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February 28th, 2003:

Why they bother

Kevin Drum, in commenting on this entry about zapping the TeleZapper, asked a very reasonable question:

Sarcasm aside, why do they want to defeat devices like the TeleZapper? Surely anyone willing to spend $40 and expend the effort to install such a thing is pissed off enough about telemarketing calls that they are genuinely unlikely to respond to a call. Why would you want to contact such a person?

Now one of his readers has suggested a very reasonable answer:

This, I think, has to do with an old door-to-door salesman’s rule of thumb, namely, that the best doors to knock on were those where there were signs saying “No Solicitors.” These signs were mostly (at least in the salesmen’s worldview) put up by people whose “sales resistance” was nil, people who knew (or whose spouse, perhaps, knew) that any salesman who got them to open the door was pretty well guaranteed a sale. People who could easily growl, “get lost” to a salesman didn’t need “No Solicitors” signs. So, anyone who goes to the trouble and expense of buying and installing a Telezapper is quite likely someone who has little to no sales resistance and is probably a pretty good mark.

Very interesting. I still see it Kevin’s way, but I can certainly understand this viewpoint.

With friends like these…

You know, for all of the crabbing by some conservatives about Martha Burk and her quest to get the Augusta National Golf Club to admit women, I think I’d rather be on her side of the issue than a Ku Klux Klan splinter group.

“This equal rights stuff has gotten out of hand,” Joseph J. Harper, imperial wizard of the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said Friday. “We’re not concerned with whether they want us there or not. We’re concerned with their right to choose who they want to choose” as members.

Harper wrote the Richmond County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday, requesting a permit to protest during the Masters in April.

I suppose it ruins all the fun to point out that the kind of publicity that a KKKesque protest at an event like the Masters would generate is exactly the sort of thing that gives network executives and corporate sponsors a terminal case of the heebie jeebies, and that their prescription to make it go away is to call Hootie Johnson up and tell him to invite a chick into the club, pronto. Joseph Harper, therefore, is very likely to do exactly what Martha Burk was unable to.

I’m gonna have to buy myself a new Irony-O-Meter, because this story just broke the one I have now.

Mac also picked up on this.

Poor folks don’t need health care

Today’s edition of Worst Case Budget Scenarios is what the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid look like after a 12.5% budget cut as mandated by Governor Goodhair. It ain’t pretty.

The worst-case-scenario budget that reduces funding 12.5 percent for Health and Human Services would result in the following:

· Cutting 251,200, or 51 percent of children served, from the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

· Cutting 69,800 needy adults from the Medicaid rolls.

· Cutting Medicaid reimbursement to providers by 33 percent, likely meaning fewer doctors and hospitals would accept Medicaid patients.

This is the guy that Perry himself appointed to oversee these programs saying these things, not some namby-pamby limpwrist liberal who just wants to confiscate your paycheck. As always, the Guv himself is demonstrating genuine leadership:

Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt refused to offer any specific assurances to increasingly alarmed, affected Texans.

“The governor is confident that as the Legislature moves through the budgeting process the Legislature will exercise sound judgment distinguishing between wants and needs” she said.

Translation: If y’all can make this work, I’ll take the credit. If it goes to hell in a handbasket, it’s the Lege’s fault.

The figures are too depressing to quote any more. If there’s any silver lining, it’s that even I can’t believe that Perry and the Lege would go this far. Something will have to give, I just don’t know what or when.

Another bloody anniversary

Man, the last week of February really sucked in 1993, didn’t it? Today is the 10th anniversary of the BATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, a raid that left four agents and six Davidians dead, and which climaxed 51 days later on April 19 with the fiery deaths of 74 other cultists.

Among the things I didn’t know that I do now after reading that article and this one is that there are still followers of David Koresh out there, and that they don’t seem to be carrying around much of a grudge against the government for what happened. I can’t say much about their theology, but I certainly admire their ability to forgive and move on.

Stray thought: What do you think the threat level will be on April 19? After all the wolf-crying that’s been done, will anyone take it seriously? Just curious.

A little something silly

Scott points me to this excellent photo of poker-playing snowmen. Now all they need is someone to paint the whole scene on black velvet.

Now that’s a double latte!

I feel the need to drive some new Google searches to this site, so I’m happy to point out that Playboy will be photographing the Women of Starbucks later this year. As a dedicated non-drinker of coffee, let me say that this will probably be more tasteful than what usually comes out of Starbucks.

Amusing sidebar: Normally, the Chron‘s “Newsmakers” section on Page 2 just lifts a paragraph from stories like this without any additional content. Today, though, they added a distinctly Houston spin to it:

Hold on to your travel mugs: Playboy Magazine is planning a “Women of Starbucks” pictorial for late 2003. The monster coffee chain offered a frosty reaction to the brewing controversy on Thursday, saying it doesn’t endorse the project. Nonetheless, the magazine — inspired by the success of similar spreads featuring Enron and 7-Eleven employees — has given baristas everywhere an April 1 deadline to submit pictures that would make Mr. Coffee blush. With more than 100 stores in Houston — including one on each side of the intersection at Gray and Shepherd — it’s a good bet Playboy will select a latte lady from the Bayou City. Especially if they used to work at Enron.

Sometimes you just have to sit back and admire the Chron‘s ability to do Houston boosterism.

Batter up!

The team practice last night was at an indoor batting cage. I’d made the decision to do that instead of work out on the regular field because of the recent nasty weather which forced the cancellation of our last practice. The weather yesterday actually turned out to be pretty decent, but the field would have still been wet and muddy.

We started out with me pitching to the kids. I was behind one of those batting-practice screens you see major leaguers use. It’s basically a seven foot square hurricane fence, with a small rectangle cut out in the top left for me to throw through. After everyone had taken a turn, I offered a dollar to anyone who hit a line drive back through that cut-out section. The first kid to do so was the smallest one on the team. He’d swung and missed at most of the pitches before that, so it was really gratifying to see him connect like that. One other kid collected later on.

Eventually we got the manager to set up the Jugs pitching machine to give them a different look. We set the machine for 40 MPH, which was a bit faster than they were used to seeing. All of them started out swinging too late to make contact, but by the time they finished they had the timing down. That was encouraging.

The Jugs machine uses these weird rubber-coated yellow balls that are dimpled like golf balls. I could swear we used to feed the Jugs machine regular baseballs when I was a kid at baseball camp, but maybe that was only in the arm-style machines.

The other major accomplishment was handing off the candy to the parents who had signed up to sell it. They all seemed to know what they were doing, which was a relief to me. They have until March 31 to complete their capitalistic mission.

No practice this Saturday due to a Cub Scout conflict. We’ll be back on the field on Tuesday.