Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It's just the system

Last night Dan and I were talking about lawsuits, and I said that, should I ever file one, I want to do it under the guidance of a lawyer who is bitter, angry, and crooked. This sent Dan into gales of laughter, and I guess it is funny, but I'm serious about it.

You see, I don't buy all this nonsense about tort reform and how much it will lower insurance premiums. I worked at a law firm that specialized in insurance defense, and I can tell you that insurance companies make money hand over fist. They care nothing about their customers, nor do the premiums they charge reflect the actual reality of the risks they take. If you want a good indicator as to when premiums will rise, keep an eye on how these companies' investments perform. If they perform well, premiums stay relatively flat; if not, premiums rise. The notion that "frivolous lawsuits" have the biggest impact on premiums is pure propaganda generated by the insurance industry and parrotted by their Republican lapdogs in government. Oh, there's an impact, but it's not the "A causes B" relationship they'd have you believe.

With this in mind, you'll not be surprised to hear that I oppose tort reform. Big business has used its purchased politicians to draft laws to benefit itself, and the lawsuit is the common man's way to level the playing field. Lawsuits are the way that those of us who lack lobbyists make certain that corporate scum don't go unfettered along their exploitative way. The insurance industries work the system to their benefit, and so does the common man. The system is not about morality or fairness, and although you may think your refusal to work that system is noble, it's a nobility I assure you big business does not share. Therefore, when I have to play the game, I play to win. That's the system.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Eighty degrees and palm trees!

Nothing says "Christmas" like warm, humid weather and palm trees, as I discovered last weekend in Boca Raton. We visited Dan's parents there, in a place Dan calls, quite aptly, "God's Waiting Room." It was dead, but it was warm, and I spent Christmas on a beach in bare feet, so I can't complain. It was bizarre to be sitting out on the patio in shorts drinking egg nog on Christmas, but I could get used to that kind of bizarre.

Dan's parents can cook like nobody's business. Mother of all creatures great and small, but did I eat! Dan's mom even made us lunches for the plane ride, so while the other passengers were paying five bucks for crappy Italian hoagies, we were chowing down on chicken cutlet sandwiches with lettuce, accompanied by low-fat potato chips and followed by pizzelles. Oh, and we watched Babylon 5 movies on Dan's new portable DVD player all the while. Sweet, sweet technology.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Sacrifice? Who, us?

I've been following the flap about the upcoming inauguration, and calls that Bush should opt for something more frugal given there's a war on. I disagree. I think a lavish event is actually quite appropriate, given how consistent it would be with current events.

During WWII Americans rationed sugar, rubber and metal. They paid higher taxes. Women went to the factories to replace the husbands, fathers and sons who were called off to war. Nowadays, things have changed. No draft has been called, and no materials have been rationed. Instead, Americans (well, the wealthy ones, anyway) get plump tax cuts, and the rest of us are exhorted to go to the mall and shop to fuel the economy. Aside from the relatively few Americans who have family serving in Iraq, this conflict touches the lives of very few Americans, especially since the Bush crowd is bending over backwards to make sure we think everything in Fallujah's just ducky. Therefore, I say that if the commoners aren't called upon to sacrifice, why should George Bush? Let's all party, particularly because I suspect that before too long we won't feel much like celebrating.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Great moments

I'm going to relive (and relate) a great moment I had playing Ultimate, for no reason other than I feel like reliving (and relating) it.

It was Fall League 2004, and in semi-finals my team was locked in battle against a team far superior to us in terms of skill. Still, we hung in there, and we turned a 10-4 game into 12-10. (For the uninitiated, most games of Ultimate end when one team reaches 13.) The other team was now sweating, realizing their cakewalk had turned into a real struggle, and my team smelled blood. On offense I was matched up against a guy taller, faster and younger than I, which meant my odds of getting open for a pass were slim. We needed every opening we could get, so I decided to get creative. I was facing the person with the disk, and my defender was facing me, so I looked up over his left shoulder, eyes wide as if tracking a thrown disc. He completely fell for it and took off, spinning to the left while looking for a disc that wasn't there. Stunned that this simple ploy had actually worked, I nevertheless darted to the right...just in the path of the thrown disc. My team captain was a savvy player, and guessing that I was somehow going to cut right, anticipated my maneuver with a neat little sidearm.

In case you're thinking my deviousness carried the day, think again; we lost the game on the next point and never made it to finals. Still, I was proud of myself as I accompanied my team off the field in defeat.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Battlestar Galactica

Before I get started, let me warn you that the title of this post will not turn out to be some clever, jokey reference later on. I just feel like blathering about "Battlestar Galactica", the new version of which begins January 14.

I am a big fan of the old series, but the new one (at least in the pilot) addressed some issues that the original just sort of roughed over. For example, if the Colonial fleet was traveling at sub-light speeds, how the hell did it get anywhere? My goodness, but it would take months or years just to get out of our own solar system at that rate, which means that those people weren't escaping anyone unless the Cylons were riding unicycles. Also, I was never satisfied with the they-caught-us-by-surprise explanation for the destruction of the Colonies. No matter how clever the ambush, or how strong the Cylons, there's just no way the Colonies would be defeated in a day or two. And if the Cylons were powerful enough to effect that kind of destruction, why the heck did they bother with the "peace plan" ruse in the first place? Finally, why the heck would Baltar ally himself with a race bent on destroying humanity, given that he is, well, human? Yeah, yeah, I know the Imperious Leader promised to spare Baltar's colony, but I cannot believe a secret quisling clever enough to ascend to the Council of Twelve would fall for a ploy that transparent.

The new series, on the other hand, answers these questions. The Colonies' defense network and ships were infected by an advanced computer virus, which was unwittingly This virus was introduced into their network by Baltar, who was only unwittingly betraying humanity. This makes Baltar a much more believable and sympathetic character.

January 14...I'm there.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

"Intelligent" design

By now you've heard that the ACLU, bless their liberal hearts, are going after Dover, PA, which has judiciously required that intelligent design (ID) theory be taught in 9th-grade biology classes. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with intelligent design, don't worry; it's just creationism in a cheap suit.

Proponents of ID are fond of pointing out that evolution is "just a theory", which signals a complete misunderstanding of the difference between the lay uses and the scientific uses of the word "theory." To the layman, a theory is an educated guess; to the scientist, it is an explanation, backed by empirical evidence, of a natural phenomenon. See the difference?

It's telling that ID proponents don't want to teach alternatives to other scientific theories, like gravity or atomic theory. Why, perhaps high school chemistry courses should give time to the notion that matter is composed not of atoms, but of the four elements! After all, atomic theory is "just a theory."

Hey, ID advocates! You are at best intellectually dishonest, and at worst small-minded fools who have been blinded by a religious view of the world you insist upon foisting on the rest of the world. Fuck you.

Monday, December 13, 2004

No babies!

Someone brought her baby into work today, and I was thinking, "Man, I feel so uncomfortable about that. I wish I could bitch about it." Then I remembered I have a blog that hasn't been updated in quite some time, so you get to hear about it.

It's no secret that I am not into babies. I understand they're necessary to the continuation of the species, so I don't agitate to outlaw them, yet in general I don't really want any part of them. They're loud, demanding, often smelly, totally non-self-sufficient, and, contrary to popular opinion, not always cute. When someone brings a baby to work, I find myself unsure how to proceed. The options that present themselves are:

Tell the truth: "Wow. A baby. Like I've never seen one of those before. Take it away, please."
Tell a lie: "Aww...look how cute! and he has little booties!"
Be untruthful without actually lying: "Congratulations! You must be very proud." (I say this in the same voice as option #2, so as to imply cuteness without indicating that I actually think so. Which I usually don't.)
Flee: This one's self-explanatory.

The real kicker is that I don't blame new parents for being proud. After all, they've brought into being a completely new being who, in about twenty years, could become a totally interesting person I'd love to have around. That's no mean feat. I'll be happy about it in twenty years.

P.S. I was attacked by a small dog Sunday while on 23rd Street near Locust. The little fucker broke off its leash and lunged at me repeatedly, and, being the humanitarian I am, I didn't drop kick it towards Spruce. Its owner chased it ineffectually, telling me, "Oh, she just barks." Uh-huh. If she ever comes after me again she'll spend the rest of her days drinking her Alpo through a straw.