Now THAT’s a Sandy Smith, or Search Engine Optimization This Week

In a fit of ego, I checked Google’s results for “Sandy Smith” and found myself knocked from the top spot. Since this guy had been trailing me for some time and I thought it due to my annoyingly precise adherence to Web Standards (not just Web standards) including title attributes everywhere, I was curious as to the structure of his page.

Low and behold, go to this page and view the source. The guy has obviously had someone stuff his page for search engines…and it seems to be working. Web Standards? Web standards? Pooh! Pah! Pish Posh! Tish Tosh! An SEO Jedi cares not for these things. Apparently you just shove the thing chock full o’ TITLE tags with every phrase you want searched on, with some minimal text about your content.

Well, I suppose he is selling something so he needs it more than me.

In related news, it looks like a British site has a picture of me after that final bender in Greenwich.

Toyota (Linux) Sucks, Ford (Microsoft) is Great!

Toyota (Linux) completely sucks. My company wanted to haul lumber across dirt roads (build an e-commerce app), but we forgot to budget for a new car and we don’t know anything about driving. So we hired a consultant to find somebody’s car to borrow. He got us a Toyota Corolla his dad got working out of a junk yard (PHP Web application coded by a sixteen-year-old who works for N’Sync CDs).

Now, it couldn’t hold much lumber (had a software-programmed limit to the number of items a customer could order) and we jerked the wheel back and forth like in the movies (CEO’s cousin’s son runs the servers) and, what do you know, it crashed into a tree (it crashed the server).

So the next year, we planned carefully (planned carefully), learned how to drive (figured out what this “Web” thing is), and hired a trucking company (competent consultants) to lease several Ford F-350s (Expensive Windows servers with big license fees on some fairly hefty hardware managed by professional sysadmins) for us and haul the lumber. Suprisingly, everything went smoothly and we only paid 3000% more (everything went smoothly after they payed some gargantuan amount more)!

You can read why Ford (Microsoft) thinks Toyota (Linux) sucks and how we’re proof in this eWeek article.

Plus, you can read about my brother’s company that bought a Toyota truck and then hired monkeys to drive it who had a custom rig that would only tow one brand of trailer (Linux solution maintained by guys who didn’t know what they were doing and only knew how to hook their app up to Oracle)! More proof that Toyota (Lunix) is teh suck! Ford (Take me, Bill Gates, I want your love child!) makes the best cars (operating systems) EVAR!

George Bush’s (and many others’) Road to Serfdom

I’m about to attempt to violate one of my own rules. The rule is thus: any political work that apes the name of a more famous work is usually pretentious and much less valuable than the original work. So hopefully this post is more worthwhile than The Work of Nations.

Over at Just Well Mixed, Jason argues that evangelical Christians uncomfortably resemble the Islamicists they oppose. He further surmises that there may well be a well of Americans who are ready for a charismatic leader to fall in line behind.

It struck me that his argument was essentially the same warning sounded by a guy he would otherwise not agree with much, Freidrich Hayek. In his The Road to Serfdom (abridged version PDF), he argues:

The author has spent about half his adult life in his native Austria, in close touch with German thought, and the other half in the United States and England. In the latter period he has become increasingly convinced that some of the forces which destroyed freedom in Germany are also at work here.

The very magnitude of the outrages committed by the National Socialists has strengthened the assurance that a totalitarian system cannot happen here. But let us remember that 15 years ago the possibility of such a thing happening in Germany would have appeared just as fantastic not only to nine-tenths of the Germans themselves, but also to the most hostile foreign observer.

This is from the April 1945 condensed version published by Reader’s Digest.

Hayek’s main argument is that enhancing the power of the state at the expense of individual liberty provides the tools that later evildoers appropriate for their own purposes. Absent such tools, they would at best have a limited following. Socialism was Hayek’s primary bugaboo at the time. Has George W. Bush found a new road to serfdom?

Continue reading

USA to Screw Canada…Back

At Cafe Hayek, Russell Roberts explains why cheap Canadian drugs won’t stay cheap or available or both for long. He links to a longer article of his that explains the situation very well.

