Monday, January 31, 2005

The February Play List

This is part of what I'll be listening to this month. If you don't like it, well in the words of Chrissie (#10), "Fuck Off!".

1. Rock Lobster B-52's

2. Burn to Shine Ben Harper

3. Mr. Soul Buffalo Springfield

4. Use Me Bill Withers

5. Hanging On The Telephone Blondie

6. Closer To The Flame Dave Edmunds

7. Hard Core Troubadour Steve Earle

8. Down By The Water P.J. Harvey

9. Monkey Gone To Heaven Pixies

10. Precious Pretenders

11. Thrill Me The Undertones

Pursuing Happiness

Your good friend Mr. Pursuit has been out this afternoon pursuing happiness at a regional wine tasting event in Chicago. Blogging at this point would be ill advised in the extreme. Make no mistake, I'm not about to hold a Ted Kennedy love in or reconsider my opposition to the Kerry candidacy, and I still believe those couragous Iraqis gave us demonstration about what it means to fight for your freedom one vote at a time. None-the-less, after many "samples" of California, and yes Mr. O'Reilly, France's finest, I had better relax for the evening.

Back tomorrow afternoon with tasting notes, the February playlist and assorted other goodies.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Profiles In Courage

The vote in Iraq today has been a truly stunning display of the power of democracy. While the MSM seems somewhat surprised by the turnout, I must say that it seems consistent with past experience. As Mark Steyn points out, the election in Afghanistan was so successful, the MSM was able to virtually ignore it. Not so in Iraq.

Too much time and political capital had been spent by liberals in the U.S., European bureaucrats, and the MSM predicting the failure of President Bush's Iraq policy to ignore today's historic vote. Yes, it was simply a profile in the courage of average Arab citizens who wanted something more for their country. Forty years ago a Kennedy of a different first name, and markedly superior character, published a book about hero's. This week we had the sad spectacle of his younger brother's cowardice demanding that we withdraw from this failed experiment as soon as possible.

Unfortunately for the corpulent fool, the Iraqi people had other plans, and today freedom marches on. We are still defining what the 21st century will mean for the progress of man. In the 20th century we defeated fascism, communism and totalitarianism. Had we listened to the naysayers, today may never have happened. Thankfully, through the grace of God, in all his forms, and the courage of the Iraqi people, a new chapter was written.

Its important that we remember, at this potential dawn of a new age in the Middle East, that American Liberals, Europeans and the remaining despots in the Middle East failed to support the freedom. Here's hoping history remembers.

Iraq Votes

This has been an historic day in the Arab world. Here's a post from Iraq the Model that really says it all.

The Pursuit of Happiness is a powerful thing. "The people have won".

Saturday, January 29, 2005

"Breasts, What a Passion"

Really, just click the link. Oh, alright one quote:

"My wife and I were very shocked but we watched it until the end because we couldn't believe what we were seeing."

As Instapundit would say, "heh".

Undie Info?

Annika, in between bathing suit talk and a meme on books (is it a great blog or what), links to a study that found fidgety people tend to be thinner. The study postulates that all that moving around burns calories - who new? This isn't the interesting thing though.

The interesting thing is that the "scientists" wired subject's underwear to record their movement during the day. Everyday, a new pair of wired undies were issued and in this way they were able to determine how much subjects fidgeted, and then correlated this information to their weight and body type. Annika appropriately refers to this as "Undie-info"

Undie-Info? To me this sounds like a great name for a new band! I'd propose the following line up:

Singer: Tighty Whitey

Bass: Cotton Briefs

Guitar: Cami Sol

Drums: Joe Boxer

Ok, you did fairly well on the Instapudit/Lileks roadtrip suggestions, I'm sure you can out-humor me on the band line up. Leave your ideas in the comments section.

Friday, January 28, 2005

On The Road With Lileks and Instapundit

Instapundit has proposed that somebody make a documentary of him and Lileks touring the country in a 1959 Eldorado. Somehow, nobody has taken them up on this offer.

