Since people have been asking, I thought I’d share a bit about my journey to the Czech Republic. The Aeolus Project (what I do at work) is having a meeting here, as a substantial number of my colleagues work here.

I haven’t travelled internationally much. Back in 2007, I visited Mmofra Trom in Ghana. The Czech Republic would have been the second country I ever visited, keeping an inadvertent trend of only visiting places less geographically-savvy people couldn’t find on a map, if not for a brief stop in London. (I figured that if I was flying to Europe for the week and had never been, I might as well spend the weekends sight-seeing.)

Here is an obligatory photo from London:

(It’s a HDR composite done with Photomatix — the net result looks a little unrealistic, and yet it’s what it actually looked like.)

London was great, though outrageously expensive. And English accents are even more awesome than you might expect. The Underground, besides having an iconic logo, puts the MBTA to shame. I knew that they drive on the “wrong” side of the road, but I didn’t think it would impact me as a tourist who wouldn’t be driving. What I realized is that it’s terrifying as a pedestrian, especially at multi-way intersections, because you have absolutely no clue where cars will be coming from.

We took a WizzAir flight from London to Brno, a large city in the south-eastern part of the Czech Republic. Yes, “WizzAir” is a real airline, and yes, I was hesitant to book a reservation on it based on the name, but it was a nice enough budget airline.

The hotel has absolutely terrible Internet. Here’s what happens when I ping the wireless router:

--- ping statistics ---
49 packets transmitted, 45 packets received, 8.2% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 4.035/593.420/2627.601/702.471 ms

(Note that 593ms average latency, and the 8.2% packet loss, on a LAN.) This is entirely the fault of the hotel, though — in my company’s office, the Internet is just fine. We’re apparently only about 125ms away from Boston here.

The official language here is Czech, a West Slavic language that sort of seems like Polish to someone generally-ignorant about languages like me. I’ve come to realize that I’m rather afraid of being in a place where I can’t communicate, even though I’m surrounded by bilingual coworkers. It’s rather isolating. The good news is that many people, especially those in customer service venues (and people under perhaps 30) seem to speak some English, so I can get by when I’m at McDonald’s. (More on that soon!) Of course, my coworkers here all speak excellent English, so it’s not as if I’m really stranded not speaking the language. But that doesn’t stop me from worrying about it.

Last night, some friends and coworkers (thanks Tomas and Imre!) took us to a local (indoor) rock-climbing place and gave us training. It’s worth noting that the place served beer, though no one was actually drinking and climbing (or belaying).

I’ve never climbed before, and am deathly afraid of heights. So if someone had told me a few years ago that I’d one day find myself at an indoor climbing facility in the Czech Republic, I’d have thought they were insane.

And indeed, my first time up, I did chicken out after about 6 feet. My second time, I made it up perhaps 10-15 feet before I looked down. But the third time, I had the courage to make it to the top. (I really have no idea how high it was, but I’d guess perhaps 30-50 feet.) The photo of me actually at the top is… not flattering… but here’s a slightly less embarrassing photo of me midway up (exhibiting rather poor form, but hey, it was my first time…):


It might be interesting to note that the place had a small bar. This observation did not exactly help calm my nerves, though it ended up being a non-issue — the only people I saw drinking were chatting over a beer when they were done climbing. My fear that drunk people would be falling from the walls turned out to be entirely unfounded.

And speaking of fears of tolerance leading to mass chaos being unfounded, the country apparently has relatively lax (read: sane) drug laws.

None of us were particularly sure what this stuff was (a hemp hand cream was our best guess), but it led to an interesting discussion about drug laws here. Apparently, possession or use of small amounts of drugs (not just Cannabis) is decriminalized, though the general sale is not. (Which leaves me moderately confused about whatever this display case was.)