In short, Canadian drugs are cheaper because price controls keep it down rather than any fundamental fact of Canadian efficiency. I would expect that the supply is smaller than it would be otherwise, as well, but the effect may not be large given Canada’s small share of the North American market.

The implication of that is that drug companies make up the profit difference elsewhere; the obvious location is here in the U.S. So we’re paying higher prices to subsidize the consumption of Canadians.

Re-importation will start to make up for that imbalance, but Canadians won’t see it that way. They’ll see it as an attack on their health care system. After all, we’re not being dupes anymore, so there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth as they rant about the evil Americans screwing up another good thing with capitalist greed.

Roberts gives two possible responses: drug companies will raise prices to Canada whether Canada likes it or not, or Canada will act to criminalize the export of drugs. I suspect that it will actually be the latter, given the likely way the issue will be framed.

But remember, Canada is currently screwing the U.S. They just like it when they pitch rather than catch.

Howard Dean is a Spammer

Update: Blue State Digital claims they are not responsible for the e-mail list software (Lyris) being used by Democracy for America. So I’m going to remove my more incendiary comments about them and the links to their site. However, I’ve taken the e-mail measure that Joe Rospars of Blue State Digital suggests, and I’m in no mood to spend money talking to them on the phone. Given the passions spamming arouses, Blue State Digital may wish to rethink the prominent branding on the DFA site that suggests they are indeed responsible for all the tech being used. If I find out that they are indeed responsible for e-mail policies at DFA, I will repost my characterizations of them with some extra helpings of bile.

In the primaries, I was rather public about my support for Howard Dean, to the point that I actually voted in the Democratic primary for him. Somehow (I don’t recall how, actually) I ended up on the mailing list. It was infrequent, so I didn’t freak out.

Of course he lost.

So afterward my e-mail address was kept on to the new organization he created, Democracy For America, to support select Democrats in various races around the country. While I thought Dean was encouraging, I’m still mainly interested in a split, do-nothing government. I haven’t turned into a Democratic activist.

So I decided I really wasn’t interested in giving them any money or reading about it. So I followed the directions and unsubscribed.

As I did for the next e-mail.

And the next.

And the next. This one I sent back with a warning that unsubscription wasn’t working, and my patience was at an end–and to unsubscribe me. The next one I did the same, as well as filling out the form on their Web site.

So the next one got reported to SpamCop, and I sent it back with a nasty note that it and all future ones were not welcome and would be reported as spam.

The next one I just reported to SpamCop.

So this one has pretty much ended any amusement I had left. So I want it known loud and far that Howard Dean’s organization are no-good goddamn dirty spammers.

I haven’t subscribed to try it, but I’m willing to bet Bush 2004 would unsubscribe me if I asked, and asked, and asked. So why the fuck can’t they stop being no good goddamn dirty spammers and turning Howard Dean into some sort of Jerry Fallwell-alike money-grubber who won’t let you go?

And yes, I’m making that comparison because they just went off about Jerry Fallwell in their latest spam, so if they don’t like the comparison–they can take me off their list.

National Museum of the American Indian: A Disappointing Start

I haven’t yet made it down to the newly-opened National Museum of the American Indian, but Don Bordreaux’s take on the lack of science, particularly anthropology, is not encouraging. This CNN story suggests that history isn’t a big part of it either. So the remaining focus is culture–but culture devoid of historical or pre-historical context. This is really sad, given that it is officially a member of the Smithsonian family of museums. American Indians have a contentious relationship with history, as it has been written by the winners, and anthropology. Sadly, the latter is an almost exact mirror of the evolution battles by fundamentalist Christians (and, increasingly fundamentalist Muslims).

The good news is that the building, which actually fits in on the funky southern side of the Mall with its Hirschorn, Air and Space museum, and Smithsonian castle, is actually quite nice (I’ve been able to see it several times walking around that area). As long as that’s done right, the rest can improve over time.

