November 30, 2008

Cocoanut Grove

Hey, Bostonians. Via a comment at Edge of the West comes a link to this fascinating story of the Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942, which killed 492 people in minutes. You know about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York and its repercussions; Cocoanut Grove had similar effects.

The impact was national. Doctors learned strategies for the treatment of burns that became standard at hospitals everywhere, and across the nation, cities tightened building codes to require lighted exit signs, doors that open outward and revolving doors flanked by conventional doors.

Friday was the 66th anniversary of the fire.

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November 29, 2008

100 Greatest Singers

Via Susie Madrak comes a link to Rolling Stone's compilation of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

If ever there were a list guaranteed to promote argument, this is it. It includes a few jazz singers (no Bessie Smith! No Billie Holiday!), no opera singers (no Sills, Domingo, Caruso, Pavarotti!), and some odd choices even among the rock singers (as Susie says, Art Garfunkel over Laura Nyro?).

Take a look and leave your suggestions on how to improve the list in the comments.

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November 28, 2008

Avoid fines!

My public library has an online presence, which makes it easy to request interesting books as I run across them rather than keeping a list and going there in person. I've discovered another handy tool, too: I can look up and sort the books I have out by due date, rather than go to the pile and physically open each one. That makes it simple to find the ones I need to take back or renew (sadly, the online renewal function has been temporarily disabled).

So is that a clever use of the internet or merely another exhibition of sloth?

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Thanksgiving photos 2008

How'd we get there? Follow along.

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November 27, 2008

You can get anything you want

at Alice's Restaurant.

(YouTube video of Arlo, live)

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Turkey Day 2008

I'm thankful for the family's continued health this and every year. I'm thankful for the prospect of my country's return to good health and sanity in 53 days.

Happy Thanksgiving Day!
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November 26, 2008

Are we there yet?

It's 4:30pm Thanksgiving Eve. Have you cleaned your oven yet?

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United Steelworkers on bailouts

This seems accurate, even if it comes from an obviously biased source.

Congress drove the Big Three CEOs out of Washington, D.C. last week, ordering them not to return with their tin cups until they could guarantee their companies would be viable after a $25 billion bailout.

Just days later, Citigroup, a bank that had already received a $25 billion bailout in October, held its hands out for more. Within 48 hours, federal officials approved giving the bank another $20 billion and providing backing for $306 billion in its risky loans and securities. Even though Citigroup was failing just weeks after getting its first government bailout, Congress didn’t subject its CEO to the public lecturing and demands for business plans that it did the Big Three.

The message here could not be more clear: Washington will bailout out those who shower before work but not those who shower afterwards. (My emphasis)

That was Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers, writing on the union's blog yesterday.

Gerard makes a lot of points, some of which I've been trying to make when writing about the car companies.

  1. Republican Senators have an obvious union-busting agenda in their opposition to helping the Big Three.
  2. The Congress, including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, to their detriment, demands a recovery plan from GM, Ford and Chrysler, while asking for no such plan from Citigroup or the other banks that have gotten bailout funds.
  3. In hearings, blame and shame was heaped on the auto companies' CEOs for their mode of travel (those corporate jets). Neither Gerard nor I heard anything about bank CEOs arriving in Washington via train or automobile.

I need to go shower now.

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November 25, 2008

Birthday gift certificate

I finally got around to using the thing at Borders. Since I already own John Scalzi's The Ghost Brigades and Old Man's War, I picked up the third book in the trilogy, The Last Colony.

I used the balance to get Neil Young's Greatest Hits, which has some tracks not present on the other Neil Young CDs I own, including extended versions of "Down by the River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand."

Gift certificates do make simple gifts, don't they?

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November 24, 2008

Dear lame ducks

Why is it that Citigroup is worthy of what looks to be a sweetheart deal, while the Big Three car companies are not?

Is there some kind of class bias in favor of financial firms and their white-collar executives here?

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We're doomed

This civics literacy test turned up in my local paper's opinion pages this morning, along with the following dismal commentary on its findings:

US elected officials scored abysmally on a test measuring their civic knowledge, with an average grade of just 44 percent, the group that organized the exam said Thursday.

Ordinary citizens did not fare much better, scoring just 49 percent correct on the 33 exam questions compiled by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI).

From the sponsor: "The average score for all 2,508 Americans taking the following test was 49%; college educators scored 55%."

I took the test and aced it: 100%. Test your knowledge at the first link above.

Update: Kevin Drum reaches a different conclusion, although not a very happy one: everyone is stupid. (He's addressing the "kids today don't know nuthin'" analysis these tests often prompt.)

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November 23, 2008

Worthy of a smackdown

I was throwing clothes into the dryer a moment ago and the TV was showing us CNN's In the Money, a weekly show devoted to talking about the economy. One of the guests was a representative from the Cato Institute, a think tank which says its mission is

to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace.
He was yammering away, explaining that if the government would just stay out of the way and stop regulating industry everything would be peachy-keen.

I wanted to throw something at him. Fortunately, the program's co-host Ali Velshi didn't do that, but he did imply what I wanted to say loudly and vociferously, which was "your ideas have been so discredited by the events of the past year that they have no merit. Go away."

It's the lack of regulation of the financial industry that has given us hedge funds, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and securitized mortgage debt, credit card debt, and all the rest of the derivatives which have brought our economy to its knees. Yet these clowns at Cato continue to spout their Randian nonsense, and worse, they continue to get forums to spout on.

Sometimes television producers should ignore "balance" and simply say "No" to these guys. They don't put Lyndon LaRouche on much, so you know they can self-regulate. Producers, please expand your list of "idiots who won't use my airtime to espouse foolishness."

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November 22, 2008

Hasta la vista, baby

Given all the crises we're facing, can't we let Bush go immediately, fired for cause?

Gail Collins agrees with me.

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November 21, 2008


The John Adams DVD was due back at the library yesterday, and we had two episodes plus the features still to watch (the Making Of and McCullough's bio sketch are both worth the time). This meant that we had to start watching at about 10:00am in order to be done by mid-afternoon.

Most of my theater-going has been to matinées over the past few years, but those opening times have been approximately 11:30am. There's something oddly decadent about watching a movie at 10:00 in the morning. It's too early for popcorn and soda, too.

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Digital TV switchover

Hawai'i is converting to digital television signals on January 15, 2009, one month earlier than required by law. Why are we switching early? Well . . .

Federal wildlife officials suggested tearing down the old analog transmission towers earlier to avoid interference with the nesting season of a bird, the endangered Hawaiian petrel.

Petrels, also known as the ’Ua’u, are only found in Hawaii, and more than 1,000 of them nest on the slopes of Maui’s Haleakala volcano, where the analog towers are currently located. The nocturnal species, which reportedly has a chirp that sounds like a yapping puppy, is not adapting well to urban sprawl: The birds are disoriented by city lights and sometimes get caught on wires. Officials think rebuilding the towers at a different location, away from the petrel’s nesting sites, will give them some peace to nest, and help the species’ survival in the long term.

All three of our permanent televisions are cabled already, so they're not affected. But. About 18 months ago we bought a portable TV/radio for emergency use. While it will work perfectly well for radio reception, it will no longer pick up broadcast television broadcast signals once the TV stations switch over to all-digital.

If you want to keep your old analog TV, you have to buy a digital-to-analog converter box. The Feds are offering $40 coupons to help cover the cost of the box (since this conversion is mandated by Federal law). There are lots of converter boxes available, but there's only one I've found which can be run off a battery pack, which is what you'd need in an emergency like a hurricane, when in all likelihood the power would be knocked out. It's not $40, it's $59, and the battery pack is another $15. Add $14 S&H and we're up to $88, and you can't add two coupons together to offset the cost.


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November 20, 2008

John Adams, Episodes 5, 6, & 7

Wow. I thought the last three episodes would be anticlimactic and that all the events leading up to the Revolution would far exceed any drama after Washington's election.

It's true that the Great Events slowed down after that, but it became a much more personal and humanizing film. The conflicts between Adams and Jefferson as proxies for the Federalists and Republicans were wonderful, and Adams' speech expressing his distase for Hamilton was superb. (I do think Hamilton got a little bit of an undeserved bashing there, but never mind). Then there was Adams grumbling at John Trumbull's romanticization of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: "the delegates were scurrying in and out of Philadelphia all summer, signing when they could."

I had to dig out my copy of McCullough's book in order to keep track of the Adams' family children; I recommend everyone do the same. Everyone has a copy, right?

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Where was the outrage in 2000?

I see the cable shows are wringing their collective hands about the return of some Clinton-era Democrats to actual policy-making jobs in the Obama Administration.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when GWB brought John Negroponte and Elliot Abrams into his Administration I don't recall any such kerfuffle, despite their dirty hands in Central and South America during the Reagan Administration. Their activities bordered on the criminal in their earlier careers (Abrams was actually convicted of several misdemeanors having to do with the Iran-Contra affair), while none of the people being discussed as possible members of Obama's team have any blots.

Does the media have a set of double standards?

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November 19, 2008

Coin of the realm

A 46oz pickle jar can hold about $15 worth of pennies.

I know this because, thanks to my friend Kate's post, I learned about a coin-counting machine maker named Coinstar. I found a credit union at the bottom of my hill which has one of their machines installed, and I took my accumulated pennies in their Vlasic jar down there today. I paid a 10% fee off the top to the credit union, but I could equally have donated the cash to a charity like the American Red Cross or the March of Dimes, among others, or gotten a full-value gift certificate from a whole bunch of web retailers, including Amazon, Lowes, Disney, Pier 1, Borders and iTunes.

It's pretty slick. You just enter your zip code into the machine locator box in the navigation bar at the Coinstar website and you're provided with a list of locations in your neighborhood. There's no need to roll the coins and take them to a bank; you just pour your loose coins into a hopper and it whirs away, giving you a running total of the amount by type of coin on the display screen.

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University presidents are money-grubbers

ESPN has paid $125 million for the rights to broadcast the Bowl Championship Series from 2011-2014.

ESPN’s president, George Bodenheimer, said the network planned to keep all of the games on ESPN and not broadcast any on ABC, but would not charge cable providers a premium. ESPN is available to about 98 million homes on an extended basic-cable tier. Disney owns ESPN and ABC.

Lessee, if there are 300 million-plus citizens of the United States, then there may be 150 million homes (obviously a S.W.A.G.). That would mean that up to 50 million homes have no access to ESPN and thus no way to see the Bowl Championship games unless the residents all go to sports bars or neighbors' homes on New Year's Day and the following weekend.

Way to go, university presidents. You've just cut off many of your potential customers from the biggest college football games of that four-year period. Ah, but Greed is Good, right?

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November 18, 2008

Failure to recognize

A final thought on Lieberman: you know that phrase people use about a guy "on their side" even though he's a jerk? "He may be an SOB, but he's our SOB?"

Lieberman campaigned for the other side, raised money for the other side, and fretted publicly that the guy leading our side might be a Marxist. He's not even "our SOB."

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Take that, netroots!

For those bloggers who thought they had some influence over Harry Reid and the rest of the Democrats in the Senate, guess again.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) easily won a vote to remain chairman of a key committee today and will stay in the Democratic caucus despite his high-profile criticism of President-elect Barack Obama and his support of Sen. John McCain during the presidential campaign.

The vote was 42-13 (remember this was a Democrats-only vote).

I imagine this is only the first of what will be many disappointments to come from the US Senate, Democratically-controlled or not. There will be no Profiles in Courage from most of that bunch.

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November 17, 2008


A letter in the print edition of the Nov. 24 issue of Time, received this week:

To the supporters of California's Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage: 1963 called; it wants its bigotry back.

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John Adams, Episodes 3 & 4

These segments were important to the biography, but I thought neither was particularly compelling. There were moments, though.

As Abigail was riding up to the chateau where her husband had been living for over a year, her facial expressions were wonderful. She wouldn't have been human had she not been thinking "I've been working my tail off farming that rocky soil in Massachusetts, and you've been living this luxurious existence with servants and enough room to swing a cat in?"

I'm thinking we're going to have to watch the included "Making Of" documentary just to learn how and where they filmed all these opulent diplomatic scenes.

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November 16, 2008

The case for an auto industry bailout

Jonathan Cohn makes it better than I can: it's not just the immediate job losses that would occur if the companies were allowed to fail, it's the downstream losses at suppliers and all the businesses and towns that depend on the taxes and spending revenue from those that are conveniently forgotten (tellingly, by many Republican Senators from the South, which never had a purely American car plant located there). Cohn argues that the economic losses suffered in those places would dwarf the $25B the companies are asking for.

That makes sense to me. It also makes sense to Paul Krugman.

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You're an accident witness. Now what?

Jim Macdonald is an EMT in New England and a moderator at Making Light. For some time now he's been writing up "how-to" responses to medical emergencies for laymen. An index to them can be found here. Everyone should read both the posts and the comments (because the comments have specific instances of emergencies and the appropriate responses to them). Maybe read only one a day, but read them. The life you save may be a stranger or a loved one, or you may never have to use the techniques at all, but you ought to know them.

Besides, they're fascinating.

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November 15, 2008

John Adams, Episode 2

Congress is Congress, whether it's the Continental one in 1775 or the current edition. Horse trading and large egos are the norm.

We were amused to learn that the rock-ribbed and principled John Dickinson of Pennsylvania was played by . . . a Slovenian named Zeljko Ivanek.

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Five semi-interesting things

I usually manage to escape memes, but not this time.

Step #1 - From Liz:

Step #2 - write five fun/interesting facts about yourself.

  1. "I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, A poet, a pawn and a king."

    Not quite. However, I've been a newspaper deliverer, a janitor, a grocery-bagger, a radio-teletype operator, a movie projectionist, a work-study college student, a computer systems manager, an accountant, and a free-lance researcher.

  2. "just can't wait to get on the road again"

    I like driving vacations. In 1986 I drove from Vancouver BC to Seattle and then all over Washington and Oregon, stopping when and where I wanted. In 1985 I drove from LA to Yosemite and on to San Francisco before returning to LA. In 1992 I drove from Albuquerque all over New Mexico and then into southern Arizona, passing through Chiricahua National Monument. Even within the state I drive: in 1983 I went to Maui and Kauai, driving to Hana on Maui and to Waimea Canyon on Kauai.

  3. "Memory"

    I have a very good memory for song lyrics. I hear a phrase and will often think of a song in which the phrase appears. It may take a while, but I get there.

  4. "I'll drown my book."

    Ha! Not a chance! It's nearly impossible for me to throw a book away. Thus, this.

  5. "'Cause she's playing all night
    And the music's alright
    Mama's got a squeeze box"

    The first musical instrument I ever owned was an accordion. I don't know why I expressed an interest in it, but back in 1959 I began taking lessons and playing a full-sized Piano accordion. I played it for several years, but I never got very good. It travelled with the family across country to Northern Virginia, and it went along on my high school senior class trip to New York. I finally gave it up to someone in the early 1980s; I don't think I ever learned "Lady of Spain". In the meantime I'd picked up a guitar and became reasonably proficient at it. I still own two, an acoustic Spanish-style Höfner and an electric six-string Rickenbacker. I bought the latter when I was practicing with some friends in the Navy in 1973. They were playing country music at various Navy clubs because that's what the market wanted, but they had higher aspirations (Hey! Dave Oppelt! Are you still playing that Fender Bass?).

Phew! That was hard work!

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November 14, 2008

John Adams, Episode 1

When I requested the DVD of this film there were 98 people in front of me, and each had only a week to watch all ten episodes. Six months later we finally got it.

We watched the first episode this afternoon, and if the rest are as good as this one we're going to enjoy it a lot. Abigail (Laura Linney) has a wonderfully wicked smile, and she utilizes it very well when she knows (even before John) what her husband is going to do. John (Paul Giamatti), trying to balance the law and the hotheads (not least of whom is his cousin Sam), is excellent.

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Bond film songs

From Worst to First

You get a License to Kill if you can name the men who wrote "Goldeneye." The names surprised the heck out of me.

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I left Roman Catholicism when I got to college, not out of theological differences but because I had other things I wanted to do with my Sundays. I've seen no reason to change my mind and go back into the fold since, and this is one of the reasons why.

A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote.

The idea that some guy in a black cassock can tell me that I'm cooperating with evil simply because I voted a particular way is repellent. He can tell me he thinks I'm wrong; that's his privilege. But telling me I can't participate in a religious act because of my civic action? Church and state, Father; church and state.

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November 13, 2008

Do-gooders descend on church

Hey, Bostonians! Read this.

We're having a "flash-mob" cataloging party November 15th, Saturday, in Beverly, MA (just north of Boston). We'll descend on St. John's Episcopal Church, catalog their 1,200-odd books, eat some pizza, talk some talk and leave them with a gleaming new LibraryThing catalog. Books, bibliophiles, conversation, barcode scanners, pizza!
This is cool. How often can you do a good thing simply by cataloging books?

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Beauty's where you find it

John Sherffius
Nov 12, 2008
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November 12, 2008

Make it Stop!

Here's a useful site: 37 Dramatic Situations, or "Plot Devices for the Weary."

No, none of them is "Defeated Vice-Presidential Candidate Interviewed on Every Cable Channel All Day Every Day." Perhaps the list should be updated.

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Remember that one of Google's precepts is "Do no evil?" The NYT tells a tale of the common good extrapolated from Google search terms.

Flu trends.

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discovered that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States.

That's fascinating enough, but the really cool thing is this:

It turns out that traditional flu surveillance systems take 1-2 weeks to collect and release surveillance data, but Google search queries can be automatically counted very quickly. By making our flu estimates available each day, Google Flu Trends may provide an early-warning system for outbreaks of influenza.

CDC's Influenza Division is monitoring Google's data, and there are charts available to track the trend both for the country as a whole and by individual state.

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November 11, 2008

Veterans/Armistice Day 2008

Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen

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November 10, 2008

Inflation hits the printed page

I don't know what I'm gonna do about it (well, other than wait for the books to hit the used bookstores), but I've noticed that some new paperbacks (mass market, not trade) now carry a list price of $9.99.

$9.99? For a paperback? $7.99 wasn't enough?

I have some paperbacks which cost $.025; my hardcover copy of Dick Francis's Risk cost me $8.50 when it was first published. My hardcover copy of Helen MacInnes's The Snare of the Hunter was even cheaper: $7.95.

New fiction hardcovers currently run from $27.95 for popular fiction titles to $35.00 for big non-fiction ones.

When does a booklover get priced out of the market?

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Numerically speaking

Who knew so many songs began with numbers rather than words?

  • 135th Street Blues (Blue Monday), John B. Hughes & Warner Bros. Studio Chorus & Orchestra, George And Ira Gershwin In Hollywood (Disc 1)
  • 1917, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris, Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions
  • 1921, The Who, Live At Leeds [Deluxe Edition]
  • 3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds, Jefferson Airplane,The Essential Jefferson Airplane
  • 49 Bye-Byes, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills & Nash [with Bonus Tracks]
  • 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 [Live] [Disc 2]
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy), Simon & Garfunkel Collected Works [Disc 2]
  • 5D (Fifth Dimension), The Byrds, 20 Essential Tracks From The Boxed Set: 1965-1990
  • 7 O'Clock News/Silent Night, Simon & Garfunkel Collected Works [Disc 2]
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November 09, 2008

Can't win 'em all

Da Bears lost to the Tennessee Titans today.

That's probably the first thing that's gone wrong for Barack Obama all week.

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Reversals - a point in wrestling, but more here

Well now. Did I say the Obama people were smart?

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse the president on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. (My emphasis)

And, the article also says, the last-minute policies the Bushies have been trying to enact over the past few months (and on for the next two, undoubtedly) will be addressed.

Wasn't it GWB who said once "Elections have consequences?" Damn straight.

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November 08, 2008

What's to be done with Lieberman?

Digby is chronicling some of the idiocy being spouted on the cable gab shows about Joe Lieberman's fate; should he be replaced as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee? The MSM villagers and, shamefully, some Democratic Senators, seem to think not.

Here's my take:

Henry Waxman held the equivalent Government Affairs job in the House that Lieberman held in the Senate. Waxman held who-knows-how-many hearings on oversight; Lieberman held none.

What more needs to be said? He didn't do his job, ergo he should be toast.

Forget all the other levels of animosity towards him; that ought to be enough. Non-performance is sufficient cause for firing.

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Shoulda had champagne, but

Birthday pie did fine on its own.

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"Center-right country" snark

From Media Matters:

Republicans, and some journalists, had spent months (falsely) saying Obama is the single most liberal member of the U.S. Senate -- and maybe even a socialist. The American people responded by electing him in a landslide.

This, naturally, is very good news for the Republicans, according to many pundits. It proves once again that America remains a "center-right" nation.


NBC's Tom Brokaw, for example, looked at county-by-county election results and concluded that counties carried by John McCain account for greater land mass than those carried by Barack Obama. This would be meaningful, if only fields and streams and rocks and trees were conservative voters. But they aren't: They are fields and streams and rocks and trees. They are neither liberal nor conservative; they tell us nothing about the nation's political leanings. People tell us something about the nation's leanings -- and more people voted for Barack Obama.

I await the new Department of Interior poll telling us what percentage of natural resources went for Obama and what percentage for McCain.

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November 07, 2008


Did you know that the Obama campaign team has a Flickr account? It's filled with candid shots from the journey, including lots from election night.

These guys don't miss much, do they?

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November 06, 2008

Another Southern state turns blue

North Carolina goes for Obama.

Somewhere that miserable bigot Jesse Helms is screaming "No!"

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Everything's relative

Every time I hear Obama referred to as "young" I imagine several million people who voted for him, all aged 18-29, yelling "whaddya mean young? He's 47, fer Gawd's sake!"

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November 05, 2008

California enters pre-Enlightenment era

I was born in California 58 years ago yesterday and I've lived there off and on for about four years during that time. I like the state, mostly; it's got Yosemite, San Francisco, the Dodgers, the Pacific Coast Highway, a bunch of great universities, and some of my family members as residents.

Nonetheless, when it votes to take away citizens' rights based on nothing more than anti-Other bigotry funded by a mostly out-of-state church's campaign, I'm ashamed of it.

Who the hell does gay marriage harm? What evil does it do that it should be banned and 18,000 couples' marriages be thrown into uncertainty?

Thanks for the help taking the Presidency for Obama, Californians; you've still got some work to do.

Footnote: If this ad didn't sway you, I can only conclude you didn't see it.

Update: This really says it all.

"There's something deeply wrong with putting the rights of a minority up to a majority vote," said Evan Wolfson, a gay-rights lawyer who heads a group called Freedom to Marry. "If this were being done to almost any other minority, people would see how un-American this is."

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I foresee

The long view from Brad DeLong:

For the first time since the end of 1994, we can have normal politics and policymaking--can discuss what policies are best for America, and what America should be.

You see, from the end of 1994 to the end of 2000, the Republican congressional majority's single fixed idea was that nothing should happen that could be portrayed as a success for Bill Clinton. And from the end of 2000 to today, the executive branch was controlled by a gang of malevolent, immoral, and destructive thugs that have disgraced the United States of America.

We can finally have normal politics and policymaking again. That's not a tremendous accomplishment, is it?

When Gerald Ford was sworn in to replace Richard Nixon in August of 1974 he said, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over."

Somehow I don't think that's accurate today. I fully expect the Republican Party to regroup and begin attacking President Obama as they did President Clinton, starting January 21, 2009. I hope President Obama is ready for it; I suspect he realizes what's coming.

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November 04, 2008


Chita Rivera performs the song from "West Side Story". Somehow it seems appropriate after this election result.

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Live scoreboard

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Voting report

I got to my polling place (an elementary school) @ 10:40am. The parking lot was full, but I only had to circle once to find a spot. The voter rolls appear to have ~3,000 people in my precinct (a rough guess based on 4-column printouts with ~35 names per column and 20+ pages). I got inside and had no wait at all to get my ballot or to find an empty privacy booth.

There was only one scanning machine for the entire room, so there was a line of voters waiting to get their completed ballots scanned. I probably waited about 12-15 minutes to get that done, but it was no hardship. Two or three of us chatted away while waiting, and then I was done.

Photos here.

If the polls are accurate and Obama wins it will be the best birthday present I've ever received.

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Election Day 2008

Whoever said "It's not the destination, it's the journey" didn't mean that catchy phrase to apply to elections. It's the freakin' destination, man!

A Daily Kos diarist posted photographic reminders of elections in other times and other places. I'll never forget the lines I saw on television in the first post-apartheid election in South Africa.

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Another one?

I don't feel as old as Jack Lambert is now, but my age does suddenly match his number.

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November 03, 2008

Obama the football fan

During halftime of Monday Night Football Chris Berman "interviewed" Obama and McCain. McCain smilingly issued some pablum of some sort, but Obama called for a playoff system in college football. "Take the top eight teams at the end of the season and have playoffs," he said.

I sure hope the chairmen of the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowl committees have already voted, or he just lost four votes.

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What he said


I'm in my fifties and I never thought that I would see an African-American elected President of the United States in my lifetime. I just didn't think we had it in us but it appears that we have most assuredly come a long way.

Looks like TBogg and I are of an age. I was living in the DC suburbs when the March on Washington took place; my parents attended but didn't take me along. If you'd told me then that a black man would not only run a credible campaign for President but be on the cusp of winning the election, I'd have said "No way."

I'm very glad to have been wrong.

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Bi-partisanship: A Poll

Bah. Here come the pundits, right on schedule. Matt Yglesias:

Starting Wednesday I think we can expect a boom market for op-eds and television commentary darkly warning that if Democrats take advantage of winning the election to implement the agenda they outlined during the campaign, they’ll be punished, punished, punished at the polls. And not just from Republicans, but from loathesome [sic] creatures like Bob Kerrey and now Doug Schoen:
If the Democrats govern as if there is no Republican Party, they are likely headed to the kind of reaction that Bill Clinton faced when he made the same misjudgment after the 1992 election victory, following a meeting in Little Rock, Ark., with then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and House Speaker Tom Foley.
This is a pretty odd view of what Clinton did in 1993-94 (NAFTA, anyone?) but that aside, I just think it’s pretty blinkered to act as if the electorate has a deep commitment (or lack of commitment) to bipartisanship or some finely nuanced conception of moderation. Rather, voters tend to re-elect incumbents when things seem to be working out okay whereas they tend to punish incumbents — and those closely associated with incumbents — when things seem to be going poorly. What Democrats need to do if they want to prosper in 2010 and 2012 is deliver the goods. In other words, return the economy to prosperity, avoid terrible foreign affairs calamities, etc.

And so, my friends, it's come to this: a poll

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November 02, 2008

A poor excuse for a post

I'm washing clothes.

What are you doing?

Update: Forgot to say I'm listening to The Dixie Chicks 2002 album Home while folding clothes. If all you've heard of their music is the 2006 album Taking the Long Way, try this one too. It's excellent. It's a little more country than the 2006 album, but still very listenable.

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November 01, 2008

What's that got to do with football?

I'm watching the Texas-Texas Tech football game (Tech's leading 22-6 at the start of the third quarter), and as the broadcast goes to commercial the background music is "Cinnamon Girl," the old Neil Young & Crazy Horse song.

What's up with that?

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Is it Tuesday yet?

Don't vote, don't bitch

If Obama wins on Tuesday, it would be nice to be consulted about his Presidential decisions, just not as frequently as I've been asked to donate to his campaign. I installed this machine two weeks ago, and my in-box has 167 e-mails in it. Of that number, I'll bet 100 are from the mail address.

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