December 31, 2006

Why do we remember pop music?

Well, it's a conundrum.

For his first experiment he came up with an elegant concept: He stopped people on the street and asked them to sing, entirely from memory, one of their favorite hit songs. The results were astonishingly accurate. Most people could hit the tempo of the original song within a four-percent margin of error, and two-thirds sang within a semitone of the original pitch, a level of accuracy that wouldn’t embarrass a pro.

“When you played the recording of them singing alongside the actual recording of the original song, it sounded like they were singing along,” Dr. Levitin said.

It was a remarkable feat. Most memories degrade and distort with time; why would pop music memories be so sharply encoded? Perhaps because music triggers the reward centers in our brains. In a study published last year Dr. Levitin and group of neuroscientists mapped out precisely how.

There's a wonderful anecdote in the article about the first demo tape The Beatles submitted:

Dr. Levitin dragged me over to a lab computer to show me what he was talking about. “Listen to this,” he said, and played an MP3. It was pretty awful: a poorly recorded, nasal-sounding British band performing, for some reason, a Spanish-themed ballad.

Dr. Levitin grinned. “That,” he said, “is the original demo tape of the Beatles. It was rejected by every record company. And you can see why. To you and me it sounds terrible. But George Martin heard this and thought, ‘Oh yeah, I can imagine a multibillion-dollar industry built on this.’

Fascinating stuff. It's a phenomenon I'm sure we've all observed, too. I can hear the first chord of "It's a Hard Days Night," the initial bars of "Ticket to Ride," or the first bass notes of "Day Tripper" and immediately recognize the song. How about you?

via Making Light's comments.

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December 30, 2006

New author

I have never read a single book by Jane Haddam, and she's written some 23 mystery novels including the Gregor Demarkian series, but I'm gonna seek them out. Why? Read some of the essays she's got posted on her website. If you're politically-minded, read the one called Why I Don't Vote Republican and the three sequels linked within.

She's got a lot to say about religion and politics, too, which is understandable because she is (was? hard to tell) chairman of the Connecticut chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Anyway, if the books are as cogent as her essays, I'll bet they're good.

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December 29, 2006

Trenchant analysis

Talking about news that Saddam Hussein may be executed within days, Josh Marshall says:

The Iraq War has been many things, but for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren't grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting.

These jokers are being dragged kicking and screaming to the realization that the whole thing's a mess and that they're going to be remembered for it -- defined by it -- for decades and centuries. But before we go, we can hang Saddam. Quite a bit of this was about the president's issues with his dad and the hang-ups he had about finishing Saddam off -- so before we go, we can hang the guy as some big cosmic "So There!"

Absolutely right. With the end of the Cold War, there was no great historical adventure for the Cheneys, Rumsfelds, Kristols, and all the other warmongers to engage in. They wanted to be remembered for something, and Saddam was what they had, so they cynically went after him. Finding Osama bin Laden, who, after all, really was the guy who financed/conceived of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was just too damned hard or too slow an endeavor.

The pop psychologists have been telling us for years that Americans want instant gratification; whether you believe that or not, the invasion of Iraq was a prime manifestation of the Bush Administration's desire for just that. We'll be paying that price financially and morally for a long long time.

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December 28, 2006

Prowling around Library Thing

Sometimes I just poke around to see what's being discussed in the "Talk" sections of the marvelous tool that is Library Thing. I was doing that after lunch today and found reviews (125 reviews of a book! Most books have 1-5, max!) of The Time Traveler's Wife. After reading many of the reviews (click the link at the top of the page to see them yourself), I have two questions: how come I've never heard of it, and how fast can I get a copy?

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December 27, 2006

More Christmas loot

I got a T-Shirt I really really like.

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December 26, 2006

Gerald Ford dead at 93

It was a long life and an honorable one.

Ford, himself a replacement for a VP who resigned in disgrace, became President after Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974. He pardoned Nixon, an act for which he was vilified, but which in retrospect may have been the right thing to do.

He was a good man who did what he felt was right. Rest in peace, Mr. Ford.

