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Friday, December 12, 2003

Decline of the 2-party system 

Here's a triple shocker...a Republican friend of mine just forwarded me this article from the Washington Post that I found interesting.

[The 3 shocks are (a) I have a friend, (b) I have a Republican friend, and (c) something in the Washington Post is not lined up next to the toilet for future use]

It's about how the nature of information access may signal the end of the 2-Party system. I for one can't wait.

Some salient points from the article with my meager comments:

"To an economist, the "trick" of the Internet is that it drives the cost of information down to virtually zero. So according to Coase's theory, smaller information-gathering costs mean smaller organizations. And that's why the Internet has made it easier for small folks, whether small firms or dark-horse candidates such as Howard Dean, to take on the big ones."
--Dean's organization is actually VERY small

"For all Dean's talk about wanting to represent the truly "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," the paradox is that he is a third-party candidate using modern technology to achieve a takeover of the Democratic Party."
--This is spot-on, a very good insight (and it may explain why some Dems REALLY don't like Dean...the water temperature is rising, but they don't notice the slow change that has been occurring since the Reagan era--it's boiling time now)

"Cheap information has allowed firms to shrink. Size is now less of an advantage in organizations, and that means more competition in the global marketplace. For companies, it's either reorganize or die."
--I love it! This means talented people have much more power, because the cost of organizing them goes down, since it is much harder to "stranglehold" information. For lone Vulfs like myself, it is far easier to "go it alone" because the Internet does so much of our work for us. In fact, the Internet has changed so much, it is amazing. Being a compulsive fact-seeker, the Internet has made my search and find strategy so much simpler that I can even write halfway-interesting blogs without a modicum of a clue (OK, present blog excepted, I hear the snoring).

Now, the most exciting prediction of all...
"And finally, in the next six or eight presidential elections, a third-party candidate will win the presidency. Issues -- most likely the coming fiscal debacle and the inescapable abrogation of promises made on Social Security and Medicare -- will give the third-party candidate an opening. But technology will give him, or her, the means."

Yeah! I, for one, welcome the end of the "duopoly"! There is no shortage of ideas, why confine them to stale Party boundaries! The "right" and the "left" make sense, but the "middle" makes many more happy.

-Vulf

The Play, Vulf's Vote... 

I'd be very proud, Lupus. As a Denver guy, you should know the connection between that play and the Mile High City...John Elway was the Stanford Quarterback. Not that anyone remembered that after the band played on...on the field, that is!

By the way, how many Bowl Games did Elway go to in his college years?...here's a clue, it's an integer between -1 and +1.

TGIF Sports: The Play, Stanford v. Cal  

Embarrassed or Proud, You make the call!

Pontiac revealed the California v. Stanford game of Nov. 20, 1982, as its "Ultimate High-Performance Play of the NCAA(R)," crowning the play as NCAA Football(R)'s most memorable moment of all-time.


As an alumnus of Stanford, I am really torn by how I should feel about this "honor". So I am asking for your help.

Should I feel:

* Proud
* Embarrassed
* Meditative by treating it as a Zen Koan
* Forgetful
* Other

- Lupus

Welcome new blogger, JB 

We need to give him a nickname. Any suggestions?

-Lupus

Friday Sport's Day 

Well, now to serious business . . . football. My team, the Raiders, continue to prove their coach right. They are the dumbest team in America right now.

As for the rest here's King Kaufman's Sports Daily.(Might need to subscribe for the day to read this.) King Kaufman does the unexpected and picks the Raiders over the Ravens. Hmmm! Sadly, it seems this week's "A Fan's Note" by Mark Toft has not been published yet. Wilk?

-Lupus

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Remiss but not missed? Vulf's Quotes of the Day return... 

Here a week/weak's worth...

Thursday:
Everyone calls me a dangerous, uncaring, misunderstood loner, but they're wrong. Seems they understand me pretty damn well!

Friday:
Drinking a lot of coffee is good for your health.
All that walking back and forth to the toilet.

Saturday:
Stimulant junkies rejoice! There's now a Mountain-Dew flavored cigarette!

Sunday:
So, just as the plane was about to take off, the flight attendant told us to turn off all our electronic devices. Merle didn't do so well without his dialysis, though.

Monday:
I think one of the subtle, underlying messages in Camus' "The Stranger" was that Camus was trying to impress the Babes.

Tuesday:
To an optimist, the glass is half full.
To a pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To an engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
To a realist, it's poison.

Wednesday:
My Uncle Hank always told me to pull his finger.
Man, it must be tough to have arthritis!

Intellectual Property 

Now here's a subject possibly touchier than politics. What is to be done about Intellectual Property (I.P.). It used to be that large corporations would keep most of their inventive critical mass in-house, now they patent everything from Amazon's One-Click shopping to every pharmaceutical imaginable. Is is true that:

"Where once corpses accumulated to the advance of colonialism or the indifference of commodity capital, now they hang in the profit and loss scales of Big Pharma, actuarially accounted for and calculated against licensing and royalty revenue. With the aid of stringent IP law, companies are able exercise a biopolitical control that takes to new extremes the tendency to liberate capital by restricting individual and collective freedoms and rights - even the right to life itself"?

Maybe...maybe not. It's still better to get your drugs from BigPharma than from BackOfTheTruckDoctor. And, the high cost of development, garnering FDA approval (typically hundreds of millions of dollars for each new pharmaceutic), and production+shipping does justify some of the high cost. Also, designer pharmaceutics like Viagra and Propecia are difficult to complain about (is it just me, or does it seem like only the rich need these two anyway? Funny that...) Nevertheless, most folks don't get choked up when some BigPharma loses money to counterfeit drugs, but they should. It can kill through missing pharmacological effect (no cancer patient should lose his/her Epogen or Procrit, for example) or even through sepsis from nonsterile counterfeiting (even injected tap water can kill).

Should the price of drugs come down? Clearly. This would reduce the profit in counterfeiting, for example. After all, BigPharma has a
sweet deal going in Puerto Rico. The whole African AIDS situation is a disaster, in spite of Bono. The profits are extortionate in BigPharma, and will remain so even if the prices come down. But, with the barrier for entry so high, they won't.

So, BigPharma is the biggest target in this area, but how does the rest of the Pack feel about I.P. in general. BIG can of worms.

-Vulf

Fish & Mercury Update: Tuna 

More bad news.

In revising a broader advisory on the dangers of eating seafood with elevated levels of mercury, the government plans to issue cautions to women of childbearing age, as well as young children, to have no more than one can of tuna per week, an FDA spokesman tells WebMD.

Read the rest of the article for details.

-Lupus

Dean is not Mean; he is also not Bush League 

To successfully win the Democratic campaign, it probably makes sense to take the approach of picking up all the votes of those disenfranchised with Bush--not by Trying to be 75% in agreement. As my sage friend J notes, why should any Dem think they are going to get some of the voters who like Bush's policies? If these folks like Bush's policies, then they'll vote for Bush.

As for meanness, hmmm, a comment such as "Getting an endorsement from Al Gore is like getting an endorsement from the Robots Association of America, no one really cares" probably doesn't qualify for the 2003 Mother Teresa Award either (though, I presume, it was meant in satire). If Gore is a robot, how is it that more people liked him in 2000 than liked Bush, even with Nader co-opted to pull away a few precious percent to make Bush win in Florida, Oregon and other borderline states?

In fact, to dismiss an endorsement from Gore is also Borderline, in a different sense. I posit the entire Democratic Party is suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder:

"Borderline personality disorder is a condition characterized by impulsive actions, mood instability, and chaotic relationships."

Impulsive Actions--dismissing the endorsement of the man who won the popular election in 2000
Mood instability--Wesley Clark has the best chance of winning because he can "stick it to Bush" on Iraq and the economy, but Dean is mean for pointing out what "Bush has done wrong domestically". Seems to me sticking it to someone is meaner than focusing on their domestic foibles.
Chaotic relationships--Wesley Clark has co-opted the terms (Meetup, etc.) of the Dean campaign, thus indirectly endorsing Dean's approach. Moreover, Clark's comments "Last January, at a conference in Switzerland, he happened to chat with two prominent Republicans, Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and Marc Holtzman, now president of the University of Denver. "I would have been a Republican," Clark told them, "if Karl Rove had returned my phone calls." Soon thereafter, in fact, Clark quit his day job and began seriously planning to enter the presidential race--as a Democrat" make his decision to run as a Democrat appear rather chaotic, no? What if Karl Rove had talked to him?

The fact is, the Republicans have moved so far to the right, former Republicans like Clark can now run as Republicans for the Democratic Party.

Have the Dems so lost sight of what it means to run a campaign that they can't tell the difference between the primary and the general election? From all appearances, Dean will win both. Watch him suck up the vacuum in the Center after he has won the primary. In fact, it may well be, given his propensity for making policy while he speaks, that Dean will end up with a platform further to the center than many are currently comfortable with. So be it, he is managing a campaign, not a vendetta. Gore supported him because Gore wants Bush out. Do you? It's certainly not unheard of for the governors of small states to win elections?

As for a "leader [who] will lead them boldly into the future", I know that must be satire...or else this isn't bold enough for you?

"...I believed that, by running for President, I could raise the issues of health care for every American and the need to focus on early childhood development. I wanted to bring those issues to the forefront of the national debate. And I wanted to balance the budget to bring financial stability and jobs back to America...."

"...But there is a fundamental difference between the defense of our nation and the doctrine of preemptive war espoused by this administration. The President's group of narrow-minded ideological advisors are undermining our nation's greatness in the world. They have embraced a form of unilateralism that is even more dangerous than isolationism. This administration has shown disdain for allies, treaties, and international organizations alike. In doing so they would throw aside our nation's role as the inspirational leader of the world and the beacon of hope and justice in the interests of humankind. And instead, they would present our face to the world as a dominant power prepared to push aside any nation with which we do not agree..."

Finally, Back-stabbing Lieberman? Come on, even CNN is asking Is Lieberman a Republican in a Democrat's Clothes? The answer is yes. Who has back-stabbed all those in the Center, let alone the Left?

Frogs in slowly boiling water, jump!

-Vulf

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Will Meanness Win? 

Let's face it, Gore wasn't able to win his own race even though he had more votes, so what makes anyone think that is going to make a difference? Especially after back-stabbing his former running make Lieberman.

Getting an endorsement from Al Gore is like getting an endorsement from the Robots Association of America, no one really cares. The best it will do is give Dean another short-term boost which might be enough for the long run to push him away from the rest of the pack or it may just fizzle away.

I still think Wesley Clark has the best chance of winning against "Dubya" because he can stick it to Bush on Iraq which is the main issue along with the economy. Dean is running not on what he can do for his country but on what Bush has done wrong domestically. Dean's bet is that the U.S. dislikes Bush more than they crave a leader that will lead them boldly into the future.

--LOBO returns

Democratic Debate? It's Already Over, Why Bother? 

With Gore fully behind Dean, the Democratic primary is essentially over. And what poseurs like Gephardt ("I was afraid, it was the anthrax, I was scared!"), Kerry ("There was a Democrat named Kerry, Who stood both tall and scary, I've heard him before, Explain his vote for the war, But his reasons are quite contrary") and the Evil One ("Sauron" Lieberman) don't understand, is that Dean is managing a campaign to capture the left (not a personal battle against another candidate) and then once he's defeated the other Deomcrats, he will move to the Center. See, the Republicans, when in charge, move farther right. So far right now that they're off the field completely and about to leave the stadium. But the Dems, esp. Clinton, move to the Center to build consensus so work can get done. Wait until Dean has the Dem vote sewed up at the Convention. One of his true weaknesses [and it can be a strength, still...] is that he makes policy on the fly. He's already sewed up the left. What we have to wait and see is how far to the Center he'll go after the Convention to win the next stage...i.e. beating "W"hatever.

Lupus is right, "W" has found a magical knife edge, the edge of Occam's razor, where he delicately balances between doing nothing on one side and doing nothing on the other. Stick around, the fun's just beginning.

Oh, and you nasty terrorists in the Middle East? Every time you kill another US soldier, we'll kill another child in Afghanistan. Get out.
-Vulf

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

The Free State Debate. My Vacuous First Impressions. 

For the first round, each candidate has a pat, well rehearsed soundbite. For many apathetic slackers like myself, this is their first impression.

Dean - "Bush is leading the nation astray." Standard economic populism. This guy is slick.

Kerry - Kerry is cadaverous and lanky. And he always looks like he is lying. I can't trust anyone that tall.

Dick Gephardt - "Look at me I'm middle class". I could live with President Dick. Clearly not a radical reformer, but an honest middle of the road liberal from the heartland. Carteresque, but saavy. Middle class jobs, healthcare. The dems are definitely going to try and stick it to Bush on the economy and healthcare costs.
"My dad was a truckdriver, he had nothing". Government needs to give a hand up to the middle class.

Wesley Clark - "I'm the army man to lead us through the reconstruction of Iraq -It's working so well in Bosnia and Kosovo!". I could live with a general in the White House. It's about time. Maybe he'll channel Eisenhower and take on the MIC.

Lieberman - I have a profound dislike for this man. He manages to be both wussy and homicidal. And a moral crusader, to boot. "[George Bush] has compromised the American Dream". Middle class tax cut. 4 weeks paid relative care leave.

Kucinich - Only one present to have voted against PATRIOT act. Drops the S-Bomb with single payer. Clearly a superbrain. Best quote " The only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions ". Hasn't a prayer. Bush would give him a wedgie all the way over his forehead and leave him hanging in a locker. Get's feisty about getting US out of Iraq in a hurry. "The end of Fear".

Al Sharpton - Let the people decide! It's good to see Sharpton get some respect! He seems a bit awestruck. Quiet. Busts a joke about TedKs ratings.

Carol Moseley Braun - "Look at me, I'm a woman!". Carol claims that it's time to give up the executive prerogative of un-ratified military action. Suddenly she is a hyper-narrow constitutionalist. Ted K. (oppel, not aczynski) points out that no war since WWII has been declared.

Who's the other southern guy? Makes a very good point about how deep BushCheneyInc are in the pockets of the corporate class.

JB

Monday, December 08, 2003

Bush & Physics 

Wulf recently tried to downplay Bush's intellect, but I sit here still amazed by Bush's Shrodinger's Cat solution to the missing WMD's. In fact Bush regularly Shrodinger's policy. He spots a problem, like education. He then see a wave function with several different possibilties. For instance, the "Leave No Child Behind Act" both has money and doesn't have money at the moment he makes his promise to address the problem. The subsequent congressional action brings in observers and collapses the wave function to one of non-existence of the mone. Why the wave function happens to favor Bush's friends and his enemies is something of a mystery. Rumors have been spread that not only has Bush mastered Shrodinger's Cat, but he also can manipulate the wave function. Bush must be close to GOD! I think he said the BIG MAN(Note: To Bush God is male.), chose him. Which means we have a prophet in our midst. The second coming of Jesus. The rapture is here. It's time to sell the "Left Behind" series to the Democrats so that they will know what to expect since the Rapture is only for Republicans. I await the end of the World as we know it.
I feel fine.

-Lupus
P.S. Because Bush the Physicist inevitably led to Bush, God's Prophet, I had to resort to another truism/theorem with catchy name, Occam's Razor. Using Occam's Razor, I did away with Shrodinger's Cat. It was bloody as hell, but left concluding that Bush just lied about the WMD's to begin with.


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