Monday, December 31, 2007

I Was Wrong


Apparently, God is not merciful. At least not if Carl Peterson is correct that he will be returning to run the Chiefs next season. There is a post somewhere here about the sports ownership in this town.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Not Who You Are, It's What You Do

Think Progress showcases some interesting reasoning from Mike Huckabee:

On NBC’s Meet The Press this morning, host Tim Russert asked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee if he believed “people are born gay or choose to be gay?” “I don’t know whether people are born that way,” responded Huckabee, “but one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice.”

Huckabee conceded that “people who are gay say that they’re born that way,” but added that he believed that “how we behave and how we carry out that behavior” is more important.

S0 you may in fact be gay, but please stop being so gay.

God Is Merciful


I know this because the Chiefs season has finally come to an end. But just to prove that he also has a cruel sense of humor, the Chiefs scored a late touchdown that sent the game to an overtime that simply prolonged the agony. Once in overtime, the Chiefs promptly proved they had no business there in the first place.
Say what you want about the Dick Vermeil, but did he ever preside over something so heinously ugly and awful as what we have been subjected to this season? Fortunately, it is now over. We may now look forward to the exit of Carl Peterson, and resume despairing about the Royals.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Best of 2007: Movies*

The asterisk is because I made my list of 2007 movies and then made the list of movies I still want to see, and the list of movies I want to see has 22 movies that could end up taking a proportion of the list. It's even feasible, I suppose, that the whole 10 could be replaced. So this really is the top 10 movies I have seen thus far in 2007. I think I'll revisit in a few months after I've seen everything on my "to see" list.

1. 3:10 to Yuma
2. Michael Clayton
3. The Darjeeling Limited
4. Live Free or Die Hard
5. Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
6. Knocked Up
7. The Bourne Ultimatum
8. Blades of Glory
9. Into the Wild
10. Ocean's 13

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

80's Movie Quote of the Week (Holiday Edition)






Did you get what you wanted yesterday?



Clark: Hey. If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is. Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where's the Tylenol?

Back From the Great Brown South

Hope everyone had a nice Christmas. I'm smack in the middle of the longest vacation I've had in a couple of years. Can't say that's a bad thing.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Highway to Heaven

It runs right through our town apparently. The video defies description. The web site is so much more.

Purity siege anyone?

Best of 2007: Music 2

I just got Levon Helm's Dirt Farmer and immediately bacame enamored with the song "Anna Lee". That got me to thinking that while I am sticking to my Top 10 only rule on albums, there is no reason I can't add 10 other great songs from this bountiful music year. So here are 10 songs that do not appear on my Top 10 albums but are really good. In no particular order:

Anna Lee, Levon Helm
Dashboard, Modest Mouse
Kiss, Kiss, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Chelsea Dagger, The Fratellis
Goodnight Rose, Ryan Adams
Intervention, The Arcade Fire
The General Specific, Band of Horses
(Nod to bigsmithdude for this one)
I Feel it All, Feist
The Opposite of Hallelujah, Jens Lekman
Our Bovine Public, The Cribs

And just for the record my top five songs overall for 2007 would be:

The Underdog, Spoon
Back In Your Head, Tegan and Sara
Start a War, The National
I Feel it All, Feist
The Runner, Kings of Leon

80's Movie Quote of the Week (Bonus Holiday Edition)



The holidays are a time when you really appreciate home. Ruby Sue explains that very sentiment to Clark.

Ruby Sue: I love it here. You don't have to put on your coat to go to the bathroom, and your house is always parked in the same place.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cratchet Part 2



If you read the last chart and found yourself thinking, "Well couldn't the percentages of total income move around, but everyone end up better off?" then this chart has your answer. And the answer is "kinda, well, I mean sorta, uh, you know."

Here is the related post from the souce.

Perhaps your next question will be whether or not to get any of the growth in the chart above we have to enact policies that create the disparity the chart shows. The answer is in a chart I have on this computer somewhere. When I find it, I'll put it up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A World of Bob Cratchets




This chart is part of a really good post on income inequality at Afferent Input. Basically, it tells us that over the last 30 years more of each dollar made in the U.S. has ended up in the pockets of the top 1%. The bottom 90% meanwhile have all taken steps backward. I think there is a related Christmas story here somewhere.

Read the whole post to get the full picture.
Via Kevin Drum.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Life is Like a, a, You Know a Life (Heh, Heh)

An article in Slate sort of tongue-in-cheek (I think) talks about the association of the Rangers under George Bush and a bunch of guys on the steroids list.

Before the Mitchell report, two of the biggest steroid suspects were ex-Rangers from the Bush years, Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro. Canseco wrote the book on drugs in baseball. Palmeiro lied to Congress about it under oath. While most baseball players steer clear of politics, Palmeiro gave Bush's 2004 campaign the maximum of $4,000.

Mitchell added some new names to Bush's friends list. Roger Clemens, the biggest fish in Mitchell's dragnet, is a longtime Bushie. A Clemens profile last year in USA Today said "he has a standing invitation to dine at the White House." Clemens is so close to the Bushes, he built a horseshoe pit at his house for George H.W. Bush. Andy Pettitte, who has now admitted using human growth hormone, once joined Clemens in a video tribute called "Happy 80th Birthday, 41." When George W. Bush threw out the first pitch in Cincinnati last year, Kent Mercker (also accused of buying growth hormone) showed his support by waving a Bush-Cheney hat...

...The great unanswered question is one Mitchell doesn't ask: If it's possible the A's knew enough to trade Canseco because of steroids, did Bush go after Canseco for the same reason? He already had three players who would turn up in the Mitchell report for later allegations of drug use—Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Kevin Brown. Without drug testing in place, it was almost impossible to get caught, and baseball was years from cracking down. To a highly competitive, power-hitter-hungry baseball executive like Bush, Canseco might have seemed a risk worth taking.

Between the presidency, the failed businesses, and this whole strange coincidence one might start to think of GW as the Bizzaro Forrest Gump, turning up in unlikely places to leave the world worse off than it was before.

80's Movie Quote of the Week (Holiday Edition)




When things aren't going well during your Christmas festivities, it is important to remember to stay positive. Chevy Chase exhibits the proper attitude.

Clark: We're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tapdanced with Danny f*ckin' Kaye.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Lady in a Red Burka

In what has to be the most vivid recent example that other cultures don't make any more sense than ours, Iran will soon host its first concert by a Westerner since the 1970's. Who is it that the Iranian are clamoring to see? Chris Deburgh, 80's pop singer of "Lady in Red" fame, that's who. They really love him. This web site tries to explain why, but I don't know.

It is very difficult for us to figure out what is great and what is awful in other cultures, and we usually end up seeming xenophobic when we try. But it is a lot easier when those cultures start adopting the most suspect parts of our own. Next your going to tell me that Uzbekistan is clamoring for Axe Body Spray.

Bad Timing



30th in scoring offense.
31st in yardage offense.
32nd in rushing.
29th in giveaway/takeaway ratio.

The Chiefs might have picked the wrong season to encourage fans to "See Red and buy season tickets today."

(Dan makes an excellent point about the insanity of the "fair weather fans" label.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

One More Thing Depressing About the Royals

There were 89 players listed in George Mitchell's report on MLB steroid use. Of those 89, 13 were current or former Royals. So this is what it has come to. We harbored about 15% of the total names in the report, and yet were still easily the worst team in the league over that span of time. Once again, I must ask what Kansas City sports fans have done to deserve their fate.

In a related story, Mike Sweeney says the report vindicates him.

“Maybe now people will really believe me,” Sweeney said by phone from California. “People now know that No. 29 was clean. And if I’ve played my last game with the Royals, you don’t have to put an asterisk by any of my stats.”

Yeah, I sure am glad the 74 total home runs he hit in the last five years won't be in question.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Best of 2007: Music

It has been an unbelievable year for music. There has been nary a month without some album worth getting excited about. Last year, I had trouble even coming up with 10 favorite albums. This year the problem is narrowing the field to just 10. But my compulsive nature insists that it must be done. Below each album are a couple of my favorite tracks. If you haven't heard an album and want to try it out, I would suggest starting there.

1. Boxer, The National
Start a War, Racing Like a Pro
2. Because of the Times, Kings of Leon
The Runner, Black Thumbnail
3. In Rainbows, Radiohead
Reckoner, House of Cards
4. Writer's Block, Peter Bjorn and John
Up Against the Wall, Young Folks
5. Icky Thump, The White Stripes
I'm Slowly Turning Into You, A Marter for My Love for You
6. Ga Ga Ga Ga, Spoon
The Underdog, Don't Make Me a Target
7. Armchair Apocrypha, Andrew Bird
Plasticities, Scythian Empire
8. Good, Bad, Not Evil, The Black Lips
O Katrina!, How Do You Tell a Child That Someone Has Died?
9. Sky Blue Sky, Wilco
You Are My Face, Walken
10. The Con, Tegan and Sara
Back in Your Head, Floorplan

There was a ton of other great music this year, as well. I maybe could have made a Top 20 or Top 30 list, but I like the focus of a Top 10. A special award goes to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for Is Is, my favorite EP of the year. Way to go 2007. I hope 2008 can even come close.

That's Our Boy

Missouri's own Kit Bond tells Gwen Ifill that waterboarding is like swimming.

GWEN IFILL: Do you think that waterboarding, as I described it, constitutes torture?

SEN. KIT BOND: There are different ways of doing it. It’s like swimming, freestyle, backstroke. The waterboarding could be used almost to define some of the techniques that our trainees are put through, but that’s beside the point. It’s not being used.

Follow the link above for the video. Via Andrew Sullivan.

Xenophobia!

Last one to personally carry an illegal immigrant back to Mexico is a rotten egg.

From the LA Times:

Rudolph W. Giuliani, who as mayor of New York supported policies that benefited illegal immigrants, now says he would have happily swept out all 400,000 in his city if only the federal government had cooperated.

Mitt Romney mailed a new flier to South Carolina voters Tuesday ripping three of his rivals as coddlers of illegal immigrants. And Mike Huckabee, fresh from introducing a newly toughened immigration plan last week, Tuesday accepted the endorsement of a co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the civilian border enforcement movement.


This may work in the Republican primaries, but aren't these guys painting themselves into a corner for the general election? Or am I misreading the general public?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

80's Movie Quote of the Week (Holiday Edition)

A classic season's greeting:

Clark: Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass. Kiss his ass. Kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.

And as a bonus, the clip is on Youtube:

Higher Ed

Good for Harvard.

Harvard University announced on Monday that it would significantly increase the financial aid it offered to middle-class and upper-middle-class students, seeking to allay concerns that elite colleges are becoming too expensive for even relatively well-off families.

The only drawback to their plan is that it covers families making between $120,000 and $180,000 only. Combine that with their existing policy of waiving tuition for students whose families make less than $60,000, and you still have a pretty unfortunate group of middle class families left out. Like 1/3 of them or so. Regardless, this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

I Keep a Blunderbus Under My Choir Robe

A story in the New York Times talks about the two weekend shootings at Colorado church organizations. The story included a line that surprised me:

The gunman was killed by a member of the church's armed security staff, the source said.

The church security staff turned out to be a good idea, but I don't recall ever attending a church with security staff. Is that more common than I realize?

Powerful Pictures



A vivid reminder of the cost of modernity.

Friday, December 7, 2007

In Appreciation of The Answer



There are a lot of people who don't like the NBA. When you ask them why, a common answer is that it has to do with "guys like Allen Iverson." I'm not sure what that means, but I wish there were more NBA players like Allen Iverson. I've never seen anyone play as hard, as consistently as Iverson. Every game.

Last night, I watched the Nuggets manhandle the Mavericks with several guys hurt and Carmelo Anthony struggling. Iverson had 35 points (on 12-19 shooting), 12 assists, 6 steals, and a rebound for good measure. More importantly, he kept putting so much pressure on the Mavs by pushing the ball, they were never able to develop any kind of defensive presence.

This was supposed to be the year The Answer started to slip. The theory went that his quickness wouldn't hold up and he wouldn't be as good once it disappeared. Well, it hasn't happened yet. Do yourself a favor and catch a Nuggets game. You'll see one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Cow Town




According to the Economist, Kansas City is trying to capitalize on its heritage and geography to create an "“Animal Health Corridor” as recognisable to everyone as, say, Silicon Valley."

The branding campaign has gone quite well, so far. The US Animal Health Association has been enticed to Kansas from Virginia. IdentiGEN, a Dublin-based food-safety company, has relocated its American headquarters. And MWI Veterinary Supply, one of the largest animal-health distributors in the country, is moving its Midwest distribution centre to Kansas. Kansas State University, on the western edge of the corridor, is among five sites being considered for the National Bio and Agro-Defence Facility. This $450m venture will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Centre in Greenport, New York, in the research of diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals.

The story is full of interesting facts, but it never gets to a catchy name like Silicon Valley. So consider this a nomination for Methane Row.

It Looks Like 1985 in Here

The Royals are bringing back the powder blues. They are going to wear them at home instead of on the road (and wear them with white pants?).

I like the nostalgia, but I'm afraid it may just be a painful reminder of what the team once was, and no longer is.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Boxing



Imagine my surprise when I opened espn.com and read that these guys are, in fact, getting ready to fight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Walkability

The Brookings Institution published a report on walkable urban areas in the nation's 30 largest metro areas. Not surprisingly, of the 30 metros studied, KC was ranked 23rd. The purpose of the study was to show how many "walkable urban areas" each metropolitan area contained.

The study is not perfect. Kansas City's sole walkable urban area was the Country Club Plaza. One of New York's 22 is "Midtown Manhattan". Anyone who has ever been to Midtown Manhattan and the Plaza will not have any trouble discerning between the two. The author of the report says, in fact, that size and definition of a walkable urban area are parts of the report that should be better defined in future versions. There are other issues with the rather rudimentary way the cities are ranked. On the other hand, none of the other issues affect KC's standing for the worse (and may actually help).

The study concludes that walkable areas will likely increase nationwide in the near future, and that transit systems are an important indicator of the walkability potential of a metro area. With that in mind, the depressing part of the study goes thus:

Metropolitan areas that are not seriously committed to building rail transit systems—such as Cincinnati, Detroit, and Kansas City—may not have the option of walkable urban development due to slower economic growth and weak tax base. These slow growing metropolitan areas without rail transit today may be at a competitive disadvantage regarding future economic growth. This will especially be the case if crude oil prices continue to rise as they have since 2002 (increasing nearly three fold). These metropolitan areas may have “painted themselves into a corner”, due to both rising energy costs and the market opportunity of walkable urban development.

Ouch.

80's Movie Quote of the Week



In honor of the holidays, all 80's quotes in November will come from the classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. This line has probably been thought by at least a few during family gatherings.

Clark: Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?

Who's Been Naughty and Who's Been Nice

In my constant pursuit to understand the difference between the way (most) conservatives think and the way I think, I have developed another (probably questionable) theory. This one is the Holiday version:

Perhaps conservatives are just people who haven't relinquished the idea that if Santa doesn't visit, you must have been naughty.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's the Most Ignorant Time of the Year

In sports anyway. It's college football postseason time again. Proving yet again that it is the professional wrestling of college sports, the ten spots in the BCS games went to teams #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #7, #8, #9, #10, and #13 in the BCS's own standings. Missouri, of course, was the unlucky #6 (who beat #8 and #13 head to head), but the absurdities certainly don't end there. In fact, my grudge really has nothing to do with Missouri, but with the fact that this sort of thing happens every year.

If college football is going to continue to refuse a playoff system similar to what all other real sports employ, the least they could do is up the entertainment value by letting the players use the occasional folding chair.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Comics


From Toothpaste for Dinner, a daily web comic worth checking out.

Cranky Dial Crankers

Via a Kevin Drum post, I made it to Joe Klein's blog on the Time magazine site. The post was about Klein attending a dial-based focus group of undecided Republican voters during the Republican debate earlier this week. In the exercise, the people turn the dials to register their approval or disapproval as the candidates speak. Now, I would like to go on record as saying I would like to see how this group was selected before assigning this nastiness to Republicans writ large. But regardless of they were picked this is one long excerpt of depressing.

In the next segment--the debate between Romney and Mike Huckabee over Huckabee's college scholarships for the deserving children of illegal immigrants--I noticed something really distressing: When Huckabee said, "After all, these are children of God," the dials plummeted. And that happened time and again through the evening: Any time any candidate proposed doing anything nice for anyone poor, the dials plummeted (30s). These Republicans were hard.

But there was worse to come: When John McCain started talking about torture--specifically, about waterboarding--the dials plummeted again. Lower even than for the illegal Children of God. Down to the low 20s, which, given the natural averaging of a focus group, is about as low as you can go. Afterwards, Luntz asked the group why they seemed to be in favor of torture. "I don't have any problem pouring water on the face of a man who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11," said John Shevlin, a retired federal law enforcement officer. The group applauded, appallingly.

Geez.

*Related to the Ron Paul post a couple of days ago there was this tidbit:

They also hated anything that Ron Paul said (high 30s to low 20s), especially on the war in Iraq.

It seems not all the Republican base is ready for Paulapalooza.

President Proved Correct Because Time Continued

Today, the Washington Post features a column by Charles Krauthammer that is absolutely infuriating. The basic premise of the column is that because scientists developed a new way to create stem cells, President Bush was vindicated for his opposition to embryonic stem cell research. The problems with this argument are many.

1. The most important conclusion to draw from this argument is that the president caused the development of this new line by putting restrictions on the old method. Krauthammer disputes this himself by saying that the scientist who developed embryonic stem cell research had been working on a new way since the time he devised the first method.

2. Krauthammer also argues that vindication came in the form of no setbacks to research. He (A) offers no evidence that this is true and (B) is wrong anyway because if the president's intent was not to hamper research then he made clearly the wrong choice because he would have had no way to know whether he would hamper research or not, and must have decided that hampering research was an acceptable outcome. Essentailly, vindication can't come from this argument because it wasn't the argument the president based his decision on in the first place.

3. The worst argument in the whole thing, however, regards this passage:

The president's policy recognized that this might cause problems. The existing lines might dry up, prove inadequate or become corrupted. Bush therefore appointed a President's Council on Bioethics to oversee ongoing stem cell research and evaluate how his restrictions were affecting research and what means might be found to circumvent ethical obstacles.

More vilification. The mainstream media and the scientific establishment saw this as a smoke screen to cover his fundamentalist, obscurantist, anti-scientific -- the list of adjectives was endless -- tracks. "Some observers," wrote The Post's Rick Weiss, "say the president's council is politically stacked."

His argument as to why the committee was not imbalanced -- it consisted of such notable non-partisans as James Q. Wilson (conservative), Francis Fukuyama (conservative), and Charles Krauthammer (what do you think?).

(Update: 12/1 -- The New York Times agrees. What a bunch of liberals.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wake Up With the Scrooge?

Here is a fine Dickens moment to lead us into the holiday season. It seems migrant tomato pickers are about to lose their first raise since 70's because Burger King is unwilling to pay the penny per pund surcharge that Taco Bell and McDonald's had previously approved. That has given the Florida Tomato Growers an out.

Now the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange has threatened a fine of $100,000 for any grower who accepts an extra penny per pound for migrant wages. The organization claims that such a surcharge would violate “federal and state laws related to antitrust, labor and racketeering.” It has not explained how that extra penny would break those laws; nor has it explained why other surcharges routinely imposed by the growers (for things like higher fuel costs) are perfectly legal.

Auditioning for the role of ol' Ebenezer himself, however is the FTGE's president Reggie Brown. Sayeth he, "(The surcharge for poor migrants is) pretty much near un-American.”

The total cost of the penny per pound to Burger King annually -- $250,000. Bah humbug.

80's Movie Quote of the Week


I almost forgot this week. Fortunately, I saw part of Mel Brooks' History fo the World: Part 1 last night.

Narrator: And of course, with the birth of the artist came the inevitable afterbirth - the critic.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Republicans Taking Their Ball and Going Home

It apparently isn't as much fun when you don't have complete control of the government.

Party officials insist that the retirements -- 17 members of the House and six senators -- are simply the result of individual decisions and not indicative of a broader negative sentiment within the party. "I don't hear a drumbeat that 'We're not effective and I don't like it here anymore,' " said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.).

But with so many lawmakers -- including a large number from competitive states and districts -- heading for the exits, it's hard not to point to the GOP's new found minority status in Washington, the turnover in party leadership and the perilous political environment heading into 2008 to explain the exodus.

Or maybe it has something to do with that impending rule change that keeps Congressmen from lobbying for two years instead of the current one year period.

Nah, that couldn't be it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ron Paul?

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in southwest Missouri, and discovered that if an election were held today there would be a bunch of people trying to get me to vote for Ron Paul. I don't know if the people who would actually vote for the man extend beyond his fervent supporters that stand on busy street corners with signs or hand out bumper stickers (both things going on in Springfield this weekend). But one might suspect there have to be at least a few.

What's with all the hubbub? Based on a combination of expressed opinions of the Ron Paulites I know personally and my own suspicions about what those opinions really mean, I think this may be a sort of GOP rebellion vote. These are people who are (understandably) dismayed at the way the Republican government has conducted itself and pandered to its extreme religious elements, but would still never consider voting for a Democrat.

So Paul it is. My question for such people is whether they seriously think abolishing the CIA, IRS, NEA, Federal Reserve, and whatever else (as well as pulling us out of trade deals and the UN) in his first term is A) really a good idea, and B) at all feasible without mass chaos for a decade. Because in the still very remote chance the man gets elected, they are either going to have to answer for that, or be disappointed in their leader once again.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Don't Tease Me Star

The Star web site featured an article about the Chiefs today titled, "What would happen if KC ever had a TV blackout?" Quote:

It could happen next week when the Chiefs play San Diego, especially if Kansas City doesn’t snap its three-game losing streak today against Oakland.

About an hour after reading this, I watched the Chiefs whimper to defeat at the hands of the 2-8 Raiders.

If God is merciful, a blackout is what fans of the offensively non-offensive Chiefs have earned.

The Day the Music Died

50 Cent, Kelly Rowland, and, uh Perry Ferrell(?) collaborating on the ABC college football broadcast before the MU v. KU game. Jane says "What in the hell is that all about?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Testing Your Thanksgiving Spirit

To prepare you for the mass quantities of food you will likely be presented with tomorrow, here is a heaping helping of crazy from some folks who prepare it best.

Excerpt from "Letter from a future prisoner."

We knew "Thought Crimes" was in danger of becoming law back when it passed Congress in 2007, but thankfully, President Bush kept his promise to veto it. But, tragically, Hillary signed that most dangerous bill in America – ushering in the criminalization of Christianity. And now, even my book, "The Criminalization of Christianity," has been banned as "hate speech" just as I predicted when I wrote it back in 2005.


Via Andrew Sullivan.

Best Video Ever

KCcoug pointed me to a contest going on Andrew Sullivan's site voting for the best and worst music videos of the 80's. Amazingly, Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer video is only in second. It is hands down the greatest video of all time. The proof is below.

Propaganda

Harper's always has some great stuff in the Readings section at the front of the magazine. This month, they have some work by W.H. Auden that had been translated back to English from its French translation because the original English text was nowhere to be found. I guess that means that this may or may not be what Auden really meant. It's a great quote either way.

Propaganda is the use of magic by those who no longer believe in it against those who still do.

Sprint Center

My first time at the Sprint Center was an overall nice experience with a few hitches.

Good
- The view from inside looking out is really cool.
- Like most modern arenas, there really aren't any bad seats.
- The ushers (at least the two I had contact with) were well-trained and friendly.
- The shot clock on the side of the basket support is a nice touch.
- It is easy to get around inside.

Bad
- I arrived 15 minutes before game time and stood in the Will Call line until 5 minutes into the first game. I would say 1/4 of the crowd was in a long line at tip-off. I know people probably arrived en masse for a 6:45 weeknight game, but there has to be something they can do to move things along quicker.
- The place looks kind of sterile in the arena bowl itself. That could be the lighting, but more likely it is the lack of team affiliation for the Center. Most arenas have playoff banners and other various team-oriented things hanging all over the place. The Sprint Center has a flag hanging on one end, and a pathetic "Garth Brooks, 9 Sold Out Shows banner hanging at the other end. Perhaps, this will improve with time.

A couple of comments about the games themselves.
- Missouri looked much better. Darrel Butterfield took at least 4 charges during the game, hit a couple of threes, and generally looked like one of those guys who will never be the team's best player but will never know that either. The point guard decision-making remains suspect, but Hannah and Horton deserve credit for pushing the ball hard enough to scare the other team into playing Missouri's game.
- UCLA must be pretty good. I saw them play one of the worst halves of offensive basketball I have seen outside the Roeland Park Sportsdome in a while, and yet they still managed to come back and beat Michigan State. This should be a good lesson for the Spartans because they played the whole second half like they were hoping for the clock to move faster.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

School of Rock

You can find something worthwhile in a David Brooks column every now and again.

Van Zandt has a way to counter all this, at least where music is concerned. He’s drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music. It would introduce students to Muddy Waters, the Mississippi Sheiks, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers. He’s trying to use music to motivate and engage students, but most of all, he is trying to establish a canon, a common tradition that reminds students that they are inheritors of a long conversation.

I'd probably volunteer to go back to high school for a class like that.

80's Movie Quote of the Week (Thanksgiving Edition)



John Candy and Steve Martin wake up in a shared hotel bed:

Neal: Del... Why did you kiss my ear?
Del: Why are you holding my hand?
Neal: [frowns] Where's your other hand?
Del: Between two pillows...
Neal: Those aren't pillows!

40 Minutes of Chaos



In preparation for my first visit to the Sprint Center tonight, I watched Missouri play Michigan State last night. Mizzou is simultaneously very exciting and excruciatingly maddening. Coach Mike Anderson's "40 minutes of hell" style of play produces that kind of game to a certain extent, but the Tigers take the unpredictability to a new level. Last night most of that was caused by the fact that the team has no point guard, at least not in the traditional sense.

Stefhon Hannah is very gifted player, but he makes some absolutely atrocious decisions. Wild shots on the break, adventurous forays into the lane, and occasional carelessness with the ball are not the hallmarks of great point guards. Back-up point guard Jason Horton's inability to shoot the ball seems to have hurt his confidence to the point where it has affected other facets of his game.

The Tigers have a lot of physical talent. Whether or not that talent translates into victories (and not just be fun to watch) will have a lot to do with whether or not the "coaches on the floor" throttle it down just enough to make the right decision every now and again.

Monday, November 19, 2007

When Voting is Dangerous

An article in Slate suggests that if Internet message boards can be a proxy for ballot casting, then democracy may be a scary form of government.

In her piece covering the legal debate about contemporary execution practices, Dahlia Lithwick decries the "carelessness, raw politics, and inertia" of the American death penalty. While there are some sharp responses to be found in the ensuing Fray discussion, the cumulative debate presents a theater of sadism. One can at least recognize the faculty of reason at work in the grim utilitarianism of folks like Atarxian, who support greater cruelty throughout the penal system on the basis of its deterrent value. In one of the debate's most bizarre arguments, jimthecarguy finds inspiration for speedy public stoning in the durability of Jewish culture. Teslarawks speaks with envy of Chinese criminal procedure's efficiency, in which "they march you out of the court room and shoot you in the head with a rifle."

And that isn't nearly as absurd as the lady talking about Iraqi refugees.

I would argue that the Internet may not, in fact, be a good representation of the American public writ large. At least, I hope not.

Ignorance is Bliss

The Post story has lots more good stuff that just ol' Turd Blossom.

Bush's strategy contrasts with those of Clinton and Ronald Reagan, the last two-term presidents, who recovered from political troubles late in their tenures. Both found ways to work with an opposition Congress to pass important legislation. Reagan left office with a 64 percent approval rating and Clinton with a 65 percent rating.

He is truly the great divider.

In all seriousness though, this story is about how Bush's poll numbers haven't improved, but his political fortunes have. I think that is read "his political fortunes have improved among beltway insiders."

Isn't most of the turnaround due to the fact that everyone just ignores him now. The media is much more concerned about who the next president will be than what this one is currently doing to the country. It seems that for Bush, no news is good news.

Takes One to Know One

In a Post story:

"There's a reason they've become unpopular," said Karl Rove, who recently stepped down as deputy White House chief of staff. "They've taken stands that make them look churlish, small, petty and more interested in scoring political points than in doing good things for the country."

He's the expert.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Couldn't Happen to a Better Guy



I don't like Alex Rodriguez.

I really don't like the New York Yankees.

I really, really don't like Alex Rodriguez playing for the New York Yankees.

But if they work out a deal that screws over noted SOB Scott Boras, then I'm willing to offer both parties my hearty congratulations.

A person close to the Yankees said this morning that Rodriguez, through an intermediary, told the Yankees that he wants to talk with the team about a new contract agreement without the involvement of his agent, Scott Boras. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no deal has been reached.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

80's Movie Quote of the Week



Had a meeting this week where someone might have well have said this line from Pee Wee's Big Adventure:

Tina: Yes, there are thousands and thousands of uses for corn, all of which I'm going to tell you about right now!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Ugly Side

Friday I had the unfortunate experience of facing the ugly side of liberalism. When you see the ugly side you will notice some familiar traits. Beliefs will be very strongly held. Opinions will be very poorly informed. And you will swear you have seen it before. You have. You have seen it in the ugly side of conservatism. It is the feature of conservatism that makes people like me all too eager to discount the entire philosophy.

I probably might find conservatives who would disagree with me, but I think one of the defining features of our current political landscape is the recent dominance of ugly siders in conservative discourse (in such venues as talk radio). Hopefully, we are beginning to see some backlash from that. My hope is that as liberals see more success at the polls they don't also see an opportunity show their ugly side.

I blew it on Friday. I let my desire not to talk to a ridiculous person overcome my desire to keep the average person from deciding liberals might actually be as bad as Rush Limbaugh says. If presented with the opportunity again, I hope I remember that the right thing to do is inform the ugly side liberal that the only thing they are doing is creating more conservatives.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Balance



If, for reasons unknown outside of the Hunt family, Carl Peterson should ever find himself interviewing for the position of head coach ever again, he should remember to ask candidates two simple questions.

1. Do you care about the defense?
2. Do you care about offense?

Had he asked these two questions, he might have found that every coach hired during his tenure would have answered 'no' to either #1 (Dick Vermeil) or #2 (everyone else). Teams will always be better on one side of the ball than the other. The Chiefs have proved, however, that someone - anyone - in the organization must pay at least fleeting attention to both sides of the ball to be a team that ever hopes to win a playoff a game in professional football.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

He'll Tell You Himself

Tom Tancredo on his immigration position:

What happens is, you provide people with some space to get into where they can say, "That guy is a racist xenophobe. That guy is just so crazy that we can take a more moderate stance.

....I have to set the bar as high as I can. I'm being completely candid with you. If I had actually set out to become president, then of course it would be ludicrous for me to do it in the way I'm doing it. I don't have that as my goal; I never have. The only way I can get on that plane and go to Iowa or New Hampshire and spend night after night in hotels in places you've never even heard of is by saying, "Think about why you're doing this, Tom." It is because the issue is important. You are the person that is advancing it. I have the luxury of saying, "I will set the goalposts as far as I can down the field because then I will have a better chance of getting the game played on my side."

I'm not sure that anyone could sum up conservative politics any better than that. Via Kevin Drum.

Rush Limbaugh Makes The Last Post Even Scarier

I went to lunch and wanted to hear today's bloviation. Rush was having a meltdown about the fact that little boys have become interested in cooking. Apparently, they have seen their fathers doing it more, and it is now common to see men doing it on television. To Rush, this is further proof of the meltdown of American society. If men are going to do something so feminine as cook, then my God where are things headed.

To prove that he could push male chauvinism to new extremes he added to this bizarre segment that men were, in fact, better cooks than women so there was some bright side.

The future may be closer than I want to believe.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Confluence



Last night I watched Idiocracy. Not the most well put together movie of all time, but the premise was fantastic. The idea was that we became technologically advanced enough that natural selection no longer applied, so the human race became dominated by those who simply breed the most. In a botched Army hibernation project, an average Joe from our time gets frozen and awakens 500 years from now. He is then the smartest man on the planet.

After the movie, I called my mom. She told me that parents at the junior high in my hometown are complaining about an after school yoga class because they are afraid it will diminish their daughters' religious values.

Science fiction is most scary when it seems plausible.

"I'm Secretary of State, brought to you by Carl's Jr." -- Secretary of State in 2550.

TQB

Josh Marshall writes about Total Quality Bamboozlement:

It seems we've finally come full circle. The pro-choice, gay-rights-backing 'hero' of 9/11 (Rudy) endorsed by the TV preacher (Robertson) who said 9/11 was God's punishment for America's culture of sin.

My Vote Really Does Matter

In fact, my vote yesterday represented the vote of 8 average Kansas Citians. Apparently, 78% of everyone in the city cared so little about their sidewalks or taxes that they chose to sit this one out. When I went to the polling place there were 4 poll workers and 3 people voting - including me.

Maybe instead of "yes and no" the ballot should have "ketchup and mustard" and tell people to vote for which one they want to win the hot dog race. You can get at least 90% of people to do that at a Royals game.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

80's Movie Quote of the Week


An understatement from The Sure Thing:

Gib: You told her I was a virgin?
Lance: Women love a challenge.
Gib: You told her I was gay!
Lance: It's a bigger challenge.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Playoff Madness



You may not know this, but a Kansas City team has won a playoff series. It's the Wizards who knocked off the top-seeded Chivas team to advance to the MLS Western Conference Championship Game.

The win was a product of great defense and the worst first round playoff format in all of professional sports. But hey, it worked in our favor this time.

Down the Byline has the best commentary on the match.

For those of you with Fox Soccer Channel, the next match will be at 7:30 Saturday night. I know not many people around here are soccer fans, but when is the next time you'll see a KC team a game from their respective finals?

Perspective



We have our problems. But a little perspective reminds us that our problems aren't even close to the problems many face around the world. Sometimes a picture reminds me of that better than anything else.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

That Explains It

The graph a couple of posts ago showed that the moderately rich aren't fairing nearly as well as the super rich when it comes to tax breaks. Today, Crooked Timber provides some possible explanation as to why:

“It is getting nasty: below the belt stuff; delving into people’s personal lives; crossing lines,” added the lobbyist, who was critical of colleagues but reluctant to repeat publicly allegations being made privately about lawmakers and congressional staff. People close to industry lobby groups such as the Private Equity Council and the Managed Funds Association are adamant they are not to blame for any sharp elbows thrown on Capitol Hill. Privately they tend to blame each other for black eyes to the industry’s reputation.

I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that Callan (who is an excellent and careful journalist, as best as I can tell from his previous articles) is suggesting that hedge fund lobbyists are blackmailing politicians and their aides over their personal lives, or doing the next best thing to it. Is there another plausible explanation that I’m missing here?

Oh right, blackmail. But blackmail is such a strong word. A quote comes to mind:

From Futurama --
Bender: Blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer "extortion." The "X" makes it sound cool.

Meanwhile Kevin Drum emphasizes the other point of the article very nicely:
If a party of the working class isn't willing to close a ridiculous loophole that provides a certain class of high-roller billionaires with a tax rate that's half of what ordinary people have to pay, what are they here for?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Spending It Like We Got It

The economy grew 3.9% in the third quarter this year, the best figure since the first quarter of 2006. But what about the housing problems you say? And what about the weak manufacturing report you say? Never fear, we'll grow the American way -- by spending ourselves out of trouble.

Consumer spending expanded at more than twice its rate in the second quarter, rising 3 percent after a 1.4 percent gain in the second quarter with a surge in sales of big-ticket products like appliances and furniture. Businesses spent more, too, with producer expenditures growing at a 7.9 percent annual rate, down slightly from 11 percent in the second quarter.

Degrees of Richness



Being pretty rich is apparently not all it's cracked up to be. For any real benefits, you have to be very rich.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

80's Movie Line of the Week



From arguably the best 80's comedy of them all, Ghostbusters:

Dr Ray Stantz: Symmetrical book stacking. Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947.
Dr. Peter Venkman: You're right, no human being would stack books like this.

2007 Movies

Back in the spring, I mentioned that 2007 should be a much better year for movies than was 2006. For much of the year, however, it seemed as though I might have spoken a bit prematurely. Sure Live Free or Die Hard was fun, Knocked Up was weirdly grown-up funny, and Superbad was a pitch-perfect sophomoric comedy, but I still hadn't seen much that just blew me away.

October is proving worthy to cure that trouble, however. Within the last week, I have seen Into the Wild, Michael Clayton and The Darjeeling Limited. All three were incredible. I particularly liked Clayton. It was a thriller that talked about important stuff without being sanctimonious about it. The Darjeeling Limited was classic Wes Anderson, and kind of an affirmation of what it means to be family. Into the Wild was a great story, and Emile Hirsch did a fantastic job of creating a character I admired and wanted to strangle at the same time.

I am excited about Before the Devil Knows You're Deadd, Gone Baby Gone, and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. I just hope I can fit all of them into my movie watching schedule. 2007 is indeed, restoring my hope after dismal 2006.

We Got Stuff

David Brooks has an amazing column. Somehow almost every week he bases the entire thing upon conjecture. He always tells us that he knows what John Q. Public is thinking, and somehow he has some special insight. Today he says:

Their homes are bigger. They own more cars. They feel more affluent. In a segmented nation, they have built lifestyle niches for themselves where they feel optimistic and fulfilled.

I believe he thinks A + B = C here, but how could he know that? Isn't it just as likely that people have bigger homes and more cars and are now incredibly stressed out about how they keep those things? Or couldn't they have them and be wondering why their bigger houses and extra cars aren't the ultimate answer to happiness?

Or maybe he does have his finger on the pulse of the nation, and that is how shallow we have become. I hope not.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Exhibit A...

...of why our political process is in trouble.

So Democrats have gone from 30% of all health industry donations in 2000 to 44% in 2004 to 57% this year. This is, obviously, good news and bad news. The good news is that lobbyist money follows winners, and the healthcare lobby seems pretty confident that a Democrat will become president next year. The bad news is that they might just get what they paid for.

Republicans? Democrats? Doesn't matter if you have the money to pay them all. And they need your money to keep getting elected. I can't see any flaws in that, can you?

The Finest Sport



Tomorrow officially marks the beginning of basketball season. The NBA has three games on tap tomorrow. College will be starting soon afterward. High school not long after that. Even Park Board is probably just around the corner. I'd watch any of it.

It's also the start of the fantasy NBA season. Like everyone else who has ever played fantasy sports, I started with football. It did not take me long to discover basketball, however, which is vastly superior. Never will I have to worry about some scrub catching a meaningless pass and running 50 yards for a TD, thereby turning my 10 point win into an unfathomable 1 point loss. The players earn their points is fantasy basketball.

The downside to fantasy basketball is that sometimes you have to go by the numbers instead of with your heart. This season for instance, I will be forced against my will to root for the unmitigated success of one Kobe Bryant. Yeeesh.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Make Believe

From the same story:

“This is not what Congressional leaders promised when they took control of Congress earlier this year,” the president said. “Congress needs to keep their promise, to stop wasting time and get essential work done on behalf of the American people.”

and

“It is clear that President Bush’s priorities are simply not those of the American people,” Mr. Reid said.


I know we aren't going to get everyone to get together in a room and work things out. But in trading barbs, could we not at least cut the charade that anyone's first priority is the American people.

It Depends

Would I ever consider voting for Rudy Giuliani? Let's say it depends on how he answers this.

Ms. Gustitus said: “He said he didn’t know if waterboarding is torture.”

Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, I’m not sure it is either. I’m not sure it is either. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it..."

Looks like the answer is "no", I would not consider voting for Rudy. Though I am quite sure the rest of the world would be pleased to hear that we have decided to hold ourselves to a different standard than everyone else.

Found via Kevin Drum.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Basketball Lesson

For those of you who aren't basketball fans, let me impart some (probably unwanted) knowledge. I can tell you today that the Houston Rockets will not be NBA champions. How do I know this?

Starting PG Mike James and backup PG Steve Francis took 31 of the teams 99 shots in a preseason game yesterday. They also had 5 assists between them (James played a remarkable 27 minutes at PG without a single assist).

The fact that Steve Francis is a Rocket at all probably should have been enough, but when your primary "ball distributors" instead function as your primary "ball heavers" you can write off your season immediately.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm Not Sure What to Say About This


This is the "Terrorist Buster" logo used by the CIA. For what, I'm not sure. Via Matt Yglesias.

80's Movie Line of the Week


From one of my very favorite 80's comedies, Three Amigos:

Rosita: I was thinking later, you could kiss me on the veranda.
Dusty Bottoms: Lips would be fine.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Vomiting a Little in My Mouth

I just flipped on the Republican debate on Fox. I watched less than 3 minutes before I couldn't take anymore. I understand that everyone has to pander to their base in a primary, but it just seems so egregious and yet unnatural with these guys. Rudy G. was even dogging the town he was once mayor of. I suppose he figures none of them are going to vote for him anyway. Geez.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Hillman!

The Royals have found the right man to carry them to the promised land. How do I know that?

"He won at every level, was manager of the year at three different levels," Moore said. "In Japan, the first two years, his team (Nippon Ham Fighters) showed improvement. The fourth year they won the Japanese Series and this year they're back in the Japanese Series with a team that's virtually last in every offensive category."


That team is exactly like the Royals!

On a side note, perhaps the Royals should change their name to the Kansas City Tenderloin Warriors. It has a ring to it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dilemma

This is the unfortunate question of politics.

"There is a great deal of angst about who will come forward and be electable, and also close to the social views and moral views we believe in," Page said.

This statement came from an evangelical, but it actually could have come from people with a variety of politics. Do you stand by your values, or do you be realistic about who is the electable lesser of two evils?

Why don't people vote again?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

80's Movie Line of the Week

A good recommendation from a friend.

From Weird Science:

Wyatt: Garry, don't you feel like a chicken?

Garry: Wyatt, if I could shoot an egg out my ass right now, I would! Look we can deal with shame, death is a much deeper issue.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Is That Extra Memory in Your Pocket or...

I challenge anyone to say they wrote a more bizarre thesis than this.

In his thesis, "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," Levy conjectures that robots will become so human-like in appearance, function and personality that many people will fall in love with them, have sex with them and even marry them.


The chorus of Hallelujahs you hear is from geeks the world over... and possibly married men:

Keeping a robot for sex could reduce human prostitution and the problems that come with it. However, "in a marriage or other relationship, one partner could be jealous or consider it infidelity if the other used a robot," Levy said. "But who knows, maybe some other relationships could welcome a robot. Instead of a woman saying, 'Darling, not tonight, I have a headache,' you could get 'Darling, I have a headache, why not use your robot?'"


If you still call your partner "Darling" they should be automatically entitled to a robot.

Colbert

Stephen Colbert stood in for Maureen Dowd yesterday. He was very insightful. For instance:

And Fred Thompson. In my opinion “Law & Order” never sufficiently explained why the Manhattan D.A. had an accent like an Appalachian catfish wrestler.

Why So Long in the Face?



Is the president wearing down? Don't know about the real one, but the WSJ illustrated version sure is. Maybe this version has a valid conception of reality.

From Slate.

Great Show

I feel supremely confident that I saw the best show in KC on Saturday night, and I was not at Elton John. Wilco and Andrew Bird put on the best concert I've seen in some time. It was the first time I had seen Bird, and he blew me away. He played several instruments and looped them together in nice arrangements, and he displayed whistling ability that bordered on supernatural.

After an opening like that, I was concerned that Wilco might actually seem a little flat. No worries. I've seen Wilco before, but this show was the best by a wide margin. They played a nice mix of songs from their now 6 albums, and they also put in two encores. Dan thought the encores (complete with fireworks) were a cheap gimmick. He may be right, but I could care less (and would add that I haven't been to a show without such a pre-planned encore in a long time). The band was on all night, and they seemed to step it up another notch in each encore.

Sure the band was probably pandering to the crowd when they said it was the best crowd they had on the tour, but as someone who has been a part of several crowds at music shows I would argue it was a pretty damn good crowd. When the crowd is totally into the show, it makes a difference. The energy was good.

The only gripe I have is that Stretch (proprietor of Grinders and Crossroads KC) took to the stage both before and after the show determined to make me believe I was at a Ted Nugent show. He screamed like he was MCing a monster truck rally and he killed a good vibe at the end of the show by yelling "F*#% You Elton John!" Everyone in the crowd was just looking around wondering what the hell was going on. Stretch has a couple of really cool businesses, and I even like his art. But man, stay off the stage.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Morals of Molars

From the NY Times, via Kevin Drum:

For American dentists, times have never been better.

The same cannot be said for Americans’ teeth.

With dentists’ fees rising far faster than inflation and more than 100 million people lacking dental insurance, the percentage of Americans with untreated cavities began rising this decade, reversing a half-century trend of improvement in dental health.


How many positive trends can be turned around in a matter of 8 years? Several, apparently.

Fighting Someone Their Own Size

I guess I'm feeling kind of anti-conservative today. Maybe it's because I read this:

The right is unapologetic. "The Democrats chose to outsource their airtime to a Seventh Grader," wrote National Review's Mark Steyn. "If a political party is desperate enough to send a boy to do a man's job, then the boy is fair game."

This is in relation to the 12 year old who gave the Democrats reply to a radio address by the president concerning SCHIP. His family has subsequently been ripped a new one by conservative bloggers and radio hosts.

I really want to believe that we all want basically the same things and we just have different ideas of how to get there, but then I read something like this and I just don't know.

Gored

Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. What did the leading conservative magazine have to say about that in their blog?

Al Gore should hand it over to General Petraeus and the U.S. military.

Al Gore should share it with Osama bin Laden, because bin Laden is also anti-global warming.

The Nobel Prize might as well be a prize at the state fair.

It's important to remember that this isn't a fringe site, and these aren't the commenters. These are leading conservative "minds". Classy bunch.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Methusela

I know interest in the NBA is low, but I like it. So if you want to read this blog, you'll occasionally have to deal with an NBA story.

Training camp is back in session, and pre-season games are underway. This does not excite my wife at all, incidentally. Anyway, I was checking box scores and came across the fact that getting significant sub minutes for the Denver Nuggets was Stacey Augmon. That is the same Stacey Augmon who was part of the the great UNLV teams of the early 90's. He's 39 years old. Somewhere Kevin Willis is smiling.

Lewis Black

Every time he is on the Daily Show he's good.

But last night was over the top good. If the link changes it will be the video titled Limbaugh.

Best Line (in reference to the flap over Obama not wearing a flag pin):

I'm not comfortable with any idea that can't be expressed in the form of men's jewelry. If it takes more than two cuff links to say it, you lost me.


Watch until the end to see the Fox Anchor bring Bill Clinton into it, and conflate two unrelated issues by pointing out they both contain the word "that".

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

They Eat Their Own

When asked to do so, right-wingers will take a break from hating lefties and focus on their own kind. So who do they find vile on their own side of the aisle (all the while spitting bile and ready to pile on those who's style is... ok enough)?

Ranking is on the left, er, the other side of right, and the number of top votes for each person is, naturally, on the far right:

18) Ted Stevens (4)
18) Olympia Snowe (4)
18) Mel Martinez (4)
18) Sean Hannity (4)
18) Lincoln Chafee (4)
17) Bill O'Reilly (5)
14) Lindsey Graham (6)
14) George W. Bush (6)
14) Mitt Romney (6)
12) Arnold Schwarzenegger (9)
12) Rudy Giuliani (9)
8) Andrew Sullivan (11)
8) Chuck Hagel (11)
8) James Dobson (11)
8) Ann Coulter (11)
6) Arlen Specter (12)
6) Pat Robertson (12)
4) Larry Craig (13)
4) Michael Savage (13)
3) John McCain (17)
2) Pat Buchanan (18)
1) Ron Paul (23)


That's a pretty weird list right? The funniest part to me is that four of the poll respondents still hate Lincoln Chaffee enough to vote him number one.

80's Movie Line of the Week

Apropos to the day I'm having.

Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in the Mel Brooks sci-fi spoof Spaceballs:

Out of order? F***! Even in the future, nothing works!

Obama V. Hacks

Dan over at Gone Mild has a great post about political hacks and their attempt to degrade Barack Obama for the crime of being right. Dan runs a large section of Obama's 2002 speech denouncing the war. I had heard a couple of quotes from the speech, but had never seen all the context. No matter what you think of him, this is pretty impressive prognostication.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Setting the Bar Low

The Economist has a story about the positives and negatives of a Hillary Clinton presidency. The main negatives are the legitimate concerns about the dynastification and continued polarization of American politics. Among the positives is this line:

Mrs Clinton is the anti-Bush: a woman who speaks in clear sentences, who has a formidable command of the facts, and who, on health care, is willing to learn from her mistakes.


Quite a statement about where we stand today.

Run Off the Field



The Chiefs ran for 10 yards today. All day. That was the total for the whole game. Yet on several occasions the offensive coordinator killed offensive momentum by insisting on trying something that hasn't worked all year. Probably time to start looking for a new offensive coordinator. Or maybe the head coach made that call.

Learning

I attended a conference this week. Conferences are interesting because you usually learn something, but not always what you assume you will. Here are a few things I learned at mine.

Steak is the worst food to serve at a conference banquet.

Trade show floors would be easier to navigate if you were deaf or rude.

There is apparently a large group of people who spend more time and effort worrying about and improving their "virtual life" than their real life. And they are stoked about it.

I don't really like magicians.

People often ask you what you like or dislike, but they would learn more about you if they asked what you're indifferent about.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Same Ol' Story

President Bush will veto the SCHIP bill today, setting the stage for a battle in Congress to override the veto. In all likelihood, the president will prevail.

There have been several arguments as to why the president thinks SCHIP expansion is a bad idea. As usual, most are misleading.

But one is true. The president's people claim that if SCHIP is expanded, some families who already have private insurance will be tempted to switch to public insurance. According to CBO estimates, 35% of children eligible under SCHIP also have access to private insurance.

And this is where the philosophical difference between liberals vs. conservatives comes squarely into view. Liberals believe that a system where some who don't need a particular benefit (in this case health insurance) but receive it anyway is a worthy trade off to ensure that all who need the benefit receive it. Conservatives turn that philosophy on its head. They believe that a system where some who need a particular benefit but do not receive it is a worthy trade off to ensure that no one receives a benefit they do not need.


There are many other examples of this, from classic "entitlements" to imprisonment. It reallys is the core of the stereotypes about "bleeding heart" liberals and heartless conservatives. The interesting question, though one likely not soon answered, is what sorts of life experiences or brain hard-wiring does it require for us to come to such radically different value judgements?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Radiohead

The band is releasing its new album on its own website. How much?

"It's up to you."

Pretty cool.

Movie Lines


At a nice dinner party this weekend, I was told that Andrew Sullivan had been running a poll about best movie lines ever. I haven't found it on the blog, but from the conversation in sounded like the top five were contained to generally well respected movies. That's fine, but don't the generally well respected movies get enough recognition already. How about great lines from ridiculous movies?

More specifically, how about great lines from 80's comedies? For members of my age group (particularly male members), these movies were the foundation for our media habits. Maybe that signals awful times ahead for the country, but I suspect it is harmless. It's also funny.

I thought this would be a post including many of the great lines from 80's comedies, but it just grew and grew. No matter how big it got, however, I still didn't think it was complete. So, I think 80's comedy quote for the week is in order. You could certainly do it everyday, but I don't want a blog that is half movie quotes.

To kick things off let's go to the Coen brothers' classic Raising Arizona:

H.I.: There's right and there's right and never the twain shall meet.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Qualified Pessimism

I haven't completely come around on the Royals, however. Now that the season ending stats are in, you can make a case that the Royals are the hardest working team in baseball. I say that because of two statistics: home runs, and strikeouts.

Home runs make run scoring much easier. When you can hit the ball out of the park, you don't have to string as many hits together to score runs. The Royals were 27th in the league in runs scored, and they were dead last in home runs. They hit 102, which was 16 behind the next closest team (Minnesota) and roughly 100 less than the top five teams (of which 4 were NL teams oddly enough).

Strikeouts make run stopping easier. The less the ball is put in play, the less chance something bad will happen. The correlation between K's and runs allowed isn't as strong as the one between home runs and runs scored, but it exists. The Royals finished 26th in strikeouts.

The other thing about these stats are that they seem to be two pretty good indicators of physical talent. Batters who hit home runs are physically gifted. Pitchers who strike batters out are usually physically gifted. The Royals would seem to have a paucity of physically gifted players. I think there is reason to be cautiously optimistic about the Royals future, but until we see more physical talent it will be hard to expect too much.

Cautious Optimism (And Increduility)

I'm generally not a big pessimist. Yet, when I posted on the KC sports scene all looked as bleak as could be. And now, only three days later things seem a bit better.

First of all, the Mike Sweeney era is most likely over. Mike took out an ad in the Star thanking KC fans, which was no doubt a class move. The problem with Sweeney was never his class, it was his general inability to play baseball for longer than 2 months at a time. You can argue that isn't his fault, but you also have to recognize that it was a killer for a franchise that decided to make him the franchise.

Second, I was wrong about the Chiefs (for a week anyway). I was totally unprepared to see the Chiefs open up the offense in San Diego. The personnel favors a passing attack right now, but I really thought Herm and Mike Solari would let their philosophy get in the way of a change of scheme. Let's hope they recognize that it isn't just a good idea when they're behind two scores at halftime. The defense is playing really well right now.Amazing what a difference a pass rush makes.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Local Sports Pessimism

Perhaps it is because I lost my "Royals will win at least 72 games" bet last night as the team wheezed to a 10-0 loss to the worst other team in the division, but I'm not feeling good about our KC sports these days.

The Royals seemed as though they might have turned a corner earlier this year playing over .500 baseball for a couple of months. Things have fallen apart at the end, however, and much of the (at least my) enthusiasm has waned. The rookies have been decent, which is nice, but after all that has happened the Royals are only going to be 6 to 9 games better than last season. That isn't huge improvement when you're coming from 100 losses.

The Wizards meanwhile perfected the disaster that was the Beckham "event" by losing a game they really needed to win 1-0 to one of the worst teams in professional soccer. Not the kind of showing you want to have in front of your largest crowd ever. The great Wizards blog Downthebyline hasn't even posted about the game yet. Hopefully, he (or she) isn't comatose after the disaster. The Wizards are still officially in the playoff picture, but by no means are they a "sure thing".

The Chiefs are adding to my depression by being one of the 2 or 3 worst teams in football. I'll suck it up and say I was wrong if they go beat San Diego this weekend (and with Norv Turner on the opposing sideline perhaps I am being too negative), but I give the Chiefs roughly zero chance of beating a desperate Chargers team in San Diego. Beating the Vikings 13-10 at home is not the kind of win that portends great things for your season.

There is also no word, and little hope, of the city adding a franchise to play in the Sprint Center. Until a new pack of teams needs to sucker us into to leveraging their demands, that front should stay silent.

Finally, since there are a few more of you reading this than there were the first time I posted on the subject, I want to show the (updated) list of what other multi-sports franchised cities have done since 1985 when we last had a team playing for a title (I didn't count soccer as one of the 4 major sports, the Wizards have won an MLS title).

Atlanta 6 app. (1 title)
Baltimore 1 app. (1 title)
Boston 11 app. (5 titles)
Buffalo 5 app.
Charlotte 3 app. (1 title)
Chicago 10 app. (8 titles)
Cleveland 3 app.
Cincinnati 2 app. (1 title)
Dallas 6 app. (4 titles)
Denver 7 app. (4 titles)
Detroit 10 app. (6 titles)
Houston 4 app. (2 titles)
Indianapolis 2 app. (1 title)
Los Angeles 13 app. (8 titles)
Miami 4 app. (3 titles)
Milwaukee/Green Bay 2 app. (1 title)
Minneapolis 3 app. (2 titles)
Nashville 1 app.
New York 20 app. (11 titles)
Oakland 4 app. (1 title)
Philadelphia 4 app.
Phoenix 2 app. (1 title)
Pittsburgh 4 app. (3 titles)
San Diego 2 app.
San Francisco 5 app. (3 titles)
Seattle 2 app.
St. Louis 5 app. (2 titles)
Tampa 2 app. (1 title)
Toronto 2 app. (2 titles)
Washington D.C. 3 app. (2 titles)

New Orleans is still the only other city with multiple franchises not to make a championship game, and they have only had two teams for 5 years. That will make you pessimistic.

Headlines

The New York Times has is currently featuring a story with the headline:

Blackwater Shooting Scene was Chaotic

If the point of the headline is to make me want to read the story, then this one gets an F. You can't take the one thing I probably already knew about incident and use that as bait to read the story.

Blackwater Shooting Scene was Serene would be headline worthy. Otherwise, the mood of the scene probably shouldn't be the feature.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Italian Food?

The Star has a story about a new tenant for the Power and Light District.

Bice Bistro will be a sophisticated, urban, upscale Italian bistro featuring authentic Italian cuisine with an international touch. The 6,000-square-foot space will feature mahogany floors, outdoor dining and a private dining mezzanine overlooking the main dining area. The moderately-priced menu will include pastas, pizzas and entrees such as Sesame Ahi Tuna – tuna loin in a sesame crust, light miso sauce with grilled asparagus, and Risotto con Gamberi – Arborio Italian rice with fresh prawns and asparagus.

Boy, one thing I know is that miso is the quintessential Italian ingredient. Those attending an event at the Sprint Center might want to find the Cupini's location downtown, head down Grand to Anthony's, or be really adventurous and go over to Columbus Park.

Are Republican Voters Racist (Part 2)?

Bob Herbert agrees with the Republican presidential nominees.

With statements like this it had can be hard to disagree:

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger,’ ” said Atwater. “By 1968, you can’t say ‘nigger’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things, and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.”

Kevin Drum puts it best saying, "Lovely man, Lee Atwater."

I actually find this quote fascinating. One way to read it is that Atwater is making the case that Republicans are for cutting taxes because it is the best way to screw with black people. I don't think you would find too many people to buy that line of thinking, but it might be fair to ask if it was at least Lee Atwater's line of thinking.

The Proof is in the Peanut Butter

Via Andrew Sullivan:



I never know what's real anymore.

Arrrgh, Sweeney!!!

Given my predilection to blame the woes of the Royals on el capitan Mike Sweeney, its hard to believe I hadn't considered the correlation earlier. But as the evil St. Louisan stood on the edge of victory in our wager, he pointed out that it seemed to him that the Royals' swan dive at the end of the season seemed to coincide with the return of the perpetually injured one.

Good looking out ESL, you were right on. Sweeney played with the team from opening day until June 17 before going down to injury. He made his triumphant return to break up a Twins no-hitter on August 31. Records for each portion of the Royals season follow:

April 2 - June 17: 28-42
June 18 - August 31*: 32-31
August 31* - September 25: 8-16

Total Winning Percentage With Sweeney: .383
Total Sans Sweeney: .508

*The best part is that on August 31, the Royals played a double-header. Sweeney did not play in the first game, which the Royals won. He returned for the second game, and the Royals were shut out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Matching

One of the more nefarious tools available on the web is the political comparison survey. In these contraptions, you answer a set of questions and are subsequently told which politician/candidate you are most like. People have put these up for some time, but USA Today has a particularly questionable one now.

The results themselves didn't end up that bizarre. My top 3 were Obama, Biden, and Clinton. I'm not sure they are in that order currently in my mind, but that is a pretty accurate triumvirate. Likewise, my polar opposites are apparently Tom Tancredo and Mitt Romney's current persona. Fair enough.

The problem is that I can't really know if any of this is accurate because of the 11 questions, I probably would have answered "none of the above" to at least 4 (and probably more). Also at issue is which questions are asked. Much to my horror, Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were in the lead for a while based entirely on the fact that they are the only two guys who have said that gays should be allowed to marry.

I'm pretty sure that 11 questions are not enough to determine which candidate should earn your vote. On the other hand, it's probably 11 more questions than many people bother with at all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Laughing Matters


Slate has an interesting piece up about sitcoms and the laugh track. Contained within is this line:

For the past few seasons, the most talked-about television comedies—The Office, 30 Rock, My Name Is Earl, Curb Your Enthusiasm—have looked and sounded more like films than sitcoms.

It just so happens that the shows listed in the quote constitute an almost complete list of my television watching schedule. It also happens that Three and a Half Men has a pronounced laugh track, and despite its status as one of TV's top rated comedies, couldn't entice me to watch another episode if it featured the second-coming.

What does this mean? Does it mean that I have a knee-jerk reaction against laugh tracks? Does it mean that the shows without laugh tracks have writers who work harder because they don't have built in laughs? Is the problem that I am too easily distracted by 100 strangers laughing in my living room? Is it an age thing? Are there laugh track and non-laugh track people in the world?

Your Local Ads, Er News

I have completely broken myself of the habit if watching local news on weeknights. This gives me at least 2.5 hours of life that I can better spend doing almost anything. Unfortunately, I have not been able to get rid of Sunday night local news. I just want to see a live weather forecast from time to time, and I like to hear a weekly wrap on local sports.

My inability to break this happen means that I end my weekend with one of the most infuriating experiences of my life. I guess it's a nice way to let myself know that fun time is over. I know I will see stories about house fires three states away, something awful that happened to an animal somewhere, and probably a live shot of a field reporter standing in some unidentifiable, pitch black location. I have, to an extent, made my peace with that fact.

Last night on KSHB, however, these asinine stories were in short supply. "Did they have real news on," you might be asking yourself. Of course not. What they filled a considerable portion of the newscast with was advertising. There is a series KSHB runs every Sunday night called "Business in Action" that is simply an advertising vehicle. It hit a new low Sunday night when I was "introduced" to one of these action-oriented businesses for the second time. Gallup Map Company may be a fine maker of Kansas City street maps, but are they so great the should be featured twice on this already ludicrous segment. If Channel 41 is going to pimp local businesses on their newscast, shouldn't they at least spread the wealth?

Had it only been this BIA report, the newscast might have faded into memory as most newscasts do by the next morning. But after explaining the virtues of a local business to me for the second time, KSHB went on to do a long "news" segment about two new shows this fall on NBC.

If this is how they are going to conduct a news program why waste money on a set and anchors. Who will be the first news organization brave enough to just have a weather forecast surrounded by 25 minutes of advertising? At least it would be a little less disingenuous.
 

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