At first, it seems mildly insane that small amounts of LSD or cocaine (!) are legal. But it reminds me of something I saw on TV once, which was a (real-life) look at a city police department doing a drug sting. They had an agent sell small bags of cocaine to people, and a cadre of heavily-armed police agents would then swarm and tackle the buyer to the ground. As if this wasn’t appalling enough, there was a clear trend among the drug buyers in terms of race and socioeconomic status, and these people can face years in prison. (And time in prison, in turn, significantly reduces their odds of ever getting a decent job, causing what’s probably a vicious cycle.)

But just as there weren’t any drunks falling from the climbing wall when beer was served in the facility, I haven’t seen any drug addicts in the streets of Brno, or even been had reason to think drug use was a problem. Instead, it seems like the police are free to focus on crimes that have victims, and people with addictions are now able to seek treatment with legal impunity.

Apologies for the accidental political rant. Perhaps it is time I closed with a picture of the city, from my hotel balcony the other night:


I think the best analogy for modern-day politics is sports teams. I root for the Red Sox, because they’re my local team. Yankees suck! This is foolish, of course. The Yankees are a great team. They’re not an enemy, but friendly competition.

Politics today are the same way. Democrats hate Republicans, and Republicans think Democrats are destroying America. And we are the fans, cheering for our side and booing the other.

But the problem is that the teams don’t matter, and a drama-filled game isn’t good in politics. We sit back and watch heated political debates, and start cheering for our side and vehemently opposing the other. But at the end of the day, politics isn’t a game we play for fun. It’s the operation of our country, and it impacts each of us every day.

It’s not just that we root for our teams that’s the problem, it’s that we do so without caring about the game. It would be like if I cheered fanatically for the Red Sox and talked the next day about how bad the Yankees were, yet I never bothered to watch a moment of the game. In politics, the teams don’t matter, and yet the “game” we all ignore is profoundly important.

This is interesting, because it doesn’t talk about political parties. I evaluated a whole bunch of proposals to fix problems, and did so without having much of an indication if I was backing a Republican idea or a Democratic idea. Doing so forced me to think about the pros and cons of individual bills, without hearing any twisted rhetoric from either side. This is what politics should be.


So it’s not secret that I’m a pretty strong supporter of Obama. I even volunteered on the campaign–when Obama was the underdog in the race. And I think the first 101 days have been great. (The fact that the polls turned from 20% of the country thinking the country was headed in the right direction to 60% of the country thinking that ought to be telling…)

While it’s nice to not have a VP that travels the country to promote torture (I’m not even joking or exaggerating, either?), I really wish our new VP could do something other than put his foot in his mouth. Besides his horribly-misconstrued (and even more horribly-articulated) comment seemingly calling Obama the first “clean” black politician, and things like asking people in wheelchairs to stand up, he was on primetime TV this morning telling people to avoid airplanes, subways, and pretty much the public, to make sure they don’t catch the swine flu, but that going to Mexico wasn’t nearly as big a threat as being in confined spaces.

The CDC, the White House, and the Department of Homeland Security have all pretty much come out and said that Biden’s advice was completely wrong and backwards. In the words of a coworker (in what’s bound to become a sarcastic slogan, if it’s not already), Way to Go, Joe.

Absolutely Nothing Happens

We were talking quite some time ago at college about how gay marriage had been legal in Massachusetts for a few years. Despite all the hubbub about it being the end of the world–or the greatest thing since sliced bread–we came to the conclusion that it was a complete non-issue. None of us knew anyone who knew anyone who had ever been to a gay wedding, and even my conservative peers came to not care in the slightest that same-sex couples could get married. It’s gone on for years, and the impact to conservatives who felt threatened turned out to be nil.

And then I remembered that Massachusetts had decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Like gay marriage, it drew a lot of criticism, and had many panicked that the sky was falling. About four months (I think?) later, absolutely nothing has happened as a result. It’s had zero impact on my life or those I know. Massachusetts doesn’t suddenly have a drug catastrophe.

I wonder what else would turn out that way. Drivers licenses for illegal immigrants? (It’s no secret they drive; I’d much rather that they had to follow the same rules I did to get my license.) Loosening up gun laws on non-criminals? (Gotta get both sides in there! I do think Boston and New Hampshire are very different, but I live in a state with incredibly lax gun laws and would be hard-pressed to think of a single gun crime.)

