Archive for April 2009

Rebuilding the Republican Party

Michael Reagan makes a good point about rebuilding the Republican Party that’s worth mentioning:

“This party needs to be built from the bottom up — not from the top down,” Michael Reagan said. “We’ve been king builders for so long and we’ve lost everything because of it.”

That’s one reason why I’m not worried about seeing Arlen Specter switch parties. In fact I’d be happy to see the other RINOs leave too. The Party needs a bit of purification and a return to its roots – especially its grassroots. The future of the party is not currently in Washington DC. Right now it’s not even in the state capitals around the country. Democrats dominate all levels of politics from dog catcher to president.

But as a conservative with strong libertarian instincts I was pleased by the turnout of the Tea Parties. That means the values of small government, strong defense and freedom with responsibility aren’t dead; they have just been forgotten by the party establishment.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Democrats were where Republicans find themselves today – and look what happened: the ideologues took over the party, re-energized it and remade it into the dominant party in the short span of 6 years. The Democratic Party wasn’t reinvented by moderate Democrats or Blue-Dogs – although they came along for the ride and benefited from the cash and energy; it was reinvented by Howard Dean and his anti-war, limousine liberal and socialist supporters. Obama’ s election was the result.

The Republican Party will not be reinvented by the moderates making it Democrat-lite. It will be reborn by the hardcore conservatives and borderline libertarians you see agitating at the Tea Parties and online today. If it doesn’t, it will die and be replaced by the Modern Whig Party or a splinter of the Democratic Party.

The seeds of the party’s rebirth are planted and already growing, and the extinction of RINOs will soon be upon us.

Arlen Specter Switches Party

He’s a Republican now?

Why An Alcoholic Supports the Legalization of Illicit Drugs

Anybody who knows me understands that I have traveled a long and tortured road when it comes to substance abuse. The drugs I abused were completely legal – tobacco and alcohol – but at the height of my abuse I was up to two packs a day and well… consumed embarrassing amounts of liquor. On January 28, 1996 I stubbed out my last cigarette in a neighborhood noodle shop in north Kyoto Japan. In the early hours of December 1, 2000 I set down my last drink in Wilmington Delaware. I have been Straight Edge ever since, but the years of sobriety haven’t made me complacent. I realize that the hell I left behind is only a drink away and one is as close as the refrigerator in the kitchen (the Wife keeps beer and wine in the house).

I know what it feels like to crave something so badly that one’s world becomes focused on a single glass or tobacco-filled paper tube. I have trudged a mile through foot deep snow to buy cigarettes and lost my mind from nicotine withdrawal the dozens of times I tried – and failed – to quit. But in the end something more powerful than me pulled me out of my own private addiction hell and left me dumbfounded and humble towards addiction in the real world.

That humility has shown me that I have gotten off much more lightly than most. Search this journal for essays about my old drinking buddy, my sister-in-law, for an example of someone with both feet firmly planted in the pit of hell. Over the years I have seen others ruined by alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug abuse of seemingly a thousand different varieties and come to one conclusion: we as a people have yet to understand and treat addiction effectively.

Even as a recovering addict myself I can’t tell you what the solution is for addiction. What helped me was a swift and hard kick in the pants by the Wife combined with an iron will forged in my childhood by my mother. But I don’t claim to know what works for others.

What I can say beyond a reasonable doubt however is that jailing addicts does not help addiction. If anything it makes the addict’s situation worse while doing nothing to protect Society.

An addict’s first priority feeding the addiction by securing his or her drug. Everything else pales in comparison to this fundamental need. While I was in the African bush I never fell below a carton of Tanzanian Sportsmans and a bottle of scotch. Every six weeks I would take a long trip up Lake Tanganyika to get supplies for the research camp, and rebuild my stash. I ran out of coffee but I never once ran out of cigarettes over the course of an entire year in the isolated outpost.

Since my drugs were legal, they were easily obtained and therefore relatively cheap. I doubt that my annual bar tab and smokes budget ever consumed more than 5% of my income. Some – I’d hazard a guess and suggest that most addicts spend more on their dope than they take in. To make up the difference they lie, cheat and steal – often from their loved ones. Some also deal to make enough money to feed their addiction. These particular sad-sacks usually end up in shallow graves as their addiction forces them to steal from their suppliers.

Outsiders ask how they could do this – yet forget that the addicts first priority is securing her drug. Nothing else matters. It’s hard for non-addicts to understand this, but as Al-Anon teaches you have to accept it nevertheless.

As an addict to legalized drugs I live in a world awash with them. A clove cigarette smells so sweet on the Spring air, and nothing seems to get a man laid faster than a can of beer - if the commercials are to be believed that I see on television. But my personal history has taught me that sweet smelling cloves eventually lead to fetid Marlboros, and nothing  gets a man arrested faster than drinking a 12 pack of beer and smarting-off to a cop.

Addicts can’t live in a protected bubble forever. Eventually they have to leave rehab or the safety of their family to get on with their own lives and become responsible for themselves. Some will fail and die. Others will succeed in living a relatively decent life in spite of their addiction.  Still more will bounce between addiction and sobriety, leading uneasy and restless lives.

Of all the things I can blame for my addiction – my upbringing, my genetics – Society isn’t one of them. Sure I live in a permissive society where alcohol and tobacco are legal, yet the fact that heroin and meth aren’t permissible in our Society hasn’t stopped people from getting addicted to them.  Similarly there are drunks in Riyadh and Tehran – nations where alcohol is banned. The legality of a substance has little impact on its addiction, and to believe otherwise is to fail to understand the nature of addiction and underestimate its power.

Besides, it’s my disease – not Society’s. I own it, and I will not let anyone take away that tiny bit of power from me.

Legalizing illicit drugs is no panacea. It isn’t going to stop addiction, but at the same time it isn’t going to turn normal people into coke whores and junkies. The drugs don’t have that kind of power to the non-addict. It’s only those of us who are open to addiction that can become addicts.  One can even take opiates and not become an addict, as soldiers proved in Vietnam where over half of enlisted men in 1971 had tried opiates and half of those did not become addicted. Similarly there are even some who manage to smoke cigarettes without becoming addicted – something that I personally don’t get after my 17 year smoking “career”.  And most people who have a beer or glass of wine do not become alcoholics. In fact according to the US Dept. of Health and Human Services, approximately 7.4% of the US population meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. That means that at least the Government believes that 92.6% of Americans – around 280,000,000 – aren’t alcoholics.

For forty years America has waged a war on drugs, and all it has to show for it are casualties. But I’m arguing that these casualties exist whether we declare war on drugs or not. People are going to continue to die. Lives will continue to be ruined – whether we declare a war or not, whether we throw addicts into prison or not. The only way forward out of this mess is to take the first step and recognize that the problem of addiction is not a law and order problem, nor solely a medical or mental problem. It is all of these yet more – a spiritual problem that we have yet begun to understand let alone solve.

I’ve been sober for over 8 years now, but I still am terrified of losing the sobriety I have worked so long and hard for. All I can do is continue onward in the hope that someday Society will mature enough to begin to provide solutions for what has to be one of the most insidious problems anyone can face in his or her life.

The Council Has Spoken: April 24, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Joshuapundit - The Real Holocaust Denial

Noncouncil: Doug Ross@Journal - Let Them Eat Dirt

Full voting here.

GOP Needs To Embrace Gays Part 2

John McCain’s top adviser from the presidential campaign urged fellow Republicans on Friday to warm up to gay rights and warned that the GOP risks becoming the “religious party” with its opposition to same-sex marriage. (link)

I’ve said roughly the same thing myself here. The Democratic Party is antagonistic to religion – particularly Christianity and Judaism. The Republican Party can protect the religious at the same time it champions gay rights as part of its libertarian roots. It would be a balancing act, but no different from the one that allows Barney Frank and Jim Webb to call themselves “Democrats.”

Just as the Democratic Party became invigorated by its extreme Left, the Republicans must return to libertarianism. People are tired of “RINOs” and “Democrat-Lite”. It’s time for the call for smaller government to cover the Bedroom – and perhaps even the legalization of drugs.

Obama Administration Sucking Moonbats Out of Private Sector

Hear that sucking sound? It’s the sound of people like this being sucked into the Obama administration:

Influential Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks has hung up her journalistic hat and joined the Obama administration, but not before penning a public proposal calling for some radical ideas to help bail out the failing news industry.

Brooks, who has taken up a post as an adviser at the Pentagon, advocated upping “direct government support for public media” and creating licenses to govern news operations.


In the minds of some people, for every problem in the world there is a solution that involves an immense bureaucracy spending other people’s money. Of course for people like Ms. Brooks who can’t hack it in the private sector, I can understand why becoming one of the bureauracy’s millions has its appeal.

I used to read the LA Times. In fact I used to read two newspapers a day. My older sisters taught me to read using newspapers (the St. Louis Post Dispatch and the long defunct St. Louis Globe Democrat). I used to visualize my travels through the world by the mastheads of the newspapers that thrived in the cities I called home. The Chicago Tribune and Sun Times. The San Diego Union and the San Diego edition of the LA Times. The Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri. That was before the Internet, and long before I got tired of reading commentary passing for objective reporting.

Today I remain a voracious “information junky” bouncing between up to 20 different websites daily searching for up-to-the-minute news. I still subscribe to two mainstream magazines: The Economist and New Scientist. Why? Because their in-depth articles can’t be found on websites geared towards 250 word wire stories. Both are biased to the left, but not as much as other publications in their fields (okay, that’s a stretch for the New Scientist – but I’ve taken to skipping articles ripe with Global Warming hysteria).  I also read the local newspaper, Community Pub, because the newspaper covers what’s happening locally – something that the “big” newspapers in the area – the News Journal and the Philly papers – refuse to do.

I’ve written at length about the failure of newspapers to appeal to someone like me – someone who was once one of their core subscribers and fans. In their zest to cut costs they’ve avoided local stories that appeal to their base subscribers in favor of national and international wire stories that can be found elsewhere. When I pick up a Delaware paper I want to read about the happenings in Delaware – not Washington DC, New York, or San Francisco. But the newspapers don’t get that; they’ve lost the ability to respond to their markets’ needs and so they are losing readers.

On top of this is the sham of unbiased reporting. Writing by its very nature is biased, as is any action done by a human being. That’s why scientists use double-blind methods to remove bias from their studies. Journalists have to either write pablum to avoid pissing off any0ne with half a brain, or they call what they do “unbiased” and say what they want anyway. Either way they are lying to their readers who simply throw up their hands and get their news elsewhere.

But most journalists don’t get this. They blame everyone but themselves. The Internet. Bloggers. Capitalism.  This is music to the ears of someone like Ms. Brooks.  To Brooks this screams for a government solution. The government should license the media – thereby controlling the market and killing off threats like Pajamas Media, freelance writers and bloggers.

What is truly amazing to me is that had any Conservative commentator proposed under the Bush Adminstration what Brooks is proposing today there would have been riots in news rooms across the country – and rightly so. Conservatives may hate the MSM passionately today, but none want to kill it by turning the Fourth Estate into a government department. It only makes sense to the short-sighted nutjobs that have deified Barack Obama to the point where they have forgotten that in less than 8 years – perhaps as short as 4 if people like me have our way – Obama will be gone and replaced by a real human being - possibly even a Conservative one who views the world very differently than the likes of Ms. Brooks.

In a sense it’s probably better for the newspaper industry that it loses short-sighted wackos like Brooks to government service. Maybe those that are left will be better able to understand that they can survive and even thrive by focusing on their strengths – local reporting – while giving up on the lie of unbiased reporting. The New York Times can survive if it reports on New York and admits to being geared towards wealthy liberals. And the LA Times can do similarly by reporting on Southern California from the perspective of limousine liberals there. Conservatives who live elsewhere will do just fine with our Fox News and Wall St. Journals for national and international news, and our micropapers like the Community Pub for our local news.

The Council Has Spoken: April 17, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Joshuapundit - A Few Inconvenient Truths About Israel And ‘Settlements’

Noncouncil: Macs Mind - About that Obama Iraq Visit

Full voting here.

Dying Technologies & Those I Want To See Die

Two related articles. First, a look at outdated technology that refuses to die:

Fax machines should go the way of the dinosaur. With the instant delivery and reliability of email, fax should be a thing of the past.

Second, 10 technologies about to go extinct:
3. Wristwatches: Throwing on a fancy watch may make you look professional, but let’s be honest. Cell phones and iPods tell you the time when you’re out and about, and virtually every appliance in your home — from your refrigerator to your coffeemaker to your television and your DVD player — has a clock. No one wears a wristwatch anymore, unless he or she grew up with one.

I’m one of the people who gave up on watches after I bought my first cell phone. I haven’t worn one in about 10 years and really don’t miss it.

And don’t get me started on faxes. I still have to send them regularly – most recently over the weekend to the Delaware Division of Revenue.

Here are some technologies that I want to see die, and the sooner the better.

1. Checkout scanners – At the store near me there are often lines at the self-service checkout lanes because it keeps the store’s labor costs down. However the cashier minding these works harder than anyone else in the store because they inevitably screw up. Scanning your own items also takes longer because you have to scan each one several times before the scanner recognizes it. The technology exists today to outfit a checkout lane with an RFID antenna that would pick up the price of each product outfitted with an RFID tag. Imagine bagging your groceries while you shop, then pushing your cart through a checkout lane; no more loading the cart, unloading the cart, bagging, loading the cart and paying. Add a cheap RFID antenna at home and you could even keep an inventory.

2. Cords – I’m looking at a mass of cables on the floor that were hidden by a piece of furniture I’ve moved. Each powers or carries a signal to a TV, router, a couple of printers, a PS3, a couple of USB enclosures, PCs, monitors, keyboards, and assorted electronic gizmos of the 21st Century… The power of all these devices could be captured with induction coils, and short-range wireless could handle communication between everything else. We started with keyboards and mice, but hopefully we’ll progress to monitors soon and power within the next decade or two.

“Little Girl” The Feral Cat

A few weeks ago the Kid came home with a kitten in his arms. We had thought the cat had a home, but after speaking to the supposed owner we learned that the kitten was in fact a two year old feral female. Although tame outside she would not stand being stuck indoors. Several people in the neighborhood had tried to bring her in and tame her, but she always managed to escape. Unfortunately no one had ever thought to spay her, so she had already had two litters of kittens. The neighborhood kids had given her an ordinary name which I didn’t like, and until I could come up with another name I took to calling her “Little Girl” after her diminutive size.

Although friendly outside, inside our house her personality changes. She is extremely aggressive with the other cats and the dogs and doesn’t take too kindly to being handled by the Wife or myself. Perhaps a better name would be ”Vixen” or something connoting her feisty temper.  However she’s gentle with the Kid and allows him to hold and pet her. I set up a litter box for her which she uses and figured that I would make arrangements to have her spayed and then release her back into the wild.

Two weeks ago I prepared to take her to a warehouse where cats are spayed and neutered cheaply. In the days before I watched her carefully and became suspicious that she was pregnant. Chances were she was – a healthy young female, outdoors in the springtime who had already had two litters.

I am pro-life and couldn’t in good conscience have her spayed if she were indeed pregnant. I decided to keep her indoors until I was certain that she wasn’t pregnant or she had kittens.  The idea of taking her to the backdoor of a warehouse to have an abortion just repulsed me. Her presence is a big inconvenience in my life, but taking lives should require better excuses. Nothing worth having in life is convenient; in fact some of the best things in my life were “inconvenient” at one time or another. Depending on her litter size I will keep them all or find homes for them. Each will be neutered or spayed – as she will be once the kits are a month old.

It’s been three weeks now and there has been no sign of her going into heat, plus her belly is bulging slightly and has a bit of sway when she walks. She’s calmer around the other animals and becoming a bit more social with me and the Wife. Since the death of our main cat in January I’ve been looking for a kitten to help fill the void created in my heart after her death; so far I’ve come up empty handed.

But as usual I don’t find the animals; the animals always find me when the time is right for them.

What Is a Man?

Writer Tom Chiarella in Esquire comes up with a pretty decent list:

A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside.
He understands the basic mechanics of the planet. Or he can close one eye, look up at the sun, and tell you what time of day it is. Or where north is. He can tell you where you might find something to eat or where the fish run. He understands electricity or the internal-combustion engine, the mechanics of flight or how to figure a pitcher’s ERA.
A man does not know everything. He doesn’t try. He likes what other men know.
A man knows his tools and how to use them—just the ones he needs. Knows which saw is for what, how to find the stud, when to use galvanized nails.
A miter saw, incidentally, is the kind that sits on a table, has a circular blade, and is used for cutting at precise angles. Very satisfying saw.

Very satisfying saw indeed. I own a 10” Ryobi that sits expectantly on my workbench. I often smile at it while I’m folding laundry.

I also might add the following to the list:

A man knows how to handle a gun – whether it’s a handgun or a rifle. He recognizes that the gun is a tool to get a particular job done and as such should be treated with the same respect he reserves for his other power tools. Just as few carpenters obsess about their hammers, a man knows to avoid becoming obsessed with guns. They are tools and they are useful, but nothing more.

A man knows how to use and maintain a chainsaw. He knows how to add the right proportion of oil to the gasoline by sight and without a measuring cup. He knows how to fell a tree with the saw without damaging nearby structures or himself.

A man should know how to be completely self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency is his default state. He must be able to get a job, pay the bills, do the laundry, cook and clean without any help whatsoever. However a man recognizes that the sum of a family is greater than its parts; consequently sharing life with other human beings should be a goal of all men. The lessons of self-sufficiency can then be used for the good of others.

A man always pays his bills on time – not because of the penalties that he might incur from late fees or dings to his credit, but because doing so contributes to the order in his life. This order is like rebar in his character, enabling him to weather the storms of life without breaking.

A man values the wisdom of older men, but he doesn’t need their company or their “role modeling” to become a man himself. A man learns that everything that he needs to become a man is already inside him; all others can do is help him find it more easily. Nevertheless a man can find it on his own. This has become a cultural cliche: a man refusing to ask for directions while lost. Usually it’s up to women to force him to stop somewhere along the way. What the cliche fails to recognize is that a man will eventually reach his destination without help and by doing so stumble upon new vistas and possibilities that would have been missed had he taken the direct route.

A real man appreciates the artistry in the everyday. He can look at an interior wall and appreciate the expertise it took to apply a smooth skim coat, and to completely hide the joint with mud where two sheets of drywall meet. If he can, he learns how to do this feat himself – but if he does he won’t brag about it. His friends who are real mean will appreciate his skill when they see his remodeled bath or family room.

Real men have feelings but don’t feel the need to “get in touch” with them. Emotions have their place, but a man knows when to express them and when not to. A man knows that a crisis is not the time for emotion: it’s the time for intellect and reason, and a man cultivates both throughout his entire life. It might be through reading the classics or the daily newspaper, but a man is ruled by his rational mind and exercises it regularly.

UPDATE: Of course Rudyard Kipling says it the best in his poem, “If”:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run – Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

Suckers’ Rallies and Summer Storms

As I’ve written before I’m a contrarian by nature, but I know myself well enough to recognize and account for my own biases. Over the past few weeks I’ve been relieved to see the stock market rise and the economy overall appear to stabilize, but the stability hasn’t felt real. It has reminded me of a break in the clouds that often appeared in the middle of a butt-kicking Midwestern thunderstorm in the summer: the break in the rain and lightning is nice, but the clouds to the west are black and haven’t disappeared.

I just found a Bloomberg article that supports my intuition.

The difference between the American Association of Individual Investors Bull Index and Bear Index surged to 5.6 as of April 2. When the reading rose to 11.5 in November and 13.6 in January it coincided with the end of “bear-market rallies” of at least 21 percent by the MSCI World Index.

“What that’s going to show is that people always want to look at the glass as if it is half full,” said Martin Marnick, head of trading at Helmsman Global Trading Ltd. in Hong Kong. “Using common sense you know what that general trend is. We’re in a recession and this is not the start of a bull market.”

After the 2001-02 recession (which lasted well into 2003 in the Philadelphia area) the devastation was quite apparent in the form of bankrupt companies and empty offices. Today in my area it doesn’t look all that bad – yet the economy is supposedly worse off. Granted my intuition is based on one small metro area of the country, but except for the housing market things don’t look as bad as they should.

In St.Louis the air itself seemed exhausted after the thunderstorm passed. Today I sense that there is way too much optimism to justify the end of the bad economic times. Either things aren’t as bad as we think (doubtful given the statistics) or the clouds are about to close and fill the air with torrents of rain.

The Council Has Spoken: April 10, 2009

Congratulations to this week’s winners:

Council: Bookworm Room - Can it happen here?

Noncouncil: Charles Krauthammer - Obama’s Ultimate Agenda

Complete voting here.

And the winner is…

My Targetmaster membership expired in January so I haven’t been to the range since then. That doesn’t mean that I have completely given up on firearms; quite the contrary, I’m planning my first purchase.

After all the guns I shot last year only a few really stood out. These were enjoyable to shoot, easy to handle and represent some of the finest firearms available today. Here are my favorites.

In the category of best handgun, the winner is…

The Beretta U22 Neo. This is one of the first guns we shot, and it was the one we always switched to when the Kid and I just wanted to relax and have fun after firing a bigger caliber. I still hate the design but I am a function over form kind of guy, and this gun simply never disappointed. It’s extremely accurate, doesn’t weigh alot or take your arm off when it fires.

In the category of best carbine, the winner is…

Looks like the Italians are going to sweep this year because the Cx4 Storm. The Cx4 Storm surprised me in many ways. The composites keep the gun light but still manage to feel natural. I was at first put off by the kick, but after several firings I found that it was a natural force that a good stance easily compensated for.

One of the biggest shortcomings with the membership at Targetmaster was the fact that it is an indoor range limited to 25 yards. I really want to explore shooting at longer distances using scoped rifles. Plus the Kid never got comfortable with the automatic fire.

No Pizza for You: Bad Website Design at Pizzahut.com

I’m a systems analyst and deal with complex software every day. However I’m still amazed when companies release bad code on their customers. Case in point: Pizzahut.com

I received an email from Pizza Hut offering their Panormous Pizza for $10. I happened to be lazy and hungry at that very moment and clicked on the “Order Now” button in the HTML. As the site loaded I notice that the URL was passing several knapsacks (marketing and order variables) to the site. I was then prompted to login. For some reason the website for ordering pizza has a login that is more restrictive than most. If you screw up either your login ID or password it doesn’t tell you which you entered wrong; it just says “login incorrect”. After a few attempts at remembering my login ID and password for a fast-food website, I figure out the combo – and the real fun begins.

First I’m presented with a screen after the login that shows my “hometown Pizza Hut” – the closest store to my home – correctly and asks if I want carryout or delivery. I select carryout because I may be lazy but I’m also cheap; having worked as a pizza delivery guy in my youth I always tip them well – so most of the time I pick up the orders myself. The next screen I’m prompted to select the location nearest my house and presented with a Microsoft Virtual Earth satellite view of my neighborhood complete with all the Pizza Huts in southeastern PA and northern DE shown with tiny Pizza Hut icons. But my “hometown pizza hut” was displayed correctly on the previous page. Why am I being asked to select it again? I do it anyway.

By this time I notice that all the knapsack information is gone. The site doesn’t know that I want the Panormous Pizza for $10 – so I have to find it. Is it a featured product? Nope. It sure isn’t a Tuscani Pasta. After clicking on various tabs I finally find it hidden under “Pick Your Crust”. The Panormous is not a crust – it’s a pizza. So what is it doing there? Now I’m not just hungry, I feel hungry AND like I’m still at the office.

The website allows you to customize the toppings per pizza – but the Panormous is actually two separate pizzas packaged together. Each pizza can have a separate topping but I can either double my order or have both pizzas be the same topping. The page is confusing and offers too many choices (why? I’m ordering a pizza, not building a house) – but the page cannot handle two pizzas, two different toppings, one price. To make matters worse the Panormous is showing up at regularly price, not the $10 promised in the email.

I search the website and find a phone number to call. I speak to a woman who mispronounces my name after I’ve spelled it twice. I explain my trouble with the site and ask her how to order a pizza on the website. Her solution? “Call the store and place your order over the phone. Do you want the number?” I mention that they will need a coupon code to complete the order (I’ve actually gone through this before a long time ago). She said that the website may not be displaying correctly because the store doesn’t offer the pizza. I laughed. “You don’t really know, do you?” I said and hung up. Now I’m not only hungry, I’m really annoyed.

I find a feedback form and start typing away in the memo section… And run out of space. The memo field is limited to 520 characters including line breaks – that’s about 80 words or so.

I call my “hometown pizza hut” in desperation and they hook me up – no problem.

The whole ordering online process is a mess. It clearly hasn’t been quality tested thoroughly. It seems laid out more for product placement and advertising than it does for ordering products. In fairness to the web designers they probably did what they were paid to do. The site requirements came from the marketing department where everybody thought about how cool the site looked and nobody considered its purpose. Had they actually tried to order a pizza the errors would have been easily apparent. A round of QA would have kept this multimillion dollar firm from releasing one of the worst websites I’ve used that doesn’t have a URL that ends in .gov.

In the Grand Scheme of things the failure of this website means little, but it doesn’t take much to do a decent website in the year 2009.