This topic is for links to relevant news, interesting websites, quick opinions and inane ponderings. Postings in this thread are considered "open-thread", meaning that anyone can post a comment on any of the articles, whether the comment relates to the post or not. If you have something random to say, this is the place.
Last week, it was brought to my attention that one of our Lewisville City Council candidates, lifted a lot of the text on his website from another candidate here in Denton County in a completely different race.
To be fair, in politics, it's common to lift a particularly effective line from a political ally, and use it in one's own material. If someone has found the best way to express something, why re-invent the wheel, right?
Well, in this case, Gorena basically lifted an entire web page without permission, leaving paragraphs in the same order, and most of the wording the same: (click the image to view a larger version)
When I was a young Marine, stationed in Twentynine Palms, CA, my quarters were a three-story barracks where we had three men to a room. It was a fairly modern barracks with amenities like a TV room, and a laundry room with nice washers and dryers that were free to use. In other words, they were not coin-operated. They were the typical consumer-grade washers and dryers like you might have in your house.
I'm not sure how it got started, but shortly after I moved in there, I noticed that none of the machines had knobs on them at all. There was still the metal shaft where the knobs had been, but no knobs. So, if one wanted to do laundry, one had to learn to approximate where the arrow would point, then use a pair of pliers to turn the knob to the appropriate place and start the cycle. It was frustrating.
I soon learned what was going on, when one of my platoon buddies offered to let me borrow "his knob". Yes, you see, what happened was that somehow, at some point in the past, knobs started to disappear. Fearing that they would not have knobs when they needed to do their laundry, individual Marines took the remaining knobs and hoarded them, passing them around in their cliques, and eventually bequeathing them when they would transfer out.
It was utterly stupid, and was a self-perpetuating cycle. Since the knobs now had value, each time they would order new knobs, they would be gone within a day. Because people became used to a knob shortage, knobs began to be hoarded. Even when knobs were replaced, there was still that fear that "if I don't get this knob right now, someone will take them, and I'll miss my chance".
So each Marine, to the detriment of the group, hoarded knobs because of a lack of trust of the others, and thus perpetuated the lack of trust, and knob shortage.
What can we learn from this? A lot of things - and I'll leave some of it to your interpretation, but here are a couple of things I take:
1. The Outcome of a Philosophy of Greed: This was essentially a "free market" operation, where each Marine acted in their own self-interest. Instead of improving the condition of the group, it was to the group's detriment. These things happen that way sometimes. Though we could have had the Company Gunny get heavy-handed and threaten to knock heads together if the knobs didn't get turned in, there was no "laundry guard" to protect the knobs. If one group had turned them in, they would have been gone, and into the hands of others in the middle of the night.
2. Swift and Decisive Intervention is Prevention: If the barracks manager had replaced the very first knob the instant it disappeared, and kept replacing, it's likely the cycle wouldn't have gotten that bad. Marines would have had faith in the knobs being there, and thus wouldn't have felt the need to steal them.
This story, frankly, comes to mind because of some recent developments within the Democratic Party. The campaigns of the two presidential candidates each feel that if they are not vigilant in challenging delegates from the other side, that their side will end up on the short end of the stick. Neither side is likely approaching it from the standpoint of trying to disenfranchise the other to protect their candidate from the will of the people. More likely, they are just standing up to what they perceive is the potential for the other side to escalate. In doing so, they cause harm to the party organization and cohesiveness.
We all need to quit playing with our knobs and stick them all back into the party apparatus. Each time someone pulls out a knob, we need a good person to step up and replace that knob. If we can keep all of our knobs where they belong, we can win in November.
What!? What did I say? Why am I suddenly getting website traffic from the New York governor's office?
Been meaning to write some of this for awhile now, and just now getting around to it. It will probably only be of interest to regular readers and fellow bloggers.
First, I'm excited to say that February's traffic for this website once again exceeds all previous records. Though the exact numbers are a bit skewed because of spam-bots, it appears that we had about 12,500 unique visitors in February.
The website has some new features that I would like to share: - Notification Emails - Recent Comments - Recent Blogs - Events Calendar - BlogRush feed - Updated Privilege Levels - WhosPlayin Store - Comment Spam Protection
WhosPlayin has a new Events Calendar to help us all keep track of the various goings-on in our community here in the Lewisville, Flower Mound, Highland Village area. Check it out, and feel free to submit items for it.
You may notice at the upper left corner of each page in the website, I've moved the ads down and put in a list of recent comments and recent blogs. Since many people find us through search engines, they may not know about other content on the blog. This is an easy way to see what people are commenting on.
Speaking of comments, did you know that you can have this website send you a notification email whenever someone comments on a blog item? It's true. Just sign up for a free WhosPlayin account, and you can receive emails when new blogs are posted, or when comments are posted for specific blog entries that you choose.
I love to get comments on blog entries - whether you agree with what we've said or not. But one of the big problems we've had to deal with is spam bots. These are automated programs that visit blogs and post commercial solicitations for the same types of crap that we all get spam for. In February, there were about 25,000 attempts to post spam comments. From now on, whenever you post a comment, we ask that you fill in the answer to a simple question that all human beings should be able to answer.
I've updated some privilege levels. Registered users can post comments immediately and without pre-approval. Drive-by comments are as always subject to moderation to prevent hate-speech and spam. Registered users that have been around awhile will be allowed to post their own blog entries.
We have our own Whosplayin Amazon Store. In addition to the books you may see shamelessly promoted in the banner ads up top, we've also selected other interesting products that we like and think would be of interest to our readers. So go buy some crap already, ok?
Also, I'm trying out a new feed from BlogRush. You can see it in the lower left side of the page. It lists headlines from various blogs around the country. Let me know if you find it helpful.
I know as I write this, it's nearly 1 AM, and I've got to go to work early in the morning. I'm bone-tired, and I have an ingrown toenail that is throbbing. I was on my feet from 5 pm to nearly 10:30 pm.
At 4 PM, I drove to Fort Worth with my assistant Trish, to attend the Barack Obama rally there at the convention center. Until tonight, I can honestly say that the last presidential rally I attended was for Reagan-Bush 1984.
But this was quite different. Orders of magnitude different. This was 25,000 screaming people. Barack Obama is like a rock star.
Since his campaign started, I've been a bit uneasy about what I've perceived as a bit of a cult of personality with regard to Barack. But I think the more I've watched, the more I've realized - and it really hit home for me tonight in a big way - that this movement is not about Barack Obama. What impresses me the most is the diverse group of people that have joined the movement.
What Obama says is honestly nothing that mainstream America would find new. What IS new is that there is a politician with the guts to say what we're all thinking, and ask for OUR help in getting it done.
Well, I intend to write more. But it's late, and I'm starting to get stupid. I interviewed about a half dozen folks from all walks of life. I've got some pictures and video to post. I have some observations to make, and I'll share an embarrassing moment.
I have, in my lifetime, witnessed some historical moments. I hope that tonight turns out to be one of them.
All of you folks I met tonight, it was a pleasure. Thanks!
This restaurant, owned by CEC Entertainment (Chuck E. Cheese's) was a great place to take your kids. They have - had (can't get used to past tense) a 5 cent gameroom where your kids could run off and go play while the parents eat and drink.
The place was always busy when we went there. What in the hell happened?
I am bummed!
CEC Entertainment's website didn't have any sort of news posted about the closure(s), but their stock was up $.42 today. Their 4th quarter 2007 report said:
Richard M. Frank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, stated that, "We believe sales and operating results in the 2007 fiscal year were negatively impacted by pressures on consumer disposable income. Although disappointed by the sales trend in 2007, we continue to believe our strategies will positively impact sales and earnings, and over the long-term will deliver an excellent experience for our guests and solid performance for our shareholders."
Tuesday night, my family and I attended a get-together in Highland Village hastily arranged by local Barack Obama supporters. I think you could have knocked me over with a feather; I was so shocked at the turnout. After being active in the Democratic Party for a couple of years now, I’m somewhat used to knowing most of the people in the room as “the usual suspects”. More and more lately, and especially the other night, it just isn’t so. Out of about 50 people in attendance, I knew 2 people there, other than my family. Although attendance at Democratic events has been growing steadily over the past couple of years, it would have been damn hard to get that many of our regulars to turn out like that.
There were young, very young, and old. There were white, black, and Asian. There were men and women. There were Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians – all there because something in Obama’s message struck a chord with them so much that they would get out on a Tuesday night to have dinner and drinks with a bunch of strangers with very little notice.