Though I think there’s an interesting lesson in this. For all the political apathy we’re accused of, it seems that there’s an awful lot of Chicken Little FUD (on both sides) about things that turn out to be non-issues to most of us.


After reading about a series of pirate attacks last year—back then an almost laughably bizarre occurrence—I became interested in the concept of modern piracy, something I, like many average citizens, was unaware still went on. I picked up a copy of John Burnett’s Dangerous Waters: Modern Piracy and Terror on the High Seas after hearing him talk on NPR, but didn’t get far into it.

Recent events revived my interest, and I made some headway in the book this weekend. It turns out that piracy has been a major problem for ships in third-world areas, which is problematic since many major international shipping lanes progress right through these areas. No ship is immune, from small sailboats to “VLCCs”: Very Large Crude Carriers, commercial oil tankers rivaling our military’s biggest ships in size. As we learned with the recent hostage situation, pirates tend to be destitute teenagers from the poverty-stricken nations who have little to lose and everything to gain.

This afternoon, I read an interesting observation: some private ships, including cruise ships, are known to employ “heavies,” gun-toting mercenaries, to protect the ship and those onboard. Guns are otherwise uncommon: there are many thorny legal issues, including the need to declare them to customs when docking in a foreign port, at which point they’re seized until you leave again; the fact that pulling a gun on pirates, unless you’re a well-trained marksman, is likely to get you shot; and the fact that, on many of the oil tankers, a single stray round could blow the whole ship up.

So imagine my surprise when I checked out Google News, and saw that an Italian cruise liner off the coast of Somalia actually used its heavies to deter pirates. Besides idle fascination n the escalating pirate wars, I think this is a good thing: if pirates are becoming brazen enough to fire on cruise ships, there’s a much more pressing need for the international community to aggressively put an end to piracy. Piracy is no longer an obscure issue affecting an incredibly small number of commercial ships, but something threatening anyone on a boat in international waters, and the latest escalation is likely to cause an even greater escalation in piracy defenses.


Lately I’ve felt that things were going pretty well. I was reading a bit of international news and looking at the international reaction to our presence at the G20 summit, for example. Of course not everyone in the world loves us, but I couldn’t help but feel that our presence was a little different than last time. Our President helped get disagreeing parties to agree, and in general seems to have the world eager to work with us. (I don’t really mean this as a condemnation of Bush, nor is it my intention to heap praise on Obama.)

And then I read what conservatives are saying, and it almost seems like we’re looking at two vastly divergent realities. I see a statesman, they see a closet Muslim who was all too eager to bow to an Arab leader and who went out of his way to apologize for being American. I see a fiscal plan inspired by John Maynard Keynes, they see someone deliberately wasting money for his own gain. I see the first black President, they see the first illegal immigrant President. I see a President who came in after Bush’s first round of financial bailouts and pretty much continued the policy, they see a President who nationalized the banks because he’s a Socialist. Oh, and he wants to take everyone’s guns away, and destroy Christianity.

I’d gone a while without reading the “wingnut propaganda,” and in that time period, I’d come to think that things were pretty good. Obama’s approval rating is something like 70%, and the two parties have been known to work with each other a bit lately, even if it’s been far less than I’d like. (And even if it’s been largely Democrat-led, which doesn’t really make for impressive bipartisanship…) And then I realized that there’s a lunatic fringe that seriously believes he’s a Muslim or a Socialist, and became truly worried. Fiscal conservatives and social conservatives may dislike Obama, and I respect their different views. Divergent views, discussed and brought to compromise, truly leave us better off. But there are thousands, if not millions, of Americans who have literally lost touch with reality. They’re like the MIHOPs of the Democrats.

I also want to caution that when I use terms like “neocon” and “wingnut,” I mean them more literally, not as terms to refer to all Republicans. Similarly, I respect Republicans and hate the artifically-created divide between the parties. What I’m complaining about is the wingnut Republicans who use utter lies to advance their own causes. There are Democrats who do the same, surely, but with Democrats leading Congress and the White House, those people aren’t noteworthy right now.