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Godfather of you-name-it

The first time I ever saw James Brown was in a theater as I watched Jan & Dean play the T.A.M.I. show in 1965. To be honest, I didn't know what to make of him (he sang Papa's Got a Brand New Bag). The follow-up single was I Got You (I Feel Good), which I understood a helluva lot better. All these years later, I recognize how much influence he had on subsequent musical trends from disco to funk and hip-hop. I can't say I like much of the music that those styles personified, but I can see Brown's dancing and hear his shouting and rhythm in all of them.

R.I.P., James Brown.

Update: Read Roy's thoughts too.

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December 25, 2006

Other Christmas goodies

Lest one read the previous entry and think Christmas was all about me, we got Mom The Assassin's Gate, Hubris, and Imperial Life in the Emerald City, as well as Bette Midler's tribute album to Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett's Duets album, and Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook, Volume 2.

The remaining members of the family also scored.

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Wotta haul!

Oh my. My mother decided I needed more books, which is like saying the ocean needs more salt. I received all three of Robert Caro's prize-winning biographies of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power, Means of Ascent, and Master of the Senate.

If that weren't enough, my sister got me Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals.

Prime rib and Yorkshire Pudding this evening, with mashed potatoes and spinach.

I may not resurface for a month.

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December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas 2006

Last I knew there were 41,000 tickets sold to the game this afternoon. I can see the stadium from my kitchen window, and that's as close as I'm gonna get to it. I will be wrapping presents on the table with the game on the tube (ESPN, 8:00pm EST, 3:00pm local).

At the moment, though, I'm so full of turkey sandwich that I may take a nap.

Merry Christmas to all! Be kind to your family and friends, don't kick the dog or cat, and recycle your wrapping paper.

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Back in time

Here's a Holiday Card for you.

Not quite a side note: if you enjoy wonderful zoological art, you should check Carl Buell's Olduvai George site. Often.

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December 23, 2006


Here's an emergency for you. Last night, with four days worth of dishes in the dishwasher, I added soap, ran the disposal, and pressed the "Start" button. Nuthin'. Great. We have turkey today and prime rib on Monday, and I need a working dishwasher.

So, quick like a bunny I got up this morning and called somebody from the phone book. To my shock, they said they could be here between 12:00-1:00pm today. To my even greater shock, they actually arrived at 11:00am, took the front panel off, opened up the keypad section, cleaned it all out, and turned it on. Hey Presto!

And then they presented the bill. $35 service charge and $40 labor and tax. That's at least $75-$100 cheaper than anyone else we've tried, and they said if the control board died again they'd replace it and apply the current charges toward that service call.

Now all I have to do is empty it and put the plates/silverware away before we serve up the Christmas Eve dinner this evening. That's a relief.

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December 22, 2006

A Christmas Tale

Back here I mentioned Frederick Forsyth's The Shepherd as a wonderful Christmas story. It's being played on CBC as I type, but better than that, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. finally got permission to provide Alan Maitland's reading of it in a RealPlayer file. Here it is. It's 31 minutes long and well worth listening to. Forsyth wrote it in five hours (he says in an interview with CBC) as a Christmas gift for his wife; he had kidded her that he had no Christmas present for her, and she demanded he write a ghost story to serve as one.

It's a tale of a pilot who is flying from Germany to England in 1957 on Christmas Eve when his plane's electrical system fails catastrophically, how he got down, and who led him in.

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December 21, 2006

Best of baseball '06

Everybody has a "best of 2006" list, so why should Sports Illustrated be any different? The best of baseball? Why, the game I wrote about right here. Tom Verducci writes:

It was about half past 10 on a warm September evening in Los Angeles when the faithless, literally turning their backs on their Dodgers, lit up the rolling hills of Chavez Ravine with the international symbol of baseball surrender: a cortege of red taillights, solemnly snaking into the dark of night while the home team played on. It was a Monday evening, which meant the fast approaching morning of school or work took priority, especially with L.A. trailing San Diego 9-5 and down to its last three outs.

The trouble with that thinking -- mentally dividing four runs by three outs and coming up with zero chance -- is an ignorance of one of the preternatural beauties of baseball. Unlike the finite quantity of time in most sports, sometimes parsed to tenths of seconds, outs are elastic. They don't abide by the comeback math of other sports.

What happened next on that Sept. 18 at Dodger Stadium will forever be invoked as a reason not only to go to a baseball game but also to remain until the final out.

