January 31, 2009


For the past several weeks my local Safeway store has had no Doritos Toasted Corn Chips. It has lots of the flavored kind, like Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese, but none of the original variety.

I'm going to be serving crab dip (see below), but what about all those who want to eat Doritos with Pace Picante Salsa? You don't eat flavored chips with salsa, do you?

Dammit, Safeway, think of the customers!

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January 30, 2009

Once more unto the breach

After a one-year hiatus (my usual host was in New York City at game time last year), we're back on this Sunday. That being the case I'm going with the tried-and-true dip:

  • 6 oz. can crab
  • 8 oz. block cream cheese
  • 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • .5 cup mayonaisse
  • Garnish with something green

Heat cream cheese, soup and gelatin, mixing till fully combined. Stir in balance of ingredients and chill. Serve with crackers or thick chips.

As to the game itself, the Steelers are currently 6 1/2 point favorites. The Cardinals haven't even been to the Super Bowl before, while Pittsburgh is aiming for win number six; since I'm usually on the side of the underdog, I suppose I'll be rooting for the Cards. It doesn't hurt that I know (or knew) Phoenix fairly well and I have family there.

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Just heard during the NPR newscast: "the more moderate Palestinian Authority. . ."

Only in 2009 after Hamas won an election in the Gaza Strip and after it violently threw the PA out of that region could Yasser Arafat's organization be called "moderate."

Times change.

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January 29, 2009


You women can ignore this.

Men, I just paid $12.50 plus tax for a freakin' haircut. A haircut! Nothing fancy, just a reduction in length all around my head, and it cost me damn near as much as a tank of $2/gallon gas.

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January 28, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 3

Desmond looks for a woman who might be the key to helping Faraday stop the island’s unpredictable movements through time; Locke finds out who has been attacking the survivors.

Ryan's take here.

Um. Fifty years back, fifty years forward. Widmore was a young Other in the past. There's an H-bomb left in its scaffolding prepared to explode. The first A-bomb was prepped like that.

Preparations for the test included the building of a steel tower that would suspend the bomb one hundred feet above ground.

I've forgotten the implication of the nosebleed, but it can't be good.

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News item:

With no Republican support, the House approved an $819 billion stimulus plan that will serve as the cornerstone of President Obama's efforts to resuscitate the economy, an early victory for the new president but still a disappointment because of the lack of Republican votes.

The measure passed 244 to 188, with 11 Democrats and 177 Republicans voting against it.

There are only 178 Republican members in the House, and one didn't vote for some reason.

Despite what the reporters said, I'm not sure this is "a disappointment." I'd call it an early wake-up call to the Obama people: Republicans will not help you.

It does occur to me that after this display of non-cooperation, for the next four or eight years Obama could simply choose to say to the Republicans:

"Where were you guys when we tried to fix the economy? Nowhere. So why should I listen to you now?"

I doubt he will, though. He doesn't appear to be as nasty as I am.

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Dear President Obama:

I know I wrote to you just yesterday, and I know you're busy, but I can't stress this enough.

If, as the House Republicans say:

But another GOP colleague, Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), who was invited along with Castle to the White House last night, said the prospects for bipartisan support looked bleak, with the number of potential crossovers no higher than a dozen. "I'd say it's closer to zero than 12," Upton said.
then why not just add back in the items you took out of the bill, since you're not going to get support from any Republicans anyway?

Family planning clinics and National Mall landscaping contractors do employ people, after all.

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Whither Hilda Solis?

Lessee, there were about 75,000 more layoffs announced on Monday. One would expect the Secretary of Labor to have something to say about that. But we don't have one yet.

. . .for the past several days, at least one Republican senator has been using a parliamentary procedure to hold up the confirmation of Congresswoman Hilda Solis (D-California), President Obama’s choice for labor secretary. The “hold” tactic delays a full vote by the Senate on the nomination, pending, well, pending what?

Do they expect Ms. Solis to disavow everything she's ever done on behalf of working people (which is quite a bit)?

It’s safe to assume that Mr. Obama and Ms. Solis support unions. And assuming that Mr. Obama’s campaign promise is enacted into law, it will become easier than it has been for workers to form unions.

And that's anathema to Republicans. Not content with driving union membership down to about 12% of the working population, they want it to go to zero.

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January 27, 2009


Oh my. Take a look at these two photos side-by-side. A fascinating historical oddity; I'm not sure who should be flattered more, Bob and Suze Rotolo or Barack and Michelle.

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Why bother?

Dear President Obama:

The miserable useless Republicans don't really give a damn about the country; they care only about their political survival. I thought you'd learned that.

Apparently not.

Lookit. It's a waste of time trying to persuade these SOBs to vote for the stimulus bill. They're already telling their members to vote against it. Stop cutting sensible items out of the bill in the vain hope they will. Ram it through the way you want it, and then say to the American public (which approves of your performance so far by huge margins) that you tried to get them on board but they wouldn't cooperate.

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January 26, 2009


When I look at my music collection, I see a lot of female singers, from Ronstadt to Streisand to Karen Carpenter to Bonnie Raitt to Joni and Judy and Emmylou and Charlotte Church. They are all great performers and singers.

For pure clarity of voice, I've just heard the best of them: Songbird, by Eva Cassidy. Holy smokes.

I remember hearing and reading about her after her death from melanoma in 1996, but I'd never had the inclination to look for any of her albums. I was picking over the CDs in the library today and noticed this one, so I brought it home.

Go get it.

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Bush in photos

Here's a series of photos of Bush at various points in his Presidency, with commentary from the photo editors who used them. They were asked

. . .to pick the photographs of the president that they believe captured the character of the man and of his administration. There are overlapping pictures — of the president with a bullhorn at Ground Zero, of the president looking out the window of Air Force One over New Orleans, of the president receiving the news on the morning of 9/11. It is interesting that these pictures are different. They may be of the same scene, but they have different content. They speak in a different way.

They really are interesting. We've seen many of them, but reading what the editors say about their choices makes them even more so.

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January 25, 2009

The lost is found

The missing sock from last week turned up in this week's laundry. Was it in an alternate universe? On vacation? Having a tryst with someone else's sock?

I'll never know.

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January 24, 2009

Slow on the uptake

I'm coming late to the Norah Jones bandwagon, but I just checked Not Too Late out from the library. I like it. Guess I'll have to borrow the first two albums to see whether I like them as much.

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January 23, 2009

This ain't so hard, is it?

PZ Myers says:

This is something else, when an incoming president can, in his first week, simply say "no" to all the bad policies of the prior White House occupant and achieve great good. It's as if any idiot could do this job better than George W. Bush.

He does go on to state the obvious: "I imagine it will get harder, though."

I wonder if Nancy Reagan approves of the way her "Just Say No" slogan is being used by our new President?

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Torture banned

America relieved. (Needs Flash)

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In an article outlining Republican opposition to the stimulus bill I found this:

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the finance panel, said he could "buy into 90 percent" of the emerging plan but opposes the nearly $90 billion in aid to states for Medicaid because some governors would use the money to mask poor decisions in other portions of their budgets.

"Right now, that's kind of an impediment to bipartisanship on the whole package," Grassley said.

Gosh, Senator, I thought your party was all about the states' right to do as they damned well please without interference from Washington.

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January 22, 2009

Foreign Policy tweets!

Yep, just what it sounds like. The United States Department of State has a blog, and on the right sidebar of that blog is a Twitter feed.

You'll have to ask them why the blog and feed are named DipNote.

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The cliché is that when you're waiting for the cable TV people you get an all-day window when they plan to be there, so you gotta stay home and wait.

Well, yesterday they came out, installed new cable from the street to the house (to get rid of static and audio cut-outs), and they did it within an hour of when they said they would. One of them left an offset wrench on the floor, probably when picking up a tool belt. We called to let them know, and they said somebody would be by in 15 minutes.

They were.

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Politics meets geek

This is worthy of your attention, particularly if you haven't had your dose of laughter yet today.

I'm amused by this, in a bitterly sardonic way:

Drain Treasury: There appears to be a bug that allowed loot to be transferred from the treasury to anyone on the President’s friends list, or in the President’s party. We are investigating.

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January 21, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episodes 1 & 2

The official synopses: “The remaining island survivors start to feel the effects of the aftermath of moving the island, and Jack and Ben begin their quest to reunite the Oceanic 6 in order to return to the island with Locke’s body in an attempt to save their former fellow castaways.” And: “Hurley and Sayid are on the run from the cops after stumbling into trouble at the safehouse; the island survivors come under attack by unknown forces; and an old friend offers some shocking advice to Kate in order to ensure that ‘the lie’ remain a secret.”

Ryan's take here.

Huh. Ben is actually taking orders or at least seeking approval from someone else? That's new.

Who was shooting flaming arrows, and when were they doing it? And why does Hurley keep seeing dead people? (Nice crack, Ana Lucia: "Libby says hi" indeed!)

I've always had a slight objection to time-travel as a plot device because it's too simple to use it as a Deus ex machina; "I can't resolve this plot mess any other way, so I'll just shift time!" but in this case I think it's being done with a wink. It was entirely too obvious a trick.

We'll see how next week goes. These two episodes were scene-setters for the rest of the season.

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Happiness is. . .

Sasha Obama got a step-stool so she could see during her daddy's swearing-in, and then:

If Malia's the family photographer, she should spend a lot of time around her sister. Sasha's gonna be the main provider of cute.

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John Sherffius
Jan 20, 2009
via Froomkin
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We are the People

A reprise from the very first post on this blog, March 2002

I am the people--the mob--the crowd--the mass.
Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me?

I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world's food and

I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me
and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons
and Lincolns.

I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget.

Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then--I forget.

When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool--then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: "The People," with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision.

The mob--the crowd--the mass--will arrive then.

Carl Sandburg, I Am the People, the Mob. Listen to Sandburg read it here.

Yesterday the People arrived.

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January 20, 2009

Local pride

As mentioned below, the kids from President Obama's high school marched in the parade (they were the first band, no less). The newly-inaugurated President was watching, and he gave them a signal. That's a shaka sign. It means whatever the signer wants it to mean, but it's usually taken as "all right" or "cool."

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I've waited a long time for this moment.

(It's a photo of the Obamas and Bidens waving goodbye to the Bushes as they embark on the chopper to leave the Capitol.)

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Kennedy update

Senator Kennedy is now alert and talking. He'll stay overnight at Washington Hospital Center.

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Langston Hughes:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

From Lizzy in Making Light's comments.

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Senator Ted Kennedy collapsed at the official lunch.

Senator Byrd also was taken ill.

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Say it Loud!

Reverend Joseph Lowerey channels Paul Simon's chorus during his benediction at the Inaugural Ceremony:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

Update: Reverend Lowerey was actually quoting himself, it turns out (scroll down).

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Change is gonna come

I guess. There are already four posts on the official White House blog.

(via Atrios)

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Inauguration Day 2009

Coffee made, cinnamon buns cooked and eaten, and oh yeah: new President installed.


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January 19, 2009

An Inauguration Story

Go read Roseanne Cash's story of her gig at one of the Clinton's inaugural balls in 1993. It's got it all: her parenting, her father's parenting, sisterhood (her elder daughter's autograph acquisition for her sister), and a wonderful glimpse of Johnny Cash interacting with her band.

Note to self: find Black Cadillac, her album about loss and grief.

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Speaking of Carly Simon


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How The Onion saw the Bush years

I don't know how long it took Teresa to put this list together, but the result is awesome.

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January 18, 2009


This show is live on HBO and will be repeated tonight at 7:00pm (presumably EST); check your listings if you are a subscriber.

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen are leading the thousands of people on the Mall singing "This Land is Your Land" right now.

Seeger: from the blacklist in the Fifties to performing at an Inaugural Concert in 2009. Times change.

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This ain't tropical

I realize that I live in a tropical paradise, particularly climate-wise, and that grumbling about the weather seems awfully obnoxious when many of my readers are living with below-freezing temps, snow and ice, but still. . .

It was a chilly (for us) 64° this morning at 8:30am. Before you all sneer righteously, that's about 10° below normal, and we're not used to it. Why, any tropical resident will tell you: "we don't even need to take blood thinners for medical conditions; our blood's gotten thinner just by living here!"

Today's dress: corduroys, sweatshirt, socks.

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January 17, 2009

"Girls Like Us"

I own two albums by Carole King, two by Carly Simon, and six by Joni Mitchell. So when I happened to run across TBogg's mention of Girls Like Us, Sheila Weller's book about the three women, I thought I'd get a copy from the library.

My first thought when I saw the subject was "What's Carly Simon doing in this musical company?" I didn't think she merited the same kind of attention as the other two, whose impact on music is nearly universally recognized. After reading the book, I still don't, but I'm more persuaded than I was. Certainly Simon is representative of a different form of singer/songwriter than the other two, but she was also a woman trying to break in.

I finished it last night. I don't quite know what to call it: a cultural biography, maybe. It's a "Their Life and Times" kind of book, and there's a lot of "Times" to discuss. There's music, there's men (lots and lots of men!), and there's an attempt to show the kind of barriers these women had to break through in a music industry dominated then (and probably even now) by men. I say attempt because for my taste Weller offers up too much dish about the personal lives of these singer/songwriters and not enough about the business aspects of those lives.

That said, if you're looking for a book about three of the longest-lasting women in rock n' roll, this is a good one.

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Mark your calendar

Tomorrow at 2:00PM EST a free Inaugural Concert will begin from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It'll be streamed live on NPR's website and broadcast on many public radio stations.

Performers include: Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Mstr. Sgt. Caleb Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye Lavette, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Usher, will.i.am and Stevie Wonder.

If you can break away from the NFL's Conference Championships, that might be worth a listen.

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Will they play Truckin'?

Obama asks Grateful Dead to perform at an inaugural ball.

The mind reels. With glee, mind you, but nonetheless.

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January 16, 2009

Property planning

I have a lot of sympathy for the 30,000 Circuit City employees who are about to lose their jobs; now I wonder just who might buy a two-story building that's ~20,000sf, windowless, and takes up a half-block. What might that buyer do with it?

The reason this comes up is that the local store is right at the bottom of my hill. It replaced a one-story supermarket about 10 years ago, and I've always felt it was an architectural monstrosity.

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"Wind" Day

I've never heard of a reaction this strong to a forecast of strong winds: City, State offices closed today.

This announcement was made last night in time for the 6:00pm news.

I really don't want to see video of people's roofs blown off (particularly my own), but at the same time, this seems like an awfully expensive response to a non-hurricane event.

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Who needs Robert Fulghum?

Not that the author claims that "Everything Barack Obama Knows He Learned on the Basketball Court," but Sports Illustrated has another good article about the soon--to-be President, called The Audacity of Hoops. Plenty of quotes from his high school coach about his skill (not bad) and his outspokenness (more playing time!). More seriously, the author attempts to show that the teamwork and style he learned on the court have served him well as a community organizer and pol.

Nice quote from a professor at Occidental, where Obama spent his first two years of college:

He never was on the school team, but he played "noonball" with faculty, students and staff. As Eric Newhall, a professor who played in those games, has put it, "The greatest contribution Occidental has made to American democracy was to help Barack Obama decide that his future wasn't in basketball."
It's always useful to learn what your limits are.

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A Question

The stimulus plan includes tax rebates.

Under the plan, individuals would receive up to $500 and families up to $1,000. The money would be delivered through paychecks as a reduction in Social Security withholdings, and is intended to bolster consumer spending by giving a small lift to household pocketbooks.

Well, what about those of us who are self-employed and get no paychecks? And what about those of us who are currently unemployed and get no paychecks?

If I can think of that, I hope the vaunted Obama economic team has somebody on it who also thinks of it. When there are 500,000 people a month losing paychecks, that rebate can't be distributed to them that way. And sole proprietors typically don't issue themselves paychecks; they take a draw and pay quarterly estimated taxes. There are no FICA/Medicare withholdings from those.

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January 15, 2009

Far-flung marketing

In my inbox this morning:

Sheldeez Beauty Salon is located at 1110 Elden St., Herndon, VA 20170. (703)742-8977. Approximately twenty miles west of downtown Washington, DC. Conveniently located near The Dulles toll road and buses that go to the DC Metro Rail.

If you live, work, or will be in the Washington, DC area for any of the Innauguration [sic] activities please make an appointment to come by Sheldeez. In observance of this historic time in our nation's history, if you make a new appointment between now and January 20th you will receive 20% off. Simply inform the person making the appointment that you are responding to this e-mail and bring it with you at checkout to receive your 20% off. This includes all services. See our YouTube ad here.

In addition, if you ask we will map out a route for you to the Washington Mall by car or public transportation and print it out for you. We will also be able to suggest area social activities. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sheldeez Management

Hey, who knows? This shotgun approach to marketing might get them a few customers, so I'll play along by giving them a little (very little) free pixel-space.

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Less than a week!

Countdown Clock Codes

via Kate

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January 14, 2009


I wanted some way to remind me of upcoming events and tasks each month, and I spend most of the day at the computer. So I went looking for a calendar function which operates like a basic one-month-at-a-time 8x10 calendar that hangs on the refrigerator. I fiddled a little with Windows Calendar, which comes built-in with Vista, but I concluded the learning curve was too high for what I wanted.

I Googled for free calendar software and found Sunbird. It's a Mozilla product, and I like Firefox, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I like it. It's very easy to learn and use, and it displays things the way I want and allows for one-time setup of recurring events, audibly reminds me of chores, and probably does a million other things I don't care about.

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January 13, 2009

No, officer, not here

Embarrassment is having the cops come to your door saying they got an emergency call from your phone and you having to admit that you got a battery-low alarm and when you were inspecting it to get the model number you must have inadvertently pressed the speed-dial button for 911.

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Miss Manners Would Approve

Oh, look, a polite spammer. I found this in my comments: "Dear Sirs, your site is perfect. Very sorry for my post."

Why, thank you. Now begone!

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January 12, 2009

Put your bets down now

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are gonna play at halftime of the Super Bowl February 1. What's the setlist?

Wired thinks:

  • Born to Run
  • Glory Days
  • Streets of Philadelphia
  • I'm on Fire
  • Blinded by the Light
  • Born in the U.S.A.

Remember, this is likely to be a medley, so all the songs have to be under three minutes. I say "Born to Run" and "U.S.A" are no-brainers. "Streets" is in if the Eagles are in the game. Other than that, I dunno (I only own two Springsteen albums -- Hammersmith Odeon, London '75 and We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions -- I'm not real familiar with his entire repertoire).

What do you think?

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A Capitol Idea

I first saw this idea put forth here, and it's a good one.

I just fixed my flag holder, and rigged a spotlight, so the flag will be flying the night of the 20th while we're setting off fireworks.

Well, it's a good idea except for the fireworks, which I'll eschew.

Put your flags out on Inauguration Day!

(Yes, I meant to spell the post title that way; the ceremony takes place on the steps of the Capitol Building.)

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January 11, 2009


I've been a Sherlock Holmes fan for 45 years. I still have The Complete Sherlock Holmes, although not that 1930 edition. Same cover, though. I can quote some of the dialogue from memory.

It was with some trepidation, then, that I listened to other folks who suggested I give Laurie King's Mary Russell books a try. The thesis is that Holmes only went into semi-retirement in Sussex and that he and a young woman built a friendship which evolved into the two of them detecting. That sounded really unlikely to me, but I finally tried them.

They're a treat. When we first meet Russell in The Beekeeper's Apprentice she's a sixteen-year-old girl spending time at the house she'll eventually inherit in Sussex, where Holmes has "retired" to keep bees. She and he meet on a hilltop and the saga begins. Holmes becomes a mentor to the youngster, and soon enough they have a case to solve.

The thing that impresses me is that, unlike some other attempts to resurrect detectives (see Robert Goldsborough and Nero Wolfe), King has managed to get the flavor of Holmes and his times so close to the original. The dialogue, which I think is the hardest part, is dead-on, at least to my ear. Holmes isn't stuffy or arch, Mary is a smart-ass but not rude, and even the secondary characters ring true.

I've read the first four, am on the fifth, and am concerned that the author won't write more fast enough. I may then have to jump to Carole Nelson Douglas's Irene Adler books.

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Most readers know Mitch Albom as the author of two widely-successful books, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Some of us remember him as a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press.

He still lives in Detroit, and he's written a tribute to that beleaguered city in the current issue of Sports Illustrated. I saw it in the print edition, and it's now appearing online. An excerpt:

We want to scream, but we don't scream, because this is not a screaming place, this is a swallow-hard-and-deal-with-it place. So workers rise in darkness and rev their engines against the winter cold and drive to the plant and punch in and spend hours doing the work that America doesn't want to do any more, the kind that makes something real and hard to the touch. Manufacturing. Remember manufacturing? They do that here. And then they punch out and drive home (three o'clock is rush hour in these parts, the end of a shift) and wash up and touch the kids under the chin and sit down for dinner and flip on the news.

And then they really want to scream.

Because what they see -- what all Detroit sees -- is a nation that appears ready to flick us away like lint. We see senators voting our death sentence. We see bankers clucking their tongues at our business model (as if we invented the credit default swap!). We see Californians knock our cars for ruining the environment (as if their endless driving has nothing to do with it). We see sports announcers call our football team "ridiculous." Heck, during the Lions' annual Thanksgiving game, CBS's Shannon Sharpe actually wore a bag over his head.

It hurts us. We may not show it, but it does.

Read the whole thing. It might make you a little sad. It might make you a little angry. What I guarantee it will do is touch you.

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January 10, 2009


Sometimes I agree with Gail Collins of the NYT, sometimes I don't.

This time I do. Writing about the Obama Administration's relations with Republicans, she says:

Obama won, and the Democrats’ job now is to figure out how to make sure the current economic crisis is solved in a way that allows him to deliver on his promise to do something big and ambitious about health care — and his other signature issue, energy/global warming. The Republicans’ job is to try to limit the big spending to tax cuts and short-term building projects. If the final bill passes by 80 or 90 votes, it’s probably going to be because it’s a watered-down mess.

Absolutely. If a desire for bi-partisanship overrides the quality of the legislation, it won't have the desired effect. President Obama, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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Republican boogeymen

Friday afternoon I saw a bit of the confirmation hearings for Hilda Solis, (D-El Monte, CA) Obama's designee as Labor Secretary. Both Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) went after her, at one point trying to find out if the Federal Government would try to overturn states' right-to-work laws.

Huh? Is this another one of those issues like the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, which lives only in the fevered brains of Republicans? Yes, Obama and his team favor the Employee Free Choice Act (card check for unionization), but that's a far cry from trying to overturn the right-to-work laws.

The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 specifically allowed right-to-work laws to be passed by states. One of the biggest effects was

when a state passes a right-to-work law, it prohibits both mandatory union membership and initiation fees and dues obligations of agency shops, and permits employees who do not voluntarily pay dues and initiation fees to receive the benefits the union provides.

As you can imagine, unions hate this. A non-union employee can get all the benefits a union negotiates with his employer while paying no union dues, essentially getting a free ride on the work the union does. Unions say that's unfair.

Anyway, Tennessee and Georgia are two of the 22 states which have right-to-work laws; most of them are in the South, with a few in the Midwest and Mountain West (map). I can see that Alexander and Isakson have vested interests in right-to-work (see this map for locations of automobile plants in Tennessee and Georgia), but I've never ever heard of the Democrats trying to repeal or override state labor laws. The unions tried to get the offending section of Taft-Hartley [14(B)] repealed several times in the 1950s but failed, and there hasn't been a serious attempt to do so in years.

After eight years of the stewardship of Elaine Chao (when The American Spectator writes a puff piece about you, I think it's safe to say she wasn't on the workers' side), the Republicans are just paranoid. Their business buddies will now have to contend with a Secretary of Labor who believes labor has rights, rather than one who has collaborated with them to limit benefits, reduce overtime, and issue as few safety regulations as possible.

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January 09, 2009

More headline stuff

From the NYT sidebar again:

Anger Over Gaza Grows in Arab Street
As the war in Gaza burned through its 14th day, Arab governments have felt their legitimacy challenged with an uncommon virulence.

Is there an Israeli Street? A British Street? An American Street?

I understand what the headline means, and I realize that that phrase is in common usage, but isn't it a little condescending?

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Marginally amusing

Over there on the left sidebar is a list of top stories from the NYT with links to the full text at the paper's website. At the moment, one reads:

Illinois House Impeaches Governor
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich became the first governor in Illinois's history to be impeached on Friday, sending his case to the state Senate for trial.

Really? The first Illinois governor ever impeached on a Friday? Wow. That's arcane information worthy of the most addicted sabermetrician. What day of the week are impeachments usually handed down, I wonder?

Update: Heh. They've corrected it. Now it reads:

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich on Friday became the first governor in Illinois's history to be impeached.

It's still awkward, but better. I'd have put the day first: "On Friday, Gov. Blago became. . ."

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January 08, 2009

BCS Bowl

Updated below.

So, Florida or Oklahoma?

Update: Eh. A pretty exciting game, but not championship quality, not with OU failing to score from inside the 20 twice in the first half.

Playoff, playoff! What if we'd had USC v. FSU and OU vs. Utah this weekend, and the winners playing for the national championship next weekend?

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Ice training

As is widely known, President-Elect Obama graduated from Punahou School. Some 23 students from the school are preparing to march in the Inaugural parade, but how do kids from Hawai'i prepare for DC's weather?

Why, by marching around the only ice rink in the state!

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January 07, 2009

Sarcasm, finely honed

Nice. I like Senator Leahy, I really do.

Senator Specter has been making noises about Eric Holder's nomination to be Attorney General, and Leahy responded:

We need the new Attorney General to be a person of experience and independence. Eric Holder's long record of public service has earned him strong support from law enforcement organizations, civil rights groups, victims' rights advocates, former Reagan and Bush administration officials, and others. Any effort to question his character is unfounded. Every Republican voted for Alberto Gonzales, and felt his character merited confirmation. Certainly Eric Holder greatly exceeds that test.

Yeah. Anyone who thought Gonzales was perfectly acceptable can hardly object to a man with Holder's record of achievement.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 06, 2009

Crime & Mystery readers, take note

Left Coast Crime "is an annual mystery convention sponsored by mystery fans, for mystery fans. It is held during the first quarter of the calendar year in Western North America, as defined by the Mountain Time Zone and all time zones westward to Hawaii."

It's holding its 2009 convention at Waikoloa on the Big Island March 7-12, and one of its members is blogging the preparations. Sign up now!

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More on Geoghegan

Tom Geoghegan just announced his candidacy for Emmanuel's House seat, and he's explained his reasons over at Kos.

He wants to

  • Expand Social Security
  • Establish single-payer health care
  • Re-enact usury laws to limit financial firms' behavior, and
  • Establish the Employee Free Choice Act

Here's his campaign website.

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Bush to create marine monuments, the headline reads.

The Marianas Trench is among the areas protected by this action.

Hmm. I can think of half-a-dozen Dirk Pitt novels in which he'd be trespassing in these protected areas.

Oh well, I'm sure Clive Cussler will get around this problem just as Pitt has gotten around all the ones he's confronted over 30 years and 20 books.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 05, 2009

Rahm Emmanuel's House seat

If you live in Emmanuel's district, you should be supporting Tom Geoghegan in his attempt to win the special election to replace him.

Who's Geoghegan? A practicing labor lawyer (bio at Facebook) who wrote one of the best books I've ever read on the plight of the American labor movement. It's called Which Side Are You On?, and it was originally published in 1991. It was an attempt to show how Corporate America, particularly under Reagan, was winning every battle against its workers, often with the collusion of the National Labor Relations Board and even its own international union colleagues.

If you're not from that district but you'd like to help, here's the ActBlue page for his campaign.

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Department of "huh?"

Updated below.

Leon Panetta to head CIA?

Former Congressman, former White House Chief of Staff, former member of the (largely-ignored by Bush) Iraq Study Group.

Well, you can't get much more outside of the normal Intelligence Community than he is. Maybe that's a good thing. He's supposed to be a very good manager, which after Porter Goss's tenure would be a welcome change. He'd succeed Michael Hayden, who's been entirely too happy to defend Bush's torture policy for my taste.

Update: One thing you can say about Panetta; he's unequivocally opposed to torture as an interrogation tool.

Those who support torture may believe that we can abuse captives in certain select circumstances and still be true to our values. But that is a false compromise. We either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle ground.

We cannot and we must not use torture under any circumstances. We are better than that.

That's how I feel too.

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January 04, 2009

CD thoughts

Dear CD/DVD jewel case manufacturers:

Get your Quality Control working better. I'll bet of the 108 CDs I have at least 10 have cracks in the covers. Worse, several have broken "ears," the extensions with the hinge pins that are supposed to hook to the spine of the case.

