So I went out last night on a photographic mission…
I wanted to get a picture of these with some cool extreme evening shadows on them, but there was a building blocking the sunlight. Bugger.
But, on my way back home, I did meet this very sweet and affectionate tuxedo kitty:
I’m calling him “Gollum.”
I seriously thought about taking Gollum home, but I just couldn’t get around all the logistical questions, especially without a car. I feel pretty crappy about it, but I really don’t think I can give a kitty much of a home without at least some prep work beforehand.
Juan Valdez is retiring. Long live Juan Valdez! Colombia’s coffee ambassador to the world, Carlos Sanchez, is finally quitting after four decades of playing the role of Juan Valdez. And the national federation of Colombian coffee producers is searching for a man to inherit his poncho — as well as his trusty mule, Conchita.
Sanchez has promoted Colombian coffee since 1969 with a leather bag, bushy mustache and straw hat typical of rural Colombia. He inherited the role from Jose Duval, a Cuban, who became the first Juan Valdez in 1959.
”I feel like a flag. I feel like I’ve represented the country,” Sanchez said Tuesday at a news conference where he struggled to hold back tears. ”There is a big sense of gratitude from Colombians abroad for this.”
Sanchez, 71, said his advancing years made it hard to keep up a strenuous schedule traveling the globe promoting coffee.
BAT BOY has hundreds of living relatives in America — and famed Democratic strategist James Carville is probably one of them!
While outspoken Carville — nicknamed the “Ragin’ Cajun” — is famous for being hyper-aggressive, no one has questioned his place in the human species before.
“This news is bound to rattle Carville,” says a Democratic party source. “If he and his wife Mary Matalin — a staunch Republican — weren’t worried about how their kids would turn out before, they’ve got to be now.”
HERE, from the expert, are 10 traits Bat Boy appears to share with his human kinfolk:
1. Bald, misshapen head.
2. Frightening, sharp toothed grin.
3. Comes from the South. “Like Bat Boy, who first surfaced in West Virginia, most of his relatives are found in the South,” notes Dr. Hensky. “Mr. Carville was born in Louisiana.”
4. Flails arms wildly when excited.
5. Combative. Like Bat Boy, who’s bitten dozens of people, Carville relishes a good fight.
6. Weird, cackling laugh.
7. Super-acute hearing. CNN staffers have learned not to bad-mouth Carville behind his back.
8. Physical agility.
9. Dog-like loyalty. “While other Clinton cronies ducked for cover during Monica-gate, Carville stood by his man,” Dr. Hensky observes.
10. Navigates in dark. Carville often wears sunglasses at night.
God, I love these people. This sort of thing is why I used to have a subscription.
A video used to be embedded here but the service that it was hosted on has shut down.
Oh dear. I accidentally found this Grizzly Man parody at ifilm. Watch. It. Now.
It helps if you’ve seen the original, but it’s definitely not necessary. I haven’t seen the original, and this cracked me right up.
UPDATE: If anyone is having trouble viewing the embedded movie, try this page here, which lets you choose between Windows Media, QuickTime, and RealPlayer, all of which are very fine media players with absolutely no annoying qualities whatsoever.
Not much to say here – just a couple of shots I took outside a toy/novelty (noveltoy?) store on Walnut St., which is kind of an upscale shopping drag in the Shadyside neighborhood, very near where I used to live.
I will donate $50 and a free print to the first Democratic congresscritter who can tell me what these objects are.
Cute, but maybe also a little creepy if your mindset is sufficiently warped…
After seeing this picture chez Hecate and referenced chez driftglass, the thought occurred to me that this photograph is really quite symbolic. Although the official intent of the flag here is to honor the sacrifice of the dead, it also has the effect of obscuring them from view. Instead of seeing coffins with dead soldiers in them, we see the American flag.
Republicans wave the flag in our face to distract us from looking at the deaths they have caused; of Americans, of Afghans, of Iraqis, of American democracy itself. Let us take this Memorial Day to push the star-spangled curtain aside and mourn all that has been lost.
Wow. I didn’t think there was any way I could possibly top last week’s game, but I did. Not only did I hit another two home runs, I went 7-for-7 with 3 doubles, 4 runs, and 4 RBIs, and I gunned down a runner at third to end the game. I dunno, maybe it was the four-leaf clovers. I dropped one shallow fly ball at the edge of my range, but other than that, I was pretty solid in the outfield on the rare occasions that I got any action.
It being Memorial Day weekend, we had a cookout and some light batting practice after the game, although it was a bit disorganized (no plates, hot dog buns, or utensils). Tasty!
Current Stats: 7 games, .611 BA (22-36), 6 2B, 4 HR, 13 runs, 16 RBI.
Career Stats: 34 games, .580 BA (134-231), 23 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 74 runs, 56 RBI.
Well, it’s good to see that John Kerry cares so deeply about clearing his good name, just so long as it’s not, y’know, in the context of a presidential campaign…
Mr. Kerry, accused even by Democrats of failing to respond to the charges during the campaign, is now fighting back hard.
“They lied and lied and lied about everything,” Mr. Kerry says in an interview in his Senate office. “How many lies do you get to tell before someone calls you a liar? How many times can you be exposed in America today?”
His supporters are compiling a dossier that they say will expose every one of the Swift boat group’s charges as a lie and put to rest any question about Mr. Kerry’s valor in combat. While it would be easy to see this as part of Mr. Kerry’s exploration of another presidential run, his friends say the Swift boat charges struck at an experience so central to his identity that he would want to correct the record even if he were retiring from public life.
Mr. Kerry has signed forms authorizing the Navy to release his record – something he resisted during the campaign – and hired a researcher to comb the naval archives in Washington for records that could pinpoint his whereabouts during dates of the incidents in dispute. Another former crew member has spent days at a time interviewing veterans to reconstruct every incident in question.
I wonder if Kerry really thinks this clears the way for him to run in 2008. If so, he’s deluded. Voters will be asking, “If he knew the Swifties were lying, why didn’t he prove it? Or at least say something?” He thinks he’s proving that he really is a courageous war hero, but the reality is that he held his fire until after the battle was over.
Check out this long, infuriating, and excellent column by Jamison Foser of Media Matters (via Atrios). It’s all about the media’s persistent Republican bias, and how they fit the two parties into consistently pro-Republican/anti-Democratic storylines. Democrats are calculating and phony while Republicans are bold and authentic; Democratic scandals are sexy and easy to understand while Republican ones are boring and complicated; Democratic personal lives are fair game, Republican personal lives are sacrosanct.
Foser basically says that this is the single most important thing in our country right now, and he’s absolutely right. None of the many Republican disasters we have had (and the lack of consequences for same) would have been possible without the media consistently pushing the Republican narrative.
I believe that Foser did, however, miss a few opportunities:
1) While he debunked the idea that not all Clinton/Democratic scandals are sex-related, he neglected to mention that some Bush/Republican ones are, i.e., the Jeff Gannon and “Hookergate” stories. The collective media shrug over a male prostitute being waved into the White House press corps was what convinced me beyond all doubt that the media is actively complicit, rather than merely buffeted by Republican pressure and the quest for ratings and profits.
2) This one is nitpicky, but Foser didn’t speculate on motive, didn’t say anything about how most media outlets are owned by corporate conglomerates and/or right-wing lunatics. He might have just been taking that as a given, and focusing more on the methodology.
3) I would have liked to see Foser talk about the media’s significance a little more. Because most people get all their news from them, the mainstream media effectively define and control reality itself. And the fact that Bush’s approval ratings ever go up, and that he has gotten away with such baldfaced lies as denying that he ever said he didn’t care about bin Laden, suggest to me that far too many people rely on the media more than their own memories to tell them what happened in the past. The media have far more power than people realize, and they abuse it mercilessly.
4) This is really out of the scope of Foser’s article, but it’s something I’m desperate to hear: How do we fix the media? Can it be fixed directly (i.e., Fairness Doctrine – which I think can be easily gamed) or indirectly (i.e., ownership rules – which I think would just nibble at the edges of the problem)? My personal belief if that it can only happen through a media crisis/scandal that both forces them to clean up their act, and exposes their true bias for all to see. Media control over reality is not as effective if everyone knows that they’re being fed pure right-wing propaganda, and adjusts accordingly.
The Weekly World News reports on President Bush’s cunning plan to solve the homeless problem:
The Bush Administration has a daring new plan to house the growing number of homeless people in the country — clown cars!
“Did you ever go to the circus and see how many clowns come out of a single car?” Bush asked his Cabinet at a meeting last month. “There’s like, tons! From one little car! What if we got a bunch of these cars and let homeless people live in them. Wouldn’t that be great?”
According to a Cabinet official, Bush went to the circus last month and was impressed with how the clowns looked when they emerged from the cars.
“The President said, ‘They’re healthy. Energetic. So it must be pretty comfortable in there. And what’s more, they can all drive around together and look for jobs! Talk about car pooling!’
“When the President gets really excited about an idea like this, there’s no point telling him that the clowns don’t really live in the car, and that it has a false bottom,” the official said.
It’s very, very difficult to parody the Bush administration, but I think they’ve done a fine job here.
This weeks quote is from Prisoner Of The Mountains, a Russian film about a soldier captured by the Chechen rebels, and the efforts by his mother to get him freed.
I’m dead, but I like it.
And, of course, there’ll be other people’s spiders…
I was taking some pictures of the lightgrapes on my way back from Wednesday night softball, and I decided to see if I could get a closer shot of the spiderweb. Imagine my surprise…
(Click on the pic for a larger view)
I might have to go back after this one with a tripod some night.
Two senior Republicans want to set up an independent watchdog over the federal judiciary to police judges’ acceptance of free trips or their possible financial interests with groups that could appear before them in court.
Dick Carelli, a spokesman for the federal courts, said Friday that the judiciary already is subject to congressional oversight and has internal mechanisms for policing itself.
Establishing an inspector general responsible to any entity outside the judicial branch, such as Congress, “would be a serious incursion into judicial independence,” Carelli said.
The policy-making Judicial Conference of the United States, a 27-judge body whose presiding officer is the chief justice, went on the record in 1996 as “strongly opposing the creation of an IG in the judicial branch.”
An unusual FBI raid of a Democratic congressman’s office over the weekend prompted complaints yesterday from leaders in both parties, who said the tactic was unduly aggressive and may have breached the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) expressed alarm at the raid. “The actions of the Justice Department in seeking and executing this warrant raise important Constitutional issues that go well beyond the specifics of this case,” he said in a lengthy statement released last night.
“Insofar as I am aware, since the founding of our Republic 219 years ago, the Justice Department has never found it necessary to do what it did Saturday night, crossing this Separation of Powers line, in order to successfully prosecute corruption by Members of Congress,” he said. “Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years.”
Tonight was the first week (for me) of Wednesday Night Softball. The game had just started when I showed up, and it was somehow my turn at bat, with the bases loaded. So pretty much right off the street, I hit a two-run single back up the middle. Next at-bat, bases loaded again, two-run double. Five subsequent at-bats, mostly with the bases empty… 1-for-5 with a run and no RBI. Net result, an unusually productive 3-7, with a double, a run, and 4 RBI.
Fielding was… erratic. Not sure if it’s something about the field or the lateness of the hour, or if I just can’t get a good read if I’m too far towards centerfield. I caught a few and lost a few, but I did make some strong throws which my arm is now paying for.
Wednesday players don’t keep score, so I can’t tell you who won…
Current Stats: 6 games, .517 BA (15-29), 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 runs, 12 RBI.
Career Stats: 33 games, .567 BA (127-224), 21 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 70 runs, 52 RBI.
From the knees! I can’t remember if he got the out or not…
Attempting to salvage a bobble and drop.
Something tells me she’s gonna be taking another base…
So I was reading WaPo’s The Fix inside-baseball political blog, a post about Kerry’s new political advisor (some guy), and this happy little tidbit jumped out at me at the end:
One consultant who will not be back if Kerry runs again is Bob Shrum, who served as the lead strategist during the ’04 race. Shrum says he has retired from American politics and currently serves as a senior fellow at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service.
Oh God, I hope this is true. I’m sure the Republicans will do everything they can to entice this professional albatross to hang himself around the Democrats’ necks once again. I’m thinking maybe something like: “Prominent Republican spokesmen expressed confidence in their party’s ability to retain control of the White House with wily master tactician Bob Shrum out of the picture. ‘It will be a tough fight, but we will prevail as long as Shrum stays on the sidelines. Quite frankly, we’re all scared to death of him. The man’s a beast,’ said chief Republican strategist Karl Rove, unable to suppress a smirk of sheer animal terror.”
One of the most simultaneously comforting and frustrating notions held by us liberals is that if those salt-of-the-earth, heartland Middle America voters really knew what Democrats and Republicans stood for, or if they really knew what our Republican politicians and their supporters were getting up to, the GOP would end up like a right-wing version of the Green Party. And while I think this is true, I don’t think it goes far enough. American voters also need to understand the game that the Republicans and their corporate media are running on them: Campaigns that rely on smears, fears, homophobia and xenophobia; news and opinion that consistently advance Republican narratives.
Right now, Bush and the Republican party are wallowing in approval ratings in the 20s and 30s, based entirely on their actions and inactions, such as Iraq, Katrina, Plame, and all manner of illegal spying. But come election time, they will attempt to sweep it all away with “Ohmigod! Gays/immigrants/terrorists/abortions/activist judges/liberals are coming to take your bibles away!” And Democrats will dutifully engage them on that ground, and attempt to explain how they really are tough-on-terror Christians, and really not such a big threat to the American way of life after all, and oh-by-the-way, the war in Iraq was rather ill-considered, was it not?
This was pretty much the Democratic gameplan in 2004 (well, except for the part about Iraq being a bad idea), and it didn’t work. All the burgeoning dissastisfaction with Iraq was trumped by the ridiculous fear that Democrats would let terrorists and gay marriage destroy America unless they were stopped, and by bogus accusations that Kerry’s military honors were phony. I see no reason not to expect the same scenario to play out in November and 2008, although the dissatisfaction will be harder to overcome this time around. The Democrats will make gains, but not nearly as much as they should.
What I want to see the Democrats do this time is refuse to play the Republicans’ game, but call them on it instead. Rather than simply saying, “We do too hate terrorists and gay people just as much as the Republicans! More, even!”, call the Republicans on what they’re doing. Say, “The Republicans have failed and dishonored this country in every way imaginable, and all they can do is campaign on hate and fear. Do they think you’re that easy to distract? Is this all they think you care about?” Americans love to congratulate themselves on their bullshit-detecting abilities, and therefore hate being played. Unfortunately, they hate admitting that they’ve been played even more, which is why so many still cling to the idea that the Republicans actually want what’s best for America, and why the Democrats have to make it very explicit and impossible to dismiss or ignore.
Ultimately, what I want to see is the Republicans’ distraction-and-boogeyman strategy blow up in their faces. I believe that the day that Americans see it for the sham that it is and reject it, is the day that we finally start to get our country back.
Awesome! I had a multi-home run game! (Technically they only count as doubles, but I still hit two out of the park) Plus a double! 4-6, 2 runs, 3 RBI overall, and was pretty solid in the field as well, with one nice catch and a couple of strong throws. I also scored one of my runs on a weird play where I was at third and the runner behind me was too aggressive, so I figured I would give myself up at home rather than letting us both get tagged out. But the catcher couldn’t handle the throw, so I was safe. Cool. And we won.
Current Stats: 5 games, .545 BA (12-22), 2 2B, 2 HR, 8 runs, 8 RBI.
Career Stats: 32 games, .571 BA (124-217), 20 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 69 runs, 48 RBI.
Sadly, I don’t think Out-Of-Focus Redhead makes it.
The selection is a bit erratic and the clips appear to have been edited by poorly trained monkeys with egg timers, but there’s still a lot of good stuff on there, some of which I had never seen before. I find myself curiously amused by the Robot Repair sketch from ’88-89…
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter is backing off tongue-in-cheek comments that he plans to tell President Bush next month that he dislikes how the country is being run.
The Pro Bowl linebacker issued a statement Wednesday saying he regrets making comments that some apparently construed as serious.
“I regret that my quotes about our team’s upcoming visit to the White House were taken out of context,” Porter said in a statement issued by the team. “I am very excited to have an opportunity to visit the White House and meet the president of the United States.”
Porter also said his comments were not meant to suggest he disapproves of Bush or the job he is doing.