Ask just about anyone who was there that night: from Padres general manager Kevin Towers, who left his box seat for the clubhouse as the bottom of the ninth began with victory apparently in hand, to the fan who, at the exact same time, was walking toward his car in the centerfield parking lot when a baseball landed in front of him, stopping him in his tracks. The shot, a home run hit by Jeff Kent, might well have come from Fort Sumter for all the mayhem it begat.

The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium that night was electric from the start. The joint was packed with 55,831 fans, the most ever for a Monday night there, some lured by giveaway fleece blankets but most by an NL West race in which San Diego clung to a half-game lead over L.A. with 13 to play.

The first eight innings were charged enough. Padres starter Jake Peavy and Dodgers first base coach Mariano Duncan got into a shouting match, San Diego blew a 4-0 lead, Padres reliever Cla Meredith escaped a bases-loaded, no-out mess in the sixth with only four pitches, and L.A.'s Nomar Garciaparra whiffed to end the eighth with runners at second and third, Dodgers down 6-5. After San Diego added three runs in the ninth, the necklace of red taillights beyond centerfield quickly lengthened.

The 9-5 lead also prompted then Padres manager Bruce Bochy to order closer Trevor Hoffman to stop warming up. He instead brought in Jon Adkins. "I was doing everything I could not to use Trevor," Bochy says. "He had thrown the day before and had a little soreness in his shoulder." Adkins, who had allowed one home run in 51 2/3 innings, threw six pitches. Kent ripped the second, a fastball, and J.D. Drew hit the sixth, another fastball, for a homer to right center.

"By the time I got [to the clubhouse]," Towers recalls, "it was 9-7. Unbelievable. So I'm thinking, We're O.K. We've got Hoffy."

Hoffman had allowed two home runs all year and was three saves shy of the alltime career record. Towers, because of a superstition, does not watch Hoffman pitch. He finds bunkers under stadiums in which he cannot hear the crowd or see a TV, waiting for what he hopes is the sound of his happy team clattering back after a win.

Meanwhile, out on Stadium Way, the red taillights had turned into white headlamps. People were swinging U-turns and driving to a baseball game at 10:30 at night, work and school be damned.

Hoffman's first pitch to Russell Martin was a fastball. Martin walloped it into the leftfield stands. The roar reached all the way into a visiting clubhouse office, where a concerned Towers turned the TV to the game. "I saw the score change to 9-8 and one of their players circling the bases," Towers says. "I thought, We're still O.K."

With the Dodgers down 9-8, Marlon Anderson, already with four hits, stepped to the plate. Bochy grumbled in mock humor, "I hope we try something other than a fastball here." But Hoffman threw another fastball. Anderson smacked it into the rightfield seats to tie the game. "It's got to be only 10 seconds after the last one, and I can hear all the pounding and yelling going on again," Towers says. "I'm thinking, What? A single? Maybe a double? I turn the channel. You've got to be kidding me!"

Dodger Stadium was refilling, and the fans were going berserk, a reaction that echoed through cyberspace. One blogger, following the game on, reported with gleeful sarcasm, "GameDay seems to be broke. It keeps on saying every Dodger hitter is hitting a home run." (Note: that comment is #604 in this thread.)

The Dodgers stretched the bounds of believability still further in the 10th, after the Padres had taken a 10-9 lead in the top of the inning. Journeyman righthander Rudy Seanez walked the first hitter, Kenny Lofton, then fell behind Garciaparra, 3 and 1. Not wanting to walk the tying run into scoring position, Seanez aimed for the fat of the strike zone. The pitch? A fastball.

Garciaparra hammered it so hard that before he even dropped his bat he punched the air with his right fist in celebration. Bochy immediately turned for the clubhouse, not bothering to watch the home run -- L.A.'s fifth in a span of 11 swings against three pitchers -- clear the leftfield wall for an 11-10 Dodgers win.


Garciaparra hit his home run at 2:05 a.m. Eastern time, with most of the country asleep. It didn't change the course of the season. Both teams finished atop the NL West at 88-74 and, thanks to the wild card, both made the playoffs. Yet the game was one of the most powerful reminders this side of October of why baseball gives the most breadth to possibility. -- Tom Verducci

That was the most amazing comeback I've ever seen, bar none. Four home runs in a row!

