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Mike's Soapbox - Best 2007 Rants

1/19 - Entertainment:  Rosie needs to shut the F up - I generally don't care about Hollywood or Lindsay Lohan's latest bout with rehab or Brad and Angelina or any of that crap.

But now, Rosie's latest tirades have crept into mainstream news.

I'm sitting there watching CNN, waiting for the latest news of the on-going war in Iraq, the surprisingly underreported war in Somalia, the non-reported devastating storm wreaking havoc across central Europe, and the story that China just one-upped the US by dusting off weapon of the past - the anti-satellite missile.

But never mind about any of those stories; the top story was Rosie taking on American Idol.

Yes, rather than any of the above stories of which any can have severe global implications, CNN instead chose to spend several minutes talking about how Rosie said that it was unfair of American Idol to take advantage of the mentally unstable.

Of course, CNN had to replay all of Rosie's other recent arguments, namely those with Donald Trump and Kelly Ripa.

I'm sorry, but if there is anyone on TV who is mentally unstable, it's Rosie.  Or perhaps the producers of CNN.  Or perhaps both.

Rosie isn't news and she certainly isn't news worthy.  And while I should probably be directing the wrath of this rant at CNN themselves, instead I will join Donald, Kelly, and Paula and simply say, "Rosie, shut the F up!" 

2009 Note:  I don't watch CNN.  Time was not too long ago that I watched CNN Headline News, but since they hired Nancy Grace to do CNN Headline News 24/7 (and it really does seem like she is on there 24/7), I stopped watching.  In fact, regular-flavored CNN is just as bad.  I read the AP news on-line now.  Good job, CNN!  (The only way I'll ever watch CNN is if they bring back Rudi Bakhtiar, hint hint...)

1/30 - Politics:  Getting out of Iraq - So, President Bush said that he doesn't want anyone to criticize his plans for Iraq unless they have their own.

Very well, I will present my plans here.

There are basically two plans, each based on proven models from our recent history.

The first is what I call "the Bosnian model".  This solution is based on how the Balkan crisis was finally calmed.  Basically, you carve Iraq up into three sections, each of which gets semi-autonomous rule.  You give the Kurds a section of the north, the Sunnis the so-called "Sunni Triangle", and the Shia the rest of the country.  You bring in international peacekeepers to keep peace between the sections.  The fact that the ethnic groups are already more conveniently located together than the Muslims, Croats, and Serbs in Bosnia is already a plus.  Yes, it gets hard to divide some oil revenues, but each group has to ask - do you want to get rich or live in peace?  If the answer is the former, you pull the troops and wish them luck, because if that is the answer, NOTHING is going to bring peace. 

The second is what I call "the Afghanistan model".  Basically in this model, you get the warlords together and deal directly with them.  You ensure them that they will be able to keep their regional power in return for their assistance in ending the violence.  Who calls the shots in Iraq?  Not the president and not the prime minister.  No, it is Muqtada al-Sadr who controls Iraq.  And until we get HIM on OUR side, the violence won't come close to ending.  Not that it will end if we do negotiate with him, but if we pick our favorite warlord and back them and arm them, eventually they can subdue the rest of the country.  We've done it before, in Chile, South Vietnam, and pretty much every other piss poor third-world nation during the Cold War.

Who do I blame for Iraq?  The Saudis.  After all, they keep playing those messages about how they are our partners in peace, despite the fact that THEIR citizens flew those planes into OUR towers on September 11th.  And what have they done to help us secure the peace?  That's right; NOTHING.

Come on, Dubya.  You told the Saudis they were with us or against us.  They've shown they aren't with us, so one has to assume that they are against us?  Come on, Dubya, where are your Saudi friends now?

The US military is great at liberating a country.  They aren't so good at creating governments.  I believe the current president even said as much when he ran for president.  I just wish he hadn't forgotten that since coming to office.

Oh, and memo to Congress:  I have been against the War Powers Act for my entire adult life, but now, for once, I see a need for it, and you seem to have forgotten that it exists.  Exercise it; end this war.  But, you also seem to have forgotten that the founding fathers specifically gave  the power to declare war to Congress, and had you bothered to remember that and NOT legislate it away, perhaps we wouldn't be in this situation where we are right now.

2/6 - Politics:  Didn't we invade Iraq because of Saddam's ties to terrorism? - Turns out that one of the members of the new Iraqi government is a terrorist who attacked our embassy in Kuwait in 1983.


