State of the [insert joke here] speech

I wrote the following a few years ago. It still applies, at least what I could tell from the bit I heard on the radio.

“Congress is a joke. Or, should I say a bunch of cheerleaders. I’m currently watching President Bush give his obligatory State of the Union report/speech. He barely gets through most sentences without applause. “I think [applause] you need to all [applause] kiss my feet. [applause]” And it comes from both sides of the aisle. Even when he was lying about the war for Iraq, occupation of Iraq and the Patriot act, they applauded. They should at least wait until he finishes a section of his speech or the end of the whole thing. And they shouldn’t feel obligated to applaud if they don’t like what he says. If it were me, I’d wait until the end before applauding, even if the President were my party member, friend or father (he’s not ;).”

Granted, there weren’t so many breaks during his commentary on the war this year, but there sure were a lot during the rest of his speech. A transcript of the speech, including applause breaks is posted on the White House web site. My guess is that they undercount the applause breaks by 20%.
I still don’t know why I bother tuning in at all. It isn’t like I don’t already know what to expect. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause.

Is spanking a child the same as beating that child?

California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber seems to think it is.

“I think it’s pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child,” Lieber said. “Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a 6-month-old or a newborn?” — California lawmaker seeks ban on spanking. Y! News, via AP.

I find the logic in that statement suspect when used to support a spanking ban. To beat is to “strike repeatedly.” To spank is to “strike especially on the buttocks with the open hand.” Therefore, to Sally, the words “beat” and “spank” mean the same thing because they both mean “to strike.” And as a result, we need to ban spanking because we want to ban beating and whipping a small child.

I disagree with Sally’s plan and believe the current laws are sufficient to provide parents flexibility to discipline their children and the State ability to protect children. According to the AP article, current California law permits spanking by parents unless the degree of force is excessive or not appropriate for the child’s age.

When I think of beating, I think of a child being hit multiple times with force that would hurt an adult. That’s much different than the tap on the butt I consider to be a spanking. It is probably reasonable to say that beating and/or whipping a small child is likely to violate the current law. Likewise, it is probably reasonable say that an excessively strong or long spanking episode would qualify as a beating and violate the current law.

I don’t have children yet, but I’ve seen young children who don’t respond to an alternative measure, such as time-out or the naughty box (a toy goes in the box). Should a parent not be able to give a slap on the butt in those situations? I don’t think so.

Sally is my elected representative so I’m likely to contact her once the bill is public so I can directly quibble over semantics with her.

Silicon Valley colder than New England?

This was the forecast yesterday afternoon for yesterday evening, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) web site.

Tonight: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of mixed rain and snow showers. Probability of measurable precipitation 20 percent. Northwest wind 12 mph. Low 31.

Needless to say, the snow didn’t appear. But this morning was the first time since I left the Midwest 14 years ago that I needed to let my car defrost. There was a thick layer of frost coating my car when I went out at 8:15am. Usually, when we have a frost, I can easily wipe the frost off with the windshield wipers. Not today.

Tonight’s forecast calls for a low of 26. Brrr. In contrast, Philadelphia is forecast to see a low of 45, and Boston a low of 41. There is something seriously wrong when San Francisco Bay area weather is colder than New England.

Things aren’t all bad. I’m getting to use my winter coat and I’m not in Fairbanks, Alaska.

limiting postal marketing mail

A family member recently commented on the amount of junk snail mail they receive. I prepared an email with information to help reduce the amount received and decided to post that information in case anyone else finds it useful.

The best way to stop receiving marketing mail is to contact the companies you do business with and tell them to limit the amount of marketing mail they send you and to not sell your personal information. However, that is often not enough because of direct marketing is big industry in the US. There are existing lists with your personal information that is sold wholesale, credit bureaus, public records such as telephone book listings or property deeds.

Offers of credit:
From the the Experian Privacy Policy:

“You can remove your name from prescreened credit or insurance offer mailing lists from Experian, Innovis, TransUnion and Equifax by calling 888 5OPT OUT (888 567 8688).

You will be given a choice to opt out for five years or permanently. If you elect to opt out permanently, you will be mailed a Notice of Election to Opt Out Permanently, which you must sign and return to activate your permanent opt-out. Even though your request becomes effective with Experian within five days of your notifying us, it may take several months before you see a reduction in the amount of solicitations. “

I opted-out in August and have only gotten two more offers since October. Much better than the two per week I had been receiving.

Other generic marketing mail addressed to you. Think, Publisher’s Clearinghouse:

  1. Delist your name and address from the telephone book. For me, it costs about 40 cents per month (although, in reality should be free).
  2. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is the largest of the trade organizations representing companies and organizations that send direct mail. They allow an opt-out but will force you to pay a dollar before honoring your request, citing a bogus excuse of fighting fraud. I will submit a legislative proposal to my state legislator and congresswoman at some point in the next year proposing that such charges be banned and suggesting the creation of a do not mail list, like the do not call list. Marketers only bring it upon themselves.
  3. Major data warehouses and resellers

And if you’re getting telemarketing, make sure you get on the National Do-Not Call list maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to an FTC press release on June 21, 2006, more than 125 million phone numbers were registered on the do not call list . BTW: According to that same press release, cell phones don’t need to be included because of specific Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations that already forbid telemarketing to cell phones.