March 31, 2008

Opening Day

But I'm not going to mention baseball. I'm going to point you to this profile of Al Jaffee, the sole creator and artist who's been creating Mad magazine's fold-ins for the past 44 years. The fold-in is a feature of the back cover which poses a riddle solved by folding the page into thirds, right over center, resulting in a pictorial display of the answer. I remember seeing them and marvelling at how clever the gag was, even though I haven't bought a copy of the magazine since I was in high school.

There's an interactive sampler accompanying the article: judge for yourself.

Via Avedon.

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March 30, 2008

Place names of the Antarctic

There was a story on Weekend Edition Sunday this morning about Robert Scott, the Antarctic explorer who died on his way back from the South Pole after being beaten there by Amundson in 1912. It reminded me of something.

When Dad got back from Antarctica he told us he'd had a place named after him.

It's true!

If you want to see it, go here, select Search Antarctic Data on the right, type "Cape Timberlake" into the feature box on the next page, scroll down to the bottom and hit Send Query, then click on the name in the resulting page. Once you've done that, click the map feature on the right.

I love the Internet.

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Photographic evidence

The Red Sox defeated the Dodgers in an exhibition game last night.

The venue was a little unusual.

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March 29, 2008

Line, line, everywhere a line

I was driving down the hill on my usual errand run today and saw a line of people on the sidewalk extending about half-a-mile from the corner of my street down the main drag, past a Borders, a Starbucks, and almost to a Sizzler. I had no idea what this was all about, so when I got done with the errands I came back up by a different route, knowing I'd have to stop at a light and I could ask some of the queuers what the heck they were doing.

Turns out it was a casting call for Deal or No Deal, from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

It's about 85° out there; I don't envy those people one whit.

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March 28, 2008

Holy Wildcats!

Wow. Take that, Big Ten!

Davidson, that little bitty 1,700-student school from Charlotte, moves on to play the winner of the Villanova-Kansas game on Sunday.

Neat story about them? The school made tickets and bus transportation available to its students if they wanted to go to Detroit for this weekend's game(s).

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Go Long

My outrage meter is pegged today, so let's do something different.

Here are songs with the word "Long" in their titles from my iTunes Library:

The Long And Winding Road -- The Beatles
Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress) -- The Hollies
Long Dark Road -- The Hollies
Long Distance Winter -- Buckingham Nicks
Long John Silver -- Jefferson Airplane
Long Time Gone -- Crosby, Stills & Nash
The Long Way Around -- The Dixie Chicks

Got any "long" songs in yours?

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March 27, 2008

Straight talk ain't necessarily smart talk

Senator McCain on financial regulation, Tuesday:

Our financial market approach should include encouraging increased capital in financial institutions by removing regulatory, accounting and tax impediments to raising capital.

Um, Senator Straight Talker, sir? It's the lack of regulation of investment banks that got us into this mess. And you want even less?

You're right. Economics is not your strong suit. Hell, common sense doesn't seem to be part of your skill set, either.

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Lost again

Lost is a rerun tonight.

This has been a Public Service Announcement.

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March 26, 2008

Baseball stages Woodstock?

Okay, Charlie Steiner is given to overstatement. Nonetheless, the Dodgers and Red Sox are staging an exhibition game at the LA Coliseum this Saturday. 115,000 tickets have been sold.

I saw my first big league game at the Coliseum, in 1960 or 1961, sitting behind third base. The Dodgers played there from 1958-1961 while their home in Chavez Ravine was being built; it had the weirdest baseball configuration imaginable. It was only 250 feet to the left field fence, but there was a 40-foot tall screen out there to make home runs a little more difficult (it didn't stop Wally Moon, a left-handed hitter who figured out how to slice pitches over the thing with some regularity). Now it's even shorter; over time the track has been removed so the fence is only 200 feet away. To compensate, a new 60-foot screen has been erected.

Should be fascinating; I hope it's on TV out here.

Update: Pictures here.

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What's behind this sudden internal battle in Basra?

Here's an interesting analysis from UPI. I have no idea how credible it is, but parts of it make some sense to me.

The violence that has killed dozens and injured hundreds since Tuesday is billed as Iraq's military against "criminals, terrorist forces and outlaws," in the words of Maliki. But political parties and their militias have gained a stronghold in Baghdad and Basra, from elected office to the security forces, police and those protecting the oil infrastructure. And the battle is looking more like two leading political parties against two disenfranchised parties, all Shiite Arab.

"It's an internal Shiite war for who is going to represent the Shiite community in Iraq," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the Congressional Research Service. The operation was planned a month ago, he said, and the target was the illegal activity like oil smuggling taking place under the control of the Fadhila Party and other armed groups.

Sadr has aspirations, we know that. Maliki is desperate to hang on to his own power. So we have two or more armed factions fighting for control of the biggest oil port and infrastructure in the country.

Sounds like civil war to me.

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March 25, 2008

The path to war

I watched Part One of Bush's War last night and was impressed. I didn't get a lot of new information, but it's been put into a timeline which makes the whole path of misinformation we were fed a lot clearer.

Anyone else watch or plan to watch? Part Two is tonight.

Update: Matt Yglesias watched it and was as repelled as I was by seeing Richard Perle and John Yoo treated respectfully.

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The apocalypse is upon us

Holy smokes. Life can hold no more, can it? Can it?

March Mullet Madness.

via Mean Louise

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March 24, 2008

4,000 deaths in Iraq

As our war dead climbs over that grim number, we're still being subjected to mea culpas from liberal war hawks. I'm tired of them, and so is Jim Henley.

You didn’t have to be all that bright to oppose the Iraq War in advance. Heck, polls suggest that most Americans were dubious about the idea until the war became obviously inevitable. Real enthusiasm was confined to the elite media, the bipartisan defense-policy establishment and a bunch of Republican quasi-intellectuals who had spent ten years casting about for different countries to have a war - any war - with. I mean, for crying out loud, at one point our rulers declared that Saddam Hussein might attack America with remote-controlled model planes. You didn’t have to wait to bounce that one off the folks at your next MENSA meeting to judge its likelihood. Nor did you have to puzzle overlong, if someone tried to put that one by you, how much stock you should put in anything else that came out of their mouths.

Yeah. It seemed fairly evident to me that Iraq didn't harbor any of the terrorists who attacked us on September 11, that Aghanistan did, and that diverting our Army to go after Saddam made no sense.

The innate gullibility of our "elites" still astonishes me, and it frustrates me that the same crowd is still given space in editorial pages to explain that "if only we'd done it my way everything in Iraq would be peachy."

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March 23, 2008

Woohoo, once removed

Back in 1967 I was looking at all manner of small liberal arts colleges I might want to attend. One of them was Davidson.

The school I might have gone to has now advanced further in the tournament than the school I ultimately attended.

They're both nicknamed Wildcats. Does that mean anything?

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March 22, 2008

Bruins and Cardinal, oh my

My mother got a graduate degree from UCLA just a couple of years before its basketball team began its historic run of NCAA championships, but she's not much of a roundball fan.

Until tonight.

She was on the edge of her seat the entire second half hoping UCLA could pull it out over Texas A&M, and when they did with 9.5 seconds left there was great joy.

Earlier, Stanford managed to beat Marquette with 1.3 seconds left in overtime.

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It's called Via Dolorosa for a reason

I have a candidate for this week's "unclear on the concept" award. One of our television weathercasters greeted viewers last night with a perky "Happy Good Friday, everyone!"

Whatever else Good Friday is, it ain't happy.

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March 21, 2008

IOC blindness, again

Lemme see if I've got this straight. The International Olympic Committee doesn't think condemning China for its actions in Tibet is a good idea (there's not a word about Tibet on its website), nor does it think women should have a ski-jumping event in Vancouver in 2010.

The IOC always maintains it's not a political organization, just a sports one. That's nonsense, and Jacques Rogge knows it. Even selecting Beijing was a political act (1 billion potential Olympics viewers/consumers were too big to pass up!), and the expressed hope that China would somehow behave itself and maybe even loosen up on human rights was surely not believed.

