near impossible to get out of a 10 year old) before I once again ‘stormed the castle’ and asked what the hell they where doing.

I found out about the project Thursday at work. Friday was ‘Fall Day’ so the school was in pretty much organized chaos. The principle was out Monday so today was the first time I had a chance to talk to him. His first comment during the call, ‘Ah! Mr. Psycho… I was expecting your call‘ made me happy. Yup, I’m that parent.

Turns out the Teacher who assigned the project in class was actually a substitute (see, 10 year olds tend to leave out small details like this). According to the school, this substitude has caused ‘issues’ before with lessons that have ‘deviated’ from the course subject. The substitute claimed she was not left a lesson plan and had to think something up ‘on the fly’. I guess going from the textbook would have been too much of a stretch. In any case, the Principle states that they have meet with the sub on this subject and is ‘confident it won’t happen again’. The principle was honest though and stated that while she is not exactly on the top of their list of substitudes, they have to keep her on it since many times they barely have enough qualified subs to keep out with the demand. I can live with that.

In one of my standard failed attempts at normal social interaction, I attempted to strike up a conversation with another parent at the bus stop this morning.

‘So, you guys going to the Halloween party at the Community Center tonight?’

‘We don’t recognize Pagan holidays like Halloween.’

‘Really? Wow… sucks to be your kids. Hey, do you put up a tree at Christmas? Because you really can’t get much more Pagan than that.’

* akward silence at bus stop until the bus arrives about three minutes later *

So we get back into the house and the wife hits me on the shoulder.

‘What?!’

‘Why do you always have to do that?’

‘What? I was just asking a question.’

‘No… you always… why do you have to antagonize everybody!?’

‘Because they’re morons?’

‘Augh!’

We have a lot of conversations that end with that sound.

So browsing through a few web sites the other day I came across the following ad for the new Dixie Chicks documentary (and I use that term loosely) titled ‘Shut Up & Sing’ which opens today in LA and New York (of course). It chronicles the Dixie Chicks in the three years following their comment “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” made during a concert in England.



After a bit of crack sleuthing, I was able to obtain an advanced audio copy of the script. Press play to listen:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Dixie Chicks… If you can’t tell, I’m just a bit tired of listening to you bitch, moan, whine and play the victim. You got rich pretending to be something you weren’t then smacked a large number of your fans across the face.

You seemed to like country music just fine when the money was pouring in. I don’t seem to remember you railing about the conservative country music themes of God, Country and family before you slipped up and showed your true self at that concert. You shot yourself in the foot and seem completely unable to deal with that.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and again… and again:

You have the right to say whatever you want. You do not have the right to escape any criticisms which may result from saying whatever you want. If you piss off a majority of your fan base, they will stop giving you money (just ask Metallica). Its very, very simple. If you want someone to give you money, don’t piss them off (don’t lie to ‘em either). If I were to walk into a clients office and say something along the lines of ‘Wow! What a shithole! I can’t believe you guys work here!’, chances are they won’t be giving me any money.

When you go out of your way to denigrate country music and its fans (which you’re still doing), of course the Country Music Awards is going to ‘snub’ you. You said yourself that you’re ‘no longer country’. Yet you still want those CMA awards (and the money that comes along with them).

Here’s a popular little snippet from the film:

Heart of Dixie

After watching this footage, Maines repeats the president’s comment about how the group shouldn’t have their ”feelings hurt,” incredulous, and then says, ”What a dumb f—.” She then looks into the camera, as if addressing Bush, and reiterates, ”You’re a dumb f—.”

Wow Natalie! Thats some deep and thought provoking commentary there. And just what was it that the President said that got her so upset?

[T]he Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say … They shouldn’t have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out … Freedom is a two-way street

But see, the Dixie Chicks don’t believe freedom is a two way street. They believe they have the right to exercise free speech while we have the right to shut the hell up and give them money.

As mentioned before the Dixie Chicks to this day continue to mock and denigrate country music and its fans.

How the Chicks survived their scrap with Bush

“A lot of pandering started going on, and you’d see soldiers and the American flag in every video,” Robison said. “It became a sickening display of ultra-patriotism.” Maines continued, “The entire country may disagree with me, but I don’t understand the necessity for patriotism. Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country … I don’t see why people care about patriotism.”

A lot of pandering and a sickening display of ultra-patriotism. I wonder… do the Dixie Chicks include the song ‘Travellin’ Solider‘ (sung by…. the Dixie Chicks) in that description? Or is just yet another example of do as we day, not as we do?