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December 20, 2006

Stupidest President Ever

This article could just as easily have been headlined: "Bush acknowledges hole, vows to keep digging."

Although his tone was restrained, Mr. Bush did express confidence in the ultimate outcome in Iraq. Responding to a question about a remark he made in an interview with The Washington Post that America is not winning, he said, “I believe we are going to win. I believe that — and, by the way, if I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t have our troops there. That’s what you got to know. We’re going to succeed.”

To quote a Vietnam vet named Kerry from his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

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Dog's Law

As the amount of coffee in the pot decreases and, were one to trip while carrying it, the size of the spill is reduced, the dog moves further away from the path which would cause maximum disaster.

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December 19, 2006

NCAA Bowl Games

"So, Link, what Bowl Game should I watch?"

"Beats me, sonny. Go ask Jay Heater."

Here's a pan for the one that takes place this afternoon:

26. Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego

Dec. 19, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)

WHO: TCU (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)

TURN ME ON/OFF?: When it becomes apparent after the first quarter that Northern Illinois tailback Garrett Wolfe, the nation's leading rusher with 1,900 yards, can't run against the nation's No. 4 ranked team in total defense (249.5), what's left? You would have more fun planting pointsettias then watching this weed of a bowl. Turn off this mismatch.

He's actually expecting some good matchups; go read if you care about how you spend your scarce TV football time.

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Bah, humbug!

Here's a discussion all readers could add to: "Which novels had the least sensible ending?"

Michael Crichton gets several mentions. I'd forgotten that he basically stole H.G. Wells' idea of a virus killing the Martians (in War of the Worlds) when he ended The Andromeda Strain.

I've read many many books which left me dissatisfied and wondering "why did the author end it that way?" Trouble is, it would take some thought to list them all. They're not the ones I re-read, so they don't readily come to mind. How about you?

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December 18, 2006


There's always one item you bought via mail-order which manages to lose itself when you're ready to wrap. Fortunately, the lost was found, but not before a massive amount of frustration was engendered.

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December 17, 2006


Out here we get nearly all our goods via container ship; it's a fact of island life. Ordinarily at this time of year there are worries about having enough Christmas trees, but not this year:

About 230 shipping containers packed with an estimated 100,000 Christmas trees are on the way to Hawaii to gear up for the holiday season, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

Nope, trees we got. So no problems this year? Well, a couple of days ago one of the local TV News stations had a story about a shortage of Christmas tree stands, and I now have anecdotal evidence that the story was correct. My sister just called to ask whether her husband had returned the one we loaned gave them last year, since she couldn't find it nor could she find any at any store.

Damn, what's next?

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December 16, 2006

House has holes

Somewhere in this house is the tree skirt we've been using for twenty years, but I'll be damned if I can find it. This is a new one.

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December 15, 2006

Agh, a tag

That Crazy Neighbor Lady tagged me with this:

I am instructed to list 6 little known oddities about myself.

1. I have a double nail on the ring finger of my left hand. That's the result of pulling a 6-foot gate shut when I was about ten. I grabbed it through the ring latch and didn't get my finger out in time. On the plus side, I was treated for the resultant compound fracture on a US Navy hospital ship.

2. I'm absolutely compulsive about matching the number of matches in a matchbook to the number of cigarettes in a pack. If the wind blows a match out before I get the cigarette lit I have to use a lighter for one of the remaining cigarettes in that pack to catch up.

3. I bought my 1986 T-Bird because I'd driven a 1985 model on a vacation through the Sierra Nevadas the previous summer.

4. I made the stupidest investment decision of my life when I knew Bank of America's stock was too low at $8 a share based on all the land owned under their branches in California and didn't buy any.

5. I'm unable to get rid of books. Ok, anyone who's seen this house would immediately know that, but none of you have.

6. I actually drank Olympia beer for the entire time I was in Japan. Worse, I liked it.

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December 14, 2006

Who's your daddy?

Lemme get this straight. The Immigration Service demolished nearly 1,300 lives just to spur Congress to do something about immigration reform? Ostensibly this was an attempt to capture people who had committed identity theft, but only 65 of the 1,282 rounded up have been charged.

