I may be a little late for Thanksgiving dinner

Today, the Buffalo Bills lost to Cincinnati on a last-second field goal, removing them from the something-and-0 club.  However the Detroit Lions (!) put up a remarkable come-from-behind win at Dallas that included two pick-six plays and kept them in.  And the Green Bay Packers stomped all over the Denver Broncos like they were still pissed off about Super Bowl XXXII (side note: we are still a little pissed off about Super Bowl XXXII).

So Detroit and Green Bay, at 4-0, are the only undefeated teams left in the NFL.  And due to the vagaries of NFL scheduling, they won’t play one another until November 24th, also known as Thanksgiving Day.  Therefore look forward to two 10-0 juggernauts facing off for NFC supremacy on that day.

That’s a prediction.  You heard it here first.  Unless somebody else already said it, but that’s not my fault.

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So when does the real college football start?

The Wisconsin Badgers rolled through their non-conference schedule.  As usual.  And after seeing them smoke UNLV 51-17,  Oregon State 35-0, Northern Illinois 49-7, and South Dakota 59-10, I (as usual) began to grouse about it.  It’s fine to get some small-time school to come in and trade a payday for a pasting so the Badgers can have a tune-up, but I want to see the team get tested before they start in on the Big Ten games.  I want to see them win a little more respect by facing serious competition.  I want a non-conference game that’s fun to watch.

I didn’t get that this year.  But the Badgers did get to start the Big Ten season by being the first to welcome Nebraska to the conference.  Now that’s exciting!  Nebraska’s Big Ten debut.  Two top-ten teams.  In Camp Randall.  That’ll be fun!!

And then the Badgers smacked the Sooners Cornhuskers around like they were the chess club from Our Lady of Perpetual Groin Pulls U.

And my first thought was, this is a top ten team?  And my second thought was, welcome to the Big Ten, losers Sooners Huskers*!

And then there were some thoughts that were unrelated to football. And then

I realized that I’ve been all wrong about this.  Those games where they averaged a 40 point margin of victory?  Those weren’t just cheap wins, they were blowout practice!  

Man. Barry Alvarez is a genius.

*Sooners, Huskers, whatever.  Hey, at 48-17 I don’t have to know your name!
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Green Bay 30, Carolina 23

A few thoughts:

Cam Newton looked more and more like a rookie as the game went on.

Excluding the final drive (which occurred in kill-the-clock garbage time anyway), Newton threw for 355 yards and the Panthers rushed for 65.  420 yards total is a pretty impressive number for an offense.  Not so impressive for Green Bay’s defense though.  Except… after racking up all those yards the Panthers could only manage one touchdown and 3 field goals.  So maybe it wasn’t such bad defense after all.

Nick Collins: get well soon.

Tramon Williams, Mike Neal, Frank Zombo, Vic So’oto: you too.  Hurry up.

By the way, Vic, how does one pronounce an apostrophe?  Is that a glottal stop?

Donald Driver: With 9665 receiving yards, DD finally holds the Packers’ team record for receiving yards.  It’ll go well with his team record for receptions (647).

I still wish they’d throw to him more.

Finally, the Packers are 2-0, and it’s a good thing too.  We have to keep up with Detroit!

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In case of an emergency landing, please lean forward, put your head between your knees, and kiss your benefits goodbye

From this account of last week’s Republican debate:

“Perry offered a full-throated defense of some of his more provocative statements on the campaign trail, including his statement that Social Security is a ‘Ponzi scheme’ . . . the Texas governor repeated his position that it’s a ‘monstrous lie’ for any candidate to say Social Security will be around for younger people. Acknowledging that Republicans have regarded the statement as controversial, Perry insisted it was perhaps it was time to have straight talk from a candidate.
‘Maybe it’s time to have some provocative language in this country,’ he insisted.”

Romney’s reaction: “You say that by any measure Social Security is a failure. You can’t say that to tens of millions of Americans who live on Social Security . . . Our nominee has to be someone who isn’t committed to abolishing Social Security, but who is committed to saving Social Security. I will make sure that we keep the program and make it financially secure.”

Sure he will.