Does this mean there is going to be a new regime change? How about admitting that maybe we shouldn't be betting all of our dwindling political capital on the "new" Iraqi government? I don't love the warlords, but you gotta think that the average Iraqi will also see this and lose what little faith they have left in their corrupt government.

2/9 - Entertainment:  I'll never forget... - I know I'll never forget where I was when Anna Nicole Smith died.

Someday my grandkids will ask me where I was when Anna Nicole Smith died, and I'll remember as vividly as I do today.

It was just around 2 PM, and I was sitting in my cubicle, bored out of my gourd.

But, seriously, who DIDN'T see this one coming?  

And, are the fathers of her baby going to fight over all that money that she had fought for from that old dude before the Supreme Court?  Somehow I think that even though she is gone, she left behind enough of a mess to fuel tabloid gossip for the next few years.

2/16 - Politics:  I'm happy to announce... - ... my candidacy for the 2012 Presidential Race!

Why not?  The 2008 election is still almost TWO YEARS away, and everyone and their brother has thrown their hats in the ring.

Pretty soon, we'll have candidates announcing their candidacy for the next election the morning after the previous one!

So, why not beat them all to the punch and go even earlier?

I know one thing - I'm going to be SOOOOO SICK of the election coverage by the time 2008 does get here.  And I predict even lower than usual voter apathy... 

2/19 - Entertainment:  Britney's Bald Head - I wish I could take credit for this one, but I can't.

By now, just about everyone has seen the pictures of the pubeless crotch of Britney Spears when she went out sans panties with Paris Hilton.  Yes, it's bare down there. (And if you haven't, you can always google it.)

Then, I hear the news over the weekend that Britney, for unexplained reasons, shaves her head and gets a tattoo.

I asked Adele why Britney would do such a thing.

She responded with a good one - "She wanted the drapes to match the carpet!" 

4/2 - General:  One of the Stupidest Things I've Ever Heard - So, a couple of weeks ago, just after daylight savings time went into effect, I was sitting in the cafeteria at work listening to a couple of engineers discussing daylight savings time.

"You know," the one said, "I don't think it is right that Congress goes out playing God!"

"I know what you mean!" the other guy said.  "With all this focus on global warming, you would think that Congress would be more responsible than add an extra hour of daylight to each day."

I sat there for a moment.  Normally, I tune such conversations out.  This one, however, was more than just technobabble.  This one was insane.

"The plants are going to start blooming earlier, and it's going to start getting warmer.  Congress went way too far this time.  They shouldn't mess with the clock when we have these wide ranging repercussions."

At this point, I couldn't take it any more.

"You know," I explained, "the sun is going to be up for an hour later at the end of the day, but it's going to also be darker for an hour more in the morning.  The daylight is a window, and they are just shifting it to start and stop an hour later."

These guys sat there for a moment, and then the one said, "Yeah, but they shouldn't add that extra hour of sunlight.  It's going to screw up the birds' migration patterns!"

In a related rant, why doesn't Congress simply move all of our clocks ahead for one hour permanently.  You know, instead of having daylight savings time 10 months out of the year, let's just move the clocks ahead an hour and be done with it?  While the sun won't reach its zenith until 1 PM, is there anyone who still sets their clock by such a thing?

4/22 - Politics:  The Virginia Tech Shooting Rant - So, no blog site would be complete without the requisite rant about the shooting at Virginia Tech,

First off, it's sad what happened there and my heart is with the families who lost loved ones.   We have friends and family who go to school there currently, so the gravity of the situation there really hits home.

Second of all, I know it is going to open a whole new gun control debate.   While I support the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, I did notice two big glaring problems.  First of all, the Second Amendment guarantees should be limited to citizens; if a foreigner wants to come over here and purchase weapons and ammo, there needs to be restrictions.  This is something I believed in after September 11th - why would we allow the terrorists to come to this country unarmed and then allow them to arm themselves here to be used against us?  The second thing is this:  Yes, you should be allowed the right to bear arms - unless you are as crazy as a loon (read:  John Hinckley, Ted Kaczinski, the guy who shot "My Sister Sam", etc).   Crazy people don't need access to guns.

By the way, is it just me, or did anyone else find it odd that this guy could have like 200 clips (magazines)?  I understand you can have a gun, and you could conceivably have several hundred bullets.  But, unless you had a few dozen clips, you would be limited in the damage you could do.  For home protection, you wouldn't need more than a single clip or two.  In fact, I don't know in any situation short of mowing down a couple dozen people where you would need more than a clip or two.  I think this guy was probably better armed than most of our soldiers in Iraq!  It just strikes me as odd that someone would sell him so many magazine clips and not question WHY he would need so many.

Oh, and another thing - as this tragedy happened, there was nothing but the media trying to place blame and find fault with everything that was going on.  However, I saw a different side - I saw everything that went right that day.  When the cops arrived and stormed the campus, I thought they did it right.  When the secured things, I thought they did it right.  I think the cooperation between agencies was right.  Yes, there should have been some things that went better, such as shutting down the campus after the first shooting, but let's look at all that went right and commend those involved for a good job before we start blaming everyone and their brother! 

Finally, though, I do have to say this: if there is any silver  lining to this whole thing - and it took me a whole week to find something, anything - it's this: at least we don't have to hear about Anna Nicole's baby's father or Don Imus any more!

2009 Note:  A sad day for VT and everyone.  Someone asked why I don't use the shooter's name.  The answer is simple, really.  I don't want him to get his fame and glory that he was seeking.  I'll just refer to him as the "sick deranged idiot shooter."

4/24 - Personal:  Loopholes? Already? - So, for you long-time visitors, you know I have a three year old son.  We're in the process of potty training.  Things could be going better.  How?

Well, for one, my son is too smart.  You see, he's already found loopholes in my statements.

We've tried everything to get him to go on the toilet.  So far, the only thing that works is bribery.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking, but after changing so many dirty diapers and accidents in underpants, you'd resort to the same low-handed tactics that I did.

But, here's the thing:  I bribe him by saying "If you don't go potty in your pants all day, I'll give you a treat."

Then, eight hours later, Adele picks him up from school.  The teacher takes her aside and explains to Adele that while all the children were patiently waiting in line to use the toilet, Alex simply whipped it out and whizzed on the floor.

When he got home, he asked me for a treat, and I told him he couldn't, as he didn't go potty in the toilet.

"No, dad," he explained, "you said that if I didn't go potty in my pants, I'd get a treat.  I didn't go potty in my pants, I went on the floor!"

I suddenly realized that I am going to have to watch my words very carefully from now on, especially with such a kid who can already find loopholes.

I'm guessing he'll either be a corporate lawyer or a politician.

4/25 - Science:  Krypton discovered? - Scientists have found the most Earth-like planet yet outside our Solar System.

The planet circles a red dwarf sun and is much closer to that star than we are on Earth.

And its temperate climate with Earth-like temperatures is right for sustaining life.

But, since the planet is so close to its star, we would weigh significantly more on that planet than we do on our own.

Conversely, someone from that planet who were to visit our planet would weigh significantly less.  They would weigh so much significantly less that were they, to say, "leap" they could leap as so high as to, oh I don't know, maybe even leap a tall building in a single bound?

Scientists are calling it by it's scientific name "Gliese 581c", but let's start calling it for what comic book geeks everywhere are gong to start calling it: Krypton!

4/27 - General:  Training seminars getting cancelled - Lately, I've noticed a disturbing trend that I simply have to rant about.

Both my boss and I have been struck by this phenomenon by two different groups.

We're working in the high-tech software market, and as part of our job, we need to have certain training and achieve certifications.   The training and subsequent certification is not cheap; several thousands of dollars easily.

So, we want to attend this training, and we find out that a seminar will be held here in the Twin Cities.  We send in our money months ahead of time and plan to take that week for training.

Then, not a month nor a week, but the Friday before the training starts, the host decides to cancel it.

Huh?  WTF?

Oh, but then when we ask for a refund, we are told "Nope."

We then have two options.  Option 1) Find someplace else that is hosting the training, usually some place like Orlando or San Diego that's going to cost you an arm and leg for air fare and per diem.  Option 2) Wait 6-12 months for the seminar to be offered in our area again (and in the high-tech world, 6-12 months borders on obsolescence).

Now, I don't mind that you cancel the class for lack of interest, but jeez, give us some notice.  If even a week ahead of time you see or think there won't be the interest, cancel it at that point.  But the day before?  That doesn't give us a lot of alternatives.

5/1 - Entertainment:  TV Networks Suck - So, I am a big fan of Heroes.  Unfortunately, when it is on, I have to give Alex a bath.  But no big deal - I have a DVR, so I start it at 8 and run it until 9.

Only one minor problem - NBC decides to run the show until 9:03 PM!


So, I miss the last three minutes.

Adele is a huge fan of "Dancing With the Stars" so I go to tape it on the VCR, as it is on at the same time as Heroes.  Last week, the show was on from 7 until 8:30.  After voting off countless contestants to where they are down to like 5 or 6 couples left, you would expect the show's running time to get shorter, right?


Last night's episode - sans half of their contestants - ran an extra 15 minutes longer!


Come on, networks, pick a time, stay with it, and stop pissing off your viewers!

5/2 - Politics:  Smoking bans? - So, I work at a place that recently banned smoking on its property.  And this includes any personal cars parked in the company parking lot.

Why?  Turns out the company gets a huge break on its health insurance rates.

But, the problem is that while the smokers used to be able to walk across the street to the city park and smoke, the city has now banned smoking in the park also.  So, where to smoke?  It seems the smokers have but one choice - stand in the middle of the road and smoke in the "no man's land".

After almost hitting smokers for the umpteenth time (and you know they only count for half-points as compared to non-smoking pedestrians), I finally decided to ask one of the managers why they don't set aside some place away from the rest of the building where people can smoke without getting killed by a vehicle.

The manager, however, didn't see an issue.

"Our smoking policy is improving the health of not only all workers, but also the public health of these smokers also!"

"Yes," I explained, "but you are improving the public health at the risk of public safety!"

You see, I don't really care if someone wants to smoke, and if a company wants to enforce it to where you don't want them smoking around anybody else, that's fine.  But when you tell them they have to stand in a busy street to smoke, that's pretty asinine. 

2009 Note:  Smoking bans in a public place make some sense.  Smoking bans in people's cars?  That's just wrong.  Eagle also passed this along:  

Here's a good point - in the past, someone could go on a 5 minute smoke break once every couple of hours.  However, if you ban smoking and make your smokers go on a 2 mile hike to go smoke, expect your smokers to be gone about 4 times a day for about 15-20 minutes a time. 

So, you think productivity is going to go up?

Thanks, Eagle!

5/8 - Personal:  Dropping the DEUCE - As everyone knows, my son Alex is going through potty training, and it was going very well - until , that is, he started listening to people other than his parents.

He was going potty properly, and then one day, he goes into the bathroom and says "Daddy, I pooped!"

Expecting, as usual, to go in and find him on the potty waiting for me to wipe his butt, I was surprised to not find him sitting on the potty.  Instead, I find him standing in the shower - with a GIGANTIC TURD at his feet.

"What the hell?" I asked as I kept from tossing my cookies.

"Dada, only girls go potty sitting down, boys go potty standing up!" he explained.

"Yeah, but everyone - boys and girls - go number two sitting down!" I tried to reason with him.

"That's not what Marcus said!" he protested.  Marcus was another kid at Alex's day care.

Great, I thought.  Not only is he finding loopholes, he is now taking what other people say too literally.

Oh what fun it is to teach potty training...

5/16 - Personal:  Ever gotten the wrong e-mail? - At work today, I was lucky enough to get an e-mail I sent out minutes earlier back from one of my recipients.

Unfortunately for her, she was forwarding it on and calling me an idiot.

Even more unfortunate for her, she forgot to check the addresses in the "To" list before pressing the "Send" button.

So, here I was with an opportunity to speak my mind.

And, as a lesson to all you future ranters out there, I used my diplomacy skills.

What is diplomacy, you ask?

Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go screw themselves without actually telling them to go screw themselves.

And I was quite diplomatic.  So much so, I received a LOT of apologies afterwards.

And what I love best is this:  She can call me an idiot, but I wasn't the one who screwed up the addresses on the "to" list now, was I?

5/17 - General:  My new word - When something is successful, everyone talks about how that thing was "highly successful".

But when it was a failure, it was "highly unsuccessful".

But they are only separated by two letters - "un".

I was trying to describe a previous project that I was a part of that was so unsuccessful and such a failure that I couldn't find a word to properly convey how truly an unsuccessful failure it was - until I made a word to describe it.

Enter "failurific."

That's right.  If something turns out good, it can be called "successful."  If, however, it turns out as crap, feel free to call it "failurific."

But don't forget to tell everyone you heard it hear first! 

9/5 - Politics:  Why Larry Craig should get canned - Why should Larry Craig, the US Senator from Idaho, be canned?

It has nothing to do with allegations that he is gay or that he made signals to an officer that he wanted to have gay sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.

Nor does it have anything to do with the fact that he is a Republican.

Here is what it has to do with:  The guy can't make a good decision to save his life.


First, check out the evidence of this case at Smoking Gun.  Pay close attention to the plea agreement , where it says "I now make no claim that I am innocent of the charge to which I am entering a plea of guilty."  I don't know how they can make it any more clear.  So he pleads guilty, but when it comes back to bite him in the ass, he now says he is going to fight this case.  Pretty hard to do, after you sign that you agree that you are guilty.

Now, as if that wasn't bad enough, then he goes and does his second case of bad judgment - he announces he is resigning from the Senate.

But then, about a day later, he says, "Oops, never mind, I am changing my mind.  I'm not resigning."

And THAT is the problem.  Is this really the guy we want making law for us?  "Let's invade Iran.  Oh, wait, bad idea, I change my mind.  Let's NOT invade Iran."  Or "We'll reduce income tax.  Oh, wait, I changed my mind, and let's INCREASE the sales tax."

This guy may think he is fighting to save his political career, but all he shows me is even more reasons why his political career needs to be over! 

9/24 - Politics:  Should Ahmadinejad be allowed to speak in the US? - This is an interesting question - should Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad be allowed to speak at Columbia University in New York?

Yes.  Yes he should.

First, if the Dean of Columbia is correct, he will allow students to question the Iranian President on his crazy beliefs and statements, from denying that Iran is building nuclear weapons to his denial of the Holocaust.  No questions will be off limits, and none will be censored.

But, I think the reason for his being allowed to speak are more important and fundamental than that.

In the US, we have our freedom of speech.  The rights that allow our own neo-Nazis to publicly state their beliefs about the Holocaust should be extended to this guy.  Why?  Because it is only through open dialogue that we can change opinions.  Unless we confront one another's beliefs and opinions in a face-to-face and open dialogue, we will all continue to believe in what we want and fear/hate the other side.

But even more importantly, in a time where we build our entire political foundation upon the belief we can spread democracy to the Middle East, what better way of proving the merits of democracy by allowing someone we oppose to be allowed to freely and publicly state their beliefs?  What better way to promote democracy by allowing our own citizens to confront with dialogue the leader of a country that our own has termed "the axis of evil"?

Does anyone think that Ahmadinejad is going to win any converts here in the US by giving his speech?  No.  But there is a chance - albeit a very slight one - that we might win some converts over there by letting him make his speech here

12/4 - Politics:  Iran what? - Okay, so yesterday the US intelligence service gives their assessment of Iran's nuclear program and they say...

Iran hasn't worked on it since 2003?


Okay, so why all the saber-rattling for the past FOUR years?

Yeah, I'm not so naive that I am going to believe that Iran doesn't want to wipe Israel (or the US, for that matter) off the face of the earth.  But, on the other hand, just as with Iraq, I don't think they are such a threat that it required the most drastic action taken - military intervention - to stop them right now.

And Bush taking credit for Iran stopping their nuclear program?  Oh, please.

Iran is still a threat to us, but I don't think that they are the biggest threat to us right now.

PS:  Where's Osama?

12/12 - General:  Deaf people can't talk in cars while driving - I know I'm probably going to piss people off with this one, but being hard of hearing myself AND almost being in an accident because of this incident is prompting me to speak out.

The other day, my friend and I were driving to lunch.  The car in front of us was speeding up, slowing down, and lurching into and out of the other lanes.  My friend says "What the hell is this car doing?"

As we get closer, we see the driver quite animated with hand gestures through the rear view window, and we see an entire car full of people all gesturing.

As we get closer, I realize that everyone in the car is deaf, and they are conversing using sign language.

The driver would drive a bit, then turn towards everyone in the car, speak and read for a few moments, turn back, correct his car's heading, and resume the conversation!

My friend and I thought it was very bizarre and concluded that if you can't do two things at once (which, as you will see, I have concluded you can't do), you should either - 1.  Drive and join the conversation later or 2. Pull over, finish your conversation, and then drive on again.

But why I am so opposed to this?  As luck would have it, only two days later, in another part of the Twin Cities, I saw ANOTHER deaf driver with a deaf passenger who were driving while conversing, only this time, instead of being behind them, I was directly in FRONT of them, as they swerved into my lane several times while conversing.

I thought it was odd that I never encountered this before, and then encountered it twice in two days.