This week's raids on Swift & Co. meatpacking plants are manifestations of a Bush administration strategy to wield new legal tactics against illegal workers, while pressing Congress for immigration reforms.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Wednesday that the government hopes that criminally prosecuting workers who allegedly use stolen identities will spur Congress to act, and send a message across America's borders.

"I'm hoping this is going to ... be a deterrent to illegal workers, (and) cause them to say that, you know, this happened in Swift, it could easily happen somewhere else," Chertoff said. "In fact, I'm pretty much going to guarantee we're going to keep bringing these cases."


Chertoff said Congress needs to act on a comprehensive strategy to provide safeguards against the use of forged or stolen identities: the introduction of forgery-proof identity cards, a temporary-worker program and other reforms.

You know, that's about as cynical and unworthy a motive as I can imagine. A number of children whose parents may be deported have now effectively become orphans; let's not forget that if those kids were born in this country they're US citizens. So what now? Are they going to be dumped into Family Services in each one of those states?

This is Bush's compassionate conservativism, huh?

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December 13, 2006

Gift purchasing update

I'm sure everyone was concerned about my lack of progress in family present purchasing. I'm pleased to report that after today's foray into the tinsel-bedecked halls of the local mall (funny, I didn't hear any Christmas music over the PA) the numbers have gone from two to sixteen.

Granted, most of today's loot was of the amusing rather than serious variety, but virtually all of the family gifts are like that these days.

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December 12, 2006

Got a gat?

If you're a detective fiction fan, check out The Thrilling Detective. It's a huge site dedicated to the P.I., the private dick, the op, the shamus. The owner publishes an e-zine (haphazardly, it seems); the most current issue is here.

It's got great bibliographical and biographical material on many of the most famous detectives ever to grace the printed page, many of them in the pulps. Be sure to check out the alpha lists and the ever-evolving definition of a private eye.

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Wrapping idea

Recycled from last year, because the suggestion is still valid.

Things like Blockbuster or iTunes gift certificates don't wrap well, and they're not too exciting when opened anyway. Why not pick up a small package of CD jewel cases at the local Office Depot and put them inside one of those? It makes the content less obviously what it is, which is a benefit in our house, where we're entirely too predictable most of the time.

An added benefit is that a jewel case is harder to lose than an envelope with a GC inside.

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December 11, 2006

Holiday music

'Tis the season for holiday music. NPR has a list of new entries into the royalty-rich genre, and in the "once innovative but now slightly long-in-the-tooth" category, Mannheim Steamroller has repackaged several of their old CDs into a 4-pack.

We probably have six or seven collections of Christmas music, from a 2-CD Time-Life compilation to Diana Krall.

What do you put on as background music on Christmas morning?

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December 10, 2006

What fools these people are

The self-acknowledged gay daughter of the Vice-President of the United States announces she's pregnant and the right-wing world flips its lid?

Concerned Women of America (and isn't that the most pretentious name a group could ever pick?): '...described the pregnancy as "unconscionable."'

Focus on the Family: '"Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn't mean it's a good idea," [Carrie Gordon Earll] said. "Love can't replace a mother and a father."'

You know why I despise these people? They haven't a drop of empathy or an ounce of compassion in their souls. How hard would it have been to say something on the order of "That wouldn't have been my choice, but whatever works for her?" Here's an event which has obviously been planned in advance (unless there are new biological advances of which I'm unaware), so the two principals clearly knew what they were doing, and yet these self-described guardians of all that's right and holy immediately start their reflexive bashing of "the other."

Their behavior is appalling.

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December 09, 2006

Shopping 2006

A week ago I had two Christmas presents in hand and felt like I was off to a good start. Today I have the same two presents and no more; I'm now feeling nervous.

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December 08, 2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick

De mortuis nil nisi bonum and all that, but the news of Jeane Kirkpatrick's death strikes me as being a loss to the neoconservative movement, not to the foreign policy world as a whole. Lest we forget:

Ms. Kirkpatrick was at the June 1984 National Security Planning Group meeting that began the secret initiative called the Iran-contra affair. Congress had cut off funds for the contras. The C.I.A.’s Mr. Casey wanted to obtain money from foreign countries in defiance of the ban.

Ms. Kirkpatrick was in favor: “We should make the maximum effort to find the money,” she said. Mr. Shultz was opposed: “It is an impeachable offense,” he said. President Reagan warned that if the story leaked, “we’ll all be hanging by our thumbs in front of the White House.”

Over the next two years, millions skimmed from secret arms sales to Iran went to the contras. The story did leak, as Mr. Reagan feared, and his administration was shaken by congressional investigations and criminal charges.

Kirkpatrick was one of the primary UN bashers in this country, even though she was our Ambassador to the place for four years. You might say she was John Bolton before Bolton became Bolton. She was one of the primary "Black is black and white is white" Reaganites, and it's been my experience that people who think that way (see Bush, G.W.) are too stubborn to recognize or admit their errors. She never did.

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Tom Toles has an appropriate cartoon today. I don't think either the deceased Steve Marriott or the still-living Peter Frampton had anything to do with it, though.

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December 07, 2006

Vindication stinks

“Make no mistake about it, I understand how tough it is, sir. I talk to the families” of those who have died. “I also believe we’re going to succeed. I believe we’ll prevail,” he said.

“One way to assure failure is just to quit, is not to adjust, and say it’s just not worth it,” he added. “If we were to fail, that failed policy will come to hurt generations of Americans in the future.”

And thus Mr. Bush rejects many of the suggestions in the Iraq Study Group's report.

The man is unquestionably the biggest fool and most incompetent man this country's ever had the misfortune to install as President.

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December 06, 2006

Go away, kid, you bother me

Here are Bush's remarks when he received his copy of the Iraq Study Group report (Executive Summary [pdf]):

I told the members that this report, called "The Way Forward," will be taken very seriously by this administration. This reports gives a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq. It is a report that brings some really very interesting proposals.

And we will take every proposal seriously and we will act in a timely fashion.

Uh-huh. I stand by my earlier suggestion that he's not going to do anything substantively differently than he's doing right now.

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December 05, 2006

Can't imagine it

Does anyone ever really cook a main dish in the microwave oven? Ours is used for vegetables, for defrosting, and for reheating. Despite all the pretty pictures in microwave cookbooks, I've never seriously thought about cooking a roast or anything like it in the device.


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Pearl Harbor pilot passes

Days before the 65th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, Kenneth Taylor has died in Tucson of complications after hip surgery.

He was a new second lieutenant on his first assignment, posted in April 1941 to Wheeler Army Airfield in Honolulu. A week before the Japanese attacked, his 47th Pursuit Squadron was temporarily moved to Haleiwa Field, an auxiliary airstrip about 10 miles from Wheeler, for gunnery practice.

After a night of poker and dancing at the officers' club at Wheeler, where the dress code required tuxedoes, 21-year-old Lt. Taylor and fellow pilot George Welch awoke to the sound of planes flying low, machine-gun fire and explosions. They learned that two-thirds of the U.S. aircraft at the main bases of Hickam and Wheeler fields were demolished or unable to fly.

They quickly pulled on their tuxedo pants and, while Welch ran to get Lt. Taylor's new Buick, Lt. Taylor, without orders, called Haleiwa and commanded the ground crews to get two P-40 fighters armed and ready for takeoff.

Strafed by Japanese aircraft, the pair sped 10 miles from Honolulu to Haleiwa [sic - that must be from Wheeler. It's more like 30 miles from Honolulu to Haleiwa]. At the airstrip, they climbed into their fighters, which were fueled but not fully armed, took off and soon attracted fire from the Japanese, who had not expected to be challenged in the air. Suddenly, they were in combat, two pilots against 200 to 300 Japanese aircraft.

Taylor was one of the two guys who got into the air that morning. He was credited with two kills, as was Welch. They were each awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the first two medals awarded in World War II.

Taylor went on to fly at Guadalcanal; he spent 27 years on active duty, became commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, and retired in 1971 as a brigadier general.

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December 04, 2006

New museum opens at Pearl Harbor

Later this week the new Pacific Aviation Museum will open at Pearl Harbor. While we've got the Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin submarine and the USS Missouri, this will be the first memorial to aviation in Honolulu.

