April 30, 2007

Tenet on "60 Minutes"

I watched the interview, along with 15-20 million other people. I'm still not sure what to make of it. It seemed to me that his objection to Cheney and Bush's use of his phrase "slam dunk" was that he feels they were using his words to justify the war on Iraq, and that wasn't what he meant at the time.

Listening to the vice president go on 'Meet The Press' on the fifth year of 9/11, and say, 'Well, George Tenet said, slam dunk.' As if he needed me to say slam dunk to go to war with Iraq," Tenet tells Pelley. "And they never let it go. I mean, I became campaign talk. I was a talking point. You know, 'Look at what the idiot told us, and we decided to go to war.' Well, let's not be so disingenuous. Let's stand up. This is why we did it. This is why, this is how we did it. And let's tell, let's everybody tell the truth."

So lemme get this straight. Tenet did say the intelligence was good enough to confirm that Iraq had WMD, thus a "slam dunk," but now he objects to the use of his term as the final impetus for going to war?

That's way too fine a distinction for me. Mr. Tenet, you knew what these clowns were going to do about Iraq. If you felt they were hasty and misusing your own words, you should have said something loudly and publicly at the time.

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April 29, 2007

L-o-o-ng ball

I remember reading a quote once in one of Roger Angell's New Yorker pieces about a close baseball game; a player said something like "We really drug it through a knothole that time."

Well, the Dodgers and Padres did that today. 17 innings. Official time of game: 4 hours 55 minutes. The Dodgers used every relief pitcher they had and scared their fans into hyperventilation by going ahead in the top of the 17th, then allowing two Padres on in the bottom of the inning before their final pitcher struck out the last guy.

Yow. Good thing not all games are like that.

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April 28, 2007

Linda Ronstadt on Wait Wait

When Peter begins chatting with Linda Ronstadt he and she discuss the cover of Time Magazine in 1977.


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Gillette's Razor

It was hardly consumer-friendly of Gillette to make both their Atra and their Trac II razor blade cartridges look exactly the same. The only distinction is that the method of connecting the blade to the cartridge is different.

This annoys me when I'm trying to find the correct package at the drugstore, particularly since the packaging doesn't display the back of the cartridge.

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April 27, 2007

How did I miss these?

Somehow I have missed Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan books. Considering that the first one (there are about a dozen) was published in 1986, I can only conclude that I got out of the science fiction reading habit back in the 80s. On the one hand, I missed some wonderful stories; on the other, I now have about a week's worth of books to read all at once.

They're excellent. They could be described as space opera, but that wouldn't come close. Vorkosigan is a really interesting hero (he's all of 4'9" tall, due to an assassination attempt on his mother while he was in utero), the universe Bujold has created is fascinating (Planets populated solely by men! Planets which are a black-marketer's paradise! Planets recovering from conquest!), and the characters are fully developed, even the non-human ones. The books have warfare, politics, romance, cloning, and ethical dilemmas, and the writing is word-picture perfect.

They seem to get classified in the Young Adult section of the library, probably because when we first meet the protagonist he's 18. This categorization is wrong; they're fully adult books with adult themes.

I've read about half-a-dozen so far, and I recommend them. If you can, try to read them in order, as characters recur.

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April 26, 2007

Kevin Tillman writes a letter

Mannion directs us to a letter Kevin Tillman (yes, Pat Tillman's brother, an ex-Ranger himself) has written to the American public.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.


Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow I don't think Mr. Tillman has much respect for the current leadership of this country.

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Lost, Season 3, Episode 18

Damn. Remember the old Supremes song "You Keep Me Hangin' On?"

Every time I feel a spark of liking for Juliet she calls Ben, which instantly makes me angry at her duplicity all over again. And how the hell can Mikhail be alive? And the outside world has, according to the parachute lady, recovered the plane with no survivors?

Here's Ryan's take on last night's cliffhanger.

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April 25, 2007

Abortion: a personal tale

From Majikthise via Pharyngula comes a link to this harrowing story of a pregnant woman, her husband, and the choice he had to face.

I'm not gonna excerpt anything, because the entire post should be read.

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April 24, 2007


There have been quite a few good histories of the American involvement in Vietnam, including Neil Sheehan's "A Bright and Shining Lie," Sidney Karnow's "Vietnam: A History," Michael Herr's "Dispatches," and Frances Fitzgerald's "Fire in the Lake". The one which really exposed American policy mistakes, however, was David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest."

