Monday, June 30, 2008

Birthday Bash, Part 3

Following my 26 June birthday bash with friends, I returned home to Newport News for a weekend with the folks. Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was recieving this hot air popcorn popper produced by Presto: Thanks Mom and Dad!My parents got me a bike, since I apparently didn't have one. With my socialite grandmother, who got me a card, stamps, and spending money. Popcorn popper in action!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Birthday Bash, Part 2

Birthday Bash, Part 1

Because certain elements are difficult to understand in this video, I have included a transcipt for convenience.

[Note: where possible, I have hyperlinked revelers' webpages or blogs. Just me trying to be a nice guy, or something like that.] Enjoy!


Mike Garrett: The things on your hand are so you remember it or not to remind you how much you drank last night.

Jared Kobulnicky: [inaudible]

Jason Kenney: You can finish it, Steven.

Steven Latimer: Say what?

Jason: You can finish it off; I’m recording. It’s a video now.

Steven: Oh, you’re recording it?

Jason: Yes, it’s not just pictures now, it’s a – a whole long thing…probably, it’s probably getting me anything you want. Drink, drink, drink.

Mike: Do it! You can finish that! Do it! Just finish the little bit!

Jason: Now go ahead and get your chaser. You’re all right. [chuckles]

Steven: I don’t feel all right. [laughter by all]

Rick Sincere: It’s that great rite of passage, alcohol poisoning.

Jason: It’s way early for that. [inaudible] Are you okay? [to Steven]

Steven: Yeah!

Jason: Okay. You’re nose is all itchy.

Steven: Itchy?

Jason: It looks like your nose is you’re like…holding back a sneeze or something. We’ve all been through it Steven, it’s okay.


Mike: You’re in the final stretch.

Jason: That’s one gulp.

Olivia Lloyd: Yeah, that is.

Rick: Yeah, you can take that. That’s not gonna be hard.

Jason: Come on Steven it puts hair on your chest.

Rick: It’s watered down, anyway.

Steven: Say what, man?

Jason: Puts more hair on your chest.

Jared: Dr Pepper doesn’t.

Steven: It -- it subtracts hair.

Jason: Leads to hair loss, chest hair loss

Jared: Impotence. [laughter] I think in fact it does, actually.

Steven: Ha-ha

Rick: We’re all sober.

Olivia: Come on you got it.

Jason: Last leg.

Steven: It takes time; it takes time.

Rick: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel

Jason: The light really is just more alcohol … There’s Budweiser waiting for you at home.

Steven: Not quite.

Jason: That’s one more sip. Not even. You can breathe that in. Did you backwash into it?

Jason: [inaudible] I’ve gotta stop talking; it ruins your drinking.

Steven: Rick – are you capable of putting this into YouTube?

Rick: I can put it on YouTube if you want.

Steven: Can every camera do that, or just your camera? Because I know that you’re a YouTube connoisseur.

Rick: Well, I’m not so much of a connoisseur, but I’m a producer.

Steven: Can you produce me?

Rick: Yeah!

Jason: Can we make this like with action-packed stuff like special effects and slow motion?

Rick: I can make him turn green if he wants!

Steven: [cackles]

Olivia: Speed it up so he doesn’t take 40 minutes

Jason: Looks like Steven drank that real quick.

Rick: I -- I’m very good with editing; hey, I edited
the whole Republican convention down to two minutes.

Jason: The two relevant minutes?

Mike: Just stitch him together his first sip
and his, like, last gulp.

Jason: Just kinda freeze the picture while
it’s back…

Rick: How much time do you have on that camera?

Jason: This has, like, another hour and forty minutes. He’s got some
good memory in here.

Jared: Steven I bought this drink at 7:10 [inaudible].

Steven: Wow

Jason: So you are far from drunk!

Rick: It took him two hours to drink that!?

Jason: [inaudible] it’s bottomless. (joking) It’s really got your money’s worth.

Steven: [finishes drink]

Jason: Steven, is their anything you’d like to say to the folks at home?

Steven: What should I say?

Jason: Whatever you’d like.

Rick: How do you feel?

Olivia: You just finished it.

Jason: What are you going to do next?