What annoys me is the Committee's hypocrisy and unwillingness to use its clout to chastise the aging bureaucrats in the Chinese Communist Party.

As to the ski-jumping, as recently as 2006 skiing's ruling body said "The International Ski Federation has ruled that ski jumping is too dangerous for women."

Now the excuse is there are only 80 ski-jumping women in the world. As the video above shows, there were fewer women than that participating in snowcross at the time of the last Olympics, but that didn't stop the IOC from sanctioning a women's event in 2006. My guess is that the potential snowcross viewers were the hip younger folks the IOC wanted to attract to the Games; apparently there's no similar demographic it can identify which might want to watch women ski-jump.

Whom will the IOC offend next?

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Cheney's "So?"

Via Dan Froomkin, an Ann Telnaes animated cartoon which vividly expresses Cheney's view of the Constitution.

John Sherffius also has an opinion of Cheney's use of that word.

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March 20, 2008

Lost, Season Four, Episode 8

Ryan's post. I think Jon took the night off, since his wife gave birth to a new baby this morning (before the Stanford game, luckily for him).

Teaser: Sayid confronts Ben’s spy on the freighter, and Ben urges daughter Alex to flee Locke’s camp in order to survive an impending attack.

The island "won't let you kill yourself." O-o-o-kay.

I don't get why Michael wouldn't ask Ben why in hell he (Michael) should disable the radio comms and the engines. What leverage does Ben have over Michael at this point?

Who attacked Danielle, Alex and Carl?

Now we have to wait till April 24th to find out (or get more puzzled)? Yikes!

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Odds and ends

March Madness has begun, and Georgia's bid for Cinderella's slipper fell short.

Talk of the Nation hosted a studio performance from an artist I've never heard of named Tift Merritt, playing songs from her new album. I hear a little early Joni Mitchell and a little late Emmylou Harris here.

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March 19, 2008

Five years on

Has there ever been a United States Administration as deluded as this one? Bush, today:

Five years into this battle, there is an understandable debate over whether the war was worth fighting, whether the fight is worth winning, and whether we can win it. The answers are clear to me: Removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision -- and this is a fight America can and must win.

Cheney, today:

"On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success," Cheney told ABC News' Martha Raddatz.

When asked about how that jibes with recent polls that show about two-thirds of Americans say the fight in Iraq is not worth it, Cheney replied, "So?"

"You don't care what the American people think?" Raddatz asked the vice president.

"You can't be blown off course by polls," said Cheney, who is currently on a tour of the Middle East. "This president is very courageous and determined to go the course. There has been a huge fundamental change and transformation for the better. That's a huge accomplishment."

They really do live in a bubble, and they show no interest in it being punctured by the cold knife of reality.

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Memorable speeches, mangled

What if Ann Coulter had liveblogged the Gettysburg Address?

via Ezra Klein.

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March 18, 2008

R.I.P., Arthur C. Clarke

One of the giants is dead.

Arthur C. Clarke wrote an awful lot of books and short stories, many of which I've read. I always felt he was great on science; less good on characterization. His imagination was spot-on, however. He's the man who envisioned telcomm satellites above the earth in 1945, ten years before the first spacecraft orbited.

I've always thought one of his best short stories was The Nine Billion Names of God. You can read all three pages of it at that link. It has one of the most famous last sentences in all of science fiction.

If you like irony, you might try The Star, too.

Update: Patrick has a wonderful eulogy at Making Light.

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Failure is (apparently) not an option

E.J. Dionne follows up my thoughts from yesterday:

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

Enter the federal government, the institution to which the wealthy are not supposed to pay capital gains or inheritance taxes. Good God, you don't expect these people to trade in their BMWs for Saturns, do you?

Amen, brother.

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March 17, 2008

Too big to fail

If your home has gone into foreclosure because you can't pay the mortgage, if you are watching your minimum payments on your credit cards rise because the interest rates are going through the roof, if you are paying five bucks for a half-gallon of milk, you might wonder if you're going to get a bailout from the Feds.

Nope. You're too small. Bear Stearns, on the other hand. . .

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March 16, 2008

What is it with Republican women, anyway?

Has this person never heard of doing homework for her job? From Think Progress, which has a video link:

On Fox News Sunday today, White House press secretary Dana Perino was named the "Power Player of the Week." She explained to host Chris Wallace that, in addition to the pressure to look good, she faces an extra challenge as a woman — understanding military jargon:
Some of the terms I just don’t know, I haven’t grown up knowing. The type of missiles that are out there: patriots and scuds and cruise missiles and tomahawk missiles. And I think that men just by osmosis understand all of these things, and they’re things that I really have to work at — to know the difference between a carrier and a destroyer, and what it means when one of those is being launched to a certain area.

Golly. She gets my award for personifying the woman Republicans idealize most: the happy lady in the kitchen baking cookies.

For this she's paid $141,000 per year.

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Never on Sunday

Melina Mercouri, from the 1960 film of the same name.

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Tell Me on a Sunday

Marti Webb, from an Andrew Lloyd Webber play I've never seen. She originated the role and was followed by Sarah Brightman and Bernadette Peters, among others. I happen to like Webb's soprano over Brightman's; I find the latter a little too breathy for my taste.

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March 15, 2008

"Rustic," huh?

A while back Senator McCain hosted a bunch of journalists at what they subsequently described as a "cabin" in Sedona, Arizona.

The Arizona Republic described it as a "rustic cabin"; National Public Radio described it as a "weekend cabin"; The New York Times called it McCain's "cabin near Sedona, Ariz."; the Associated Press called it a "cabin"; and The Washington Post -- which devoted two articles to the barbeque -- agreed that it is a "rustic cabin."

I should own one this rustic.

That's from Media Matters, which wonders why the press never asks about McCain's net worth or his tax returns, all the while baying about Clinton's.

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Bill itemization mystery

Item on my dental insurance statement advising me what the insurance paid and how much I owe to the dentist for last week's adventure:

  1. Crown-Porc W/Noble

Noble what? An Earl, a Duke, a fir tree?

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March 14, 2008

Hire these people? Hell no!

In a story which seems somehow emblematic of Republican rule over the past seven years, the chairman of the party's own Congressional Committee seems to have embezzled up to a million bucks from its coffers.

For at least four years, Christopher J. Ward, who is under investigation by the FBI, allegedly used wire transfers to funnel money out of NRCC coffers and into other political committee accounts he controlled as treasurer, NRCC leaders and lawyers said in their first public statement since they turned the matter over to the FBI six weeks ago.


. . .Ward was the only NRCC official empowered to use wire transfers to shift money into any account without a second approval. After transferring the money into accounts he controlled, often for dormant fundraising committees associated with the NRCC, Ward allegedly moved it into accounts for his political consulting business or his personal bank accounts

Yessiree Bob, the Republican party is full of men of sterling character. They should be entrusted with the reins of government for the next hundred years (as long as "government" is meant as "no office higher than animal control, and not even that if fiduciary responsibility is involved").

At least the Post put this story on Page A1, unlike its Iraq coverage, which seems to be permanently relegated to A12 or deeper. Did you know that the latest American deaths over there have pushed the total to nearly 4,000?

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March 13, 2008

Lost, Season Four, Episode 7

Ryan's post. Jon's post.

Here's the teaser:

Juliet is forced to reveal some startling news to Jin when Sun threatens to move to Locke’s camp. Meanwhile, Sayid and Desmond begin to get an idea of the freighter crew’s mission when they meet the ship’s Captain.

Hmm. Jin, you're not the daddy?

Why, you dirty sneaky misdirecting bastards! Jin and the panda faked me but good!

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March 12, 2008

Mid-morning musical interlude

I'll bet I danced to this a hundred times when I was in college: Chicago's Beginnings. It's from their first album, the one entitled "Chicago Transit Authority". The name was soon truncated; the city of Chicago objected. 30-some albums later, I wonder if the CTA regrets that complaint.

There's a lot of good musicianship here; pay particular attention to Peter Cetera's bass.

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March 11, 2008


I just got back from having a new crown put on a tooth. The dentist fiddled with it a few times, saying he was "tightening" it. That reminded me of the period when I had braces, back in high school. Every three months I had to go see Dr. M., the orthodontist. He had an office that was about three miles from my high school, so I had to ride my bike up Backlick Road to the medical building on Little River Turnpike in Annandale, Va. Not so bad during the summer, but not a lot of fun in a Northern Virginia winter. He'd tighten the silver metal bands on my teeth, attach new rubber bands, and I'd hurt like hell. Then I'd get back on my bike and head back down the road in 40° weather. If anyone thinks that cold has no impact on metal and teeth, try that on for size.

I was lucky, though. My teeth were straightened out in only 18 months. I've known people who had to wear them for years.

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March 10, 2008

Billions here, billions there

Economist Joseph Stiglitz has a new book titled The Three Trillion Dollar War. The $3T in the title "casts a spotlight on expense items that have been hidden from the U.S. taxpayer, including not only big-ticket items like replacing military equipment (being used up at six times the peacetime rate) but also the cost of caring for thousands of wounded veterans—for the rest of their lives."

Bob Farley doesn't try to crossfoot to Stiglitz's number, but he does point out the following (with supporting links there):

For the monthly cost of the war in Iraq, conservatively estimated for our purposes at $8 billion, the Pentagon could buy:

  • 10 F-22A Raptors ($150 million each)
  • 23 F-35 Lightning IIs ($100 million each)
  • 4 Littoral Combat Ships ($650 million each)
  • 1 Zumwalt Destroyer ($1.5 billion each)

... and still have $100 million left to help us feel good about the Air Force.

Every. Single. Month.

And Farley's accounting just states what the Pentagon might do with that money. Imagine what the other agencies of the Federal Government might do with it if it weren't earmarked for DOD.

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March 09, 2008

Joplin comes alive (sorta)

I've got Janis Joplin's Pearl on the turntable, and I was hunting around YouTube for a clip when I ran across this: Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone singing two of her hits as a tribute to the dead star. I gather this was performed at the 2005 Grammy Awards ceremonies, which I must have missed. Etheridge sings "Piece of My Heart" and Stone sings "Cry Baby."

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Verbal tic

When's the last time you saw a contract which actually had a dotted line on which you should put your signature?

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March 08, 2008

Definitional error

President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques that are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using such interrogation methods, which include waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad.

I don't think the legacy Bush leaves behind will be one of "fighting for strong executive powers." I think it will be "led America into the first pre-emptive war in its history, bogging its military down in Iraq for years." It will be "led a compliant Republican Congress down the road to destruction of American civil liberties." It will be "imprisoned suspects without charge at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, limiting their access to lawyers and refusing to follow the Constitution's stated principles of habeas corpus, no unreasonable search and seizure, due process, the right to a speedy trial, and other attacks on American law." It will be "politicized the American judicial system by firing US Attorneys General for unwillingness to prosecute cases the Executive Branch trumped up." It will be "prevented investigations into wrongdoing of Administration employees by defying Congressional subpoenas."

And that's the tip of the iceberg.

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March 07, 2008


The Big Island's Kilauea has been erupting for the past twenty-five years. Yesterday the latest flow hit the ocean. Some of the photos are spectacular.

Some of the video is even more amazing. Click the links in the box on the right.

We had contracted to buy a lot in the subdivision called Royal Gardens thirty years ago; when it was overrun Dad said our land was increasing by accretion.

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March 06, 2008

Lost, Season Four, Episode 6

Ryan's post.

So Ben pulled a David and Uriah trick to have Goodwin killed so he could have Juliet. Fine, but that's incidental to the main story. What in the world is Ben up to? Can we take his word that Charles Widmore wants to exploit the healing powers of the island and sent the freighter with Daniel, Charlotte and Miles to kill Ben? Those three are pretty weak reeds on which to rely if you're trying to kill Ben, I'd say.

I wouldn't trust Ben as far as I could throw him, so why should Locke, Jack or any of the rest of them? His motives remain unclear, but whatever they are we can count on them being evil.

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Patriots all

If you're self-employed you know all about Social Security and Medicare taxes; that 15.3 percent of gross income you have to pay to the Feds on top of any income tax you might owe on your adjusted gross income each year. Everybody pays into it either through payroll tax deductions or when you file.

Unless you're KBR, the biggest Iraq war contractor (or profiteer).

CAYMAN ISLANDS - Kellogg Brown & Root, the nation's top Iraq war contractor and until last year a subsidiary of Halliburton Corp., has avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in this tropical tax haven.

Oh, it gets worse, too. Not only has the company been avoiding paying into the SocSec and Medicare funds, it's been avoiding paying into Texas' state unemployment fund by employing people out of its Cayman Islands offices. What's that mean? Well, if you were hired from those places, when you get back to Texas (KBR's headquarters is located there), you're ineligible for unemployment benefits.

Do I need to point out that when an outfit like KBR doesn't pay into those funds, the rest of us have to make up the difference?

The story asserts that the Pentagon has known since 2004 that KBR was doing this.

Good corporate citizens, aren't they?

Congress is trying to close this loophole, but dollars to donuts and political contributions there'll be Republican opposition to it.

via Think Progress.

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March 05, 2008



You guess what that is.

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March 04, 2008

Urban v. rural

CNN just called Texas for Hillary. I went to look at its map of results by county.

I have no insight as to why this is, but Barack won all the big cities and Hillary won everything else in the state. That's one of the weirder election maps I've ever seen between members of the same party.

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The YouTube election

Teresa Nielsen Hayden has compiled quite the list of campaign videos created for the Presidential candidates.

There's the obvious (Yes We Can by and the ridiculous (, plus a few historical recordings from past elections (way past; 1840s).


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March 03, 2008

More of Mr. Young

Speaking of Neil Young's compositions, here's "Love is a Rose," sung by Linda Ronstadt. Crank up the speakers; the audio is really faint.

If you look around YouTube for Neil Young, you'll find several songs in which he plays banjo; this Ronstadt arrangement is not an aberration.

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National shame

If you watched "60 Minutes" last night you probably saw a segment about Remote Area Medical, a charity which was founded to provide health care to people who can't get regular access to it by virtue of where they live. It was pretty startling. They set up shop in Knoxville, TN on the weekend of January 5-6 of this year, served several thousand people, and had to turn hundreds away.

Many of these people actually have some insurance, but their deductibles are too high to make going to a doctor feasible. One featured guy was a truck driver with health insurance whose deductible is $500; that's a good part of his take-home pay.

What the hell kind of society is this that it can't provide basic services (RAM pulled around 1,100 teeth, made a bunch of eyeglasses and did a lot of mammograms; no special MRI/CAT scans or things of that nature) to its citizens?

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March 02, 2008

Exploring the vinyl vault

Way down at the end of the aisle under "Y" I find a slew of Neil Young albums, including Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, his first release with Crazy Horse. There are three well-known songs from this album: "Cinnamon Girl," "Cowgirl in the Sand," and "Down by the River." The first one is short enough to get airtime on radio, the latter two are not. Both "Cowgirl" and "River" have extended guitar jams taking them above the 7-minute mark.

Here is CSNY singing "Down by the River," from a television performance in 1969. To quote Dylan, "I was so much younger then, I'm older than that now."

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Shelby Lynne sings Springfield

Shelby Lynne has done an album of Dusty Springfield covers and talks about it on Weekend Edition Sunday. There are clips at both links. It sounds pretty darned good.

By the way, if you've never heard Lynne's little sister Allison Moorer, you ought to. Her latest album is also comprised of covers, including "Ring of Fire" and "Both Sides Now." Here she is, singing Brother Can You Spare a Dime.

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March 01, 2008

Olfactory memory

As I was numb from the local anesthesia the other day, the dentist was shaving my tooth to ready it for molding the new crown. It didn't hurt, but the smell of burning enamel was really strong. I'm trying to remember what else I've smelled that's similar, and I can't.

It's probably best not to have a really vivid imagination when someone's poking around in your mouth, you know? They put a dental dam on me; if I could have spoken coherently I'd have made some wisecrack about waterboarding.

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