These are by and large, people who are enthused about becoming active, and who are looking for ways to help. They are people who self-organized. This wasn’t an effort of the local party or the Obama campaign. In fact, the Obama campaign representatives who showed up were impressed that the ground game they were charged with organizing had already begun to organize itself.
As I lay in bed that night, replaying my conversations with these voters and my discussions with my wife about what we had witnessed, my thoughts began to solidly congeal around the notion that Obama’s momentum is more about a movement than a campaign. Let me begin my explanation by stating what I believe those words, “campaign” and “movement” to mean:
A campaign is where a person or a group decides what they think would be good to do. They then do their best to convince a constituency that their idea or candidate is the best idea or candidate, given the real or perceived alternatives.
A movement is where an idea has already taken hold of a constituency, but a lack of leadership or willpower or courage has kept that idea suppressed. When critical mass of vocal support for such an idea is perceived, a chain reaction begins, and people stand up to be counted.
Obama’s candidacy is being pushed by a movement. Yes, of course he has a campaign to do all of the typical machinations that are required. But the enthusiasm is coming from the movement.
In order to understand the movement, I think you need to understand what it’s not: It’s not about Barack Obama, and what he can do for us. Look at his campaign logo. Look at his signs. Often, his name is not even on them. Think of the words “Hope” or “Change” and it is Obama, his campaign, and our movement that comes to mind. It is also not so much about policy, or you would see the same type of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton, who has very similar policies, with what many argue are “more specifics”.
Of course I understand that saying “It’s a movement” is pretty meaningless without saying what the ideas are. And when I speak of ideas, I’m talking more about guiding principles here, not policies. What I mean is that I think Obama is communicating, and the people are hearing, a fundamental shift from conventional politics: (And note: this is not a comparison of Clinton and Obama, per-se)
You want a candidate with experience in Washington.
You want a candidate with vision for how it should be in Washington.
Choose the candidate who will give you what you want.
One man is never going to make it happen. We, the people, must take responsibility for seeing that our government does what we want.
Bad government in the past is to blame for where you are. If you elect this person, they will fix it.
We all bear some responsibility for where we are. If the solution were easy, it would already be done. If you elect this person he’ll do his part if you do yours.
Choose the candidate that you agree with on all of the issues.
Choose the candidate that mostly agrees with you, but doesn’t take your agreement for granted, and is not afraid to make his case, even if it’s not something you want to hear.
If you want to fix a societal problem, you have to have motivation for the big corporations to get behind the fix.
Sometimes, the big corporate interests are the problem. Corporations don’t vote, and already have too much of a say. Fix it, yes we (collectively) can!
Our side is right, theirs wrong. We are good, they are evil. We are smart, they are stupid.
There is no time for this bickering, and it gets us nowhere. We will make a consensus and we will move forward on the things we can agree on.
Vote for the candidate who holds the most promise to your specific demographic constituency.
Vote for the candidate who holds the most promise to the broadest constituency.
Vote for the candidate who seems most certain and unequivocal about their positions
Vote for the candidate whose values and judgment you trust, and who you know will listen to arguments of reason.
Vote for the candidate that can drive the hardest bargains with the other side.
Reject positional bargaining in favor of principled negotiation.
Of course what I have in the “new” column is nothing new at all. It’s the original plan for how this nation was supposed to be, before big business figured out that playing politics was easier than competing in the free market on the basis of price, quality and service. It is how it should have been before politicians decided that hanging onto their jobs to enrich themselves and their close family and friends was easier and more rewarding than making tough choices for the long-term betterment of their constituencies.
One day, Cheryl went to Walmart and left 3 year old Caleb with Brian. Brian was very much into a Longhorn ball game on television but figured it would make Cheryl happy to go alone and it would only be for an hour.
Caleb was pretending (like they do in day care) to be serving his dad a drink out of a big kids cup. He told his dad it was just water but his dad wanted to pretend like it was beer.
Cheryl came home after Brian had downed several (what he called) domestic, light & cold brews when she asked what he was drinking.
So, she followed Caleb to see his so called new "brewery". As Caleb was serving his Dad the last brew for the day.....Cheryl asked..... 'Did it ever occur to you that the only place Caleb can reach to get water is the toilet?
I wish I could have seen the look on Brian's face! That little Caleb is a stinker!