Steven: Go to DisneyWorld!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bitter's Barnstorm

Now, I realize this isn't exactly fresh blog content, but VCU alumna and standout Angela Bitter has accepted a job on her aunt's Congressional campaign in Arizona.

I had the pleasure of working with Angela on various projects when she was on Student Senate, as well as when she was the Vice-Chairwoman of the VCU College Republicans. So you can see why so I'm so happy for Angela.

Anyway, in a June 19 message to friends, Angela transcribed:

I was struggling to find a job in Richmond, so I did what just about every college grad these days does and moved back home to Virginia Beach to sort out my next plan of action. Just before I could really get comfortable, my aunt announced that she would be running for the 5th United States Congressional district in Phoenix, Arizona. As a result, she offered me a job on the campaign. It took some negotiating, but I am officially flying out there on Monday, and will return in mid-August. [...]

While all of this was going on, I was also accepted to Catholic University in Washington DC for graduate school, which I will be starting in the Fall. I plan on gaining my Master's in Congressional and Presidential Studies, and if that goes well, I would like to earn my Ph.D in American Government. Who knows, I may end up teaching some undergraduate government classes, isn't that a scary thought haha!

Angela's upstart aunt, Susan Bitter Smith, must first win the Republican primary before she can take on freshman Democrat Harry Mitchell in the general election. The district leans conservative.

According to Bitter Smith's campaign website,, Bitter Smith has a wide range of experience in business, government relations, and as an elected official. I think she'd make a fabulous Congresswoman!

Angela is in the desert right now. I salute her, and wish her well!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bacon: Libraries as Liberators

Jim Bacon of Bacon's Rebellion writes an interesting article on various Virginia libraries, if urban design is your kind of thing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wipeout, I Survived a Japanese Game Show set to premiere on ABC

"Nothing guarantees a laugh like watching people trip, slip and fall," writes Korina Lopez of the USA Today. "Placing people in harm's way for laughs is also a time-honored ratings-getter on Japanese TV, one that has been gaining momentum in the USA for several years, particularly on cable shows aimed at young male viewers."

And that is precisely why I will be tuning in tonight for Wipeout at 8 and for I Survived A Japanese Game Show at 9.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lee Vogler's Political Points

Subtitle: "The Campaign View From The College Eye"

VCU mass communications-journalism major Lee Vogler says what he thinks in his at times rambling blog.

I hate making hasty generalizations, but I'm going to assume he doesn't particularly care for Barack Obama?

The NRA hams it up

In a good way.

The NRA is rolling out some yard signs to commemorate Obama's verbal faux-pas, in which Obama stupidly proclaimed:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And [...] each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Interesting. I can't imagine many people willing to drop $15.95 on a yard sign, but it would be fun to see these on the side of the road.

R.I.P. George Carlin (1937-2008)

Sadly, comedian George Carlin died last night of heart failure.

I admit to not being as big a Carlin fan as others (in high school I read his 2001 book Napalm and Silly Putty for a good chuckle), but this is shocking nontheless.

Left: Carlin

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Virginia Brigand has returned!

Alas, after spending a year studying abroad in the United Kingdom, my good friend Jared Kobulnicky has returned to the blogosphere as the Virginia Brigand !

Merriam-Webster defines brigand as

one who lives by plunder usually as a member of a band : bandit

Kobulnicky operated the Virginia Brigand for a while in 2007 but terminated it when he left for the UK. Well, he's back. Expect a barnburner!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bill Redpath makes the ballot!

In a brief message to party members, today Libertarian Party candidate Bill Redpath announced via email that the Virginia State Board of Elections has certified his postition on the November ballot:

Dear Colleagues: I was certified for the November ballot for US Senate yesterday by the State Board of Elections. Thanks to everyone who assisted me in getting on the ballot. More news on the campaign will follow soon. Bill Redpath

From the Redpath for Senate news release:

On June 10th, Libertarian Party National Chairman and candidate for U.S. Senate William Redpath delivered more than 16,000 signatures to the Virginia State Board of Elections in Richmond, concluding more than two-months of petition gathering to qualify for ballot access as a Libertarian in the state of Virginia. Redpath, of Leesburg, will face Republican Jim Gilmore and Democrat Mark Warner for the seat currently held by five-term Republican Senator John Warner. [...]