Halberstam went on to write many other books, including several about sports, but it was his histories which will have an impact long after his sudden death yesterday in a car crash.

I own five of his books and have read several others. He was the kind of reporter who believed in story, not just in laying out the facts. He went well beyond the journalistic axiom "who, what, when, where and why," and tried to weave the answers to all those questions into a sensible narrative.

He'll be missed.

Update: Glenn Greenwald has excerpts of Halberstam's speeches and essays explaining just how much we'll miss him.

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April 23, 2007

Bush and Gonzales

Bush: "it was clear that the attorney general broke no law, did no wrongdoing"

That's the standard? If you don't break any laws you ought to keep your job as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States?

Impeach George Bush. Impeach him now.

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Guns and college students

I have heard several suggestions to the effect that if any of those students or professors at Virginia Tech had had a gun, one of them might have "taken down" the shooter. Following that comes the proposal that students be allowed to carry concealed weapons on campuses.

Um. Going from the ridiculous to the serious here, suppose some student didn't like his grade on a paper or for a course? Or, suppose a student was taking a course from one of the professors highlighted by David Horowitz and his loonies at Discover the Networks, an outfit which bills itself as

a "Guide to the Political Left." It identifies the individuals and organizations that make up the left and also the institutions that fund and sustain it; it maps the paths through which the left exerts its influence on the larger body politic; it defines the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas and it provides an understanding of its history and ideas.

Could a student decide he'd been given a poor grade solely because his professor was on Horowitz's hit list and didn't like the kid's politics? And would said student be loony enough to confront the professor during office hours, with a weapon in his hands?

More seriously, if a student has a gun and is in the midst of a shooting incident, how are the cops to determine that the student trying to defend himself with a weapon isn't the guy causing the incident? It seems to me that the innocent bystander with a weapon is just as likely to be perceived as a perpetrator as the real perp might be. Is that a risk all these advocates for arming students want to take?

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April 22, 2007

Earth Day 2007

From the National Resources Defense Council:

Mass-market magazines are now awash with green-themed cover stories and special features. While Newsweek announces the greening of the suburban American family, Vanity Fair puts the once-next-president on the cover, flanked by Julia Roberts (as a green fairy) and George Clooney (as an earth-tone peasant). A new magazine called Verdant , with a column on organic fine wines, features on luxury eco-spas in Bali, and ads for custom-built conservatories, takes the zeitgeist a step further. As editor Sharon King Hoge notes, the word "verdant" means lush as well as green.


The thing about entering the mainstream, of course, is that you can’t simply will the river into a new direction. It flows where it flows. And today the river flows with the smooth and relentless current of conspicuous consumption. Which takes us back to those initial questions: If we’ve finally figured out how to wade in the cultural mainstream, maybe it’s worth keeping one eye open to the risk of drowning.

Yeah. Environmentalism is no longer counter-cultural, but there's a lot of fluff out there. The author mentions "green, nontoxic sex toys."

In the same issue, there are reviews of two books, one a reprint of Silent Spring and the other a collection of essays entitled Courage for the Earth: Writers, Scientists and Activists Celebrate the Life and Writing of Rachel Carson. Carson, of course, was the author of Silent Spring, a book often credited with jump-starting the environmental movement. Both are published by Mariner Books (Courage here, Spring here).

I read Silent Spring in 1979, seventeen years after it was first published. It was still relevant then, and it's still relevant now. If you've never read it, do so. It's a classic.

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April 21, 2007

Suggestion to the TV overlords

There are 28 other teams in Major League Baseball. Just because your rooting interest is in the NY/New England region is no reason the rest of the country should be expected to be enthralled by a Yankees - Red Sox matchup on television. I mean, yesterday on ESPN, today on Fox, tomorrow on ESPN?

Besides, it's flipping April, dammit. These games may have bearing, but they're not nearly as important as the ones between these two teams in September.

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April 20, 2007

Waiting list

Mom has expressed an interest in seeing the Helen Mirren film The Queen. Being a thoughtful son, I thought I'd go to our local library and borrow it.

There are 379 hold requests for the videodisc as of this morning.

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This is your Dept. of "Justice"

This has been a steady undercurrent for the entire period Bush has been in office, but now it is beginning to come to light with a vengeance.

