31 July 2006


Case of the Mondays
Rudderless and unfocused
Rescued by bunnies

Perhaps one of his many wives could have corrected him?

Massachusettes Governor Mitt Romney stepped in it on Saturday. Referring to the problems with the Big Dig during a speech in Iowa (running for President, Mitt? You sure?) he said "The best thing politically would be to stay as far away from that tar baby as I can."


On the plus side, one of Santa's the Easter Bunny's the Tooth Fairy's friends had something to say: "Tar baby is a totally inappropriate phrase in the 21st century," said Larry Jones, a black Republican and civil rights activist.

Notes from "conservative boot camp"

Kids these days. Back when I was in college, we just, you know, slept around a lot. Nowadays, they're more interested in studying Russell Kirk and debating the war in Iraq. (Though "debate" is a strong word, since it's not like there are opposing viewpoints.)

At the Ronald Reagan Leadership Academy, run by Young America’s Foundation, our precious young minds are getting the education they can't in our lib'r'l skools. They get lectures from such leading lights as Donald Devine, head of government personnel in the Reagan administration:

Arguing for private property, Mr. Devine, the lecturer, noted “there are bums all over here” downtown, and “they sit on public property, not private property.” He lamented the prosecution of Kenneth Lay, the late Enron executive convicted of fraud, by asking, “Do you think it’s possible for a rich person to get justice in the U.S. today?”
With such artful and accomplished speakers, we can only hope for more great College Republicans coming up through the ranks in the future. Geniuses like Matthew McCorkle who shows an obvious appreciation of the roots of western civilization:

“Now we’re fighting a war in Iraq, and people say it isn’t our business,” Ms. Lightle said. “I have this core belief — that the true state of man is free — and the best way we have to be free so far is through democracy.”

“Kirk just nailed it on the head,” she said.

Matthew McCorkle had doubts. “The way President Bush has phrased it — ‘If you support terror we’ll take you out and install a democracy’ — may be biting off more than you can chew,” he said.

Mr. McCorkle, a junior at Hillsdale College in Michigan, countered with a different Kirk book, “The Roots of American Order,” which traces the roots of American civilization to ancient Jerusalem and Rome.

“My impression is that Iraq doesn’t have those roots,” Mr. McCorkle said. “We’re dealing with a sapling here.”

Maybe if they read some Plato, Cato, or anyone other than the modern conservative canon, little Matty McC might understand exactly where and when civilization started. Should an all-growed-up version of Matty want to debate whether the political soil of the Fertile Crescent proved to be arable for liberal democracy or not, he'd have legs to stand on if he could reference more than one modern philosopher.

29 July 2006

Old Media Talkin' 'Bout New Media...Sorta

In the business section of today's Times, there's an article about blogging by executive officers. While I must say I'm impressed the old gray lady is acknowledging the Internets, I find it pretty funny that, as usual, they fail to provide actual links.

Road Whimperer Lethal Tool Payback!!!

Did we all used to like Mel? Really? I'm having a hard time remembering that. I mean, with Tom-Tom, he was always short and manic and crazy, but we put up with it 'cause sometimes he was entertaining. But Mel...I mean, I liked this guy from the '70s. He started out in interesting movies, made it hip to be an Aussie in Hollywood (thank you for Poppy,) and was careful enough to wear lifts or only appear with other short dudes. He was charmed and charming.

We knew there were problems. His father's batshit, he drinks too much, and he's got like what, a dozen kids? Still...he pretty much managed to keep the crazy out of sight and out of mind.

Oops. I can't speak for the trustworthiness of this site, but based on the news stories popping and the extremely contrite apology he issued today, I think this might have legs. Weak, palsied legs for sure, but legs nonetheless. I mean, have you ever heard a celebrity actually apologize? It's usually more like an athlete's non-apology apology, offering how some people might have misunderstood when he pulled the gun on his HGH connection because his baby-momma got blood on his new Nikes when he smacked her around. Not Mel. He's really got something to hide:

After drinking alcohol on Thursday night, I did a number of things that were very wrong and for which I am ashamed. I drove a car when I should not have, and was stopped by the L.A. County sheriffs. The arresting officer was just doing his job and I feel fortunate that I was apprehended before I caused injury to any other person.

I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said and I apologize to anyone who I have offended.

Also, I take this opportunity to apologize to the deputies involved for my belligerent behavior. They have always been there for me in my community and indeed probably saved me from myself. I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.