Redpath personally delivered the petition signatures on Tuesday at 4 PM to the Virginia State Board of Elections office located at 200 North Ninth Street, Suite 101, in Richmond.

One of those 16,000 was probably mine. So congratulations to Bill Redpath for getting on the ballot!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Gore endorses Obama

According to MSNBC, Al Gore decided at long last to endorse Barack Obama for President.

This is not very newsworthy, and doesn't really belong on the front page. Of course Al Gore, a liberal, supports Obama for President, as Obama is the Democratic nominee!

The only way this would be newsworthy is if Gore endorsed Obama before Obama wrapped up the nomination.

ARAMARK and VCU Dining Services get the math wrong!

ARAMARK holds the contract with VCU Dining Services for anything food related on campus. That's all fine and dandy, however it appears that in their pamphlet titled "2008 VCU Summer Dining Plans," VCU Dining Services made a small mistake.

According to Martha Harper of VCU's Off-Campus Student Services, in Virginia, food purchases via meal plan made by students enrolled in public universites are, by state law, tax-free.

This means VCU students who buy items from ARAMARK using their meal plans' Dining Dollars do not have to pay Richmond's hefty 11% meal tax.

The pamphlet reads that:

Purchases with VCU Dining Dollars have a tax advantage of an 11% savings on each VCU Dining Services purchase.

To the casual observer, this would seem correct, however mathematically this claim is untrue!

Not having to pay an 11% tax is not the same thing as saving 11 percent.

Suppose that an item normally subject to the 11% meals tax (say, a hot dog) costs c dollars. Then you would pay c + .11c = 1.11c dollars for it at a place like 7-Eleven. This hot dog, when sales tax is not applicable (i.e., when bought on campus using a meal plan), costs only c dollars. When an 11% savings is applied to the item now costing 1.11c the new cost is 1.11c(1-.11) = .9879c which is not equal to c.

In fact, VCU Dining Dollars only have a tax advantage of approximately 9.91% since (.11c)/(1.11c) = 9.9099099 percent.


The Cuccinelli Compass

Virginia State Senator Ken Cuccinelli has a damn good newsletter, the Cuccinelli Compass. His newsletter is great because it always forces you think.

In today's Compass (available only through email subscription), Cuccinelli publishes a thoughtful presentation made by Herb Meyer. Meyer served under Ronald Reagan and was among the first to forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Here's a snippet (I apologize if the paragraphs are a little screwy; I copied and pasted):

Most countries in the Western world have stopped breeding. For a civilization obsessed with sex, this is remarkable. Maintaining a steady population requires a birth rate of 2.1. In Western Europe, the birth rate currently stands at 1.5, or 30 percent below replacement. In 30 years there will be 70 to 80 million fewer Europeans than there are today. The current birth rate in Germany is 1.3. Italy and Spain are even lower at 1.2. At that rate, the working age population declines by 30 percent in 20 years, which has a huge impact on the economy. When you don't have young workers to replace the older ones, you have to import them.

The European countries are currently importing Muslims. Today, the Muslims comprise 10 percent of France and Germany, and the percentage is rising rapidly because they have higher birthrates. However, the Muslim populations are not being
integrated into the cultures of their host countries, which is a political catastrophe. One reason Germany and France don't support the Iraq war is they fear their Muslim populations will explode on them. By 2020, more than half of all births in
the Netherlands will be non-European.

The huge design flaw in the postmodern secular state is that you need a traditional religious society birth rate to sustain it. The Europeans simply don't wish to have children, so they are dying. In Japan, the birthrate is 1.3. As a result, Japan will lose up to 60 million people over the next 30 years. Because Japan has a very different society than Europe, they refuse to import workers. Instead, they are just shutting down. Japan has already closed 2,000 schools, and is closing them down at the rate of 300 per year. Japan is also aging very rapidly. By 2020, one out of every five Japanese will be at least 70 years old. Nobody has any idea about how to run an economy with those demographics.

Europe and Japan, which comprise two of the world's major economic engines, aren't merely in recession, they're shutting down. This will have a huge impact on the world economy, and it is already beginning to happen. Why are the birthrates so low? There is a direct correlation between abandonment of traditional religious society and a drop in birth rate, and Christianity in Europe is becoming irrelevant.