Facing nationwide voter registration drives by Democratic-leaning groups, the administration alleged widespread election fraud and endorsed proposals for tougher state and federal voter identification laws. Presidential political adviser Karl Rove alluded to the strategy in April 2006 when he railed about voter fraud in a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association.

Questions about the administration's campaign against alleged voter fraud have helped fuel the political tempest over the firings last year of eight U.S. attorneys, several of whom were ousted in part because they failed to bring voter fraud cases important to Republican politicians.

The story goes into great detail about the efforts of the Dept. of Justice to justify voter ID laws which tend to exclude citizens in Democratic-leaning districts, its efforts to emasculate its own Civil Rights Division, and its efforts to force US Attorneys to pursue actions against possible voter fraud, even when there was no evidence of same.

On virtually every significant decision affecting election balloting since 2001, the division's Voting Rights Section has come down on the side of Republicans, notably in Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Washington and other states where recent elections have been decided by narrow margins.

Joseph Rich, who left his job as chief of the section in 2005, said these events formed an unmistakable pattern.

"As more information becomes available about the administration's priority on combating alleged, but not well substantiated, voter fraud, the more apparent it is that its actions concerning voter ID laws are part of a partisan strategy to suppress the votes of poor and minority citizens," he said.


In the last six years, the number of voters registered at state government agencies that provide services to the poor and disabled has been cut in half, to 1 million.

Instead of forcing lax agencies to increase registrations, the Justice Department sued at least six states and sent threatening enforcement letters to others requiring them to scour their election rolls for potentially ineligible voters.

If you have any doubt that the Department of Justice has been turned into a puppet of the Executive Branch and a partisan enforcement shop, read this article. Then go read Digby, who has much more.

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April 19, 2007


If you're up for a new book, are not intimidated by 600 pages of dense material, and like science fiction/fantasy, you should rush out and get a copy of Elantris by Brandon Sanderson. It was selected as a group read at Library Thing (discussion of Chapters 1-15 here and Chapters 16-30 here). One of the advantages of the discussions is that the author is enthusiastically joining the conversation.

I picked up a copy at the local used book emporium and read it yesterday. It's a first novel (first published, anyway; Sanderson has been writing for a long time and in fact has a new book out entitled Mistborn).

The thesis is simple. A city formerly ruled by an enlightened close-to-Godlike people has mysteriously died and is now inhabited by victims of a horrific affliction which causes their hearts to stop beating, all bodily pain to become permanent, and an inability to die. This event was called the Shaod, or Transformation. Originally it had signified the assumption of the traits and characteristics of the Elantrians by ordinary mortals, but something went wrong. From the Prologue:

It struck randomly -- usually at night, during the mysterious hours when life slowed to rest. The Shaod could take beggar, craftsman, nobleman, or warrior. When it came, the fortunate person's life ended and began anew; he would discard his old, mundane existence, and move to Elantris. Elantris, where he could rule in bliss, rule in wisdom, and be worshipped for eternity.

Eternity ended ten years ago.

The crown prince of the kingdom (Arelon) just outside Elantris suddenly undergoes the newly-awful Shaod on the verge of his politically-useful marriage to a princess from a distant kingdom. Within several days, she arrives in Arelon to learn that she's a widow before she's ever been married, and that by contractual law she assumes all rights and privileges of her former/never-met husband. At the same time, an emissary from a kingdom a long way off arrives in Arelon, intending to convert the population to subjugation to his king through the use of religion rather than force of arms.

It's a ripping good read, with great characters, enough magic to grab you but not enough to annoy you, and a heroic Quest with many twists and turns. I really enjoyed it.

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Here's my candidate for "Chutzpah of the Month" award. I was in Safeway on Tuesday, picking up my bagged purchases on my way out the door. The guy right behind me suddenly asks me "Sir? Have you got a quarter? I don't want to break a dollar."

Um, what?

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April 18, 2007

SCOTUS, Alito and abortion

So those of us who advocated against Alito and for a filibuster against his ascension to the Supreme Court have had one of our fears justified.

The anti-abortion crowd's tactics are clear; nibble away at Roe v. Wade around the edges until it's meaningless. If the health of the mother has no value, as today's decision says, then what's next? Will first-trimester abortions be outlawed?

