Archive for July 19th, 2005

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


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