Anyway, two things have interested me lately. Besides the thousands of dead Americans, one thing that always bothered me about the Iraq War was the exorbitant cost. If the money were spent domestically, it could have gone an amazing distance. The military takes up something like 50% of our spending. So I’m waiting to see what the wing-nut faction of Republicans says. They’ve spent weeks protesting Obama’s Socialist spending. But the Democrats have long complained that the Iraq War is too expensive, and Republicans have argued that not giving the military a blank check amounts of waving the white flag of surrender. So I’m curious where this will go, because it could leave Republicans in an awkward state either way. Hopefully it will just be passed and nasty politics will be left out of it.

But then I was reading this article about how Obama may be looking to get the ball rolling on immigration reform. And the general description of his plan seems to amount to increasing border patrol and cracking down on illegal immigration. During the campaign trail one of the things he discussed was a path to citizenship, but with a pretty steep burden: you’d have to learn English, pay back taxes for as long as you’ve been in the country, pay a fine, and only then would you “get in line, behind everyone who came here legally” to become a citizen. Of course, that was something discussed during the campaign trail. The “official” Administration hasn’t even released a plan yet, but has merely made mention of strengthening border control, and the article is little more than speculation.

Yet some Republican activists have already denounced Obama’s (currently non-existent) plan as “dangerous” and “amnesty.” Seriously.

Daily Dose of Politics

Wow, a lot’s happened in the past 24 hours.

Vladimir Putin (President of Russia, not Germany) has accused the US of starting the war in Georgia, to benefit “a political candidate.” For once, I’m going to have to give the White House the benefit of the doubt on this: as crazy as George Bush is with starting wars, Vladimir Putin seems even more out of his mind these days. It seems as if Russia started the war with Georgia, not that the US got Georgia to start a war with Russia. (And besides, if it were done to “benefit a presidential candidate,” it seems to have backfired, as most of the US realized it wasn’t the US state of Georgia and immediately dismissed the news.)

Obama gave his acceptance speech last night. I haven’t watched it in full yet, but the consensus seems to be that it was a good speech, but that the rest of the event was a snooze. Many have reported that the convention turned Denver into a police state, apparently resulting in an ABC news anchor being arrested for… filming a news broadcast in public? Obama had an insanely huge crowd at Invesco.

The news of today, though, is that McCain has picked Sarah Palin, the current Arkansas Governor, as his running mate. As I referenced in my previous post, I don’t know her full background yet, but she strikes me as a good complement to McCain: she’s young (you might even call her good-looking), has a track record of exposing corruption in the Republican party. She’s married to an Eskimo, making her pick doubly not a “white boys club” pick. Her eldest son enlisted in the Marines last year at age 18, and her youngest son has Down Syndrome. (From Wikipedia: “Palin refused to let the results of prenatal genetic testing change her decision to have the baby. ‘I’m looking at him right now, and I see perfection,’ Palin said.”) She’s aggressive on fighting wasteful spending (my friend Chris says she’s the one that canned the Alaskan “Bridge to Nowhere“), but isn’t the sort of insane, “No taxes at all, close down everything” person that makes fiscal conservatism look bad. She’s opposed GOP porkbarrel spending, and pushed for ethics reform. Her most recent approval rating as Governor was 80%, which seems awfully high for any politician. She opposes gay marriage, and yet says she has homosexual friends and strongly opposes discrimination; her first veto killed a bill that would have banned the Alaskan government from providing benefits to same-sex partners of government employees.

I still want to look more into her stance on energy, as the Wikipedia page makes it sound like she’s gone out of her way to not become a Big Oil Crony, but I don’t see a lot about alternative energy; given her proximity to ANWR in particular, I’d like to know more.

But I still think the, “Oh crap” I got from a fellow Dem in a text message is exactly the right reply. I wasn’t enthused about Biden. He’s a good guy, with a good track record, but that’s about all I have to say about him. Not bad, but there’s nothing exciting. (I’ll call him “plain,” if only because I keep typo-ing “Palin” as “Plain,” which I think might better describe Biden than Palin.

