Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fun With Inclusiveness

The Israeli government is set to welcome its first Muslim cabinet member. The entire cabinet, with the exception of the somewhat mentally unstable Avigdor Lieberman, approved the appointment of Raleb Majadele to the post of "minister without portfolio" (whatever the hell that means). Majadele is a member of Israel's Labor Party, the junior partner in the coalition currently headed by Ehud Olmert's Kadima (Forward) Party. Labor, incidentally, is headed by defense minister Amir Peretz, who seems to be getting a lot of the blame for Israel's bungled, heavy-handed mission into Lebanon this past summer.

The appointment of Majadele to this post is a symbolic gesture, though a symbol of what I'm not sure. A symbol of a renewed dedication to inclusiveness by Israel towards its Muslim minority? Possibly. Israel has had success incorporating its Druze minority into the fabric of the state, and I see no reason why the same couldn't be done for the Muslims. Though the continued inclusion of Lieberman - someone so virulently anti-Arab that he makes Glenn Beck look warm and fuzzy - in the cabinet can't be comforting to those who want to see anti-Arab discrimination in Israel fall by the wayside.

(Aside: I have enough problems with Joe Lieberman. I don't need another crappy Lieberman to deal with. Seriously, Avigdor Lieberman and Tom Tancredo should sit down together. They'd have a lot to talk about. They could have lunch, have a couple of drinks, and discuss their plans to sodomize their respective countries. They'd have lots of fun. OK, rant over.)

Perhaps Labor is starting a push for getting rid of some of Israel's discrimination against its Arab minority, but it seems to me that such a movement would need the cooperation of the Arab Israelis themselves. As far as the Post article is concerned, the Arab parties have yet to engage in the capital derectalization necessary to launch an effective anti-discrimination movement - they denounced the appointment of Majadele as "giving a seal of approval" to Israel's discriminatory policies. Kids, it may be a symbolic gesture, but that's better than no gesture at all. It means they recognize the existence of a problem.

I've said it before on this blog and I'll say it again - the separate party thing just ain't working for the Israeli Arabs. They'll only see real change if they attempt to participate in mainstream Israeli politics instead of isolating themselves. So kudos to Majadele for having the courage to ditch the self-defeating ethnic parties and work his way near the top of one of the mainstream parties (of which there are an abundance in Israel). A more inclusive Israel will result when his compatriots follow suit.

And finally, a big raspberry to Esterina Tartman, one of Lieberman's drones in the Knesset, who said of Majadele: "We need to burn this plague out of our midst and God willing, the Lord will help us with that." I hear Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh is thinking of suing Ms. Tartman for plaigiarism.

Incidentally, does this make Israel the first Western country with a Muslim cabinet member? If so, that's hilariously ironic. I know we've had a couple of Lebanese Christians (former Energy Sec. Spencer Abraham being the most prominent in my mind), but I don't know about practicing Muslims. Someone with more knowledge on this than me, let me know.

Woodhead's Fifth Law

At any given time, someone, somewhere, is lamenting the decline of civilization.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Screw Article Six

Sorry, atheists - you're officially barred from holding office in my state. Or eight others, for that matter.

That's right, under the Constitution of North Carolina and of eight other states, atheists are forbidden to hold office by the State Constitution. In Arkansas, atheists can't testify in court. And in Massachussets, only Christians are entitled to equal protection under the law.

It's remarkable that only six of the nine states - Arkansas, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Texas - are traditionally "Bible belt" states. Maryland and Pennsylvania show up. The most restrictive religious test is applied by Massachusetts. (Come to think of it, MD, PA, and MA were all religiously based colonies when they were founded, and so it should probably come as no surprise that their Constitutions reflect that.) And that the state that most people would expect to be hostile to atheists - Utah - has no such provision.

Either way, all of these state Constitutions are in flagrant violation of the U.S. Constitution's Article VI, which states that "no religious test shall be required" to hold office in the U.S. As such, they're completely unenforceable. These provisions are examples of an interesting crossroads of law, one inhabited as well by laws against cohabitation and premarital sex that exist in many a state (up until recently, NC was one). They are laws adopted in the past to reflect the cultural values of a society that are now, thanks to cultural changes, too embarrassing for states to enforce. But at the same time, repealing these laws or amending the Constitution to scrap these clauses would still strike too much of a nerve among the more traditionalist elements of the populace for it to be undertaken. Such idle laws are an interesting phenomenon - to me they serve as proof that it's a bad idea to try to legislate cultural norms.

