May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

Dr. Tiller, a man who provided abortions to patients who requested them, often because the fetus they carried was unsustainable, was murdered today.

I await the usual BS from the forced pregnancy crowd.

Right on cue.

"Operation Rescue has worked tirelessly on peaceful, non-violent measures to bring him to justice through the legal system, the legislative system," Mr. Newman said. "I'm a tireless advocate and spokesman for the pre-born children who are dying in clinics everyday. Mr. Tiller was an abortionist. But this wasn't personal. We are pro life, and this act was antithetical to what we believe."

Right. Murdering a man isn't personal. Inciting your followers to protest outside clinics, bullying women who try to enter those clinics, and sending fake anthrax letters to clinics? That's not personal.

"Bring him to justice" implies he was doing something illegal.

He had also been the subject of many efforts at prosecution, including a citizen-initiated grand jury investigation. In the latest such effort, in March, Dr. Tiller was acquitted of charges that he had performed late-term abortions that violated state law.

Dr. Tiller's activities were lawful according to Kansas law and the Kansas criminal justice system.

I also await our national media's usual obsession with "objectivity" giving us quotes from proponents and opponents of abortion, somehow managing to brush murder aside while portraying this as a political argument.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:58 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 30, 2009

Another new-to-me artist

I know I lived in a musical dead zone from about 1980-2000, but even so, how did I miss Natalie Merchant?

On a recommendation from John Cole, I checked out a copy of Tigerlily, and I'm very favorably impressed. On this album Merchant's voice reminds me a little of Carly Simon's, and some of the songs and arrangements do too.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:48 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Double standard

Media Matters' Jamison Foser asks "How come it's okay for Republicans to call Judge Sotomayor a racist based on a deliberate misinterpretation of a single sentence in an eight-year-old speech, but when Democrats pointed out that Judge Alito had been a proud member of a sexist and racist organization at Princeton, that was over some line?"

So it seems the news media treat even a suggestion that a Supreme Court nominee might be guilty of involvement in a bigoted organization as a vile slur. Even if the nominee touted his membership in a group that sought to limit the number of women and minorities accepted into his alma mater. Even then, such questions are treated as inappropriate and abusive scrutiny that have no place in civil discourse.

As long, that is, as the nominee in question is a conservative white male, nominated by a conservative white male president.

But as we learned this week, if the nominee is a progressive Latina nominated by a progressive African-American president, you can just come right out and call her a racist -- based on nothing more than a distorted quote and a ruling nobody has read -- and the media will take you seriously. They will amplify your complaints. Far from denouncing you for going "too far," they will pretend that your false descriptions of her comments are accurate.

I'm sure that's a question no ombudsman at any news organization will ask of its staff; introspection about "objectivity" is nearly non-existent these days.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:07 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 29, 2009

Not them too!

Who knew all these Republicans expressed empathy too?

Samuel Alito believes empathy is an important quality in a Supreme Court justice. So does George H.H.[sic] Bush. Sandra Day O'Connor had the audacity to concede that jurists can and should consider gender and race when weighing the merits of a case.

As it turns out, even Clarence Thomas, hardly a high court liberal, sees the value of empathy. (Corroborating links embedded in Steve Benen's post linked above)

Drum them out of their jobs and out of the Party!

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 28, 2009

A Cautionary Note

About a week ago I received a generic-looking business envelope in the mail with "Reward Headquarters" in the return address. Since I've gotten on average about a dozen pieces of e-mail spam a day recently from "EuroLottery," I assumed this was the snail-mail equivalent and put it aside.

I just opened it. It's a good thing I didn't toss it; it contained a $25 gift certificate from Amazon.

Did you know you can apply gift certificates to your account there? No need to scramble around picking a book or CD by X date; you can carry a balance.

