Thursday, November 30, 2006

Operation Drink Beer in Kansas City

About once a year, I participate in an epic sports journey. In the last year, there have been a couple to speak of: Wisconsin New Years Extravaganza and the Nebraska Magical Sports Trifecta. This Saturday, I will embark on my next epic sports journey to watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on the Oklahoma Sooners at Arrowhead.

My accomplices for my journey will be blog contributor and brother-in-law cheaptrickin, brother-in-law code named Ringo, and Ringo's brother Goodyear. Cheaptrickin has skills in grilling, trash-talking and bartending. Ringo's specialties include transportation, logistics, and pyrotechnics. Goodyear brings his strong knowledge of chemicals (which includes beers), union-busting, and driving.

All in all, we are a veritable A-team of tailgating and spectator sports. Watch for us on ABC.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

From the Morons Who Brought You Intelligent Design....

Because my job is very much science and research oriented, a huge part of what I do on a daily basis, aside from simply trying to avoid getting fired, is to evaluate the quality of research. Simply because something is published, doesn't tell you anything about the level of quality. One example of such a concept was brought to my attention as I browsed this afternoon. See here.

Essentially, the research, which appears in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, says that people who attend church have better pulmonary flow rates than those who do not. Pulmonary flow rate is one measurement that is thought to correlate with better health in old people. Wow. Guess we all better start going to church right?

While on the surface this seems encouraging to those who attend church services, this is a great example of terrible research, simply because the researchers are over-interpreting their findings. Correlation, my friends, is a very very different thing than causation. While the study does show that the church attendance in people 70-79 years old is linked to better pulmonary health, that does not mean one can infer that church is what caused those people to have better health.

The fact that a person is in there 70s and is ABLE to get up and go anywhere is probably a greater predictor of pulmonary function than where they end up going. A better way to look at this question would be to include individuals in the same age group that are matched for age and activity-level who are athiests to those church-going grannies. Something tells me the two groups would be very similar.

Looking into this further, I discovered that another group of researchers published a similar study earlier this year, that tried to conclude that church attendance would add years on to your life. Again, the data don't support their conclusions. While it may be true that people who go to church do live longer on average, the causal relationship between church attendance and longevity is suspect.

This is why good researchers use control groups that are matched for age and other significant factors, because otherwise, you can't and shouldn't make causal conclusions based on correlational research.

White Trash Logic

Every once in a while, I have an experience that reminds me that I do live in Nebraska. This morning, that epiphany occurred while I was listening to 89.7 The River's morning show, Spicoli and Rocco's Morning Fiasco. Omaha is in a bit of an uproar about the death of a 22-month old girl at the hands of her mother's boyfriend. The perp kicked the child across a room and killed her. The story can be found here (registration required).

Given the tragedy and brutality of the crime, it's been a hot topic for discussion, and Spicoli and Rocco were discussing it this morning. People are outraged, and for good reason.

One caller this morning provided an insight that reminded me that the white trash of Nebraska and Iowa are alive and well. White trash have a fundamentally different view of the criminal justice system than the rest of the population. I think this might be related to their more frequent experience with crime and punishment either personally or among their friends and family, but that's simply a theory.

Whenever a whiskey tango talks about a person going to jail, as was illustrated by the caller on the radio this morning, their assessment of "does the punishment fit the crime" has nothing to do with bail amounts, time of sentence, or the amount of the fine. Nope. Trailer trash finds comfort in knowing that because this guy is a child murderer, he's going to get gang-raped daily for a good part of the rest of his life.

This is a pretty common theme in talking to the NASCAR crowd. It's almost like they view prison sex as a mandatory part of the punishment and worse than the death penalty. This makes perfect sense to me, as I would much rather be electrocuted or shot than force-fed sausage from a guy named Meat Grinder.

Nonetheless, it's interesting that when an uneducated lady who makes meth and shoots squirrels for a living makes public comment about punishment for a murderer, her primary observation is that she's glad he's going to get lots of traffic up the Hershey turnpike.

I think the white trash of America have a good point here. I would even argue that prison rape is probably one of the greatest crime deterrents in this country. At least for midgets anyway.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A friendly reminder of the past

Yeah, that's Christian Okoye getting annihilated by Steve Atwater. And that wasn't Tecmo Super Bowl either. But you know what's really funny? CowboyLaw was a Broncos fan when this hit happened.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Guess which 2 teams in the AFC West are 7-4.

Where'd all the smack talk go? I'd say it ran off, but the Donkeys can't run anywhere. 50 yards rushing?? Our second RB had more yards than the whole Donkey team.

Enjoy Jay Cutler. I'm sure that his stunning pre-season stats against teams' third and fourth string defenses will translate directly into great performance.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Health Care Ain't No Rose Garden Neither

Lord Bling raises some great points about the retail gaming business in his last post, mostly things that I haven't thought much about. His post also got me thinking about my particular industry, and what a gigantic fucking mess health care is in this country. Happy Thanksgiving, the post will go downhill from this point.

I work in a hospital, and I work with children. Those of you who read this website on a regular basis understand what an angry SOB I am most of the time, but NOTHING on earth pisses me off more than our priorities in this country. There are 8.7 million kids in the US right now with no health care. That's not kids on Medicaid. Although that number is close to 20 million. Don't believe me? Click here.

That's also not the number of children without adequate health insurance. You know, like all those kids whose parents work for Wal Mart?

If you're one of those people who doesn't understand the economics of health care (like the fact that if someone uninsured gets health care and can't pay, those costs are shifted to the rest of us), you might argue that people without health insurance need to go out and get a job. You know all those jobs that the Bush Administration has created with good benefits right?

But, you cannot make the arguement that children are somehow responsible for their lack of health insurance. That's our responsibility, and we're failing miserably. Unless you want to change child labor laws, kids can't go out and get a job with health insurance.

The fact that we don't provide health care coverage for close to 10 million kids is a disgusting statement about what's important to us in this country. Good thing gay people can't get married, we might errode some of our great values that allow us to not provide health care to children.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The retail games business sucks.

I've been a retail video game buyer for almost a year now, and I've learned one thing: There is no money to be made in this business. As a retailer, margins on hardware are pathetic (usually around one percent, and by the time you count shipping costs, you lose money on it). But you sell the hardware in order to sell the software, right? Well, the game software has margins that are comparable to retail DVD, which is typically around 18 to 20 percent, if you sell the product for the manufacturer's suggested price. Accessories (controllers, AV cables, memory cards, etc.) have a little more margin, but they usually sell the least amount of units. The best money to be made is in used games, but you have to turn your inventory quickly, as the shelf life of video games is pretty short.

So, having said that, the biggest game retailer around (GameStop) just posted their Q3 financial results. Even without the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii launches, they did ONE BILLION DOLLARS in total sales. Pretty impressive. However, if you read further down the article, they made $13.6 million in net revenue. That's only 1.3% margin, and they also have the most robust used game business in the nation.

The company I work for isn't doing any better. Last week, my boss asked me to tell him what's so great about this business. The answer I gave him then was, 'Unless you're a gamer, nothing's great about it.' I've thought about that question quite a bit since then, and I haven't been able to come up with a better answer. Unless you work for one of the top five retailers, you got next-to-nothing from Sony on PS3 hardware. Nintendo took a similar approach. Software and accessories are also hard to come by. So how is a smaller company supposed to keep any customer loyalty, when the biggest suppliers of the product you sell don't give half a fuck about them, or you?

I miss my old job. The film industry has plenty of down sides, but at least the studios didn't make a point of working against the smaller guys.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Midget Weighs in on Immigration

Lord Bling had an excellent post below, which resulted in some even more excellent responses in comments. Read them, and then come back to this post.

Cowboy Law and Hispanic Causing Panic (HCP) have had some thoughts along these lines in previous posts as well, so I should also acknowledge their roles in shaping this post as well.

The idea of border control, even with a gigantic fence is laughable. Do you think any fence could stop this kind of thing from occurring? Only if it extends down to the 10th ring of Hell. I'm not sure how much that kind of excavation would cost, let along what government contrators would charge for it. Conservatives, in particular, get a feeling of safety from having a giant wall along our border with Mexico, despite lots of evidence to suggest that a wall provides very little in terms of deterrance. That didn't keep the Republicans in Congress from passing a law to do this recently. Our borders are pourous, and will continue to be. Deal with it.

If we wanted to end illegal immigration tomorrow, the only thing we would have to do is enforce the existing laws and levy enormous fines upon businesses and individuals who hire illegal immigrants. Demand for immigrant labor would cease, as the economic incentives (cheap labor) would disappear. Produce would become a delicacy. The fines would more than pay for the cost of increased enforcement. If people wanted to work and employers wanted to hire workers, they would be forced to do so legally. The economic impacts of doing this could be significant, but at least we wouldn't have all these criminals washing our dishes, landscaping our yards, and picking our strawberries.

A friend of mine owns a landscaping business in Omaha, and has made a decision not to use illegal labor, despite the fact that doing so, negatively impacts his ability to bid competitively with other landscaping businesses. He does this because he feels that hiring workers for $2/hour is expoitation, not because he is afraid of getting caught. The fact that we likely have over 10 million illegal workers in the US, shows how dedicated the government is to enforcing current laws.

The bottom line is make all the laws you want. Demonize illegal immigrants as criminals, while ignoring their contributions to making our economy tick. Hell, while you're at it, give President Bush credit for making the economy better, despite the fact that he has had NO direct impact on the economy. Name one policy or piece of legislation that he has been a part of that has improved the economy. I'll go find Bigfoot, Santa Claus and a cure for cancer while you do that.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Get used to doing your own yard work, Farmers Branch!

No? How's THIS for racist?

And for the record, I live in Richardson, and I do my own yard work.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election and Blog Birthday

Today is the midterm election. Get your asses out there and vote. People in America who do not vote are just as much to blame for the problems our country faces as those of us who put those monkeys in Washington.

The two of you who have been reading this blog since Day 1 probably realized that the site turned 2 years-old on November 1st. Thank you to everyone who continues to read, contribute, and bust my balls. I'll keep doing this, as long as people keep the comments and emails coming.

My election prediction? Glad you asked. I think the Democrats will gain just enough seats to take the house, and gain a few seats in the Senate as well. Unfortunately, I don't think based on the polls that Democrats will be dominating as hard as the media is playing it out, but in true media style, published an article yeseterday that gives all the reasons, including John Kerry, that the Democrats might fall short.

Here's the thing, and feel free to blast my ass if I'm wrong on this one tomorrow, but I think the American people are sick and tired of letting the Republicans run the show. They have nothing to show for the last 6 years of federal government control. That didn't keep Bill Frist from blaming the Democrats for gridlocking Congress, despite their inability to maintain the votes to keep a filabuster going these days given their current numbers.

If the Democrats do manage to take one or both houses of Congress, the responsibility in the next two years will be with them to actually do something with that power. Don't think for a minute that I'll let them off the hook, if they pull the same crap Republicans have been pulling the last 4 years. With great power comes great responsbility, and if the Democrats want to guarantee that we have a Republican President in two years (God help us), complacency is the ticket.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Middle America Just Got A Lot More Inviting for Gay People

One of the hardest things for me to explain to my gay friends is why they should move to the Midwest. Small dogs freeze to death in Omaha. No beaches to show off a patriotic American flag Speedo. People in drag shows in Omaha look like they just finished Drag racing. All those mean, right-wing evangelicals live here as well. But thanks to Reverand Ted Haggard's admission that he had drug-induced butt sex, I think I can safely say that the Midwest might just be the best place for gay people.

Think of all the potential hook-ups! If Evangelical leaders are giving reacharounds, in addition to sermons about Jesus, Omaha might be the next San Francisco!

The best part of the entire situation is that this wasn't just some bible-beater who had a one-night stand at the Flying J in North Platte, Nebraska (I know you're out there), this was the former President of the mega-self-righteous National Evangelical Association. You know, the ones who are always telling the rest of us what satanic assholes we are. Whether or not you believe in God, this is pretty hilarious.

The best part is that the SUPER GIANT WE'RE SO PIOUS AND EVERYBODY ELSE IS GOING TO HELL MEGA FANDANGO church that he was the head of, that had like 30,000 members, fired him. I guess they must have skipped the part about forgiveness in the Bible. You know, the entire New Testament?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

John Kerry: And why did I vote for you again? Oh yeah, you were running against that hillbilly cokehead

Usually, when someone refers to that whacko Senator from the land of crab cakes and Red Sox, Ted Kennedy's giant head pops up in my mind. Thanks to John Kerry's recent comments about the importance of education in avoiding ending up in Iraq, Kennedy will be in good company. Kerry has played it off like it was a bad joke to say that if you don't do well in school, you'll end up in Iraq, but Republicans, lacking perspective, have been jumping on this hoping to bolster their position in the polls.

The actual impact that this will have one week before a hotly contested election is debatable. Kerry is not up for election this cycle, and even if he were, the stellar incumbancy rate in Congress (sitting at well over 90% historically) will assure him of another term in the Senate. Also, Democrats who are up for election have effectively distanced themselves from his comments.

Even so, Republicans are grasping for straws if they think that Kerry's comments will outshine 6 years of less than stellar performance from Republicans, who've run everything except the Congressional Cafeteria in Washington for the last 6 years. Kerry's comments are both dumb and insensitive, but so is sending our troops to Iraq without adequate armor. It wasn't like he was sexaully harassing interns, inventing intelligence to support the invasion of Iraq, taking bribes for political favors, revealing the identity of a undercover CIA operative and compromising the lives of all of her contacts, or making gay marriage and flag burning the key domestic action items while 10 million kids in the US don't have health insurance. Nope, that's not what John Kerry was doing. That's what Republicans were doing or not doing, I suppose.

The best part is that Republicans can't hang any of that on the Democrats. The Republicans wanted to have complete control, and they demonstrated what they could accomplish when they ran all 3 branches of government. It's a compelling arguement to vote for Democrats, even if John Kerry should shut his big fat mouth.