Let's go Wildcats!

woot! 84-75!

Also, it seems clear that the time has come for a blogular endorsement of Obama. Edwards is out and, as we all know, Obama is a Kansan through and through.

The dream is dead

I didn't think that John Edwards was going to win the nomination, but I had hoped he would show up at the convention with enough delegates to force the nominee to pre-appoint him as AG. Oh well.


Political aesthetics

I sometimes think that liberal individualism is something like the intellectual and moral equivalent of the best modernist design — spare, elegant, functional — but hard to grasp or truly appreciate without a cultivated sense of style, without a little discerning maturity. National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they’ve really got it all figured out. But I’m afraid that’s pretty much the kind of thing you get at the Committee on Social Thought. If you declaim the importance of virtue loudly enough, you don’t have to actually think.



Point, Obama

For those of us far from Washington, it is very difficult to know how either Hillary or Obama will do in the general campaign, or in the White House. But there are data points along the way, and Brian Beutler finds one here:
I think the Kennedy news just brings the point home. Kennedy chairs the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions atop both Clinton and Obama. He is, at the same time, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, which is the very committee that has supposedly served as Clinton's home school for acquiring her widely praised military expertise. He is, in other words, not just the nation's most trusted and revered Democrat, but also, coincidentally, the one who's had the greatest opportunity to see the young candidates at work. And he came away supporting Obama.

All of which indicates to me that--except where centrist, hawkish Democratic senators like Feinstein and Bayh are concerned--Clinton wouldn't have as easy a time working the legislative bureaucracy as she'd have her supporters believe. And Obama--messy desk notwithstanding--might not do such a bad job of it.

I've been leaning hard for Obama, of late, so perhaps this resonates with me more than it should. What do you think?


We Have to Kill Again

We've blogged about the HBO drama the Wire before, but I wanted to share that I'm so glad McNulty is back in the starting line-up.

Mark Bowden's recent Atlantic article, the Angriest Man in Television, criticizes the series for dwelling on the negative aspects of Baltimore's ghetto... with all due respect to Mr. Bowden, it's a ghetto. How hard are we supposed to look for happiness and light?

As The Wire unveiled its fourth season in 2006, Jacob Weisberg of Slate, in a much-cited column, called it “the best TV show ever broadcast in America.” The New York Times, in an editorial (not a review, mind you) called the show Dickensian. I agree with both assessments. “Wire-world,” as Simon calls it, does for turn-of-the- millennium Baltimore what Dickens’s Bleak House does for mid-19th-century London. Dickens takes the byzantine bureaucracy of the law and the petty corruptions of the legal profession, borrows from the neighborhoods, manners, dress, and language of the Chancery courts and the Holborn district, and builds from them a world that breathes. Similarly, The Wire creates a vision of official Baltimore as a heavy, self-justified bureaucracy, gripped by its own byzantine logic and criminally unconcerned about the lives of ordinary people, who enter it at their own risk. One of the clever early conceits of the show was to juxtapose the organizational problems of the city police department with those of the powerful drug gang controlling trafficking in the city’s west-side slums. The heads of both organizations, official and criminal, wrestle with similar management and personnel issues, and resolve them with similarly cold self-interest. In both the department and the gang, the powerful exploit the weak, and within the ranks those who exhibit dedication, talent, and loyalty are usually punished for their efforts.

There are heroes in The Wire, but they’re flawed and battered. The show’s most exceptional police officers, detectives Jimmy McNulty and Lester Freamon, find their initiative and talent punished at almost every turn. Their determination to do good, original work disturbs the department’s upper echelons, where people are heavily invested in maintaining the status quo and in advancing their own careers. The clash repeatedly lands both of them in hot water—or cold water; at the end of the first season, the seasick-prone McNulty is banished to the city’s marine unit. What success the two attain against Baltimore’s most powerful criminals is partial, compromised, and achieved despite stubborn and often creative official resistance. |The Angriest Man in Television - Atlantic|
I love the Wire, but I can never figure out if I'm supposed to be rooting for the cops or the drug dealers.

So I just root for Omar instead.

Ok, maybe I shouldn't blog while drunk...


Haloscan comments... at what point do we just give up?

They aren't working reliably for me, and the trouble has lasted more than a week now. I'm almost ready to punt the whole thing. What say you readers? Is it working? Leave your comments in the, uh, Haloscan comments.


Meta question

Had I chosen to post the YouTube clip of my man Mitt asking about the dogs, what could have been said for and against titling said post, "Negro, please".

...to expand a bit, it was something that struck me as funny then struck me as not funny, and I can't quite decide why it's not funny. Is it just played out or is there more there?


A puzzle

The stand alone Grab application that came bundled with my MacBook is, by all appearances, a crippled caricature of the grab function available through a drop down menu of the Preview application that also came bundled with my MacBook. Is there some killer virtue of the stand alone app that I'm missing?


iPhone now available for business users. Naturally, it costs more for a business to get the same product, but that's AT&T for you.

Tangentally, here in Michigan the Comcast cable network has been waging a propaganda war against the Big Ten around the issue of whether the Big Ten Network will be included in basic cable packages. The whole affair is sick with bizarrely bad judgement from Comcast, which is filling its own airwaves with anti-Big Ten attack ads. To make the resemblance to a political campaign complete, the latest Comcast ad is accusing the Big Ten of imposing a tax on Comcast customers.

Since the major effect of attack ads in politics is to suppress turnout, you have to wonder what Comcast thinks it's going to accomplish here. Then ask yourself, who is the median television sports viewer going to side with? My guess is that the cable company which customers already dislike is going to lose out to the incredibly popular major sports conference.

But let me bring this back to AT&T. I was thinking the other day about the companies that I hate but purchase services from anyway. They are, without exception, providers of various kinds of utilities. I hate Comcast, I hate AT&T, and once I get them to send me a bill I'm pretty sure that I'm going to hate DTE. If I were a right winger I might have something to say about the way that utilitity providers have a kind of quasi-governmental way of doing business, but I'm not and I think that the explanation here is a little deeper than 'government is bad.' As to what that explanation is...are there any sociologists in the house?

Same old MLK Day post

...I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. |Letter from a Birmingham Jail|



[Medieval Latin 'gravāmen', injury, accusation, from Late Latin, encumbrance, obligation, from Latin 'gravāre', to burden, from 'gravis', heavy]

The part of a charge or an accusation that weighs most substantially against the accused.



REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Bobby Fischer, the reclusive American chess master who became a Cold War icon when he dethroned the Soviet Union's Boris Spassky as world champion in 1972, has died. He was 64. |link|

It's too bad that the man was so much less beautiful than his play.

Bonus Content: Bobby Fischer's ten best games.


A helpful chart

The rest of the story.

Randy Newman hates your freedom

Favorite line: Newman refers to Clarence Thomas as the used-to-be-a-brother, and then says, "well, Pluto used to be a planet, too."

via Daring Fireball, who writes,
Randy Newman’s keynote-capping scathing anti-Bush administration song was quite a thing. I loved it, and it seemed like everyone around me in the press section was enjoying it thoroughly. But, quite obviously, for humorless Bush supporters, it must have been infuriating. The song is chock full of “I can’t believe he just said that” lines.

It’s certainly hard to imagine any other major corporation in the U.S. that would invite Randy Newman on stage to perform a song like that. ★


In which I reveal myself to be an idiot

It's hard for the miracle of compound interest to do it's job when you are compounding failure. Here's a 401k snapshot:

Does Rudy have crazy magic?

Yet now the Republican field is exactly where Rudy's people believed (hoped, prayed) it would be at this point: in utter disarray. If he wins in Florida, where he's essentially been living, basking in the warm sunshine and building up his firewall, while his rivals have frozen their asses off in Iowa and New Hampshire, he will be in the catbird seat. Indeed, you could even argue that, despite having won nothing thus far, Giuliani is now the GOP front-runner again, albeit by default. |Heilemann|

Bonus Content: RealClearPolitics' Florida polling page

You can trust him. He saw a UFO.

"People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times." -- Steve Allen, Stephenville, Texas


I count

Though I've got to say, I felt a hot flush of shame when I asked for the Republican ballot. "He's an 'R'" the poll workers said, knowingly, to each other as they passed me down the line.


3720 to 1

Speaking of teh nerdiness I took "The Hardest Star Wars Quiz Ever!" over on facebook and got this question right without even guessing:
What slag does the silver protocol droid give C3PO in Cloud City?
1. ootini
2. oona-wanda
3. degobah
4. ee-joodah
5. Robo-sexual!

Addendum: Lots of folks seem to be finding this post with Google. Possibly, they are trying to cheat on the-hardest-star-wars-quiz-evah. Should I reveal the answer?