Of course the bit ‘but as for loving the whole country … I don’t see why people care about patriotism‘ sort of flys in the face of the ‘apology’ made just a few days after the London concert which ended with the lines ‘I love my country. I am a proud American‘. Well which is it? Are you a proud American who loves her country or you someone who doesn’t see why people care about patriotism? Given the fact that you recanted your ‘apology’ after everyone reconized it for the BS that it was, I’ll say you’re the later.

The Dixie Chicks have recently released a new album which has, of course, attracted much attention (mainly the song ‘Not Ready to Play Nice’). Sales of the album have done very well. but when it came to actually buying tickets and going to the concerts… not so much:

Dixie Chicks’ concert sales fail to take wing

It appears that plenty of faux fans bought the new CD to show ‘support’ for the Dixie Chicks saying their piece but when it comes down to ponying up over $100 per ticket and sitting for a couple hours listening to their music… again, not so much.

Will the Dixie Chicks bounce back from this? Absolutely. They are a very talented group. They’re just going to have go backwards a bit and start building up a new fan base. Not a country one (hmmm, are they going to have to ditch the steel guitar sound?) And for the love of God, stop the whining!

Previous entries:

Dixie Chicks Redux
Dixie Chicks

Wikipedia entry: Dixie Chicks

[tags]dixie chicks[/tags]

Is it appropriate for a sixth grade Social Studies teacher to have a class project where the kids make ‘Cindy Sheehan; War Hero’ buttons? No other options, just Cindy Sheehan.

Yeah you in the new black Corvette with the license plate ‘HIOFICR‘. Thanks for making me laugh out loud this morning.

Some Voting Machines Chop Off Candidates’ Names

U.S. Senate candidate James Webb’s last name has been cut off on part of the electronic ballot used by voters in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville because of a computer glitch that also affects other candidates with long names, city officials said yesterday.

Um… excuse me? Long names? James Webb is a long name?

Have they by any chance heard of a guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger?

A week ago, the Southern York Country Library System had their annual book sale at the local community center. This is where they move old and overstocked books for ridiculously low prices. I stopped by to kill a few minutes and ended up spending well over an hour browsing through the boxes. I picked up the following books (all hardcover editions):

It Doesn’t Take a Hero. Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography. I’ve always been meaning to read it… I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to do so.

Takedown: The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick. I know this book has received mediocre (at best reviews), but its a book about computer crime. How bad could it be (especially at this price).

The Bible Code. I have no idea why. I guess it just looked interesting. Again, with the price, can’t really go wrong.

The Pine Barrens. Got this for the wife. Its a book with the title Pine Barrens and it has a turtle on the cover. Wife grew up near the Pine Barrens and loves turtles. ‘Nuff said. (I honestly have no idea what the actual content of this book is).

Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America. This was a bit of a shock. This was Library overstock. I picked up this brand new, uncirculated book for the same price as the used books at the sale.

And the find of the day:
The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure (The ‘Good Parts’ Version). Again, a brand new uncirculated copy. This was the book club edition published in 1998 (the cover with the Princess on the horse).

The Library system was selling all of its hardcovers for 50 cents each. I picked up all of the books listed above for just $3. Not too shabby.


I didn’t come up with the title but I can’t remember where I read it so I can’t give the usual HT.

edit: Here we go – HT Opfor

The DefCon level in the Psycho household has increased to level 3. We’re not currently in outright war, but the situation is degrading quickly. The problem is, acording to my son: Too many girls! Mom’s a girl, my sisters are girls and now even the dog is a girl!

The outward sign of increasing hostilies has appeared on the various bedroom doors in the house. I’ve tried to take a few pictures, but it’s just not working out. You’ll have to take my word on it.

The first sign appeared on the boy’s door Thursday night. It was an attempt at a stop sign that says:


STOP
No girls

(with a big red line through ‘no girls’)

Friday the simple note ‘No girl alowd[sic]‘ appeared on the boys door.

The Queen of Girlistan quickly dispactched an emmisary who posted the following on the kingdom’s border:

Boys! Do not come in or we will put makeup on you!

This declaration was quickly updated with the following:

We will put goofy clothes on you boys!

This escalation was answered by the Free Republic of Boy’s Room with the posting of:

Boys clab[sic]. Do not come in if girl.’

To its credit, the Free Republic of Boy’s Room has softened its hardline stance a bit with a notice that ‘Mom can come in‘ on its doorway.

I will attempt to defuse the situtation by talking the representative from the Free Republic of Boy’s Room in a neutral location… most likely while camping in the neighboring country of Jeeparus.

Wal-Mart has recently announced that it will begin selling almost 300 different generic drugs for just $4.

This is a Good Thing(tm) right? Wal-Mart using its size to offset the costs of these generic drugs and save people money. Right? Well not according to the New York Times.

Relief for Some but Maybe Not Many in Wal-Mart Plan for $4 Generic Drugs
(Story linked through Boston.com since NYT is only offering the online version through a TimesSelect Archive subscription. Boston.com requires a login, but you can use bugmenot.com for that)

But a close examination of the program, with details confirmed by the company yesterday, suggests that its impact could be blunted by several factors.

The plan, which is said to cover 300 drugs, includes only about 124 separate medicines in various dosages, like 12 versions of the popular antibiotic amoxicillin. It leaves out some popular drugs altogether, like the generic version of the cholesterol-lowering treatment Zocor.

Translation: If its not everything, its nothing.

And while uninsured people should benefit from the program, those with insurance may save only a dollar or so, making a trip to Wal-Mart not worth their while, analysts said.

And…. so? Isn’t all the bitching and moaning about how the uninsured in the country can’t afford their medicine? Now the NYT is bitching because this program doesn’t help those with insurance as much as those without insurance?

In Florida, where the program will have its debut, most people on Medicaid pay nothing and may have little incentive to shop around for cheaper prescription drugs.

But Christa Calamas, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, said the state would probably save money only on those Medicaid consumers who already fill prescriptions at Wal-Mart. Since most Florida Medicaid users pay nothing for their prescriptions, they are likely to choose convenient pharmacy locations over lower prices, experts said.

And…. so? Now its a problem since most people on Medicaid who pay nothing don’t care how much the Government (taxpayers) spend on the medication they get for free? And who’s fault is that. I guess Wal-Mart should hand deliver the generic meds to everyones front door? Would that make the NYT’s happy? Probably not… they’d just bitch about how much energy Wal-Mart is wasting doing these deliveries. Maybe they could deliver via horseback rider? Nah, then the NYT would bitch about cruelty to animals.

There is a huge profit margin in the generics for the middlemen like pharmacy benefit managers, the distributors and the pharmacies themselves, said Patricia Wilson of Associates & Wilson, a Rosemont, Pa., health care consulting firm. Wal-Mart appears to be taking some of those profits from the traditional middlemen to lower the prices it is charging for these generic drugs.

Translation: Wal-Mart is putting people out of work! Yes, medications cost too much but we should protect the middle-men who make huge profits off the sale of these medications. So come on Wal-Mart! Give the insured and un-insured all of their medications for free (delievered to their door) and keep the huge profit margin in place for the middle-men.

After all that, there is a key point that the New York Times leaves out of their article that the Washington Post (first link) does not:

Mark McClellan, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said he did not think the Wal-Mart offer would siphon beneficiaries from the Medicare drug benefit, known as Part D. “Remember that the drug plans in Medicare already provide excellent coverage for generics,” he said. “Many of the plans have generics for a dollar or two, or even free.”

What the Wal-Mart plan does provide, he said, is a way for Medicare recipients to save more money after they reach the “doughnut hole.” That’s the point at which an individual’s yearly drug cost reaches $2,250, and Medicare ends its subsidy. After that, a beneficiary has to pay $3,600 out of pocket before government subsidies kick in again.

In that interval, or gap, the Wal-Mart program could result in significant savings, given that the average Medicare beneficiary is expected to spend about $3,081 on prescription drugs this year, McClellan said.

Funny how the New York Times leaves that out.

I just stumbled across an article linked on the Drudge Report:

North Korea might now have The Bomb, but it doesn’t have much electricity

this spectacular satellite photo unveiled yesterday by US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shows in stark detail the haves and have-nots of the Korean peninsula.

The regime in the north is so short of electricity that the whole country is switched off at 9 p.m. – apart from the capital of Pyongyang where dictator Kim Jong-il and his cohorts live in relative luxury. But even there, lighting is drastically reduced.

Apparently this is new news. Of course, if you were reading this blog three months ago, you would have seen this entry:

World at Night

I just happened to be scanning over this photo again recently and found something that struck me as interesting and incredibly telling. Check out North Korea

I win.

The only reason I picked up this beer last night is because the store was out of the Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale. Thats a mistake I will not be repeating. I was completely underwhelmed by this beer. Not only did I detect absolutely no hint of pumpkin or spice, it was a bland beer as well. Low flavor, low carbonation… even if it was marketed as a standard ale I would have given it mediocre marks.

If you’re in the mood for a pumpkin ale this season, stick with Dogfish Head or Smuttynose as a brewer.

is The Raven from Baltimore-Washington Beer Works. This is actually a very good beer. It seems like a good mix between my ‘lawnmower beer’ (Yuengling Lager) and a nice homebrewed IPA. But thats not reall why I’m writing this entry.

I picked up a six pack on a whim during a visit to Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits a few days ago. I ended up in line in front of Baltimore Mullet Man(tm).

bmm: Woah! I didn’t know The Ravens had a beer!
me: What? No, its ‘The Raven’ after the poem.
bmm: *blink* *blink*
me: The poem written by Poe?
bmm: *blink* *blink*
me: Edgar Allen Poe? The famous poet who lived in Baltimore?
bmm: *blink* *blink*
me: Go Ravens!
bmm: Yeah! Go Ravens dude!

This is a bit of a followup to my entry Schools, cupcakes and peanuts. Thats where I called our local school district out as hypocrites because of their new ‘competitive foods’ policy. To recap: cupcakes, candy, chips and other foods are banned because they’re baaaaaad yet the school has no problem having the kids sell those very same items for school fundraisers.

Yesterday we received word of yet more ‘competitive food’ restrictions. Each year the student government runs several fundraisers. Lollipops (blowpops) for quarter is one of their more popular ones. There’s also ‘send someone a kiss’ where you can have a Hershey’s Kiss delivered to someone. They also do the same thing with candy canes around christmas. Or I should say, they did. Because of the new ‘competitive foods’ policy, these fundraisers have now been banned.

So where’s the hypocrisy? Mondays are ‘homemade muffin’ day in the school Cafeteria. By ‘homemade muffin’ what they really mean is ‘shrinkwrapped Otis Spunkmeyer muffin’. The wife happened to pick one up off the tray and took a quick look at it. Care to see the nutritional label?

So lets make sure I understand this. Its perfectly acceptable for the school to sell a 460 calorie muffin which has sugar as its number one ingredient and also delivers 38% of your daily fat and 28% of your daily cholesterol but the student government can’t sell a lollipop or a Hershey’s Kiss? Yeah, that makes a hell of a lot of sense.

I like being right. I like it so much I’ll usually be a dick about pointing out how I’m right. Case in point:

A few months ago we rented a batch of movies from Hollywood Video. We usually get three at a time. One for me (things blowing up), one for the wife (women crying), and one for the kids. I don’t remember what the other two movies we rented were but the kid’s movie was Thunderbirds (suprisingly, they loved it and watched it more than once). As usual, a few days later I gathered all three movies together and dropped them in the deposit box on the way in to work.

Two weeks later I get a phone call from Hollywood Video:
‘Did you return Thunderbirds?’
‘Yes.’
‘Oh, ok… thanks’

Two weeks after that I get another phone call from HV:
‘You checked out Thunderbirds but never returned it.’
‘I returned it.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes.’
‘Oh, ok… thanks’

So, two months after the movies where returned I get a postcard in the mail from Holly Video coporate listing Thunderbirds as being extremely late along with a list of fees and/or replacement costs, a bunch of legal mumo-jumo of what will happen if we don’t return it and/or pay and all that crap. This annoyed me.

The next day I hop in the Jeep, drive over to Hollywood Video, grab Thunderbirds off the shelf in the kids section (right where its supposed to be with all the other movies that start with ‘T’), take it to the front counter and try to rent it.

Clerk scans membership card, then scans movie:
*beep* *bzzzzzt*
Clerk makes puzzled look at screen then movie. Clerk scans movie again.
*beep* *bzzzzzt*
Clerk scans movie again.
*beep* *bzzzzzt*
I finally decide to interject ‘Its telling you its still checked out isn’t it?’
‘Yeah! I’ve never seen that before….’
I hand him the postcard I received in the mail. It takes him a little bit but suddenly you can see the realization wash over him. ‘Oh! You’re that guy!’ He then went and got the manager who cleared the movie ‘out’ status and made the comment about how he removed all the accumulated fees as well. ‘Well yes, since it was your mistake to begin with.’

I honestly have no idea what the clerk meant by the ‘that guy’ comment but to be honest, I rather liked the sound of it.

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