Archive for August, 2012

Other than turning the lens on me, I haven’t done a veridiction (my made-up name for the exercise of verifying predictions) post since June of this year.

In that month, a politician made a prediction and now the time has come to see how it panned it out.

Two months ago, Congressman Darrell Issa (R, CA), the chairperson of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman and the Representative leading the investigation into Operation Fast and Furious had this to say when asked about an upcoming vote of against Attorney General Eric Holder for being in contempt of Congress…

I believe they will (vote to hold him in contempt),…[b]oth Republicans and Democrats will vote that — I believe it will be bipartisan.

Before we delve into what the vote actually was, a definition needs to be hammered out.

What exactly does “bipartisan” mean?

It’s a word that is bandied about in political discourse (such as here and here and here for examples) but is it tossed about so much that it is essentially meaningless?

My apologies for falling back on a cliché, but if I want to discover what the definition of a word means then I have to go to the dictionary.

TheFreeDictionary.com defines the word as Of, consisting of, or supported by members of two parties, especially two major political parties;

Merriam-Webster says the word is of, relating to, or involving members of two parties;

The Oxford Dictionary defines bipartisan as of or involving the agreement or cooperation of two political parties that usually oppose each other’s policies

The first two definitions above define something as bipartisan when members of two parties support that thing. Since there is no modifying word to describe how many people of each party must support the thing, it can be assumed that as long as more than zero members of both parties support something, it is therefore bipartisan.

Using this broad definition, then Representative Issa’s predication came true as both Democrats and Republicans voted to find the Attorney General in contempt (Roll Call Vote 441) on June 28.

However, it should be pointed out that the number of GOP members who voted AYE was 238 while only 17 Democrats voted in the affirmative. If it can be stated that any legislation is bipartisan that has more than zero members from each party voting in favor of such a bill then any Democratic-sponsored bill that earns at least one Republican vote can be labelled as such. With that as a definition, then the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 (S 181) can be classified as bipartisan as only a trio of Republicans voted for it (Roll Call Vote 037).

If a more nuanced definition of bipartisan is to be used, then Representative Issa’s prediction comes up short. The definition above provided by The Oxford Dictionary states that something that is bipartisan involves the agreement or cooperation of both parties. Since it is silly to say that a political party is in agreement or is cooperating if a sole, lone member supports the opposing party, then where should the cut-off be? What percentage of the membership does it take to cross the aisle for a measure to be considered bipartisan? 25? 45? 75?

For my money, my cut-off mark would be fifty-percent-plus-one. If a majority of the members of a political party vote with the opposition to support a measure, then it is bipartisan.

By that standard I set, Representative Issa’s prediction did not come true as only 8.9% (17 out of the available 191) of Democrats voted with the GOP.

By Issa’s standard (he uses the modifying clause “…Republicans and Democrats will vote that…” in his quote), he was correct as more than zero Democrats voted with his party.

Like the concept of bipartisanship itself, Issa’s success or failure with this prediction depends on what standard you wish to use.

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Over the summer, the family and I had the opportunity to come back to the States and visit relatives.

One of the places we stopped by was Washington, D.C.

In our nation’s capital, one of our favorite places to visit is the National Mall. In nearly a year away from the District, I was surprised by one item that appears to have exploded all over the streetscape. Before 2011, I can’t recall ever seeing more than two of these objects together, but now…

Well, let’s let this picture, my offering for the Weekly Photo Challenge from WordPress which has the theme of urban, speak for itself.

Line of food trucks in Washington, DC

Hungry? Take your pick.

Just goes to show that even in the urban jungle one need not go hungry.

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Quiet, save the sound of falling snow.

Snow scene

Still life with snow

Enough said.

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For college professors needed to know the cultural touchstones of the incoming freshman, Beloit College has unveiled its Mindset List for the Class of 2016. Some of my favorite items of note that show how those born in 1994 (those who make up the Class of 2016) differ from folks of my age (born 1968) include…

…They have never seen an airplane “ticket”;
…Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive baseball games played has never stood in their lifetimes;
…They have no recollection of when Arianna Huffington was a conservative; and
…NBC has never shown A Wonderful Life more than twice during the holidays.

The above is simply one of my hooks to dive into my real story for this post…which starts now.

In this e-space, I have often written about my children as other people. Examples include my eldest, Christopher, as a comics books expert; my middle child, Jared, as Roger Kint (the character from The Usual Suspects); and my daughter, Ophelia, as a corporate drone in training.

To this menagerie, I can now add my wife who enters this space in the cloak of a non-nerd. Submitted for your approval are two stories…

a) As a surprise to my boys, she went to a video store and rented what she thought was Star Wars: Episode III. She brought back this…

Cover of fan-made Star Wars flim

This is most definitely not Revenge of the Sith

Instead of the film starring Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen, she had picked up a fan-made film entitled Revelations.

We only watched 10 minutes of this work before we turned it off.

z) Jared told my wife that one of his friends was planning to dress up for Halloween as Hawkeye. My wife’s response was, “How does your friend know about M*A*S*H?“.

Of course, the boy was talking about the characters from The Avengers movie while my wife was thinking of the character played by Alan Alda.

Now, I cannot be too snarky about my wife being a non-nerd because I believe in the axiom that opposites attract. While she may not know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, or know what TARDIS stands for, or quote the Three Laws of Robotics, she does know how to cook like a boss, fix any deficiency with our car, and she can quote Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

BTW, that line submitted for your approval that I used above would have no resonance with the Class of 2016 because, as the Media List from Beloit College states…

The Twilight Zone involves vampires, not Rod Serling.

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Name Changer

In the course of human events, there have been companies, organizations, and products that have had their names linked unfavorably with other items due to circumstances beyond their control.

In the 1980s, there was a diet (sorry…appetite suppressant) candy called Ayds. You can see a sample commercial here. Then along came AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and who wanted to buy a box full of AIDS…even if it did come in four different flavors.

The Wisconsin Tourism Foundation had to change its name because someone pointed out to them that their acronym, WTF, has a new meaning courtesy of the Internet. This new definition to the acronym is part of the reason why the slogan “Winning the Future” elicited snickers from the blog-o-sphere and even from losing vice-presidential candidates.

With the above in mind, what will the following organizations do…?

The Fee Assistance Program (FAP) from the Association of America Medical Colleges;

The Football Association Pretoria (FAP);

The Foreskin Awareness Project (FAP);

Frisian Aviation Photo (FAP);

The Fundamentals of Actuarial Practice (FAP) from the Society of Actuaries;

The Field Application Project (FAP) from the Wharton School;

Functional Analytic Psychotherapy (FAP); and

The Fundamental Aeronautics Programs (FAP) from NASA.

Now that FAP has a new popular meaning courtesy of the Internet, I wonder how long those names above stay the same

BTW (speaking of Internet acronyms), knowing what you now know about FAP, can you not help but smile knowing there is a gene for FAP and even a support group.

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It’s a thin hook, but I’ll use it anyway for the entry to this post.

The funniest joke was crowned at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival. From the wit of Stewart Francis came this chestnut…

You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh & Becks.


Part of this joke plays on the canard that the youth of today have a bad reputation. Regardless of the generation, the elders always wonder where they went wrong with the kids.

Today’s post turns that thought on its head as I have three stories about kids today.

Jack Andraka, 15, wins the top prize at Intel’s International Science and Engineering Fair (including $75,000). He created a method of testing blood or urine to identify diseases such as early-stage pancreatic cancer. His method is considerably cheaper and more effective than current testing procedures. Read more about Andraka here and here.

Taylor Wilson, at the age of 14, built a device that achieved nuclear fusion. Beat that, Paul Stephens. Oh, yeah, and he also gave a talk at TED.

Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, both 16, were the North American winners for the inaugural United Nations International Forest Heroes Award. They were honored by the UN because this pair started a campaign to have the Girl Scouts of America change the recipe for their cookies. Tontishen and Vorva were doing a project on orangutans and they saw that the animal’s habitat was in danger due to deforestation. Forests where the orangutans lived were being cut down for the farming of palm oil, which was an ingredient in Girl Scout cookies. Read more about this pair here and here.

I feel better about the future. You?

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Merge” is the theme from WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge.

Part of the instructions handed out by the creator of this theme suggests that a person “…juxtapose two different objects.”

I will take that advice and modify it slightly as I juxtapose two different views.

Merged view outside cruise ship window

Looking forward and to the left

This picture above was taken while the family and I were on a cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage last July. While on a day at sea between Skagway and Ketchikan, I was enjoying an ice cream and trying to steam my way through Ulysses when I noticed the view out the window.

What you are seeing is the view of the landscape of the 49th State merged with the reflected view of some of my fellow passengers.

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