Hilarious and disturbing, if true

I don't know whether these are authentic, but on the Jeb Bush trivia page of tv.com, I find the following quotes:
Jeb Bush: The truth is useless. You have to understand this right now. You can't deposit the truth in a bank. You can't buy groceries with the truth. You can't pay rent with the truth. The truth is a useless commodity that will hang around your neck like an albatross all the way to the homeless shelter. And if you think that the million or so people in this country that are really interested in the truth about their government can support people who would tell them the truth, you got another thing coming. Because the million or so people in this country that are truly interested in the truth don't have any money.

Rep. Marco Rubio: No matter who the next governor is, Jeb Bush will still be the prominent Republican figure in Florida. He'll be without a title. But Jeb Bush's power comes from his ideas, not his title. And we are all about to find that out.

The page does not, however, cover Chang, or the unleashing thereof.

If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you

Now that the idea of crossing party lines to vote for Romney has gone mainstream, I'm beginning to have my doubts. Decisions, decisions. Not voting is looking better and better.

In other Michigan news, I've discovered that when Michiganders ask about your plans to go to the Detroit Auto Show this week they don't really know how to take it when you reveal that you have not, in fact, made any such plans.


Eat this, scum!

The 10,000 previews I was lucky enough to see for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles featured an actress who was too young to be Sarah Connor but who looked vaguely familiar. Now that I've had a chance to see the opening credits I see that the actress is Summer Glau, who you may remember as the crazy genius from Firefly. Glad to see that she's decided to stick with the genre.

My favorite piece of Terminator trivia, by the way, is that O.J. Simpson was originally considered for the role of the Terminator but was rejected because, "People would not have believed a nice guy like O.J. playing the part of a ruthless killer."

Addendum: They just did some time travel sending them to 2007 and I found myself thinking, "ah, so the show will end up being set in the not too distant future."


Many, many, many more here.


Dumb game blogging: don't want to live like a refugee edition

Against All Odds is a flash game that attempt to teach you what it feels like to be a refugee. If the game is successful, being a refugee feels like playing a not very interesting flash game.


But is it art?

The Overdub Tampering Committee grabs new albums as soon as they leak to the internet, adds some of their own music to them, and redistributes the music.
“If you illegally download music on the internet the chances that our work is in your collection is very, very likely! In fact, you might have a whole lot of us!”, they claim. In fact, ‘Polluting’ P2P networks with this music didn’t end the spread. TOTC have seen their works spread as far as radio stations.

This is exactly the kind of disaster that Beck has been warning about for years. Or maybe he thinks it's cool.

Personally speaking, it runs afoul of my strong desire to maintain control over and clarity within my music collection. Or maybe I think it's cool...?

Have You Been Punked By TOTC? at TorrentFreak


Who Hampshire?

  • Another bullshit theory I'm entertaining is that Clinton won on character. I don't mean that she's done anything to prove her resolve or anything like that. Rather, I think the tearing up incident from yesterday gave voters insight into her inner life in a way that was more genuine than Edwards has provided and much, much more intimate than anything that we've seen from Obama.
  • Ok, so after Iowa everyone was change. Next week will everyone be looking out for the invisible Americans? I'm betting yes. More seriously, I think that there's every indication that Clinton's victory was attributable to a kind of feminist backlash. Which backlash I'm a little bit ambivalent about. On the one hand, Clinton is easily my least favorite Democratic candidate. On the other, I'm eager to live in a country where the feminist backlash trumps the anti-feminist backlash. And with that, maybe I'll link to this.
  • I'm actually preferring Obama's New Hampshire concession speech to his widely praised victory speech in Iowa. The Iowa speech, I thought, was pretty darn uplifting and inspiring but once it was over and I had a chance to wipe away the sweat I found myself wondering what the big deal was. I'm supposed to feel uplifted by a victory in the Iowa caucus? What? How is this guy going to react when an American team wins the Little League World Series? I predict that it will be a transformative event that lifts all of our souls and allows us to know the heart and mind of America.
  • Does Obama have purple lips, or is there something wrong with my television?
  • NPR, MSNBC and probably everybody else are calling the race for Clinton. Assuming that the projected result holds up, my powers of prognostication look weak. I'd assumed that heavy turnout necessarily meant an Obama victory. Guess not.
  • In Michigan primary news, it turns out that neither Edwards nor Obama are on the Democratic ballot. This has to do with the February 5 Controversy you've been hearing so much about. The latest news in which, I learned today, was that the Democratic Party has gone ahead and cancelled the Michigan delegation's hotel reservations. So, my options are (a) vote for a candidate with no chance; (b) vote for Clinton; (c) vote 'uncommitted' and hope that (i) the Party will allow the delegates to be seated and that (ii) the delegates will choose to vote for a candidate of whom I approve; or, (d) not vote. Alternately, because Michigan has open primaries, I could choose to vote in the Republican primary. A vote for Romney is looking pretty good, but maybe he's more electable than I suspect.
  • As I write this, the MSNBC crew is laughing in derision at John McCain's speech. But you know what's got me wondering? Why such focus on the winner? Democrats award delegates proportionally in all states, and the GOP awards delegates proportionally in New Hampshire. This being so, there's really not much that hangs on winning outright. Other than perception, of course. Which apparently matters.


Electoral prognostication

Update: Gossage is in. Rice fell 16 votes short. Andre Dawson saw a significant increase in support but still fell well short of induction. Chuck Knoblach and David Justice received one vote each. Mark McGwire's vote total stayed pretty much the same. Both Lee Smith and Bert Blyleven gained votes. As of 1:30pm Eastern Time I called New Hampshire for Obama.

Well, tomorrow is the big day. That's right, the results of the Baseball Hall of Fame voting will be announced. It's almost a no-brainer, but I predict that Goose Gossage will secure election. Other thoughts:
  • Mark McGwire will almost certainly lose votes. I think it's even possible that he'll fall below 5% and be dropped from the ballot. Not likely, mind you, but possible.
  • You would think that there Andre Dawson and Jim Rice would have a shot at securing election by sweeping the anti-steroid protest vote. But you'd also think that if that were going to happen then some of the writers would have said something about it by now. In point of fact, the silence of the Andre Dawson Hall of Fame campaign is hard to miss. The Jim Rice supporters are slightly less silent, but that isn't saying much. My guess is that neither will secure election, but that Jim Rice will come close.
  • Neither Chuck Knoblach nor David Justice will receive enough votes to remain on the ballot.
  • Lee Smith will continue to lose votes.
  • Bert Blyleven will reverse last year's trend and increase his vote totals.

In other electoral news, Obama will win in New Hampshire with Clinton and Edwards in a virtual tie for second. On the Republican side, Romney will do better than expected.

Why I sometimes find Hillary distasteful

It's because she says things like this, channeling Dick Cheney:
“I don’t think it was by accident that Al Qaeda decided to test the new prime minister,” she said. “They watch our elections as closely as we do, maybe more closely than some of our fellows citizens do…. Let’s not forget you’re hiring a president not just to do what a candidate says during the election, you want a president to be there when the chips are down.”


Well, it's a well-run campaign, midget'n broom'n whatnot


Pappy O'Daniel sits smoking a cigar, nursing a glass of
whiskey, and soliciting the counsel of his overweight retinue.

Languishing! Goddamn campaign is
languishing! We need a shot inna
arm! Hear me, boys? Inna goddamn
ARM! Election held tomorra, that
sonofabitch Stokes would win it in a

Well he's the reform candidate, Daddy.

Pappy narrows his eyes at him, wondering what he's getting


Well people like that reform. Maybe
we should get us some.

Pappy whips off his hat and slaps at Junior with it.

I'll reform you, you soft-headed
sonofabitch! How we gonna run reform
when we're the damn incumbent!

He glares around the table.

Zat the best idea any you boys can
come up with? REEform?! Weepin' Jesus
on the cross! Eckard, you may as
well start draftin' my concession
speech right now.

Eckard grunts as he starts to rise.

Okay, Pappy.

Pappy whips him back down with his hat.

I'm just makin' a point, you stupid

Okay, Pappy.

As he settles back Eckard looks around the table and helpfully

Pappy just makin' a point here, boys. |O Brother|

Replace 'reform' with 'change' and it's 2008 all over again.


Pop culture question

A few minutes ago I saw a commercial that used a Weezer song for background music. I like Weezer well enough, but I've never actually owned (even in modern stolen form) a Weezer record. What's up with that? It got me to thinking about other bands/artists that I like but have never added to my record collection. Leaving Weezer aside, the list would have to include, at the very least, Uncle Tupelo and John Legend. And the kids keep talking about Bishop Allen and Neutral Milk Hotel, so maybe those bands belong on the list as well.

What about you folks? What music do you like but fail to possess?


Like clockwork

So it looks like our friends at The Weekly Standard have noticed a story that Safety Neal blogged about here several weeks ago. Namely, the effort by Russell Means to secede the Lakota nation from the US.

It being The Weekly Standard, they endorsed the only reasonable response:
Given that Lakota has "rebelled," the plain terms of the Constitution (Art. I, Sec. 9, Cl. 2) allow for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus!