Cool.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:41 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

Ineffable, effable, effanineffable

In a post titled "It Sticks in My Craw" a guy named Krikorian at National Review's The Corner says Judge Sotomayor's name is too hard to pronounce correctly:

Deferring to people's own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference), unlike my correspondent's simple preference for a monophthong over a diphthong, and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn't be giving in to.
Not content with that foolishness, he goes on:
. . .one of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that's not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch. And there are basically two options — the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there's a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.

There you have it, folks. A guy with an Armenian last name (that last syllable, he tells us, is properly "yun," not "e-un," by the way) is objecting to a Puerto Rican pronouncing her name the way it's supposed to be pronounced in its language of origin. And it's all because of (gasp!) multiculturalism!

I don't know where Krikorian lives, but if it's anywhere on the Eastern seaboard or the West Coast, he surely ought to be used to people whose names don't conform to white-bread American stereotypes.

Where on earth do these people come from?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 26, 2009

Delusional?

From Richard Viguerie's Conservative HQ blog:

"This is an enormous opportunity for conservatives to define President Obama as a radical liberal in a way that Republicans have so far failed to do.

"This is the first opportunity in over 40 years for conservatives to have a national debate on the role of the judiciary. Conservatives always win ideological battles, either on the short run or the long run. (My italics)

"The primary opposition to Sonia Sotomayor will come from conservatives at the national, state, and local levels.

"President Obama's selection of Sonia Sotomayor to replace liberal David Souter on the Supreme Court will unite all wings of the conservative movement in a major effort to educate the American people on the U.S. Constitution and the proper role of the judiciary."

Hmm. Offhand I can think of one ideological battle conservatives have won over the past 40 years, and that's the one that says unregulated markets are best for all of us. And the signs are that that battle's results are about to be overturned.

As I said below, Viguerie's crowd was going to raise a fuss about Obama's SC nominee no matter who it was, because it needs to replenish its coffers.

They insist on continuing to espouse William F. Buckley's mission statement when he launched his magazine National Review: "It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop."

History continued unabated, you'll notice, despite that existential hope of November 19, 1955.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:59 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bright enough? From you, Rove?

The airwaves had barely stopped moving after President Obama's nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to SCOTUS when Karl Rove was on the attack against her.

Today on Fox "News" Rove said "I'm not really certain how intellectually strong she would be, she has not been very strong on the second circuit."

Karl Rove: "In June 1971, Rove dropped out of college."

Sonia Sotomayor: "earned her A.B. from Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude in 1976."

Granting that Rove has political street smarts, his intellectual abilities have not been judged as Judge Sotomayor's were when she was awarded the M. Taylor Pyne Prize at Princeton in 1976. What are the qualifications for that award? It's "A prize awarded annually to the senior who has manifested in outstanding fashion the following qualifications: excellence in scholarship, character and effective support of the best interests of Princeton University." Nor was Rove recognized for his college work "with highest praise," the definition of summa cum laude, as Judge Sotomayor was upon her graduation.

And how the hell would Rove be qualified to know whether she's been "strong on the second circuit?" He's not a lawyer, much less a constitutional expert. As noted above, he's a college dropout.

Mr. Rove is spouting knee-jerk Republican talking points because that's what he knows how to do. He should shut up.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 25, 2009

Dear television producers

When televising special events which include music, is it too hard to display a Chyron graphic at the bottom of the screen identifying the orchestral selection by name? Presumably the orchestra or band has a program of its performance pre-printed, so it's not like you're uninformed.

This cranky thought generated while watching C-Span's coverage of the wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington. The Air Force Band played something beautiful, but the poor viewer was given no clue as to what it was.

Oh, and AF Band? You're not off the hook; I looked at your website, and you don't have a program listing prominently displayed either.

The same thing happened during the annual Memorial Day Concert on PBS last night. The film Gettysburg has an exceptionally evocative Randy Edelman score, but unless you'd seen the movie you'd have had no way of knowing that the music the National Symphony Orchestra played at one point was the main theme.

Grrr.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 24, 2009

Poor sales forecasting

Ben Cayetano was governor of the State of Hawai'i from 1994-2002. He recently published what by most accounts is a candid memoir of his life, and a lot of us would like to read it.

A lot of us. The original press run was 3,500. It sold out in six weeks, surprising its publisher (Watermark) quite a bit. So they scheduled a second run, which was due out in April. I don't think it's hit the streets yet, though, because all the booksellers are still saying there's a 4-6 week backorder on it. The library has 210 hold requests.

It's easy to throw rocks at the publisher, but who really knew that a 568-page book would have such demand? Most Hawai'i-centric books aren't huge sellers, I'm told.

Now that the publisher's aware, though, dammit, get that second run out; we want to read it!

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 23, 2009

The politics of fear

Something I've been puzzling about quietly for a while has now been given voice by Publius at Obsidian Wings and by Paul Campos at Lawyers Guns and Money.

They ask, are Americans really terrified of and terrorized by terrorists?

From the behavior of the Senate last week one would think so. But is the public once again ahead of the politicians? I don't really think that most of us cower in our beds every day worrying whether Osama bin Laden and his buddies are going to attack our hometown malls. But ever since 9/11, many politicians, most but not all Republicans, have behaved as though we're at risk of being blown up tomorrow and must therefore militarily destroy all those places and people where terrorists might congregate and hide.

Bin Laden and his cohorts are not Nazi Germany's Wehrmacht or the Soviet Union's Red Army, for heaven's sake. Why do our public servants act as though they are?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 22, 2009

Name that book!

A friend of mine opens a blog post reviewing a biography of Zachary Taylor, the 12th President of the US, this way:

What can be said about a man who was President for just 16 months? What can be said about a President who never held any other political office in his life? What can be said about a man who likely never voted in his life until he was elected President? What can be said about a man who almost went directly from battlefield success to the White House?

So what book's opening paragraph is Bob parodying? Yes, I know the answer. I recognized it immediately; I even gave a copy of the book to a girlfriend at the time of its first publication, which says something about me. Probably nothing good.

If you want to be polite, you'll use ROT-13 to encrypt your answer. Here's a converter. Type your answer in plain text, press the Cypher button, and copy/paste the result into the comments.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 21, 2009

Tch

I was reading Connie Willis's Lincoln's Dreams the other day and had occasion to look up reviews of the book at Amazon. I found an amusing typo in one of them.

The book is about a young woman who's reliving or channeling Robert E. Lee's dreams, so there's a good deal of history about Lee's location at specific points during the war; his horse Traveller was his constant companion. Unfortunately, one of the reviewers inadvertently called the horse Trigger.

Traveller.

Trigger.

Oops.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:15 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 20, 2009

Looking for work

One of the drawbacks to self-employment as a contract researcher from home is that you don't get out to expand your business network very much. When your previous employment over the past 16 years was in a construction trailer in Mililani and in the undisclosed location that is the computer room at the Ilikai Hotel, that network wasn't very large to start with. When thinking about looking for full-time employment again, then, I began wondering how to re-connect with people in the Hawai'i business community. I'm on LinkedIn and Facebook, but those two networks are more national than local in scope.

Then it struck me: I have a blog!

So. Any Hawai'i readers who might know about job opportunities for somebody who's been a computer systems manager, an accountant/bookkeeper, a staff researcher and writer, and a blogger for over seven years, please let me know in the comments or via e-mail. I'm proficient with Excel, Word, the Open Office suite, Quicken and Quickbooks; I've managed and scheduled personnel, and I get along with people well. I'm centrally located on Oahu and can travel to any part of the island.

Ideally, I'd like to find a job matching my interest in blogging with a company which is interested in expanding its corporate communications via a blog, but I recognize there aren't a lot of those in the state. I can do marketing and/or accounting support and I've been known to troubleshoot small computers down to the card-changing level.

My researcher résumé is here and my previous work history is here.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:45 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 19, 2009

Less stupidity and pandering, please

My Senator is an idiot, and Harry Reid is right behind him. In a press conference today, Reid was asked about Senator Inouye's amendment to the supplemental war funding bill which precludes spending any money to close Guantanamo until a place which will take the detainees is found. Read the following exchange:

QUESTION: But Senator, Senator, it's not that you're not being clear when you say you don't want them released. But could you say — would you be all right with them being transferred to an American prison?

REID: Not in the United States.

Now, besides kowtowing to the fearmongering of the Republican party, one of whom suggested the other day that these terrorists would be put into halfway houses in Missouri, where does Reid propose they go? Most other countries in the world are likely to say "You captured 'em, you keep 'em."

Besides, last I looked, this country had over 30 SuperMax prisons, housing such notables as:

  • Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber
  • Dandeny Muñoz Mosquera, former chief assassin for the Medellín Cartel of Colombia
  • Terry Nichols, conspirator in the Oklahoma City bombing
  • Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber"
  • Eric Robert Rudolph, abortion clinic and 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bomber
  • Carlos Lehder, Colombian cocaine trafficker, a founding member of the Medellín Cartel
  • Zacarias Moussaoui, the alleged "20th hijacker" in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • Ramzi Yusef, World Trade Center bomber (the 1993 one)

Now really, are the guys at Guantanamo more dangerous than these people, all of whom have been locked up for a while without escaping?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 18, 2009

Equal time

When Andrew Lloyd Webber met T. S. Eliot the results were spectacular.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Remorse

Every week I do three loads of laundry, emptying the laundry basket. Every week, inevitably, some piece of clothing has to be the first item thrown into the newly-empty hamper.

And every week I grumble about it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 17, 2009

Fluffy floor covering

Canon's red eye adjustment didn't work.

Another picture of our visitor here.

No, she's not ours. She's my niece's dog, but she came over to visit after a trip to the groomer.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

It's all about the Benjamins

This NYT article makes it pretty clear that the main goal of the conservative activists about to make a fuss about whoever President Obama nominates to be the next Supreme Court Justice is to raise money to keep their operations afloat.

While conservatives say they know they have little chance of defeating Mr. Obama’s choice because Democrats control the Senate, they say they hope to mount a fight that could help refill depleted coffers and galvanize a movement demoralized by Republican electoral defeats.

“It’s an immense opportunity to build the conservative movement and identify the troops out there,” said Richard A. Viguerie, a conservative fund-raiser. “It’s a massive teaching moment for America. We’ve got the packages written. We’re waiting right now to put a name in.”

It's nice of Mr. Viguerie to make his motives so clear: it doesn't matter who Obama nominates or how well qualified he or she is, we're going to oppose that person.

It's nice to know principles don't get in the way of party consolidation.

Oh, and it's cruel of me to snicker, but poor old Focus on the Family: "it recently cut more than 200 jobs." I'm sorry for the individuals, but not for the group.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Plumbing repair

The new fill valve I put into one of the toilets has now lasted 18 hours with no leaks and no noise.

Why is this a big deal, you ask? Listen, if you grew up in a house with a civil engineer who enjoyed doing all the home repairs himself, you might never have learned how to do this sort of thing. Your confidence in your ability to make fixes without catastrophe (see here) is not high. So when I get one done correctly (so far) I feel a need to congratulate myself.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2009

Preakness

So, Rachel Alexandra or Mine the Bird?

Liveblogging a two-minute event seems like an impossible task, but the NYT is trying.

Update: And the filly wins by 3/4 of a length! If the race were a 1/16-mile longer Mine the Bird might have caught her, but that's racing.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:39 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 15, 2009

Newtonian fallacies

Would someone please explain to me why the adulterous and "we lost a bunch of seats in 1998 so I'm gonna quit my job and go home" former Speaker of the House of Representatives has any credibility with the press?

The guy quit not only the Speakership but his House seat after facing a revolt of his caucus in the House, he's not formally running for anything, he made his reputation by throwing verbal bombs in the empty chambers of the House when only C-Span knew he was there, he shut down the government in a snit when he was supposedly denied a seat on a presidential airplane, and he's generally a jerk.

What's next? Dick Cheney appearing on Fox?

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:12 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 14, 2009

Fishwrap

Remember these recycling bins? Tomorrow is day one of the new regime wherein we householders put our bin out for the city's weekly collection.

Ours is full to the brim. It has two glass jars (one pickle, one guacamole) and months of newspapers. I've been holding off taking trunkloads of papers to the old recycling containers placed at elementary schools until the bins came into use. It's about time they have; there wasn't much space left behind the bar in the family room where I've been stashing bags of Honolulu Advertisers and Star-Bulletins.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 13, 2009

Deep breath

If yesterday's Social Security and Medicare funding revisions worry you, go read Fred Clark.

We do know, for certain, that 2037 is 28 years from now, and that little bit of arithmetical obviousness allows us to extrapolate a few other certainties. We know, for instance, that all still-living children born in 2007 will be turning 30 in 2037. This marks excellent timing on their behalf -- as the largest-ever pool of American workers will be entering their peak earning years, infusing a wave of cash into the Social Security system just as the trust fund representing decades of overpayments by Baby Boomers is finally depleted.

He goes on to say that the trustees at the Social Security Administration don't seem to recognize that. He doesn't say, but I will, that it's in the interests of the doomsayers (many of whom seem to have ties to Wall Street and might just have personal financial gains in mind -- fee income!) to ignore that arithmetic.

Medicare is a separate problem, and one that can be ameliorated in part if Obama's health care reform goes through. The reason that Medicare is running out of money is that health care costs keep rising and the people who use Medicare are by definition older people who have larger health problems which cost more to address. If Obama's plan succeeds in reducing costs, Medicare will have far fewer financial difficulties in the future.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:24 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Lost, Season 5, Episode 16

Get out the popcorn; tonight's the season finale!

Blurb: Jack's decision to set things right on the island is met with some strong resistance by those close to him, and Locke assigns Ben a difficult task.

Ryan's take

Jon's take

Alan Sepinwall's take

I fully expect to be as puzzled as ever after I've seen it, and I'm resigned to that.

Noooo! Not Juliet!

But since she was at Ground Zero, it seems unlikely she survived (although then neither should Kate, Sawyer, Jack, Miles, Hurley, Sayid or Jun, since they were also on scene when the bomb blew). Nothing would surprise me with this show.

If Locke's still dead, then fake Locke must have been the guy on the beach at the beginning of the show, since at the end Jacob said "You finally found the loophole" to him and he agreed.

Can Jack's real reason for wanting to hit reset with the bomb just be for Kate's sake? If that's true, he's hopeless and it's a really weak portion of the plot.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 12, 2009

Tourism for fans of very little government

Seen at Edge of the West, among other places.

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bleak doesn't cut it

Resolved: That Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska is the least accessible album in his entire catalog.

True or False?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 11, 2009

Hopeful but skeptical

Updated below

Good news?

A range of leading health-care providers joined President Barack Obama on Monday in announcing their promise to sharply reduce the growth of national health spending, a move that could ease the path toward his goal of comprehensive coverage for Americans.

Well, maybe. Pardon me for not trusting the medico-insurance industrial complex very much. I think they're running scared and trying to get out ahead of any public plan that might be proposed in the future.

Nonetheless, $2 trillion bucks in cost-cutting over ten years is nothing to sneeze at. So we'll see.

Update: It's not often I agree with a Time magazine columnist, but here's Karen Tumulty at Swampland:

the health industry wants reform--at least, it wants it on their terms. That's because universal coverage means 47 million new customers who can actually pay their bills. Assuming, of course, that private insurers are not competing with a Medicare-like, government-financed "public plan." The non-partisan Lewin Group has estimated that, given that option, more than 130 million Americans would enroll in a government plan -- which private insurers say would effectively kill their own business model. Heading off a public plan is what is implicit in this gesture the health industry is making this morning.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 10, 2009

Mmm, fruit

Showing a fine hand with a melon-baller, I made that for Mom. My sister brought over some Eggs Benedict. A good time was had by all.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mother's Day 2009

Always listen to John, Paul, George and Ringo. Always.

Happy Mother's Day!

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 09, 2009

Wake up, Wake up!

I always liked the flute in this song.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 08, 2009

Electric car

I went to the library on Wednesday and pulled into a parking space next to a GEM e2. It looks pretty golf cart-ish, but for drivers who live on an island it might work as long as you don't want to drive on a freeway.

Classified as low-speed vehicles by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), GEM cars are street-legal in nearly all 50 states on most public roads posted at 35 mph or less. With a top speed of 25 mph and a range of up to 30* miles on a charge, GEM passenger and utility vehicles are ideal for driving on campuses, work sites, or just around the neighborhood.

The interior looks surprisingly roomy, but if you want to carry anything and you've got a passenger, you'd need an optional trunk box for $465 on top of the MSRP of $7,395 plus Destination & Handling charges of $945. That would make the bare-bones cost $8,340 plus local taxes and registration fees. A new gasoline-powered Honda Civic has an MSRP of $15,505, while a new Civic hybrid has an MSRP of $23,650.

You sacrifice a lot of comfort with the GEM e2, and it looks like you also sacrifice some safety features like airbags. Nonetheless, for a certain group of people who live in suburbs and make short trips, it might work.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 07, 2009

I'm glad an algorithm didn't cause this

I just got an e-mail from Philly.com offering me an opportunity to buy tickets to take Mom to see Yanni in Atlantic City on May 16.

Now really. Yanni?

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2009

Lost, Season 5, Episode 15

Blurb: Jack and Kate find themselves at odds over the direction to take to save their fellow island survivors, Locke further solidifies his stance as leader of "The Others," and Sawyer and Juliet come under scrutiny from the Dharma Initiative.

Ryan

Jon

Alan Sepinwall

I know better than to think the season finale is going to explain much, but still. . .

Among all the other questions raised, one stands out: how do they propose to detonate a hydrogen bomb? And wouldn't logic dictate that if you're standing next to it, no matter the time universe you're in, if it blows you're probably not going to survive?

Posted by Linkmeister at 04:22 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sing it, baby

Dictionary.com defines "diva" as "a distinguished female singer; prima donna."

I've been on a Streisand kick recently. I'd say she's an exemplar of the first definition; if you define "prima donna" as a perfectionist in the studio, by all I've read that's an accurate description too. On the other hand, if you've ever heard recordings of her live concerts, you'll know she lays her voice on the line and doesn't worry a lot about reproducing the original versions of her songs note-for-note (and I've rarely heard stage patter more self-deprecating than Barbra's).

Who else fits the definition? Did Beverly Sills qualify? How about Beyoncé, Pink or Jewel? Grace Slick? Linda Ronstadt? Gloria Estefan?

I'd argue Cher, Madonna and Diana Ross fit both halves of the definition, as does Whitney Houston. How about jazz artists like Norah Jones, Diana Krall and Joni Mitchell? Country stars Faith Hill and Carrie Underwood? Do folkies like Joan Baez and Judy Collins meet the criteria?

What's diva-hood?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 05, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pete!

What do the following artists have in common? Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, Dave Matthews, Arlo Guthrie, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Roger McGuinn, Taj Mahal, Steve Earle, Ani DiFranco, Tom Paxton, John Hall, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and John Mellencamp.

Why, they all turned up for a benefit concert to celebrate Pete Seeger's 90th birthday Sunday night.

Here's Mellencamp singing "If I Had a Hammer."

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 04, 2009

I wonder

In a blog post which asks the question "What foods suit your favorite crime writers?" I mentioned that for Nero Wolfe it would have to be saucisse minuit (referenced in Too Many Cooks). The following exchange of comments then occurred:

Peter (the blogger): "I would expect Archie to have contemplated suggesting a street-corner hot dog just to see Wolfe's reaction.

Linkmeister: Now that's interesting, Peter. I don't think a street vendor appears anywhere in the Wolfe stories. Was NYC that much different in the 40s and 50s, I wonder, or did Stout just enjoy having Archie always try to make it home for Fritz's lunches? AG often appears in diners eating pie, but I don't recall a grab n' go hot dog or pretzel at all.

So my question is, when did street food carts first start appearing in NYC?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:31 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 03, 2009

SCOTUS facts

From The Daily Beast comes an interesting article outlining the lack of diversity on the current Court. Not the ethnic and gender uniformity, but that of background and economic class.

Consider the makeup of the court at the time Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Chief Justice Earl Warren had been a three-term governor of California. Hugo Black and Sherman Minton had served in the Senate. Harold Burton was a former mayor of Cleveland. Stanley Reed had been in the Kentucky legislature, and was appointed by FDR to run the Reconstruction Finance Corporation at the height of the Great Depression. William Douglas was chairman of the Securities & Exchange Commission. Tom Clark had been a Texas district attorney.

Even the most academic member of the court, former Harvard Law professor Felix Frankfurter, had been deeply involved in nuts-and-bolts Progressive era and New Deal politics for decades.

The educational backgrounds of the justices were as varied as their careers. They graduated from state law schools all across the country, including Indiana, Alabama, Texas, and California. (Reed never even received a law degree.) Most of them served in the military, and three saw combat during World War I.

Now consider the backgrounds of the current justices. Every single one of them was a federal appellate court judge at the time he or she was nominated to join the court. None has held elective office. Only the retiring Souter has presided over a trial, and only the 89-year-old John Paul Stevens has served in the military.

Their education is even more uniform than their careers. Six attended Harvard Law School, while two others graduated from Yale.

Indeed, even as the institution has slowly begun to open itself to gender and racial diversity, Supreme Court nominations have become repositories of the sort of superficial status markers that have come to obsess the American upper class.

The career path to get on the court has become astonishingly narrow. Go to Harvard or Yale Law School, clerk for a Supreme Court justice, work for one of a handful of elite law firms, become a law professor at a top school or rotate into a fancy government position, then get appointed to a federal appellate court and wait for your name to be called.

Huh. Well, I wish I could offer up a good candidate from the University of Hawai'i's Richardson School of Law, but failing that, it would be nice and possibly good for the country to break the WASP-y Harvard-Yale axis.

via Lawyers, Guns and Money

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 02, 2009

Oh NO!

Oceanic had better get our neighborhood's cable fixed before the Derby starts.

Update: Holy smokes. In a triumph for underdogs everywhere, Mine That Bird, a 50-1 shot, wins the Derby.

He's a Canadian horse. Another win for globalization!

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

May 01, 2009

I will never get religious people

From a CNN story about a new Pew survey:

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
Whatever happened to 1 John 4:7, which says "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."

I cannot understand people who can simultaneously profess their firm belief in the King James Bible verse cited and at the same time be willing to torture people. For that matter, I can't understand how those same people can be in favor of the death penalty and still call themselves pro-life when it comes to abortion, but that's a subject for another time.

Torture is wrong morally, ethically and legally. Of the three, I would expect churchgoers to be against it on at least the first two grounds, but apparently not.

How do these people live with this dichotomy?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:18 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

There's no one like her

Barbra Streisand at 64 can still sing and put on a show.

'Nuff said.

Well, a little more. The DVD contains footage from two different concerts, one in Ft. Lauderdale in 2006 and one in Anaheim in 1994. Her voice is as good as ever; she still hits the notes. The stage patter is funny, just as it was on her Live Concert at the Forum from 1972. CBS put on a one-hour special with some of the Ft. Lauderdale material the other night; the set is wonderful and the orchestra is too. She has some forgettable group called Il Divo perform a couple of songs with her (I suspect she needed some male voices), but it's mostly just her.

Here's "Don't Rain on My Parade" performed as an encore.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack