Wednesday, December 23, 2009

top 10 favorite movies of the decade

i am running a bit behind on my list making these days, but i felt compelled to at least throw up my top 10 favorite movies of decade. like AA before me, many of these are certainly classics in the making, while some of these may only appeal to me and me alone. these are certainly not THE BEST movies of the decade by any means--just the ones that i enjoy the most. a top 50 might surface, but this is all i got for now...

1. Almost Famous
2. High Fidelity
3. School of Rock
4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
5. Lord of the Rings Trilogy (also cheating!)
6. Juno
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
8. Moulin Rouge
9. The Royal Tenenbaums
10. Love Actually

A Christmas Wish from The Onion and Me

The Onion, funny as usual.

SOUTHFIELD, MI—Bored with scaring elderly misers, the Ghost of Christmas Future is spending the holiday season taunting modern children with visions of Christmas 2016's hottest toy: the Sony PlayStation 5, a 2,048-bit console featuring a 45-Ghz trinary processor, CineReal graphics booster with 2-gig biotexturing, and an RSP connector for 360-degree online-immersion play.

Silly Liberals

Kevin Drum noticed the following Mike Potemra quote at National Review online in a piece about Jean-Luc Picard.

I have over the past couple of months been watching DVDs of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show I missed completely in its run of 1987 to 1994; and I confess myself amazed that so many conservatives are fond of it. Its messages are unabashedly liberal ones of the early post-Cold War era — peace, tolerance, due process, progress....
Sometimes I try and convince myself that part of the problem with liberals and conservatives is that we see cartoonish versions of one another that aren't a true picture. Then I read something like this.


Playing with the blog look a little over the holidays. May stick, may not. Hope to add a few more things to the sidebar as well. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Garfunkel was Merely a Pawn

There is an individual I work with who comes around a couple of times a week to explain to me what new nefarious plots the government and the "New World Order" are up to currently. Today, I found out that the government is working on controlling our minds via HDTV and "the sound of silence."

This technology is about to be used, albeit in a more subtle fashion, against American citizens in a highly classified and covert operation to mind control and manipulate the entire population into 'compliance' with our New World order overlords. The technology will utilize a combination of HAARP transmitters, GWEN towers, microwave cell phone towers, and the soon-to-be-mandatory High Definition DIGITAL TV that will enter your home via A) Cable, B) Satellite, C) HD TVs, or D) those oh-so-easy -to-obtain "Digital Converter boxes" that the government is so anxious to help you obtain and underwrite most of the cost on your behalf...

...Moreover, what if televisions across the U.S. and Canada all went 100% DIGITAL [E.g. the mandatory HD conversion to take place in Feb. 2009] in their signals (which must happen in order to successfully link to pre-positioned, interconnected GWEN (Ground-Wave Emergency Network) Towers) which of course would allow the unrestricted use of the Sound of Silence frequencies in a complete and massive control of the nation’s mind and consciousness?
I made a crack about Paul Simon being in on the deal, but as it turns out after going to the Internet, the joke was on me.

Paul Kane's (Paul Simon) musical work in the early 1960's was primarily as a contracted songwriter in the famed "Brill Building machine." He would write songs for other artists to record. He did try his hand at performing, however. Assuming a new stage name - Paul Kane - he wrote many ballads and rockabilly tunes which were recorded, both by Paul and as a member of the mildly-successful Tico and the Triumphs. Paul also had a famous collaborator - Carole Kane (who changed her name to Carol King). Paul Simon, a Jew whose family was part of the 'military-industrialist complex' was very likely a product of the early 1960’s military experimentation in Silent Sound mind control –which is clearly what the lyrics of “The Sound of Silence” convey to those 'in the know'.
I'm starting to fear that the bridge over troubled water is actually a bridge to let those dirty communists Julio, Cecilia, and Mrs. Robinson into the U.S. to convert the country into some sort of dystopian Graceland.

Monday, December 21, 2009


An article in the New York Times helps highlight an under publicised problem with our current labor situation:

Halfway across the country, in Burlington, Iowa, the recession bypassed the Winegard Company. That is perhaps because Winegard makes television antennas and satellite receivers, and in hard times people watch more television, said Denise Baker, Winegard’s director of human resources. Whatever the case, to keep up with new orders, the company has added 70 workers in the last two years — all of them temps.

“An actual employee with benefits costs more than a temp or a contract worker,” Ms. Baker said, “and as long as I can still get highly skilled temps, I’ll go that route. It gives me more room to reverse course if the economy weakens again and sales do finally sink.”
Unemployment is certainly bad, but people don't just need jobs. They need jobs that come with some sense of security (and hopefully benefits). Trends like the one in the article are the kind of thing that will keep the income gap in the U.S. high and will keep many Americans in a dangerous situation.

Best of the 2000s: Movie Analysis

Because making a list of your favorite 50 movies of the decade isn't nerdy enough, here is a little analysis of the list to take it the extra mile.

A little by the numbers for your entertainment:

1 western

2 animated films

3 Wes Anderson movies

4 movies with George Clooney

4 kung fu movies

5 fantasy or sci-fi movies

6 movies that have virtually no chance of making any critics' top tens

7 movies from each of 2003, 2004 and 2005 (tied for top spot)

8 or so crime dramas

12 films from the years 2006, 2008 and 2009 listed without producing a top 10 designate

14 as a total score for the year 2001 if you inverted the top 10 list and assigned each movie the number the next to it and then added all the movies from the same year (2001 is #1 by that system)

Best of the 2000s: My Favorite Movies

Here are my favorite movies of the 2000s. I'm not claiming them to be the best movies of the 2000s from a critical perspective. Some really are testaments to great film making (Traffic) and some are ridiculous movies I just happen to really like (The Transporter). There was a pretty big list of movies that I had to leave off to pare down to 50. Feel free to comment on any serious omissions. (Note: I did cheat by listing both the Lord of the Rings movies and the Kill Bill movies as group entries. But it's my list.)

As an aside, I think 2009 is getting the shaft here because I haven't seen enough 2009 movies yet. From everything I have heard (and the quantity of George Clooney movies on this list), Up in the Air is going to be on this list once I see it, and perhaps there will be some others as well.

2000 – Traffic
2000 – High Fidelity
2000 – Gladiator
2000 – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
2000 – Almost Famous
2001-2003 – Lord of the Rings Trilogy
2001 – The Royal Tennenbaums
2001 – Amelie
2001 – Monsters Inc.
2001 – Ocean’s Eleven
2002 – Road to Perdition
2002 – The Pianist
2002 – The Transporter
2002 – Punch Drunk Love
2003-2004 – Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2
2003 – Lost in Translation
2003 – Old School
2003 – Bad Santa
2003 – Seabiscuit
2003 – Shanghai Knights
2004 – Hero
2004 – Shaun of the Dead
2004 – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2004 – Miracle
2004 – Napolean Dynamite
2004 – Layer Cake
2005 – The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
2005 – A History of Violence
2005 – Good Night and Good Luck
2005 – The Matador
2005 – Wedding Crashers
2005 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
2005 – Kung Fu Hustle
2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth
2006 – Volver
2006 – Children of Men
2006 – The Lives of Others
2007 – 3:10 to Yuma
2007 – Michael Clayton
2007 – The Darjeeling Limited
2007 – No Country for Old Men
2007 – Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten
2007 – Charlie Wilson’s War
2008 – The Dark Knight
2008 – RocknRolla
2008 – In Bruges
2008 – Gran Torino
2008 – Forgetting Sarah Marshall
2009 – Away We Go
2009 – Star Trek
2009 – Fantastic Mr. Fox

Top 10:
1. Traffic
2. The Royal Tennenbaums
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
4. The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
5. Lost in Translation
6. Hero
7. Amelie
8. Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2
9. 3:10 to Yuma
10. Monster’s Inc.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Back to School

Brandon Jennings has had a great rookie season thus far for the Milwaukee Bucks. After spending a year in Europe instead of college, he has offered us yet more proof that the NBA's rule that forces players to wait a year after high school before entering the draft is dumb.

On the other hand, perhaps Jennings should take a little of the money he is now earning and take a few college courses. He was recently fined by the league for a tweet that fell too close to the prohibited tweeting time around a game. But I think the timing should probably be excused before the message itself:

"Back to 500. Yess!!! "500" means where doing good. Way to Play Hard Guys."

I appreciate the enthusiasm, but I think maybe an English class is in order.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

So Russia is like, "I don't want to say I told you so, but..."

It was reported today that militant insurgents have found a way to hack U.S. drones in flight over conflict areas using a $26, off-the-shelf computer program. This seems both terrifying and hilarious given that an unnamed government official related that the unencrypted signals represented a flaw that was noticed during Bosnian operations in the '90s. Furthermore, the officials related that "...the Pentagon assumed local adversaries wouldn't know how to exploit it."

I'll leave broad interpretations to others in favor of a simple comparison of these separate intelligence approaches. The U.S. Government spends roughly 4.5 Million on each predator, plus expenses for maintenance and operation. The insurgents spend $25.95 plus shipping on software and something like $40 on a used Dell laptop attached to an old umbrella for an antenna.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In Cahooters

The Chamber of Commerce wants you to be aware of "how to protect your family's future and bring common sense solutions to the health-care debate." More to the point, they want you to help them fight healthcare reform.

Just in case you can't be motivated by protecting your family's future, however, they have another offer for you:

To qualify for your $150 Amex gift card for use at Hooters you must continue through our survey below and complete the participation requirements. Click "Yes" to as many offers as you like and please make sure you click "No" to offers you don't.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Person of the Decade Bracket

The Washington Post has a bracket up allowing readers to help pick a most influential person of the decade. George Bush, I think stands a pretty decent chance to win this thing. On the other hand, it may just turn out to be a popularity contest, in which case he has no shot.

For my money, I think the technology guys, Steve Jobs, the Google guys, and Mr. Facebook have to at least be in the discussion. Hu Jintao probably has to be considered pretty highly as well, though he realistically has no shot in an American poll starting out against Obama.

I must say, as contrived gimmicks go, this is one I'm willing to follow.

Dreams are Weird

And here is my proof.

Last night in my dream, I wrestled Georgia Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt for a newspaper containing the box score of a game I had just watched in an old church gymnasium.

Get out of my dreams Hewitt!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Best of 2009: Songs

As we've been mentioning, songs are a little more difficult than albums. Your favorite songs can change daily, and there are so many good songs that narrowing a list is a chore. Perhaps, however, doing the decade list was like training to run a mile by running a marathon. The song list seemed much easier than in years past, and I'm attributing it to the task of putting together a song list for the decade first.

Enough narrative, here are my top 10 songs of the year:

1. Summertime Clothes - Animal Collective
2. The Fixer - Pearl Jam
3. Hysteric - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
4. Got Nuffin - Spoon
5. Animal - Miike Snow
6. Percussion Gun - White Rabbits
7. Dylan's Hard Rain - Ryan Bingham
8. Pendergast Machine - Ha Ha Tonka
9. Don't Haunt This Place - The Rural Alberta Advantage
10. When I Died - The Thermals

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

25 favorite songs of the decade

unfortunately, this list was compiled totally off the cuff without the assistance of my cd/digital library. i also limited myself to only one song from each artist. again, this list is ever-changing, and could be drastically different tomorrow. it is, however, a damn fine list...

25 songs favorite songs of the 2000's
1. bob dylan- mississippi
2. wilco- pot kettle black
3. ryan adams- sweet carolina
4. iron and wine- naked as we came
5. son volt- afterglow 61
6. damien rice- cannonball
7. damien jurado- window
8. rilo kiley- with arms outstretched
9. jenny lewis- the charging sky
10. jay farrar- voodoo candle
11. eels- packing blankets
12. ben kweller- wasted and ready
13. bonnie prince billy- ease on down the road
14. ryan bingham- don’t wait for me
15. tom petty- flirting with time
16. the shout out louds- the comeback
17. SSLYBY- modern mystery
18. she and him- sentimental heart
19. sun kil moon- glenn tipton
20. bright eyes- another travelin’ song
21. band of horses- the general specific
22. the national- fake empire
23. spoon- the way we get by
24. gillian welch- red clay halo
25. moore-healey- good fortune

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best of 2009: Albums

Almost lost in all the hoopla over end of decade lists was the fact that 2009, in fact, had some good music in it. I don't think it matched up with 2007 or 2008, but I also think there is much that I just haven't been able to absorb, and much much more that I haven't heard at all.

Anyway, I still liked quite a few albums and here are the 10 I liked the best (and a couple of the best tracks on each).

1. It's Blitz - The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
(Hysteric, Soft Shock)
2. Roadhouse Sun - Ryan Bingham
(Dylan's Hard Rain, Country Roads)
3. Backspacer - Pearl Jam
(The Fixer, Supersonic)
4. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Phoenix
(Lasso, 1901)
5. It's Frightening - White Rabbits
(Percussion Gun, They Done Wrong/We Done Wrong)
6. Farm - Dinosaur Jr.
(Ocean in the Way, Plans)
7. Merriweather Post Pavilion - Animal Collective
(Summertime Clothes, Taste)
8. Metric - Fantasies
(Twilight Galaxy, Help I'm Alive)
9. When the Devil's Loose - A.A. Bondy
(Oh the Vampyre, On the Moon)
10. Technicolor Health - The Harlem Shakes
(Strictly Game, Nothing but Change)

This list is subject to change, of course. The beauty of these things is that there is always more music out there. Metric actually just made the list this week when I started listening to them after seeing them in concert. There will surely be someone else who I find out about in the next few months who easily could have made the list. Other people's year end lists are often good sources to find those new albums.

I also wanted to mention a great live album, Nirvana's Live at Reading and a fantastic greatest hits album of sorts, The Vaselines' Enter the Vaselines. Neither fit my criteria for a best of 2009 list, but both were really, really good. What did you like in 2009?

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Which Hulk Hogan is Played by Nick Saban

Once again, the most furious month of the U.S. sports season is upon us. It's the college football postseason where competition has no place when there is money involved.

As usual, the national title game will be played by the champions of two BCS conferences, Alabama and Texas. And as usual, there are a few other teams who have a quite a case that they should be there instead.

Texas beat by a single point a Nebraska team that basically won the woeful Big 12 North by default. They beat two ranked opponents this season; Oklahoma State on the road and Nebraska.

Meanwhile, there are three other undefeated teams who will not be playing for the title in Cincinnati, Boise State, and TCU. Cincinnati beat 3 ranked opponents on the year, 2 of those on the road. Boise State beat the only ranked opponent they played this season in #7 Oregon, and then beat the crap out of everyone else on their schedule. And TCU beat 2 ranked opponents, one on the road, and went and beat two ACC schools on the road.

None of this is to say that these 3 teams are definitively better than Texas. But Texas certainly isn't definitively better than them either. Which is, of course, the problem with college football. Texas is essentially in the title game because they were ranked higher to start the season. That is stupid.

College football is stupid actually. Fortunately, it will be over in a month.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

25 Songs from the 2000s

Alright, this is much harder than an albums list. The number of songs I like over a period of 10 years is really, really high. I decided to just pick 25 songs I really love. This list could have 15 different songs on it if I did it again next week, but you have to start somewhere right? I decided to limit each band to one song, so I didn't end up with 2/3 of the list taken up by 3 or 4 bands. So here it is:

12 Inch 3 Speed Oscillating Fan – Big Smith
12:51 – The Strokes
Anything You Want – Spoon
Back in Your Head – Tegan and Sara
Banquet – Bloc Party
Black, Red, Yellow – Pearl Jam
C’mon C’mon – The Von Bondies
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service
DLZ – TV on the Radio
Donde Esta la Playa – The Walkmen
Hey Ya – Outkast
I Burn Today – Frank Black
The Late Greats – Wilco
Lazy Eye – Silversun Pickups
Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues – Eels
Party Hard – Andrew W.K.
The Runner – Kings of Leon
Sister Do You Know My Name – The White Stripes
Solid Gold – Eagles of Death Metal
Summertime Clothes – Animal Collective
Too Drunk to Dream - The Magnetic Fields
Trashcan – Delta Spirit
Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
Young Folks – Peter Bjorn & John

Interesting Maps

I like maps, and this Slate slideshow features a selection of odd maps from across history. There is even one map that unifies Kansas City.

There is also the map above, which charts different soil types and craters on the far side of the moon. Pretty neat stuff.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Assorted Items

- Start looking for rum drinks at fashionable places everywhere.

- Kansas City Star reporter Kent Babb should probably acknowledge the complete lack of pass rush when writing an article that criticises the secondary.

- In case you didn't know and you like rockabilly music, tune into KKFI on fridays from 5-7.

- A.I. a Sixer once again.

- Perhaps it is too early to tell if the Missouri State basketball team is really a contender in the MVC, but it is not too early to say that they are exponentially more fun to watch than they were last year.

But It's Less Fun When You Do it to Me

Republicans are mad at Al Franken.

The Republicans are steamed at Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers — and because Franken isn’t doing much to stop them...

...At issue is an amendment to the Pentagon spending bill that would bar “future and existing” federal contracts to defense contractors and subcontractors “at any tier” who mandate employees go through a company’s arbitration process for workplace discrimination claims — including claims of sexual assault. The measure passed 68-30, with 10 Republicans voting yes and 30 voting no.
The story goes on to say that Republicans voted no because of concerns over the cost of trials for discrmination claims. That, in and of itself, is pretty irritating considering the dubious history of the mandatory arbitration process.

But the ridiculousness here comes from the fact that Republicans are angry that the left is mischaracterizing their motives and using the episode for partisan gain. If the last decade has taught us nothing else, it is that Republicans can find a way to mischaracterize any Democratic action and use it for partisan gain. If they didn't want Democrats to do it, they shouldn't have taught them how.

The Christmas Spirit

Some charities in Houston are into it... unless you're a kid whose parents are illegal immigrants.

The Salvation Army and a charity affiliated with the Houston Fire Department are among those that consider immigration status, asking for birth certificates or Social Security cards for the children.

The point isn’t to punish the children but to ensure that their parents are either citizens, legal immigrants or working to become legal residents, said Lorugene Young, whose Outreach Program Inc. is one of three groups that distribute toys collected by firefighters.

“It’s not our desire to turn anyone down,” she said. “Those kids are not responsible if they are here illegally. It is the parents’ responsibility."

Well, there is no better way to punish parents than to make sure their kids can't get Christmas presents. Maybe someone should introduce a law that says for every speeding ticket a person gets, their kid loses a candy cane.

Monday, November 30, 2009

50 favorite albums of the decade

Alright, it is time. while i am quite certain this list will change the second i post it, here it is in all it's temporary glory. i have listed the top 5 in order of preference followed by the remaining list in chronological. also, if 50 albums seems to daunting a task, feel free to post your 50 favorite SONGS of the decade instead.

1. Wilco- yankee hotel foxtrot (2002)
2. eels-daisies of the galaxy (2000)
3. Ryan Adams- heartbreaker (2000)
4. Shout Out Louds- howl howl, gaff gaff (2005)
5. Loretta Lynn- van lear rose (2004)

Big Smith- big rock (2000)
Billy Bragg and Wilco- mermaid avenue vol. II (2000)
Ryan Adams- gold (2001)
Bob Dylan – love and theft (2001)
Gillian Welch- time the revelator (2001)
Jay Farrar- sebastapol (2001)
Kasey Chambers- barricades and brickwalls (2001)
Bob Dylan- bootleg series 5: the rolling thunder revue (2002)
Ben Kweller- sha sha (2002)
Spoon- kill the moonlight (2002)
Gillian Welch- soul journey (2003)
Jay Farrar- terrior blues (2003)
Damien Jurado- where shall you take me? (2003)
The Decemberists- her majesty (2003)
Drive by truckers- decoration day (2003)
Wilco- ghost is born (2004)
Rilo Kiley-more adventurous (2004)
Bonnie Prince Billy- BPB sing greatest palace music (2004)
Iron & Wine- our endless numbered days (2004)
Son Volt- Okemah and the melody of riot (2005)
Bright Eyes- I’m wide awake it’s morning (2005)
eels- blinking lights and other revelations (2005)
Sun Kil Moon- tiny cities (2005)
Sufjan Stevens- come on feel the Illinois (2005)
Jenny Lewis- rabbit fur coat (2006)
eels- live at town hall (2006)
Tom petty- highway companion (2006)
Cat power- the greatest (2006)
wilco- sky blue sky (2007)
Rilo kiley- under the black light (2007)
Neil young- live at massey hall (2007)
Band of horses- cease to begin (2007)
Shout Out Louds- our ill wills (2007)
Ryan Bingham- mescalito (2007)
Elliott Smith- new moon (2007)
The Avett Brothers- emotionalism (2007)
Bob Dylan- bootleg series 8: tell tale signs (2008)
SSLYBY- pershing (2008)
She & Him- vol. 1 (2008)
Fleet Foxes- fleet foxes (2008)
Bon Iver- for emma forever ago (2008)
Pete and the Pirates- little death (2008)
Ben Kweller- changing horses (2009)
Ryan Bingham- roadhouse sun (2009)
Iron & Wine- around the well (2009)

Top 50 Albums of the 2000s

It's the end of the decade. This is great news for those of us who love to make lists because we not only get year end best of lists, but also best of decade lists.

BSD and I undertook the project some time ago to come up with a list of the best (i.e. our favorite) albums of the 2000s. This list is as I see it today. I can't guarantee that if I had made a top 5 of 2000 in 2000 that it would have included the albums listed below. But it does now.

The albums are in year order. At the bottom, however, is a ranked top 5. Please feel free to leave your lists in the comments.

2000 The White Stripes – De Stijl
2000 Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun
2000 Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica
2000 Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker
2000 Eels – Daisies of the Galaxy
2000 Radiohead – Kid A
2001 The Strokes – Is This It
2001 The White Stripes – White Blood Cells
2001 Spoon – Girls Can Tell
2001 System of a Down - Toxicity
2002 Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
2002 Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2002 Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf
2002 Ryan Adams – Demolition
2002 Los Halos – For Ramona
2003 Postal Service – Give Up
2003 Sun Kil Moon – Ghosts of the Great Highway
2003 Pearl Jam – Lost Dogs
2003 Radiohead - Hail to the Thief
2003 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
2003 TV on the Radio – Young Liars
2004 The Black Keys – Rubber Factory
2004 Arcade Fire – Funeral
2004 Old Crow Medicine Show – OCMS
2004 Wilco – A Ghost is Born
2004 Dallas Jones - Wherever You Roam
2005 The National – Alligator
2005 Spoon – Gimme Fiction
2005 Kings of Leon – Aha Shake Heartbreak
2005 The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
2005 Iron and Wine – The Creek Drank the Cradle
2005 Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
2006 Tapes ‘n Tapes – The Loon
2006 Cold War Kids – Robbers and Cowards
2006 The Walkmen – A Hundred Miles Off
2006 TV on the Radio – Return to Cookie Mountain
2006 Tom Petty – Highway Companion
2007 Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
2007 The National – The Boxer
2007 Peter Bjorn & John – Writer’s Block
2007 Radiohead – In Rainbows
2008 TV on the Radio – Dear Science
2008 Vampire Weekend – VW
2008 The Walkmen – You & Me
2008 The Dodos – Visiter
2008 Johnny Flynn – A Flarum
2008 Bob Dylan - Bootleg Series Vol. 8
2009 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz
2009 Pearl Jam – Backspacer
2009 Ryan Bingham – Roadhouse Sun

Top 5:
5. The White Stripes – De Stijl
4. The National – The Boxer
3. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
2. Spoon – Gimme Fiction
1. The Walkmen – You & Me

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Hey all,

I hope everyone has a safe and happy time giving thanks and eating your body weight in food.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Healthcare Reform in Missouri

Kathleen Sebelius has a website that breaks down what healthcare means to each state. The link to Missouri is here.

Here are a few of the big numbers:

790,000 residents who do not currently have insurance and 335,000 residents who have nongroup insurance could get affordable coverage through the health insurance exchange.

516,000 residents could qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.

961,000 seniors would receive free preventive services.

171,000 seniors would have their brand-name drug costs in the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” halved.

79,900 small businesses could be helped by a small business tax credit to make premiums more affordable.

(Side) Hug the Ones You Love

When I was in high school, I remember occasional proselytizing about the dangers of oral sex or even heavy petting. I do not remember, however, anything as militant as warnings not to hug people before marriage.

Apparently, times are changing:

Yes, now it’s abstinence only for Christian teens when it comes to hugs. The basic message is that “front hugs” should be saved until marriage, This is told to us while using a lot of ghetto rap hand motions. (”Word!”) I think the fear here is if teens give each other a “full frontal hug” it’s leads towards the Satanic road of no return of crotch-to-crotch dry humping. The next thing you know, you’ll be on that slippery slope of supporting gay marriage and believing dinosaur bones aren’t a test from God. Best to keep it safe with a “side hug” (at least until one is declared man and wife).

Via Matt Yglesias.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Airlines Suck

I normally don't like to use this blog as a forum for bitching about my personal life, I'm making an exception. There has bee a lot of attention paid over the last few months to airlines charging for bags.

I, of course, don't care for this move anymore than anyone else. However, I like to think I am pretty easy going and I decided to take it in stride. What I didn't know, until this trip anyway, was that some airlines will charge you to pick your seat in coach. "Premium seats" I believe they are called.

I also was not aware that the common practice now is to charge you not for a flight change if you make it on standby to an earlier flight, but to charge you for the "opportunity" to go on standby whether or not you actually make it on the earlier flight.

I was talking to Nate about this and he pointed out that fuel prices could usher in the era of high speed trains in the next couple of decades. That sounds great to me, but then I suppose the trains may end up being run by former airline executives.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Your Road Map to the Salary Cap

Via Matt Yglesias, here is Larry Coon's comprehensive FAQ about the NBA salary cap.

I realize about 3 of you may be find this interesting, but maybe you're the three most important.

One of my favorite discoveries was that there is a provision named after Gilbert Arenas. Unfortunately, it is not generally known as the "Hibachi Provision."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eat It Buffalo!

That is what Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams was apparently thinking, and is now taking some heat for, after his team knocked off old AFL rival Buffalo on Sunday.

Friday, November 13, 2009

"The Blew-Gray Game"

Bill Simmons points out the utter misery that is Sunday's Chiefs-Raiders game.

By the way, I am declaring this game ungamble-able. The Chiefs are the only 2009 team without a rushing TD; Oakland has given up 13. The Chiefs have given up 12 passing plays of 40-plus yards; the Raiders have a QB with a 48.3 rating. The Chiefs have amassed 2,231 yards and given up 3,172; the Raiders have amassed 1,793 yards and given up 3,086. The Chiefs have given up 30 sacks; the Raiders have turned the ball over 25 times. I'd say this was the worst game of the year, but remember, Oakland plays in Cleveland in Week 16. That's the Stupor Bowl. This is more of the Blew-Gray Game.
Kansas City sports!

Swimming on the Moon

Humankind was just given our most recent reminder that we really don't know anything.

A "significant amount" of frozen water has been found on the moon, the US space agency said Friday heralding a major leap forward in space exploration and boosting hopes of a permanent lunar base.

Preliminary data from a moon probe "indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater," NASA said in a statement.

"The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon," it added, as ecstatic scientists celebrated the landmark discovery.
If only it had been cheese that they had found.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


A great article by Daniel Gross at Slate. He talks about 2000s as the lost decade economically,and he leaves very few depressing stones unturned,

In September, on a seasonally adjusted basis, there were 108.5 million private (nongovernment) payroll jobs in the united States—almost precisely the number there were in June 1999.
...stocks went precisely nowhere in the past decade, despite all the efforts to help the market, from slashing capital gains and dividend taxes to keeping interest rates extremely low to bailing out just about everyone.
According to the securities industry's Equity Ownership in America 2008 report, the proportion of the population that owned stocks or bonds fell from 57 percent in 2001 to 48 percent in 2008.
The latest report from the Census Bureau on income, poverty, and health insurance is full of interesting data that show that median household income in 2008, at $50,303, was below where it was in 1998. The same report shows (see Table B-1 on Page 44) that both the number and the percentage of people living below the poverty line rose, from 11.9 percent in 1999 to 13.2 percent in 2009.
Between 1999 and 2008 (see Table C-1, Page 59 of the census report), the population of the United States rose 9 percent, but the uninsured population of the United States rose 19.5 percent.
Once the housing market peaked in the summer of 2006 and foreclosures started to mount, the homeownership rate declined. Today, it stands at 67.6 percent—almost precisely where it was in the fall of 2000.
And yet, I still regularly read pieces from the right talking about economic ruin that will befall us if don't allow tax cuts to continue, or we impose regulations on industry, or we raise the minimum wage, or... you get the picture.

If you read such a piece or talk to such a person, take the time to ask them exactly what a tax-cutting, deregulated, pro-development, anti-worker, poor healthcare, debt-encouraging economy has produced for us. If they have a good answer, please let me know.

And It Makes You Feel Happy Too

You really can't drink red wine for breakfast without people staring at you like you're sitting on the curb drinking from a bottle of gin. But if you are trying to fight off atherosclerosis, maybe now you don't have to:

Blood tests found that after participants drank chocolate milk twice a day for four weeks, they had significantly lower levels of several inflammatory biomarkers, though some markers of cellular inflammation remained unchanged.

Participants also had significantly higher levels of good HDL cholesterol after completing the chocolate milk regimen, according to the study, which appears in the November issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is already online.
And, of course, there is the side benefit that drinking chocolate milk makes you feel like you're 10 years old. And that is almost never a bad thing.

When In Rome

Go see this incredibly designed modern art museum.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Whatever You Say J.R.

The notes attached to NBA game recaps are not usually where you go for comedy gold. But this is the funniest thing I've read in a some time.

Denver's J.R. Smith scored five points in his first game after serving a seven-game suspension. He said he wants to go by his given name, Earl III, although the Nuggets plan to keep calling him J.R.
There are various levels of being in the doghouse, but I think the bottom level has to be when your organization refuses to call you by your own name.

Monday, November 9, 2009


And that one is Anh Cao of Louisiana, the only Republican to vote for the healthcare bill on Saturday.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yeah, a Few Maybe

Michael Gerson in a fundamentally silly piece about Tuesday's elections signaling Obama's ceding of the center:

By creating deficits unequaled as a percentage of the economy since World War II, by proposing to nearly triple the national debt in the next 10 years, by using the economic crisis as an excuse for the massive expansion of government authority over health care, Obama has become a polarizing figure. Of course, some Republicans thrive on ideological combat and would seek it even if unprovoked.
Maybe one or two.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Bit Puzzled

My question for today:

How is it that two gubernatorial wins coupled with two Congressional losses equals a groundswell of support for the GOP and a stern rebuke of Obama?

No one has really explained it yet, but they all keep saying it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Classic Ad 2

The same site, Martin Klasch, also has this testament to truth in advertising.

Classic Ad

While working on our department Christmas card at work, I stumbled across this gem of a holiday ad.

Is There Enough Handicap Parking on Pennsylvania?

One fact in these three paragraphs stands out to me as odd.

An 81-year-old man told police that he was robbed this morning while waiting for his wife who was shopping for groceries.

The robbery occurred about 1:55 a.m. at the Hy-Vee store at 7620 State Line Road in Prairie Village.

The man told police that he was waiting in his car while his wife popped into the store. The woman approached his car, opened the door and pulled him out, according to police.
If you asked yourself why an 81 year old man was out grocery shopping at 1:55 a.m., you have a similar thought pattern to me.

I've known several 81 year old men, and I can't remember one who I ever knew of going out after 10, let alone 2. Maybe there are some special circumstances.

Or maybe not. I'll be looking for octogenarians the next time I'm out late in Westport.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The All-Time Team (mostly of guys from long ago)

The aforementioned bastion of journalism excellence put out a Chiefs all-time team for the organization's 50th anniversary. A few facts about the list:

There are 26 people on the list.

15 of those players became Chiefs before 1970.

Of the remaining 11, 5 played in the 80's and 90's.

All of those guys were defensive players.

The final 6 were from the Dick Vermeil era (00's).

All of those guys were offensive players.

There are 0 current Chiefs on the team.

Todd Haley is not the all-time coach.

Who Needs facebook When You have the Star?

Newspapers really are in trouble. What other conclusions can you draw when the Star now has what appears to be a permanent place at the center of the homepage reserved for party pics?

If the only reason someone is going to read you is that you might include a picture of someone they know, you should probably be an alumni magazine... not the newspaper of record for a top 50 media market.

Friday, October 30, 2009

80's Movie Line - Halloween Edition

For Halloween, the lady friend and I will be dressing up as Zuul and Vince or Vinz (surprisingly there seems to be some debate) Clortho, or Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, or Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis.

To honor this historic occasion, the introduction of the two:

Louis: [possessed by Vinz Clortho] I am The Keymaster!
Dana Barrett: [possessed by Zuul] I am The Gatekeeper!

The Daily Show

Getting it right as usual.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Price Is...

Well I guess it's right. The AA alma mater picked up a $1 million donation from game show host extraordinaire and alum Bob Barker. For what? establish a professorship on animal rights that he hopes will lead to a full undergraduate degree program.
I have conflicting feelings about this.

On the one hand, I love the fact that Drury and Barker have decided to try something like this in Springfield, the middle of planet Conservatron.

On the other hand, I can't quite shake the feeling that this was one of those gifts that the university decided to accept because, hey it's a million dollars. I just can't imagine that anyone at Drury was sitting around hoping to create an animal rights program if only they could find someone to give them a lump of cash.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Governator

Via Kevin Drum, I read that Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto message for AB 1176 is causing some commotion in California. Why?

In tomorrow's edition, the governor will throw a pipe through the California Legislature and say "Hey Legislature, let off some steam!"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The uber-Royals

I often like to think that the Royals might be the most cursed franchise in professional sports. It's always nice to have some other team that put things into perspective, however.

Blake Griffin's NBA debut has been pushed back indefinitely after the Los Angeles Clippers revealed late Monday night that their No. 1 overall draft pick has a broken left kneecap...Los Angeles was mostly healthy going into this fall, with point guard Baron Davis and center Chris Kaman both ready to play after missing chunks of last season. The Clippers actually have solid frontcourt talent with Marcus Camby, Al Thornton and Rasual Butler alongside Griffin.
Being a Royals fan, I can appreciate the hopelessness that many Clippers fans must feel.

On the other hand, at least L.A. fans have two baseball playoff teams and the Lakers.

The Royals have the Chiefs. We win... and by that I mean we lose.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How You Operate When You Don't Care

From Washington Monthly, explaining what Republicans are currently doing to help our country.

And it's not just judicial nominees. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, pointing to the difficulties of responding to the global flu pandemic, recently noted that the Senate isn't allowed to vote on a surgeon general, because Republicans refuse to let Regina Benjamin's nomination come to the floor. "We are facing a major pandemic, we have a well-qualified candidate for surgeon general, she's been through the committee process. We just need a vote in the Senate," Sebeilus said late last week. "Please give us a surgeon general."

Benjamin was unanimously approved by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Oct. 7, but the Senate minority has decided to block all HHS nominees, flu pandemic or no flu pandemic.

People for the American Way reported last week that between 1949 and 2009 -- spanning 11 presidents -- there were 24 nominees on which cloture was forced. In the first nine months of Obama's first year in office, there have been five, meaning Senate Republicans on track to force more cloture votes on more Obama nominees than practically every modern president combined.
You could almost infer that they just don't care, couldn't you?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Silly Poem for a Friday

"Sonnet" Dan over at Gone Mild may have the territory of beautiful and thought-provoking poetry staked out, but I'll gladly take the short and smirk-provoking poetry territory he has left unattended.

On the Painter, Val Prinsep, by Dante Rossetti

There is a creator called God,
Whose creations are some of them odd.
I maintain, and I shall,
The creation of Val
Reflects little credit on God.

On Another Planet

An interesting study put out by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

Looking at the current political debate, it was evident in our focus group discussions that the divide between conservative Republicans and even the most conservative-leaning independents remains very, very wide. Independents harbor doubts about Obama’s health care reform but are desperate to see some version of health care reform pass this year; the conservative Republicans view any health care reform as a victory for Obama and are militantly opposed. The language they use further reflects this divide. Conservative Republicans fully embrace the ‘socialism’ attacks on Obama and believe it is the best, most accurate way to describe him and his agenda. Independents largely dismiss these attacks as partisan rhetoric detracting from a legitimate debate about what many of them do see as excessive government control and spending.
Matt Yglesias made the point that this fits in with this post that describes how Republicans are missing an opportunity to really pin the Democrats with successful criticism because they are letting their loony media personalities dominate the discussion.

For my money, I'm not sure how you separate the two camps at this point. I know there are plenty of reasonable Republicans out there who probably have very excellent points and are likely very frustrated. But they have allowed the fringe to dominate for such a long time, that I don't know how they escape being tied to the sinking ship as well.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

An Argument as Old as the Country

How did the healthcare debate look in the colonies?

Health care in Colonial America looked nothing like what we’d consider medicine today, but the debates it triggered were similar. The danger of smallpox and the high cost of its prevention led to divisive questions about who should pay, whether everyone deserved equal access, and if responsibility lay at the feet of the individual, the state, or the nation. Epidemics forced the early republic to wrestle with the question of the federal government’s proper role in regulating the nation’s health.
Not encouraging.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Making it Official

To those of you out there, thanks for sticking around while I was gone for a bit. It was a rough 10 days, but we're getting through it.

No better way to honor the man I'm missing than to start back off with an NBA post.

The NBA will finally officially allow something they have been unofficially allowing for years:

The NBA has put into writing a rule allowing players on the move to gather the ball, after driving or catching it, and then take two steps. Throughout NBA history, the rulebook said players could take one step.

The new rule reads, in part: "A player who receives the ball while he is progressing or upon completion of a dribble, may take two steps in coming to a stop, passing or shooting the ball."
There is no word on whether Patrick Ewing and Micahel Jordan will come out of retirement to see if they can now get away with three steps.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Tragic Loss

This afternoon someone who treated me as if I was his own son was taken from us far too soon. Jim Sr. was a role model for anyone who wanted to know what it meant to be an outstanding husband and father.

I grew up with a father who was on the road Monday - Friday, and it meant the world to me to know that I could head over to my friend's house and his dad would be there to watch the big game, shoot hoops with us, or talk to us about life. He was the coolest "un-cool" dad you could have ever met!

The world lost a truly great person today who touched many lives. Here's to you, Jim. I will miss you dearly.

Is There A Nobel Prick Prize?

Look, I don't think Obama deserved a Nobel Peace Prize at this point either. Really, I would guess that he probably doesn't think so. But the right has predictably gone over the edge about it. A roundup is here. But this is probably my favorite (from consistent chucklehead Andy McCarthy).

I'm not all for Americans winning international prizes, especially the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, I'm vigorously against it. The transnational progressives who pass out these accolades believe America is the problem in the world, the main threat to peace, the impediment to "progress," etc. The award is a symbolic statement of opposition to American exceptionalism, American might, American capitalism, American self-determinism, and American pursuit of America's interests in the world. That is why Obama could win it based on only ten days in office -- merely by capturing the White House and the levers of power, he stands to do more for the Left's "knock America off its pedestal" program than any figure in history.

After a number of years, the NFL renamed its Super Bowl trophy after its most fitting recipient -- it's now called the Vince Lombardi Trophy. I'd like to see the Nobel Foundation follow suit. If today's headlines said, "Barack Obama Wins Yasser Arafat Prize," that would be perfect.

These guys are all class.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Jesus Christ

Seriously. Conservatives (some conservatives more appropriately) have taken one more step towards the edge of the flat earth they inhabit. A new project on Conservapedia (yes, a conservative vehicle to combat the liberal bias of wikipedia) aims to create a new conservative Bible translation. To make that happen, they will create a Bible that will do the following:

1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, "gender inclusive" language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the NIV is written at only the 7th grade level[3]
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop;[4] defective translations use the word "comrade" three times as often as "volunteer"; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as "word", "peace", and "miracle".
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as "gamble" rather than "cast lots";[5] using modern political terms, such as "register" rather than "enroll" for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" or "Yahweh" or "Lord God."

How one can both eliminate liberal wordiness and also not dumb down the Bible is not explained. Nor, is it explained how Mark and John's open-mindedness fits in with the rest of the close-mindedness presented here. But all in all a pretty good explanation of what they want to do. The question is, why would they want to? Well, there is an answer for that too.

    • mastery of the Bible, which is priceless
    • mastery of the English language, which is valuable
    • thorough understanding of the differences in Bible translations, particularly the historically important King James Version
    • benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses
    • liberals will oppose this effort, but they will have to read the Bible to criticize this,
      and that will open their minds

I particularly love the final reason here. Lest you think they don't have compassion and concern for the wicked, they want to let you know that those heathen liberals might be tricked into reading the Bible. What a plot.

There's a lot more interesting stuff to read on the Conservative Bible Project page. There is also a lot you could say about the effort. But the Huffington Post article about it contained the best quote from a conservative but sane columnist from He believes this to be...

"just crazy ... like what you'd get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the
College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin'."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hey World, We're A Bunch of Hicks!

As if it weren't enough that we're forced to endure a Garth Brooks sing-along during Royals games (to that family fun classic, I've Got Friends in Low Places), now the Chiefs have made Trace Adkins their new spokesman.

He joins the ranks of Kevin Costner and the guy from Garozzo's as dudes the Chiefs think might inspire you to go drop $100 to see your hometown team beaten like red-headed stepchildren by whatever team they happen to be playing that week.

What is it about this town's athletics franchises that makes them want to portray themselves as the Official Teams of Hee Haws everywhere?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Co-ops: A Compromise... of Effectiveness

A great report on NPR this morning about healthcare co-ops, the supposed replacement for the public option.

Conrad's bill calls for expanding health care cooperatives into all 50 states. There's hardly anyone, anywhere who has studied whether adding more co-ops would make any difference.

Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, is one of the few people who have researched them. Jost suggests that the expenses involved in starting a co-op and the struggle for market share would kill off most of them before they got going. He says it's unlikely they'd make medical care any cheaper.

"Where I've seen cooperatives in operation, they don't really compete on price," he says. "They compete on quality, on customer satisfaction. That's good. We need more quality. We need insurance products people are really happy with. But what we need most is cost control."
Follow the link and listen to the whole report. And then marvel at the lameness of Kent Conrad and Congressional Democrats.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ardi - The Devil's Bidness

Satan is hard at it again, using fool pawn scientists to distort the Bible's obvious truth that the world was created seven days.

Human origins is a field with high stakes and small bones, and the elaborate roll-out of the Ardipithecus research probably will trigger debate about the message contained in fossils so fragile they had to be excavated with dental picks and porcupine quills. If the scientists who found Ardi are correct, she represents a transitional figure, almost a hybrid -- a tree creature who could carry food in her arms as she explored the woodland floor on two legs.

Political Science!

Some people might read the Thomas Friedman column mentioned yesterday and think about how depressing it is.

Other people read it and wonder how to operationalize his hypothesis. Those people are political scientists.

As a political scientist, my response is that, OK, all of these seem like credible explanations, but how would we know if any of them are actually correct? After all, we’ve got five explanations here for what is essentially one observation: the current state of the US political system. To be fair to Friedman, he’s probably got an implicit N (the number of observations) of 2 in mind: the US now, and the US in the past. This would at least get us variation on some of the variables he has proposed (e.g., the 24 news cycle, the blogosphere, and the permanent presidential campaign), but would still leave us with more explanations than observations.
It's actually a pretty interesting blog post at The Monkey Cage, and a good reminder that there is a hearty band out there trying to make sense of it all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not Getting It

Tom Friedman has some concerns about where our politics are headed:

The American political system was, as the saying goes, “designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.” But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system.

Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking; and a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians.
This is a pretty good articulation of some of what has me feeling down in the dumps about our future these days.

The other part of my depression is fueled by another point in Friedman's article.

I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.
Most depressing about this is GOP Chairman Michael Steele's response to it:

"Where do these nut jobs come from? Come on, stop this," Steele told CNN's John Roberts on American Morning... "To make those equations, examples and put that out there that way, to me is just crazy and yeah, I'm sorry, but if you're going to approach this discussion, approach it from a rational position," Steele continued. "[They're] saying, because you disagree with the president on policy, that all of the sudden we're going to make this leap into, you know, assassinations and all this other stuff. I mean, at the height of all this stuff on Bush and people complaining and protesting, and jumping up and down, you didn't have this kind of conversation."
Yes, he is pretty much refusing to take the issue seriously. And the fact that so many are behaving the same way makes Friedman's concerns at the top of the post seem much more insurmountable.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Give Him the Award

Zack Greinke deserves the Cy Young Award. I'm stealing the reasons why from Tim Kurkjian.

Greinke leads the AL in ERA, shutouts and WHIP, is second in complete games and ranks in the top five in innings pitched, strikeouts, quality starts and batting average against.

Greinke's ERA, 2.08, is most significant compared to those of Hernandez (2.45), Halladay (3.01), Sabathia (.3.31) and Verlander (3.44). The last AL pitcher to have an ERA as low as Greinke's and not win the Cy Young Award was Roger Clemens in 1990, when he had a 1.93. Bob Welch of the A's won the Cy Young that year because he won 27 games. The AL might not have a 20-game winner this year.

Greinke's team hasn't supported him offensively: His 3.7 runs per start is the lowest of any pitcher with at least 20 starts this season.

The Royals have been a terrible defensive team this year, and their bullpen has blown 21 save opportunities, third-most in the league. Greinke easily could have 21 wins at this point of the season.
One thing to take away from the material above is that if Greinke doesn't win the Cy Young, you can blame the Royals for screwing one more thing up. For the record, I think he is going to win it. But as anyone who reads this blog can attest, my record of predictions related to the Royals are far from prescient.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Maybe He Has an Inner Ear Problem

Via the Huffington Post, a great blog called My Brain is Made of Things Gold poses an interesting question about Matthew McConaughey's stability - physically that is.

The American Public Goes Counterculture

A CBS/NYT poll came out today that showed 65% of the country supports a public option and even more Republicans approve than disapprove.

Then you have Democratic Senator Kent Conrad who says,"I don’t think a government-run plan best fits this culture. A plan that’s not government-run has the best chance of succeeding in being passed into law."

I guess you could say that something that is supported by 2/3 of the country isn't representative of the culture, but I'm not sure why you would. Matt Yglesias knows why Conrad would:

Conrad’s right, of course, that it’s easier to pass a bill that goes easy on for-profit interests than one that includes a public option. But that’s not because of “culture” it’s because of interest-group pressure. And of course one major practical problem with the public option is that powerful senator Kent Conrad opposes it. But Conrad doesn’t—or at least shouldn’t—get to cite his own opposition as the reason he opposes it.
I really like the reference at the end to Conrad's circular reasoning. I think the important cultural question here, however, is whether or not the American public is less conservative than our supposedly wild liberal congress. I suspect it is... and not because the public is a bunch of super liberals.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Doing It When It Doesn't Count

For what it is worth, the Royals' victory on Tuesday night ensured that they will not lose 100 games this season. In fact, they have played great baseball this entire month.

Should we get excited about this development? I'm going to say no.

As of today, the Royals are 55-41 over the last two seasons during April and September. Through the rest of these two seasons they are a remarkable (in a bad way) 83-135.

Well, What Would You Call Them Then?

I an article at Slate, David Greenberg talks about historians dismissive of social scientists like Richard Hofstader.

They fashion the right's midcentury critics as hopelessly elite liberals, peering down their noses at the Southern and Western riffraff mindlessly rallying behind screwball ideas, demagogic leaders, or ethnic hatreds.
SO is the problem that they were peering down their noses at the riffraff? Because the description of the riffraff sounds awfully dead on.

And On the Subject of Nonsense

The page that carries the moronic Chuch Norris column also carries this fine advertisement:

Why don't some people like Americans again?


Even if Chuck Norris can't beat you with his fists, he will pummel you with his nonsense.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Respecting the Institution

I normally don't like the "what would happen if a Democrat did this" question because you could use it all the time and it really doesn't get to the heart of the problem with our political system. On the other hand, sometimes it is all you can think to say.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) has announced to National Review that he will be personally leading a "truth squad" to the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he will make it clear to international leaders not to believe that the United States will pass legislation to deal with the issue.

"Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate," said Inhofe. "Some people, like Senator Barbara Boxer, will tell the conference, with Waxman-Markey having passed in the House, that they can anticipate that some kind of bill will pass EPW."
What would happen if a Democrat did this? The right wing would of course go absolutely ape shit about the importance of speaking with a unified voice abroad and about the proper role a Senator from the minority party. I suspect they won't mind this bit of rogue statesmanship though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Socialism Spreading Everywhere!

A great piece from M.C. Blakeman:

Of all the current assaults on our noble republic, perhaps none is more dangerous than the public option - specifically, the public library option.

For far too long, this menace has undermined the very foundations of our economy. While companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble struggle valiantly each day to sell books, these communistic cabals known as libraries undercut the hard work of good corporate citizens by letting people read their books for free. How is the private sector supposed to compete with free? And just what does this public option give us? People can spend hours and hours in these dens of socialism without having to buy so much as a cappuccino. Furthermore, not only can anyone read books for free in the library, they can take them home, too. They get a simple card that can be used at any library in town. No checking on the previous condition of books they've read. No literacy test. Nothing. Yet, do these libertines of literature let you choose any book you want, anytime you want it? No. Have you ever tried to get the latest best-seller at a public library? They put you on a waiting list for that, my friend. And if you do ask these government apparatchiks a question about a book, they start talking your ear off, and pretty soon they're telling you what to read.
There's more, of course.

Do you think there is any chance at all that this isn't exactly how the issue would be framed if the idea of libraries was introduced today?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why Not to Elect People Who Don't Believe in Government Part 56,384 (Irving Kirstol Memorial Edition)

From a man being properly eulogized as a pioneer of modern conservatism, Irving Kristol:

Among the core social scientists around The Public Interest there were no economists.... This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority - so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Just a Chart

Make of it what you will.

Joy, Joy, Joy

There is big news in the land of Ancillary Adams. Contributor Big Smith Dude and wife are having a baby today. Congrats to the couple, and congrats to the world as it welcomes the future!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

So I'm Reading Around the Internet

And things are pretty depressing these days no?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ask and Ye Shall Receive...

... fried tasty goodness.

New Jersey!

Maybe this isn't fair. Maybe New Jersey wouldn't fair any worse than any other state in this sort of thing. It could be a picture of the insanity of our entier country. But it is what it is, and in New Jersey it is bipartisan and it is scary.

57% of liberals either think George Bush knew about 9/11 beforehand or aren't sure if he did.

35% of conservatives either think Barack Obama is the anti-christ or aren't sure if he is.

My God.

George Bush - Reality Man

In a White House known for believing its own hype, the Cheerleader in Chief was the one who seemed to understand the disaster that was Sarah Palin:

It was clear, though, that the president, ever the skilled politician, had concerns about the choice of Palin, which he called “interesting.” That was the equivalent of calling a fireworks display “satisfactory.”

“I’m trying to remember if I’ve met her before. I’m sure I must have.” His eyes twinkled, then he asked, “What is she, the governor of Guam?”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

80's Movie Line Swayze Memorial

It could only come from one 80's movie... Roadhouse. I don't know what it was like for Patrick at the end (and I certainly don't want to make light of his death), but I sure do like to imagine that he uttered this line again sometime in his final hours.

Dalton: Pain don't hurt.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Back

After an absolutely fantastic week in the mountains, I returned to the real world yesterday. I learned a few things upon my return.

1. These tea party people have lost their minds even more than I thought... but maybe they haven't lost too much.

Nearby, a group of well-dressed men and women, calling themselves Billionaires for Wealthcare, who waved signs—"Less Health, More Wealth," "Let Them Eat Advil," "Do No Harm … To Our Bottom Line"—and sang songs about how health care reform would destroy their posh lives. Not everyone realized it was a joke. One protester sang along with the song, sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which had the chorus, "Let's save the status quo." Another protester was baffled. "They spin everything you say!" she said to me. "You think they're on your side, but then they're not!" One volunteer for Tea Party Patriots was convinced they were on his side. "They're for us," he told me. "They're wealthy, so they're thanking everybody for coming."

2. The Chiefs still have a long ways to go.

3. The new Pearl Jam album is probably going to be the best one since Vitalogy. Listen to some of the music here.

4. The public's view on healthcare is somewhat confusing.

5. I kind of miss the mountians already.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

beatles still topper most of the popper most

i think it is awesome that the beatles catalog has finally been remastered and re-released. what is even more satisfying is that there is still a market for such a venture, and a lucrative one at that. it is as if they are more popular today then they were 40 years ago, if such a thing is possible.

what i have learned over the years, however, is that when it comes to the fab four, anything is possible. though i have yet to purchases either the mono or stereo box sets, i plan to do so in the near future. in fact, if anyone already has taken the plunge, you are more than welcome to come over this weekend and share with me your investment.

they really are the greatest band ever. come on....

Friday, September 4, 2009

They Have Principals But Not Principles

I've taken a couple of days to think about this post because I didn't want to say anything that I might someday want to take back. After a good 48 hours, however, I pretty much feel the same way.

I am ashamed of my hometown.

I love the place where I grew up. I always have, and I probably always will. I can't imagine a better place to have been raised. But I am afraid it is becoming a different place. There have been signs of this change for the last several years. But an event took place this week that has me feeling completely despondent.

Next week President Obama will address American students in a speech on "the importance of taking responsibility for their success in school." This has, of course, been interpreted by the growing mass of people who have gone completely insane as an attempt to indoctrinate their children.

Across the nation, parents have been calling their school districts to voice their displeasure that the President of the United States of America is being allowed to speak to their children and encourage the values of personal responsibility and education. At the risk of understatement, I find this discouraging.

We have now reached a place in our country where parents are less concerned about the ability of their children to think critically than they are about ensuring those children are exposed only to a self-reinforcing set of ideas that they find comfortable. Perhaps they believe children who learn to assimilate and evaluate different points of view will choose to believe ideas they themselves fear. Or perhaps they simply fear their children having a skill they clearly lack.

But I've already given them too much credit because the above assumes the president was going to speak on a controversial topic. I can't imagine a large set of parents who are uncomfortable with the idea of their children being encouraged to work had and take responsibility for their education. It seems, however, that if that is the message presented by Barack Obama, then it must be a socialist message. Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer explains:

"The Democrats have clearly lost the battle to maintain control of the message this summer,'' the state GOP chairman maintains, "so now that school is back in session, President Obama has turned to American's children to spread his liberal lies, indoctrinating American's youngest children before they have a chance to decide for themselves."
If the right would like to completely cede the values of hard work and personable responsibility to liberals, I say we take it.

It isn't just about the speech either. Supposedly what is getting people all agitated is the lesson plan that was sent to schools to go along with the speech. It includes such suspicious questions as:

What is the President trying to tell me?
What is the President asking me to do?
What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?
If those sound like questions designed to inspire critical thinking then you maybe don't understand what liberal indoctrination looks like. Actually, one of the questions that seems to be raising some ire is this:

Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?
How you interpret this question, I think, says a lot about your worldview. If you read the word "listen" as "obey" (as in "listen to your parents") then you could argue that this is dangerous speech. If you interpret the word "listen" as "hear and consider" then you realize that a lesson to be drawn is that those opposed to a particular leader have perhaps an even greater stake in "listening." But I think some people are predisposed to believing the first interpretation of the word. That is how they use the word, and so it is how they hear the word.

A quick aside, Fox News helped me understand that it isn't just parents who are concerned about these lesson plans. "Education experts" are also concerned. Reading the story you find out that the concerned education experts are exclusively from the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute. Color me surprised.

But, this post is supposed to be about my shame. My shame is not directed at the parents who complained. Those parents are disappointing to me, but as I've mentioned they are present nationwide. My shame stems from the response of the school system.

The school system that taught me and helped instill in me the value of critical thinking, education and awareness has decided to abandon all of those principles for the purpose of avoiding the ire of a group of lunatics. The school superintendent sent out an email to all of his staff indicating that he "refused to get caught up in all the political wrangling associated with this video presentation."

The school district will not show the broadcast live. Instead:
It will be reviewed within 48 hours and a decision will be made to allow or not allow the speech to be presented to students. Administration will also determine if it is appropriate for all grade levels or should only be viewed by older students. Once again our decision will in no way be based upon political motivations but based upon what is best for XXXXXXX students.

So that's it. My school is now an institution that:

  • Values public relations over principles.
  • Places no value on critical thinking.
  • Holds no interest in helping students become alert members of society.
  • Believes that school administrators need to evaluate a speech intended for school children by the President of the United States to see if it is suitable for children.
  • Believes that not hearing what the elected leader of our country has to say could be of benefit to students.
  • Is prepared to sacrifice a learning opportunity for students for a thoughtless political gambit by a few parents.
  • Has no spine.
This is beyond depressing for me. I don't understand how we've gotten to this point as a society. I don't know how professional educators can let the forces of know-nothingism win battles that they should never even be able to start. I don't have the ability to envision where this ends, or how it possibly ends well. And I definitely don't know what happened to my school.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kansas City in the News

Not for anything good of course:

"Nothing makes me more angry," said Sen. Mitch McConnell at a health care town hall in Kansas City today, "… than the suggestion that America does not already have the finest health care in the world." Sen. John McCain, appearing alongside him, agreed: "The quality of health care in America is the best in the world." Contrast that with what health care journalist T.R. Reid writes in his new book comparing various global health care systems: "Today, any U.S. politician who dared to make that claim … would be hooted out of the room." Reid clearly has yet to visit Kansas City.
Hey man, don't shoot the messenger! Or the city that hosted the messenger? Or know what I mean.

Nancy Pelosi Was a Friend of Mine...

Two of my favorite blogs pointed me to a story in Vanity Fair about Hank Paulson. Hank had comments on several of those he worked with. Kevin Drum pulled out a few of his opinions.

On Barney Frank:
This is a guy that’s got the intellect, he’s got the energy, he cares, and he
wants to legislate, knows how to legislate. He’s interested in getting across
the finish line... I just wish he were a Republican.

On Nancy Pelosi:
“She was engaged, she was decisive, and she was really willing to just get
involved with all of her people on a hands-on basis."

On His Republican Brethren:
“It’s not enough to just sit there and say, ‘I’m right, the other guys are
wrong,’ ” he told me at one point, explaining why it was often so difficult
working with some of the more doctrinaire members of the White House staff.
“It’s not that there’s anything wrong with ideology. I’ve got my ideology and my
philosophy. But those that say, ‘I won’t compromise,’ to prove a point, and then
‘I’m going to point a finger afterwards and say, See, I was right ... ’ ”

And Matt Yglesias ties this opinion to fellow Republican Bruce Bartlett's opinion on what is wrong with his party.

I think the party got seriously on the wrong track during the George W. Bush years, as I explained in my Impostor book. In my opinion, it no longer bears any resemblance to the party of Ronald Reagan. I still consider myself to be a Reaganite. But I don’t see any others anywhere in the GOP these days, which is why I consider myself to be an independent. Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is “what can we do to screw the Democrats today.” How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?

I'm not sure that I have much more to add to any of that other than to say for the 1,417th time that this is what happens when you elect people whose total philosophy of government is that government is bad.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Whole New World (Of Crazy)

So I was reading a TPM article about one of the gun toters at an Obama rally attending a church where the preacher said that he was praying for Obama to die. Actually, what he said was this:

... you're going to tell me that I'm supposed to pray for the socialist devil, murderer, infanticide, who wants to see young children and he wants to see babies killed through abortion and partial-birth abortion and all these different things -- you're gonna tell me I'm supposed to pray for God to give him a good lunch tomorrow while he's in Phoenix, Arizona?

Nope. I'm not gonna pray for his good. I'm going to pray that he dies and goes to hell.
The sermon was rather well-titled, "Why I Hate Barack Obama."

Perhaps, I just don't know when to ignore the ignorant, but I felt like going to this church's website would be a few minutes well-spent. Forget a few minutes. The Faithful Word Baptist Church website is a doorway to a world of insanity and stupidity that can boggle the mind for hours. Here is a quick tour of the site:

The sermons page:
Every sermon from 2006 on is here. You can listen to any of them with quicktime. If you choose to do so you could here such highlights as:

"The Whore's Denominations"
"Suffering Many Things of Physicians"
"How to Handle Abusive Government"
"Barack Obama Melting as a Snail"
"Principles on Dating"
"How to Have Joy in Your Life" (how long could this one be?)
"God Deals in Extremes" (specially denoted with an unexplained flame graphic)
"The Seven Sins of Halloween" (with fire graphic)
"Why Billy Graham will go to Hell" (tough crowd here, also with fire graphic)

and so many more!

It actually looks like the fire graphic is used to denote sermons that will scare the shit out you. The specially mark them why? I guess because that is what you are hoping for if you go to this church.

The doctrine page:
The main tenants of insane Christianity are all here. Two of my favorites:
We believe that the King James Bible is the word of God without error.
There is no explanation as to why God graced 17th century England with the literal truth or what happened to all the poor saps who read the BS versions that were produced for the first 1600 years after Christ. Maybe that's in one of the sermons.

We believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination which God punishes with the death penalty.
Does this mean that church would like the U.S. to punish homosexuals by putting them to death, or are they simply saying that if you get down with your own kind that God immediately starts looking for ways to take you out?

The ministries page:
This seems to be the advertising page where Pastor Steve talks about all of his great services. If you want to learn what it is like to have Pastor Steve stop by your house, check out "Door to door soulwinning evangelism."

And of course they also do language classes... huh?

The Bible memory page:
Since the King James version of the Bible is unerring, it makes sense that we would want to memorize it right? Pastor Steve will tell you how! This is his revelatory method:

If I were memorizing Acts 5:42, I would break it down in this way:

1) And daily in the temple..., And daily in the temple... (about 100X)
2) ...and in every house..., ...and in every house... (about 100X)
3)...they ceased not to teach and preach..., ...they ceased not to teach and preach... (about 100X)
4) teach and preach Jesus Christ., teach and preach Jesus Christ. (about 100X)

Notice the overlapping of sections 3 & 4. This is very helpful.
It's amazing because it is so simple that you might have thought that someone else would've come up with the idea to just repeat something over and over to memorize it. Ingenious!

The essays page:
This is where Pastor Steve really lays it down. In fact, there is an answer to my question about the King James Bible and its antecedents. Steve says about the Hebrew and Greek translations:

Many believe that God’s preservation and perfection only exist in the “original” Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. There are several problems with this. First of all, the original manuscripts no longer exist. There is no manuscript of any book of the Bible that is even within a hundred years of the original age. This is because paper decomposes and does not last through the centuries. Therefore, the Greek and Hebrew texts we have today are copies of copies, translations, compilations, etc.
If you can find any holes in that logic, why you must be God himself!

The great thing about the essays page is that it isn't just essays. There are charts, satire regarding "liberal" churches, statistics and Pastor Steve even shows off his poetry skills. All you need to know about the formidability of those skills is that there are 22 verses like this:

They used to know “Wounded for Me”
Now they know “CSI Miami”
I don't want to give away the final line of the poem, but I bet if you thought about it real hard you could figure out what it is.

Pro-life studies page:
Really should be called the IVF page. I think Pastor Steve was getting lazy by the time he put this one together.

Our pastor page:
This is actually the first tab, but I had to save it for last. This page is your introduction to the one and only Pastor Steve "I Hate Barack Obama" Anderson. Among the things you could learn about Pastor Steve is that he "holds no college degree but has well over 100 chapters of the Bible committed to memory, including almost half of the New Testament. See you doubted the memorization method from earlier, but you couldn't memorize 100 chapters of the Bible in your entire life if you didn't use such an incredibly advanced method of memorization. Could you? I didn't think so.

But what really makes the page so great is that it links to the family blog of Mrs. Anderson. Perhaps, there will be a future post dedicated entirely to the oddly named "Are they all yours?" blog from Mrs. Anderson.

"Are They All Yours?!??"
The main piece of information to know is that the blog is about usual mom blog topics - pictures of kids, family vacation descriptions, canning tips, socialized medicine rants, a fairly regular habit of calling people perverts and fairies, and of course documentation of Pastor Anderson's court case from some run in with the border patrol (more in a bit).

The most current post is titled "Another perverted male OB/GYN" and is about a doctor who, if everything in the post is true, is a terrible doctor and a real asshole. However, unless I missed something the term pervert seems misapplied.

I'm not sure that factual correctness is the main thrust of Mrs. Anderson's blog, however. I think the point is to push this point:

It is called "The Holy Bible", and you will find definite answers to all of life's questions and issues in it. -- Mrs. Anderson
It also has a link to the blog of Pastor Steve. You probably already know that is also a very special blog.

Steven L Anderson:

This blog has a few topics but lately it is almost entirely about Pastor Steve getting a beat down from the border patrol. I can't tell too much about what really went down other than that Pastor Steve was being belligerent about a request to get out of his car so the officers forcibly removed him from the car.

I'm too tired to read or watch more right now. You all can figure it out if you want. It's a nice piece of drama, however, that links the tea party crowd (there is another video of him speaking at an event) with religious nuts. That's the thing about nuts really. They generally attract their own kind.

Happy reading everyone!

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