"The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."



Good point

As for the AMPTP, the hawks seem to be in control. It occurs to us that the most hawkish of the hawks is said to be Peter Chernin—Rupert Murdoch's humble servant. Fox has American Idol premiering soon, and that has been the ultimate television show (in terms of ratings) for some seasons now. Does it occur to the other networks, which have no such weapon in their arsenal, that by following Murdoch's hard line, they are enabling him to get the most out of his competitive advantage while they are left to scramble with reality shows and reruns of cable programming? How well it all works out for him. |Kim Masters in Slate|

Why I STILL haven't showered


Addendum: Er, maybe I should have included the link.


[Origin: 1580–90; 'cock' + 'loft']

A small loft or attic above the highest finished ceiling of a building.
2. A completely enclosed space between rafters and a suspended ceiling.


A race where they set down right on the horse!

  • It's hard to believe but after the first quarter I gave up on the bowl game in favor of MSNBC's coverage of the Iowa caucus. Word is that Kansas won.
  • Speaking of MSNBC, I've pretty much come around to the view that it's the only watchable cable news channel. Not that I can stand to watch much of it when there isn't something serious going on.
  • I think the green Dave makes some good points about Huckabee. The loving thy neighbor part of Christianity is da rill shit, and Huck makes me believe that he means it. Also, if you can look past the fact that he's entirely out of his depth when it comes to, you know, policy he's got astounding political skills.
  • During Edwards' speech I found myself thinking that he'd make a good running mate for Obama.
  • I think I've finally figured out what all of the people who never took Intro to Lit Studies think that 'ironic' means. They think it means unexpected.
  • Sure, sure Edwards talks a good game about unions and I love me some two Americas style class warfare, but Obama drops the buzzword that really moves me. Organizing.
  • And he did organize, you know. People talk about Obama's political talent and they're thinking about things like how effective a speaker he is or how charismatic he is. Me, I think about the fact that the dude knows how to put together a campaign.
  • So do the Clintons. Edwards, not so much.
  • By the by, the Michigan primary is coming up in two weeks and I still haven't decided between Obama and Edwards. Also, I'm considering not voting in protest to the stupidity of the primary being in two weeks.
  • Is it me, or has Howard Dean been working out?
  • The conventional wisdom is that Fred Thompson is just too gosh durn lazy to run a decent campaign. But consider this. Maybe he's just too lazy to campaign in a state where the voters expect you to show up in their living room three times a week. Anyhow, Mitt and il Mayor seem to be dead in the water. That leaves McCain and Thompson competing to rain on Huckabee's prairie fire. Nobody hates Thompson.
  • My back of the envelope calculations indicate that about 10% of the voting age population of Iowa participated in the Democratic caucus. I don't know how many of voting age are registered, or how many registered voters are democrats, but I'd say that's pretty good turnout for a caucus.
  • MSNBC reported that 20% of the participants in the Democratic caucus were registered as independents, and 4% were registered as Republicans. They also report that the three leading Democrats were only separated by a single percentage point when only the votes of Democrats are taken into account. Those numbers are preliminary, but if they hold up then the lesson seems to be that Obama has serious mojo with the median voter.
  • Did you notice the hippie dude with the beard and the beret standing in the crowd behind Obama during his speech? I bet he was stoned.

My own private Iowa

Here's an argument that doesn't pass muster. The mere fact that the majority of Iowa caucus participants are women doesn't show that there's nothing to Clinton's worries about the difficulties women might face in speaking and being heard at a caucus.

That said, I can't say that I agree with the American sanctification of the secret ballot. It's true enough that the preferences we express privately differ from those we express publicly. Why, though, is democracy supposed to require that we privilege the private self over the public self? I guess the idea is that the private self, because it's insulated from social pressure, is somehow more authentic. To me that just sounds nuts. We are essentially social, and if authenticity requires that we isolate ourselves from the influence of others then so much the worse for authenticity.

There we were in the middle of the chair factory when good ol' Huck says to me, "say, is there anyplace around here where we could sit for a spell?"

You'd think that at this stage of the game there would be an emerging consensus that it's a bad idea to elect an imbecile to the presidency. And yet, with the Iowa caucuses upon us there seems to be every possibility that Mike Huckabee will win the Republican nomination.

Check out the latest idiocy.

But enough with the race for the presidency. If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that when the president is a blithering simpleton, he needs a dark and evil lord strong vice president to stand beside him to ensure that things get done. Who will be Mike Huckabee's dark lord running mate? My money's on Dick Cheney.
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