Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Election High

Well the mayoral primary is over and we are left with two candidates: Brooks and Funkhouser. My vote in the final will be for Funkhouser, but I can truly say that I think both candidates offer more positives than negatives should they become mayor. I thought about that last night as I watched the results, and then a question occurred to me. How often does this happen? Over the past few years, we have been subjected to elections where both candidates are suspect at best and plain awful at worst.

That makes me think this mayoral race will be a treat. I hope the negative ads don't appear, though I doubt whether the candidates will have complete control over the matter. In the end, it will be nice to watch election results without it feeling like things are about to get worse no matter the outcome.

I'm not sure what's wrong with me because I usually hold a much more cynical view. But the fact is that I kind of feel this way about the 2008 presidential election as well. Maybe that has more to do with where the bar is currently set, but it is nice to know that whatever happens it will most assuredly mean a step forward. I think that is all we can ever really ask for.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Queen, The King, and the Underrated Princess

Well, the Oscars went 3 for 4 (sort of). I mentioned previously that a strange phenomenon that has developed in the Academy Awards is that actors playing real people have greatly enhanced chances of winning. The streak continued last night with Best Actress and Best Actor going to biographical actors and Best Supporting Actress essentially doing the same.

In a somewhat related note, I saw Pan's Labyrinth this weekend. It was fantastic. Honestly, it was the only great 2006 movie I saw. I'm not sure if a movie can be nominated for best foreign film and best picture, but if so it should have. Of course, it didn't even win best foreign film. It was beaten by The Lives of Others, which I would very much like to see but will apparently have to wait on. Tivoli, are you on this one or what? I was also blown away by the performance of the young star of Pan's Labyrinth, Ivana Baquero. The girl from Little Miss Sunshine was great, but for pre-teen performances there was no contest.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Comments fixed...

I hope. Only this morning when I tried to leave my own comment did I realize that I set the settings screwed up. If you have previously felt the need to comment and been unable to do so, please feel free to try again.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I hate it when that happens.

At least I know my book club of godless heathens wouldn't be affected.

From the Onion, of course.

Rapture Wreaks Havoc On Local Book Club

MARION, IN—Following last week's rapture, which transported four members of the Marion Mockingbirds Book Club to heaven in order to be with Jesus Christ, the three remaining members have reportedly been scrambling to maintain a regular Wednesday meeting schedule as well as the usual coffee-and-pastry rotation.

"It's a shame because I think Shirley had the most stimulating opinions, and I was really looking forward to hearing what she'd have to say about [Fannie Flagg's Standing In The Rainbow] right before her ascension," said club member Diane Valinsky Monday. "And we were supposed to meet at Lucas' house this week, but I guess that's out now, seeing as the armies of Satan are on the march."

Valinsky said she and the remaining members were not surprised that the Antichrist turned out to be Mitch Albom, calling his latest fiction effort, For One More Day, "disappointing."

All-Star Game

I figure I have now waited a sufficient period of time between posts to lose the interest of the the three or four of you that were reading this thing. But that is OK because I suppose it frees me from the constraints of trying to write something that might have interested you.

I will instead use this post to comment on something that is neither interesting to most people or particularly timely, since it happened 4 days ago. I refer to the NBA all-star game. Here are a few of my thoughts about the event.

1. Wayne Newton can't sing anymore and he looks like Johnny Cash, if Johnny Cash had gotten a ton of plastic surgery and hosted a game show.

2. Tracy McGrady is the most talented player in the NBA. Kobe may be better because he has more drive, but when he is healthy TMac can do anything he wants.

3. Charles Barkley is the least professional and simultaneously best TV guy in sports. You have to love it when someone who is being payed to talk shows up with a barely audible voice because he partied so hard the night before. But you can't do anything about it because he is always the most entertaining part of the show.

4. I don't know why I have always bagged on Shaq. Maybe its a case of gigantaphobia, but the guy is always having a good time and he is probably the most dominant player of the post-Jordan era.

5. Worst halftime show ever. Christina Aguilera was actually pretty entertaining. The Cirque du Solei (or however you spell that) bunch were fine, but not representative of the impressiveness of their real show. Toni Braxton was nearly inaudible (possibly a blessing), and was (I think) doing one of those dreadful song montages. My real problem with the whole thing was how it all fit together, or rather how it all didn't fit together. I remember when a strange combination was Aerosmith and Britney Spears, but that seems like Cinderella and Firehouse at the state fair compared to this.

6. I hope we get some Suns vs. Magic finals in the future. I could watch Amare Stoudamire and Dwight Howard battle in the post all day.

7. It really seems like the NBA has a chance to make a comeback with the group of young players that are out there today.

8. Everyone talks about the lack of big men in the East, but how about the lack of point guards?

9. The Mavericks should be seriously upset with all those people who wanted four Pistons in the all-start game last year because they were the best team. Where were those people this year?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Back To The Present

You have to hand it to the anti-evolution crowd. They are nothing if not persistent. They were defeated yesterday in Kansas as the school board reversed last year's much-ballyhooed standards questioning evolution. Yet, they vow to keep fighting:

“This issue is never going to go away,” said John Calvert, director of the Intelligent Design Network and a Lake Quivira resident. “You can’t keep science in a box.”

I'm not sure what he means other than that as soon as they can get there people back on the school board, devolution will once again be in full-effect. I was astounded to read that this is the fourth time the standards have changed in eight years. Tenacity is apparently a trait that pairs nicely with absolutism.

