le poisson

Brad and I went to see Augusta Bottoms Consort at the Sheldon last night. I now consider my quota of artsy local musiciany goodness filled for the year. (I like a wide variety of music, but I tend to get it from a narrow group of mainstream commercial sources rather than artists less influenced by money and fame)

In the first part, my favorite song was definitely Cosmic Love, and two of the best were encore songs, Le Poisson (fish) and Holy War. They were folksy, yet surprisingly catchy, as well.

Oh, and on another note, no, I don't think I can dance. However, my roommate loves that show, and I unfortunately saw some of it tonight. Well, on nothing more substantial than a split-second impression of seeing the couples (not even dancing, I might add) I correctly identified the two couples whom the judges would rank lowest. Sometimes rash judgments based on first impressions are all you need!



My posts have obviously been a tad unbalanced along the political spectrum the last couple weeks (but not because Democrats don't do dumb things; the real explanatory variable is not party affiliation but that I mainly make fun of people in power, and well, the Repubs control everything from the Federal Appellate Courts to the Ways and Means Committee to the ONDCP to Centcom.) So, I thought I would pass on a link I got from a friend about somebody on the right who I actually like a fair amount because he talks about important issues and frequently sticks up for principles. For example, this gentleman seemed to be the only one concerned in 2000 about this picture and this picture of vote spreads in Palm Beach County.

Now I may disagree with a position or two, but check it out, an article on the right that tries to put things in perspective.


whaddaya know

Those nutty liberals actually weren't so wacky after all.

Hmm, maybe environmental issues really do affect society. By golly, maybe it's not crazy to talk about what causes catastrophic weather events and responses we might take.

Nah, who am I kidding. It's only people, property, and historic places all over America we're talking about. Nothin' worth taxing people to protect.


too bad it's not Texas

I applaud this group for making their aims crystal clear. I propose a compromise. Instead of South Carolina, let's have Texas create a constitutional crisis and just let 'em secede :)

Christian Exodus

Of course, the likelihood that they could actually get a significant number of people to up and move just to recreate Puritan Massachusetts is about as likely as me becoming an Astros fan. Heck, even Baylor University now let's you dance and play cards. But don't let me rain on the parade just because of a few practical problems.

almost falling in love

No, no, not a new woman or a new laptop. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning; sunny, but not too hot, with a slight breeze, cooling but not enough to wrinkle the reflections of rocks and trees and bridges and clouds in the streams. I went for a nice walk through the park today, and I did more exploration on the eastern half. I'm usually over on the western half by the golf course and history museum and fountains in front the of the art museum, but this morning was a longer excursion so I went elsewhere.

It's not home, yet, but today was one of the days that certainly makes it feel more and more like a home.

(Is that a better sales pitch for you, Andrew?)


money in pictures

Courtesy of http://www.inequality.org.

they must be trained this way

(R) So, over lunch, I tried to do the simple task of changing the name on our gas bill. I seriously think the people who answer the phone at Laclede Gas are told to be as unfriendly as possible. Here I am, trying to set up a way so that I can pay them money, and the whole process was either making me feel dumb for things I'm somehow supposed to know or being frustrated at having to answer what were obviously dumb questions of mine. Not to mention ridiculous charges involved. The person in whose name the gas bill currently resides called saying I would be taking over the account, then I called saying it's me, put my name on the account, and still I have to make time to be there (somewhere between "7:30 and noon") with a picture ID and signed copy of the lease to meet some guy who isn't doing anything because the gas is already on. Oh yeah, and $36 for them to do this non-installation, and $244 I will get back assuming I don't ever have my service interrupted. And on a side note, the earliest they could send someone was the 30th. Imagine if I didn't have gas, and having to go a whole week without being able to cook or heat water? That's good customer service.

The whole point of computers is that you can open the database, click on the line that says first name, and type n-a-t-h-a-n-i-e-l. And then last name, and so on. Imagine if on the cover of credit card offers it said, pay us $36, and we'll send you a card!

That would be a great sales pitch.


it's not paranoia if...

There are some really cooky theories floating around. I think our ability to tell and believe in outrageous stories is a very interesting feature of the human brain. For example, the idea that the US government is hiding evidence of intelligent extra-terrestrial life is pretty silly, for a variety of reasons tangential to where I am going in giving my answer to your question Charles. There is certainly no shortage of paranoid conspiracy theorists regarding all sorts of things the Bush Administration or conservatives in general may or may not have done. Key to these kinds of stories is that the accused denies the charges (for example, the idea that some people due to CIA and German banking connections and unlikely futures trading in days prior to 9/11/01 had foreknowledge of the planes flying into the Twin Towers, or the idea that President Bush is the anti-Christ). Just today, someone at work forwarded the urban legend email about the needle under the gas pump giving someone some wierd disease.

But it's not paranoia or silly conspiratorial thinking when the groups themselves are the ones advocating their radical positions. The push for control of economic and spiritual activities in the pursuit of power is nothing new or unique to America. I would argue that our Founding Fathers did an incredible thing in recognizing the twin dangers of the Western world: religious wars and the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few. That's why they purposefully crafted a document that separated religion from the state and vested power in the masses (land, which was cheap) rather than wealth (which was concentrated). This second point is rather widely debated, with many people saying they were just rich people who protected their wealth. I think it's pretty convincing, though, between their having to do everything behind closed doors to notes taken during the preceedings that they were selling out the rich for the benefit of the new nation. Jefferson and Washington, among others, actually died bankrupt.

It's only natural that there are some people who want to undo that vision; the very fact that our basic Constitutional structure has lasted this long is a testament to the groundwork laid by our 18th century ancestors. We have done horrible things to ourselves and others, but we've recovered every time, and generally speaking, I'm an optimist about progress.

In the religious realm, it's a little easier to track motives and goals due to the necessity of attracting followers and the donations they bring, and the lack of necessity to make popular statements since the Religious Right isn't powerful enough to outright destroy the separation between church and state and simply govern as a theocracy. The plutocrats in business and government hide their language much more subtlely precisely because our current Constitutional arrangement makes their wealth and power dependent upon consumers and voters, although they have been increasingly successful at limiting this unwanted intrusion. In extreme cases, wealthy people still go to jail and lose elections.

So for information about the movement to get religious leaders more involved in government and running society, here are some good websites:

Theocracy Watch
Americans United

And in their own words:

Christian Broadcasting Network
Christian Coalition
Discovery Institute
Family Research Council
Focus on the Family
Jerry Falwell
Moral Majority
Sun Myung Moon
Tim Lahaye

The fundamental question to ask about leaders of the Religious Right is why they spend so much time accumulating material wealth and exercising dominion over the way that other people live their lives. That's a very secular, Macheavelian pursuit, especially when organizations try to use the state for those ends.

Class warfare is alive and well; it's just that the rich have been the only people fighting it for the last 25 years. There is a group of think tanks and wealthy individuals in government and business that want to transform our republic into a cross between fascism and feudalism. Instead of religion, they cloak their ideology in the language of economics. But they don't advocate policies that secure an efficient market economy, which requires things like clearly defined property rights, perfect information, and competition. Instead, they advocate giving a blank check to large corporations, whose boards of directors are actually comprised of an amazingly small number of wealthy people, to do whatever they want. And significantly, to do it in secrecy with no public debate or accountability. From particular policy areas like repealing the estate tax, minimum wage, and environmental legislation, to general approaches like eliminating social insurance while expanding government subsidies to large corporations and changing the tax code to tax consumption rather than wealth, the idea is to quite literally create a ruling aristocracy that controls the economic resources of the country.

The fundamental question to ask laissez-faire capitalists is why they are so secretive and inconsistent in applying economic analysis to policymaking. They're not anarchists; they want very large government expenditures on things like the military and the prison system and police forces and corporate welfare. But at the same time, they oppose government intervention that promotes competition, protects consumers, strengthens education, supports an independent media, and increases accountability. Why, exactly, did wealthy executives of energy firms get to meet secretly with the Vice President, a man currently being paid by Halliburton, who to this day has fought to keep the public from knowing the details of the meetings? Why did the government explicitly prevent itself from negotiating volume discounts with drug companies? The reason this isn't consistent with either a small government or a market economy is because the real desire isn't ideological; it's the simple desire to accumulate wealth and power. The trouble with that is it's slightly incompatible with democracy. Already, the amount of corruption in our government is incredible, as is the unresponsiveness of political and business leaders to demands by voters, consumers, and employees. For example, most people would spend the federal budget radically differently than the last several budget appropriations, while a clean environment and living wages are popular demands.

Some good websites about the concentration of wealth and power:

Fair Economy
American Way

In their own words:

American Enterprise Institute
Club for Growth
Heritage Foundation
National Taxpayers Union
Americans for Tax Reform

None of this is to say that a Christian state or a plutocracy would necessarily be bad; that's a different discussion (although I'm sure you can tell my answer is yes and yes). My point here is to show that these really are movements and not disparate groups like many of the progressive issue-based organizations.


darn rap culture

(R) What's with all these fellas glorifying violence and killing and bling bling and all that? Don't they understand the message they're sending to the children? The children!

Oh, wait, it was a wealthy white ruler of the Christian right. I guess it's alright that he was openly advocating the assassination of a democratically elected president and reassuring us it's ok because it won't interrupt the supply of oil and that it's a lot cheaper than a war.

Seriously, if we expect Islamic leaders to voice public opposition to extremists who advocate senseless violence based on real objections, we have every obligation to do the same when people who are totally off their rocker advocate senseless violence. And not only is it terribly un-Christian, assassinating the leader of a major trading partner in a region of the world already trending anti-American is just dumb policy.

Dumb dumb dumb morally wrong dumb dumb. Dumb.


2 down

We've had our second tree casualty of the summer. At this rate, it makes you wonder how our street remains lined with trees like it does. First, a tree just decided to keel over on Jodi's car in perfectly clear weather. After the chain saws, there's just a stump.

Then, a tree down the street lost it during the bad storms we had last weekend. Stump #2.

Hopefully there won't be storms this coming weekend because our new roommate is moving in. Drop by to say hello or stay to help.

I leave you with this:

authoritarian christianity

"We need to tell both parties, 'It's our way or the highway'...You and I can bring the ruling reign of the cross to America." -- Bishop Harry Jackson at the recent Justice Sunday II in Nashville, TN.

How's that for a view of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth?


i respectfully disagree

That's right, Patrick, I'm talking about you. Broken Flowers was a boring yawner, a terrible horrible no good very bad movie. I hope this sets the record straight.

As I was leaving DR tonight, I got the most random call; I didn't get to it, I didn't recognize the number, and there was no message. But it had a Columbia area code and, well, you never know...so I called back. And it turned out to be Bridgette's phone. Bizarre. I mean, she's cool and all, but what a wierd way to get her number. Somehow she had mine in her phone and accidentally called? It's not like it was a Saturday night and she was out drunk. Alas, I may never know the full story. At least she and Bobby are settled in. Three cheers for the randomness that is life.

my good deed of the day

I found a cricket and trapped it in a glass and took it outside rather than squashing it. Yay for me.

Oh, I also fed Cookie again and played with her and brushed her yada yada yada. It's always good to build up extra good ones in case Thursday rolls around and I forget.

I reached an interesting milestone this weekend. My iPhoto library now has a thousand photos in it. I know a lot of people have many thousands of pictures, but I don't take a lot so it was an exciting development.

And speaking of milestones, fortunately the Royals decided not to set the losing streak record.


it's a success...crap

(P) Well the American Jobs Creation Act is doing exactly what the lobbyists hoped it would do. Nope, not create jobs. What it does is let companies that have been sheltering cash offshore repatriate the profits at exceedingly low tax rates. The lowest federal income tax bracket is almost twice as high as the rate given to these companies! Why don't we just use the government to write checks directly to them? Clearly they do a better job defending the country and building schools than our democratic processes.

Also, drug war advocates must be getting nervous after a generation of absolute failure despite having spent hundreds of billions of dollars, killing innocent people all over the globe, and imprisoning millions of people who have harmed no one save themselves. The leader of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament has come out for a fully legalized, regulated system, just like all the other dangerous consumer products from alcohol to automobiles. I can't wait to see the desperate counter assault against such common-sense realism.


the results are in

We have successfully Westernized the Indian subcontinent...woohoo! Check it out. BusinessWeek has a really interesting survey of changing attitudes among young Indian women.

i was serious peoples

Apparently you didn’t think I was serious when I said a few days ago there is all this alcohol in our fridge we don’t want; Miller Light, Budweiser Select, Guinness Draught, Boulevard Wheat, and more. The next time it enters your brain to fork over a wad of cash to an alcohol company for a case of beer, save it instead and help empty our fridge.


oh dear lord, i did it again

This isn't happening. We had a late night for some important loan app thingy deadline that's tomorrow, and I was in such a hurry to leave (actually, the person I was walking out with was in an even bigger hurry, but we both wanted to leave) that I walked out with a pen in my pocket. Someone might have said something except, well, accounting folks are the only people left at 8 at night and you think they notice something like that?

(R) That's all this post was going to be until I just heard an interview with some Harvard professor (blegh). Anyway, he made the preposterous claim that businesses are hurting because our school systems are horrible. Yes, I will be the first one to claim there are problems and that our schools deserve more resources. But his position was that our educational system is somehow shortchanging businesses who need qualified employees, particularly "top level", whatever he meant by that.


The situation is exactly the opposite. Good people who have worked hard in school and want to be productive members of society are having incredibly hard times finding a job. It's the job market, not the school system, that really sucks right now. About the only way people are landing jobs outside of teaching, nursing, some engineering specialties (it always pays well to be a Chem E or an EE), and being a mercenary (sorry, working for a "private security company") are those who have a specific connection through a family member or professor. Networks have always been the best way of finding a job, but now more than ever merit is an incredibly small part of the equation for landing a job. Only in some fantasy world is the problem the opposite; that there are these magic jobs out there that are just waiting for smart, well-educated people to apply. Of course, if I were a tenured prof at Hahvahrd, I'd probably think the job market was pretty sweet, too.

In fact, I'll put my money where my mouth is. I work at an organization that does really important work, and I am getting good experience across a broad range of business disciplines (something I very much enjoy about non-profit work). I don't (usually) like to brag, but I happen to be one of those "top level" people. I'm very smart, highly educated, ambitious, and I have excellent communication skills. I also happen to have a few suits I don't look too shabby in. (Or if you prefer, in which I don't look too shabby.) You show me a company that has one of these great jobs open because they just can't fill it, and I'll resign my position and accept the offer from one of these suffering businesses.

almost as exciting

As I drove out of the parking lot yesterday, I put my 26,000th mile on my car. Not quite as exciting as 25,000, but a milestone nonetheless. In particular, it reminds me that I am now well past my 60,000 mile checkup. Oops.

Sort of car related, I set a new record driving to work this morning. The average is about 10 minutes, but today it took only 7.5! If the idiots would just stay off the road every morning...

Not related at all, Alex came into town last night to get his stuff on his way through to Champaign. I haven't been to the grocery store in awhile, but we managed to scrounge up a dinner of corn on the cob, small shell pasta, and chicken patties for him.

Oh, and real food like Wheat Thins, Keebler chocolate chip and M&M cookies, French crullers, and Pringles.


good election overview

(P) This and this are good rundowns on the statistical problems found in the last couple national elections. If you haven't been following the voting irregularities of the last five years, you're missing a really interesting story. Your local gas station pump gives you a detailed receipt, yet many of the electronic voting systems generate no auditable record whatsoever. Most of the time, you don't even know who you voted for. The rest of the industrialized world manages to actually, you know, count votes, exit polls are extremely reliable, then-Vice President Al Gore won the 2000 election, it appears that Senator Kerry won the 2004 election, although that is still up in the air, and there have been several questionable state elections.

If this were just Democrats whining, it really wouldn't be very interesting. George Bush is the President, and short of a resignation or impeachment, he will execute those duties accordingly until 2009.

What makes this interesting is that the new age of cheating at the ballot box--electronically--favors the kind of chaos that control-driven organizations, both political and corporate, detest and fear most. There is a ton of underemployed engineering and computer science talent out there, and the farther up the education ladder you go, the less tolerance for PR-driven corporate conservatism one finds. At the other end, the biggest threats to corporate and government computer networks haven't come from terrorists or the Russians; they've come from 13 year old kids. If people really can get away with meddling in elections, you know all sorts are going to want to leave their mark.

14 hours of fun

Storms are great fun so long as nothing bad happens. (yeah, I know, that's real original. Most things are great so long as nothing bad happens)

Anyway, we lost power about 4 yesterday, and it didn't return until about 6:30 this morning. It was fun playing cards with Brad and Kelly by candlelight, and McChickens are always classed up in the dimmed light, but I did miss my computer. It got a little warm after a few hours (we're on the third floor, so all the heat drifts up to us) so Jodi wanted to grab some ice cream. Well there was this incredibly chatty artsy chick, brunette hair slightly astray, who Went to Webster working there at Ben & Jerry's. She at least made interesting conversation, and seeing as I had no other place to be, I happily did my part to keep the conversation going. After awhile, she got distracted by a friend of hers and ran off the way that only art majors can. So another girl came over in a Cards cap and straight blonde hair and was like, "so did you actually get helped in all that?" and laughed with me when I described the girl that had previously been helping me. The second, far more normal girl, of course, turned out to be a Wash U student.

I also learned that AmerenUE does not put their emergency number on their bills. The 342-1111 is for billing stuff. You should call 342-1000 in an emergency. Of course, during an emergency, their phone lines will be too busy for you to get through, but at least you'll feel better knowing it's the emergency line.

As a power outage bonus, you get a totally unrelated thought. I helped out with an evening contemporary service as part of our youth group sharing about their recent mission trip up in 'Sconsin, and we had dinner afterward. I sat with a married couple and two single women, and much of the conversation relived in vivid multimedia form the various shows and songs of their childhood. I am a tad younger than the three ladies, but after a couple quick exchanges with the guy who is their age, we both concluded neither of us had any idea what the ladies were discussing. I had seen two of the shows, and hadn't even heard of the others. It was a foreign tongue, completely alien; fascinating and scary at the same time.


last minute plans rule

So someone at my work emailed everybody saying that some football tickets have been donated for this evening. Let me know ASAP if you would like for me to try to get you one.


unscientific poll fun

(P) I believe very strongly that many of the distinctions between the Democratic party and the Republican party rhetoric are artificial creations designed to divide people into controllable camps so that party leaders may essentially ignore popular opinion. To say that Republicans are pro-business or pro-family or pro-trade, while Democrats are pro-worker or pro-environment or pro-civil rights is, I would argue, quite accurate. But to claim that there is any reason to believe those statements imply their opposite, that Republicans are anti-worker or Democrats are anti-family, is both childishly simplistic and incredibly inaccurate. Anybody right of the Communist party supports private property, while anybody left of the anarchists supports government involvement in the labor markets. It’s simply a matter of degree. Increased wealth is positively correlated with increased demand for environmental protection, while living wage legislation is incredibly popular. Corporate giants are headquartered in blue states, while red staters love sex, drugs, and cussing.

The infamous knock against democracy is that after spending five minutes with the average voter you’re ready to find a new form of government. But to me, the whole point is that, to use the class I nearly failed because I didn’t cheat by studying from the previous exams that all the frats have, statistically speaking, it’s the average of voters that is important. And in that I place a great deal of confidence. That’s also why people who support highly autocratic, elitist policies fight so hard to undermine our educational system and independent media. It’s a lot easier to fool a group of uninformed voters than a group of thoughtful ones, regardless of the particulars of those thoughts.

So with that background, you can see why I loved the following poll on BusinessWeek’s website. They’re a solidly conservative publication; conservative, because they’ve thrown their lot in with the business community and wealthy Americans on a number of policy issues (for example, they recently tried to make us feel sympathetic for the top few percent of income earners in the country because they might lose some of Bush’s tax cuts due to the Alternative Minimum Tax), and solidly, because they usually stick by their principles rather than caving to whatever the Right’s talking points of the week are. I think this makes them a valuable resource for what’s going on in the business world and the perspective by which the business world views many important national and international issues.

Of course there’s nothing scientific about this and I wouldn’t advocate making policy based on web surveys. But doesn’t it say something when that many people on BusinessWeek’s website recognize the corporate welfare that is the energy bill?


that's the good stuff

I made a few drinks when people came over for barbecue yesterday, and one of them was one of those frozen cans of Welch's white grape juice. That is fantastic, if you've never had it. Only beaten out by Dole's Pine Orange Banana. So I poured myself a glass this evening and took it out to the coffee table in front of our couch. I wandered to my room and when I returned I leaned down and picked up the glass for a drink. Well, between me bending over carelessly and the white grape juice being absolutely heavenly, I nearly drooled on the coffee table! Fortunately my more civilized self quickly regained control, but for one brief moment that was pure childish delight.

Also, we have tons of beer that people have left in our fridge from the weekend. Please come drink it for us.


It's free beer, what more do I need to say, you idiots? Get over here.

And check this out. Classic school humor.


oh, the influences we have on people...

This was just too good for me not to post. Either this individual is just seeing if I'm gullible (which I wouldn't put past her), or I managed to leave such an impact in high school that her younger sister made up a nickname for me. A rather long one, at that. It's really more of a slogan than a nickname.

Here's the post from coercedbynutmeg where you can read about it. I will be laughing about this all evening.

UPDATE: Sorry, nevermind, she has that post protected. You have to register with livejournal and friend her. I'll ask her if it's ok for me to repost it here. In the meantime, just trust me that it's a good one :)

OKAY, I have acquired the details. I've generally kept my posts PG, but this is number 69, after all (no kidding, that's what Dashboard says). So if you're going to complain that I'm cheapening our language or feeding pop culture or destroying families or something, well, tell somebody who cares.

This high school friend of mine had a subtitle to her blog that read:
one of these behated geeks form fuckin high school

So I wrote: I have to know, is your erratically formed description purposeful? Have I just not noticed that little rant before, or is that new? Behated must be one of those fancy words you learned from university.

She wrote: Actually it was a descriptor my sister created for YOU
NDEMPSY-who might be one of these behated geeks form fuckin high school.
I kept it because it is hilarious. I'll probably change it in a day or two.

She also wrote: I assume behated is the opposite of beloved.

I wrote: that's awesome, I am quite flattered
you're not just making that up, are you?

She wrote: Not at all. Click this link. I had her site meter on my xanga page and she thought that all my visitors were her visitors. I don't have the heart to tell her otherwise.

I'll let you find all the different ways I found this hilarious.


what kind of Bible do you have?

Our interim pastor was telling an old joke about the Bible being the most widely bought and least widely used book in the world. As he was talking more about this, it got me thinking about the different ways people treat their Bible. Some are big show books, that sit on the middle shelf right at eye-level but never get taken down, let alone read. Some have comments written all over them. Mine gets thrown on top of a pile of books so I can grab it in a hurry without worrying about any other books falling over. The cover has been repaired and taped together on multiple occasions, and I have more papers stuffed in various pages than I can possibly remember why, exactly, I put them there in the first place. One thing that I don't like doing is actually writing in books, especially my Bible. The coolest Bible I've ever seen was one that had that silver, brushed-metal look in a store up in Kirksville.

So what about you? Does your Bible fit your personality or possibly even clash with it? Is it a show Bible or a used one?


it's hot

Our shower is hot, printer fusers are hot, and August afternoons are hot. I had never been into World Market or Trader Joe's, but the clientele there, elles sont chaud aussi.

So my roommate decided our water wasn't warm enough. Now, when you step in the shower, there is no gap from cold to hot, which is usually where I like to shower. Seriously, more than a quarter turn and you get scalded.

As a public service, I thought I would remind people not to touch the the really hot part of a printer. It's really hot, especially on a big copier. I was fighting a paper jam and while I got the paper out I didn't escape unharmed.

Two of three moves are completed. These people decided that the middle of the summer is a fantastic time to ask friends for help carrying heavy things up and down stairs. Bravo.

I think the last comment is self explanatory; you really shouldn't need to translate the franglais. It is kind of amazing, though, I've lived here five years now and there are still big stores near places I shop that I have never even been into once.


NS on Labeling

Oh dear, NS is spilling over into RL. Oh well...

In the interest of not cluttering the forum, I have posted a more detailed response here:

Lazy days White Paper on international labeling standards.

The government of Lazy days has prepared the following elaboration of its position as expressed through the UN forum.
The representative of Syndicalasia voiced a variety of concerns with the position taken by the people of Lazy days. These are answered point by point.

Regarding Article I:
“One would hope that the bodies governing nations would not act in such a reflexive fashion [naming a large number of official languages] to a banal request for information that would most likely improve their customer base. In fact, it is fair to say that such an action would be regarded by the international community as an act of economic sabotage and would be answered with appropriate sanctions and embargoes. Postulating these outrageous scenarios does not really make any kind of argument.”

1) This is exactly why I asked whether the UN was claiming the right to determine official languages. Syndicalasia responded that national governments have the sole right to do so (“…official languages are determined by individual nations. This is, and has been, a standard proactice for hundreds of years…”). Therefore, it is not at all outrageous to explore what would happen under the proposed resolution if a country acted in a perfectly lawful manner.

2) This is not a banal request for information. Article I calls for huge new amounts of information to accompany product packaging (or it doesn’t do anything, which is a separate discussion).

3) Is this a serious threat? The international community should enact sanctions and embargoes against a country for doing what it has the right to do? Either countries have the right to declare official languages or they don’t. A choice made under duress isn’t a choice at all.

“I feel that your response reflects a lack of understanding about the nature of the proposal. You seem to assume the following:
- Products need to be labelled in every language in the world.
- Food production is a primarily domestic issue.
- The goal of the proposal is to protect citizens of nations run by devious corporate conglomerates.
But none of these assumptions bears out the truth of the issue. Products need only be labelled in the language of the market in which they are sold. This does not involve any new translators, as those markets are already receptive to the same product and companies must have invested in some sort of labelling. Furthermore, the job of translation is done by free-lance contractors and is a one time expense.”

1) A disagreement of interpretation is not a lack of understanding.

2) Article I clearly says that products must be labeled in every official language of every country in which they are sold.

3) The issue is not production. Production is not even mentioned in Article I. The issue is sales. And food sales is a domestic activity. Consumers do not import foodstuffs; in fact, that will frequently cause complications in customs (or not, depending on the country) if a citizen tries to directly import food products. Countries rigorously (or not, depending on their choice) enact and enforce laws governing the products that get sold within their territorial borders.

4) The goal of the proposal has been explicitly described as a human rights issue. People apparently need to be protected from being misled by corporate labeling. I do not think those countries are devious corporate conglomerates. But obviously many representatives feel the need to tell other countries how to run their economies.

5) You simply cannot have it both ways. If there are no new translations needed, then Article I does not do anything. It is needless bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy.

6) Making labels is not a cheap or one time expense. Companies have to hire project managers and graphic designers in marketing departments just for one language. There are no free-lance contractors available to translate all product packaging for all time into all official languages, unless of course some nation out there would like to underwrite this activity for all time.

7) This whole answer demonstrates the success of current market forces and regional legislation.

Regarding Articles II & III:
“Food is a primarily international market. It is a simple fact of geography that not all nations can support both their populations and the means to feed them. Some nations have large plains areas in temperate climates. Some nations are merely islands. We even have members of the UN hailing from Antarctica. This is not a domestic issue. The fact of the current vote tally suggests that proper labelling is a subject that most nations find necessary. Thus, it is the job of the UN to provide guidelines for such in the interests of nations without the goegraphical means to provide sustenance to their populations.”

1) This does not answer my concerns about the resolution.

2) This is simply inaccurate. International markets for foodstuffs are important. However, domestic growth and consumption of food is far more important. There is a much larger volume of domestic trade in food products than there is international trade in food products.

3) But again, production is not the issue. See above. The issue is where it is bought, not where it is grown. That’s why even if food was 100% internationally traded, it would be irrelevant because it is 100% bought domestically.

4) What people seem to be voting for is that proper labeling is good. Lazy days agrees. However, the resolution is not about your own country, especially Articles I & III. It is not about countries that cannot grow enough food for themselves. It is about telling other countries that their position is wrong. What a package contains in another country does not affect consumers in your country. You are saying this is an international issue because goods are traded between countries. But yet the “problem” proponents site is not in their own countries, because they have laws regarding labeling. They are only in countries that have chosen not to have those laws.

5) Lazy days strongly protests the precedent this supports. Simply because most nations find something necessary is not at all an automatic need for UN guidelines. That contention destroys all need for regional governance. We will have all become citizens of the United NationStates of the World. Lazy days would only support that if I am named president for life. Otherwise, I think it is clear that we value self-determination and the ability to have distinct countries.

The third bullet is answered by the same argumentation as the second. The people who seek “protection” are those who must purchase their food from consumerist nations.

1) No, consumers do not purchase from “consumerist nations”. Those nations (and companies) must export the products to the domestic marketplace. Consumers purchase virtually all their food from local retailers. The act of importing food into the country currently falls—and should fall—within the jurisdiction of national governments. There is no situation where a corporation can sell a product to a citizen of your country inside your country without being subject to whatever strict (or not) labeling and other laws exist in your country.

2) This does not answer my original concerns. Particularly with Article III, the people of Lazy days have a very important question. This resolution is proposed as a human rights issue. There is a claim that “all people have the right to know what is in the food they eat”. This isn’t about international trade; it’s about human and civil rights. Where does this particular right come from? If the UN made a list of the top ten or 100 human and civil rights, would that be on it? Does it really give the UN the right to override the will of national governments? Is the UN prepared to declare war to protect this right?

“In regard to your comments about language:
Again, only langauges relevant to a particular market need be included. This is common sense for the producer, as it adds to the marketability of one’s product. The imposition of a rule for particular label standards is to ensure the safety of citizens with particular dietary needs (e.g. diabetics, people with allergies). This again makes good market sense to the producer. The pupose of a law is simply to ensure that good practices are followed. For most people, and we would like to hope most companies, it does not require a law to curb behavior, yet we still have them.”

1) This is not what Article I says. Currently, market forces and national laws make sure that relevant languages are included.

2) This response demonstrates that the purpose of this resolution is precisely what I claimed—to protect citizens. This only effects citizens in countries opposed to these laws (in other words, other countries, not yours).

3) This demonstrates a remarkable lack of respect for certain systems of political economy. “What makes sense to the producer?” How about not adding another layer of bureaucracy and restraint of international trade?

4) Lazy days agrees that laws should be passed to ensure good practices. But this law forces nations that disagree with what is a “good” practice to abide by it anyway. Unlike disarmament, for example, there is no corresponding benefit to the offending nations in exchange for this intrusion on the decisions of national leaders.

"As to your concern(?) for the citizens who speak the multitude of lesser konwn languages, it is unfounded. Though the multiplication factor present in this world (over RL) does increase the sheer number of speakers, I assure you that they are not a constituency that is concerned nor need concern us. These types of languages have total speakers numbering in the tens to hundreds. If they do interact much with the standard market economy, then they will know the official language of their native country. Essentially, these lesser known languages do not need to be considered because they represent a tiny population (not the hundreds of millions that you posit). I assure you that in RL you will never meet a person who speaks Tumbuka, Yucatec, or Tok Pisin. In areas where these sorts of languages are prevalent one will also find large amounts of bilingualism with the national or official language."

1) Unfounded? If protecting people who do not speak the major languages in which companies currently sell products is not the purpose of Article I, then what exactly is it for?

2) I agree that companies shouldn’t be forced to market in a language with only 10 native speakers. In fact, my position is that the UN should not force governments to regulate anything regarding what languages they put on their packages.

3) The hundreds of millions of people I mentioned referenced the major languages. Companies already sell products in these languages.

4) In RL, market forces and national governments address these issues. After all, the largest English speaking nations on Earth are not in North America or Europe. The United States does not even have an official language.

5) Again, this does not answer the issues raised by my initial post regarding Articles II and III.

“I think that the above arguments deal quite directly with your believed difference of opinion on the role of the UN. This is very much an international issue and should be handled as such.”

For all of the above reasons and more, the people of Lazy days have asked me to respectfully, yet forcefully, disagree. This response does not answer our major concerns posted in the forum, it is not an international issue, and the UN should not handle it as such.


they're here, partly

Part I of my spending spree is here from Amazon; the Star Wars trilogy (and don't even ask which one) and Ghostbusters 1 and 2 arrived. The thing is, the first thing I noticed was the cover designs printed on the DVDs. If any of you out there are intimately familiar with the Star Wars or Ghostbuster DVDs, maybe you can help me out. The printing for A New Hope is not centered on the DVD spine the same way that Empire and Jedi are. Is that how they are all printed, or did Amazon save a couple bucks by buying some dvds that had printing errors? And on the off chance that it is an error, what are the odds that the other box set I got would also have an error? Ghostbusters 1 is offcentered too high, and 2 is offcentered too low. Weird. You would think companies that spend a gazillion dollars marketing their products could produce labels that match.

And check this out:

That's the date when the Ghostbusters DVD box set becomes available. Yet it shipped and is my hand. Magic.


the most normal

I have learned this weekend that I am the least nerdy of all my roommates. I don't own the special extended version of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I'm not going to grad school, I don't spend my evenings shaving comatosed people (without regard to their facial nerves, I might add), and I didn't just set up a Yahoo group for all of us that have lived together. Ha, take that world.

Actually, Jodi, that is a good idea because it is very easy to lose touch with people. Nonetheless, it still required making fun of it.

On a totally different note, can you believe Palmeiro got suspended for violating baseball's steroid policy? The guy who wagged his finger at Congress saying he'd never used them. Either that was beautiful pageantry, or he got screwed by his supplement supplier.