Jasper Smith

Commentary on politics, economics, culture and sports.

Archive for the ‘Miscellania’ Category

Advance Patchwork

leave a comment »

Would parliamentary procedures allow the Senate “patch” legislation to be passed on a provisional basis? (ie., it only affects legislation that hasn’t been passed in the house yet, and would therefore be moot if the House doesn’t pass it).

In other words, maybe one way to let cooler heads prevail, and placate House liberals, is for the Senate to quickly put together and pass (via reconciliation) a “patch” bill in advance of a House vote. That way, there’s no “Lucy removing the football” fears on the part of House Democrats.

Written by Jasper

January 21, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Weather and turnout

with one comment

I think everybody seems to agree turnout is a critical factor tomorrow. I’ve heard one or two comments to the effect that the sloppy weather predicted for Tuesday across most of the state favors Brown, by holding down turnout.

But I think bad weather clearly favors Coakley, myself. As a Massachusetts resident following this race very closely, my sense is there’s a huge spike in interest and enthusiasm from a lot of independent (we call them “unenrolled” here in Massachusetts) voters. I could be wrong, but the bulks of these voters strike me as being usually not particularly involved in politics. Brown needs a healthy turnout from these people to counter what I expect to be a larger than expected turnout of committed (and scared!) Democrats and liberal independents. I can imagine many a low information Brown supporter getting up tomorrow with the intention of hitting the polls on the way to work, and then realizing the roads are pretty crappy and thinking “Hmmm, maybe I should go to work first and vote on the way home.” Not all of them will make it — especially if they’re overconfident in the porn star’s chances. City lefties like me can walk to the polls even in a blizzard.

Martha could still pull this thing out. The wailing and gnashing of teeth on the part of the right wing would be enough to stave off my seasonal depression for the remainder of the winter.

Written by Jasper

January 18, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Should Dems ditch ObamaCare?

leave a comment »

I’ve been hearing lots of speculation and commentary that the healthcare bill is primarily what is to blame for tomorrow’s shocking GOP victory, and that Democrats would be well-advised to dump the legislative effort and focus on other things.

Needless to say I don’t agree.

If voters are really that pissed off about ObamaCare, aren’t they simply going to vote for the real McCoy, a Republican, no matter what? Why even consider voting for a member of the party that came pretty damned close to shoving Socialist medicine down our throats when we can have real, manly, rugged individualist proponents of freedom like Scott Brown?

Seems to me savvy Democratic law-makers will quite rightly recognize that some of the angst on display in Massachusetts flows from the perception that the Democrats are ineffective. What we see on display is a preview of what it will be like for Democrats to go before the national electorate without a substantive accomplishment under their belts, exactly like in 1994. Passing a bill will remedy this.

It’s also clear to me that the perception of what ObamaCare is now, before it is enacted, is likely to be significantly more negative than the perceptions of what the legislation actually is, once it’s passed, and people are protected by guaranteed issue and community rating, and death panels mysteriously fail to materialize. As a number of pundits have noted, there is very little support in Massachusetts for getting rid of that state’s existing universal health care bill. Turns out voters like health care security once they possess it.

Written by Jasper

January 18, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Some largely overoptimistic thoughts on tomorrow’s election

with one comment

There are Republicans, Democrats, and independents (unenrolled) here in Massachusetts. The first of these will have a huge turnout, but they’re only 13% of all registered voters. I’m guessing registered Republicans might cast something like 22% of the votes tomorrow. Democrats account for something like 35% of the electorate. They won’t turn out in the same percentage as the GOP, but they should nonetheless turn out in higher percentages than independents; I don’t think it’s out of the question about 45%-48% of the votes cast tomorrow could be by registered Democrats. If Coakley does slightly better than expected among Democrats (most polls I’ve seen suggest Brown will pick up at least 25% of the Democratic vote) — perhaps holding onto a full 80% of this cohort — and Democrats get to the polls in greater numbers than independents — it could get interesting.*

*I’m thinking one possible scenario that would be less than the worst case would be a very narrow win for Brown. If he beats her with, say, 50.9% of the vote, a somewhat more leisurely certification process will look a lot more justified than if Brown wins pretty convincingly and Coakley calls to concede at 9pm. And that just might buy enough time to produce and score a melded bill and get the cloture vote out of the way. I half wonder if Brown himself — despite vows to the contrary — might not actually welcome the chance to avoid being blamed for killing the healthcare bill. If he’s smart, he’ll have already begun to think about 2012.