Guess I’m Not Welcome There, Either

I read an interesting if suppositionally-based post over at Crooked Timber, but the comments section made much more of an impression. Apparently, the Lefty blogosphere wants an ideologically pure victory free from allies.

As I’ve written before, libertarians used to have a sort of quid pro quo with Republicans and, by extension, conservatives: you agree with us on economics and keep the Bible-thumping to a dull roar, and we’ll hold our nose and support you, as long as it keeps the Commies out. Absent the Commies, well, that Bible-thumping was kinda irritating, but as long as they didn’t get too wacko, well, old habits die hard.

Enter George Bush and the neo-cons. They abandoned economic liberalism for a nativist corporatism (protectionism) mixed with a big-government welfare expansion that, had it come from Clinton, would be triggering calls for an armed insurrection by the right wing. All this while they informally suspend habeus corpus and greatly expand police powers while reducing judicial oversight. Some of that was inevitable after 9/11, but they’ve jumped on it with an enthusiasm not seen since World War II.

So I’d been thinking that there was an historic opportunity for a new quid-pro-quo with the Democrats and, by extension, liberals: you keep on with Clintonomics instead of Chomskyomics, and play up keeping the government out of people’s bedrooms while keeping the nanny-state instinct down to a dull roar, and we’ll support you as long as it keeps out the neo-cons. I thought Dean might do that–he clearly appealed to the base while getting respect out of those not already compulsive Rush Limbaugh listeners.

However, when looking at what I thought was a fairly respectable Left-leaning blog, the comments really took me by surprise. Sure, selection bias, etc., etc., but geez:

The right think they can destroy the system and create the Libertarian Paradise, but I am now hoping to seem them all on a gallows in my lifetime. I have never been so hopeful.

Oh, wait, decency still has a place, as in this rebuke to the above from the blog owner:

I presume and hope for your sake that you’re trying to provoke an outraged reaction here from someone rather than make a serious claim – this is trolling in my book, and not compatible with the kinds of argument that I want to have in my comments section. You’re on your first warning. Feel free to express strong and vigorous opinions about me or whoever else – but saying that you want to string up everyone on the other half of the political spectrum is way beyond the kinds of argument I’m prepared to tolerate.

But wait, this is the “explanation”:

I apologize to Henry for the violent metaphor, which is all it was intended to be.

In my defense I can only say that I take Krugman and Volcker seriously, in that we are likely to have an international monetary collapse, perhaps as soon as five years. That four of the major world leaders (Bush,Blair,Howard,Putin) are polarizing figures desperately trying to deceive their electorates. That solutions to the MiddleEast and Islamism seem absent among the best. That the election of Kerry is irrelevant.

In other words I do sincerely believe we are headed for a catastrophic transitional period. History informs my personal opinion as to how it will resolve itself.

Consider, for a moment, if someone had said “I want to see all blacks strung up” and had been rebuked, but then they came back and said, “Naw, I meant metaphorically, because I think if blacks get the vote they’ll destroy the world and it will provoke just that kind of thing. It was analysis, y’see? Sorry for mah strawng tawk.” What would be the decent reply to that?

According to this blog owner:

Bob – apology and explanation duly accepted.

So: the Left thinks that the Republicans are in any way libertarian, which proves they either don’t know what libertarian is or they don’t actually watch Dan Rather’s non-memo-based news. Oh, and they think libertarians are going to destroy the world and they’ll cackle in delight to see us get murdered in the ensuing chaos.

And that’s OK.

Apart from the similarity of this to the Republicans saying, “Hey, Clinton’s election is a good thing! Now he’ll ruin the economy and we’ll never have to worry about Democrats again ever!” I haven’t felt this much love since the last Osama bin Laden video. At least he’s honest that he’s not metaphorical when he says he wants to see me dead. This is the kind of rhetoric I expect out of the Free Republic on the right and the Democratic Underground on the Left. But Crooked Timber? I’m going to have to look at Little Green Footballs to see if they’re advocating killing libertarians “metaphorically.” I kinda doubt it.