Until now

Could there be a more appropriate use of time for a blog dedicated to the Pursuit of Happiness? I think not! So I hereby volunteer my time, formidable directorial talents, and Sony camcorder in the effort. I envision a sort of digital age version of Charles Kuralt On The Road. Uh, presumably without the secret wife stashed on the Montana farm......right guys?

The Professor suggests this excursion visit malls, breweries and flea markets around the country, which is a fine idea as far as it goes, but surely will put audiences to sleep by the second gig of memory (note to self, the guys will be very impressed with how you update old sayings for the new digital age). We need more compelling fare of course, and that is where I come in.

We'll pursue happiness across the fruited plane! Garagista vitners in Napa, Gambling in Vegas, the various merits of rafting in Colorado vs. West Virginia, maybe we'll shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die! Er, sorry got a little carried away there we probably won't be doing that. Yes, if they insist, we'll also visit a flea market or two.

Now its your turn, we've got to fill a whole documentary here, and we have between now and next year's Sundance to do it. What fabulous exploits do you suggest we should send the boys on in their quest for adventure in the good ole U.S of A?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Small South American Country Couldn't Privatize Social Security So The U.S. Will Fail Too - Right?

The NYT brings us the disturbing news that Chile's private pension system is not delivering on the promises that it made to workers 25 years ago when it was established. As an example, the unfortunate experience of Dagoberto S'aez is highlighted. Apparently Mr. S'aez voluntarily entered the private system when it was established believing that he would be better off than those who stayed in the public system. Now, 24 years and a heart condition later, Mr. S'aez finds that he will earn only $315 a month from his plan compared to $700 for his colleagues that remained with the public system. The obvious implication is that the system President Bush is suggesting will lead the American worker to the same dismal fate.

However, several key points are either buried in the article or excluded completely:

1. The private system while producing an average of 10% annual returns has had up to 30% of those returns taken away by pension funds in the form of fees. Nobody proposes these fee levels in the U.S.

2. As many as half of all Chilean workers remain outside of the Chilean official economy as they are hired off the books. This simply is not the case in the U.S.

3. The Chilean system is mandatory for official workers entering the workforce after 1981, whereas the Bush proposal would be voluntary, and only partially private.

4. The Chilean stock exchange is dominated by only three companies and investors tend toward a herd mentality as a result. The U.S. market is the largest most vibrant in the world. U.S. investors would be allowed to invest in the U.S. or any number of other global stock exchanges.

5. Comparisons to the public payout are invalid since they don't consider what the public payout would be had all of these private accounts not been established.

So, there you go. Privatized accounts are bad, just look at Chile's experience, but please, don't consider the huge structural differences. They just ruin an otherwise frightening story.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New Title For Your Library!!!!!

I had enough trouble comprehending the fact that a sufficient number of people found the Amber Frey book compelling enough to actually put it at #1 on the NY Times list. However, this....this is a development in the publishing world that defies belief:

Chronicle Books to Publish Senator Barbara Boxer Novel

The novel will tell a tale of personal friendships and betrayal, political in-fighting and pragmatism. The novel follows Ellen from her days as an idealistic college student, through romantic entanglements, to a difficult marriage to a rising political star. When her husband is killed, she steps into his campaign for the Senate and is elected. On the eve of a crucial senate vote, her personal and political worlds collide when her right-wing adversaries recruit her former lover to sabotage her credibility and career.

Geez, good thing those right wing adversaries didn't team with a former KKK Grand Dragon to falsely accuse her of lying to Congress in an effort to sabotage her career.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Next Steps In The War On Terror

This is an interesting piece in the WSJ by Mark Helprin. I have read two of his books - fiction - "Winter's Tale" and "A Soldier of the Great War". In both cases I found Helprin to be entertaining, artistic and deeply insightful into the human condition. I'd recommend both of to anyone that appreciates good, if some what under appreciated, literature.