The second reason is economic. When the birth rate drops below replacement, the population ages. With fewer working people to support more retired people, it puts a crushing tax burden on the smaller group of working age people. As a result, young people delay marriage and having a family. Once this trend starts, the downward spiral only gets worse. These countries have abandoned all the traditions they formerly held in regard to having families and raising children.

The U.S. birth rate is 2.0, just below replacement. We have an increase in population because of immigration. When broken down by ethnicity, the Anglo birth rate is 1.6 (same as France) while the Hispanic birth rate is 2.7 In the U.S., the baby boomers are starting to retire in massive numbers. This will push the elder dependency ratio from 1.9 to 3.8 over the next 10 to 15 years. This is not as bad as Europe, but still
represents the same kind of trend.

Western civilization seems to have forgotten what every primitive society understands-you need kids to have a healthy society. Children are huge consumers. Then they grow up to become tax payers. That's how a society works, but the postmodern secular state seems to have forgotten that. If U.S. birth rates of the past 20 to 30 years had been the same as post-World War II, there would be no Social Security or Medicare problems.

The world's most effective birth control device is money. As society creates a middle class and women move into the workforce, birth rates drop. Having large families is incompatible with middle class living.

The quickest way to drop the birth rate is through rapid economic development. After World War II, the U.S. instituted a $600 tax credit per child. The idea was to
enable mom and dad to have four children without being troubled by taxes. This led to a baby boom of 22 million kids, which was a huge consumer market. That turned into a huge tax base. However, to match that incentive in today's dollars would cost $12,000 per child.

China and India do not have declining populations. However, in both countries, there is a preference for boys over girls, and we now have the technology to know which is which before they are born. In China and India, families are aborting the girls. As a result, in each of these countries there are 70 million boys growing up who will never find wives. When left alone, nature produces 103 boys for every 100 girls. In some provinces, however, the ratio is 128 boys to every 100 girls. [I have read that this creates a potentially explosive situation. You have to keep all these potential sources of political instability contented. One way, historically often used, is war.]

The birth rate in Russia is so low that by 2050 their population will be [!] smaller than that of Yemen. Russia has one-sixth of the earth's land surface and much of its oil. You can't control that much area with such a small population. Immediately to the south, you have China with 70 million unmarried men who are a real potential nightmare scenario for Russia.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I encountered this image in the photos section of the Congressman Ron Paul for President 2008 Facebook group (accessible to Facebook users only, sorry).

Is this sign really necessary? Do people really need to be reminded of this?
I guess it's a "sign" of the times.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Flag Day

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jim Gilmore's "Working People" Tour Kickoff

I just returned from Capitol Square where Jim Gilmore officially kicked off his Senate campaign, by hosting a press conference focusing on "working people."

From the Jim Gilmore campaign:

Alexandria - The Jim Gilmore for Senate Campaign of former Gov. Jim Gilmore, now a candidate for the Virginia U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator John Warner, will kick-off the campaign June 10th with a fly around expressing support for Virginia’s working families. The fly around will be followed in coming weeks by visits to 40 cities and localities in what the Gilmore campaign is billing as a “Working Families Tour.”

All media are welcome to attend the fly around news conferences Tuesday which will be held in Richmond, Norfolk and Northern Virginia. Roanoke, Bristol, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Winchester, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Danville, Petersburg and Virginia Beach are among the cities that will be stops for the “Working Families Tour” to take place in coming weeks.

Of course, the conference was scheduled at 9:30 in the morning, when most working people are at their jobs, so the event was mostly attended by media members, college students like me, retired people who don't have jobs during the daytime, and people who work with government or politics for a living. In other words, there weren't any working people with shovels or pick-axes or whatever usually comes to mind when you hear the words "working people."

I got there early and so I grabbed a front row seat, which was perfect for picture-taking.

Delegate Bill Janis got the party started when he welcomed everyone to the conference. Newly minted Republican Party of Virginia chairman Jeff Frederick then spoke, as did Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, and Attorney General Bob McDonnell. All four gentlemen gave lavish praise to former Governor Jim Gilmore. Then Gilmore spoke for the rest of the conference, followed by questions from the media (WaPo reporter Tim Craig sat directlybehind me).

The common theme from the conference was that Mark Warner cannot be trusted on taxes and that higher taxes hurt families and "working people." A secondary theme that Gilmore has been stressing extensively is energy independence.

But perhaps the highlight of the conference was when Gilmore exclaimed:

Mark Warner is an elite limousine liberal!

I love press conferences.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tomato Warning

That's right, when we don't have tornado warnings, we get tomato warnings. Apparently the FDA recommends restaurants not serve tomatos until the matter gets resolved.

I became aware of this today when Quiznos refused to give me tomato wedges on my sandwich, much to my consternation.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

What changes are VCU students making due to higher gas prices?

This week's myVCU poll reads:

What's the most significant change you've made due to higher gas

With 1,867 votes thus far, the results are as follows:

Cut back on driving ...............................41%

Drive slower / less aggressively ..........12%

Carpool ......................................................5%

Bought a more fuel efficient car .............4%

Use other means of transportation .......6%

No changes ..............................................21%

I don't own a car ....................................10%

The question asks for the most (emphasis added) significant change, so only one answer can be selected. I chose "Drive slower / less agressively" over "Cut back on driving" since I never really drove around a lot when gas was cheaper.

Due to the sufficiently large sample size (N=1,867) and because this is a simple random sample, the percentages won't change much over time as more people vote.

Conspicuously missing from the poll's potential choices was "Wrote my Congressman to demand authorization to drill in ANWR or off-shore."

Throwing out the Baby with the Bathwater

Blogger Rick Sincere of Charlottesville is a pretty smart guy, and I usually agree with him. But I feel that something he said in his June 2 post is beyond the pale, and misleading.

Sincere writes:

Marshall [...] brazenly states he believes in "respect for the rights of all persons, old and young." Given his prominent sponsorship of the Marshall-Newman Amendment and his proud claim of being Virginia's "chief homophobe," we know he does not really believe in the rights of "all persons."

Sincere cites a 2006 Washington Post article :

The debate was over, and the stately atrium at the University of Virginia School of Law was nearly empty. But Del. Robert G. Marshall, a Prince William County Republican who wryly refers to himself as Virginia's "chief homophobe," was just warming up to his next showdown over same-sex marriage.

"There is a natural order of things, a natural order where gay marriage is an impossibility," he said, books tucked under his arm and waving a hand for emphasis, like the disheveled college professor he often resembles. "For example, a woman's arm is constructed at a certain angle so that she can adequately cradle a baby. This is the way we're created. There are just certain things that nature intended."

Marshall's commentary may sound funny, or antiquated, but he is capable of supporting his position(s) with evidence. Not everyone does that, and Marshall is to be commended for providing us the rationale behind his assertions.

Sincere would have us believe that Bob Marshall hates gay people, which is patent nonsense. Having respect for traditional values does not make you a homophobe. If Marshall really hated gay people, he would fight tax increases tooth and nail -- but only if you're heterosexual. Marshall made the U.S. Constitution an integral part of his campaign for U.S. Senate and the last time I checked, the Fourth Amendment protects all of us from unreasonable searches and seizures, affirming that we have the right to be "secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects." The Bill of Rights applies to everyone -- whether you're gay, straight, or something in between.

I know Rick Sincere personally, and I respect him and I look up to him. But this is just a bunch of sour grapes on his end. Bob Marshall does not hate gay people, and to suggest otherwise does a great disservice to the Virginia blogosphere, and our fellow citizens.

UPDATE (12:55 PM) : Just for fun, I decided to google "Bob Marshall hates gay people". But nothing credible popped up, further corraborating my point.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tis the Season

Today officially marks the beginning of hurricane season. From Wikipedia:

Tropical Storm Arthur formed just off the Belize coast on May 31 [...]. As of
May 31 at 11 PM EDT, the storm was located over inland portions of the
Yucatán Peninsula, with maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometres per hour
(40 mph). Arthur is the first tropical storm to form in May since Tropical
Storm Arlene in 1981.

Many Virginians and Richmonders remember with woe Hurricane Isabel
(2003) and Tropical Storm Gaston (2004), respectively. I was in high school then, and I
remember Newport News gave us over a week off of school for Isabel. It was
like a vacation, minus all the fun. When school resumed, in almost all our classes (calculus
exempted) our teachers made our storm experiences part of the classroom conversation.

Tis the season to be blown away!

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