In Justice Ginsburg's dissent she notes several bits of language which indicate the lack of objectivity (dare I say "judicial restraint?") on the part of the majority:

One wonders how long a line that saves no fetus from destruction will hold in face of the Court's "moral concerns." See supra, at 15; cf. ante, at 16 (noting that "[i]n this litigation" the Attorney General "does not dispute that the Act would impose an undue burden if it covered standard D&E"). The Court's hostility to the right Roe and Casey secured is not concealed. Throughout, the opinion refers to obstetrician-gynecologists and surgeons who perform abortions not by the titles of their medical specialties, but by the pejorative label "abortion doctor." Ante, at 14, 24, 25, 31, 33. A fetus is described as an "unborn child," and as a "baby," ante, at 3, 8; second-trimester, previability abortions are referred to as "late-term," ante, at 26; and the reasoned medical judgments of highly trained doctors are dismissed as "preferences" motivated by "mere convenience," ante, at 3, 37. Instead of the heightened scrutiny we have previously applied, the Court determines that a "rational" ground is enough to uphold the Act, ante, at 28, 37. And, most troubling, Casey's principles, confirming the continuing vitality of "the essential holding of Roe," are merely "assume[d]" for the moment, ante, at 15, 31, rather than "retained" or "reaffirmed," Casey, 505 U. S., at 846. (My emphasis)

Yep. Whatever objectivity the Supreme Court once had no longer exists, not with Scalia and Alito there.

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April 17, 2007

More on Virginia Tech

I admit I wasn't aware of New York City's troubles with guns originating in Virginia, but it's apparently been quite a problem for quite a while.

Via Wolcott, the NY Daily News's Michael Daly.

Still love those guns, Virginia?

Ready to admit that it's madness for any psycho to be able to saunter into a gun shop and acquire firepower capable of killing 32 innocents?

Feel different now that the blood is the blood of so many of your most promising young people?

You've been shrugging for decades as illegal guns from your state plague our city, killing and maiming and terrorizing New Yorkers by the thousands, at one point comprising 47% of the guns our cops recovered.

You even yukked it up with a "Bloomberg Gun GiveAway" raffle at a gun shop that sold at least 22 guns used in crimes in New York.

You went into a tizzy when Mayor Bloomberg sued some of your gun shops after undercover agents made fraudulent "straw purchases."

Your idea of gun control has been to pass a law making it illegal for undercover agents like those Bloomberg sent South to make such buys.

You seemed to think it was no big deal when an aide to your junior U.S. senator got caught carrying an automatic pistol into the Capitol, you having voted Sen. James Webb into office as an avowed opponent of gun control.

You had a big debate this year about whether Virginia Tech was wrong to discipline a student who was caught carrying a licensed pistol to class.

Never mind that a Virginia gun license is not half as hard to get as a driving license.

Never mind that there are so many guns lying around that an escaped jailbird managed to get hold of one and kill a cop and a security guard at the edge of the Virginia Tech campus at the start of the school year.

Yesterday, the shooting was in the heart of the campus, which suddenly felt like the bleeding heart of the whole nation.


Not even the worst campus massacre in American history is about to stop Bob Moates Sports Shop of Midlothian, Va., from going ahead with its big Bloomberg Gun GiveAway. The winner will receive a Para-Ordinance Model 1911 .45 automatic, silver and no less deadly than the black pistol a witness says the Virginia Tech psycho used. The 1911 is part of the company's new line of "Gun Rights" pistols, which carry the guarantee the company will donate $25 to the National Rifle Association for every one sold.

"The drawing is April 19," a man at Moates said yesterday.

No wonder some of our cops up here in New York say the bumper stickers down there should really read, "Virginia Is for Gun Lovers."

What do you say now, Virginia?

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Don't blame the victims, jerk

I just heard a soundbite of Bush's speech at the convocation held at Virginia Tech this afternoon, and it really annoyed me. He said of the victims, "they were in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Wrong, dogbreath. They were at the place they were supposed to be, teaching and attending class. It was the freakin' shooter who was in the wrong place. Guys with guns are not supposed to be in classrooms and dormitories. If the gun laws in this country weren't totally subservient to the National Rifle Association this tragedy might not have occurred.

Buy a clue, Mr. President.

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April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech horror

While the events in Blacksburg, Va. are still unfolding, it's probably too early for analysis to begin. What happened in Austin, TX in 1966 has had the advantage of time and distance.

The Texas Tower shootings happened nearly 41 years ago; that event was the first college campus murder I remember.

Whitman’s story stands out for many reasons, not the least of which being that it features a co-star—the University of Texas Tower, from which he fired almost unimpeded for 96 minutes. The Tower afforded Whitman a nearly unassailable vantage point from which he could select and dispatch victims.

Whitman killed fourteen people and wounded dozens. He was killed by a police officer who had advanced up the tower with several others, dodging friendly fire all the way.

I can imagine being on a college campus and suddenly hearing gunfire and seeing fellow students running for their lives. Before August 1, 1966, I certainly couldn't.

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No Cheering in the Press Box, Hah!

One of the most endearing moments of yesterday's ESPN broadcast of the Sunday Night Baseball game from Dodger Stadium was in the third or fourth inning, when a Dodger player hit a ball to the wall in left field. Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow (and a wonderful woman in her own right; she founded The Jackie Robinson Foundation, a scholarship outfit which has given out more than $14.5M in grants (pdf) over its history) was in the broadcast booth, in the midst of a conversation with commentators Joe Morgan and Jon Miller; she broke off the conversation to shout "Yay!" at the run-scoring double.

At another moment, she was asked whether she agreed with the timing of Jackie's retirement (which happened when the Dodgers traded him to the Giants after the 1956 season); she said she agreed with it entirely. Why, she was asked. Because, she said, she couldn't imagine him playing for the Giants, a team he and she regarded as the enemy from their first days in Brooklyn.

Once a Dodgers fan, always a Dodgers fan.

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April 15, 2007

Hawai'i icon Don Ho has died

Here's the Honolulu Advertiser's coverage. It's extensive.

My grandmother was (to her family's mind, unreasonably) attached to Ho. She was enchanted the one time she actually saw him perform (a long time ago -- 30 years back, at least). He seemed to appeal to the older female audience, for reasons I don't quite understand. He certainly wasn't drop-dead handsome, and his voice wasn't the best to be found in Waikiki in the 60s and 70s, but he was a huge draw.

R.I.P., Mr. Ho.

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April 14, 2007

Jackie Robinson tribute comes from players this time

This is kinda heartwarming.

More than 200 players will wear Robinson’s No. 42 retired by baseball 10 years ago in ballparks across the country on Sunday, the anniversary of Robinson’s first appearance with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

While the tribute has received baseball’s approval, it grew spontaneously from a request by the Cincinnati Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr., who asked Commissioner Bud Selig earlier this month if he could wear the number on April 15. What has evolved since is surprisingly organic for a group of famous, feted athletes with multimillion-dollar contracts.

As word of Griffey’s gesture spread, small groups of players — among them stars like Barry Bonds, Dontrelle Willis and Gary Sheffield — decided also to wear 42 that day. Soon, there was a representative from every team. The Los Angeles Dodgers then decided to have their entire roster wear 42.

Now, there are six major league teams that plan to have everyone in uniform wearing No. 42 — players, coaches, manager and bat boys. Those teams are the Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros.


“Maybe the best thing about this year’s tribute is that it came from the players,” said Mets Manager Willie Randolph. “You hear these jokes that the modern player doesn’t know anything about baseball history. But it’s pretty clear that most of them do appreciate what Jackie Robinson did for them — for all of them.”

Good for the players.

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April 13, 2007


Anna Quindlen wrote a really poignant column for Newsweek last week entitled "The Weight of What-If." Excerpt:

But there's nothing quite like a protracted war to shift the landscape of existence wholesale. Stand in front of any war memorial or military cemetery, in a small town, in the capital, in Gettysburg, in France, and the what-ifs are heavy in the air. The marriages precipitously ended or never made. The children orphaned or never born. The families broken, the towns denuded. On a visit to Moscow years ago I was struck by the absence of men of a certain age. Then someone reminded me that some estimates had 13 percent of the Soviet population, mostly male, killed in World War II.

I remember William Shirer or another World War 2 historian/journalist writing that France essentially lost an entire generation of young men during The Great War. Obviously that's not going to happen to America with this war, but George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and their enablers have created "what-ifs" for over 3,000 American families who will never know what those young men and women might have accomplished. They have created "what-ifs" for over 20,000 American families whose loved ones have dreadful injuries from which they will never fully recover. And they have created "what-ifs" for some unknown number of Iraqi families whose men, women and children will never contribute to the ideal of a democratic Iraqi society, one of the stated goals of this war in the first place.

It's time for the what-ifs to stop.

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How long can you tread water?

OMG! Mannion found Bill Cosby's "Noah" comedy sketch on YouTube! Somebody put pictures to it!

I love this. I've been quoting from it for years. It might be one of the best comedy routines of all time.

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April 12, 2007

18 1/2 minutes, v. 2007

If CREW's (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) sources are correct, there may have been as many as 5 million e-mails unlawfully deleted from White House servers between 2003 and 2006.

In a startling new revelation, CREW has also learned through two confidential sources that the Executive Office of the President (EOP) has lost over five million emails generated between March 2003 and October 2005. The White House counsel’s office was advised of these problems in 2005 and CREW has been told that the White House was given a plan of action to recover these emails, but to date nothing has been done to rectify this significant loss of records.

Man. Rosemary Woods and Fawn Hall were pikers.

Many of these documents are probably routine and innocuous, but some may have been proof of illegal activity (I mean violation of the Hatch Act, which disallows use of government computers, personnel and offices for political purposes). That's also way too many missing documents to be merely accidental deletions.

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April 11, 2007

Remember Lee Iacocca?

He's got a new book, and it's excerpted at the Borders website.

Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We've got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we've got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can't even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, "Stay the course."

Stay the course? You've got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I'll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I'm getting senile, that I've gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don't need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we're fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That's not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I've had enough. How about you?

I'll go a step further. You can't call yourself a patriot if you're not outraged. This is a fight I'm ready and willing to have.

My goodness. The nice thing about this is that he's got name recognition coming out his ears, and he's (presumably) going to be interviewed about this on all the standard book tour stops. It would be nice if 60 Minutes talked to him, along with all the morning shows.

Go read the rest; that was just for openers.

Via The Carpetbagger Report.

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April 10, 2007

Who can afford to attend college?

Susie at Suburban Guerilla found this article about the rising income levels of new college students, and it made me wonder how much people paid for college tuition (assuming they attended) back when they were full-time students. Here's an interesting quote:

"Students from wealthier families can endure greater fluctuations in 'sticker price' than poorer students," José Luis Santos, a UCLA professor and co-author of the report, said in a statement. "As a result, more students entering college come from homes that are increasingly wealthier than the national median income."

When I went to the U of Arizona in 1968-1972 (with breaks) I think it cost my parents about $250-300 per semester for in-state tuition. That was a public university. When I attended Hawaii Pacific College (private) in 1978-1979 to finish up my Bachelor's degree I paid roughly $1000 per semester out of my own savings.

How about you? Got any financial memories?

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April 09, 2007

1040 Blues

I've stalled on doing the taxes, thinking it was a sure thing I'd owe money. Well, using TurboTax I made my first pass and the Feds owe me a little, and the State a little too.

I'm sure I did something wrong here.

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April 08, 2007

Market street

This is what all satire should be.

"The delegation arrived at the market [in Baghdad], which is called Shorja, on Sunday with more than 100 soldiers in armored Humvees … and attack helicopters…. Sharpshooters were posted on the roofs. The congressmen wore bulletproof vests…. At a news conference shortly after their outing, Mr. McCain … and his three congressional colleagues described Shorja as a safe, bustling place full of hopeful and warmly welcoming Iraqis — 'like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime,' offered Mike Pence, an Indiana Republican. — New York Times"

MY WIFE came into the living room wearing a Kevlar vest, helmet and night-vision goggles.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Have you completely forgotten, silly head? We're going to the market."

I placed my hand at my head. I'd been so caught up in stitching a minor wound I'd received earlier in the day after going to an outdoor fruit stand that I had completely forgotten.

"I'm a dope, aren't I?" I said, chuckling, slowly shaking my head back and forth. She chuckled too, also shaking her head. We both chuckled. Then I winced from where a stitch popped.

Carol helped the boys get ready, putting on their sneakers and body armor. I phoned the Indiana National Guard so that they could radio the 434th Special Air Wing at Grissom Air Force Base, which in turn scrambled two F-14 Tomcats. Then we hopped in the wagon.

Read on, it gets better. Why are so many Republican Congresspeople addicted to spin?

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April 07, 2007

An observation

If you're going to wear a T-back tank top, please wear a bra whose straps conform to the style of the garment. Bra straps can often be sexy, but not with that.

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Oh well, at least it's not India

In the letters section of the April 9 issue of Sports Illustrated, responding to a March 19 story about a certain San Antonio Spurs player and his love life, we find this gem:

When I was growing up, the dream of every red-blooded American boy was to become a professional athlete and marry a Hollywood starlet. With Spurs point guard Tony Parker of France marrying Eva Longoria chalk up another American job outsourced overseas.

Hmm. I hadn't thought of it that way.

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April 06, 2007

About time this was recognized

I've plugged Library Thing half-a-dozen times here (put Library Thing into the Search box on the right), and now Business 2.0 has written about it.

Less than two years after it opened its doors to the public, LibraryThing's users have listed, tagged, or recommended more than 10 million works--a collection that, were it not virtual, would be the third-largest private library in the United States, behind those of Harvard and Yale.

In the process, LibraryThing has become a sort of anti-MySpace. Here, instead of people finding each other through shared friends, they connect through a shared love for Goethe or Grisham.

This quote is entirely accurate: "When I first went to LibraryThing, it took me about 20 minutes before I said, 'How soon can I give these people $25 for a lifetime membership?'" says Christopher Locke, coauthor of The Cluetrain Manifesto. "A person's library gives a characterization far beyond anything that anyone could ever say on MySpace."

I lasted two days before I forked over my cash, but I've had easily ten times that much fun with it.

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April 05, 2007

That naming thing

So not very many folks have named computers, apparently. How about cars? Who names their cars?

I never have, but if I named the current one it would probably have an (knock on wood) Old Reliable theme to it.

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April 04, 2007

But are they all Jellicle names?

This is fun. Over at Crooked Timber they're remembering names that have been given to computers they've used. Samples include Star Wars characters, Oz characters, trees, lemurs, and beers.

My contribution? At the Honolulu Club we named our IBM S/34 Phred; it stuck throughout the nine years the machine was in use. We even put the name on the outside of the office until the stuffy damned auditors (Ernst and Whinney, as I recall) panicked.

Who's got similar stories?

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Lost, Season 3, Episode 15

The official synopsis for tonight's episode, entitled "Left Behind:"

After discovering that one of her own has betrayed her to “The Others,” Kate is left to fend for herself in the jungle with Juliet. Meanwhile, Hurley warns Sawyer to change his selfish ways and make amends with his fellow survivors or he may face a vote of banishment.

Hurley being assertive? Hurley? And what's this vote business? Since when has there been any democracy on the island? Sounds like "Survivor."

Here's Ryan's The Transmission blog post for tonight.

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April 03, 2007


Why is it that doctors' offices are invariably air-conditioned to the point of near-frostbite?

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April 02, 2007

Opening Day 2007

Forget that made-for-TV game yesterday between the Mets and the Cardinals. Today is the real Opening Day, when there's nearly a full slate of games around Major League Baseball.

It's a day when Cubs fans, Nationals fans, and all other fans of the traditional also-rans can say to themselves, "Hey! If the Tigers could get to the Series last year, so can we!"

I think the phrase was first used to describe second marriages, but it's oh-so-apt for the beginning of baseball season: hope triumphs over experience.

Oh, yeah. There's some kind of basketball game today, too.

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April 01, 2007

Frank Rich agrees with me

Via Pottersville, Frank Rich writes:

Whatever Mr. Edwards’s flaws as a candidate turn out to be, he is not guilty of the most persistent charge leveled since his wife’s diagnosis. As Ms. Couric phrased it, “Even those who may be very empathetic to what you all are facing might question your ability to run the country at the same time you’re dealing with a major health crisis in your family.”

Would it be better if he instead ran the country at the same time he was clearing brush on a ranch? Polio informed rather than crippled the leadership of F.D.R.; Lincoln endured the sickness and death of a beloved 11-year-old son during the Civil War. In the wake of our congenitally insulated incumbent, who has given our troops neither proper armor nor medical care and tried to hide their coffins off camera, surely it can only be a blessing to have a president, whether Mr. Edwards or someone else, who knows intimately what it means to cope daily with the threat of mortality. It’s hard to imagine such a president smiting stem-cell research or skipping the funerals of the fallen.

I'm not necessarily an Edwards supporter (the election is 20 months away, unfortunately), but it does seem to me that a man or woman who's faced personal trouble of the sort that FDR and Lincoln faced would be liable to cope with other crises equally well.

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