Friday, March 28, 2008

Musical Debate

The Back to Rockville blog from the Star has a post about Q magazine taking a reader poll of the best British albums from 1958 to 2008. It seems that the great unwashed readership chose to name Oasis's Definetly, Maybe as #1. From this, I am supposed to take the conclusion that readers of Q magazine are charlatans.

While I think that The Rolling Stones' place on the list and the weirdly high placement of Keane are both ludicrous, I also kind of like the fact that regular people are willing to break with the time honored tradition of declaring that the bands that came before are the sacred cows who made the music that will never be bested.

Sure, Muse standing next to The Who on a list is kind of strange, but why can't OK Computer legitimately be thought of as a peer to Revolver? And even if I'm not a huge Oasis fan, whose to say the Brits are wrong for disagreeing? It's not like they declared a Firehouse album #1, right?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

I know Roadhouse isn't technically a comedy, but I defy anyone to tell me it isn't funny. For example:

Doc: Your file says you've got a degree from NYU. What in?
Dalton: Philosophy.
Doc: Any particular discipline?
Dalton: No. Not really. Man's search for faith. That sort of shit.

As an aside, when looking for the pic for this post, I discovered that there was a Roadhouse 2 released in 2006. Has anyone been fortunate enough to see that sorcery?

Government Can In Fact Work When You Don't Put People in Charge Who Think It Won't

Great article on Slate about how FDR's policies are still bailing us out of trouble.

But as the nation once again confronts a systemic failure in housing and housing-related credit, the Bush administration is going back to the future, using New Deal-era agencies as the cornerstone of its response.

The moral is, of course, put people who believe in government in charge of government instead of people who don't. And if you put people who don't believe in government in charge, don't be surprised when they turn out to be right.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Really Can Be Compensation for Something Else

The redneck birth control joke lurks just around corner, waiting simply for an opportunity:

A district in India implements an unusual exchange program:

The results are impressive: 139 men have undergone vasectomies in the district since the incentive of a firearms permit was introduced a month ago, compared with only eight in 2007.

Via Andrew Sullivan.


When someone starts giving you static about how the governement needs to stay out of this or that because we live in a "free market economy", it is important to ask them what about the market is actually free. The standard model doesn't usually involve quite as many monopolies as we have today. And here comes another one:

The Justice Department gave approval on Monday to the merger of two rival radio networks, XM and Sirius, a marriage that would create a de facto monopoly in satellite services now used by more than 17 million subscribers.

If the government runs anything it is bad because the government is a natural monopoly. But if a corporate monopoly runs anything that's ok because...


Look, maybe this will be the best thing to happen all season for the Royals. On the other hand, I would have taken this as a highlight last season.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back in the Fold

I had a few days with my high school buddies watching NCAA games and playing ping-pong at a rented lake house. My internal organs will need a few more days to return to normal after at least one meal that consisted entirely of Cheetos and Doritos.

It was a great time, but it was also a learning experience. The main thing I learned is that the answer is "No." if the question is "Do you want to see my rash?"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

In honor of my impending trip to the lake, a quote from The Great Outdoors that I feel sure will be uttered at some point:

Roman: You know what the gourmet here wanted? Hotdogs! You know what they're made of, Chet? Huh? Lips and assholes!


I was seriously concerned over the weekend about last week's revelations about Obama's preacher. It was exactly the kind of thing that could derail the whole thing.

But yesterday, Obama proved again that words do matter. His speech was fantastic. He criticised the minister's statements, but didn't toss him under the bus. He also acknowledged that racial worries are a two-way street and that circumstances have been right to foster racial suspicion on both sides of the street.

On the Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart said "At 11 o'clock am on Tuesday a prominent politician spoke to the American people about race as though they were adults."

That is the best way I have heard to describe the appeal of Obama.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Turd Ferguson

NBC Universal and Newscorp have collaborated on a new website featuring television and movie content that streams for free (supported by ads). It's called hulu, and it features content that makes it promising. You can find the Big Lebowski, Three Amigos, and clips from SNL like one of my all-time favorites:

Monday, March 17, 2008


A few thoughts about the NCAA tournament brackets:

The little guys were disrespected yet again. Dayton and Illinois State were left out sporting RPI's of 32 and 33 respectively. Meanwhile Kentucky and Oregon rolled into the tourney with RPI's of 57 and 58. Kentucky is 18-12. From the talk on the sports shows last night, the last team out was Arizona State who is 82. Why do we continue the charade that RPI matters? The only thing it is used for is to make it easier to exclude small teams when their number doesn't measure up.

The national champion will probably be one of the legends of college basketball. North Carolina, Kansas, and UCLA are all #1 seeds. Duke and Georgetown are #2 seeds. Only the South Region with Memphis and Texas is likely not to send a member of the royal family to the Final Four.

Coincidence that OJ Mayo and Michael Beasley are matched up in the first round? No way.

Speaking of USC vs. K-State, the #6-#11 matchups are the most interesting of the first round.

My early thought is that there isn't much reason not to pick the four #1 seeds to be the Final Four contenders. The best reasons I can think of right now are Tennessee, Pitt, and Georgetown.

Bail Out

Just to be clear, we have now made it harder to help out people who run into financial trouble (bankruptcy reform), look down upon helping individuals who are perpetually in financial trouble (welfare), but are perfectly willing to bail out a company worth billions of dollars "for the greater good."

I am not trying to argue that bailing out Bear Stearns wasn't necessary in this economic landscape, but those who claim "moral hazard" anytime the subject of welfare or personal bankruptcy comes up should be up in arms about this deal too. Somehow, I suspect that won't be the case.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Just in Case You Forgot

George Bush is still our president, and he's still doing all the things that make me wish he wasn't.

Politics over good government? Check.

"It is unprecedented and an unlawful act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA's expert scientific judgment," said John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Expanding executive power and reducing transparency? Check.

Almost 32 years to the day after President Ford created an independent Intelligence Oversight Board made up of private citizens with top-level clearances to ferret out illegal spying activities, President Bush issued an executive order that stripped the board of much of its authority.

Always good to remember that he isn't just singing and dancing as he winds things down.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Notable News

The two best news stories I have heard today:

Sheriff: Woman sat on toilet for 2 years

He told investigators he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.

"And her reply would be, `Maybe tomorrow,'" Whipple said. "According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom."

Video of news vans racing makes CNN

The live-remote trucks from Channel 7-KVIA and Channel 4-KDBC were filmed racing Friday night at a new drag strip east of El Paso.

Founding Fathers

Perhaps it's geography. Perhaps it's personality. Whatever the reason, I often seem to find myself on the receiving end of lectures about what the Founding Fathers believed and how that should shape our country.

Via the Political Animal blog, I see that beliefnet founder Steve Waldman has written a book on the subject called Founding Faith. The book is definitely going on my reading list, and this comment only heightens my interest:

Waldman has read just about every available thing that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and the rest said and wrote, publicly and privately, about their personal theological views. He comes to two conclusions. First, all the Founders saw themselves as Christians and believed that God in one way or another guides human affairs. So, score one for the religious right. Second, not a single one of the main Founders actually believed in the divinity of Jesus, which is the central tenet of the Christian faith. Score one for the secular left.

Sounds enlightening.

I'm Warning You

I've talked previously about how one of the big problems with George Bush is that he's always "warning" everyone. He warns the Palestinians not to do this. He warns Democrats not to do that. He warns the press... and on and on. Well, today he is doing more warning:

With the House poised to vote today on electronic surveillance legislation that the White House has said falls far short of its requirements, President Bush warned legislators strongly Thursday morning against passing what he called “a partisan bill that will undermine American security.”

At least no one can ever say he didn't warn them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

80's Movie Quote of the Week

Just because it's a crappy 80's movie doesn't mean it can't have some truth in it. From The Burbs:

Ray Peterson: [mumbling] aw, oh I should have gone to the lake, I shoulda listened to Carol...
Art Wiengartner: Listen to your wife? Who listens to their wife? Listen, you gotta listen to me.

Ethics Committee

Say what you want about Nancy Pelosi, she accomplished something nobody else has been able to in recent memory (and something I didn't think anyone would do).

The House last night approved one of the most significant changes to its ethics rules in decades, creating for the first time an independent panel empowered to initiate investigations of alleged misconduct by members of the chamber.

...But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wore down opponents, first with changes to the original proposal, then by scheduling last night's public vote and essentially daring members to reject it.

Of course, the bill has been derided by several members of Congress, and it isn't perfect. But any step in this direction has to be seen as progress, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Our president is apparently not just a dance man, but a song man as well. This is apparently what is meant by bringing dignity back to the White House.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited about the prospect of the next Batman movie. This article in the Times does a nice job of raising my expectations even higher.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Better

Republicans may have shown over the past several years just how precarious it is to claim the moral high ground when taking power, but Democrats now have their chance to reinforce the lesson. Up first, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer caught in a prostitution ring.

On the plus side, at least he didn't take the podium and insist that he doesn't like prostitutes.

All In a Day's Work

An article in the Washington Post talks about John McCain's derision of a grizzly bear study in his stump speech, and how the study authors are upset with what they consider a mischaracterization.

There is really nothing in the article that doesn't make me wonder why it was front page news, but it does make me wish I had more interesting goals at work. It should suffice to say that my definition of a succesful project is a good deal more boring than this:

"Nobody got seriously hurt. We collected a ton of bear hair. We stayed on budget."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Best Thing I Read Today

From the "Findings" section of the March issue of Harper's:

Pomegranate juice, French maritime pine-tree bark, and poverty were all found to be "the natural Viagra."


God help me, I'm going to miss him a little. Video here.

80's Movie Quote of the Week

Bad guys often have the best lines in movies. This all too plausible line is from the bad guy in Innerspace.

Victor Scrimshaw: Nuclear weapons, Jack. They mean nothing. Everybody's got them, nobody has the balls to use them. Space, you say? Space is a flop. An endless void filled with floating junk. Ah, but! - miniaturization, Jack. That's the ticket. That's the edge everyone is looking for. Who will have that edge, Jack? Which country will control minaturization? Frankly, I don't give a shit. I'm just in this for the money.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


(Update: The embedded deal didn't work out. Use the link to play the game.)

A nice diversion. Try finding a Pacific Island in the middle of this tiny map.


I don't know how Ohio and Texas will turn out today, but I certainly hope that if Obama puts it out of reach that Hillary folds. There seems to be disagreement on the point, but I am firmly in the camp that believes the longer the two of them duke it out, the worse. Somebody needs to be able to focus on running against McCain.

Weird Season

This is one of the strangest NBA seasons I can remember. Eight teams make the playoffs from both the Eastern and Western conferences. If the playoffs started today, the Denver Nuggets would not make the playoffs at 11 games over .500.

If they were in the Eastern Conference, however, they would be the 4th seed. The West has been better than the East for some time now, but this is ridiculous. The 8th seed in the east right now is 7 games under .500.

If this keeps up, here is a vote for a playoff reseed to get the best teams into the postseason. I usually think messing with these things is not worth it, but I really don't want to watch a Celtics/Nets first round matchup. That could set basketball back years.

Monday, March 3, 2008


The story above is about a ray gun that the military could be using to disperse hostile crowds without killing anyone. The gist of the story is that they are having a hard time funding it because of military culture. I hope there is a better reason why this hasn't gone forward than "the army prefers to kill people", but maybe there isn't.

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