Some Are Useful

I hate campaign season. Everything is fake. It's terrible. Really truly horribly icky. Blah.

My economics professor has a saying that he repeatedly uses:
"All models are flawed; some are useful."

I'd like to extrapolate a bit and apply it to our current situation:

All politicians are flawed (replace with: assholes, morons, or whatever fits your need); some are useful.


Reconciling My Liberal and Conservative Sides

A friend posted a wonderful article about the real meaning of conservativism that really highlights the fact that conservative and liberal are not just interchangeable terms for republican and democrat.

The author has many great points, and I strongly urge you to read the article yourself, but my favorite paragraph is his description of Obama:
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who went from supporting McCain to rooting against him.


Things Crazy People Buy

My debit card number was stolen recently. I believe it was from google checkout, because a close friend had hers stolen just before me, and we both had signed up on google checkout just prior to this happening. I noticed because a charge showed up for remind-help.com, which turned out to be a front for several adult websites. I of course called my bank and dealt with it, but now I'm receiving the letters from merchandisers telling me my card was declined.

Apparently this is not uncommon. I'm not sure if people purchase items and ship them to other recipient addresses or what, but my information is what's on the purchase, down to my cell number. That's incredibly scary, for one, but it also just makes it stupid to purchase things that ship only to the billing address.

For example, AL came home a couple of weeks ago to find a beautiful new coffee maker on her doorstep. She called the company, who informed her of her purchase of one coffee maker, two bags of coffee, an extra scooper, and filters. The accessories never arrived, but AL now has a coffee maker. The company thought it would be too expensive to ship it back, so they told her to keep it.

Yesterday I received a letter stating that my card had been declined on a purchase from a company called Plymouth Direct. The item description? 1 Urine Gone Kit.


What I don't understand is why these people didn't just go to best buy or something and purchase a whole bunch of stuff they could sell? I mean, if you're going to be a thief, make it worth your while, right?

Too bad I didn't come home to find this waiting for me. I could have had some fun with the black light stain detector. :)

Because It's Nice When the World Smiles At You


Sleepy Time

I have long had a habit of sleeping in strange positions. Pete frequently makes fun of me (or yells at me for stealing the covers) when I sit up in bed, cross my legs indian style, and then fold back over onto my knees and doze off.

I also have been known to be called "giraffe" once in a while.

So of course, when I came across this article on animal sleeping habits, I felt a connection.

I feel you, Mr. Giraffe.

Here's wishing I could join you.


California Hunger Crisis

I've been working on a proposal to address the California Hunger Crisis, and I thought I'd share some of the background info here.

Hunger in California
Before the recent economic downward turn, 4.2 million Californians (12% of the population)
were considered “food insecure”, which means they had to make choices between food and other
living expenses. A much larger percentage was considered to be living in “marginal food
security”, which means they were sometimes threatened with these choices while frequently
facing the lack of a healthy balanced diet. This population is constantly vulnerable to becoming
food insecure when circumstances change.

Families with children are much more likely to be food insecure.

The Current Food Crisis
Nationally, food banks are reporting a 15-20% increase on average in the number of people
turning to them for help now compared to one year ago.

Decreased Support
Food banks receive the bulk of their food from the food industry, including producers,
distributors, and grocery stores. Usually this food is donated because of surplus inventory or
slightly damaged product. Increased efficiency in the food industry, and thus decreased surplus,
along with the proliferation of bargain grocery stores that will purchase dented cans for resale
has led to a major decrease in food donations from this previously steady source.

Since 2002, USDA commodities distributed nationwide has decreased more than 60% - the
equivalent of 45 million lost meals in California. The low dollar has increased food exports,
which has further decreased USDA donations over the past year.

Rising Food Costs
The United States is experiencing the worst food inflation prices since the 1970s.
The federal consumer price index (CPI) for the cost of food rose 4.7% from March 2007 to
March 2008. The CPI for the Thrifty Food Plan, the basis for Food Stamp allotment, increased
even more at 5.6%. The Thrifty Food Plan includes items that will feed a family at the lowest
possible cost while providing basic, although not adequate or healthy, dietary needs. In 2007, the Thrifty Food Plan cost $320 per month for a family of two. Changes in the price of items in the Thrifty Food Plan present a more accurate description of the stresses felt by low-income

In the first quarter of 2008 crop prices were up 20%, and livestock prices were up 10%.
The CPI for cereal and bakery products increased by 4.4% in 2007 and is projected to rise 8% in
2008. Price of milk is up 30% and bread is up 16%

Rising Fuel Costs
The cost of gas has led many families to make choices between going to work and purchasing

The increase in cost also has great impact on Food Banks. The cost of distributing food is greatly
increasing the overhead required of these programs, particularly in outlying communities and
areas where food banks have had to close.

Economic Crisis
The recent economic crisis, including home foreclosures and job losses, has disproportionately
affected citizens living in marginal food security. This has led to those families that previously
were able to subsist without assistance to turn to food banks in recent months.

In early 2007, California’s Central Valley experienced a devastating freeze that destroyed crops
and caused widespread economic hardship. Many families have yet to recover.

Several California food banks have reported that past donors and volunteers are now turning to
them for help. The number of first time aid recipients is up an estimated 26-50%.

Insufficient Utilization of Federal Aid
Of the Americans eligible for food stamp benefits, only 65% are enrolled nationally. In
California this number is even lower at 50%. In the subgroup of working families, nationally
57% eligible households are enrolled, while in California it was 34%. California ranked 50th in
the nation on this measure (including D.C., we only performed better than Colorado). Even if
California aims only to participate at the national average, the state is currently forgoing $1
billion in federal funds for its citizens each year.

Food Stamp benefits are entirely federally funded and provide economic stimulation to
communities in California. Every $5 in new food stamp benefits generates $9.30 in community
economic activity. Every additional dollar in food stamps generates up to $0.47 of new spending
on food.

Food Bank Response
The recently passed Farm Bill will deliver some relief in October, but the new level of funding
will still not return food supply to the 2002 level and will certainly not address the excessive
increase in demand.

Food Banks across the country are responding by decreasing programs while dipping into
reserves. Several food banks have closed in the past few months. Most food banks, however, are
avoiding closure by limiting programs. Food pantries and soup kitchens across California have
decreased from five to seven open days per week to one to five days open every two weeks.
Distribution programs are reporting that they have been forced to decrease handouts from seven
days of food to two days of food.

Most commonly, though, food banks are simply depleting their reserves in order to supply the
needed resources to communities. This will have a devastating effect in the coming months and

The federal budget does not currently allow for a comprehensive plan for addressing hunger in
America, and the California budget deadlock further incapacitates state and local agencies in
efforts to help. Food banks are completely dependent upon private donations to weather this
crisis and work toward a more sustainable future.

Please consider donating what you can. Volunteer time, non-perishable food, and of course, cash, are always valued and greatly needed.



Food Crisis Effect on Food Banks

“Food Agencies Go Hungry in San Francisco” San Francisco Business Times

“Potato Chips Beckon as Food Prices Rise” San Francisco Chronicle

News Articles Regarding Current Crisis - LA Food Bank


San Francisco

Alameda County

Contra Costa/Solano Counties

Peninsula and South Bay

Marin County

Sonoma County

Napa County


America's Got Talent?

Okay, so I'm blogging about reality TV. Not sure if this brings me down a notch. :)

I've been watching the last few episodes of America's Got Talent (the first season I've seen at all). My general impression is that the quality of the singers and dancers is pretty low on the show, but it offers an opportunity for other kinds of acts. This makes sense given that singers will do Idol, or country singers will do Nashville Star, and dancers have their options and whatnot. Tonight, though, I saw a performance that made me stop in my tracks and rewind it and watch it again. Check it out here:

Sarah Lenore - Bleeding Love

The judges, however, blasted her for this song choice. Really? I thought she was amazing. Am I totally off here? Usually I'm in full agreement with the realistic judges (mainly Piers on AGT and Simon on Idol), but tonight I thought all three of them were idiots. This girl has got some MAJOR talent.

So I went back to watch her other performances to find out why they thought this was so bad. She has been AMAZING at country music, and that's what she wants to do, but I still thought this song really showcased her talent, appealed to a wider audience, and showed her versatility. She could have turned it into a country song, which would have just maybe been the most downloaded song on itunes if it got put up, but wrong song? I certainly don't think so. I definitely think this is an up-and-comer to look out for and hope she starts getting some radio play because of this show. She's already recording and performing in Nashville, so this boost could be all she needs. Check out some of her other performances:

Sarah Lenore - Before He Cheats Video

Sarah Lenore - Not Ready to Make Nice Video

Sarah Lenore - Lemonade Video

Sarah Lenore MySpace Page with Music

Sarah Lenore CD on Amazon with Previews

Seriously, if I still lived in Missouri, I'd be planning a trip to Nashville to see this chick. My fingers are crossed for you, Sarah!


Lipstick on a Pig

This is exactly why I can't deal with politics pre-election. I'm interested in policies, not campaigns, and this is just idiotic:

From the SF Chronicle:

On Tuesday, Obama criticized McCain's economic policies as similar to those of President Bush, saying: "You can put lipstick on a pig ... it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years."

The McCain campaign contended that the comments were directed at Palin, the GOP's first woman on a presidential ticket. In her acceptance speech last week, she had referred to herself in a joke about lipstick being the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull.

Accusing Obama of "smearing" Palin in "offensive and disgraceful" comments, the McCain campaign demanded an apology — though McCain himself used the folksy metaphor a few times last year, including once to describe Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan.

The McCain campaign on Wednesday issued an Internet ad that said Obama was talking about Palin and said of Obama: "Ready to lead? No. Ready to smear? Yes."


"What their campaign has done this morning is the same game that has made people sick and tired of politics in this country. They seize on an innocent remark, try to take it out of context, throw up an outrageous ad because they know that it's catnip for the news media," Obama said.

Obama's campaign has accused the GOP camp of engaging in a "pathetic attempt to play the gender card." In an e-mail to reporters Wednesday, the campaign noted two other instances of McCain using the phrase "lipstick on a pig" and its use by other Republicans such as House Minority Leader John Boehner and Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl.



Feels Like Home

A True Redneck Story:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A Charleston man faces drunken driving charges after police spotted him riding a farm tractor on a highway without lights or proper warning signs. Kanawha County sheriff's deputies arrested 22-year-old Joshua David Postalwait early Friday morning.

A complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court said deputies were responding to a report of an intoxicated man on a tractor when they saw the tractor on Casdorph Road.

Postalwait was charged with driving under the influence and carrying a concealed weapon.

He was being held Friday afternoon at South Central Regional Jail. Magistrate court officials did not know whether he has a lawyer.


Reiser is a Jacka**

So Hans Reiser FINALLY admitted to killing his wife. A WHILE ago. Turns out his kids (7 and 8 years old) had to move to Russia to be cared for by their maternal grandma, and they aren't doing so well financially. An attorney in SF has taken on the case pro-bono and recently filed suit against Reiser to provide some kind of financial security for the children he left without a mother. The important thing to remember here is that HE ADMITS HE KILLED THEIR MOTHER. Yet, this is his attorney's response to the suit:
Richard Tamor, an attorney for Reiser, said Tuesday, "Liability is fairly clear given the guilty plea, but, nevertheless, as you saw from the trial, (the children's attorney) is going to rue the day they decided to engage Hans in litigation - they'll prevail eventually, but it will be a long, painful journey getting there."

Really? You know the kids will prevail, you admit the liability is there, and yet you want to make their journey MORE painful? Reiser, dude, this is where you finally grow a pair and just give over EVERY PENNY to those poor kids. It's not like you'll need it where you're going.