Helprin's work in the non-fiction world has in my view been less reliable. He clearly has an excellent command of history, and is well versed in strategy and tactics. However, it seems that from time to time he allows a certain crumudgionly veneer to overwhelm his dispassionate analysis, and we're all worse off for it. Who can forget his 11th hour exit from the Dole campaign?

I mention this, because I've been noodling over the above linked article since it came out yesterday, and in this case I think he's basically right. In it, Helprin correctly argues that the U.S. has not taken sufficient action in preparing for the challenges of the 21st Century. More alarmingly, he points to the similarity of the country's inadequate response to external threats at the start of the last century and reminds us of the terrible price in life and treasure that we paid as a result.

While Helprin is correct that we haven't done enough - ports are too open, immigration is not controlled, and we have virtually no protection against a biological attack - one wonders if perhaps he isn't expecting too much. This of course doesn't diminish his argument, but it does point out that we have established strong momentum in addressing these new threats. To deny this is to give the other side credibility and I fear, undermine our ability to continue to build on our success. Make no mistake, the President and those of us who see the threat clearly will need to continue to fight against illogical resistance both at home and abroad.

Just last week during the Rice confirmation hearings we were treated to the ghastly spectacle of a sitting U.S. Senator repeatedly call the nominee an unrepentant liar. This inspite of the fact that while we didn't go to war with perfect information - name a time when we have - we did go to war based on information that was broadly agreed upon at the time. Further, WMD's aside, the reasons to invade Iraq were several and most remain valid today. While I suppose one could view all this information and still come to the conclusion that an Iraqi invasion was wrong, to deny the data and resort to name calling demeans both the nominee and the challenge faced by this country.

Then, of course, we have our "allies" that have actively undermined our efforts in Iraq and elsewhere every step of the way. Liberals in the U.S. believe that foreign resistance is the result of arrogance and bad diplomacy, but nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, our "allies" are now operating under the false comfort that they no longer are threatened and hence do not require U.S. protection. As a result, they view us as competition to be defeated not as allies to be helped. Read this foolish piece by one of these arrogant fools and tell me I'm wrong. Europe's time will come, and unfortunately we'll have no choice but to bail them out again.

The answer then, is that Helprin while overly negative has got it right. As we did in the 80's when a few of us knew Reagan had the answer, we must once again head the call and continue to push for more. Helprin provides a good road map.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Snatching Defeat From The Jaws of Victory

Republican Congressmen continually seem obsessed with reminding me why I, as a good conservative, simply cannot count myself as a Republican. Now this yokel wants to consider race and gender in figuring social security benefits.

Via Spoons.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

NFL Championship Picks

Well I'm at it again. Few of you are probably aware of my almost psychic ability to predict NFL outcomes. Yes, its true that the NFL has begged me not to reveal my picks as their eerie accuracy would truly call into question the integrity of the league. Here with my picks

Pats vs. Steelers:

As many of you know, I have loved the Steelers since the days of the Immaculate Reception. When I was young I dreamed of being Jack Hamm, L.C. Greenwood, Dwight White and Mean Joe Greene, all rolled into one. So it is with heavy heart that I tell you that the Pats will win this one by 8 points.

Falcons vs. Eagles:

This is easy. The falcons will never make it to the big game. Frankly its a miracle they've gotten this far. Inspite of the fact that the Eagles have a disturbing history of blowing the NFC Championship game, their destiny this year is to lose to the Pats in the big one. Eagles by 4.

By the way, if you rely on these picks to gamble any portion of your net worth, well then you're an idiot who deserves what's coming to you.

The Nature of Faith

There has been some interesting comments on my post below regarding Intelligent Design vs. Evolution. One of the commenters, Captain Mainline, made the point about the role of faith in religion and how the "proof", in scientific terms of God's existence will never be possilbe. The very nature of belief, and faith dictate this.

I find this very interesting and I wonder what role faith plays in the lives of people. I find for me that the further I trust in faith, the more I am assured in God's existence and the more rewarding my belief is. I sure there are those that would say this is nothing more than a self-reinforcing sort of belief, but I think its much more than that. Ultimately, I believe faith is what pulls us through difficult times with grace and dignity.

I'm curious to know what others think on this issue.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A New Iraq Poll

A very interesting new poll of Iraqi attitudes was out yesterday. Laura Ingraham was discussing it on her show, and the Washington Times saw it news worthy, but I really didn't see any other mention of it. I wonder why?

Could it be the overall positive news was somehow not consistent with the main story line about the Iraq disaster? We certainly wouldn't want positive news on the day of President Bush's Inaugural would we?

Anyway, have a read through it. Apparently 80% of Iraqis are planning on voting in the upcoming election. Further, over 60% are optimistic about their country's future, and a slim majority - 51% - believe religion does not have a role to play in the government. Overall, it sounds like good news.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Undiscovered Genius

This is a must click. I have been very tempted to add this undiscovered genius, The Irate Savant, to my blogroll, but frankly I've been concerned that he can't keep the pace. So I'll give him a link here, and if he holds up, well maybe permanent blogroll status later.

Lets to describe our Dear Savant. Well, he bills himself as an undiscovered genius documenting his daily travails in dealing with the lessers of the world, namely you and me. Its kind of like your weird unmarried uncle on acid, and I mean that in the good sense.

Oh, and do not miss the comments. Savant has a devoted following of daily commenters, yours truly included, that add spice, advice and of course wholly unwarranted insults to the mix. Really, give it a click.

Chief Wiggam Sings Marley

I found this surfing today, and I apologize to whoever linked to it because I can't remember what blog I saw it on.

Click now! It will bring a smile to your face and a beat to your heart.

Functional Ambivalent Likes Me, He Really Likes Me!!

Sorry, don't mean to get all Sally Field on you, but the Pursuit of Happiness has made the grade over at the Functional Ambivalent. All the more interesting since Tom, the proprietor, is one of those fevered conspiracy guys that believe our glorious president is the trained monkey to the Puppet Master Karl Rove.

Actually, the Functional Ambivalent is a delightful blog, that I enjoy checking in at every day. You should too. Sex Day, used to be on Friday, but now it can happen at any moment so be sure to pop in often. Now go and give Tom some love - if for no other reason than I'm only on "we'll see" status and really would like to be moved up to permanent blogosphere demi-god status!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Good discussion on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design over at Andrew Olmsted's place. This is an interesting debate, and as a believer that God created the universe and in Mr. Darwin's theory I must say that I'm somewhat disappointed in both sides.

On the one hand, ID as currently promoted seems to be an end run around the constitution to get Creationism discussed if not taught in public schools. On the other hand, the theory of evolution is just that - a theory. Too often though, it is taught as an established fact in our schools. Yet serious questions have been posed by serious scientists, that must be pursued.

In the end, I think science is all too afraid to pursue these questions. Evolution seems to work, and to find that it is incomplete, if not outright wrong would certainly throw our society open for further debate on the origin of man. Conversely, to prove evolution, while not disproving ID, would settle once and for all the method by which man arrived here.

Unfortunately, the scientific community seems committed to accepting Darwinism as an article of faith. Ironic, since this is their objection to ID.

The Great Race

I don't watch much TV and the whole Reality TV thing for me is completely lost. Survivor, Fear Factor, and most any other show utterly fail to hold my interest.

Not so with the Great Race. I first found this show last spring and was immediately intrigued. How cool is it to race around the world, perform fun games and do whatever it takes to not lose. I guess maybe that is the difference for me. While the other shows seem to include some sort of mockery or humiliation of their contestants, the Great Race celebrates everyone's effort, and for the most part completely avoids the gross-out, freak show characteristic of some of the Reality fare.

Anyway, this latest race has included a couple, Jonathon and Victoria, who in my opinion were the most loathsome pair I've ever encountered. At first this guy seemed so verbally abusive to his wife that I couldn't believe they didn't find some way to disqualify him. However, as time went on her hysterics almost had the effect of making Jonathon the more sypathetic character.

