One of the best things about blogs is that they give someone with a tiny, compartmentalized axe to grind a forum to speak to fellow travelers.

One of my pet peeves over the years has been the odd habit of shopkeepers, office busybodies and other ne’er-do-wells to inappropriately use quotation marks in place of italics or boldface in order to express emphasis or draw one’s attention to a word or phrase.

I don’t know where someone in the annals of history got the idea that this is proper grammar.

It isn’t.

It just gives people the vague impression that you’re making some sort of sarcastic air quotes reference (e.g., John McCain mocking Obama on abortion with this doozy: “Barack Obama, on the other hand, stood up for ‘women’s health’.“)

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there is a blog devoted to the phenomenon: The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks. Enjoy!

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Obama came out with a speech on his new fiscal stimulus proposal and highlighted the plan by laying out the case that the current financial crisis was brought on by an “era of profound irresponsibility“.

This crisis did not happen solely by some accident of history or normal turn of the business cycle, and we won’t get out of it by simply waiting for a better day to come, or relying on the worn-out dogmas of the past. We arrived at this point due to an era of profound irresponsibility that stretched from corporate boardrooms to the halls of power in Washington, DC. For years, too many Wall Street executives made imprudent and dangerous decisions, seeking profits with too little regard for risk, too little regulatory scrutiny, and too little accountability. Banks made loans without concern for whether borrowers could repay them, and some borrowers took advantage of cheap credit to take on debt they couldn’t afford. Politicians spent taxpayer money without wisdom or discipline, and too often focused on scoring political points instead of the problems they were sent here to solve. The result has been a devastating loss of trust and confidence in our economy, our financial markets, and our government.

Sounds right to me.

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Just a quick note to relate how upset I am that I have to take another Bar Exam. I moved to Chicago from New York back in July and, because I’ve only been practicing law for a few years, Illinois requires me to take their exam even though I am already admitted in New York. It makes absolutely ZERO sense, especially since I’m a transactional lawyer dealing with drafting contracts all day long and will hopefully never step into a court in my life. It’s all the more infuriating considering that the only justification for the requirement is naked protectionism — it’s the state shielding its lawyers from out-of-state competition. All of my nights and weekends through January and February will be taken up with prep classes. Wish me luck!

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And people wonder why I’m suspicious of animals of the feline persuasion:

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Ok, so maybe this is a little cheeky but I have to say that robots creep me out in a major way. Maybe its because I’ve read a billion sci-fi novels in which robots inevitably enslave the human race…

As Matt Yglesias deftly observes:

Elliot Spitzer’s vision for improving education:

Provide funding for robotics teams at every school. If you ever want to see intellectual competition in the arena that matters today—technological wizardry—visit the robotics competitions that now exist in some schools. Make these competitions as universal as football. Make it cool to design the next cutting-edge video game or iPod.

Dana Goldstein is skeptical. I’m terrified…

After the human race is enslaved by robots, there are going to be small rebel groups hiding out somewhere and Elliot Spitzer’s going to be writing op-eds about how “no one could have predicted” that the robots would rebel and overthrow their masters. And it’ll be left to DFH bloggers to observe that this is in fact one of the most widely predicted scenarios in all of science fiction. From the proto-SF of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein through to Karel Capek’s R.U.R. and The War Against the Newts all the way up through Terminator and The Matrix. Yes, yes, yes eventually the Butlerian Jihad will allow us to re-overthrow the Thinking Machines and establish human rule but do we really want to fall into that trap?

Just say no to robots. And certainly say no to robots in our schools.

Stop the madness — no to robots! Yes to humanity!

Side Note: To protect your family against robot attack, sign up for Old Glory insurance:

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Time for a little myth busting. You know how you’ve heard over the last few months media talking heads and various frightened Republican congressional candidates repeatedly bringing up the old saw about how Americans give Congress (as a whole) such a low approval rating (generally as a way to shield Bush or other Republicans from well-deserved opprobrium)?

Well, as it turns out, Americans have a much higher opinion of Democrats in Congress than Republicans:
Funny how facts have a way of getting in the way of false narratives.

In other polling news, a majority of Americans — me among them — think Roland Burris should be blocked from being seated in the Senate:


Matt Yglesias takes up the running argument over which Star Trek series was the worst:

Yesterday afternoon while awaiting the beginning of the Texas-OSU game, I opined on my public Twitter feed that “truly ‘Voyager’ is the worst of the Star Treks.” This provoked some dispute from my Twitter followers. The most popular contrary view was that “Enterprise” is worse… As for “Enterprise,” I dunno. The Temporal Cold War is stupid. But I think the explorations of the origins of the Federation and the Prime Directive are interesting. Not interesting to normal people, of course, but interesting to fans of the franchise.

I wholeheartedly disagree. Although I agree with Matt that Voyager was a treacly, poorly acted mess, it actually had a few watchable episodes.

Not so for Enterprise.

Enterprise was quite possibly one of the worst sci-fi shows I’ve ever forced myself to watch (and I used to watch the Sci Fi Channel on a regular basis!). Scott Bakula was, hands down, the worst starship captain ever to play a lead role in the franchise. Worst of all, the show had what was quite possibly the worst theme music of a TV program in at least 50 years (watch/listen if you dare). The concept of a prequel is of course a laudable one but it lacked anything approaching competent execution. Thank God UPN cancelled it after only four seasons (which was exactly four seasons too long).

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Supreme Lord Douchebiscuit Terry McAuliffe is running for some important office in Virginia. I don’t even care what it is — I just hate that I’m going to have to be exposed to him in the national media. His performance as a lying, hacktackular, dead-ender sycophant in Hillary Clinton’s campaign made me want to retch on several occassions.

Apparently, even the animal kingdom senses the mendacious, self-serving evil that is Terry McAuliffe:

Your video of Terry McAuliffe just popped up in my Google Reader. My dog is laying behind my chair. As soon as I started the video, Charlie (a hound mutt from the shelter) started growling at my computer. I’ve never seen him do that before. I’ve always been kinda blasé about Terry, but I think my dog just judged him better than I ever could have. As soon as I turned off the video, he stopped growling.

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