Another thing. Thanks to judicial review, these laws would be struck down if they were ever challenged (see: NC's cohabitation law). This leads to a fun little koan: these laws are only laws until they are enforced. Then they are no longer laws. That amuses me.

There is, of course, still a practical barrier for atheists to be elected to office in many areas. (In fact, it's probably easier for an atheist to get elected in MA than in a lot of other states that don't have an anti-atheist clause in their Constitution.) But that's another discussion entirely.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Wrong Kind Of Red

Matt Novak and Ben Stark have blogged previously on the lack of honesty in the Iraq debate. I agree with them. I have reflected on the issue - see below - and I still am not sure whether the escalation is the best of a bad bunch of options or a colossal mistake that will just mess things up worse. I just hope that General Petraeus knows what he's doing and that Bush doesn't try to micromanage too much - we've seen how well that works.

Dub-Style was remarkably civil about it in his State of the Union speech. Sadly, the same cannot be said for some of his supporters, who have gone back to the old strategy of questioning the patriotism of escalation's opponents. People who argue that opposing the surge helps the enemy are disgraceful. It's a statement more befitting Stalinist Russia than a democratic society like ours. Hewitt, and all those who have made similar arguments, owe the world an apology for polluting the world with their drivel.

Hewitt, in fairness, is basing his comments on an exchange between General Petraeus and Senator Lieberman, chronicled here in the Post, wherein Lieberman asked Petraeus if resolutions opposing the buildup would encourage the enemy and Petraeus replied. "That's correct." I don't blame Petraeus for this - he was goaded into making this statement, and while he should have known better than to take the bait, his response was at least forgiveable. Lieberman, however, should be ashamed of himself. Hewitt has an excuse for being an ignorant ass who uses Stalinist argument techniques - he presumably has a day job and can't invest the time necessary to engage in debate, understand the issue and formulate a full argument. Engaging in debate, understanding issues, and formulating reasoned policy stances is Lieberman's day job. As such, he has no excuse for resorting to what is, at best, rhetorical and argumentative laziness such as that resorted to by Hewitt and his ilk. He certainly has no excuse for advocating Communist-style dissent quashing if that's what he's doing.

I hope this is just Lieberman being lazy. I have respect for Lieberman when it comes to non-foreign-policy and non-war-on-terror issues. Had I lived in Connecticut, I would have had a hard time deciding between him and Lamont. But Lieberman, more than anyone, needs to stand up in front of the Senate and apologize for irresponsible remarks that can be construed to be anti-dissent. And if he honestly has such aversion to dissent, he deserves to be removed from the Senate post-haste.

I'm sorry to be so harsh. I'm not usually this mean to anyone but Tom Tancredo. I just don't believe that it's right to claim that people who disagree with you are unpatriotic or support our enemies. Ending this sort of irresponsible behavior will go a long way towards restoring civility to our issue debates.

Update: On a completely unrelated note, shoutout to PGA Tour pro and Vanderbilt grad Brandt Snedeker, who dropped a 61 on Torrey Pines to take the first-round lead in the Buick Invitational. That 61 includes a nine-under 27 on his first nine - that's birdie golf for nine holes, kids. Rock it, Vandergolfer.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Addendum To The Sports Post

I'm waaaaay too drunk to comment coherently on the State of the Union Address (thank you, SOTU 2007 Drinking Game), so I'll put a little comment about sports on here.

Anyone who, like this idiot, believes that the Super Bowl comes down to some sort of David/Goliath battle between Rex Grossman and Peyton Manning should have their language privileges revoked. Seriously. Manning will never take the field against Grossman. Manning will take the field against the Bears defense. Which is perfectly capable of scoring more points than Grossman. And Grossman will take the field against the Colts defense. Which is incompetent. Not exactly a fair comparison.

