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20 Amazing Things About Voting in the USA March 26, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Blog, Politics.
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I love this stuff.  Loads of suspicious facts.  No correlation.  Even less causation.

But it’s still fun to muse upon….


California vs. U.S.A., part 34 March 14, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, California, L.A. Times, News, Politics.
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Once again, an activity which is legal under California law is ruled illegal under federal law.  Even when the “perpetrator” is a California resident.

The L.A. Times, in a somewhat melodramatic tone, writes “Dying woman loses medical marijuana appeal“.

It’s decisions like these which remind me: the original settlers of the 13 colonies were a peachy bunch who were so conservative and rigid that they were basically driven out of England as being intolerable prigs.

Devil’s advocate for global warming February 8, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, Economics, L.A. Times, Politics.
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The L.A. Times has an op-ed piece offering a cost/benefit analysis of global warming.  It’s pro-warming, surprisingly.  I cannot say that I agree with everything being said, but I always enjoy alternate viewpoints (to those I hear all the time) which get the gears turning between my ears.

One word of praise? February 2, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, Link, Politics, Racism, Washington Post.
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It’s always fun (for me) to see public figures roasted alive for their acts of unconscious racism.

On the one hand you have your conscious perpetrators: the Mel Gibsons and the Michael Richards of the world.  Sure, there is schadenfreude there too.  But that is bone-headed conscious stuff — the lowbrow purse-snatching and shoplifting variety.

The real gems are the unconscious ones like Senator Joe Biden’s recent gaffe.  That’s the busted-for-white-collar-stock-options-fraud variety, the drilling-through-the-side-of-the-vault-but-forgetting-about-the-alarm kind.

Biden’s racist gaffe?  He called Barack Obama “articulate”.  If you were to call me articulate, I’d probably say “thanks”, but it wouldn’t really boost my ego.  But Barack Obama?  Who on earth would be surprised to hear that he is articulate?  And why would that be any form of flattery, unless the implication is that it is somehow unusual?

Will wonders never cease? Here we have a man who graduated from Columbia University, who was president of the Harvard Law Review, who serves in the U.S. Senate and is the author of two best-selling books, who’s a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, and what do you know, he turns out to be articulate. Stop the presses.

Har.  That’s telling ’em.

I think the word that Senator Biden wished he had said would be eloquent.  Now even I would be flattered by that.

Iraq Exit Strategy…. February 1, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Cartoon, Politics, Uncategorized.
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David Pope cartoon

“Justice for all”? February 1, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, N.Y. Times, News, Politics.
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NYTimes has an op ed piece about President Bush.  Apparently he is the first president to be convicted of a felony crime by a court of law without being arrested or even being investigated by federal law enforcement.  Nice work, if you can get it, that whole president thing.

“12 Galaxies” Running for Mayor of S.F. January 22, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Link, Photo, Politics, S.F. Examiner, Uncategorized.
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Frank (12 Galaxies) Chu (Rmannion - Wikipedia / Creative Commons)

Frank “12 Galaxies” Chu is running for mayor of San Francisco?

The S.F. Examiner gives him odds of 1,000,000 to 1. Not so good, given that the official electorate population of S.F. is less than 1,000,000. Something tells me I could get better odds than Mr. Chu.

Still, the newspaper was not entirely ungenerous in their assessment:

Name: Frank Chu

Occupation: San Francisco eccentric, sign-carrier

Why: No one would campaign harder than Chu, who has walked downtown streets for years with his incoherent “12 Galaxies” signs. An Emperor Norton for the 21st century, he would do less damage in City Hall than many current and former supervisors.

Frank (12 Galaxies) Chu (Docketrocket - Wikipedia / Creative Commons)

America’s split personality January 19, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Link, News, Poker, Politics.

America’s split personality, case study #314:

Poker. It’s now a multi-billion dollar industry, what with the round-the-clock ESPN coverage, the online poker rooms, the “Indian” casinos popping up in every other county, and the beers-and-cards-with-the-guys nights all over America. And it’s also illegal almost everywhere, in a hunted-aggressively-by-the-federal-government way reminiscent only of the War On DrugsTM.

It’s been a big news week in the world of online poker. First, two Canadian executives of the British online funds transfer company NETeller were arrested because their business sometimes facilitated cash movements from American citizens to onlnie poker rooms. Then, in today’s news Derek Kelly, the owner of the private British poker club Gutshot was convicted of violating the British Gaming Act.

I play on pokerstars.com, an online poker room based in San Jose, Costa Rica. Until yesterday it was trivial to move money in and out of my account there. (Yes, I do move money out — do you think I’d still be playing if I were losing?) Now it’s slow, complicated, and no longer free. I’ll have to pay legal money-launderers disguised as Visa payment services, businesses which remain open because they too are housed in countries currently outside the influence of the U.S. black-boots.

Derek Kelly’s defense was based upon the position that poker is a game of skill, not one of luck, and is therefore not subject to the same restrictions as other forms of wagering. I think he should have won on this point. Even the state of California supports this position.

Everyone knows that luck plays some part in poker. But anyone who has ever played more than a smidgin of poker understands that luck takes a distant back-seat to skill. From a mathematical perspective, as the number of hands played approaches infinity, the hands dealt to each player approach absolute parity. The difference after that is skill — skill in understanding and reading human psychology, and skill in being able to instantly assess the relationship between the probable outcomes and the implied rewards of any given hand.

The thing that irritates me is that even though playing poker is legal in California, as a California resident I’m still not allowed to play poker online. Why? My guess is that it’s because the government doesn’t get their share of the pie. Pay to play.

$300 million is a lot of money. January 19, 2007

Posted by pcorcoran in Article, Economics, Link, N.Y. Times, Politics.
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$300 million is also how much we’re spending in Iraq every day.

(That is, of course, without putting a price tag on the 5 or so American soldiers and the 95 or so Iraqi citizens who die every day.  If we were to assume that a wrongful death suit would find an award of $1 million for each of these, then the number hits $400 million.)