I have battled the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary steps to ensure my return to health.

Lamont: The Choice of a New Generation

, he not doing too good. (Thanks to Greg Sargent over at TPMCafe.)

Equally startling is the composition of the senator's support. Doug Schwartz, survey director at Quinnipiac University, said Lieberman polled ahead of Lamont only among voters 65 and older, those with incomes of less than $30,000 a year, and those without a college degree.

Lamont, 52, ran ahead in the survey among voters in all other age and income groups, as well as among those with college degrees, Schwartz said. Lamont outpolled Lieberman among men, 56-44 percent. Fifty-one percent of the women surveyed backed Lieberman, to 47 percent for Lamont, a statistically insignificant difference.

I'm not sure what's really "startling" here. Basically, if you're senile or stupid you're for Joe.

Now, for those of you who know the Nutmeg state, you know that the weather - like everywhere in the Northeast - sorta sucks. Not really the best of winters. If you've been to Florida (and been near a restaurant at 3pm,) you've probably met a lot of those people who would have been voting for Joe had they not fled to the warmth. The snowbirds don't fly north to vote.

As for the income breakdown, I'm not sure why those making less that $30K would be polling stronger for Lieberman. I can theorize a few reasons: overlap with the uneducated and elderly; greater interest in homestate pork for its economic impact; and less free time to read all the "radical blogs" pointing out Joe's failings. Unfortunately for Joe and his GOP buddies, Connecticut's the leader in per capita income.

28 July 2006

GOP ♥ The Little Guy

The GOP can always be counted on to look out for the little guy. They've agreed to allow the national minimum wage to be raised from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour as long as it's tied with a permanent rollback in estate taxes. I say kudos to them for caring so much for the plight of the minimum wage earner. Let's review the math:

Let's assume two full and two part-time jobs for 120 total weekly hours, 52 weeks a year, and a life expectancy of 65. If someone were to start working at age 16, he'd stand to gross

$7.25 * 120 * 52 * 49 = $2,216,760
over his lifetime. Take off half of that for taxes, and our poor fellow has over $1.1M to bequeath to his offspring. Do we really want his poor children to pay the Death Tax on that?!? After he worked and slaved so hard???

Untermenschen In The Cortex

An interesting new study out of Princeton "shows that the stereotyping of groups as being sub-human can happen on an unconscious, neurological level". Normally, activity in the medial pre-frontal cortex (MPFC) increases as a result of processing social information. In this study, participants were shown pictures of members of different social groups while being imaged.

When shown pictures of drug addicts and the homeless, little activity above baseline was noted. (I assume this is an exaggeration on the part of this popular article; I'd hazard a guess that some participants showed the same activity for the homeless as for Olympians.)

Social research has shown that people evaluate people unlike them according to two scales: how nice, or warm, they appear and how smart, or competent, they seem. Some social groups are commonly viewed as being low in competence and high in warmth (the elderly), while others are stereotyped as being high in competence but low in warmth (the wealthy). Social groups that are stereotyped as having neither warmth nor competence—like drug addicts—are often judged to be both hostile and stupid.
This is an interesting avenue of study, but needs to be expanded beyond these initial parameters. Would individuals exhibiting psychopathy respond to images of any social group? What about showing pictures of one's enemies or opponents? I, for one, find it hard to believe I'd think anything but "Morlock" if presented with this image.

27 July 2006

He's got the crazy eyes, you know?

Um, yeah. I can't really add to this trainwreck.
Well, maybe with this...

Sawyer Whitewash, LLC

I'm ashamed to admit that I work for an MLM. I'd rather not say which fulfiller of dreams employs me, and unless you're familiar with their products you've likely never heard of them. The company's stable and been around for quite a while, so we're not your father's Herbalife, but there's still that inescapable stigma.

Me, I sit in my cube with the crappy reclaimed furniture and overhead fluorescents (well, I disconnected the ones above my head, but you get the idea) and plug away on our Ecommerce system. It certainly helps that I'm a software engineer, far above the fray. It also helps that I've gotten to write the entire engine from the ground up. As long as I'm amused, I don't get the howling fantods.

A couple of weeks ago, I was wondering who came up with the first successful pyramid scheme. I mean, sure, there's this guy: he was great with the pyramids. There's "The Ponz" (though he technically didn't run a pyramid.) After a little thought and research, it occurred to me.

It was that bastard Tom Sawyer.

Here's how it worked:

  • Collect whitewash and brushes from Aunt Polly
  • Sell friends and neighbors on the merits and pleasure to be had in whitewashing
  • With great reluctance, allow the friends a swipe at the fence once they've bartered something of value
(Now, you may not see the MLM here, but that's because Twain - ever the savvy rascal himself - left out the most important part...)
  • Distribute whitewash and brushes to friends and convince them to follow the Sawyer Plan
The one gaping whole in the plan, what eventually bankrupted Tom Sawyer by the time he was 23, was that Aunt Polly was his sole distributor of whitewash and brushes. Had he considered the Carnegie method, he might have been able to take over the whitewash supply business in good old St. Petersburg.

Still, I think the lesson is clear: "What you say about his company, is what you say about society." Or, something like that.

26 July 2006

How Hot Is It?

I stepped outside and felt as if my face
Was struck athwart by Shatner's dewy briefs

Dick Pound Knows If You Are Sleeping

Perhaps next year, Dick Pound and WADA can go after athletes who lift weights. I mean, wouldn't it be a violation of the "spirit of sport" to make yourself stronger than your competition? Oh, wait, that's not a "purely passive activity that nonetheless enhance[s] performance."

But saunas and hottubs, look out: you're next.

Dick Pound doesn't want you sleeping in an altitude tent.

Dick Pound...frankly, I just blogged on this so I could write "Dick Pound".

25 July 2006

Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation

Yep. Judge Pendleton Gaines of the Maricopa County Superior Court had to rule on this motion. Fortunately, his honor has excellent sense (and good taste in food, it seems.)

There are a number of fine restaurants within easy driving distance of both counsel’s offices, e.g., Christopher’s, Vincent’s, Morton’s, Donovan’s, Bistro 24 at the Ritz-Carlton, The Arizona Biltmore Grill, Sam’s CafĂ© (Biltmore location), Alexi’s, Sophie’s and, if either counsel has a membership, the Phoenix Country Club and the University Club. Counsel may select their own venue or, if unable to agree, shall select from this list in order. The time will be noon during a normal business day. The lunch must be conducted and concluded not later than August 18, 2006.
In footnote number four, the wisdom really shines: "The Court suggests that serious discussion occur after counsel have eaten. The temperaments of the Court’s children always improved after a meal."

Would that the Plaintiff and Defendent were half as wise.

24 July 2006

I'm Pacing Myself

There's an article in the current Wired about different types of genius. Economist David Galenson at the University of Chicago is providing hope to all us slackers and idlers...

“Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers.
On Galenson's website is this pdf of a transcribed talk Malcolm Gladwell gave at Columbia. Apparently, he'd written an article on Galenson's book - Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity - that was his first rejected by his New Yorker editor.
I guess what I’m arguing for in the end is some kind of balance between these two modes of creativity. I think we have to create a place at the table for Picasso, but also for Cezanne. It’s awfully tempting to demand certainty in everything that we do, and in all the reasons people give for their actions, and it’s awfully tempting to favor the people who peak quickly, and not over the people who take a long, long time to reach their creative peak. And I think the world is making it harder and harder for us to remember the role of the Cezannes. But I think we should keep in mind whenever we have these impulses, and feel pushed towards the carefully worked out stories and pushed towards those who peak really soon, we should keep in mind the story of Fleetwood Mac. They started out and they made fourteen albums which nobody listened to and nobody bought, and which were, quite frankly, terrible, before they created two of the greatest albums in rock and roll history.
While it'll be really easy to use this as yet another poor excuse for why I don't write, I think there's something more concrete and applicable to my current incarnation.

The two dominant software development camps in many ways fit these patterns. One can readily see how a waterfall SDLC attempts to conceptualize solutions out of whole cloth, with architects generating enough documentation for piecemeal development to be handed to monkeys, whether off-shore or local. In contrast, iterative development demands each engineer engage in constant refinement. Galenson's description of Jackson Pollack's Greyed Rainbow is illustrative:
To paint it, he laid the canvas on the floor, splattered it with paint, walked around it, tacked it to the wall, looked at it, put it back on the ground, splattered it with more paint, and so on. “This painting is full of innovations,” Galenson says, “but Pollock arrived here by trial and error. He was a slow developer.”
Clearly, iteration worked for Pollack (disparaging comments about Abstract Expressionism aside.)

My question then is whether conceptual innovators (as Galenson defines them) can train themselves to work in an experimentalist's mien or vice versa. Can young turks be more like Fleetwood Mac?

Making our Dreams Come True

John Tesh might have a run for his money. Watched ABC's coverage of the A.J. Foyt 225 this Sunday and seriously grooved on the opening. Since they were racing the Milwaukee Mile, someone had the bright idea to open with the "Laverne and Shirley" theme song. It worked great:

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.
Better, by a mile-long lap, than Gene Simmons' "I am Indy".

My only fear is that this successful use of retro-kitsch (not the first time it's been done, certainly) might open the floodgates to too much nostalgia. I mean, do we really want this before Kings games???

Update: It appears that sitcomsonline is setting session data, so these direct links don't work. Very, very frustrating, but if you actually care, you should be able to work your way through to hear these "gems".

21 July 2006

Tesla girls, Tesla girls

Testing out theories
Electric chairs and dynamos
Dressed to kill theyre killing me
But heaven knows their recipe
Woohoo!!! It's unveiled! Looks like an Elise, which really isn't all that shabby.

20 July 2006

I'm an idea man Chuck, I get ideas, sometimes I get so many ideas that I can't even fight them off!

Jason Zengerle has a profile on Newt Gingrich up at TNR. It's...there are no words. The man doesn't seem to recall the ignominious defeat, the infamy over the sickbed divorce, or the fact that his factotums on the Hill and K Street rose to power at his behest.

When Gingrich talks about his speakership, he does so in the way Democrats of a certain age talk about the Kennedy administration. "It's a little bit like Camelot," he says. "There was this golden moment when Republicans cared about ideas and kept their word." He adds, "There's a certain virtue to my having left, because there's a clear break point, and then, after I left, gradually the spirit of DeLay and Abramoff became symbolic."
Really? Like Camelot? With the betrayals and fruitless search for the grail? Because I thought that's what we still had with DeLay and WMDs.

Oh, maybe he meant "Spamalot". I hear that's a riot, plus one of my favorite actors is taking over Arthur's coconut shells.

A Republican Is Born?

Michael Kinsley underwent brain surgery recently. I know there are a lot of people who think it was high time. In his case, he had DBS to treat his Parkinson's.

Prior to the surgery, he wrote this piece describing his quest to find the right words to say afterward to "tell the world - and convince [himself] - that [he is] all there".

The editor's note at the bottom tells us that surgery was successful on July 12...and what Michael said. Gave me a much welcome laugh on this unusually gray Arizona morning.

730 Days, Part III

"Who's the girl?"

"Uh...she's my niece, Marisa."

"Cute kid."


In two months, this was the most Javier had said to Jonah. At first, that had suited him fine; he wasn't looking to expand his social circle and figured the surest way to survive was by avoiding trouble. But as the days passed and the hours grew longer, the silence in their five by nine grew deafening. Like a blanket thrown over his head, it muffled the din beyond their bars, reducing the cons' harsh conversations to the murmurs of voices from another room. While that was comforting for a time, of late it had become stifling.

Five days back Jonah nearly lost it in the yard.

Five nights back Jonah started to hear his own pulse, coursing through his ears as though shells were pressed tight to his head. The next night was worse. The next night Javier's every shift and turn in the top bunk joined the beating of his heart. Each night since had added to the cacophony.

Jonah couldn't take the silence that wasn't silence anymore; he couldn't take the solitude. Two bunks. A toilet. A sink. Three thousand men on ten acres. Two shelves. Three books. One wallet-sized photo. Twenty-four hours a day without privacy or personal space. Two years without human contact - if he was lucky.

Javier's first words barely registered. They fell on Jonah's ears like rain on an arid plain, dancing on the hot cracked soil before finally penetrating. So long had he craved company, he didn't immediately recognize it. Once he did, he welcomed the deluge.

Javier was lonely too. Javier was locked in the same five by nine. They had little but this in common, but it was enough.

19 July 2006

Life on Mars

Once every few years, someone gets television right. Interesting characters, clever stories, and sparkling dialogue. Sometimes, early promise doesn't last for the long run, as in "The West Wing" and "The Gilmore Girls". Sometimes, the quality never fades - "The Shield" and "Cheers" being two that jump to mind. When a new show holds out promise of quality like this, we need to embrace it.

"Life on Mars" is such a show. It is insistent and demanding and one of the most original (television) ideas in years. Sam Tyler is a 21st century detective on the hunt for a serial killer. His estranged girlfriend, a fellow detective, follows a lead without backup and is abducted by the killer. Feeling responsible and powerless to save her, Sam pulls his car to the side of the road to compose himself...and is promptly struck. Waking up disoriented and confused, Sam finds himself in 1973, a detective on transfer to Manchester.

Here's where "Life on Mars" becomes more than its pitch. Though convinced he's in a coma (there's certainly evidence pointing to that,) for the most part he accepts the virtual as real and functions. While in many ways this is a fish out of water story, Sam is neither lost in his setting, nor more capable than those around him. His ways are different; they are not always better.

I've never been to Manchester, and certainly not in 1973; however, the city is a vital character here. The sterile, modern city Sam leaves is nothing like the messy, dirty, vibrant city in which he finds himself. The difference is obvious from the moment Sam wakes, and like "The Wizard of Oz", the explosion of color stands in sharp counterpoint to the monochrome world he's left behind.

David E. Kelley's producing a pilot for ABC based on the show, but I doubt it will compare to the original.

"Life on Mars" premieres on BBC America on Monday, July 24. And don't ignore the music.

17 July 2006

Our Marilyn

In uncertain times
An iconic blonde is called
Praise Paris Hilton

You can't win it, if you don't vote in it!

This is what we need to do: encourage more people to vote because of personal gain instead of a sense of civic responsibility. I'm sure these new voters will research the issues and candidates carefully, too.

As an aside, someone should let Randal know that there is a great deal of lightning in Arizona, which is why The University of Arizona has one of the bigger atmo-sci departments in the country.

If the general election in 2004 is a guide, when more than 2 million people voted, the 1-in-2-million odds of winning the election lottery would be far better than the Powerball jackpot (currently about 1 in 146,107,962) but not nearly as great as dying from a lightning strike (1 in 55,928).

“People buy a lot of lottery tickets now,” Mr. Osterloh said, “and the odds of winning this are much, much higher.” (And most of the time there is not much lightning in Arizona.)

U.S Copyright Code - In Verse!

This is amazing!!!

And there's nothing I can add. Just click through!

15 July 2006


(D???): Junior senator from CT, opportunistic media whore, right-winger masquerading as a moderate
(R): Senior senator from AZ, opportunistic media whore, right-winger masquerading as a moderate

From today's Times:

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and one of Mr. Lieberman’s closest friends in the Senate, called him “one of the most decent men I have ever known” and simply shook his head when asked about his friend’s situation. “I hesitate to say anything nice about him, for fear that it would be used against him,” Mr. McCain said. “And that’s a terrible commentary on the state of politics and the political climate today.”
You really can tell a lot about people from the friends they keep.

"...These Are Their Stories"

I was playing tennis this morning and some older gentlemen came to the court next to us for doubles. I overheard a snippet of conversation from them about one having jury duty this week. The comment that got me was something to the effect that if they were breathing, they were guilty.

Me, I see things a bit differently. I figure if an ADA's mouth is open, booze is going in. I figure if a cop's mouth is open, lies are coming out. And even if someone's guilty, the odds that some moron didn't screw up the case are slim.

Our criminal justice system is well designed, but the people filling too many of its roles are incompetent, ignorant, and just plain negligent.

14 July 2006

"Adult" Contemporary

Bill Simmons, who can write about his "wife" and "daughter" and how much he hates the WNBA all he wants but never convince anyone he's straight (90210???), dipped into the mailbag again today. There's a letter from one of his fans talking about this clip of Springsteen playing with the Wallflowers. There's all this gushing from the letter writer, followed by his "what's the sports equivalent" question.

Then Simmons answers. Chalk it up to not being closeted AND from Boston, I guess, but I'd never even heard this song before. But here's Bill's take:

The Wallflowers were flying pretty high at the time (looking back, you could even make the case that they were the most underrated mainstream band from the latter half of the '90s), and it's quite possible that Bruce completely derailed young Jakob, who already had enough of an uphill battle as Bob Dylan's son before another music legend hijacked his signature song as he was standing right there. I always thought the Wallflowers should have been bigger than they were. What would have happened if Bruce didn't agree to play the '97 VMAs? We may never know.
Did I miss the Wallflowers along with Norah Jones and Michael Bolton? Are those three even contemporary to each other? I have no frickin' clue...who else was in the Wallflowers? Julian Lennon?

13 July 2006

Schlesinger System: The Ultimate Card Counting Handbook

And he lost money while doing it!!!

11 July 2006

Buy This Book!

Incredibly nice guy, basketball coordinator extraordinaire, and writer Rob Ryder's book "Hollywood Jock" is out. The website's a bit much for me, and reviews are currently mixed, but I'll be ordering my copy this week.

Then again, I'm a frustrated writer, so I have a certain predisposition to enjoy this.

Arizona has a Senate Race, Too

I've been talking too much about the Ned and Joe show; I think it's time I said something about my local elections. It's just so easy to bad mouth John Kyl, I'm not sure where to start. Oh wait, I know...John Kyl is a lying, deceptive, sack of shit. But at least he and fellow traveler Lindsey Graham got caught. Thank you, Emily Bazelon.

Of course, Kyl's happy to save us from the "death tax" as well. Because we all know how much that hurts the common family. With that tiny little $2M minimum, I mean who doesn't have to worry about paying that tax? I know my parents are sure to leave me at least three oil wells, a Kennebunkport spread, and the Texas Rangers. Doesn't everyone get that much?

Unfortunately, I'm pissing in the wind here. These jackholes in Arizona will vote for whatever nutjobs are tossed their way, the whackier the better. They'd make Joe Stalin governor for life if it meant more traffic cameras and free borscht for the Minutemen.

His Coffee's Really Not That Bad

Josh Marshall posted this link to a new Ned Lamont ad. Cracked me up.

Certainly funnier than JL's crappy bear cub ad.

10 July 2006

I See Dumb People

Janet Maslin reviews a new book by Michael Bamberger - he of infamous drop fame - in which he followed M. Night Shyamalan - he of crappy movie fame - during the making of "Lady in the Water". A hack following a hack for a few months should lead to a little humor, but apparently the UIC quotient is sky-high.

Still, while reading a story of noise and futility as told by an idiot might be good for a few laughs, I just can't imagine suffering through the descriptions of hubris and the tone unwarranted adulation. My only real interest in this is for the Paul Giamatti stories (though they'd probably be few), and hoping that idjit writer might ask him about his father. You know, 'cause he's a sportswriter.

09 July 2006

730 Days, Part II

"Yo bitch, I'm talkin' to you.

"Oh, you must be trippin'. Suck yo' fuckin' teeth again, I'll knock 'em out yo' head."

Rising to his feet, Jonah closed his eyes, clenched and unclenched his fists, and then lowered his head. Three of the biggest, hardest men he'd ever seen were three short steps in front of him. While he knew the guards were watching, he assumed at best they'd make wagers. Their only interest in this fight would be in keeping it from escalating, and that just to protect their own necks. He opened his eyes, but kept his head down.

"Sorry, man. I don't want any trouble."

"You got trouble."

"Look, I'm sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going. It won't happen again."

"Best not. You wanna keep breathin' then move."

Jonah backed away, head bowed, eyes down. After a few yards, he turned, hoping the way would be clear. Three months inside and he'd been able to stay out of trouble. Today he'd been lucky. Today someone wanted trouble.

* * *

He'd loved these days growing up. Dark by four, threatening rain, and smelling like snow. The sudden wind kicking up little eddies of crackling leaves that scattered like children at play. Football games that lasted 'til long past dark. Trying to catch the first flakes of the season on his tongue. Hoping for a huge storm to cancel school. Hoping for a free day with no worries, no classes, no responsibilities.

Under this titanium sky, he just felt cold. The dampness made his knees hurt with echoes of those long ago games. The wind blew grit in his eyes and cut through him like a knife. Tightly clustered groups of sad and angry men were scattered about the yard. There was no hope in here. No free days, no free passes, and no end in sight.

Jonah pulled his collar up tighter and stood near the basketball court. He could sometimes lose himself watching the ebb and flow of the game, at least when there were no brawls. That was when the bangers, looking for a fight, found Jonah. They decided he was standing right where they needed to be, so they shoved him to the ground.

* * *

A light dusting of snow had fallen on the yard. He and Mike used to take their shovels and go house to house in the neighborhood when it snowed, but when the cover was this slight there were no takers. So instead, they'd scrape their shovels across the driveways, writing their names in soft, fat letters of cleared snow. They'd try to outdo each other with their renderings, but Mike would always have the more elaborate graffiti.

Soon enough, fresh snow would erase their efforts and their shoveling became utilitarian as reluctant neighbors became willing customers. Just once, Jonah wanted the snow to stop long enough for their fleeting names to last.

"Rec time's over, ladies! Let's go!"

08 July 2006

The Joe and Ned Show

I watched the debate off C-SPAN's crappy streaming server. Joe was alternately boring and whiny, Ned was alternately boring and something (and his voice is about a fifth too high for me to take seriously). Others in blogworld have commented already on Joe's multiple uses of Old Dutch's "there you go again", so let me just say that yes, it's very jarring. Even for someone who thinks of JL as an undercover agent for the GOP, you just don't expect a Democratic candidate to say something like that.

Those who thought it was a clear victory for either party are letting their bias guide their judgement. It was basically a tossup, maybe 52-48 in favor of JL. The fundmental problem is that Ned's neither a wonk nor a charismatic leader/speaker. For all his failings, JL's definitely a wonk. And while his debating technique is piss-poor, Ned's is just that crappy modern non-debate debate technique where you repeat your talking points and catch phrases.

I think JL shored up the primary vote with this, their only debate. I'd love to see him gone daddy gone, but it's not going to happen in this election.

07 July 2006

730 Days, Part I

Jonah examined the newest piece of lint he'd mined from his navel. He'd been at it for ten minutes, and was fairly certain this would be the last of it. Ever decreasing volume, ever increasing extraction time, ever less interest in the task. The small pile resting on his sternum did make him rethink his original volume estimates, though. He was tired and knew with sleep the time would pass faster, but he'd been delaying sleep since he was a boy, always fighting for another five minutes, another ten minutes.

Besides, it hardly mattered that he wanted to escape for a spell. He'd no guarantees his dreams would be escape.

A ghost danced in the periphery, and Jonah turned to catch it. Straining against the gloom, he tried to focus on the photo of Marisa taped to the mirror. Gingerly, he felt his way round the picture, as though crossing an unfamiliar room in the dark. Staying a few degrees off center, in the halo around the picture, he could just make out a curve of auburn hair against an alabaster face and the red moue of her lips (playing to the camera, never taking herself seriously) - varying shades of gray to his eyes, but memory filled in where senses left off. Comforted by the recollection of her face and happier days, he finally let himself look directly at her and she faded into the darkness of the cell. Javier shifted in the bunk above and his breathing grew more labored.

06 July 2006

Damn Reprehensible Jews!!!

Wait, I'm unclear...is Droney an anti-Semite, or an anti-anti-Semite?

“I find the behavior of a large segment of the Jewish community to be reprehensible and outrageous,” said John Droney, a former chairman of the state party who is advising Lieberman to run as an independent. “When he’s in trouble like this, they all ought to rally to him. It’s too bad that you have to listen to an Irish-American to realize that you’ve got to support your own home cooking.”
Blintzes and bialys for all!

So Droney's point is that people should back candidates of their own faith/ethnicity/race no matter what? The black community should wholeheartedly support Alan Keyes and crazy white folks David Duke? Using this calculus, shouldn't Droney be an unabashed fan of Pat Buchanan?

It's too bad that he has to listen to a Sarcastic-American to realize that he's batshit.

But I do like me some matzoh ball soup.

05 July 2006

Leather Bit and Bridle: Dare I Dream?

My favorite nutjob's at it again. I hope this recent setback will push us closer to the inevitable "Girls of the Lunatic Fringe" issue of Playboy. Or maybe just a ponygirl (horseygirl?) video on the Internets. There's precious little time left before she's completely desiccated like Maria Shriver. I'm not sure she can be rehydrated if she goes over that edge.

My sweet, insane centaur should be wary - lest she rile Ailes and rock Murdoch - or she might lose much of her media bandwidth. Biting the hand that feeds, and whatnot.

Yes, I have an Ann Coulter fetish. I'm not proud of it, but I'm not denying it.

Oh, Now I Get It Joe

My good buddy Joe Lieberman explains all in this letter. So, he's worried about low voter turnout, he's worried that Ned will "write bigger and bigger checks" (wouldn't that lead to higher turnout, if successful?), and he's worried because he knows his position on Iraq is untenable to progressives. He's right to be worried, but he's wrong if he thinks this is truly a one-issue race.

Joe was happy to run six years ago for two offices, risking one of Connecticut's Senate seats in order to have a cushion to fall back on. Now, he wants to do it again. Anyone who can't see him as the opportunist he's always been has been blinded, or dulled into a semi-conscious state by his voice.

Mommy, look at that wha...NOOO!!!!

What really sucks, is that just last week, Gertjan Toorenaar watched Mickey get gunned down at EuroDisney.

03 July 2006

Joe's a Spoiler

Ever the good Democrat, Joe says he'll run as an Independent should he lose to Ned Lamont. That's so nice of him, willing to go out there and take some of Connecticut's rightwing vote away from Alan Schlesinger, giving Ned a nice comfortable cushion.

What's good for R.J. Reynolds is good for America?

Coming out of Whole Foods today, I was approached by a dude in his twenties, teeth somewhere between Englishman and meth addict. He asked if I was a registered voter, and then started to discuss the initiative for which he needed signatures. I scanned the form, while only half listening to him. Titled the Non-Smoker Protection Act, I was momentarily hopeful.

Had the land of pickups and gun racks decided to make a bold leap forward? Were we going to join California and NY as places I could finally go to a bar? Not really. In fact, right there in the text, it specifically excludes bars. Prodded and poked, the Young One said he was here on behalf of bars that want to make sure smoking remains allowed. 'Cause nothing tastes so good as a cigarrette with a drink, he said.

So why the smokescreen? Why hang around Whole Foods collecting signatures for something called the Non-Smoker Protection Act? Who's backing this?

Big Tobacco is.

What's truly insidious about this ballot measure is that it would force a rollback in those cities that have pushed for full smoking bans - Tempe, Flagstaff, Prescott, and the like.

From the AZ Secretary of State's Initiative, Referendum and Recall Applications page:

The Arizona Non-Smoker Protection Act creates a balanced, reasonable, consistent, statewide non-smoking law, protecting minors and preserving private property rights. The Act will not raise taxes or create new government programs. The Act would prohibit smoking in enclosed public places and places of employment, except bars and tobacco shops. Minors are not permitted in any part of a bar or tobacco shop that permits smoking. Signs must notify patrons and employees where smoking is permitted. If part of a larger business, the bars and tobacco shops must be separated by floor to ceiling partitions and separate ventilation systems.
You wanna smoke, that's your perogative, but keep it out of my damn face. And don't tell me that bars and restaurants are going to go out of business - the research doesn't back that up.

If you're in AZ and want to vote for an initiative that would finally ban smoking in restaurants and bars, that would be the Smoke-Free Arizona Act
The Smoke-Free Arizona Act protects the right of Arizonans to breathe clean indoor air by prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places and places of employment. Breathing second hand smoke harms children, seniors and people with existing health problems the most. Enforcement by the Arizona Department of Health Services will be paid for by a tax on cigarettes of one tenth of one cent per cigarette. Limited exceptions are provided such as private residences, retail tobacco stores, and outdoor patios. No smoking signs will be posted in all areas where smoking is prohibited.

02 July 2006

Retarded or Braindead?

Over at the Post, the Washington Times new adjunct, with all that free time they've discovered having given up on investigative reporting, Hank Stuever has broken a story straight out of his Cub Scout Troop (registration required). Apparently, there are two camps of comic book fans - DC vs. Marvel. And he's made sure to tell us which is cooler.

DC was about younger kids in back yards, wearing bath towel capes, leaping from treehouses.
Interestingly enough, this is how I picture Hank on his days off.

Marvel was about older kids in basements, possibly stoned, deconstructing Thor.
Hank didn't get invited to these parties much, but he did play D&D with their younger brothers and eavesdrop.

DC: Comic books are a wonderful escape.
Yes, that "Dark Knight" sure was a romp in the park.

Marvel: Comic books are a dark refuge.
Boy, that "Thor" sure does brood.

DC, back then: Shlockarific television! "Batman" in the '60s (Ka-pow! Wham!), "The New Adventures of Wonder Woman" in the '70s. The toys, the cartoons, the read-along storybook LPs.
We can't all be cutting edge like Lou Ferrigno
or that classic live action "Spiderman" from back in the day.

Marvel, back then: Put out a comic book starring the rock band Kiss.
When I think cool, I think Kiss.

The list goes on, his carefully edited and anotated interviews with some of the big players from both companies "back" up his points, and he's very careful to elide all contradictory evidence. Based on historical longevity in the job, I'd expect to see Hank announced as the new White House Press Secretary in about 16 months.

This, I think, is one of the best lines (though there are so many good choices): "DC feels very Windows. Marvel feels very Mac." And like the best Mac bigots, his blinders are firmly attached. Y'all know I think Windows sucks, but it's not like OSX is some revelatory experience either.