And people apologize for their Bear-dissing by saying that, well, if the Saints weren't so mistake-prone, the Bears would have lost. (Some ESPN columnist actually said this.) Yeah. Right. The Saints were mistake-prone. Just like the last 14 teams to lose to the Bears. When are you going to give this defense a little credit? Every team in the NFL can't just happen to be mistake-prone against the same team for the entire year. Think the talent on that Bears D created some of those mistakes? Think they'll create some mistakes from Manning? Sheesh.

Monday, January 22, 2007

This Weekend In Sports

Things we all learned this weekend:

- Peyton Manning and Rex Grossman haters can shut the hell up. The rap on both these guys was always a little overblown considering the position each of them was in. The Bears' ground game and D was so good that Grossman never needed to be more than a Ben Roethlisberger-type game manager; avoid the really stupid mistakes and the Bears would win. He has done that - and more - in these two playoff games. And Manning has always needed to completely carry his seemingly sleeping team through the playoffs, which is never a recipe for success. This time, blessed with a ground game if not a functioning defense, Manning put on a clinic in the second half of the game. I guess those comparisons with Alex Rodriguez (another player unfairly accused of choking - note to Yankees fans: you're losing in the playoffs because you have no pitching, not because of A-Rod) are going to stop for a while.

- Tom Brady does have nerves. He was throwing crap passes all day; that last one was just the next logical step. Bob Sanders almost had the same exact interception on the previous series.

- Apparently, the ball in Indy was greased or something. How else do you explain two offensive fumble recoveries for touchdowns - one for each team (the N.E. one being especially crazy) and numerous drops by the previously reliable Reche Caldwell and future hall-of-famer Marvin Harrison? And how else do you explain the Reggie Wayne toss-the-ball-to-yourself fumble/recovery on that last drive?

- I'm already sick of the Peyton Manning hype. I'm glad the Katrina hype will be gone. I'm going to get sick of the two-black-coaches hype. Seriously, we've reached the point in the NFL where I didn't notice the possibility until someone on TV pointed it out to me. And I think when someone pointed out that Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith were the first black coaches in the Super Bowl, my reaction was something like, "wait, Tony Dungy's black?" Black coaches are no longer remarkable in the NFL. In any other sport... that's a different story. All the hype just seems like the NFL engaging in a little diversity masturbation.

- Boy, Bob Bradley made the U.S. soccer team's offense wake up, didn't he? Can you remember any time under Arena when we scored three goals? Of course, it was against a Denmark team that made Justin Mapp look like Zidane, but it's still nice to see us beat up on a crap opponent with our second string. (Seriously, that Mapp run was freakin' awesome. The only reason Bornstein got the goal was because Mapp banked the ball off his leg. Anyone who hates soccer should be forced to watch that play until they give in. And Cooper's goal was pretty sweet too.) If Bradley can get Landon Donovan to wake up and start playing soccer instead of whatever the hell he's currently playing, he'll shed that "interim" label - and we'll all stop bitching about it.

- How the hell does Vandy's basketball team beat Alabama and Kentucky and lose to Appalachian State? The hallmark of the Stallings era seems to be playing up to strong opponents and playing down to weak ones. Like our football team, maybe. I'm predicting losses to the likes of Ole Miss and South Carolina, one win over Florida, followed by another first-round flameout in the SEC tournament and another one in the NIT. You heard it here first.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I Think This Is A Rerun, But...

...if this is true, it's either disturbing or not the whole truth. It seems like it would have been a small price to pay for the cessation of Iranian aid to Hezbollah and Hamas. Was there some sort of poison pill in the deal that caused the White House to balk at it? Or was the rejection of the deal really based on a calculus as simple-minded and stupid as "we don't talk to evil?"

This was, of course, offered by the Khatami government in 2003, so in hindsight it may not have mattered much. Khatami, then Iran's president, was a lot more friendly than A-Train; A-Train probably would have nixed the deal upon accession. But the deal could have made us look better to the Iranians and maybe prevented the political meltdown that led to A-Train's election.

I'm pretty sure I've blogged on this before. But it's worth repeating.

Smoke Gets In Your FISA

Let's hear it for historic climbdowns by the Bush Administration! Today they have decided to let the FISA court oversee the NSA wiretapping program that has been in place since October 2001.

