November 30, 2009

Offloading from Flickr

Has anyone ever had a need to download all one's pictures from Flickr in one or several batchs? I'm thinking of canceling my Yahoo account, and one of the results of that is loss of access to Flickr. I think I've got all those pictures on CD or my hard drive already, but I'd like to ensure I haven't missed any. Selecting 200 pictures individually and copying them would be horrendously time-consuming, so batch processing seems the desirable way to go.

I've found Flickr Downloadr, which looks promising. For one thing, the most recent release date is October 31 of this year, which implies ongoing attention to the program.

Anybody had any good experiences with any similar programs?

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 29, 2009

Socks and underwear-folding music

I'm folding laundry while listening to Derrick Malama's Kanikapila Sunday. It's a three-hour program featuring "the latest in Hawaiian music by today's artists, plus classic songs from the 1970s and '80s. The show includes interviews with guest artists as well as live, in-studio performances."

You can stream it live from a link on that page.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 28, 2009

A Well-researched opinion

There are only two times when white bread is superior to any other variety: 1) turkey sandwiches with mayo and lettuce and 2) peanut butter sandwiches with honey or jelly.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:02 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 27, 2009

The South will rise again

Over the past two days I read Confederates in the Attic, Tony Horwitz's 1998 account of his trips through the Deep South. He was trying to understand why the Civil War still had such a hold on the region's inhabitants.

He comes away bemused, particularly at the neo-Confederate mindset he encounters. It seemed to be strongest not among the war re-enactors he met but among the everyday citizens.

Eleven years later it seems to me that mindset has grown even stronger with the advent of a Democratic Congress and a Democrat in the White House. See the rise of the teabaggers as evidence.

It's a fascinating book.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 26, 2009

"A noble bird"

If Ben had had his way, we'd all be partaking of our national bird today.

Enjoy it!

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"I put that envelope under that garbage"

This looks to be an authorized version of Arlo singing the official Thanksgiving song. The mix is a little guitar-heavy, but we all know the words by heart anyway.

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

November 25, 2009

The turkey pardon

"Thanks to the intervention of Malia and Sasha, 'cause I was plannin' to eat this sucker. . ."

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:10 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 24, 2009

More choices, please

It's all well and good to get a gift certificate from Target for your birthday, but then you have to decide what you want. I've always felt that with a gift cert you should get something you want, not something you need. No shampoo, no bar soap, no razor blades, etcetera. So that leaves clothes, which I surely don't need.

Unfortunately, Target's selection of men's shorts is not really large. Cargo shorts (bleah), Wrangler blue denim shorts (I have about five pairs of Levi shorts), and, worst of all, shorts that are patterned like those often seen on the PGA Tour in the 1970s: multicolored window pane shorts. I ended up with one of the only two pairs of khaki cotton shorts on the floor.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 23, 2009


There are many things I wish I could do better with my body. Hit a baseball, run a 4-minute mile, play a round of golf at or under my age: on and on. But what I really wish I could do is what Tom Selleck does with his eyebrows at the end of the opening credits to Magnum: raise them, twice.

Is that so much to ask?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Countdown to Turkey Day

I trust you're already defrosting your turkey/goose/duck.

My sister makes Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups nearly every year. They're a pretty thing on a plate, and they taste good too.

My only problem is that I end up with half a bag of unused mini-marshmallows in my fridge for weeks.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 22, 2009

One step further on

The Senate agreed to debate the health care reform bill, 60-39. 58 Democrats and two Independents voted "Aye." 39 Republicans voted "No" (Voinovich was in Cleveland for some kind of anniversary party and was a sure "No" vote).

That's one step closer to real health care reform for 300 million Americans, especially the 50 million who have no insurance at all.

I think we should take Senator Kyl at his word when he said on Fox News last Friday " 'every single Republican will oppose' even debating health care reform." If that's the case, just shut the Republicans out of the debate altogether. Allow no Republican amendments. Restrict their speaking time. Above all, do not imagine that by allowing a Republican amendment to get into the bill you will gain his or her vote. They're on record saying they won't vote for it in the end.

If there's no chance of peeling off any Republican votes to help Americans, then why should they get a voice in what the legislation says?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 21, 2009

Good grief, Charlie Brown

I'm no parliamentary expert, but it seems ridiculous to me that the Senate needs a supermajority of 60 votes just to decide whether to debate something.

The Senate needs to change its rules.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2009

Request Absolution

A portion of my green waste spilled out of its recycling bin when the robot truck came by to pick it up this morning. I quickly ran out and picked up the overflow, scurried across the street, and put the offending branch into my neighbor's bin before the truck came back down that side of the street.

Where does Miss Manners stand on these sorts of issues?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:45 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Guitar man

I'm rediscovering Richard Thompson.

The man has been playing guitar onstage beautifully for 40-something years.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 19, 2009

Oh, so that's why

Max Blumenthal explains the Palin phenomenon to all of us elitists.

If Palin is indeed a cancer on the GOP, why can't the Republican establishment retire her to a quiet life of moose hunting in the political wilderness? Why has her appeal only increased in the wake of her catastrophic political expeditions? Why won't she listen to, or abide by, conventional political wisdom?

The answer lies beyond the realm of polls and punditry in the political psychology of the movement that animates and, to a great degree, controls, the Republican grassroots -- a uniquely evangelical subculture defined by the personal crises of its believers and their perceived persecution at the hands of cosmopolitan elites.

By emphasizing her own crises and her victimization by the "liberal media," Palin has established an invisible, indissoluble bond with adherents of that subculture -- so visceral it transcends any rational political analysis. As a result, her career has become a vehicle through which the right-wing evangelical movement feels it can express its deepest identity in opposition both to secular society and to its representatives in the Obama White House. Palin is perceived by its leaders -- and followers -- not as another cynical politician or even as a self-promoting celebrity, but as a kind of magical helper, the God-fearing glamour girl who parachuted into their backwater towns to lift them from the drudgery of everyday life, assuring them that they represented the "Real America."

Never having lived around that subculture, I can't say he's right, but that analysis feels right.

Max has a new book out titled Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, by the way. I've reserved a copy at my local library.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 18, 2009

The Palinization of the Republican Party

I'm of two minds about Sarah Palin.

The sensible rational part of me says "Oh please, please, Republicans, nominate her in 2012. That would mean Obama would win in a walkover, because she's got so many things wrong with her as a candidate that the American electorate would run away from her as fast as it could."

The paranoid part of me says "If the economy hasn't fully recovered by then, the American electorate will be so unhappy it will vote for her as a reaction to those circumstances."

Which side of my mind wins on any given day depends on how much idiocy I observe from my reading of the news. Low idiocy, rationality wins. High idiocy, paranoia wins.

Posted by Linkmeister at 09:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 17, 2009

Logic Fail

We bought an All-in-One Scanner a while back in hopes we'd get around to digitizing some of the 80 years of photographs we have in 20-30 photo albums. So far we've found it more useful as a copier (hey, organizing 1,500 photos is hard!).

The other day I got an alarm while copying telling me the ink was low. Since I've printed absolutely nothing in color, I made the assumption that it was the black ink cartridge that I'd used up. I bought a new cartridge but didn't install it because I had no need of it yet.

Earlier today I tried to copy something, got the alarm again, and said "Aha! I'm ready for this. I have a new black ink cartridge!"

Only, when I checked the ink levels, it turned out that the black cartridge was fine; it was the magenta cartridge that ran dry.


Posted by Linkmeister at 11:11 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 16, 2009

Lou Dobbs's sweetened departure from CNN

I never thought of this as sound financial strategy, but apparently if you're obnoxious enough your employer will pay you $8 million to go away.

I thought that kind of buyout was reserved for college football and basketball coaches and failed CEOs.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:26 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 15, 2009


Local girl Michelle Wie won her first pro golf tournament today in Guadalajara, Mexico by two strokes over Paula Creamer.

Oh, and the three women right behind her? Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, and current LPGA Rookie of the Year Jiyai Shin.

That was some tough competition going down the stretch.

Good for her!

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Horror lit-crit

I'm reading Stephen King's Danse Macabre, a 1980 recording of his thoughts about horror in film and books. In it he argues that Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are the core works from which all other horror literature are descended. I can't disagree. He says:

They stand at the foundation of a huge skyscraper of books and films -- those twentieth-century gothics which have become known as "the modern horror story." More than that, at the center of each stands (or slouches) a monster that has come to join and enlarge what Burt Hatlen calls "the myth pool" -- that body of fictive literature in which all of us, even the nonreaders and those who do not go to the films, have communally bathed. Like an almost perfect Tarot hand representing our lusher concepts of evil, they can be neatly laid out: the Vampire, the Werewolf, and the Thing Without a Name.
All of these books, he says:
have certain things in common, and all of them deal with the very basis of the horror story: secrets best left untold and things left best unsaid. And yet Stevenson, Shelley and Stoker all promise to tell us the secret.
He doesn't say they fully succeeded in telling us that secret, but he doesn't say they precisely failed, either. He theorizes that their successes and failures in fully telling the secret may be what keeps the novels alive and vital.

Hard to argue with that. It's instructive that of the three authors, only Stevenson was successful in his other writings, although Stoker wrote several excellent short stories (see The Judge's House below). King suggests that novels are engines, meaning they have a story, and the creators of these novels filled them with enough invention to make the engines run exceptionally well. Somebody else will have to figure out why only RLS was able to re-ignite his own engine.

I admit I've never read a single piece of fiction King has written, so I don't know how the style here compares to his other books. It's almost conversational in tone, which makes sense, since it's an outgrowth of a course he taught in 1978 at the U of Maine titled "Themes in Supernatural Literature." The only thing wrong with it is that it was published in 1980 and hasn't been updated since. It's a fun read.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:42 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 14, 2009

Find a need and fill it

Hey, all you Twilight readers and True Blood fans, NPR has discovered two books for you:

The New Vampire's Handbook: A Guide for the Recently Turned Creature of the Night, and

The Werewolf's Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten

And the music they chose to play out the segment? Werewolves of London, what else?

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 13, 2009

Too cool for school


Preliminary data from the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates that the mission successfully uncovered water during the Oct. 9, 2009 impacts into the permanently shadowed region of Cabeus cater near the moon’s south pole.
Now if they'd perfect those space elevators . . .

Fortunately there are no inhabitants of the Moon who might be harmed by mankind's future colonization.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 12, 2009

Sins of omission

Dear A&M Records,

I realize that when you put together a compilation called "The Best of Fairport Convention" there will be songs left out.

But only ten tracks? Really? A band of that name has been performing for forty-two years. Surely you could have found more than these ten tracks to showcase their talents.

  1. Meet On The Ledge
  2. Fotheringay
  3. Who Knows Where The Time Goes
  4. Genesis Hall
  5. Percy's Song
  6. Come All Ye
  7. Matty Groves
  8. Crazy Man Michael
  9. Sloth
  10. Now Be Thankful
Posted by Linkmeister at 03:06 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cost reduction by blackmail

There are some Senators who really don't like doing their jobs and would prefer to turn the hard work over to "independent commissions," and they're not above blackmail to further their aims. At least, so this story seems to show. What Sens. Conrad, Gregg, Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) want to do is create a budget reform commission bill which would force cuts in Medicare and Social Security, and they're saying they will refuse to allow the country's debt ceiling to rise if they don't get it. If the debt ceiling isn't raised, Treasury will be unable to issue bonds and the US will default on its debt.

Digby calls this the "catfood commission." That's a reference to the result which might occur if cuts to Social Security are made; seniors would be forced to eat catfood because they couldn't afford to buy human food. Chris Bowers calls it "a national suicide pact."

I call it idiotic. It's a group of Senators who know they can't get the votes to cut entitlements; they saw what happened when George Bush tried it. Instead they want to hide behind some supposedly-independent body and be able to say "the devil made me do it" when the commission recommends taking away benefits for seniors.

I've got a more sensible idea, and one that would probably be more popular. Let's form an independent commission to cut military expenditures. Defense is about the same percentage of the federal budget as entitlements, after all.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2009

Echoes of War on Veterans Day

Endless War

The warrior's battles will never end
for each firefight echoes in dreams that shake the night.
Once again with sweated determination the warrior must do battle.
Countless firefights relived until awakened
by those whose deaths were only numbers on the six o'clock news.
I find this strange, those that died in the tempest of battle,
they have found peace.
While we, the survivors,
we are in hell.