Social Security isn’t a ponzi scheme, its an airplane with dead engines.  And we’re all passengers.  You can’t fix it midair.  The only question is: can you manage a controlled glide to land it, or will you try to keep it in the air indefinitely and guarantee a disaster?  Don’t forget that plane’s getting heavier – there are more of us passengers every year.

People who are near, at, or past ‘retirement’ age (which the government gets to choose for us) have been paying in all their lives, and many of them are probably counting on Social Security as part of their income.  It would be awful to yank that away from them.  But Romney is accusing Perry of wanting just that.  That’s dishonest.

Will that retirement age still be the same when I get there?  Assuming I haven’t died in a zombie infestation or extraterrestrial attack?  I bet it won’t be.  And it shouldn’t be.  And that’s assuming Social Security will exist at all by that time.  Will it?  Romney (along with many, many others) is trying to tell me that I should count on it.  I would be a fool to do so.

I have also paid into the system my entire working life, and I will (involuntarily) continue to pay.  And I do not expect to ever collect any of the benefits that I’m being promised.  One way or another, they’re not going to be there.  I need to plan to take care of myself without the government’s “help”, and so do you.

I want a candidate who understands that, and who is willing to say so.  Advantage: Perry.

[This does not constitute an endorsement.]
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Parents: teach your kids to be scared of hiccups

That way if they ever get the hiccups, they can cure themselves.


Shut up.  You’re just mad that you didn’t think of it.
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After a great deal of thought, I have decided not to liveblog tomorrow’s Republican debate

My blog will be much more interesting that way.  Also, liveblogging it would mean I’d have to watch it.  Who the fuck wants to do that?

Liveblogging it without watching it – there’s an idea.  Maybe next time, when I have a chance to warm up.

Or…. deadblogging!  Where do the candidates stand on the brraaaiinns!! issue?

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Dear god, what is that thing?

Looks like Westley was right:

Prince Humperdinck, 1987.

Prince Humperdinck, 2011???

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Yo, moderate this

So the other day Troglopundit got some other bloggers (including yours truly) to tell him what they’d ask if they could moderate one of the Republican presidential debates.  Which is a pretty lazy way to come up with a post, if you think about it.  Just provide a little intro, and let your corresponding bloggers fill it in. And you got you a post (which will get at least as many readers as bloggers involved, and maybe more).

Then I thought about it a little more and I realized, hey, I’m lazy.  I should do that too.  So I did.

I didn’t query bloggers though.  That’s so three days ago, you know?  Instead I went with the next best thing: fictional characters.  And here’s what they had to say*.

Bugs Bunny (to Santorum): “Eh, what’s up, Senator?  Now, I know you don’t like the idea of gay couples getting married.  Hey, you’ve got yer principles.  But what about cats and skunks?  Dogs and roosters?  Tasmanian devils and cleverly-disguised rabbits in drag?  Not me, of course.  How do you feel about all that muck, Chuck?”

Anakin Skywalker: “My job takes me out of town a lot, and my wife’s pregnant, and I worry, y’know?  Sometimes I have visions of her getting really sick, even dying.  And me being a Jedi, whatever it is that’s going to happen to her, most insurance companies say my visions make it a pre-existing condition so they won’t cover her.  If I can’t get some help, I’m going to have to find another job with better coverage just to make sure she’s all right.  Who knows what I’ll wind up doing?”

Glenn Reynolds: “During the last debate in Iowa, you all claimed that you wouldn’t consider tax increases of any kind, even if it came with spending cuts that were ten times as much.  Really?  Haven’t you heard my ideas about Hollywood’s tax rates, or post-Washington income taxes?  You wouldn’t go for those?  Heh!  Indeed!!”

C. Montgomery Burns
: “What I worry about is the little guy.  Oh, I’ve done all right for myself, but there are some poor blokes out there who only have maybe two or three mansions to live in, and if the economy gets any tighter who knows?  A fellow can barely get by on a million or so a year as it is.  I demand to know what you intend to do for those poor souls.”