When buying used CDs I expect problems of this nature. When buying brand-new ones at full price, I don't.

This guy has the right idea: a Digital Jewel Box.

So how about making a Digital Jewel Box? Here’s how it would work: The DJB sits next to your stereo or computer in its charging dock. Similar to a digital picture frame, it syncs wirelessly to your home network via WiFi, syncing itself with iTunes or whatever digital player you use. When a new song comes on, the DJB’s screen shows the album cover art for that song.

At any time, you can take the DJB out of its dock, sit on the couch with it, and use the controls on its side to flip through the rest of the liner notes, including track listings, lyrics, song credits, acknowledgments, and whatever else is included in the paper version. The pleasure of flipping through liner notes doesn’t need to go away just because CDs do.

I like liner notes and cover art. Downloading digital music doesn't offer those things; the DJB does.

While on the subject, if you're looking for cover art for your iTunes (seems like the older the album the less likely the cover will be there, and that doesn't even cover the artists whose music isn't sold through Apple [ahem, The Beatles]), try AlbumArt. Select which country the album was released in at the bottom of the page or you may get unexpected results.

Once you've got the artwork and you have pasted it into your songs, will it stay there? Nope. It lives in a separate folder. If you want the appropriate code to be associated with each song, you have to embed it (apparently; don't swear by what I'm saying here). To do that, iCoverArt is a script which I've seen recommended. I haven't tried it yet (now that I have a backup of the entire libray, maybe I will). If anyone has a teeny-tiny library and wants to give it a shot, I'd be delighted to learn whether it works correctly. Testing it would, I think, involve encoding the art to your library on your hard drive and then synching to your iPod (which I can't do, since I have no iPod). If the art appears on the iPod then the encoding worked, or so I'm surmising.

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January 03, 2009


Well, that was fairly painless. Using its backup tool, I just backed up my iTunes library: 2089 songs, 7.13GB. It took two DVD-R 4.7GB disks and about 20 minutes. If I'm reading the documentation correctly, it doesn't back up album artwork, so if I (or you) want to save that, the album artwork folder needs to be saved separately. If I'm wrong and somebody knows otherwise, I'd appreciate being advised.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


I'm sure the International Bowl is or will be a fine addition to the bowl game lineup, but when I think of Buffalo and Connecticut I think of the Bills in the first instance and the basketball Huskies in the second.

The NFL offers us the Atlanta Falcons versus the Chicago St. Louis Arizona Cardinals, followed by the Indianapolis Colts versus the San Diego Chargers.


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January 02, 2009


While watching football on the television in the kitchen I could put this Christmas present on the table and frustrate myself to no end.

Hmmm. Which of the remaining games look to be lousy and uncompetitive?

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Um, this is news why?

Headline at the WaPo today:

"Obama's Team Rankles the Right
To Some Conservatives, Advisers Are Alarmingly Liberal"

Gosh, you think?

I don't have access to Lexis/Nexis, but I wonder whether there was a similar article written in 2000 or 2004 citing liberals' concerns about Bush's appointments. I have my doubts.

Elections have consequences. We Democrats were told that when we objected to many of the Bush Administration policies; maybe the Republicans should remember it.

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January 01, 2009

Equal Opportunity Slanderer

Most of us remember Will Rogers's famous line about Democrats: "I belong to no organized party. I'm a Democrat." But he also said this: "The Republican motto is 'Boys, my back is turned.'" That seems worthy of more notoriety in light of the financial mess we find ourselves in due to Republicans' hatred of regulation.

From Roy Blount, Jr.'s Alphabet Juice, which I was given for Christmas. (Click the link if only to read the subtitle, which is wonderful all by itself.)

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2009: It begins

So, who's hungover? Which of today's football games are you going to watch? Is there a special New Year meal you're preparing?

Is your air still replete with the odor of cordite like ours? We're tidy out here; shortly after midnight when all the firecrackers had been exploded my neighbors were out in the street with pushbrooms sweeping up the mess. That always amuses me and restores some of my good will after three-plus hours of increasing annoyance with the racket outside my windows.

What's up, world?

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