November 19, 2011

Three reasons not to bail out student loan borrowers

Filed under: Economics, Education, Government, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:16

The GOP’s dream candidate . . . for the Democrats

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:03

I’m still somewhat in shock that Newt Gingrich is taken seriously as a candidate by the GOP. I’m even more bowled over by the fact that he’s at least temporarily neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney. I’ve already suggested that someone do a “Santorum” on him, but Dan Savage would probably like to see Gingrich take the nomination, because it’d mean a landslide win for Barack Obama next year regardless of the state of the economy or how many other military adventures he takes on.

Doug Mataconis seems equally perplexed by the Newtmentum:

Newt Gingrich has pronounced himself a “co-frontrunner” for the Republican nomination. The polls bear him out. So, how did we get to the point where a fat, condescending, serial adulterer who left office in disgrace twelve years ago is the latest challenger for the conservative mantle?

[. . .]

Gingrich is a bright guy who’s voraciously interested in ideas and the world around him. He has his PhD in European history from Tulane. He served 20 years in Congress, the last 6 of them as Speaker. He’s written more books than some of his opponents have read. So, he’s by far the most plausible of the Not Romneys to emerge thus far.

The reasons most of us have written him off are manifold.

First, he’s got a long history of morally dubious behavior. The circumstances surrounding his two divorces are disturbing. While the first is the stuff of urban legend, I’m actually much more troubled by the second which occurred when he was a middle aged man serving as Speaker of the House and leading the impeachment of a president for minor crimes surround his own affairs. And then there is the flurry of ethics charges while he was in Congress and his questionable lobbying activities afterwards.

Update: Radley Balko reminds us that Newt is a huge hypocrite on drug policy, too:

While drug war realist Gary Johnson can’t get invited to the debates, and fellow realist Ron Paul got all of 90 seconds to say his piece last time around, Newt Gingrich has inexplicably risen to the top of the polls in the GOP primary. It’s worth reviewing again just how God-awful Gingrich has been on the drug war over the years.

Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt notes that Gingrich once introduced a bill mandating the death penalty for drug smugglers. Gingrich’s bill would have required execution for anyone attempting to bring 2 ounces or more of pot into the country. Merritt also reminds us of this shameless, astonishingly stupid attempt to justify his policies with his own drug use:

    “See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn’t change, only the morality… That’s why you get to go to jail and I don’t.”

There’s much more. In 2009, Gingrich agreed with Bill O’Reilly’s call for Singapore-style drug laws in America. In Singapore, the police can force anyone to submit to a urinalysis without a warrant. They’re permitted to search you without a warrant. And if you’re seen in a building or in the company of drug users, you’re assumed to have been using drugs as well, unless you can prove otherwise. They also have Gingrich’s favored mandatory execution of anyone possessing over a specified amount of illicit drugs. (And there’s little evidence that the policies are working.)

Conrad Black sneers at your various eagles and praises the Canadian beaver

Filed under: Cancon, History, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:42

There’s been a crack-brained effort in recent weeks to dispense with the beaver as Canada’s emblem animal and replace it with some frozen-footed albino bear. Conrad Black objects:

It is with regret that I take issue, and square off, with my esteemed friend of many years, Senator Nicole Eaton. But I am scandalized by her rude and almost unpatriotic attack on the noble and distinguished national animal of Canada.

The beaver is an almost incomparably exemplary and original national animal. Eagles abound; Germany’s scrawny black eagle, a panoply of other Alpine, Andean, and Central American eagles, including Mexico’s rampant and belligerent version, Egypt’s somewhat pudgy and suspiciously vulture-like eagle; all compete with the grossly overworked American bald eagle. The official American eagle has been press-ganged into every task from proclaiming a missive from the president to warning the non-paying guests of the Bureau of Prisons of the evils of suicidal thoughts.

No one would take issue with the British lion as a great beast, except that the United Kingdom no longer governs anywhere where the lion is indigenous. The king of beasts (or as the Toronto Zoo calls the lion, the “prime minister of beasts”) is even more majestic when set off against the foil of the unicorn.

[. . .]

If the beaver were a contemptible animal, it would never have been adopted and would certainly be disposable now. But it is a remarkably commendable animal, possessed of a formidable work ethic. (I can’t abide rhetorical questions but am sufficiently overcome by inter-species moral outrage to ask if anyone has ever been described as “working like an eagle” or “busy as a lion,” unless they were preying on the defenseless, or, respectively, overcome by lust or narcolepsy?)

More impressive, the beaver is a natural engineer, who not only grasps but by his own adaptive ingenuity, implements the basic principles of irrigation, flood and drought control, and in most of its elements, power generated from water courses. Apart from the honey bee, which was part of the national symbolism of France under the Bonapartes, in deference to the 500,000 Frenchmen who dutifully gave their lives in the great campaigns of Napoleon, the only other national animal that has made a direct constructive contribution to a country apart from the beaver is the elephant of India, often useful in construction and both civilian and military transport.

This week in Guild Wars 2 news

Filed under: Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:12

I’ve been accumulating news snippets about the as-yet-to-be-formally-scheduled release of Guild Wars 2 for an email newsletter I send out to my friends and acquaintances in the Guild Wars community.


Internet users’ password security still hasn’t improved

Filed under: Technology — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:03

Do you use any of the following terms as your password? If so, congratulations, you’re helping keep the rest of us from being as easily hacked as you are:

1. password
2. 123456
3. 12345678
4. qwerty
5. abc123
6. monkey
7. 1234567
8. letmein
9. trustno1
10. dragon
11. baseball
12. 111111
13. iloveyou
14. master
15. sunshine
16. ashley
17. bailey
18. passw0rd
19. shadow
20. 123123
21. 654321
22. superman
23. qazwsx
24. michael
25. football

This list is from SplashData, who produce (among other things) a password-keeper utility. Last year, Gawker published the 50 top passwords in a graphic:

Here’s a word cloud from an earlier post on passwords:

Other posts on this topic: opportunities for humour with your bank’s secret questions, xkcd on the paradox of passwords, Passwords and the average user, More on passwords, And yet more on passwords, and Practically speaking, the end is in sight for passwords.

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