Doc Brown: “Please pardon the sloppy state of my clothing.  You see I’ve just returned from a successful test of my flux capacitor, v.3.1.6, and first let me offer my congratulations to President Paul… er, I mean, forget I said that…”

The guy with the hat from XKCD
: “If I tunnel into a stranger’s VPN via SSH, brute-force the password with a Perl script I wrote myself and execute a man-in-the-middle attack on Paul Erdos’s Facebook page just because I’m miffed that my dihydrogen oxide underwent a phase shift after a low pressure system blew into town, what are the chances that none of you understood a word I just said except for ‘Facebook’?”

Jayne Cobb: “What I don’t get is, what kind of lily-livered, pussywhipped, sad little pantywaists don’t even have a manned space program?  You want to be stuck down here on this crowded rock?  With the Alliance UN eyeballing every move you make?  Gimme the black, where a man can make a living and go where he wants and carry a Callahan full-bore auto-lock with a customized trigger, double cartridge and thorough gauge without needing a piece of paper that says he can.  Whaddaya think of that, pencilnecks?”

New game, tell your friends: what fictional character would you pick, and what would he/she/it ask the candidates?

*The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of the Mister Pterodactyl Consortium.
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So the Trog decides to pick some bloggers he wants to see moderate a GOP debate

He got the idea from some guy on the “internet”.

He had a few of his six slots filled.  (Why six?  Why not?)  And he emailed me at work to ask me to join in.

I didn’t answer right away.  Those of us who work in the private sector can’t always drop everything to consider hypothetical political questions.  But I jotted the odd note throughout the day as ideas came to me, and after quitting time (I swear) I sent him those ideas.  I didn’t know if he wanted one, or several, so I sent them all and said ‘take your pick’.

Just before I sent, I realized I’d left someone out.  I didn’t have a question for everybody, but I at least mentioned everybody, except one guy.  I left out Huntsman.  Despite my appraisal of his chances I figured I should at least include him.  And I didn’t want to just jam in his name somewhere like I did with Santorum, so I had to come up with another question.  So I did.  It was a quickly chosen, cheap, throwaway one-liner type of joke:

“Mr. Huntsman: given the extent to which China holds American debt, do you think your campaign would be more effective if you conducted it entirely in Mandarin?”  [Note: Huntsman learned to speak Chinese as a missionary in Taiwan and until recently was America’s ambassador to China.]

And sure enough, that’s the one Trog used.

I didn’t think he would use that one.  Glad he liked it, but there were a couple others I thought were better.  So without further whatever, here are the rest for your perusal.  Some are meant seriously.  Others are less so.  See if you can tell the difference.

“Gov. Perry: once and for all, are issues like abortion and gay marriage the business of the federal government, or are they solely a matter for the various States?”

“Dr. Paul: you’ve expressed support for eliminating immigration controls and for ending drug prohibition.  What do you envision as a timeline for each, and how will you protect American citizens from border violence until those policies can be fully implemented?”
[Followup: do you see that silver armadillo in the corner?  The one with the big hat?  Just me?]

“Gov. Johnson: Where the f*%$$ have you been?”

“Ms. Bachmann/Mr. Cain/Governor Pawlenty: Following the Iowa straw poll, the media has virtually crowned Ms. Bachmann, Governor Perry and Governor Romney as the front runners.  Mr. Cain and Senator Santorum have all but disappeared from news coverage, and Governor Pawlenty wussed out dropped out of the race entirely.  Do you think that an event in which only 17,000 Americans took part should have such a disproportionate effect on your party’s nomination process?  If so, why; and if not what would you do to change it?”

And one more question for the entire field:

“Show of hands: assuming she was willing, and you knew no one would ever find out, would you do Sarah Palin?”

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Rick Perry wants to Amend The Constitution

Just like everyone else.  Amending The Constitution is really, really hard, therefore talking about Amending The Constitution is really, really easy.  That’s why so many people talk about it all the time.

Candidates for political office, especially for the presidency, face two main imperatives: convincingly express their political ideas, and do it with the proper level of I-mean-it.  Amending The Constitution is particularly handy for this.  This is what I believe and I believe it so strongly that I’m going to initiate the long, arduous and uncertain process to alter the very document that our nation was founded on!

The best part is, Amending The Constitution is so arduous and uncertain that nobody will ever blame you for failing to do so.  No follow through expected.  That’s not a criticism of Perry or anyone else (hey, I want to amend the thing too), it’s just a fact.

Still, when I hear somebody talking about Amending The Constitution, I always gotta figure whether I agree or not.  I have several criteria, but one is way more important than the others: will it increase the power of the federal government, or decrease it?  I consider these possibilities as hate it, and don’t hate it, in that order.  And any proposal to Amend The Constitution has to clear this hurdle, or the Official Mister Pterodactyl Stamp of Approval ™ will not be forthcoming.

Here are seven changes that Perry has suggested he’s on board with, in his book or in various public appearances.  Let’s see:

1. Abolish lifetime tenure for federal judges by amending Article III, Section I of the Constitution.
    Neutral.  The function of the courts doesn’t depend on the method by which their members are replaced.  And I kind of like the second method mentioned – “have judges roll off every two years based on seniority.”  Every president would get to nominate the exact same number of SCOTUS members (per term), and it would be easy to keep track of how many nominations for lower courts were being gamed by Congress.

2. Congress should have the power to override Supreme Court decisions with a two-thirds vote.
    Increase.  And an enormously stupid idea.  The Court’s role is to be a check on the power of Congress, not a check on the power of Congress except when Congress really, really means it.

Note for later: I’ve often heard people complain about an unaccountable judiciary.  What’s the difference between ‘unaccountable’ and ‘independent’?

3. Scrap the federal income tax by repealing the Sixteenth Amendment.
    Decrease.  It would mean a lot of new scheming to raise revenues in other ways – fees, capital gains tax,  value-added tax,  et cetera – and probably create pressure for tax increases at the state level as well.  He became so powerful, the only thing he was afraid of was losing his power, which eventually, of course, he did.”  This would expose the small-government fakers.

4. End the direct election of senators by repealing the Seventeenth Amendment.
    Neutral.  If you’re a little light on the issue, here’s the Wikipedia page.  Going back to the original method might not produce a better Senate, but it wouldn’t produce a worse one, and might have the additional effect of lessening the influence of political parties and lobbyists.  Explaining how I got that idea would take a much longer post than this.

5. Require the federal government to balance its budget every year.
    Neutral.  But tricky.

6. The federal Constitution should define marriage as between one man and one woman in all 50 states.
    Increase.  And probably an example of campaign-mode politicking on Perry’s part.  While courting the Tea Party he said nice things about the Tenth Amendment; while speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, he didn’t.  So which is it?  I hope the former.  We’ll see.

7. Abortion should be made illegal throughout the country.
    Increase.  See #6.

That’s three increases (two outright statist, one appeal to populism), three neutrals that depend largely on manner of implementation, and only one decrease.  All nothing more than political posturing, no doubt.  Disappointing, otherwise.

Amending The Constitution is still way harder than talking about Amending The Constitution.  I hope they talk about Amending The Constitution a lot in the pretend debates.

I don’t have an ending for this post, and I know it.

Stay tuned!

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They said if I supported Governor Walker we’d see massive layoffs

Aaaaaaaaand sure enough: WEAC issues layoff notices to 40% of staff.

For those who don’t know, WEAC does not stand for Welcome Everyone Acting Crabby, Wheat Enemas Are Cool, Whipped Eggplant And Capers, or We Eat Ass Chaps.  WEAC stands for Wisconsin Education Association Council.  It’s the largest teachers union in Wisconsin.  And it’s fallen on hard times.

I know what you’re thinking:

1) Could be all the money the unions have been pouring into their wildly successful opposition to Gov. Walker’s agenda.  Should have saved a little for salaries.

2) I love the smell of irony in the morning afternoon evening daytime.

3) How the hell did Dactyl beat the Trog to this story?

4) Must be time to raise those union dues!  I’m sure all their loyal members will be fine with it.

5) That’s not really what irony means.

6) How many teachers have been laid off so far?  Is it more than union employees?  Seriously, I can’t find numbers anywhere.

What else are you thinking?  I’ll tell you just as soon as I make it up.

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Vote against Senator Steitz?

The Democratic state senators facing recall elections in Wisconsin will meet their fates this Tuesday.  Kenosha senator Bob Wirch is one of them, being challenged by local lawyer Jonathan Steitz.

Here’s a web ad I’ve been seeing around (on YouTube and on a couple msn-linked news articles, so far):

Vote against Senator Steitz.

Steitz is not a senator.  He has never held elective office of any kind.  So whats the deal?

It (later) occurs to me that there’s no way to tell who sponsored this ad.  I bet it wasn’t Wirch’s campaign.  The ‘learn more’ appears to be a link but nothing happened when I clicked on it.  Draw your own conclusions.

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Announcement: Rick Perry to announce his candidacy for president, his spokesman announces

Instapundit/The Tatler/some newspaper: “Texas Gov. Rick Perry is running for president, a spokesman confirmed Thursday, a move certain to shake up the race for the GOP nomination much to the delight of conservatives looking for a candidate to embrace…..
Official word of Perry’s entrance into the race came just hours before eight candidates, including GOP front-runner Mitt Romney, were to appear on stage during a nationally televised debate.”

A spokesman.  Official word.  Dig?

Unlikely that the spokesman spokesman-ed out of turn, or mis-spokesmanned.  I’d bet money it was planned out.  And while ‘official word’ is ostensibly the reporter’s phrase, odds are the campaign allowed her, or outright asked her, to use it.

If you announce that you’re going to announce something, haven’t you, y’know, already announced it?  The linked article takes pains to suggest that this announcement is a tactical move designed to draw attention from tonight’s Republican ‘debate’ that I’m not watching (and tell the truth, neither are you).  But it also drains all the excitement and suspense out of the actual announcement.

How are the talking heads supposed to keep people tuned in on Saturday now?  “And here comes Governor Perry, approaching the podium . . . about to announce that he’s running for president . . . and HE’S DONE IT!  HE’S DONE IT!  RICK PERRY IS OFFICIALLY RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT!!  Amazing!  What a performance, ladies and gentlemen!  Well, this is going to shake things up in the Republican primaries, I can tell you that!  Let’s go back to Jim Bob and Sally in the studio for a recap of analysis from the last 48 hours…”

Come on.  The over-choreographed Kabuki dance is part of the problem in modern politics.  Everything is so poll-tested and planned and plastic and troubleshot all the time, and everybody knows it.  That’s why we don’t trust politicians anymore; we can’t tell what’s genuine and what’s been scripted out by some staffer.

If Perry really wants some attention, this Saturday he should announce that he’s won the lottery, and his wife is getting a sex change and they’re moving to a Rastafarian commune in Addis Ababa.  Throw everyone for a loop.  Then on Sunday he can tweet “kidding!  BTW running for Prez!!!”  And wait for the phone calls to start rolling in.  And the donations.  And the kudos for the savvy use of social media.

And then next time around, instead of playing it safe, candidates would have to get even weirder just to get on TV.  And eventually, we could trust them with the budget again.

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It has been well over 48 hours since Joe Biden compared the Tea Party to terrorists

And not in a good way.

So where are the ‘Joe Biden called me a terrorist‘ t-shirts?  I’d buy one.

[Note to self: look into online t-shirt printing after work tomorrow.]

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This post may already be obsolete

By the time I post this, there may already be a debt-ceiling deal.  You may as well keep reading, though, as long as you’re here.

Take for consideration Krauthammer (via Sykes), essentially arguing that Repubs and Tea Partiers and such should accept a so-so deal, increase the debt ceiling, avoid the consequences of the alternative, put off their more ambitious ideas (like a balanced budget amendment – more on that later) and hope to gain more power in the next election to get a better deal next time around.

He’s not totally wrong.  He’s not totally right, either.

Let’s stipulate the following: first, there will be more debt-ceiling increases after this one, there have to be; second, the ‘cuts’ that will be included in any agreement aren’t real spending cuts, they’re just decreases in the deficit – that is, they only slow (slightly) the growth of the debt, they don’t shrink government spending in any way; third, those ‘cuts’ can easily be superseded by the next Congress.  Right now, they don’t mean jack shit.

Fourth, all the people having an opinion on what to do about the debt ceiling (including you) have one thing in common.  None of them can see the future.

I can’t see the future either, as far as you know.  If I could, here’s what I would want to find out.

