Archive for July, 2005

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

“He thinks he’s an unborn caterpillar. He claims it’s safer than being human.”

-Disco Godfather (also known as Avenging Disco Godfather), a hilarious blaxploitation flick in which Rudy Ray Moore of Dolemite fame does battle with the evils of PCP.

And, of course, there’ll be cats.


The shadowy and mysterious Codename F.

The shadowy and mysterious Codename F. is rather tricky to photograph, as she’s one of those kitties who will make a beeline straight at you, trying to figure out what that weird thing on your face is. She’s also an indoor kitty, so I didn’t have much light to work with.Posted by Picasa

5 comments July 29th, 2005 at 09:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Out-Of-Context Literary Weirdness, Part II

You know how some books have a rundown of “dramatis personae” at the end? From the book I just finished (and will need to blog about when I have some more time), Ilium by Dan Simmons, this is quite possibly the greatest dramatis personae entry Of All Time:

Orphu of Io: eight-ton, six-meter-long, crab-shaped, heavily armored hard-vac moravec who works in the sulfur-torus of Io; Proust enthusiast.

5 comments July 29th, 2005 at 12:40am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Quotes,Weirdness

Out-Of-Context Literary Weirdness

From the book I just started, Heaven by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen:

He knew that there would be squids in the lemon trees again, and most likely crabs in the sagegrass as well.

Like all of No-Moon’s sailors, Second-best Sailor always carried a piece of his wife with him, locked away in a mesh closet in his cabin so that the waters could flow over her and keep her healthy. A wifepiece was the best way to maintain mental equilibrium and physical condition on the long voyages away from the home lagoon.

…Second-best Sailor’s father, Talkative Forager, had won a sailor suit in a game of float-the-cube.

And that’s just in the first twelve pages! I have high hopes.

1 comment July 29th, 2005 at 12:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Quotes,Weirdness

B&W Blogging From The Aeroport

Well, here I am in the Pittsburgh International Airport’s wireless food court, having finished a wireless blueberry strawberry kiwi smoothie and having no other ideas on how to divert myself. So I present, for your viewing pleasure, the first in my acclaimed photographic series, Black & White Delivery Trucks Of Pittsburgh, taken entirely during my Grand Excursion To Get A Telephoto Zoom Lens.

Truly, we live in exciting times indeed. I’m sure the space aliens will agree.


Delivery truck, cleverly spotted by me as it tried to make itself small.


A completely different delivery truck altogether. They’re everywhere! Posted by Picasa

3 comments July 28th, 2005 at 12:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Zoomendipity

I was testing out my new 70-300mm telephoto zoom lens yesterday, and when I tried to take a picture of the saint on top of a church, the exposure on my first attempt was way way over. But when I saw it on the computer, I realized that I kinda dug it that way.


I would probably find this even cooler if I was religious…

Or even more blasphemous, I dunno. Posted by Picasa

1 comment July 28th, 2005 at 01:28am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

You Know You Want To. Just Admit It.

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has made an excellent suggestion. I believe that future generations of space aliens can benefit immeasurably from my scintillating wisdom and prose. And photographs of my own hair.

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has also helpfully gathered 93.6% of the world’s collective awesomeness in one convenient location. WARNING: You may need protective eyewear to protect yourself from all the concentrated awesomeness.

1 comment July 27th, 2005 at 07:04pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness

Mwahahahaha!!!

From one of the NY Daily News’s gossip columns:

Famed editor Jason Epstein, husband of jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, has lately been making himself scarce at the federal facility in Virginia where his wife has been incarcerated for the past three weeks.

(snip)

In a frothy social column yesterday about a celeb-glutted Mediterranean cruise, featuring everyone from Isabella Rossellini to J.K. Rowling aboard the ocean liner Silver Shadow, the New York Sun’s A.L. Gordon revealed:

“One passenger with his mind soberly on home is the literary icon Jason Epstein. … Ms. Miller would have been on the cruise had she not gone to jail.”

His wife’s in the slammer and he cruises the Med?

“We all serve our time in our own way,” quipped Miller’s attorney Robert Bennett.

My pal Christopher Buckley, comic novelist and editor of Forbes FYI, imagined what Epstein might have said to Miller prior to his departure.

“Darling, I’m sure it’s not going to be a very nice cruise. I hear they don’t even have beluga caviar, just a slightly inferior grade of osetra, and I’m sure the Champagne will be, well, not too warm exactly, but probably not as chilled as I normally like it. And I’m sure people will get seasick and there won’t be anyone interesting to talk to, nor any beautiful unattached women.

“Darling, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself even if it were a nice cruise. While I’m dining on foie gras, I will be thinking only of you, sitting behind bars in 110-degree heat, eating baloney and being brutalized by prison matrons.”

Ummm, I mean, that’s terrible. Really.

1 comment July 27th, 2005 at 10:09am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Media,Wankers

Keep Trying, Tom!

Tom Friedman almost gets it right! Buried under quivering layers of flabby, clunky prose is a bright shiny kernel of what’s-wrong-with-America truth:

Talk to U.S. business executives and they’ll often comment on how many of China’s leaders are engineers, people who can talk to you about numbers, long-term problem-solving and the national interest – not a bunch of lawyers looking for a sound bite to get through the evening news. America’s most serious deficit today is a deficit of such leaders in politics and business.

I think Captain Obvious is really quite spot-on with this. Lawyers are not bad in and of themselves, but their role (at its best and purest) is to argue and persuade and advocate, not to manage or lead or fix or strategize (no offense intended to my legal friends – it’s just that the words, “We need someone to run our business/country” are rarely followed by the words, “I know! Let’s hire a lawyer!”). Unfortunately, the central problem with Republicans today is that their idea of problem-solving is to convince everyone that they’ve fixed the problem, or that there is no problem – as opposed to, you know, actually fixing the problem.

In addition to the usual bad writing, Friedman also misses on one of the key facets of his own premise (“America needs to be more like Lance Armstrong!”) by not saying anything about integrity or decency. Does anyone remember a few years ago when one of Lance’s chief rivals fell, and Lance hung back and waited for him rather than taking advantage to rack up a lead? He didn’t think it would be fair or sportsmanlike. Sure, I can see a lot of Democrats doing this, but no Republicans – they might hang back too, but only to kick their fallen adversary in the nuts and then steal his tires.

I have the same why-aren’t-more-politicians-like-this reaction when I hear about golfers like David Toms assessing stroke penalties or even disqualifying themselves from tournaments because they think they might have committed an infraction that no-one else even noticed. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what we have now, where the ruling party is trying (successfully) to minimize and deflect the impact of torture, treason, and election-gaming, rather than owning up to it and accepting appropriate penalties. Or, better yet, not perpetrating it in the first place.

I’m not 100% sure that we want engineers running everything (probably not realistic in an electoral democracy anyway), but I do agree that we need more accountable problem-solvers and fewer butt-covering problem-spinners.

2 comments July 27th, 2005 at 09:38am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Sports,Wankers

Oh Well.

I ended my PC’s continuous uptime streak a couple of hours shy of 135 days. There was a really bad thunderstorm (there were a couple of lightning strikes that blacked everything out very briefly and made my intercom squeal alarmingly), and pushing the envelope just wasn’t worth a slagged PC. Of course, nothing happened, so I could have just let it keep rolling…

The upside is, I finally got the chance to install my no-longer-new DVD burner (arrived back in March) and my new superfast 10,000 RPM SATA hard drive, which I intend to use as my system drive. The downside is, the hard drive/hard drive cooler install was a nightmare, and I’m having all kinds of trouble switching over to use the new drive as my system drive (I couldn’t even use Ghost to make an image of my current system drive, so I had to copy the partition with PartitionMagic). I could probably re-install Windows, but I really don’t want to reinstall everything else, too.

In slightly less-geeky news, I bought a 70-300mm Nikon telephoto zoom lens, which should help with the softball action shots, and any wildlife I might happen to encounter in the (cough) wilds of Pittsburgh.

Probably pretty light posting for the next week, as I’ll be pretty busy tomorrow, and then I’ll be on vacation, visiting the shadowy and mysterious Codename V.

2 comments July 26th, 2005 at 11:48pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Random Photoblogging

No political rants coming to mind just yet (then again, I might just have something – no, wait, Gilliard’s got it already), so I’ll get a couple of random, completely unrelated photos out of my system.


It’s a moth! It kinda looks like it’s hitching a ride on the out-of-focus minivan reflection! It’s…

I got nothin’.

I actually wanted to circle ’round in hopes of getting a freaky backlit shot of the moth’s underside against a field of bright white light, but the door closing scared it off. I’ll get you next time, Mr. Moth! And I got news for ya: That ain’t no tree, dumbass!


Anxiety is trying to take pictures while waiting for the bus, knowing you’re The Slowest Photographer In The World.

Dang. I just realized I used this one already…Posted by Picasa

2 comments July 25th, 2005 at 09:42pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Quote Of The Day

“Bad girl! Don’t wipe your butt on the carpet through telekinesis!”

- The Andy Milonakis Show

This is quite possibly the stupidest show I have ever seen on television, and it made me laugh out loud. Repeatedly. By myself.

Other sketches (and I use the word loosely) include a rabid John Stamos in a tree; a commercial for spoons; lots of surrealistic mind games with hapless delivery guys; and a rather awkward tea with his turtle’s parents, who are concerned that Andy is a bad influence.

A must-see if you are even remotely stupid.

2 comments July 25th, 2005 at 08:56pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Quotes

Memophilia

From NYMary…

List ten songs that you are currently digging…it doesn’t matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they’re no good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they’re listening to.

Well, I generally just let my iPod cycle through in alphabetical order at work, so I don’t really hone in on any specific songs. Generally speaking, when I need to put together a quick playlist at home, it’s usually New Pornographers, Killers, and Keane. I’ll try to “current-load” my favorite songs, but this is probably more of a mix of current favorites and all-time favorites, in no particular order:

1. “It’s Only Divine Right”, by The New Pornographers. Love the keyboard on this one. They have at least two other songs that could easily go on this list as well.

2. “Mr. Brightside”/”Somebody Told Me”, by The Killers. Honestly, I just cannot choose here. Both absolutely great songs – I like “Somebody Told Me” more musically, but I just can’t resist the bitterness and anger of “Mr. Brightside”.

3. “Bend And Break”, by Keane. I also like “Somewhere Only We Know”, but I like the melody of this one better. Man, what a voice. Even sounds good live on SNL, which is rare, IMO.

4. “Hatred”, by The Kinks. Not sure why this song never became popular. I find it catchy, and angry and bitter is always a plus.

5. “Asleep In Perfection”, by Augie March. Just exquisite. Beautiful, beautiful song.

6. “Skin Deep”, by The Stranglers. Smoothly sinister in both lyrics and music. Had a pretty keen video, too.

7. “I Go To Work”, by Kool Moe Dee. I’m not a huge rap fan, but the lyrics are great, and the horns really make it work musically. Best. Rap. Song. Ever. I’m sure that’s probably blasphemy, but what the hell.

8. “Please Remember Me”, by The Swans. I found this song by accident, mislabeled as “100″ by Nick Cave, who my girlfriend and I are big fans of. It turned out to not be Cave, or even anyone in Cave’s orbit, and my girlfriend drove several huge Cave fans mad trying to figure out what it was. It’s very spooky and haunting, and everyone I know of who’s heard it has really dug it, including the Cave fans.

9. “Sonne”, by Rammstein. I really like Rammstein, but most of their songs are relentlessly driving and ugly-in-a-good-way. “Sonne”, however, has a chorus that mingles their usual German gutturals with very ethereal female vocals, and the effect is just beautiful. And the video where they’re the Seven Dwarves and Snow White is a sexual sadist who shoots up the gold they mine, well, that’s just icing on the cake. They also have a video with soccer-playing ants…

10. “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”, by The Darkness. Very catchy, and I like how the lead singer’s voice always seems to be just on the verge of spinning completely out of control. And yet another cool video. If this video were somehow beamed back in time to the 70s, these guys would have been worshipped as GODS.

Really, there’s at least 10 more songs that could easily go on this list – I think it’s probably just a matter of what day you catch me on. Some honorable mentions:

Rolling Stones – “Paint It Black”
Oingo Boingo – “Not My Slave”
Bach – “Singet Dem Herrn Ein Neues Lied”
AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”
Erasure – “I Love To Hate You”
Benny Goodman – “Sing Sing Sing (With A Swing)”
Nick Cave – “Nature Boy”, “Supernaturally”, “There She Goes My Beautiful World”
Delerium – “A Poem For Byzantium”
Sisters Of Mercy – “This Corrosion”
Europe – “The Final Countdown”
The Jack Rubies – “Wrecker Of Engines”

And so on (okay, more than 10)…

I’m not sure I can come up with 5 people who haven’t been tagged already either, so if you want to list your Current Top Ten here or at your own place, please feel free.

8 comments July 24th, 2005 at 10:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Memes,Music

Sunday Softball Blogging

Kind of a Jekyll & Hyde doubleheader today. I was only 2-for-7 in the first game, but I did great on defense – had an inning where I made all three putouts, had some good catches and was throwing really well (forced one runner out at second, made some strong throws to the plate to hold runners at third). I was 6-for-8 with a double in the second game, but my defense mostly fell apart. So an all-defense game, and an all-offense game, pretty much. Net result: 8-for-15 with a double, 5 runs, and 3 RBIs.

Oh, and my team got crushed in both games, despite reshuffling the teams between games. The good news, I think I have my stroke back after being pretty lost for a few games.

Current Stats: 21 games, .555 BA (86-155), 14 2B, 1 3B, 49 runs, 27 RBI.


Oh, perfect ball placement…


More excellent ball placement, although it’d be cool if it was just a little bit lower… Posted by Picasa

Pictures are a little grainy – I forgot to change my “film” speed back after some indoor shots. On the plus side, I had nice action-freezing shutter speeds… On the minus side, I was out in the field when the two deer appeared in right field. Dang.

July 24th, 2005 at 09:37pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Softball

Oops. Never Mind. Terribly Sorry About That Whole Shooting-You-To-Death Thing

Okay, raise your hand if this surprises you:

The British police said today that a man officers chased and then gunned down at point-blank range in front of horrified subway passengers on Friday had nothing to do with the inquiries into London’s wave of bombings.

(snip)

“Nevertheless the man who was shot was under police observation because he had emerged from a house that was itself under observation because it was linked to the investigation of yesterday’s incidents,” Friday’s statement said.

“He was then followed by surveillance officers to the station. His clothing and his behaviour at the station added to their suspicions,” the statement said, apparently referring to reports that the man was wearing bulk jacket on a summer’s day.

Seems like the bar for use of deadly force has been set pretty low. In a civilized country like the U.S., he merely would have been put away in Gitmo for the rest of his natural life without legal recourse – that’s how real democracies do things.

7 comments July 23rd, 2005 at 03:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Terrorism,Wankers

Speaking Treason Fluently

A friend of mine at work tipped me off to this David Corn post, which features absolutely devastating testimony from an former CIA case officer James Marcinkowski (I apologize for the length, but this was so good I had trouble cutting anything):

The secrets of Valerie Plame’s cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable….

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because “promises of protection” will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear–politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political “success” in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere “paper-pusher,” or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the “degree” of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the “I’m ok, you’re ok” politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don’t care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That’s the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.

I know I’ve probably over-excerpted here, but Marcinowski does a great job of cutting through all the Republican and media bullshit to remind us of the true magnitude of the crime, and the moral bankruptcy and recklessness of the coverup.

Your serve, Dr. Dean.

July 23rd, 2005 at 02:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Wankers

They Didn’t Even Get Two Types Of Fruit!

(By way of Ol’ Froth) For anyone who has ever played The Sims, or even knows anyone who has ever played The Sims, this is absolutely brilliant. This person is completely sick, and my new hero.

July 22nd, 2005 at 07:13pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Favorites

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

“I don’t want to alarm you, but every time you… do it, it takes two full pints of blood to replace it.”

- from The Cement Garden, a rather creepy Australian movie where a teenage brother and sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) decide to keep their parents’ recent deaths a secret so that the authorities won’t come and take them and their little brother and sister away. They basically take on the roles of parents to the smaller children, but they, um, perhaps get a bit carried away as to the extent of their, ah, marital duties…

And, once again, someone else’s cat…


Roger’s kitty Mocha. Gotta love B&W for the B&W kitties. Posted by Picasa

July 22nd, 2005 at 06:20pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

Truck Me!


Way back in the dim, unremembered mists of my childhood, I loooooved trucks. And this one time, I was so excited by the sight of a toy truck, that I yelled “TRUUUUCK!!!!” at the top of my wee lungs in the middle of a crowded store.

Unfortunately, I was too young to pronounce “truck” 100% correctly…


Cool shadows on a payphone while I was waiting for the bus. Had to shoot a little faster than usual for fear of missing the bus – I’m usually molasses-slow and bracket obsessively.Posted by Picasa

1 comment July 22nd, 2005 at 12:16am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Wednesday Softball Blogging

Well, the average continues to slowly decline, but at least I was productive. 4-for-8, but with a bases-loaded 2-run double, a triple, 3 runs, and 3 RBIs. Discerning baseball fans will note that I was a home run shy of the cycle, which was not lost on me, and didn’t really help my hitting too much. A home run would theoretically not be that hard for me to hit, even as power-deficient as I am – I just have to get the ball over, past, or between the outfielders in left, where it’ll roll a long, long way – but it hasn’t even come close to happening yet.

Not too shabby in the field, except for one line drive that I completely and utterly lost in the sun, which is just brutal in left, and had to fight off the sun to just barely catch another one. Pretty good day throwing – managed to hold one or two people to triples on balls to the wall, and helped throw someone out at home plate, so that’s something. My arm is not that great, but throwing the ball just feels really good – and like with hitting, the better the throw/hit, the better it feels.

Went out with the other players afterwards, and a good time was had by all – but I probably stayed out a bit too late…

Current Stats: 19 games, .553 BA (78-141), 13 2B, 1 3B, 44 runs, 24 RBI.

Took some action shots this time, although it’s a bit more difficult with the fading light and all. I’ll try bumping up my “film” speed next week.


This was admittedly probably more impressive if you saw it live, but it was one hell of a catch. Please, take my word for it and make appropriate oohs and aahs.


Deep down, I know I really shouldn’t use this shot, but I still kinda like it… Posted by Picasa

2 comments July 21st, 2005 at 12:53am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Softball

Deanyaanisqatsi…

Well. Just got back (well, when I started writing this, anyway…) from Howard Dean’s appearance at the Church Brew Works here in Pittsburgh, and it was a most excellent time, I must say. The food was good, the company was excellent – I sat at a table with both a fellow Liberal Drinker and a fellow Atriot (spork_incident, who I found to be a charming and erudite companion – I think Hoyt stopped by our table briefly as well, but he didn’t recognize us, and I wasn’t sure enough to say anything) – and El Medico Dean was fired up and brought lots of red meat, and he hit almost every possible target.

Money line of the night was early: “The Republicans have brought a culture of corruption to Washington,” and he hammered at an overarching theme that the Democrats are the party with real morals and convictions. Some other noteworthy highlights, not necessarily in any kind of order, including chronological:

  • He challenged Bush to fire Rove, and show that he values the cover and safety of an undercover agent working for our security more than he values protecting a loyal crony and political operative.
  • He took a swipe at Santorum, referring to him as one of Virginia’s senators, and also pointed out DeLay’s ethics deficiencies as further examples of Republican “moral values”.
  • He made the point (in defense of Bob Casey, Jr.) that he would much rather have a pro-life Democrat in his corner than a pro-life Republican – because pro-life Democrats at least care about children after they’re born. And, of course, he mentioned that there were fewer abortions under Clinton than Bush.
  • He emphasized that Democrats must campaign and try to compete everywhere, not just in blue states and swing states. We can’t just write off Mississippi, or we’ll guarantee that we’ll never win there.
  • He spoke of the need to count every vote – he expressed admiration for the Oregon law that prohibits use of any voting system that cannot be recounted by hand, and asked How Dare Republicans make a show of trying to attract blacks and Latinos while at the same time trying to repress their votes.
  • He pointed out Bush’s cocoon and imperial arrogance in a very interesting way, saying that when he was governor of Vermont, he considered the people his boss, that even the ones who didn’t vote for him still paid his salary. But President Bush, by contrast, will not even allow any of the 48% of the country who voted against him to participate in any of the town hall meetings he’s been holding all across the country, and Dean drew a line from that to the incredible political incivility that has taken over this country.
  • He also shared an anecdote about when he asked a young evangelical Christian woman why she supported him – she said she disagreed with most of what he stood for, but the Texas Republicans had screwed over her family’s healthcare, and she (and other evangelicals) placed a great value on convictions, especially in positions of high office, and she felt Dean had them, and Republicans didn’t (he also disparaged the notion that Democrats should be centrist “Republican Lite”).

I thought the convictions anecdote was telling, and seemed like it might be the start of a strategy to pre-emptively inoculate for whoever runs in 2008, so they don’t get the same politically-expedient-waffler tag that Gore and Kerry got stuck with. Someone else (spork_incident, I believe) also observed that this appeared to be a concerted effort to encroach on the Republicans’ own turf, by appealing to morality and convictions, and trying to make common cause with pro-lifers. Hopefully it will be enough to peel off some non-insane evangelicals, although I won’t bet money on it.

Basically, if this is the message and strategy Dean wants the Democratic party to adopt, then I feel pretty good about it. The only major theme I’m sorry he didn’t cover was The War On Terror – the Republicans have done a shite job at it before and after 9/11, and they need to be called on it, repeatedly. I would have liked to hear more about the Downing Street Memos and how Bush lied us into war, but Plamegate at least touches on that indirectly. I also would have liked to see him follow Hillary’s lead and address the lapdogginess of the media, but that’s maybe just my obsession, and might not have been appropriate or necessary for a fire-up-the-faithful address like this one.

And I realize this is a bit strange, but spork_incident backs me up (or at least humors me) on this: When Howard smiles, he looks a bit like the middle-aged, Monsieur Verdoux/Limelight-vintage Charlie Chaplin.

5 comments July 19th, 2005 at 09:25pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Coolness,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Libby/Plame,Pittsburgh/PA,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Terrorism

Ohhh, Doctor!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this is probably not ethical behavior…

The founder of a company that runs answering services for doctors tried to destroy a competitor by hacking into the firm’s computer so that patients heard either a busy signal or sexual moaning when they tried to call their physicians, the Westchester district attorney said Tuesday.

(snip)

The district attorney said the complaint specifies that for three days in November, Martin “interfered with the ability of Statcomm to conduct business” by hacking into the computer so that patients heard either a busy signal or “groaning, moaning in a sexual nature.”

He also had a moving company show up at Statcomm with a phony order to pick up six boxes of Statcomm material for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, she said. In addition, he made “crank and threatening phone calls” to Statcomm employees and sent forged audit announcements to 160 Statcomm customers, Pirro said.

Ya know, Rove may need a successor pretty soon…

July 19th, 2005 at 03:58pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

Do The Ends Justify The Meanness?

Interesting Paleo-CSI article in NYT’s Science Times today:

After waiting 9 years to get a close look at Kennewick Man, the 9,000-year-old skeleton that was found on the banks of the Columbia River in 1996 and quickly became a fossil celebrity, a team of scientists spent 10 days this month examining it.

They looked at teeth, bones and plaque to determine how he lived, what he ate and how he died. They studied soil sedimentation and bone calcium for clues to whether he was ritually buried, or died in the place where he was found. They measured the skull, and produced a new model that looks vastly different from an earlier version.

(snip)

American Indian tribes in the desert of the Columbia River Basin claimed the man as one of their own, calling him the Ancient One. The tribes planned to close off further examination and to bury the remains, in accordance with a federal law that says the government must turn over Indian remains to native groups that can claim affiliation with them.

A group of scientists sued, setting off a legal battle, while the bones remained in the custody of the Army Corps of Engineers.

In 2002, a federal magistrate, John Jelderks of Portland, Ore.,
ruled that there was little evidence to support the idea that Kennewick “is related to any identifiable group or culture, and the culture to which he belonged may have died out thousands of years ago.”

I’m not really sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I’m inclined to embrace the process of scientific discovery, but on the other, I sometimes cringe at the arrogance that accompanies it. How do you draw the line where scientific discovery is “worth” this kind of cultural insensitivity, or subjecting animals to unimaginable torture?

I think this is perhaps an inevitable liberal conflict, where reverence for Science Advancing The Frontiers Of Human Knowledge And Banishing Ignorance butts up against the instinct to respect other cultures and defend animal rights – especially in a case like this where there is no clear profit motive (unlike, say, inhumane mistreatment of livestock, or using animals to test cosmetics).

I suppose the question ultimately comes down to whether the ends justify the means. Is it worth defiling someone’s ancestor to learn a little bit more about prehistoric Americans? Is it worth subjecting helpless animals to excruciating pain to find a cure for cancer, or a new eyeliner formula? Is it worth defiling some embryos slated for destruction to find a cure for cancer or paralysis? Is it worth invading another country without provocation to prevent an imminent WMD attack, defeat terrorism, liberate people from oppression, spread democracy, secure an oil supply, or just so you can prance around in a flightsuit and look like a tough guy?

I think we all draw the lines in different places, but I believe conservatives are willing to embrace more ruthless means in the pursuit of more speculative (and concealed) ends than liberals are, which makes me wonder once again if those political labels are really still appropriate.

2 comments July 19th, 2005 at 02:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Science

How About That?

This kinda jumped out at me after the “You do not cut off Ernie Harwell” conversation on Eschaton a couple of nights ago – NY Newsday columnist Steve Zipay muses about Curt Smith’s book, “Ranking Baseball’s 101 All-Time Best Announcers”.

Based on 10 categories, such as voice, longevity, knowledge, linguistic creativity and network exposure (and including TV announcers and analysts), Smith ranks [Vin] Scully No. 1, followed by Mel Allen, Harwell, Jack Buck, Red Barber, Harry Caray, Bob Prince, Jack Brickhouse, Dizzy Dean and Lindsey Nelson.

Some other notables: Curt Gowdy (12), [Bob] Uecker (13), Jon Miller (14), Joe Garagiola (15), Tim McCarver (17), Bob Costas (18), Bob Murphy (20), Ned Martin (21), Al Michaels (22), Bob Woolf (23), Harry Kalas (25), Niehaus (26), Phil Rizzuto (27), Tony Kubek (36), Dick .Enberg (38), Joe Buck (39), [Denny] Matthews (47), Sean McDonough (52), Joe Morgan (60), DeWayne Staats (67), [Bill] King (72), Gary Thorne (77), Bill White (80).

XM’s random survey of 2,547 fans, conducted by Harris Interactive, is more a barometer of popularity. The top 20: Caray, Scully, Uecker, Allen, Dean, Harwell, Garagiola, Rizzuto, Jack Buck, Gowdy, Barber, Brickhouse, Michaels, Chuck Thompson, Kalas, Murphy, Marlins voice Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, Nelson, Milo Hamilton and Russ Hodges.

I might quibble about the order, but it’s tough to argue with a Top 4 of Vin Scully, Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, and Jack Buck. Red Barber’s before my time, and Harry Caray I just don’t get (although the Will Ferrell version cracks me right up). I would put Bob Murphy, voice of the Mets from their inception until just a couple of years ago, up a lot higher – he truly had one of the great baseball voices of all time, like a brassier Mel Allen. And for non-baseball, Pittsburgh’s own Myron Cope is one of the all-time greats.

Anyone else have any favorite or least favorite baseball (or other) announcers)? I personally can’t stand John Madden, Dick Vitale, Chris Berman, Bill Raftery, Hubie Brown, or Lon Simmons (IIRC, he’s the guy with the annoyingly mannered, trailing-off “Tell it goodbye…” home run call).

July 19th, 2005 at 12:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Media,Sports

Who Knew?

Apparently the girl who played Winnie on The Wonder Years is some kind of math genius.

“Her mathematics knowledge extends well beyond calculus. As a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, she also took more esoteric classes, the ones with names like “complex analysis” and “real analysis,” and she pondered making a career move to professional mathematician.

“I love that stuff,” Ms. McKellar said last month during a visit to Manhattan after a play-reading in the Hamptons. Her conversation was peppered with terminology like “epsilons” and “limsups” (pronounced “lim soups”).

“I love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not,” she said.

She may also be the only actress, now or ever, to prove a new mathematical theorem, one that bears her name. Certainly, she is the only theorem prover who appears wearing black lingerie in the July issue of Stuff magazine. Even in that interview, she mentioned math.

Who among us doesn’t love continuous functions and proving if functions are continuous or not?

Life is strange indeed.

July 19th, 2005 at 12:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Science,TV

Subtacular!

The shadowy and mysterious Codename V. has uncovered yet another sign of the Apocalypse.

Subtitles needed.

1 comment July 18th, 2005 at 06:22pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Sports,Weirdness

Thrown For A Lupica

Whoa. Didn’t see this coming. NY Daily News sportswriter Mike Lupica, of all people:

I guess it’s asking too much for Karl Rove to come out of the White House someday with a raincoat over his head, but that’s just my upbeat, optimistic way of looking at things.

Rove’s strategy on almost all things is just a variation of a line from “The Untouchables”:

They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.

In the case of Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie, it wasn’t quite as dramatic, but went something like this:

The White House philosophy, apparently, is that if you don’t like what somebody like Wilson is saying – in this case, about the White House’s nuke-scare pretext for going to war in Iraq – start telling reporters the guy’s wife is a CIA agent.

That’s how Rove operates and has always operated and why Paul Krugman accurately portrayed him as a “thug” the other day in the Times.

If it’s made it to the sports pages, it must be in the zeitgeist, right?

1 comment July 17th, 2005 at 11:40pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Libby/Plame,Media,Politics,Rove,Sports

Sunday Softball Blogging

Ugh. We squeaked out a one-run win, but a pretty crappy game for me. Started out well, 4 for my first 5 with 2 runs and and an RBI, but closed out with an unproductive 1-for-6 (so 5-for-11 overall), with much choking with runners in scoring position. Defense was okay except for one bad drop; not too many fly balls, but I was throwing pretty well…

Oh, and something stung or bit or stuck me really badly on my heel when I was trying to retrieve a batting practice home run. No idea what it was, but I saw something flying off after a really sharp, stabbing pain completely out of proportion to the size of the wound. I don’t think it was a sting, it’s not swollen or itchy or anything. And I had a ball ricochet off my other shin… Fun times.

Current Stats: 18 games, .556 BA (74-133), 12 2B, 41 runs, 21 RBI.

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No action shots today – we were 5-on-5, so when I wasn’t hitting or baserunning, I was pitching, catching or playing first – not much time for photos.

4 comments July 17th, 2005 at 06:02pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Softball

To Frame Or Not To Frame?

Long, interesting article in this week’s NYT Magazine about the Democrats’ embrace of Lakoff and framing. It starts out with the Democrats finally realizing that they’ve been out-messaged by the Republicans shortly before the 2004 election (and much more so afterwards) and embracing Lakoff and various other framing experts, but then veers into wondering whether the recent Democratic successes in fighting off Social Security privatization and the nuclear option were due to expert framing, or just good old-fashioned party discipline.

Unfortunately, Matt Bai then veers even further, and suggests that framing isn’t working for the Democrats because they don’t even have a message to frame. That the Republican platform can be summed up in eight words, and the Democratic one takes 5-10 minutes. This, I think, is unfair. I think a core Democratic message can be boiled down pretty easily, to something centering on fairness and opportunity for everyone, in contrast to the Republicans’ philosophy of soak-the-poor-and-coddle-the-rich. There are other elements, like fiscal responsibility, making sure the planet doesn’t die, and not starting unnecessary wars, but I think fairness is what they need to lead with, to appeal to that core American mythology that anyone can make it in the land of opportunity, if they’re just willing to work hard enough.

And as far as framing the other party, the Democrats must do a better job of portraying the Republicans as amoral, corrupt, unaccountable fatcats and intolerant religious fanatics who only care about the rich and corporate and uber-Christian, and who want to control everyone’s private life and moral choices.

They also need to remind everyone that the media is owned by the very same corporations which benefit from Republican rule. It is vitally important that the “liberal media” myth be destroyed – until the media are either reformed or seen for the corporate shills they really are, the Republicans will keep coming back, and will continue running roughshod over this country without being held accountable for it. The best we could hope for would be 8-12 years of Republican dominance, followed by 4 years of an ineffectual Democratic president, followed by another 8-12 years of Republican dominance, and so forth.

So, are the recent successes due to expert framing or party discipline? I don’t know. Just to be on the safe side, let’s keep using both.

1 comment July 17th, 2005 at 12:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Rove,Wankers

Literary Catching-Up

I’ll get to my current book in a later post, but I wanted to cover the one I finished recently first. It’s an anthology of Theodore Sturgeon short stories called Beyond. I’m sure I’ve read Sturgeon before, especially in my voracious youth, but I don’t associate him with anything. I think that’s changed now.

We have:

A story called “Need”, where one of the characters can sense the needs of others, uncomfortably so. So he roams around as sort of a freelance fixer, working to satisfy everyone’s needs (except junkies, who he runs out of town). The thing is, he’s not a very nice or compassionate guy – he’s kind of a shady jerk, really – but he acts like a humanitarian just to make the Need go away.

Another one where a tinkerer working on a special radio transmitter jerry-rigs a mutton-bone in tinfoil as a makeshift condenser, and discovers that anyone hooked up to the radio experiences the entire life of the bone’s original owner.

Another one where the human race, dying off at the height of its powers, decides to designate a successor and hand off all its vast wealth of knowledge to… the otters.

But I think my personal favorite is the one about this broken-down drunken sailor, who has permanent DTs (“the horrors”), gets washed up on a desert island inhabited by intelligent, telepathic worms (well, more like twined pairs of tentacles with an underground body), who offer to obey his every whim if he agrees to kill the giant cannibalistic worm that lives in the middle of the island, and which will eventually grow large enough to reach anywhere on the island.

Strange, strange stuff. Will need to get my hands on some more Sturgeon, I think…

1 comment July 16th, 2005 at 04:09pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Books,Coolness,Weirdness

Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

From The Frisco Kid, a bizarro western comedy with Gene Wilder as a Jewish outlaw…

Mister, would you help me please? I’m not much good at explaining myself – I mostly just start to cry.

And, of course, there’ll be cats.

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Introducing… Mocha. She’s my friend Roger’s kitty, and very silly – she likes to lie on her side and hitch herself along by her claws.

4 comments July 15th, 2005 at 06:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Friday Quote & Cat Blogging

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