Of course, the Administration couldn't take a complete step towards ensuring our civil liberties. The FISA court's surveillance will be far from perfect - it's planning to authorize the entire program and not individual cases. This is sad, since the abuses that we're all worried about would occur in individual cases rather than in the program as a whole, which is relatively sane. And for those who aren't worried about abuses, I point you to the TALON database, where your friendly neighborhood protester may be listed as a terrorist threat. Because peace protesters are the people most prone to violence, right?

It'd be nice if the FISA court could exercise full oversight over the program. But this is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When Stupid Attacks

Any idiot can offend black people. Any schmuck can insult Jews. But to do both at once in the same breath? That takes mad skills.

Virginia Republicans: Finding Innovative Ways To Be Stupid.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The War Post

First off, happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King is one of our most deserving national heroes, and he deserves to be honored in any way possible. We fret about our polarized political environment, but it's refreshing to remember that Dr. King was the leader of one side during a time when we were extremely polarized, and that today his legacy is one of the few things that bring the right and the left together. And we also wish that more people in our public life can demonstrate the kind of courage that MLK demonstrated during his battle for civil rights.

Now. Fellow blogosphere travellers Ben and Matt have blogged recently on the Iraq War and the lack of realistic debate on said subject. And it does seem that the debate on the subject is somewhat sophomoric. You either hate America and want it to be destroyed or you want to personally kill thousands of soldiers and rape Iraqi women. Naturally, this lack of debate has allowed the Bush escalation proposal (let's call a spade a spade and lose this "surge" shit) and the Iraq study group's measured withdrawal proposal to escape serious scrutiny by most Americans. Not only that, but evidence for either escalating or withdrawing is somewhat lacking in the mainstream media where I and most Americans get their information. So the thoughts that follow are uninformed ramblings on a subject far more complex than anyone - including those calling the shots - realizes.

As I commented on Matt's post, the Administration strategy seems to be fighting against the wrong problem. The problem is not a strong insurgency fighting against a legitimate government but a sectarian battle that has made the government irrelevant. Sending in more troops to fight the "insurgents" is kind of meaningless and won't do much good.

Reading this article, then, kind of confused me. It is a story about a D.C. lawyer who went to Iraq with the National Guard, but embedded in it is the story of a town that the U.S. military raided and took over. They were running the town well and getting it back on its feet when they left - and when power was turned over to the Iraqi "authorities," it quickly degenerated into a chaotic hub for sectarian murderers. So I thought that maybe it would be good for more troops to be there (note: this should have been done in the first place) in order to bring some much-needed stability to areas currently under insurgent control.

But then I read Ben's post where he raises the excellent point that perhaps the Maliki government doesn't really want peace. As a result, nothing we do will really help. Any stability that we bring to the region will be only temporary. I'm reminded of a quote by former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir. When asked when peace would come to Israel, she said, "We will have peace when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us."

We will have peace in Iraq when, and only when, all sides involved place peace as their number one priority. Right now, only the Kurds seem to be close to taking this step. The Shiites and the Sunni Arabs (the distinction must be made since the Kurds are also Sunni) are only concerned with gaining power for their own respective groups. Any escalation will bring, at best, only temporary stability.

I proposed on Matt's blog a diplomacy-first solution heavy on the infrastructural development with a small military force conducting a UN-style peacekeeping mission. But I wonder now whether this is the best solution.

I look to history, and to the Israel-Arab conflict again. Only after the Egyptians invaded Israel in 1973 did Sadat learn the true cost of warfare, and as a direct result of the '73 Yom Kippur War Sadat chose to pursue peace. Only after the futility and human cost of the late '80s intifada became apparent did Yasir Arafat join Israel at the bargaining table in Oslo. The reason I support at least a partial withdrawal is this: only after the pain and suffering of a civil war hits home will Iraqis realize the silliness of their current argument and begin to seek peace with one another.

This is not a short process. It can take some people an exceptionally long amount of time before they reach the realization that war is in most cases ultimately futile. The Northern Ireland violence went on for some 70 years before peace was finally reached. Israel and the Palestinians have been at war for sixty years and have still not reached this realization. We cannot force this insight onto the Iraqis - they must reach it themselves.

Kierkegaard taught that one must cast himself into the pit of despair before he reaches happiness. Withdrawing will certainly do this for Iraq. But perhaps, in the long term, maintaining an artificial veneer of stability is actually impeding Iraq's progress. Depressing, yes, but this is what we have sown with this ridiculous war...

On a much lighter note, I just saw a male ESPN2 commentator inadvertantly grab a UNC women's basketball player's boob. The replay of this may be the funniest sports moment of the year so far.

New post on the minimum wage law and some embarrassing hypocrisy on the part of George Miller (D-CA) to come.

Also, I'd like to point out that Condi Rice just got propositioned by both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert tonight. Awesome.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Peso Bailout

A chain of pizza restaurants that caters to Hispanics has recently begun accepting Mexican pesos as payment. The predictable demagoguery and hatemongering by the anti-immigrant people ensued. Here are a couple of reasons why the people whining about this are off their rockers:

- Most countries - including our own - have many businesses that accept alternative currencies. Most of the time this occurs in border areas (like the parking lot in Buffalo I once used that advertised parking for $7/$10 Canadian). However, in areas where there is a significant recent immigrant or foreign visitor population, it's smart business to accept foreign currencies as well. My dollar has been good in Matamoros, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Nepal - which, last time I checked, is located nowhere near the U.S. I have a feeling there are a lot more places that will accept the dollar. And as I mentioned earlier, businesses in towns along the Canadian and Mexican border will accept the currency of their respective countries - the article mentions Wal-Mart as being a peso acceptor.

- Getting money changed is costly. Recent immigrants and visitors who have 500 pesos lying around would be paying commission through the nose to get that changed to $50. They'd probably end up with more like $40. So what's the solution? Give the pesos to a business that can lump a bunch of peso sales together and have the business change that money all at once. Since the pizza joint does a lot of business with Hispanics, they'll have a lot of peso sales. Often they can deposit pesos directly and have it credited as dollars by their bank (it works with withdrawals - I could take pesos out of an ATM in Mexico without having to pay commission). And it helps the customer who doesn't have to pay money-changing commission. Everyone benefits. Furthermore, acting as a money changer aids the process of assimilation by making it less costly to replace the pesos immigrants have lying around with dollars (which is what they're getting paid in).

You're not affected - you'll still be able to pay in dollars, since it is the national currency and all. It'd be pretty stupid business practice to stop accepting the official currency of the country you're doing business in. Imagine if I went into business in Mexico and started accepting only dollars.

The only forseeable problem for the business is the exchange rate flexibility. If the peso suddenly rises against the dollar, they'll have to change their peso prices post-haste or else their customers will get hosed. Similarly, if the peso falls against the dollar, they'll have to adapt to that or else they'll get hosed.

- As the spokesman in the article points out, it's good business practice. The first rule of business is to know your customer. The customer of a pizza joint that caters to Hispanics probably would find it convenient every now and then to pay in pesos. In fact, by being the first to accept pesos in places such as Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix, they'll get a lot of business from people who don't really have anything else to do with those damn pesos (see the end of the article).

OK, people, stop whining and get back to doing whatever it is that you've been doing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yes, But Is It The Sun Or A Train?

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal made the first step toward extricating his head from his ass today by acknowledging the reality of the existence of Israel, and appearing to understand that a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is the only realistic one. He also added, "the problem is not that there is an entity called Israel," but that the Palestinians don't have their own state. Fair enough.

But he's still refusing to amend the Hamas charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. And he also added this: "This is a reality but I won't deal with it in terms of recognizing or admitting it." Which, of course, is what he just did in the interview. This statement is emblematic of one of the most major problems in the Middle East - the refusal of people to accept reality and go from there. I think something about that useless little stretch of desert makes people hallucinate. Anyway, seems like Meshaal's head is slowly moving down his intestine, but it'll be a while yet before full derectalization occurs. Which I suppose is par for the course over there.

Not to belittle the unjust ways in which Israel has treated the Palestinians at times, but the European conquerors/immigrants/colonists were WAY worse to the Native Americans than the Israelis are to the Palestinians - and yet, with the exception of Wovoka and the Ghost Dancers back in the late 19th century, very few Native Americans are engaged in active campaigns to send all white people back to Europe. And while I support the existence of Israel, no one has yet sufficiently explained to me why it's absolutely imperative for Israel to hold on to the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem (all of which are overwhelmingly Palestinian areas). Sometimes I wonder if Israel/Palestine is populated entirely by people who missed kindergarten on the day they taught sharing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Donkey Kong

I have to say I was happy when the Democrats took over the House and Senate in November. But now I'm not so sure, especially given Speaker Pelosi's plan to steamroll the House Republicans the same way they steamrolled the Dems over the course of the past twelve years.

Sure, the steamrolling is for things I agree with, such as a higher minimum wage, renegotiating Medicare prescription drug prices, and lobbying ethics reform (though Pelosi's package, in my mind, doesn't go far enough). But this leads to that age-old question: do the ends justify the means? I don't think they do. Especially not because part of the reason the Democrats got this windfall is because people were sick of the partisan steamrolling that went on in Washington in lieu of reasoned cross-aisle debate. So we should say shame on you, Pelosi, for falling victim to the desire for revenge... right?

But really, when you're a true believer like so many representatives are, how could you justify not steamrolling the other side? If you're certain that the ideas you're pushing are good and right and just... well, it's not like you're killing or stealing to get what you want. You're just using the rules to your advantage. It's underhanded, but it's not immoral or even unethical. Is it?

Perhaps, then, congressional Democrats (and Republicans for that matter) should be chastised for their moral certitude - a failing that we generally associate with the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. This, again, is a tale as old as time - those who oppose with the most fervor are in the gravest danger of becoming that which they oppose.

But how can we blame Democrats for having moral certitude when that's apparently what the people want? Elections nowadays are won by those who play the part of true believer. Look at the 2004 Presidential election - John Kerry approached issues thoughtfully and carefully and was pilloried as a "flip-flopper" for his troubles. The criticism most often leveled against Democrats (until '06) is that they don't have "ideals" and that they were "unprincipled" - which basically just means that they were a party that was open to discussion and debate of many viewpoints. Time after time, this openness got them taken to the woodshed. People say they're sick of partisanship, yet they still gobble up voraciously the old lie that the pragmatists, the compromisers, and the debaters are "unprincipled."

My point is this - I'm done saying someone is "unprincipled" or a sellout or whatever because they choose to compromise. I have ideals and I'll fight for them - we all do. But at the end of the day, we need someone who is willing to cut a deal and move forward. The Battle of Evermore needs not occur beneath the Capitol dome. So the shame is really on us - note the first-person pronoun here - for our combative words, our good-versus-evil outlook on too many issues, and our unwillingness to accept compromise that encourages the apocalypolitics that we witness today.

(Matt Novak, if you're out there and reading this, I'd like your opinion as to how a politics of debate and compromise can catch on when moral certitude is so damn appealing.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Best Football Game... Ever

To: Rest of World

From: Me

Message: Suck it.

See, I told y'all Boise State deserved a shot at the championship. If nothing else, the Broncos make things interesting.

Seriously, though, if you have never watched a football game before and you wonder what it is that keeps us football nuts watching games, find a tape/DVD/whatever of the fourth quarter/OT of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and watch it. This game was so good that even my fiancee - who hates football - was impressed at times. And for all my excitement about BSU, hats off to the also-underrated Sooners, who played a heck of a game. Paul Thompson looked awesome on that last drive, and Adrian Peterson... that touchdown run in overtime was pretty sweet too.

But a hook-and-ladder to tie the game after your quarterback royally fucks up with a minute left? A direct snap to the running back who goes for an option pass? And a Statue of Liberty play on the two-point conversion to win? Let us marvel at the balls that it requires to call a playground play when the game is on the line.

And if that wasn't enough, BSU running back Ian Johnson proposed to his girlfriend on the field after the game. Who was coaching this game? Steven Spielberg?

I'll watch hundreds of boring-ass football games if I get to see one that's even close to as good as that one every now and then. This is the stuff that keeps you coming back, folks.