Of course, we’re electing a President, not a VP, and I’m only growing more confident that Obama’s the best pick. I’m not even sure that running mates are normally that big a deal. But if I were an undecided voter? Palin, I think, is a superb answer to Obama. He’s new, he’s young, he’s bringing fresh change and excitement and a promise of a “clean” (as in, “Not insanely corrupt”) government. I don’t see any of that in McCain. Palin almost brings a lot of Obama’s qualities, but packaged as a Republican.

Where I think this might make a huge difference is over the sizeable number of people in the center. They might be truly independent, or they might even be center-left Republicans. They’d fed up with George Bush and status quo. They think Obama can change that, but they don’t want to vote Democrat, or they’re scared about what they’ve been told (mostly lies, but I digress) about how Obama’s going to raise taxes, and so forth. McCain claims to be a maverick, but tends to vote in step with Bush. (And enjoyed a birthday party on the airport tarmac with him in the wake of Katrina.) They see a lot of hope and possibility in Obama, but still aren’t keen on voting blue. Palin, I think, can bring a lot of what those people like about Obama into a Republican. And with the two candidates neck-and-neck, it might be enough to let McCain pull ahead.

And then there’s the Hillary-for-McCain people. I really don’t believe that the “Hillary Supporters for McCain” camp is half as big as they make it out to be. And I do not mean to suggest that the average Hillary supporter was a crazy feminist who only supported her because of gender, though that’s kind of how these people are coming across today. But I’m quite sure that McCain’s campaign had these people (what’s the acronym they use again?) on their mind (at the very least, on the back burner) when picking Palin. Not only is she a woman, but she’s going to give them good justification: McCain and Hillary may be diametrically opposed on everything, but Hillary and Palin, while still taking opposite sides on most issues, are at least a little closer on the issues.

So I don’t know enough about Palin yet, but I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with the little bit I’ve seen. As a Democrat, I’m kind of scared. But as an American, I’m kind of pleased: even if it’s McCain-Palin who take office in 2009, I think 2009-2012 might be better than 2000-2009. But do remember that we’re electing a President, not a VP: while Palin counters a lot of what gives me pause about McCain, I’d still take Obama over McCain.

Safety vs. Freedom

I’ve always thought that safety and freedom were somewhat incompatible goals. You can have a very safe society, but next to no rights. (A police state.) Or you can go the opposite way, and have a very free society, one in which no one can stop me from detonating nuclear bombs. But there’s a middle ground, I think, where we have a good deal of freedom, but are also pretty safe.

I’ve always thought that airports were a good example of starting to give up too much freedom to get a little safety. While I’m certainly not eager to give up safety, I could do with a slightly less-strict set of policies in airports.

But here’s an even better example. A town in Arkansas is drawing criticism for what seems to be a non-stop curfew, in which anyone on the streets is stopped and investigated. (It’s not terribly clear to me what’s meant by the curfew, though: I think of a curfew as it being illegal to be in public during a certain time, so a 24/7 curfew would basically mean you couldn’t leave your house. And they kind of suggest that, but it seems people are also going on with their daily lives?)

Is it safe? Very much so, it seems. Violence is way down, and they’ve made lots of arrests. But would you want to live there, where walking to the store was cause for the police to detain you? (The telling quote is, “The citizens deserve peace, that some infringement on constitutional rights is OK…”)

Campaign Donations

I stumbled across HuffPo’s FundRace, a searchable database of public campaign contributions. (I don’t recall the threshold, but campaign donations above a certain amount must be reported. I’ve given less than $50 to Obama, and thus am not listed, but donations for a few hundred dollars and more do show up.)

You can search by ZIP code, address, name, profession, or employer. (So there is no ambiguity: “Employer” lists the employer of the person who made a donation; it does not mean that the employer was involved in the donation. It’s just part of the reporting.) Some of the more notable things I’ve turned up:

  • Those listing “Apple” (the new, proper name for what was once “Apple Computer”) gave $6,856 to Republicans (9 donors), and $40,421 to Democrats (48 donors). Microsoft was only slightly more balanced, with $97,281 to Republicans (95 people) and $436,236 to Democrats (514 people). Google had $51,327 from Republicans (42), and $337,265 from Democrats (268). Also Vint Cerf, whose accomplishments include things like founding the Internet (at least, moreso than anyone else can claim), works for Google, and was the biggest donor there.
  • George Bush Sr. hasn’t given to any candidates, but has given to numerous PACs, including Sununu’s!
  • William Clinton, whose occupation is listed as “Former President,” gave $2,300 to Obama (in “Q2 2008”). Somewhat amusingly, another William Clinton in VA, whose occupation and employer are blank, gave $2,300 to McCain. (A third William Clinton, a CA attorney, gave $500 to Obama.) Hillary Clinton gave $2,300 to Obama (also in “Q2 2008”). Barack Obama hasn’t made any contributions, but Michelle Obama did give $399 to her husband’s campaign. (That’s all?)
  • They weren’t joking about Hollywood being liberal. Those listing “Actor” as a profession include:
    • Ben Stiller of Los Angeles, $6,900 to Hillary
    • Bette Midler (who I’m pretty sure is an actress, not actor) of Nashville, $6,900 to Hillary.
    • Chevy Chase, of Bedford, NY, $4,600 to Hillary.
    • Ben Affleck of Santa Monica, CA, $4,600 to Obama.
    • Michael Douglas, Universal City, CA, $4,600 to Christopher Dodd.
    • Will Smith, Los Angeles, $4,600, Obama.
    • Matt Damon, Santa Monica, $4,600, Obama.
    • Thomas Hanks, Beverly Hills, $2,300 for Hillary.
    • Samuel Jackson, Los Angeles, $2,300 for Obama.
    • Samuel Waterson [sic] of NYC (better known as Jack McCoy), $2,300 for Obama.
    • Morgan Freeman of NYC, $2,300 to Obama.
    • Adam Sandler of Manchester, NH (!), $2,100 to Giuliani (!!).
    • Ben Stein, Malibu, CA, $800 to McCain
    • Omar Epps (better known as Dr. Foreman), Los Angeles, $2,300, Obama.
  • Actresses is about the same; I’ll let you read it yourself.
  • Those listing their occupation as “Priest” collectively gave $35,351 to the Republicans (51 priests), and $57,222 to the Democrats (99 priests).
  • “Rabbi” isn’t even fair: $18,735 to the Republicans, $115,187 to the Democrats.
  • “Pastor” is the first combination I’ve seen that gives more to the Republicans. America’s pastors gave $205,731 to the Republicans, but only $113,984 to the Democrats.
  • “Minister”s gave $187,799 to the Republicans, and $310,476 to the Democrats.
  • There are actually more than a dozen bishops who have donated money; $7,118 to the Republicans, $11,650 to the Democrats. V. Gene Robinson, of NH fame, gave $500 to Obama. No one lists “Cardinal” as their occupation, and unsurprisingly, there were no Popes in America that contributed to campaigns.
  • 101 people list their occupation as “Captain,” but it’s almost an even split: $32,330 to the Republicans, $30,423 to the Democrats. (Incidentally, “Captain” covers everything from military members to pilots, executives (?) to maritime people…)
  • I was surprised to see that those listing their employer as “US Army” gave more to Democrats than Republicans: $186,724 to the Republicans, but $252,664 to the Democrats. “US Marine Corps” was almost 2:1 in favor of the Republicans, though it’s got only a couple dozen people listed.
  • “Firefighter” is quite close. $61,759 from 100 people to the Republicans, and $58,995 to the Democrats from 111 people. Thus slightly more firefighters donated to the Democratic party, but Republican firefighters donated slightly more.
  • “Police Officer” is quite Republican; $139,229 to the Republicans, and $91,622 to the Democrats.
  • You’ve got red on you [video, only tangentially related]. 5 people listing “Deceased” as their profession collectively gave $7,754 to the Republicans, while only 4 “Deceased” people collectively gave $4,352 to the Democrats. I love the guy at the bottom of the list, who posthumously donated $2 to the RNC.
  • One person lists his occupation as “Prisoner.” He gave $250 to John Kerry in 2004.
  • One person lists her occupation as “Stripper.” She gave $278 to Ron Paul.
  • Of 57 postmasters, 17 gave a net $4,840 to the Republicans, and 30 gave a combined $21,435 to the Democrats. Also, an amusing amount list their address as a PO Box.
  • All 5 of America’s campaign-donating butchers gave their blood-money to the Republicans, a net $6,347.
  • Only 2 nuclear physicists donated to campaigns; $400 to Mike Gravel and $250 to the RNC.
  • America’s only campaign-contributing juggler gave $500 to the DNCs.
  • Two out of three clowns are Democrats. (Umm….) Also, the only Republican clown gave his money in 2004.
  • The guy who lists his occupation as “Santa” and his employer as “North Pole” lives in New Hampshire. (No one lists their occupation as “Tooth Fairy.”
  • 19 people list “God” as their employer: 10 Republicans ($5,460) and 9 Democrats ($2,809). No one who made a campaign contribution in 2004 or 2008 lists “Satan” as their employer.
  • Hairdressers who donate to campaigns are overwhelmingly Democrats.
  • No Astronauts donated to campaigns in 2004 or 2008.
  • Two psychics donated. Both Democrats. Think about that for a minute.
  • Three masseuses donated, also all to Democrats. We’re a more comfortable party.
  • 143 plumbers collectively gave $91,364 to the Republicans, while only 99 plumbers donated to the Democrats ($56,635).
  • Cowboys favor Republicans, though not by as much as you might think.
  • Most of the Red Sox management donate to the Democrats; Curt Schilling is the only player on the list, and he donated $2,300 to McCain.
  • Almost everyone on the Yankees gives to Republicans.
  • “Professional Athlete” doesn’t turn up many names I recognize, besides the aforementioned Curt Schilling. The exception is Peyton Manning, who gave $2,300 to Fred Thompson.
  • Those employed by the NBA have given exclusively to Democrats.
  • Seamstresses have a tendency to go Democrat, though not overwhelmingly.
  • Innkeepers, though, are overwhelmingly Democrat-givers.
  • Beekeepers (all 9 of them) are almost split down the middle.

I think my research is done. I’ll go with the party with fewer zombie contributors, and the backing of two out of three clowns, and the majority of seamstresses. Just don’t tell any butchers. Really, though, what did it for me was seeing who the psychics were supporting.


Have you heard about McCain’s new ad? It’s on his main page, though there seems to be no way to direct-link to it. Somewhat bizarrely, it starts off with video of throngs of cheering Obama supporters, and calls him the biggest celebrity in the world, flashing images of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. (By the way, Paris Hilton apparently had no knowledge she was being used in the ad; using one’s likeness in commercials is generally illegal, though I have no clue if political campaigns are exempted.)

It then goes on to say, “But is he ready to lead?,” before attacking Obama for opposing offshore drilling (I’ll save that rant for another time), but, more significantly, talks about his plan to raise taxes on electricity. Yipes, that’s bad! Raising taxes now? On electricity?!

There’s one problem, though. It’s not at all true.

Newsweek has a good article explaining where McCain’s campaign got the quote about Obama wanting to raise taxes on electricity. In an interview, he was asked, “Have you considered other funding sources, say taxing emerging energy forms, for example, say a penny per kilowatt hour on wind energy?” You can read the quote for yourself, but his answer was essentially that taxing renewable energy was an awful idea; taxing ‘dirty’ energy would make more sense, but even that isn’t the real solution to funding education. And yet, if you quote just one sentence from the middle with no context, you can make it seem like he’s saying that we need to raise taxes on electricity. Except that he was making the exact opposite point.

When Obama’s campaign criticized the ad as baseless FUD, McCain then went on to accuse Obama of “playing the race card.”