The rest of the posts don’t froth at the mouth to this degree but they basically say “the time for objectivity and fairness is over, it’s our way or the highway.” Even if this didn’t bode ill for me finding any solace whatsoever in a Democratic victory, it makes Four More Years of Bush look increasingly likely. The lesson of Clinton, that there’s a lot of opportunity to be had in grabbing the center, has been utterly lost on the Lefty blogosphere, at least as represented there. Instead they’ve gotten suckered into this game of 50% plus 0.0001% partisan tit-for-tat that Republicans are playing.

That’s a losing strategy in the long run.

Now my only hope is that the offline Left is a bit more sane than the online variety, and that Crooked Timber was having a really bad comments day.

Urge to Kill…Rising…

So my day starts out, shittily enough, at the dentist. Not only that, but it’s a cavity filling. And not only that, but as usual, when he takes out the old filling, the dentist says “uh oh,” and I spend an hour in the chair, pay more money, and have to come back for another piece of my growing in-mouth porcelain collection (I hear they’re going to do replicas at the famous Franklin Mint. “See the famous Gigantic Cavernous Hole-Filling in Freakishly Decayed Tooth, with adorable hand-painted, one-of-a-kind teddy bears in honor of 9/11!”). I find it strangely depressing to know that no matter what I do, my teeth will eventually rot away into nothing and I’ll star in Fixident commercials at age 45.

So, as you can guess, I wasn’t in a great mood afterwards.

Fast forward just a little bit to lunch. Much of the dev team (the cool part of the dev team, anyway) goes out to the pseudo-swanky place along the ‘nue, Evening Star. It features old-tymey Pizza-hut-of-yore-style booths with tall backs. Not the sort one can easily see over.

Now, let it be said that I hate children. I hate yours most of all. So it’s nothing personal against the little twerp who sticks his shaved head over the side of the booth–which necessitates climbing up and putting his disgusting, germ-laden feet on the fucking table–and tries to entertain himself by attracting our attention.

Now I’m long skilled in restaurants frequented by selfish bastards who inflict the litter of their loins upon everyone else in the assumption that if they think a fart smells lovely, then everyone else will want to share in the aroma. The secret normally is: keep your gaze unaverted and let the Rhesus-monkey-like attention span be distracted by the next mote of dust that flies by.

But oh, no, this one is fixed with the singularity of purpose that only the progeny of the truly cow-like of intellect can achieve. He keeps doing it while his mother continues reading her menu or talking on her obnoxiously-brandished cell phone or whatever Yuppie Scum behavior that future matricides engage in to the extent of NOT NOTICING YOUR VERMIN IS OUT OF CONTROL. So he keeps it up.

That’s fine. I am used to this and am able to continue my witty and sparkling conversation unabated, with only the occasional mention of the impending death of the little darling to my rapt audience–and nary a glance in his direction.

Well, that’s not enough for the birth control failure, so he proceeds to THROW SOMETHING INTO OUR BOOTH, bouncing off my (subsequently un-drunk) water glass and falling between my colleague Oscar and I.

Oscar is a very forgiving sort and not prone to violence, so he is determined to stay where he is with only a mild comment. I, however, am past passivity and prepare to lob the offending missile back in the carpet monkey’s general direction, hopefully hitting his goddamned mother’s food, when I see what it is: A FUCKING USED BANDAGE.

Oscar’s immobility coupled with my extreme desire not to catch encephalitis or whatever fun disease was going around the viral factory that the mother clearly dumped the kid in daily before the crumb-creep doubtless got kicked out, causes me to refrain from confronting the mother immediately, loudly, and with threats of lawyers.

OK–I’ll say this one last time. I believe that it takes a family, in their own home or property, to raise a child. It does not take a village, unless I get a vote on whether you get to have a child. I do not owe you a damn thing because you choose to end your social life forever by contributing to overpopulation. I do not have to understand you, I do not have to make allowances, and I do not need to help you out. Are you a suffering, struggling mother? Then you shouldn’t have reproduced until you were able to care for it.

I do not go into restaurant with my cockatiel. I do not let him screech over the conversation of other diners. I do not buy a monkey and let him crawl into your booth and then fling his crap into your food. Any of these things would get me ejected at best and probably arrested, in addition to sued down to my skivvies.

So why the fuck do you have the gall to bring in your yard ape indoors before it has learned to behave in a manner that at least doesn’t bother others who didn’t participate in the sex acts that created your bundle of post-partum depression?

As Ginger, who no doubt finds this post far more entertaining than 99% of my blog, would say, GROSS! NOT OK.

In Praise of Consistent Liberals

Moralizing twerps come in all shapes, colors, and creeds. The anti-abortion activist shares much in common with the animal rights activist. Jews for Jesus rub some rather uncomfortable elbows with pseudo-environmentalist pseudohippies. I hate moralizing twerps.

One thing that really amuses me is hypocrisy, particularly when it comes from moralizing twerps. When televangelists get caught with the inevitable fraud and hookers, I do the dance of schadenfreude. The cowering faces as they are hauled off to jail or tearful confessions on their very TV empires bring me that special kind of joy.

When I ceased being amused and start being pissed off is when a moralist tells me his hypocrisy is somehow unavoidable, excused, or consistent according to some tortured logic. This happens less with the aforementioned televangelist than with the liberal variety.

The following quotes are made up, but bear the sense of excuses I’ve gotten from the aforementioned activists, followed by a parallel to illustrate the point.

“It’s unavoidable,” says the anti-meat and globalization pseudohippy wearing leather shoes made in a sweatshop in China, “that in our corporatist world, the products they force on the masses like me are the products of their hate machine. So really, it’s not a contradiction. I’m a victim, too.”

“It’s unavoidable,” says the “Save the planet” t-shirt-wearing soccer mom with one child and a Kerry-Edwards sticker on her Chevy Suburban, “that in our corporatist world, the mix of cars forced on us trends toward SUVs. The government should make it harder to buy them. And besides, I need all that room for when I have three people in the car and a soccer ball. You can’t expect me to put that in a sedan! If there were better mass transit, I’d take that–you know, if there weren’t so many poor and minorities on it. I’m a victim, too.”

“It’s unavoidable,” says the mugger standing over the bloodied brow of an elderly woman, “that in our corporatist world, insufficient resources are redistributed to the poor, forcing some of us to take radical direct action to survive. I’m a victim, too.”

Fortunately, I’ve seen some consistent liberals lately. If you’re going to put a Kerry-Edwards sticker on something, putting it on a Prius will win you points from me. I may not agree that legislating the rest of us out of our chosen cars is necessarily the way to go, but at least you’re sticking up for what you believe in, and paying small-SUV prices to do it. Bravo.

I’ve also seen some anti-meat types with no leather in their possession or on their person. Again, you’re at war with basic biology (the large intestine is indeed evolved for meat digestion), but at least you’re consistent.

Note that I have never, ever seen a consistent anti-globalization activist. Almost all have some foreign product on them. Remember, fair trade is still trade.

The quote by Emerson is usually shortened to “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but the full quote is, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

It is not foolish to ask environmental activists not to drive SUVs or anti-globalization activists to buy only local products or radical vegetarians not to kill any animals ever.

Bravo those that manage that level of consistency. I may not agree, but at least you mean what you say.

Restaurant Recommendation: Mandarin East

Mandarin East, in Rockville, has dim sum nearly as good as the aforementioned Mark’s Duck House, and the service is better. Eating there yesterday was almost an experience in fast food.

The owner is enthusiastic and attentive, and the staff will get you anything you want while ensuring your water never hits bottom. That would be impressive for any restaurant, but dim sum usually brings out the worst as it consists of a couple hundred people all consuming little plates of food at once.

The only complaint I have is that even getting there at 12:30 is too late to grab some of the pineapple buns I love for desert. Those are popular and go fast. I’m guessing there’s either a late church service or an early service that lets out at 11 or so, causing the rush to be done with by 1PM. Still, that’s where I go for dim sum in Maryland.

It’s at 12710 Twinbrook Parkway, between Rockville Pike and Weirs Mill Road.