- Pete "Doc" Fraser -

From Poetry of the Vietnam War.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 10, 2009

Ft. Hood Ceremonies

I can hear Presidents and their speechwriters muttering on occasions such as this memorial service, "Damn Lincoln anyhow. How am I supposed to meet that standard?"

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 09, 2009

Why is the Stupak Amendment so bad?

McJoan tells you. The simplest part?

It effectively bans coverage for most abortions from all public and private health plans in the Exchange: In addition to prohibiting direct government funding for abortion, it also prohibits public money from being spent on any plan that covers abortion even if paid for entirely with private premiums.


Once again, just like in the pre-Roe days, the wealthy will have access to abortion, those who can't scrape several hundred dollars together won't. Because of how the exchange is structured, most of people covered through it will be receiving credits or subsidies. Therefore, most of the participants will not have access to a legal medical procedure.

And Stupak, Pitts, and their co-sponsors know that. The US Conference of Bishops insisted that co-mingling of funds from the feds with private money somehow tainted the money with abortion services and could not be allowed.

Reproductive rights for women are anathema to these people.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Fall of the Wall, 20 years on

The BBC has excellent coverage with stories and video of the celebrations.

I'm old enough to remember when the Wall was built; it was the physical manifestation of the Cold War for my fellow Boomers. When it was opened I sat in front of my television staring in amazement.

There's a lot of mythology about America's role in ending the Cold War, most of it overblown. Despite conservatives' claims since 1989, Ronald Reagan didn't win the Cold War; if any one individual can be said to have facilitated it more than any other, it was George Kennan.

I went looking for Kennan's response to the Cold War's ending and found this Op-Ed from 1992:

Nobody -- no country, no party, no person -- "won" the cold war. It was a long and costly political rivalry, fueled on both sides by unreal and exaggerated estimates of the intentions and strength of the other party. It greatly overstrained the economic resources of both countries, leaving both, by the end of the 1980's, confronted with heavy financial, social and, in the case of the Russians, political problems that neither had anticipated and for which neither was fully prepared.

I think that's about right. Nonetheless, the events of 1989 will continue to amaze and thrill.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 08, 2009

Women? Screw them.

Shorter Stupak Amendment: 62 upper-middle class white guys and 2 upper-middle class white women throw all womens' rights under the bus to satisfy a bunch of old white religious guys who've taken celibacy oaths.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2009

Health Care Reform passes the House

Well, it was a nail-biter and it has that god-awful Stupak Amendment in it (64 Democrats in favor? I'm gonna start calling you cafeteria Democrats!), but the House did it. Fifty-plus years of trying and the road to health care for all has gotten past one half of the national legislature.

Congratulations to Speaker Pelosi, the Committee Chairmen, and the 220 Congresspeople who felt the American public deserves better than it's currently got.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:49 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Catholic Bishops have Congressional votes?

Dear Congressman Stupak:

Why do you feel that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops should have any sway over American health care policy? You have managed to get their approval for your Amendment "which would prevent federal subsidies from going to any insurance plans that cover abortion."

So what's the problem? That sounds innocuous enough. Ah, but the details, the details.

Under their amendment, women who purchase comprehensive private insurance packages — that include abortion services — would have to pay for the entire cost of the package (even if they qualify for subsidies).

They’re arguing that the current firewall between public and private money is inadequate. If a woman uses federal subsidies to pay for a basic benefit, she would have more private money available to fund her abortion, they claim. Or, alternatively, “premiums paid to that plan in the form of taxpayer-funded subsidies help support that abortion coverage even if individual abortion procedures are paid for out of a separate pool of privately-paid premium dollars.”

And the Catholic Bishops don't like that.

But the Catholic Bishops should have no moral authority at all. They hid knowledge of pedophilia from the criminal justice system; they even moved their priests around to keep them from being charged with pedophilia. Their approval shouldn't be a necessary requirement for Congress to pass health care reform.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 06, 2009

Trenchant analysis

I mean that in a good way. In a blog post asking "What's Going on in the House?" Ezra Klein says:

Democrats don't expect a single Republican to cross over to vote for health-care reform. That is to say, the Waxman-Markey cap and trade bill, which got eight Republican votes for what amounted to a tax on dirty energy paired with a bazillion (approximately) regulations on energy producers, was more bipartisan than an incrementalist health-care reform bill.

As Ezra says, "Amazing, huh?"

I really don't understand the opposition to health care reform. Does anyone really believe that the system as it currently exists is fair to all citizens of this country? The way it works now, rather than "All Men are Created Equal" we've got "He Who's Got the Gold Makes the Rules."

Yet there were several thousand Americans milling around the Capitol grounds in DC yesterday protesting attempts to make the system more fair. And, irony of ironies:

By the time it was over, medics had administered government-run health care to at least five people in the crowd who were stricken as they denounced government-run health care.
In their world, those five people shouldn't have been treated, I guess. I wonder if any of the five objected to the care they were being given?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:25 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ridicule serves a purpose

This has been posted in a lot of different places this morning, and deservedly so. Stewart skewers Glenn Beck. It's 8:37 minutes long.

Regrettably the Teabaggers Beck so loudly cheers on aren't likely to see it.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 05, 2009

New WS Champions

If you believe Jim Murray, the longtime columnist for the LA Times, he was the guy who first implied "rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for US Steel." He said that in an article for Life magazine in 1950, when US Steel was a lot more powerful than it is today.

It has since been modified, changed, bastardized and corrupted. The version I remember replaced US Steel with "General Motors," probably a conflation of Charlie Wilson's 1953 statement "What's good for General Motors is good for the USA" with Murray's earlier crack.

Well, these days I find it a lot easier to root for GM than I do for the Yankees, but nonetheless they are deserving champions, so congratulations.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:10 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 04, 2009

Game Six

In the elders they trust, and lucky for us. In Game 6 we get the next best thing to a Game 7, in every way. Pedro pitching against the Yankees for the 40th time. Pettitte pitching in a postseason game for the 40th time. The World Series decided, be it Wednesday or Thursday, at Yankee Stadium (old and new) for the 17th time. It's like a great bedtime story to a child. Tell me again, because it never gets old.

'Course, those 40 numbers Verducci cites really indicate that both Martinez and Pettitte have been around a long time and aren't quite as good as they were in their respective primes. As a friend of mine puts it, the Phillies are starting Pedro and have Johnny Whole Staff behind him. There's no tomorrow for the Phillies.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Originality can be a flaw

I was listening to Talk of the Nation this morning and heard a guy named Bruce Buschel discussing his list of 100 do's and don'ts for the waitstaff at his new restaurant. You can read the first 50 here.

I'm not going to quibble with any of them, but the discussion made me think of the many forms menus can take. Nowadays plastic-laminated pages seem to be the norm for obvious reasons, but I've seen some screwy ones. The most memorable is probably the one I got at a steak house in Tucson (I think); it was a wooden cask about 10 inches long and 8 inches around, with the menu offerings wood-burned into it.

What's the most memorable menu format you've seen?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2009

Musical tribute to our glorious leaders

In honor of off-year elections, I give you Roger McGuinn.

Posted by Linkmeister at 01:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 02, 2009

The new "most-famous steal" in the post-season

Most baseball fans would agree, I think, that up until last night the title of "Most Famous Stolen Base, Post-Season Edition" would go to Dave Roberts' theft of second base in Game Four of the 2004 ALCS. At the time, the Red Sox were down three games to none and on their way out the door of the playoffs. Then the Yankees' Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar, Roberts ran for him, stole second base, was knocked in by Bill Mueller to tie the game, and David Ortiz hit a game-winning home run in the 12th to extend the ALCS. The Red Sox went on to beat the Yankees in seven games and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series.

Well, sorry, Roberts. Johnny Damon (also a participant in those tumultuous 2004 events) just took over the title (video at the link).

The most amazing part of this might have been Damon's recognition that there was no one covering third while popping up after sliding into second.

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 01, 2009

Ghost story recap

I've found the texts for all the stories in The Haunted Looking Glass except "A Visitor from Down Under," by L. P. Hartley, so I'm going to put links to them in one place. Of course, since they're horror stories, link rot may set in.

Enjoy the eeriness!

Posted by Linkmeister at 08:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack