April 30, 2005



Meet Adenium arabicum. It lives in a ceramic pot on our side deck.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:16 AM | Comments (5)

Benefit cuts for the many

The Center on Budget Priorities and Policy has published a summary of what Mr. Bush proposed last night.

In last night’s press conference, President Bush endorsed a proposal that would result in substantial cuts in benefits for middle-income families and deeper cuts for higher-income families. While the proposal was described as reducing benefits for the most affluent Americans, it would result in large benefit reductions for middle-class workers, as well.

All workers with incomes above $20,000 today would be subject to benefit reductions, and the benefit cuts would escalate sharply in size as income climbed above $20,000. A worker making $35,000 today would be subject to benefit reductions more than half as large as the benefit cuts imposed on people at the highest income levels. A worker making $60,000 today would be subject to benefit reductions more than 85 percent as large as someone making several million dollars a year.

The benefit reductions for average earners would be the largest in Social Security’s history. The 1983 Social Security reform, for example, lowered benefits for average workers by 17 percent, with the reduction phased in over 46 years. The President’s plan would lower benefits for average workers by 28 percent over a period of 70 years, and by considerably more than that for middle-class workers with incomes somewhat above the average, such as those who make $60,000 today.

Nice, huh? If you make over $20K, prepare to see your benefits cut considerably. I certainly hope this doesn't find any takers, because it defeats the whole purpose of the Social Security program. It ain't secure, and it sure ain't social in the sense that everyone gets an equal share of the (previously-cooked) pie.

The entire report is in pdf form here.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

The Service Academies, too?

Where does this all end?

From the LA Times:

Religious intolerance is systemic and pervasive at the U.S. Air Force Academy and, if nothing changes, it could result in "prolonged and costly" litigation, according to a report (pdf) issued Thursday by a group advocating strict separation of church and state.

The 14-page report listed incidents of mandatory prayers, proselytizing by teachers, insensitivity to religious minorities and allegations that evangelical Christianity is the preferred faith at the institution.


The report's authors were told that cadets who refused to attend chapel after dinner were marched by upperclassmen back to their dorms in a ritual called "heathen flight." They found that teachers introduced themselves as "born again" Christians and invited students to be saved as well. A history instructor ordered students to pray before a final exam, the report said. And a Christmas greeting in the base newspaper said Jesus was the only hope for the world; it was signed by 300 people, including 16 heads or deputy heads of academic departments, nine professors, the dean of faculty and the football coach.

This is just what we need: Air Force pilots who believe in the Rapture. I can see it now: one of these highly-motivated, highly-trained men or women has a nuclear weapon in the bomb bay and decides to precipitate Armageddon over Teheran or Pyongyang.

Read the report.

Via The Carpetbagger Report.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:38 PM | Comments (2)

April 28, 2005

Bush/press follies

Was there even one really hard question in that press conference? Was there one straight answer?

I think not.

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)


Who'd have thought that Jacques Pépin spent 10 years working at Howard Johnson's?

Travelling across country in 1962, we stayed at a lot of Howard Johnson's motels, compete with the orange rooves. It may have been at a HoJo's that I finally overcame my dislike of green salad, astonishing the hell out of my parents, who'd been trying to persuade me it was good (not just good for you) for years. Even then it had to be drowning in Thousand Island dressing for me to eat it, but nonetheless, eat it I did.

Anyway, the HoJo's in Times Square is closing, and it's caused both M. Pépin and me to dredge up some memories.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

April 27, 2005

Pass the Mai-Tais

My new $12.99 umbrella. If it holds up for one summer at that price, I'll be quite content.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:15 PM | Comments (2)

Ouch. That's gotta hurt

This just arrived in my mailbox:

Fire destroys personal library of President George W. Bush

Crawford, Texas (not AP) - A tragic fire this morning destroyed the
personal library of President George W. Bush. The fire began in the presidential bathroom where both of the books were kept.

Both of his books were lost.

A presidential spokesman said the president was devastated, as he had almost finished coloring the second one.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:13 PM | Comments (3)

April 26, 2005

This and that

In Batgrl mode (she's blogging again, in case you didn't know -- Huzzah!), here are a few links I've run across over the past week or so.

10 writing mistakes. I plead guilty to all of them at one time or another. (Via The Sideshow).

Why Intelligent Design is a waste of time and how science trumps it.