Yet, I am holding out hope. I would feel a little hypocritical after all if I weren't willing to allow the possibility that their reasoning might just evolve a little.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Something I'm Looking Forward To

A new movie from the guys who made Shaun of the Dead, possibly my favorite comedy of the last five years. The movie is called Hot Fuzz and the trailer seems to indicate more of the same.

The Limited Release is set for April 20th. When we will see it here is, of course, a mystery.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I Don't Ask for Much

But this would be a dream come true. The Bolton-Rumsfeld ticket? The piece is long, but I had to read it twice just to make sure I wasn't hallucinating. I wasn't, though I think the authors must be.

As happens so often, the comments are the best part:

"Bold and brave at the same time. The Dems look like a clown act in comparison. Sign me up."

Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Maybe They'll Get a Snow Day

One of my favorite things about Congress is how they tend to behave just like 7th graders. Capitol Briefing at the Washington Post has a blog entry that features these words:

Turning the traditional threat about Congressional recesses on its head, Reid issued an entirely different kind of recess proffer yesterday on the floor. He offered to wrap things up lickety-split this week and send all 100 senators home early, maybe even a full week ahead of schedule, for the planned week long Presidents Day recess scheduled to begin Feb. 16.

Forget about ideaology, intellectual honesty, political expedience, or any of the other infinite number of reasons you could vote for or against something. What's really important is that you get out of work a week early!

Last one to cast their vote gets a swirly.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

What I Wish I had Written

I played an interesting game the other night with some friends where each of us had to name a book that possessed certain qualities for each of us. It was one of those list exercises that I find irresistible. We had to pick a book that changed the way we think, a book that we would want on a desert island, a book we wished we had written, etc. The primary thing I learned during the game was that I need to read more.

I also learned that when I tried to come up with "what I wished I had written," the answer wasn't a book. It was a poem by Stephen Crane.

A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

From experience I know that the most difficult thing in the world is to say everything you want to say concisely. But this poem does it. I've never seen the feeling of one person's general insignificance so tightly and neatly packaged. Anytime I begin to sulk about my problems, a quick remembrance of this poem makes me realize that none of it is worth the worry.

Friday, February 2, 2007

What a pisser!

I am not even sure what to make of this:

Friday, February 02, 2007
Man posed as employer to get urine
From the AP: A 36-year-old Omaha man accused of luring women to his home and taking urine samples when they thought they were applying for a job was found guilty Thursday of two counts of criminal impersonation.

Victims told police Kevin Oliver said he worked for cell phone company T-Mobile and was interviewing them for jobs. Prosecutors said there never were any jobs.

"To this day, we don't know what his ultimate goal was but whatever it was it was deceptive, it was damaging and it was protracted," said Omaha city prosecutor Marty Conboy. "This went on for 18 months that we know of."

Beyond the obvious lead question of what he did with the pee, I think I would really want to know how he convinced the women that his bathroom was the official drug screening location.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Ignorance + Indifference = KMBZ Audience

The big news story in town over the last two days has been the incident where Kansas City police officers jailed a woman who was pregnant and bleeding, but was driving a car with fake tags. The woman pleaded with officers to check her to see she wasn't lying, but they declined. The result was that the woman gave birth to a three month old baby the next day and the baby proceeded to live for one minute. Not surprisingly, there has been a pretty large public outcry over the issue. The tape shows pretty clearly that no matter the circumstances (the woman did have several outstanding warrants) the officers acted in a manner that was well beneath standards that most would consider decent.

At least that seems to be the consensus everywhere but on the area's favorite right-wing radio station. I like to keep tabs on what is going on in the separate reality that calls AM home. Anyway, the local drive time show was covering this issue at length. The hosts who have taken over for Jerry Agar were taking the side of mainstream America on this one. They were pretty consistent in their comments that the officers were in big trouble and that they should be. It all seemed very reasonable. But as I've learned time and again listening to these shows, underestimate the callers' callousness at your own peril. In the time it took me to drive home I heard 3 callers side with the woman and 3 others side with the officers. Actually, they didn't so much side with the officers as side against the woman.

It's amazing enough that 50% of callers (in an admittedly small sample) saw no problem with what happened. But what really threw things over the top were the arguments each caller made. One man suggested that this was merely another case of a frivolous lawsuit being brought against the police, and if we didn't get such suits under control we wouldn't have a police force anymore. The man did not elaborate on what kind of circumstances it would take for there to be a justifiable lawsuit against the police. Perhaps if they shot an unarmed baby he might concede, although he also might argue that they would have no way of knowing what the bulge in the baby's diaper was actually concealing.

Another man said the story was just to fishy because anyone in their right mind would have called 911 instead of trying to drive to the hospital. The radio hosts suggested that the stress of being pregnant and bleeding might have meant the woman wasn't thinking completely clearly, or she might simply have not had a phone. The caller was having none of this, simply repeating his points and insisting that it just wasn't right.

The showstopper, however, was a woman who called and suggested that the pregnancy issue was a ploy to get out of being arrested. Her argument was that she used to work at some retail establishment and shoplifters would fake seizures to get out of arrests. Her claim was that if you could get yourself taken away from the scene in an ambulance, the police could no longer arrest you. Well that, of course, is completely inaccurate. But the woman argued about it with the hosts for a few good rounds. And when the hosts explained that no matter whether it was illegal or not this woman really did have a problem, she simply responded by declaring that it still didn't mean that she wasn't just trying to get out of being arrested. It was true because she "seen it too many times."

The compassion is rather astounding isn't it?

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