Suppose the Boehner plan or something like it were to get passed.  Ten years from now, in 2021, when we all look back on the last ten years, will we see a series of bills like it?  Bills to increase the debt ceiling, but also to cut spending by a little more, and keep cutting it until we approach a balanced budget?  Or do we see a one-off deficit reduction plan that goes nowhere?

If the former, then Krauthammer is right.  If the latter, then we may as well have gone to the barricades on this one, ’cause we’re screwed.

Check this space in ten years, I’ll tell you how it turned out.

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Denise Richards regrets her boob jobs

Found via Instapundit, who frankly has been a real downer lately.  Yo Glenn, if I want to be depressed I’ll read all that stuff you keep linking about the economy, and the Middle East, and the zombies.

Anyway, here’s Denise in happier times:

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Update to “It’s getting a little too two-dimensional around here”

Because that sucker is already too long (it’s the previous post to this one, just scroll down).  Here’s some more hope:

“NASA engineers are expected to confirm this weekend that the US spacecraft Dawn has entered the orbit of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system.”

“After a year of observations and measurements around Vesta, Dawn will depart for its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres, in July 2012. It will be the first craft to orbit two solar system destinations beyond Earth.”

Vesta was a candidate for full planet status in the 2006 International Astronomical Union’s convention that kicked Pluto out of the club.  Neener neener.

Dawn will be the first spacecraft to orbit two Solar System objects that aren’t the Earth and the Moon.

Keep working on that astrogation, lads.  We’re gonna need it.

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It’s getting a little too two-dimensional around here

So the space shuttle is headed for Social Security.  In the archives.  Out to pasture.  Hitting the early-bird special at Denny’s.  Several other cliches.

Heavy sigh.  America’s space program is taking a step backwards, and I’m pretty bummed about it.

The reason I say so is that the shuttle was supposed to be the next step, man.  We sent people into space, and we left footprints on the f*****g moon.  The logical next step was to stay there.  Gradually build up a presence.  Make it better and more useful.  Find ways to make it pay.

And for a while it looked like that was actually happening; we used the shuttle to build the International Space Station, and to conduct repairs on the Hubble Telescope.  Robots went to other planets (as an exploratory vanguard, so we hoped).  People kept making talk about asteroid mining and solar-panel energy transmission and space elevators.  And so on.

But it wasn’t really happening, and the signs were there for a long time that it wasn’t.  The shuttle, once in service, stayed pretty much the same over the years.  The ISS is neat, but limited, and not getting less so.  And the public’s appetite for more kind of ebbed over the years, both from complacency over past successes and fear of future costs.

So it’s not like we couldn’t see this coming.  And we did see it coming, but now that it’s actually here and concrete, it sucks.  No Buck Rogers.  No boldly going.  No first contact…

Or second... or third...

So what’s it going to take to get the ball rolling again?  Well, I have a few thoughts.

Traveling beyond Earth orbit is very expensive these days.  And, unfortunately, political concerns and bureaucratic pinballing are going to keep it that way.  So while technical accomplishment, exploration, and scientific discovery are all great, they aren’t enough to keep us in space all by themselves.  We can get that right here on the blue marble, after all.  The way I see it, there are only three things with the potential to get us back out of the two dimensions of Earth’s surface.

One, overcrowding.  The planet’s holding more than six billion unhairy bipeds, and there’s only going to be more.  Eventually it’s going to get really crowded, and not just in the third-world shitholes.  We could use an outlet planet to send some of our tired, our poor, our huddled masses yearning to breathe canned air in low gravity, some extra real estate to expand into.

[And in case you think I’m serious, no.  This is an extremely unlikely scenario.  Population control via extraterrestrial emigration requires a large infrastructure already in place, and any meaningful reductions in the Earthbound population would probably require transport for many thousands at a time.  Periodic wars, famines, and disease are much more practical for this purpose.]

Two, resources.  All those breathers are gonna need stuff.  We need stuff to make that stuff.  If we start running out of that stuff here, maybe we can get it somewhere else.  So we’re gonna need to get there.  And back, too.