Anyway, this is all probably wishful thinking because, though my head tells me by rights it should be a close contest and Martha’s still got a shot, my heart (and my eyes — you simply don’t see any Coakley signage even here in Boston) tells me Martha’s numbers are collapsing and Brown could thump to a huge — approaching or surpassing 60% of the vote — victory.

I certainly hope I’m wrong.

Written by Jasper

January 18, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Are we weather wimps?

with one comment

A couple of weeks ago — about the time we got our first big snow storm — The Globe ran a story asking if the people of Greater Boston had become weather wimps given to over-the-top reactions and whining whenever we get a bit of tough weather:

We’re supposed to be known for our hardiness, for the way we embrace the elements with stoicism and even a touch of pride.

So what happened?

This season’s first snow – big, fluffy flakes totaling 10 inches or less – paralyzed an entire region. Workers fled their offices early, clogging highways and side streets. Drivers fishtailed trying to get to supermarkets, only to find parking lots jammed with customers buying last-minute items like bread and batteries. Yet the rush for supplies proved unnecessary. Much of the snow melted yesterday, a sunny, 40-degree day, exactly as the weather reporters said it would.

Nathaniel Philbrick, author of “Mayflower” and “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex,” said he sees signs that New Englanders’ storied moxie is on the wane.

In fact, he used the word crybabies to describe peoples’ reaction to Thursday’s storm, one that set no records, came as no surprise, and delivered the kind of snow, dry and light, that is a DPW commissioner’s dream.

“The fact is, once you get used to these modern conveniences and luxuries, even the mildest inconveniences become an epic tale of deprivation,” Philbrick said. “Perhaps our threshold will be so diminished [that] our version of the Essex disaster and the Mayflower will be the drive home from the mall in 2 inches of snow.”

To be sure, parents needed to get children from the many schools that were dismissed early. The snow, at its peak, was falling at an uncharacteristically rapid clip. City, state, and private industry offices were closing in virtual unison.

Still, Philbrick echoed the thoughts of many residents yesterday who were befuddled by the way the city reacted to the storm – more like, perhaps, the way Washington or Memphis shuts down over an inch of snow.

“People who live here should know how to handle this by now,” said Yvonne Thompson, a 49-year-old construction worker and lifelong Boston resident who pointed out that meteorologists had been predicting the storm for days.

Quite so, Yvonne. And I have to agree, we have in fact become weather wimps.  There are lots of reasons for this, but I suspect much of it is transportation: Many people have to drive longer distances on average, and fly more often for their jobs — than was the case thirty or forty years ago. Also, it seems to me many young kids participate in FAR more activities and clubs that require parental chauffeuring than once was the case. Also, the internet makes it easier for employers to “pull the trigger” on sending people home, so that’s one cause as well — there’s more pressure on employers to be “reasonable” and let people work from home.

Over the years we’ve simply became a much more mobile society that is more dependent on smooth-functioning transportation systems than ever before. It’s interesting to note, however, that when we do occasionally get a very snowy winter when blizzards roll in week after week through December, January and February, it seems like the metro Boston area deals with the weather much more efficiently and nonchalantly (and people are much more relaxed) toward the end of the season than is the case at the beginning. People simply get used to dealing with winter weather after many weeks of it. So I expect climate change also has at least something to do with the phenomenon: folks ’round these parts simply don’t have to deal with as many snow events and harsh weather conditions as they used to, so they forget how to deal with it. Also, greater population density means more traffic congestion, which in turn leads to bad driving manners, which makes people shittier drivers, and this makes driving in wintery conditions worse still.

Ahhh, the pleasures of winter in urban New England.

Written by Jasper

January 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Tagged with , , ,

Hitlerian stimulus

leave a comment »

Yglesias takes Tyler Cowen to task for invoking the specre of Hitler and the Nazis to make an argument against Keynesian stimulus:

When a country produces more HDTVs, more people have HDTVs and living standards go up. When a country produces more tanks and military explosives, none of the tanks or military explosives go into private hands (we hope!) so living standards are unchanged. But producing HDTVs doesn’t increase your ability to conquer France, whereas tanks and explosives are useful for conquering France. Hitler’s policy objective was to prepare for conquering France. And his policies worked quite well (though Ernest May reminds us not to neglect the importance of French intelligence failures), they just served Nazi objectives. But I don’t see why Hitler couldn’t have spent the money on something else. If we use fiscal policy to raise measured GDP primarily through building tanks, we’ll have higher GDP and more tanks. But if we use fiscal policy to raise measured GDP primarily through repairing existing roads and building new mass transit and high-speed rail lines, then we’ll have higher GDP, better roads, and more mass transit and HSR systems. It seems to me that living standards would therefore be higher.

Right. I doubt living standards increased for most Americans during the war years, but nonetheless GDP was rapidly expanding. The economic growth was sufficiently robust (explosive, really) to finally jolt the country out of depression. Once the war was over, living standards could resume their ascent, as money for guns was channeled into money for butter.

We don’t have the luxury at the present time to agonize over slumping living standards. The task is to save the economy, and avoid deflation. Once things have returned to normal — a non-deflationary economy characterized by growth — we can hopefully get back to increasing living standards. Personally I expect that, for a while at least, such increases will be modest, given the need to increase savings over the long term, pay back debt (ie higher taxes) and put the economy on a long-term, sustainable path. Still, “modest” need not mean “none.” Ideally, we can increase savings and (modestly) increase consumption over the long term by limiting growth in consumption to a number slightly lower than GDP growth.

Of course, we can (and should!) also try and extract some gains in this regard for the vast majority of the population by tackling the income inequality issue.

Written by Jasper

January 2, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Etc.

leave a comment »

1) I’m officially resigning from the Caroline Kennedy Defense League until/unless she completes a public speaking course. In her case the apple didn’t just fall far from the tree, the freaking orchard was on a different continent.

2) Byonce’s hit “If I were a Boy” sucks. Her people have badly misused her voice on this one. It sounds like she’s straining. IMO she doesn’t have the booming, bell-like voice of a Whitney Houston, Maria Carey, Leona Lewis or Rihanna. Which is fine. Byonce’s voice is perfectly decent, and even sweet — in a  Diana Ross kind of way. She just doesn’t have the cords for the aforementioned song.

Written by Jasper

December 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm

A Senator Supports Neo-Hooverism

with one comment

Kevin Drum (quoting Tim Fernholz) reports that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is worried about protecting the taxpayers from the new administration’s plans to right the economy:

A trillion-dollar spending bill would be the largest spending bill in the history of our country at a time when our national debt is already the largest in history,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement. “As a result, it will require tough scrutiny and oversight. Taxpayers, already stretched to the limit, deserve nothing less.

It goes without saying that among other deceptions McConnell is well-aware he’s using is misleading language with respect to the country’s debt. Yes, it is true that if you count money owed to future retirees national debt is quite high, but the more relevant public debt figure is about the same percentage of GDP as it was at the beginning of WWII (you know, the same war that, as Krugman puts it, finally provided a stimulus large enough to get the country out of Depression once and for all).

This is not an argument against getting our fiscal house in order to deal with entitlements, by the way — it’s something we need to do (most pressingly, healthcare reform, as Social Security’s problems are easily repairable) after we’ve restored the economy to health. It’s just an argument against letting ideologues like McConnell demagogue the country into a repeat of the 1930s

Written by Jasper

December 30, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Ms. Plausibility or, In Which Jasper Officially Becomes a Caroline Kennedy Suckup

with 2 comments

Anti-Caroline hysteria sentiment in the ‘sphere seems to be intensifying, and I’ll have none of it, dammit!

Okay, seriously, I’m not saying Ms. Kennedy is the best candidate for the job, mind you; but she’s obviously a plausible candidate in a narrow universe of plausible candidates. People continue to talk about her like she’s some kind of grossly underqualified airhead — but that’s seems like wild exaggeration colored by Kennedy bashing. She doesn’t have experience running in and winning elections*, but that’s the only thing she lacks from what I can see**. She’s got money, fame, looks, glamor,*** sterling education credentials (Harvard and Columbia Law), she’s a life long New Yorker, she’s prominent in Democratic party circles (vetted Obama’s VP choices and was a co-chair of his campaign, I think), she possesses a strong relationship with the president-elect, she has a pretty impressive rolodex, she’s a respected constitutional scholar, she writes well, and she’s done substantive, meaningful work in policy analysis, non-profit fundraising and governance, arts advocacy, and education. She’s seems to be a very straight arrow (nice family, etc.), and likely has fewer skeletons in her closet than the various elected public officials who would also be plausible candidates for the appointment. And, as Democrats who actually want to win elections (unlike libertarians who understandably would rather see us lose) realize, Caroline Kennedy is almost certainly likely to prove an unsurpassed fundraiser in 2010 — a year when coaxing money from contributors may not be an easy task. Again, she may not be the optimal candidate from the perspective of background and experience (Spitzer’s downfall makes the scene devoid of an obvious concensus choice), but politically — and this is ultimately how such things get decided — she’s very plausible indeed.

*I frankly think this is a weak argument with respect to this particular candidate. I mean, she freaking grew up in the White House, and her uncles were Bobby and Teddy. I have a feeling she knows how the government works, and how legislation gets enacted. Moreover, while personal legislative experience is obviously a plus, Hillary Clinton has shown lack of it isn’t a deal-breaker. And anyway, what’s wrong with having someone with a different perspective sitting in the great deliberative body? Heaven forbid someone other than, you know, a career briber of voters, be sent to Washington to join Schumer.

**Well, she may lack natural political instincts/communication skills based on her upstate tour. It definitely wasn’t an auspicious start. I personally think it’s too early to tell — and I very much doubt Patterson will write her off based on one or two initial missteps (Hillary wasn’t a natural from the getgo either) but Caroline certainly needs to improve in this area.

***I can almost hear the sneering now, but y’all have to take off your good citizens caps and put on your political consultants caps: you can certainly make the case that Kennedy possesses many of the practical attributes — especially in an era when fundraising is likely to get tougher — especially with a mid-term coming up where Democrats are likely to be facing stiff challenges — of someone who can beat King or Rudy (and help other Democrats — most importantly Patterson himself — in the bargain). Cynical or not, that, my dear friends, will surely be of paramount concern in Patterson’s mind.

Finally, one word about the hand-wringing over political dynasties: our constitution got rid of royalty. It doesn’t say people who grew up with backgrounds in politics and affairs of state can’t or shouldn’t be able to run themselves. It seems to me you’ll have to change human nature to insure that. Bottom line is voters have brains, and in a democracy they’re perfectly free to reject princelings, and often do. Neither Romney nor Hillary Clinton is about to enter the White House. George H.W. Bush couldn’t retain it in 1992. The Republic has always known families prominent in public affairs, and always will. John Quincy Adams’s foray into politics didn’t sink us, and neither will Caroline Kennedy’s.

Written by Jasper

December 23, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Madoff as outlier

leave a comment »

A thought on Madoff: I’ve heard a lot of people make the claim that his malfeasance should have been discovered because of his unrealistic returns. But hasn’t Warren Buffett also enjoyed long strings of years when his portfolio made year after year of double digit returns? I’m aware Berkshire is public, so you just have to look up the components he owns to know it’s all legit, but my guess is Madoff’s fund’s “performance” didn’t look all that implausible, given the multi-year success we occasionally see from Wall Street’s brighter lights (Peter Lynch comes to mind as well). Obviously what the SEC should have done was to require Madoff to show in detail exactly how such returns were earned. Apparently they didn’t.

Written by Jasper

December 20, 2008 at 9:13 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Tagged with , ,

Thoughts on Caroline

leave a comment »

For the most part the controversy surrounding Caroline Kennedy’s intention to pursue a senate seat is entirely understandable; “less is more” are not words one often associates with the democratic process here in the US. I myself — a fan of that mob rule form of government known as the parliamentary system — am disquieted at the prospect of the executive making appointments to the national legislature. So,  if you’re opposed to the method whereby vacant offices are sometimes appointed rather than filled by special election, then more power to you — and good luck — you’re free to lobby your fellow citizens to get the law changed.  There is something decidedly unfair about being chosen by a governor — rather than directly by the voters — for a seat in the United States Senate

But as long as NY’s constitution requires that a vacancy be filled short-term in this manner, then anybody who is appointed is going to be getting an “unfair” (by this line of reasoning) advantage. Again, I understand the perception of unfairness surrounding the appointment process as such as opposed to holding a special election. But the vitriol from the left focusing specifically on senatorial aspirant Caroline Kennedy qua Caroline Kennedy is a bit much.