Posted by Linkmeister at 04:24 PM | Comments (1)

April 25, 2005

Who's watching?

My mom found a new blog which focuses on the Sunday morning political talk shows. I commented that I wondered what the ratings were for those shows, since in my entire working life I have never ever had a conversation on a Monday about the content of "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation" or "This Week." She maintains that she used to have those conversations all the time while she was working or meeting other Navy wives. So who's closer to the truth here? Are those shows widely watched by you, O readers?

Do you watch the Sunday Morning political talk shows?
Yes, All of them
Yes, Some of them
No, None of them
Are those still on?
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Posted by Linkmeister at 04:57 PM | Comments (5)

I don't get it

Trackback spam is a pain, we all know that. But what's the point of this kind? I just got a ping on this post; it reads as follows:

IP Address:
URL: http://google.com
Title: google
Weblog: google



Posted by Linkmeister at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005

A Vast Wasteland, redoubled

Oh dear God in heaven. There goes PBS. From an interview in the NYT Magazine with the new interim president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

As the chief executive of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, you've been said to represent the growing influence of conservative politics in public TV and radio.

Believe it or not, we don't discuss politics here. We're just trying to get money into the public broadcasting system in the most efficient and intelligent way we can.

But who can deny that politics has crept into the process? Your predecessor, Kathleen Cox, was axed just two weeks ago, supposedly because she had incurred the wrath of conservative groups. Recently, they were outraged by an episode of ''Postcards From Buster,'' which was never shown, in which the animated bunny visits a friend who lives with a lesbian couple.

All I know is that on Friday afternoon the board chairman came in and asked if I would serve as interim president. I had no idea until the 11th hour that this was happening. I don't know what led to what.

Do you worry that these sorts of incidents will alienate the old left-leaning PBS loyalists?

Well, maybe we can attract some new viewers.

You mean viewers who are more conservative?

Yeah! I would hope that in the long run we can attract new viewers, and we shouldn't limit ourselves to a particular demographic. Does public television belong to the Democrats?

Of course, many liberals also gripe about PBS. Maybe the real problem is a lack of creativity.

We're working on that right now. We have a new initiative we call ''American History and Civics.'' There's been a long decline in teenagers' knowledge of civics. So we're going to put our TV dollars into new programming that will not be TV-centric.

How can TV not be TV-centric?

It uses new media. Interactive media. Games.

There's more, including this fascinating note: the new President of the CPB doesn't watch PBS or listen to NPR.

Via Anne's comments in this Brad DeLong post.

Posted by Linkmeister at 05:22 PM | Comments (6)

Say what?

In the "Oh, get a life" department, I happened to hear the top of ESPN's SportsCenter last night. Mel Kiper, Chris Berman, and some other guy (Mortenson, maybe?) were talking about Saturday's NFL draft. I heard Kiper say something like "I'll take a lot of memories away from this day."

What? It's a damn football draft, you dolt! The kids who got drafted may take a lot of memories away, but you? You're a geeky talking head who does this every year!


Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Go Frank Go!

Frank Rich takes on Justice Sunday. He told me something I didn't know, too.

Tonight's megachurch setting and pseudoreligious accouterments notwithstanding, the actual organizer of "Justice Sunday" isn't a clergyman at all but a former state legislator and candidate for insurance commissioner in Louisiana, Tony Perkins. He now runs the Family Research Council, a Washington propaganda machine devoted to debunking "myths" like "People are born gay" and "Homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals are." It will give you an idea of the level of Mr. Perkins's hysteria that, as reported by The American Prospect, he told a gathering in Washington this month that the judiciary poses "a greater threat to representative government" than "terrorist groups." And we all know the punishment for terrorists.

Somehow I'd gotten the idea that Perkins was a churchman. A loony one, but nonetheless a man of the cloth. Of course, this event does have James Dobson of Focus on the Family, noted bedeviler of Spongebob. Take that, Frank Rich!

Wait. Dobson is a child psychologist. He's not a clergyman either. Yo, religious folk! Have these two the right, the biblical knowledge, or the background to speak for you?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:10 PM | Comments (0)

Oh ye of selected faith

Lance Mannion agrees with Senator Frist and Tony Perkins (head honcho of the Family Research Council) that Democrats do indeed want to discriminate against people of faith. The question is, though, what varieties of faith do the Democrats find unacceptable? Ah, let him enumerate.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:59 AM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005


You may have read that Senator Santorum thinks the National Weather Service is giving away too much data for free, so he wants to prohibit them from doing so, to benefit his friends at Accuweather. Well, Billmon has some thoughts on that idea.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:53 PM | Comments (1)

Alas, poor Frist

Remember the telecast the Family Research Council plans with Senator Frist? Well, the good Doctor/Senator is under fire:

Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, plan to conduct a conference call with journalists on Friday to criticize Senator Frist's participation in the telecast. The program is sponsored by Christian conservative organizations that want to build support for Dr. Frist's filibuster proposal.

If it weren't so serious, I could almost feel sorry for the poor fool. He wants to run for President in 2008, so he needs the religious right. At the same time, even one of his buddies (Santorum of Pa.) cites internal polls and is arguing for a slowdown on the "nuclear option." To add to his troubles, the Democrats plan to slow everything down in the Senate if he goes ahead. How would they do that? Well, much of the Senate works on unanimous consent, so all they have to do is have one Senator call for roll call votes for each procedure. Just getting things inserted into the Congressional Record might take all day.

Hoist on his own pétard, I'd say. Couldn't happen to a nastier bunch of people, either.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

April 21, 2005

Too long Delayed?

Michael Tomasky writes an excellent column about Tom Delay.

It should have shocked the media, whose job it is to protect our civic institutions, a long time ago that the Congress of the United States is run today as a rampantly undemocratic fief. Any casual conversation with a Democratic Hill staffer will lead without fail in the inevitable direction: They don’t see bills, they don’t know when something’s coming out, they don’t know half the time what they’re voting on. From Republicans emanate occasional public grumblings about how things are run -- grumblings that, wouldn’t you know it, tend always to be recanted two days later. The Prospect has highlighted these abuses. And every once in awhile -- as during the contentious Medicare vote in November 2003, when DeLay and the Republican leadership held the floor open for three extra hours in the middle of the night while they “persuaded” members to change their vote to “yea” -- the mainstream papers take note for two or three days and register their disapproval.

He goes on to castigate the "moderate Republicans" who could/might have held their compatriots in check but haven't, and concludes:

The system isn’t working by a long shot. If the system had worked, DeLay would have been exposed long ago -- first by the media, which would have done far more to reveal the ethical and procedural corruption of his regime, and second by moderate Republicans, who could have made a difference if they’d had the nerve, en bloc, to stand up and say something.

Nicely done.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2005

Spring is here

The blogger's view from his desktop.
(Click to enlarge)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (10)

April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI and dashed hopes

On John Paul II's death, I wrote over here as follows:

As a former Catholic, I can appreciate the office and the ritual, but I disagreed with the man and his leading of his Church back to pre-Vatican II days. I'm glad he didn't suffer, but I hope they pick a replacement Pope who's a man of the 21st century. Pope John II knew and used the trappings of the late 20th century media machine very well, but his bringing Opus Dei to the forefront of the Church, his blanket condemnation of artifical birth control (in the age of AIDS!), and his uncompromising stance on abortion (health of the mother? Too bad!) are/were not good things, in my view and that of (apparently) many Catholics who still attend Mass. (I base that on poll data I've seen which says that many American Catholics admired him but ignored his teachings on those subjects).

Well, so much for that hope. Here's part of what the new Pope said yesterday as the conclave began:

How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking… The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude (acceptable) to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.

He goes on to renounce "relativism," which implies to me that he's a proud fundamentalist, and that we can't expect any useful changes in the Church's views as I hoped in my note above. Wonderful.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

New Pope challenges headline writers worldwide

So which publication is going to be the first to use the phrase Pope Ben?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:12 AM | Comments (2)

April 18, 2005

Does Italy have a Clean Air Act?

When a new pope is elected, chemicals are added to the materials in the stove to make the smoke turn white. Until there's a consensus the smoke remains black.

Does anyone monitor the air quality over the Vatican? How many particulates are in that smoke? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:05 AM | Comments (1)

April 17, 2005

Adding to the Camera Collection

Because my estimated state tax payments covered all but $81 of what I owed this year, and because it appeared to be a super-good deal, and because I can't stand not having one any longer, I just bought this. Now all I have to do is figure out what all the little icons on the LCD mean.

Addendum: And how to use photoediting programs. Sheesh!

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:10 PM | Comments (6)

April 16, 2005

(Part of) Church v. Democrats

Frist, Family Research Council accuse Democrats of being "against people of faith".

Can a Democrat who's by their definition "against people of faith" devoutly do anything? If so, I devoutly hope this blows up into a huge backlash. Think about it. Presumably there are a lot of churches in this country which have mixed congregations made up of both Democrats and Republicans. Are those Republican churchgoers really going to believe that the family in the next pew fits the description Frist and the FRC have just used?

This is almost unbelievable. Back when JFK ran for President he had to make a speech explaining that his Catholicism would not keep him from placing America's interests ahead of the Vatican's. Now we have a bunch of radical right-wing churches saying that a nominee's faith is more important than America's interests. Note also these churches are exempt from federal taxes, which means they're doing this on the taxpayers' dime.

Where are the moderate Republicans? Where are the moderate churchgoers? Do you want this done in your name? Because if these clowns get their way, believe me, you will all be tarred with the same radical brush. Is that what you want?

There's a nice bloggy roundup here at The Moderate Voice.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:57 PM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2005

Hypocrisy, Advanced Level

In a hearing on US funding for AIDS programs, particularly the ABC aspects of those programs, Representative Henry Hyde says (pdf) "groups 'best suited to promote A and B programs, such as faith-based and indigenous organizations, are often not the ones implementing these programs. Instead, organizations long-associated with the social marketing of condoms are given much of the funding for AB programs. This must not continue.'" (ABC stands for Abstinence, Be faithful, use Condoms).

Don't I recall that Henry Hyde was the guy who had an extramarital affair with a married woman when he was in his forties, a fact which came to light during the Clinton impeachment? Who the hell is he to talk about abstinence? Beyond that, it's absolutely unconscionable to push your own (questionable) morals on people at risk of dying from this disease.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

A Taxing Experience


Somehow it seems less painful to have the IRS directly debit the checking account than it does to physically write a check to "US Treasury."

Update: A different perspective: the author thinks it's too easy to do our taxes (or have a paid preparer do them for us).

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005

How'd they do that?

A Very Short History of Neoconservatism

Professor Alterman has produced a single-page account of the takeover of American foreign policy by these lunatics, starting with their persuasion of the WSJ's Op/Ed page editor that their cause was right and just, going on to the funding of their think tanks, and ending up with the extraordinary confluence of September 11 and their belief that America and Israel's self-interest are inherently intertwined.

It's a useful primer.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:40 PM | Comments (1)

Baseball Tonight

Giddy. That's the only word for the WaPo Sports pages today. Here's Tom Boswell, whose column head is titled "Pacing Before The Blessed Event":

The president will throw out the first pitch, symbolic of the pomp and power of the nation's capital that the sport spurned for so long. Enormous cheers of vindication, relief and simple pleasure will fill the air after a third-of-a-century rain delay. But mixed in the tumult will be the same tremors of doubt and concern about the future that attend the arrival of every new infant.

Since I left the area in 1968 at 18, I can agree with this description of the city as it was then:

The weather on Sept. 30, 1971, the last evening in the life of the Washington Senators, was overcast and blustery. And the city where the game took place seemed, at the moment, as forlorn as the departing team. Three years removed from devastating urban riots, and eight from the vanished glory of the Kennedy administration, the District was afflicted with urban blight, a not-wholly-deserved image as a dangerous place and the insult of losing its baseball team to what one columnist called "some jerk town" in Texas.

The paper's "Nationals" section has a countdown clock running. I find that a little touching.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2005


How many of us have ever heard of Maurice Hilleman? Many of us may owe our lives to him.

Dr. Hilleman developed 8 of the 14 vaccines routinely recommended: measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, meningitis, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae bacteria (which brings on a variety of symptoms, including inflammation of the lining of the brain and deafness). He also developed the first generation of a vaccine against rubella or German measles. The vaccines have virtually vanquished many of the once common childhood diseases in developed countries.

We know the names Salk and Sabin, but Hilleman? He wasn't obscure in the medico-scientific community, apparently; read what Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH says about him: "One can say without hyperbole that Maurice changed the world with his extraordinary contributions in so many disciplines: virology, epidemiology, immunology, cancer research and vaccinology."

As a survivor of chicken pox and measles, thanks, Doc.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Who do they think they're kidding?

Here's why you should pay attention to the background of the "independent" consulting firm that issues studies. Giulani Partners, working on a contract from Big Pharma, concludes that drug reimportation would be a bad thing. Well, gosh, what a surprise. Republican Rudy Giulani's company, working for the trade association which contributed huge sums to the Republican party last year, comes up with a study that reinforces the association's lobbying position. I'm shocked.

This comes in the same issue of the Kaiser newsletter which points to a study which indicates that wholesale prices for brand-name drugs rose 7.1% (3 times inflation) between 2003 and 2004. Who produces those brand-name drugs? Why, Big Pharma, of course! And Big Pharma immediately issues its own counterstudy! Ain't we got fun?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005

Sticker shock

Got chest pains? You'll have wallet pains. This is sadly believable. The author's wife felt some pain, was told to go to the emergency room, was examined and admitted, and then was told her insurer wouldn't cover it. So he's facing (so far) about $9,400 in bills pending appeal. I've been through a similar situation, and the shock of the insurance company's judgment is nearly indescribable.

Does anyone think that if we were designing a method of health care delivery the one we've got would be the one we'd design?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:35 AM | Comments (4)

April 11, 2005

Take Eight

Greil Marcus tells the story of the recording of "Like a Rolling Stone." If you've ever been in a situation which required rehearsal, you'll recognize some of this. One part gets it, the others don't, then vice versa, then a pretty good rendition, then disgust with the whole project, then a couple more tries, then a recognition that it was right that once, so leave it the hell alone.

Takes me back to the old Colonial Chorale in high school, it does.

Update: The Christian Science Monitor reviews Marcus's book about the song.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:02 PM | Comments (3)

April 10, 2005

"Joy is rarely preserved"

This is one of the most thought provoking essays I've read in a long time. PZ Myers ruminates on the history of humanity, the Bible, and the records left by each. It's obviously something he's thought about for a while. I urge you to read it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:24 PM | Comments (2)

April 09, 2005

Judge not, wackos, lest ye be judged

Are there any grownups left in the Republican party? Somebody has to rein in their lunatics.

"The people who have been speaking out on this, like Tom DeLay and Senator Cornyn, need to be backed up," Schlafly said to applause yesterday. One worker at the event wore a sticker declaring "Hooray for DeLay."

The conference was organized during the height of the Schiavo controversy by a new group, the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. This was no collection of fringe characters. The two-day program listed two House members; aides to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; and DeLay, who canceled to attend the pope's funeral.

The Schlafly session's moderator, Richard Lessner of the American Conservative Union, opened the discussion by decrying a "radical secularist relativist judiciary." It turned more harsh from there.

There's lots more. If you feel like bathing after reading it, I don't blame you. These people are so far round the bend they're in danger of meeting themselves on the other side. Justice Kennedy should be impeached because he voted against executing juveniles? What sort of "Christian" behavior is it that advocates killing kids?

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:19 AM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2005

Science v. Creationism, part II

Science has published an editorial which I can't access (due to its policy of charging a ton of money to read the magazine). Fortunately, PZ Myers has access to it, and has reprinted it in full. Here are the opening two paragraphs:

Donald Kennedy

For much of their existence over the past two centuries, Europe and the United States have been societies of questioners: nations in which skepticism has been accepted and even welcomed, and where the culture has been characterized by confidence in science and in rational methods of thought. We owe this tradition in part to the birth of the Scottish Enlightenment of the early 18th century, when the practice of executing religious heretics ended, to be gradually replaced by a developing conviction that substituted faith in experiment for reliance on inherited dogma.

That new tradition, prominently represented by the Scottish philosopher David Hume, supplied important roots for the growth of modernity, and it has served U.S. society well, as it has Europe's. The results of serious, careful experimentation and analysis became a standard for the entry of a discovery or theory into the common culture of citizens and the policies of their governments. Thus, scientific determinations of the age of Earth and the theories of gravity, biological evolution, and the conservation of matter and energy became meaningful scientific anchors of our common understanding.

Kennedy goes on to say that this tradition is now under attack by the creationists. Read the rest.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

Papal funeral thoughts

One of the advantages of living in Hawai'i is that if there's news worthy of televising coming from Europe you can see it live. Network coverage of the Pope's funeral mass began at 9:30pm HST last night, so I saw the first two hours or so. The camera work was superb, especially the overhead shots of St. Peter's Square and the Basilica.

It occurred to me that there is no institution more steeped in ritual than the Catholic Church. British royalty may come close, but it's an upstart; it's only had a thousand years or so to practice, while the Church has been doing this sort of thing for twice that. I haven't attended too many Catholic funerals, but I've been to Mass a few hundred times, and some of that experience still sticks with me. It surprised me that I still remembered some of the Latin from my days as an altar boy (1962).

I don't know it it's the right way to put it, but it seemed like a somber celebration; sorrow at the Pope's death but joy at his entry into God's kingdom. The whole thing was remarkable.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:45 AM | Comments (1)

April 07, 2005

Despair and Heroism

Below the thunders of the upper deep,

Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,

His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep

The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee

About his shadowy sides: above him swell

Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;

And far away into the sickly light,

From many a wondrous grot and secret cell

Unnumbered and enormous polypi

Winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.

There hath he lain for ages and will lie

Battering upon huge seaworms in his sleep,

Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;

Then once by men and angels to be seen,

In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

From the same guy who wrote Ulysses and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

Cannon to right of them
Cannon to left of them
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

April 06, 2005

Car Art

Seen on the back of a truck halfway down my hill:

God Bless Pope

See you there

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

Niche poetry

William Carlos Williams.

The Crowd at the Ball Game

The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them —

all the exciting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius —

all to no end save beauty
the eternal -

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

for this
to be warned against

saluted and defied —
It is alive, venomous

it smiles grimly
its words cut —

The flashy female with her
mother, gets it —

The Jew gets it straight - it
is deadly, terrifying —

It is the Inquisition, the

It is beauty itself
that lives

day by day in them
idly —

This is
the power of their faces

It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is

cheering, the crowd is laughing
in detail

permanently, seriously
without thought

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 05, 2005

It's a beautiful day for a ball game

Here's a different form of poetry: Vin Scully's radio call of the 9th inning of Sandy Koufax's perfect game, Sept. 9, 1965. Have a little pity for Bob Hendley, the Cubs pitcher: he only gave up one hit himself. The score, by the way, was 1-0 Dodgers, so there was no margin for error in that final inning.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005

Baseball and poetry

In honor of Opening Day of the baseball season and National Poetry Month, I give you Ernest Thayer's: Casey at the Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day:
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to the hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, "If only Casey could but get a whack at that--
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat."

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despisèd, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It pounded on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt 'twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt;
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped--
"That ain't my style," said Casey. "Strike one!" the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore;
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand;
And it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey's visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, "Strike two!"

"Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!"
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey's lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate;
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville--mighty Casey has struck out.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:58 PM | Comments (2)

April 03, 2005

Yawn, redux

Damn clock. Again.

After 27 years of taking the trash to the street on Sunday and Wednesday nights, suddenly the city's decided to switch us to Monday and Thursday nights. I foresee lots of errors on the part of my neighbors and myself.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:38 PM | Comments (2)

Fan, yes, fanatic, no

Is anyone else as gratified as I am that CBS does the NCAA tournament, thus giving us Billy Packer rather than that screeching lunatic Dick Vitale?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2005

R.I.P. Pope John II


1920 - 2005

NYT Story

NYT Obituary

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:30 AM | Comments (2)

Siddown, Nolan Ryan!

Those of us who are long-time subscribers to Sports Illustrated will remember "The Curious Case of Sidd Finch," George Plimpton's story about the pitcher with the 168-mph fastball, published on April 1, 1985. Here's some of the backstory, including a sketch of the guy who posed for all the pictures of the phenom.

I remember that well. I hope I was somewhat skeptical on first reading, but I won't swear to it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005

Madness, I tell you, madness!

Spring? What spring?

Universal health care enacted for all Americans.

The American Street has been hijacked by conservatives.

Many more fine pranks can be found here at Making Light, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's fine blog (and in the comments!)

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

Algorithmically speaking

Hmm. "What are they saying about us?" A new program is about to try to measure that. The goal? "It can tell whether a newspaper article is reporting a political party’s policy in a positive or negative light, for instance, or whether an online review is praising a product or damning it."

Yikes. I can see the value of it, but yikes.

By the way, I got a roll of film developed and digitized, so there are some new photos in the Family album in the Gallery, and a new album called Oahu Scenery.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (4)