April 30, 2009

Early morning pedantry

Ahem. To all the otherwise-talented writers in the blogosphere:

People are unfazed by setbacks, not unphased (unless they're characters on Star Trek).

Likewise, the operator of a restaurant is a restaurateur, not a restauranteur.

If you're not winning and it's not a tie, you're losing, not loosing.

I know I'm probably swimming against the tide here, but still.

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April 29, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 14

Blurb: The time of reckoning has begun when Daniel Faraday comes clean regarding what he knows about the island.



Alan Sepinwall

Daniel is (was? I'm never certain characters are really dead and gone on "Lost.") Eloise and Charles's son? That's what that scene outside the hospital in LA seemed to indicate.

Daniel is (was) too good a physicist to believe you could change the past without unexpected results in the future. So what caused him to change his mind? Wishful thinking?

Eloise's motives raising Daniel must have been tough to live with if she knew she was going to shoot him in the back on the island down the road a piece.

I was yelling "No! Don't leave your son outside the Recovery Room with Eloise around!" at Penny when they told her Desmond was okay. I was convinced the kid would be taken by her or a minion.

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Guess I'm chopped liver

Hmph. I just got a call from a market research company asking to do a survey about radio listening habits. First question: "Are there any young males aged 18-34 available?" My response: "Nope." His next question: "Will there be any available later?" My response: "Nope."

"Have a nice day," he said.

I listen to the radio from 0700-1700 every weekday; I'm exactly the sort of person who can give reasoned answers to your survey, but because I don't fit the demographic, you don't want to talk to me.

Pish-tosh. I spit on your survey.

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April 28, 2009

Comedy of Manners

If your exposure to time-travel is limited to "Lost" and "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," you really have to read To Say Nothing of the Dog. Here's the publisher's blurb:

Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump. It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.

But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right--not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.

It has everything: mystery, suspense, time travel, romance, parody, and cats.

I'd never heard of Connie Willis before; turns out she's a multiple Hugo (10!) and Nebula (6!) award winner. I'm going to be looking for more of her books.

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Specter of a Blue Dog approaches

By now you've all seen the news: Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania is switching parties from Republican to Democrat. There'll be lots of cheering from our side because it gets the Democrats close to the 60-vote filibuster-blocking threshold in the Senate once Norm Coleman finally gives up in Minnesota.

Pardon me if my applause is muted. Specter is doing this because he sees the way the political winds in Pennsylvania are blowing; he figures he's got a better chance of winning re-election in 2010 as a Democrat. He was facing a nasty primary challenge if he remained a Republican and was trailing badly to his challenger.

He's not a progressive Democrat; he's a slightly-less right-wing Republican than the rest of the national party he belonged to before this morning's news. I suspect he'll end up voting with Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska and the other Democratic Senators who infuriate the liberal ones more often than not.

I hope I'm wrong.

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April 27, 2009

Jon Meacham is an ass

Via Greenwald comes a pointer to this article by Jon Meacham, Newsweek's Editor, in which he says the following:

to pursue criminal charges against officials at the highest levels—including the former president and the former vice president—would set a terrible precedent.


That is not to say presidents and vice presidents are always above the law; there could be instances in which such a prosecution is appropriate, but based on what we know, this is not such a case.

"That is not to say presidents and vice presidents are always above the law"

Thanks for nothing, Meacham. I would say that presidents and vice presidents are in fact never above the law, and in fact that they have an obligation to bend over backward to observe the law in order to encourage the rest of us.

He really does live in a Village where the political and journalistic elites feel they're above all the usual restrictions society places on we commoners, doesn't he?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:14 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 26, 2009

Get over it, already

With a possible flu epidemic looming, wouldn't it be nice if the federal Department of Health and Human Services had a leader?

Oh, sorry. I forgot that the nominee's position on abortion is more important than the potential disaster a major flu outbreak might create.

Who will rid us of these troublesome radicals?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:06 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Flu news source

As of 10:50am HST Sunday, Google News has 13,619 stories about swine flu. That's a lot to try to digest.

If you're looking for blogosphere commentary on the subject, Effect Measure at the Science Blogs network is written by public health professionals who have some knowledge of epidemiology.

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April 25, 2009

Dodgers books interviews

Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts and Alyssa Milano of *touch* 'em all will be interviewing one another at the LA Festival of Books on CSPAN2 very shortly. Each has a book out: Jon's is 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, and Alyssa's is Safe at Home: Confessions of a Baseball Fanatic.

If you're in LA you've got five minutes to get to the UCLA campus; otherwise turn on the tube. There'll be a book signing after the conversation.

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April 24, 2009

Protest art

Via Edge of the West, an anti-torture music video using the text of the memos as lyrics.

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April 23, 2009

The Killer party

I remember being told I was pro-terrorist because I disagreed with the Bush/Cheney assertions that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the September 11 attacks.

Given all the howling the Republicans are doing about the torture memos, I think I'm going to tell them they're pro-torture.

The difference is that my disagreement has been proven to be sensible, while the Republican claims that America needs to reserve the right to torture can never be proven to be correct.

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April 22, 2009

Earth Day Around the World in photos

Check out the Earth Mosaic Flickr Group.

Here's my contribution.

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Prosecute them

This revelation doesn't surprise me, but it horrifies me all over again.

The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

As we all know, there were no links between bin Laden's outfit and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Bush and Cheney wouldn't (couldn't?) believe that, and their insistence that there were links provided the impetus to waterboard KSM and Zubaydah and to apply all the other techniques outlined in the torture memos (slapping, sleep deprivation, etc.) in order to get that non-existent evidence.

We went to war on false pretenses; that's pretty well accepted. But to torture people in order to try to fabricate evidence which would justify those pretenses? That's a war crime.

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April 21, 2009

Too cool to toss

You know the spindles that blank CDs are packed on? Who's found an interesting use for them once they're empty?

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A-bloody men, brother.

Seen at and cribbed directly from Making Light, which in turn got it from Charlie Pierce writing at Eric Alterman's blog at The Nation:

I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government. The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn’t strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock. Dick Cheney looked at this episode and determined that the only thing Nixon did wrong was get caught. The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn’t strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury. Dick Cheney looked at this and determined that the only thing Reagan and his men did wrong was get caught and, by then, Cheney had decided that even that wasn’t really so very wrong and everybody should shut up. Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they’d done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats, many of them acting at the behest of Dick Cheney, who decided that the only thing he was doing wrong was nothing at all, who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions manifestly more kind than those in which they arranged to get their rocks off vicariously while driving other men mad.

Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I’ll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I’ll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I’ll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I’ll declare a national holiday—Victory Over Torture Day—and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it.

I'm old enough to have been told the same crap. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

Read the comments at Making Light and offer to bring whatever foodstuffs haven't already been spoken for.

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April 20, 2009

Dammit, no, Mr. President

If Rahm Emanuel is right when he says this on ABC yesterday:

"Yeah, but those who devised the policy, he believes that they were, should not be prosecuted either," Emanuel said.

"And it's not the place that we go, and as he said in that letter, and I would really recommend people look at the full statement, not the letter, the statement, and that second paragraph: 'This is not a time for retribution. It's a time for reflection. It's not a time to use our energy and our time in looking back and in a sense of anger and retribution.'

Then it appears Obama doesn't want to go after the higher-ups.

Ok, if that's accurate, then I'm officially furious. Politicians are emphatically not above the law, and the laws and treaties we signed said we would not torture.

Firedoglake has a petition demanding that AG Holder designate a special prosecutor to investigate torture.

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April 19, 2009

Possible clarification

The NYT says that Zubaydah was a victim of waterboarding 83 times, but that it was Khalid Shaikh Mohammed who got the treatment the other 183 times. I've read that section of the memo three times now, and it's a little unclear to me just who the recipient was of that second round.

Either way, it's appalling. If waterboarding Zubaydah 83 times didn't get the results CIA hoped for, why did they think that waterboarding KSM 183 times would get "better" results?

Heads should roll, and the heads shouldn't stop at the mid-management level at Langley. It should go as far up the chain of command as can be proven, be it former AG Ashcroft or former CIA Director Tenet or Cheney or Bush or all of them.

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Hell is too good

Update below.

Page 37 of the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo shows that

The CIA used the waterboard "at least 83 times during August 2002" in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Um. 183rd time is the charm?

And the other thing that's horrifying there? They waterboarded him 183 more times, eight months after they'd done it to him 83 times. What on earth did they think they'd get out of the guy after he'd been held in captivity for the additional eight months?

Jesus. What sort of people are these men?

Marcy Wheeler has much more.

Update: Crap. I misread the quotation; Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) was the guy who was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003. See next post.

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April 18, 2009

Dear Fox Network

Let me assure you that not all baseball fans in the country are enamored of the Yankees, and that those of us west of the US mainland in fact would prefer to see the Dodgers play the Rockies.

That's particularly true when the Yankees give up 14 runs in the second inning, thus making the outcome of the game fairly evident.

In the name of competitiveness, couldn't you think about switching?

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April 17, 2009


No, no. The kind that comes with your camera and often drives you crazy because it a) flashes when you don't need it or b) gives you such crummy light that it makes the image humbug.

Read David Pogue for tips on controlling the miserable accessory.

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Merrie Monarch 2009

The annual hula contest is being held in Hilo again this week, and this time the TV station which is televising it is also offering live-streaming video. The second night of the competition doesn't start for another six hours, but in the meantime you can watch last night's show.

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The end of the beginning

With this announcement, the United States has finally moved away from the know-nothings and toward a true approach to climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Friday formally declared carbon dioxide and five other heat-trapping gases to be pollutants that threaten public health and welfare, setting in motion a process that for the first time in the United States will regulate the gases blamed for global warming.

Which ain't to say it's gonna be easy to deal with. First there's a 60-day comment period before any regulations can be published. Then there's Congress, particularly the Senate, which still has more than its share of deniers who insist that it's the cows who emit carbon dioxide and that human activity has nothing to do with it.

Nonetheless, a good start.

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April 16, 2009

Try these people. Try them now.

From one of the torture memos released today:

Sleep deprivation may be used. You have indicated that your purpose in using this technique is to reduce the individual's ability to think on his feet and, through the discomfort associated with lack of sleep, to motivate him to cooperate. The effect of such sleep deprivation will generally remit after one or two nights of uninterrupted sleep. You have informed us that your research has revealed that, in rare instances, some individuals who are already predisposed to psychological problems may experience abnormal reactions to sleep deprivation.


You have orally informed us that you would not deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than eleven days at a time and that you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours, from which no mental or physical harm resulted.

So as long as you keep it under 11 consecutive days, no sweat. Don't you dare call that torture.

Josh Marshall has all of them, and they're horrific. The people who wrote these and the people who authorized them should be prosecuted.

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Bring back Mittel-Europa

Watching Obama on a red carpet in Mexico City makes me wish there was a foreign country whose musical signature was the polka. Then the accompanying tune for these ceremonial events could be Roll Out the Barrel (caution: the tune plays upon opening that page).

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April 15, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 13

Blurb: “Suspicions about a possible breach intensify after Ben is taken from the infirmary, and a reluctant Miles is forced to work with Hurley when he’s asked to deliver an important package to a top Dharma official.”



Alan Sepinwall

Kinda nice to have a backstory episode; I needed a breather from all the excitement.

Who the heck is Bram and what group does he represent?

I once spent an entire day at various shopping malls in Honolulu hunting an Ewok village toy for the mother of a five-year-old who desperately wanted one for Christmas. The kid would be thirty years old now.

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Another sports death

On April 13 it was Harry Kalas, and yesterday in Honolulu Les Keiter passed away, just two weeks short of his 90th birthday.

You're probably my age or older if you recognize Keiter's name. Here's a brief synopsis of his professional career:

Keiter, who was raised in Seattle, was a graduate of the University of Washington. He started his broadcast career in Hawai'i after World War II, then went on to a successful career in Philadelphia and New York.

Keiter was the voice of Philadelphia's Big Five college basketball.

He announced 14 championship boxing matches, including Muhammad Ali's first title victory over Sonny Liston, and the bout between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson. Howard Cosell often served as his broadcast partner on title fights.

Keiter also covered the New York Yankees, New York Knicks, New York Rangers and New York Giants football team.

After the New York Giants baseball team relocated to San Francisco in 1958, Keiter was hired to do recreated broadcasts of their games for Big Apple baseball fans.

He called Hawai'i Islanders games from 1971-1979, and was also the sports director for one of our local TV stations until his retirement in 1994.

He wrote an autobiography called Fifty Years Behind the Microphone in 1991.

Keiter got the nickname "The General" after he played an Army officer with that rank on an episode of Hawaii Five-O and was often thereafter addressed that way on air.

Farewell, Les. You'll be missed.

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April 14, 2009

Mmmm, good

If this picture doesn't make you want to head for the nearest Mexican restaurant for lunch or dinner, you really really don't like Mexican food.

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C'mon, Mr. Prez

It's Tuesday. We were told Bo the pooch would be introduced to an anxious nation today. It's now 3:30pm EST, so where's the dog?

This outfit claims it will do a live streaming of the introductory press conference; there can be no more important thing done at the White House today!

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April 13, 2009


Harry Kalas, longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster, died in the broadcast booth today in Washington D.C.

He did a lot of things in his life, including NFL game film narration and Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl live broadcasts. But his first baseball job was broadcasting the Hawai'i Islanders in 1961, and he's remembered fondly out here.

R.I.P., Mr. Kalas.

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April 12, 2009


New, or red, potatoes coated in veggie oil can take up to two hours in a 350 degree oven without turning into bricks, the possibility of which had worried me beforehand. They went very well with the 4-pound lamb roast and the green peas with sautéed mushrooms.

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Easter Sunday

Somewhen some determinedly secular newspaper (if papers still exist then) will run an "On This Date" column for Easter Sunday which will include the following:

Resurrections this date: Jesus of Nazareth, 28? C.E.

Happy Easter, everybody.

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April 11, 2009

Angry knitters!

You listen to Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, don't you? Via Rebecca come photos of Mo Rocca wearing the certifiably non-itchy sweater knitted for him after he made an intemperate remark on the show a few weeks ago.

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We're waiting for the Sears repair man to come fix the ice dispenser. This refrigerator has given us so much grief in the 5 years we've owned it that we bought a maintenance agreement after the first two failures, and we're damned glad we did.

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April 10, 2009


When I attended the University of Arizona, occasionally my professors would hold classes outside under palm trees in the spring.

It looks like Barack and Hillary have similar memories.

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Reminder to self

Get frozen leg of lamb into fridge today so it thaws for Sunday cooking!

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April 09, 2009

More fun with health care

Here and subsequently here I bemoaned my recent experiences with Kaiser.

Today I had another fun one. While showering on Saturday I found a dark spot on my left shin and immediately thought "OMG! Melanoma!" After I dried off I took a close look and determined it was more of a scab, and thought nothing more of it.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when I noticed that there was a red halo forming around the scab. "Infection!" I said, and made an appointment to ask my doctor to look at it. I kept the appointment, he looked at it, gave me a prescription for some super-antibiotic ointment (Mupirocin), and sent me down to the pharmacy.

Bad enough that the ointment was $30, but when I checked in for the appointment they demanded I cough up my co-pay up front before I even saw the doc. And worse, they'd quietly bumped the co-pay for visits to $25 from the $15 it was last year and the $7 it had been for the previous six or seven years.

I'm increasingly convinced the American health care system is designed to put profits into the hands of insurance companies. Patients are just a necessary evil.

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April 08, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 12

Blurb: “To atone for sins of the past, Ben must attempt to summon the smoke monster in order to be judged.”

The smoke monster exercises judgment?



Alan Sepinwall


Ben may say he's agreeable to following Locke, but I don't trust him worth a damn, ghost-daughter or no. He's still gonna pursue his own agenda, no matter what he promised Alex.

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Pistachio recall

If you were planning to coat your Easter lamb with crushed pistachios, here's the updated FDA List of producers and distributors whose products have been recalled.

The California growers and producers have also created a list of those companies whose products have not been recalled.

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Don't ask Don't Tell refuted

Anna Quindlen in Newsweek:

In January of this year alone, the Army fired 11 soldiers under the policy, including a military-police officer and a health-care specialist. Dozens of Arabic-language translators have been thrown out of the service as well, including one whose captain's evaluation began: "Exceptional leader." In the meantime, to meet recruitment quotas, special waivers have been issued to allow the enlistment of hundreds of convicted felons, including arsonists and burglars. One man who had repeatedly beaten his wife was accused of beating prisoners in Iraq; another, who stabbed an Iraqi private with a bayonet, had been accused of assault as a civilian.

If rationality held sway, all the opponents of repealing this idiotic policy would read that and immediately recognize that their position couldn't stand. Unfortunately, rationality and the conservative mind at this stage of the game are mutually exclusive.

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April 07, 2009

I knew this phenomenon had a name

The Ohnosecond: The fraction of time it takes to realize you've just goofed; for example, right after you hit the send button on an e-mail and realize you forgot to include the attachment. Another great example is that moment of horror when you see the key in the ignition switch just as you're slamming the car door shut. This term was coined by Elizabeth Crowe in her book The Electronic Traveler.

Or hit "Post" in a blog comment just as you realize you made a horrendous typo which will make you look box-of-rocks stupid (it's versus its).

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April 06, 2009

Sorry, MSU

The Tar Heels were just too good, particularly in the first half.

In honor of the winners, James Taylor and The Dixie Chicks sing Carolina in my Mind.

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No, not for $1000 an hour

Even as desperate as I am for work, this job is not one I'd consider.


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For this I need a tutorial?

When Blogrolling finally got back online last month it instituted an ad policy which put a small banner at the top of the website you get to when clicking a link from their service. You can get rid of it by paying Blogrolling $20/year or by letting the ad come up and then clicking a "remove this ad" button within the ad itself. Since I don't have $20 to spare for such a small nuisance I've been doing the latter.

I have to wonder who the targeted audience is for the advertiser, though. One of the ads I see reads as follows:

Unlock the power of Wikipedia the easy way with this free video tutorial series.

Really? One needs a tutorial to use Wikipedia? Now that's discouraging.

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April 05, 2009

Opening Day 2009

Today's the first day of the baseball season. The Phillies play the Braves tonight on ESPN.

Every radio broadcast of the Dodgers' games from 1960 forward has used this song as the lead-in.

The ball park is Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. When I went to the University of Arizona there it had concrete bleachers filled with vendors carrying long-neck bottles in ice-filled buckets.

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April 04, 2009

Final Four semifinals

Update: UNC demolishes Villanova without too much trouble.

I had Carolina losing to Louisville in the final, so I guess I should root for them. They look really really good. On the other hand, things are so awful in Michigan that my sentimentality might kick in during the game.

Earlier: Ok, I give up. Michigan State is obviously the team of destiny here. Magic Johnson was so excited I thought he was gonna come down from the stands and suit up. He entered the NBA draft after just two years in college, so he's got a couple of years of eligibility left.

They didn't need him.

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April 03, 2009

Not-so-light reading

Ladies and germs, I have found a suspense author who's published nine books in six years; all of them will keep you up too late at night. Most of them are at least tangentially connected but all of them can stand alone, and they're all psychological thrillers of the first order. Karen Rose plots well and creates interesting characters. There's a pretty high body count in some of these, but it's not particularly gratuitous; the murders make sense to the murderer and the reader. They're not short: 450-500 pages, but they're twisty and hold the reader's interest (or this reader's, anyway). Most of them take place in the Carolinas or in Chicago.

Hie thee off to your bookstore or library. You won't be sorry.

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Department of "Huh?"

Yesterday in the Senate Evan Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana, voted no on the budget, saying it cost too much. Okay; principle understood.

But then, later in the day, Bayh voted yes on something called the Kyl-Lincoln bill, which reduces estate taxes for the wealthiest 0.02 percent of Americans. That would cost $250 billion over 10 years.

How can you vote against one thing which would benefit a large number of your fellow citizens because it costs too much, and turn around an hour or two later and vote for something else which would benefit an infinitesimal number of Americans and would cost a smaller but not-insignificant amount of money?

Does not compute.


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April 02, 2009

Single-payer now!

Here's a prime example of the American health care system. Last week I mentioned that my co-pay for a prescription drug had doubled in January. I called to ask about it, and the person I reached suggested I should enroll in one of Kaiser's cheaper plans which still offered the lower co-pay. That sounded sensible to me, so I applied online for a plan that would cost me $300/month (down from $343) and $30 for my blood pressure drug rather than $60.

Yesterday I got an e-mail saying my application had been denied. Why? Because my medical history (in their own medical system!) showed that I'd been treated for high blood pressure within the past five years.

So I can continue paying the higher monthly premiums and co-pays to Kaiser, or I can complain further and risk them telling me that I'm too big a risk and they don't want me as a member at all.

Is that a Catch-22 or what?

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April 01, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 11



Alan Sepinwall.

That might have been the best acting Evangeline Lilly has done in the entire series.

Hurley trying to understand the time travel and Miles trying to explain it was hilarious in a "Yes! That's how we fans feel too!" kind of way.

Where did Claire go when she disappeared? Will she reappear (of course she will!)?

Thank heavens for Lostpedia; without it to refresh my memory I'd be even more puzzled than I am.

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SI's legendary April Fool's spoof

In comments below N reminds me of The Curious Case of Sidd Finch, the story of a mystical pitcher who could throw a fastball at the unheard-of speed of 168mph.

It was written by George Plimpton, which should have been the first clue that something was amiss. It appeared in the April 1, 1985 edition of the magazine.

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The classic April Fool's video

From the BBC, 1957:

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What day is it again?

via Balloon Juice

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