Three, survival.  You know as well as I do that somewhere out there is a big meteor with all our names on it.  How our names got on it, I’ll never know.  Some freak geological occurrence, I guess.  A million space-monkeys with a million space-typewriters.  That kind of thing.  Still, it’s out there and it’s coming this way.  It’s going to get here sooner or later, and it wouldn’t be such a bad idea if we weren’t all still here when it does.  Same goes for supervirus outbreaks and nuclear war.  A backup planet just seems prudent.

The problem is that none of these imperatives is any more likely to put the bug back up our collective asses, until its too late.  Overcrowding and shortages are long off, and somewhere else too.  Global catastrophe?  Sounds far-fetched.  And what good is it if I can’t be on the planet that doesn’t get smacked?

Still, once that meteor shows up, or the molybdenum runs out, or one of our population-reduction kinetic military actions gets a little out of hand, then we’re gonna be sorry.

Our only hope is that private space entrepreneurs like SpaceX or XCOR Aerospace will keep improving their expertise, and maybe even mount a venture or two of a non-terrestrial nature.  That might be enough to spark the excitement over space travel that used to motivate us.  And if not, when crunch time gets here just hope that they’ve got the know how and the tools to do something about it.

It still sucks, though.  No getting past that.

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Blah blah blah unions blah blah blah politics blah blah blah

The Trog, among others, are (ahem) moderately unhappy with this story about a Fourth of July parade float:

“A re-enactment of the famous photo of three firefighters raising the American flag amid the rubble of the World Trade Center – created a rush of emotions as it passed through three parade routes in Milwaukee County back in 2002. Crowds spontaneously rose to their feet, offering thunderous applause.

With the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks coming up later this year, [Matt] Gorniak and his church’s youth group decided to revive the float in Racine’s upcoming Independence Day parade, one of the biggest in the area…

Members of the executive board of the Racine firefighters union ultimately decided not to support or march with his float.”

After the Madison protests earlier this year, Gorniak altered his union membership to ‘fair share,’ meaning he pays dues to cover the union’s worker-representation functions but not its political or other activities.

Gorniak wants to re-enact an iconic event in American history for the parade, and no doubt some people will focus on that – “how can they refuse to support a 9-11 tribute?  Unpatriotic!”

But I submit that his intentions aren’t what’s relevant here. In fact, they’re a distraction.  He may as well be organizing a bake sale or throwing a backyard barbecue (“how can they refuse to attend a summer barbecue, the bastards got something against bratwurst?”).

What’s important in this story is the motive behind the union board’s decision.  Because if it’s true that Gorniak’s membership status is the reason the union refused to back him (and I join the above-linked in believing it is), then they are showing their true colors – the same colors displayed by some of those anti-Walker protesters. To wit:

1) The union has become an end unto itself. It’s no longer about improving workers’ lives, it’s about political clout for the union and its leaders.

2) Loyalty to the union is the primary virtue. Forget country, family or personal beliefs. Toe the line or get treated as second-class.

3) Rank-and-file union members are apparently okay with 1 and 2, so there’s not much hope of changing them.

Unions insisting on themselves and their agendas to the exclusion of all else is a problem.  Especially in the public sector.

On the other hand, if we’re wrong about the union’s motivation it should be pretty easy for the board to clear things up.  They could simply make it known that off-duty member-in-good-standing firefighters were free to join Gorniak on his float.

In fact, I predict that’s what will happen.  Either the union will back off, or you’ll see other members join the float with no repercussions.  Check back here on Tuesday.

UPDATE: “The Fourth Fest board has decided that only uniformed firefighters may walk with a 9/11 tribute float in Monday’s Independence Day parade.”  Union refuses to support the float entered by the less-than-full member, that member invites other volunteers to participate, parade board decides he can’t do that?  Hinky.

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So the Wisconsin Senate passed a concealed-carry law, and about damn time.  The Assembly still has to vote on the bill, but if you ask the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (see linked article) it’s a done deal.

In order to get a CC permit, you have to complete some sort of gun-safety training.  Apparently there are several options there.  Here’s my question: do you have to actually own a gun in order to get a permit?  Do they supply guns at the training courses?  Can you borrow one from a friend?  Because I want my permit.  I’ll worry about the gun later.

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