Visitors to the museum will begin their experience in the first phase of the museum and the nearest hangar to the Control Tower, Hangar 37. Here in the large format theater they will see film of the December 7th attack that details the battle scene with original film and still photographs interposed. Scenes of Hawaii awakening on December 7, 1941 will add to the orientation. For example, sailors are seen tumbling from bunks on the Oklahoma and racing to their battle stations. CINCPACFLT HQ, in another scene, has officers receiving confusing messages from Washington. The two Army radar technicians at Opana Point are shown practicing with their new gear. Army sentries are guarding the closely lined P-40s at Wheeler Field. Hawaiian music on the radios is gradually drowned out by the sound of aircraft and the ensuing battle.

At the conclusion of the introductory film, visitors will exit into the exhibit area where they will experience the air attack on Hawaii through dioramas with aircraft and artifacts from WWII in the Pacific.

As visitors complete their tour of Hangar 37, they will exit on the ramp and relive the aftermath of the Japanese attack with a debris field, smoking PBYs an other seaplanes. Jitneys outfitted as Red Cross vehicles will be employed to next move the visitors on their museum tour toward the adjacent hangars, stopping first at Hangar 79. Here visitors will see the scars of war from December 7th, 1941 that still exist today: shrapnel marks on concrete walls and bullet holes from Japanese strafing clearly visible in glass panes of the massive hangar doors . They will hear a first-hand account of the attack in the voices of survivors as they ride jitneys along the tour route.

I think Phase 1 (Hangar 37) is the only one that's been completed, but you can understand why the directors wanted to open the museum now; this week marks the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and it may be the last one which many survivors will be able to attend.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 03, 2006

All Bowl listings here

In case your team was one of the 40 or so which isn't playing (out of what, 125?), here's the complete list of bowl games.

Despite its loss last night, UH is in the Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Eve. The team which defeated them, Oregon State, is in the Sun Bowl on December 29. (The Brut Sun Bowl? Are you kidding me? A bowl sponsored by a freakin' mens cologne? Good grief.)

The big game is, of course, Ohio State v. Florida in Glendale, Arizona on January 8. Fortunately for us old-timers, the Rose Bowl actually does revert to its long-ago format, matching USC of the Pac-10 with Michigan of the Big 10. I never could get used to seeing teams from conferences other than those two in the Rose Bowl.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 02, 2006

Books for trade

Have you got books you don't want? Are there books you do want? Can these two opposite ideas find common ground? Well, yes. There are at least half-a-dozen book-trading sites out there among the Internets.

I knew about BookCrossing, but that's not a trading operation, that's a book giveaway. I admire the concept, but I'd prefer to get something in return for books I give up. Fortunately, the good folks at LibraryThing have done deals with several of the trading sites.

Suppose you have a copy of the 9/11 Commission Report but you don't want to keep it. If you go to the book page for the report at LT, you'll find a link at the right called "Swap this book". Click on that, and you'll get a list of bookswap sites which have copies for trade. There are eight trading sites so far:

In the case of the 9/11 Report, there are seven available to receive and three to give (among LTers).

Each site has slightly different rules, but most of them ask that you list several books you're willing to trade. The more you add books to give away, the more points you earn. As you receive books, your total points are reduced. Postage and mailing rules are slightly different among them, but none of the restrictions are too odious.

I listed several books I'm willing to give up at Bookins on Thursday and several I'd like to have. Today I got an e-mail from the site telling me one of the ones I want is on its way.

This is pretty cool stuff.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Television heads-up

I don't know if this has played yet on PBS where you live, but it's scheduled for next Tuesday here (probably as part of a pledge drive, but worth it): Great Performances presents "A Tribute To James Taylor." Look at the performers:

Dixie Chicks, Bonnie Raitt, India.Arie, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Sheryl Crow, Sting, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas, Keith Urban, Bruce Springsteen, and Carole King.

Boomer heaven!

What was the occasion? "In recognition of his many achievements in music, as well as his philanthropic efforts, Taylor was honored in February 2006 as 'Person of the Year' by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences' MusiCares program."

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

December 01, 2006

Early bird: worm

We went to the dentist yesterday, and I really miscalculated how much traffic there'd be. The appointment was at 11:00am, and we got to the doc's office a half hour early. Fully resigned to sitting there reading People or National Geographic (old issues, not new ones), imagine our surprise when they said they could take us ahead of schedule.

Bottom line: we got out of there two minutes before the time of our original appointment. How rare is that?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack