Jim Gaffigan’s “Hot Pockets” bit

Last night I couldn’t sleep (maybe it was the 200 mg of caffeine I consumed during the day), and while I was tinkering with my website at 1 AM, I watched a Jim Gaffigan special on Comedy Central. I’ve been a fan of Jim Gaffigan for quite a while, but I hadn’t seen his full-length special before. I was literally in tears over the following bit, exploring the wonders of Hot Pockets.

Are you a liberal and you didn’t know it?

I found this report on America’s “Progressive Majority” interesting. I’ve long held a sneaking suspicion that Americans aren’t as conservative as they think they are (or as the media tells them they are), but it’s nice to see some data reinforcing that point.

Some of the sections are a little fuzzier than others, and I noticed a few of the graphs were designed somewhat misleadingly, but the overall message is on. Americans lean to the left, even if they think otherwise. The final section is especially useful in this regard. It discusses the flaws in commonly cited polls that ask respondents to self-identify. The problem is, most people just aren’t that ideological, and they’re not really sure what “conservative” or “liberal” even means. But when you have Fox News talking heads barking at you 24/7 that liberals are Satan incarnate, it’s hard to have a (pardon me, I can’t help it) fair and balanced view of the issue. As the report states:

(A)t a time when the parties are more ideologically distinct than ever, one-third of the public can’t name correctly which party is more conservative. If this bare minimum of knowledge is unavailable to such a large proportion of the population, it is fair to say that their self-placement on ideological scales will not be a particularly reliable guage of their actual beliefs on issues.

In 1967, Hadley Cantril and Lloyd Free famously observed that Americans were “ideological conservatives” but “operational liberals.” They didn’t like the idea of government, but they liked what government does and can do.

This last portion really resonated with me: I have an online acquaintance who’s a proud member of the Libertarian Party, and who rails whenever possible against the evils of big government. Yet, he was the same person who, when his family hit a rough patch and needed some financial support, became frustrated with the limited availability of public assistance and healthcare.

Which all leads me back to a potent quote from an unlikely source: I’m sure Ayn Rand is rolling over in her grave that I should be using her words in my argument. Unfortunately I think she failed to follow this maxim herself at a fundamental level, but it still bears repeating:

Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.

Incremental increases in intuitiveness

Hopefully (yes, I know that’s not a word, but hopefully William F. Buckley isn’t reading this), this site has now become slightly easier to use, thanks to my super-cool new translucent navigation bar. I’m taking the transparent PNG thing to the next level here, stacking transparencies on top of one another, and the overall effect is very cool, I think: the nav bar is shaded, but you can still see the photo through it all. Actually, the individual text links on the nav bar are separate transparent PNGs, in the top layer. (OK, technically they’re not CSS layers, but whatever.) Then the nav bar itself is part of the next layer down, which includes all of the shading and the logo that are overlaid upon the actual photo, which is at the bottom. This way, I can easily swap in new photos without having to redesign anything else. The photos just need to be cropped to the right dimensions. (Of course, it’s been ages since I’ve taken a new “34” photo. But maybe now I’ll get back into that project. I really want to take a picture of the signs at the end of the offramp from eastbound 494 onto County 34, because they’ve got “End MN 100” and “Begin Cty 34” side-by-side. And I’ve been a fan of 100 since I was about 5 [for some reason… but at any rate, this parenthetical has gone on far too long now].)

I’ve also added in an “Offspring” link which, if you’re logged in and have been granted access, will take you to the new Gallery2-based photo library. But since I don’t want just any old stranger/psycho looking at pictures of my kids, I’ve added the log-in requirement. Like I mentioned in my last post, if I know you, feel free to register for an account, and then let me know and I’ll set you up with access to the gallery.