Then last night we were delivered! Jonathon and Victoria lost! While I make it a priority to never cheer when someone fails, in this case I will say that I anticipate next week's leg with great enthusiasm.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I Liked The Village

Rented The Village last night on DVD, and I have to say I do not understand all the critical comments this movie receive when it came out. I thought it was an excellent story, albeit one that I did not expect prior to having seen the film.

Perhaps that is the issue so many people had with The Village? While this story, had the pretense of suspense given Shayamalan's other works, suspense was hardly the point here. Instead, this was really about fear and how people use it to control others, and ultimately how one must be a willing participant to be controlled by others. An excellent lesson when we see some cults or religions and wonder how they get people to behave in ways that are so contradictory to their self interest.

Saving Social Security

I saw several Democrats on the Sunday shows this weekend denying that there is a "crisis" in Social Security that needs to be addressed. Ted Kennedy, seemed sober, but none the less tried to sell the bizarre theory that President Bush has dreamed up this problem and that there is no crisis.

It is probably not best to get into a Semantic argument about what constitutes a crisis so I'll leave it to great minds, like that of the Mass. Senator's to come up with an appropriate description. None-the-less, it is an undeniable fact, that as currently constituted the program will not have enough funds to pay out the current level of benefits to anyone who is 35 years old or under and working today, along with every single person entering the workforce from this day on for the rest of time. Al Gore's lockbox not withstanding.

What happened? Iraq? The tax cut? George Bush's spending? Sorry, none of those benefits to the moneyed elite in our society caused this looming crisis, er problem.

As the democrats hysterically cry about preserving FDR's legacy, its instructive to focus just on this issue. The fact is FDR and the boys created one of history's greatest Ponzi schemes when Social Security was invented decades ago. One can argue that they did it with the best of intentions, and I won't disagree with them here. The fact remains, however, the program was created to take wages from current workers and pay for the retirement of older workers, with the promise that future retirees would receive similar benefits from their children in the future.

Ensuing generations of politicians along with the full complicity of the American public, added to program benefits as a painless way of winning votes using the future wages of workers that had yet to be born. Political genius, really, but a domestic policy disaster should birthrates ever begin to decline.

The program also had a side benefit for the Democratic party in that it created a whole new dependent class. Grandma could now be counted on to vote for the party that would protect her retirement and keep her out of the home and off of the streets.

Social Security was already "saved" once in 1986 when a bi-partisan group of Senators changed the funding formulas and tax rates for Social Security so the the system would run a surplus well into the second decade of this century. The excess funds, were to be saved in a trust fund - Al Gore's non-existent lockbox - and drawn on when withdrawals from the system started to outpace tax receipts. Unfortunately, the trust fund was spent to reduce current deficits. In effect building a second level Ponzi sham on top of FDR's original scheme.

Today, since a Republican President would like to change the system, the New York Times and fellow Democrats insist that this second level scam, the Trust Fund, is really just a prudent investment in Treasury securities. Why should we be so concerned they ask? The answer is, of course, clear to anyone with a brain. When those securities come due, the American taxpayer will have to foot the bill.

In the most delicious irony of this whole tale, the Times and Democrats argue today, that we shouldn't borrow in the short-term to include some small degree of ownership in social security accounts. Yet, that is exactly what the system has been doing for the past two decades to fund current non-Social Security spending! The only difference being that the borrowing from the trust fund was ok with these folks when it expanded the government bureaucracy. Now that borrowing is proposed to shift the program towards ownership for each and every working citizen, borrowing has become the completely wrong strategy.

So, I ask you. Are these people truly on the side of the worker?

Friday, January 14, 2005

I'm Doomed!!

Wow, I really hope they beat this cancer thing. Otherwise I've apparently lived 52% of my life! How long will you live, check it out.

According to our research, you'll be dead by

August 2044

at age 83

- probable cause -


Make Love, Not War

Spoons links to this amusing story about abandoned US Def. Dept. chemical weapons programs. An amusing story about chemical weapons? You bet. I especially like the terrorists/bad breath plan!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Women Gone Wild!!

There is a commercial on TV that has been running for a while, that astounds me to no end.

"There she goes, there she goes again"

You know what I'm talking about right? The birth control pill commercial - Orthatetranobabiesforyou its called. Or something like that.

At any rate, this commercial originally caught my eye because the song, as it is wistfully sung by Sixpence None The Richer, is kind of sexy/cute. That and the fact that semi dressed women were jumping up and down on the TV, apparently very eager to have sex. Odd as it may seem, I found that quite attractive.

So I enjoyed the commercial for what it was when it came on every now and then. A little mind candy, but I really didn't give it much thought. Of course, now I can't get it out of my mind. Because, it seems, there is so much more.

"There she goes, there she goes again"

Could this possibly have been a mistake. Was it some subconscious longing of the creative staff that put the ad together? "There she goes - you wish!" I said to myself. The more I watched though, I realized every word must have been intended. Every word and so much more.

What is the message these guys are trying to deliver? "Orthatetranobabiesforyou - the pill for women who boink like rabbits" seems to be the slogan they were going for. If that's the case, then I'm here to tell you these women don't need birth control, the need some self restraint!

At that moment I was lost. I had to find out more. So I went to look up the lyrics - and I found this little ditty:

"There she goes, there she goes again, she calls my name, SHE PULLS MY TRAIN"

Go back, read that again, I'll wait.

Please do not get me wrong here, if she wants to pull your train, my train or anyone's train I'm ok with that. In fact, depending on whose train is getting pulled, I may even encourage it. But for goodness sake, this is a birth control commercial! Train pulling could definitely lead to non-birth like control behavior!

At that moment of realization the full nefarious intent, yes the true genius of the ad was clear to me; "My God, they aren't just selling birth control, they are creating market demand at the same time!" I said to no one in particular. People this is pure genius! As they say in TV ad land though, "but wait there's more".

Oh yes, so much more. This commercial, it became like an obsession for me. Genius like this just doesn't show up on TV everyday, so when it does it must be studied. Knowledge can be gained and passed to future generations. That is when I noticed the visuals.

Flowers. More specifically open, blossoming, pink flowers. Beautiful, orchids and lilies in full bloom, their petals spread wide, and stamens shamelessly displayed. Bring anything to mind? In another scene, an actress languishes clitoral like in the smooth folds a tree trunk, a dreamy inviting look in her eye. I imagine that at that moment, men all over the country are leaning over to there wives/partners (lets face it we're men - total strangers) with that old familiar look in their eye.

Then the moment of triumph! What is a woman to do? Why with the full support of Orthotetranobabliesfor you, she hasn't a care in the world! The final scene delivers this message with all the subtlety of the preceding 54 seconds; an image of a woman is created from the drawing of the flower -the petals turn into her skirt, the stamen become her legs. She leans back on the product name, kicking her legs high in the air.

Is this a great country or what?

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

We're Canadian And We're Here To Help, Eh

You just can't make this stuff up. God only knows what would have happened if these guys had shown up in Iraq to help. Kind of explains why Atta and his murderous brothers came via the Great White North.

They did send us John Candy and SCTV though, so you know, that gets them some credit.

Link via Spoons.

Sullivan's Dis-ingenuous Attack

This is really quite stunning. Even for Andrew Sullivan.

President Bush today made the statement that he does not understand how anyone could be President without a personal relationship with God. Fair enough, frankly I don't either. Without a doubt its the toughest job in the world, on any one issue half the country thinks you're wrong most of the time at least 40% of the people want to get you fired!

Back to Sullivan. Andy, who it seems has quite the axe to grind with Mr. Bush on this issue, takes the statement, reprints it out of context, and then twists the meaning to be that Mr. Bush would restrict the Presidency to Christians only!

I really don't know why I stopped by there today, I never do anymore since Andy started his anti-Bush jihad, but really I'm going to stop now.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Chics n' Ammo!

I have no economic interest here. Completely purient. I'm a baaaaaad man.