Now, if your point is that Kennedy’s name is a really unfair advantage (ie., she’s some type of royalty) then what you’re really arguing is that someone should be passed over because of something one has no control over. And this is what seems fundamentally unfair to me, because at the end of the day, the woman has no more power over the circumstances of her birth than any other human being. Barring her from office because of her high birth seems fundamentally unfair and illiberal.

One can legitimately make the argument, of course, that Kennedy is unqualified, or that she’s not the best qualified candidate – and again, fair enough. But I haven’t read much in the way of substantive arguments in this regard. I’d like to know why a long career serving the greater good in the arts, say, or in education reform, is automatically an inferior background for the senate than a long career as an electeed public official. It seems to me both backgrounds have their merits, and it is not at all obvious to me which is superior.

Written by Jasper

December 20, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Tagged with , ,

The inanity of Amity

leave a comment »

Amity Shlaes — writing with a chip on her shoulder apparently acquired because of criticisms made by a certain Nobel-winning economist who knows more about the dismal science than she’ll ever forget — makes a fool of herself with a piece she subtitles “Massive Government Spending is No Solution to Unemployment.”

Paul Krugman of the New York Times has been on the attack lately in regard to the New Deal. His new book “The Return of Depression Economics,” emphasizes the importance of New Deal-style spending. He has said the trouble with the New Deal was that it didn’t spend enough.

He’s also arguing that some writers and economists have been misrepresenting the 1930s to make the effect of FDR’s overall policy look worse than it was. I’m interested in part because Mr. Krugman has mentioned me by name. He recently said that I am the one “whose misleading statistics have been widely disseminated on the right.”

Mr. Krugman is a new Nobel Laureate, teaches at Princeton University and writes a column for a nationally prominent newspaper. So what he says is believed to be objective by many people, even when it isn’t. But the larger reason we should care about the 1930s employment record is that the cure Roosevelt offered, the New Deal, is on everyone else’s mind as well. In a recent “60 Minutes” interview, President-elect Barack Obama said, “keep in mind that 1932, 1933, the unemployment rate was 25%, inching up to 30%.”

The New Deal is Mr. Obama’s context for the giant infrastructure plan his new team is developing. If he proposes FDR-style recovery programs, then it is useful to establish whether those original programs actually brought recovery. The answer is, they didn’t. New Deal spending provided jobs but did not get the country back to where it was before.

The very subtitle of Ms. Shlaes’s piece gives away the inanity (or disingenuousness) of her piece, because “massive government spending” is exactly what finally enabled America to return to prosperity after the ravages of the 1930s. In fact, Franklin Roosevelt responded to the critics parroting the conventional wisdom of his day (sound familiar Ms. Shlaes?) by becoming a deficit hawk after his first term. Thus during FDR’s second term the federal deficit declined precipitously via tax hikes and budget curbs — in fiscal 1938 the government was very nearly in (PDF warning) surplus — and lo and behold the economic growth of his first term promptly evaporated and the depression entered a temporary period of intensification. It was not until after Pearl Harbor — when deficit spending by Washington skyrocketed (it reached over 30% of GDP in 1943) that the country finally made a permanent break with depression.

Now, I don’t think Mr. Obama or anybody else is suggesting borrowing on quite so massive a scale. I suspect deficit spending will likely peak somewhere north of 10% of GDP over the next year or two. But if we’re to heed the lessons of FDR’s day our course is clear: a massive stimulus plan along the lines of what Krugman and others are proposing is our best insurance against depression. An absurd emphasis on fiscal rectitude during times like these is surely a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, it appears the new team taking charge in Washington has read its history books.

Written by Jasper

November 29, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Miscellania

Tagged with , , , , ,

Fair and balanced radio

leave a comment »

Matt Yglesias ponders the conservative obsession with the Fairness Doctrine:

Am I the only one who’s confused by all this conservative organizing against the re-imposition of the “fairness doctrine” on talk radio? I understand why they oppose that move, but why are they putting so much energy into blocking something that nobody is trying to do. A Fairness Act bill was submitted in the House in 2005, but it only 16 cosponsors. No such bill was submitted in the last conference. Barack Obama opposes reintroducing the Fairness Act. And speaking as a paid-up member of the vast left-wing conspiracy, nobody on our side is getting any marching orders about this.

I guess they need something to talk about on the radio shows, but I’d just focus in on Obama’s plan to turn the United States into a socialist dystopia.

Well, I’ve heard that senators Schumer, Durbin and Feinstein have all been making noises about reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine, so perhaps there is a bit of there there. Frankly it was news to me to learn that President-elect Obama is not a fan of this first amendment restriction.

Anyway, needless to say, I’m not a big fan of this kind of thing, and with respect to talk radio, I’m not overly eager to hear a reduction in radio wingnuttery — mainly because of its genuinely robust entertainment value. There’s nothing to keep you company — and keep you chuckling — when you’re heading up I95 through the wilds of Maine to the Canadian border — like Rush Limbaugh.

And, in fairness to the wingnuts, it’s not like their side would be setting the rules, so I think this time their usual paranoia might be somewhat justified.

In other news, it appears talk radio might not need persecution from Stalinist liberals, given its shitty demographics and declining listenership.

Written by Jasper

November 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

On Evolutionary Fitness

leave a comment »

Kevin Drum is wondering whether or not avocados are good for you. That got the ineveitable health/diet comment thread going, and one of the commenters opined:

Just eat what tastes good in moderation. Our appetite and taste in food has evolved over centuries to maximize our fitness to survive.

That’s not quite correct. Our appetites and tastes in food have evolved over eons, not centuries, and for nearly all our evolutionary history, food was often difficult to get. Our tastes therefore evolved to insure we would pig-out whenever we encountered foods rich in fats and carbohydrates; it was imperative for our ancestors to build up fat deposits on their bodies so as to increase the probability of surviving the next, inevitable period of scarcity.

For any given individual, a lot has to do with genetics of course, but for many people, the sad truth is that eating what you like best with regularity — even in so-called “moderate” amounts — is not consistent with optimal health*. If you want to maximize your physical well-being, when it comes to eating you most definitely should pay attention to our species’s evolutionary history. And that translates into minimizing the consumption of processed carbohydrates, moderating the consumption of overly fatty meats (leaner protein sources, of course, are highly consistent with several million years of human evolution and should be eaten), and mostly eschewing dairy products. Oh, and eat lots of plants. I’ve never heard a bad thing about avocados.

*For the record, I personally have never been able or willing — at least until very recently — to even approach anything resembling a health-optimizing diet, and I certainly don’t pass judgment on anybody who is similarly inclined. When it comes to utility maximization, who the hell am I to say that being fairly spry at age 92 is worth living a life largely devoid of desserts and pizza? And again, some people have DNA that apparently allows them to live lives of extreme gastronomic excess with few ill effects. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister into his eighties.

Written by Jasper

November 1, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Name change

leave a comment »

My several hundred thousand regular readers may have noticed I decided to tweak the blog with a name change. I was just getting tired of the old one, and it seemed rather lame to use the title of a song by a way past prime band. I mean, I’m not in college any more. Hell, I’m almost old enough to be a college president.

And yes, it’s a pseudonym.

Written by Jasper

June 7, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Miscellania

UPS pretty much completely sucks

leave a comment »

Yes, I know a less trivial and self-absorbed post would be more appropriate to end a long blogging absence. But what prompts me to write at this moment is my total, complete and utterly hate-filled disdain for United Parcel Service.

Now, I’m pretty busy. And pretty lazy. And I suffer from “gotta have it now syndrome.” I guess you could say instant gratification is high on the list of Jasperesque personality attributes. And what this means is that I order a lot of shit online, for delivery. Often. Very often.

Anyway, I typically have UPS packages shipped to my office, to give them at least a fighting chance at arriving while I’m here, should a signature be necessary. But often I’m away from my office, and there’ll be no one else available to sign for me.

Wouldn’t it make sense for them to give you the option of simply having an email tell you when your delivery arrives at the nearest UPS office, in case you’d rather just go pick it up yourself? In other words, why not let customers save “Brown” the labor and extra fuel by allowing them to pick up deliveries directly from the local UPS office from the getgo and eschewing delivery if that’s what they prefer.

But no — instead you’ve got to play around with these dolgurn yellow and brown (side note, when my own small company makes the Fortune 500, please please shoot me if I’ve chosen the colors of shit and urine as the corporate hues) “info notices.” It’s fucking 2008, and and UPS is depending on paper notes to communicate. Nice.

Now, with my latest package incident, the aforementioned info notice got taped to my door during a particularly busy week. A productive week, mind you. A week during which a number of important professional tasks was accomplished. But nonetheless a week when picking up the phone to notify UPS that I’d like them to hold my delivery at their Watertown office was one call too many to get to in a timely fashion.

So, I just managed to call them now — at 11:15pm Thursday (the info notice was taped to my door Tuesday morning). I wasn’t really very concerned, because they’ll typically leave subsequent info notices for you, and the last of which will normally inform you of the date it will be shipped back to the sender, and I had yet to receive a second (or third or fourth) notice.

so get this — they tell me the delivery has already been sent back to the original sender. Nice.

UPS fucking blows dead lamas.

It would tickle me no end to wake up one morning to the news that UPS has been taken over by FedEx. Scratch that thought. I wouldn’t want to risk the horrible corporate culture of the former infecting the latter.

Written by Jasper

April 17, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Posted in Miscellania, Rants

Jasper’s endorsement: Mike Gravel

with one comment

Well, not, not really. But I’m a tad weirded out that this is not the first time I’ve taken one of these political matchmaker test thingies, only to have the Alaskan’s name come up high on my list of political matches.

Anyway, it’s rather a fun test as these things go. It gave me Kucinich as my second choice, and Richardson as number three.

Written by Jasper

January 27, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Posted in Miscellania, Politics

And in other news…

leave a comment »

Average temperatures once again begin to increase in Boston starting tomorrow. This for me is a considerably more important day than the winter solstice. While I like light, I guess I like heat even more. Although, for what it’s worth we have, I think, already gained a good twenty minutes or so of late afternoon daylight (I guess the truth of the matter is I greatly value both the increase in daylight and the rise in temperatures). In another two or three weeks, not only will the longer afternoon daylight be a lot more noticeable, the aforementioned warm-up should become more apparent as well. Nothing dramatic, mind you, but the three or four degrees we’ll gain in terms of afternoon high temperatures by the mid-point in February is welcome, and recognizable if you’re want, as I am, to cherish every sign of spring no matter how subtle. Indeed, by, say, Saint Valentine’s day, the winter just seems less oppressive from a psychological perspective, because, by that juncture, one is able to say (or think) things like “Gee, a week from such and such is March X.” and “Hmm, a week from next we’ll return to daylight savings.” You didn’t remember that, did you? Daylight savings now returns in early March (second week?). By that time, it should start remaining fairly bright out until 6:30.

Yup. I can almost taste it. Winter is nearly over. And February, as you’ll recall, is the shortest of the twelve months (though unreasonably lengthened by a day due to the unadvisable actions of some long-dead pope).

Written by Jasper

January 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Posted in Boston, Miscellania, Weather

Light posting

leave a comment »

Sorry for the lack of new content of late. Why I feel obliged to apologize to my seven regular readers, I’ll never know. But I do. Anyway, I opened my own office recently and, owing to budget shortfalls I had to canibalize the clunky old Dell desktop that passes for my computer by moving it from my apartment to the aforementioned office. Long story short, not having a computer at home, while amazingly positive for work productivity, pretty much sucks for blogging output.

I expect this state of affairs will be temporary, and already have my eye on a shiny new laptop.

Written by Jasper

January 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Blogs, Miscellania

Jury Duty

leave a comment »

Sorry for the long absence. I was stuck in a long (three week) jury trial — a civil matter at Suffolk Superior in downtown Boston.  I may comment on it later. It was rather an interesting experience.

I’ve also been getting a new business up and running, so time has been in short supply. Oh yeah, I’ve also been wasting spending tons of time commenting on other blogs. Oh well.

Anyway, like the new blog theme? I’m delighted with it.

Written by Jasper

November 5, 2007 at 9:11 pm

Posted in Miscellania