Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Econ Teacher Forgot to Tell Me This

James Carville once famously said in regards to the political situation that it was about "the economy stupid." An Oklahoma State Representative has one-upped Mr. Carville by explaing that, when it comes to our current economic situation, it's the morality stupid.

Kern introduced a resolution for consideration by the Oklahoma House that includes the following:

WHEREAS, we believe our economic woes are consequences of our greater national moral crisis; and
WHEREAS, this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion,
pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery; and
WHEREAS, alarmed that the Government of the United States of America is forsaking the rich Christian heritage upon which this nation was built; and
WHEREAS, grieved that the Office of the president of these United States has refused to uphold the long held tradition of past presidents in giving recognition to our National Day of Prayer; and
WHEREAS, deeply disturbed that the Office of the president of these United States disregards the biblical admonitions to live clean and pure lives by proclaiming an entire month to an immoral behavior;
The entire blogpost by Jonathan Turley is worth reading. It includes the quote-worthy phrase "anticipatory economic damnation."

But I want to look at the bright side. Democracy has seen the election and reelection of people like Sally Kern since its inception, and still we have a (mostly) functioning government and society. Here, here to the resilience of democracy!

(cheers to the friend of ESL who sent us this gem)

Monday, June 29, 2009


An interesting article in the New York Times about an overabundance of arenas across the nation. Not good news for the Sprint Center. The article includes this interesting bit:

No one questions the Garden’s stature as the most venerable and busiest of arenas. It routinely books 275 hockey and basketball games (the Garden is home to the Rangers, Knicks and Liberty), circuses and concerts a year; most operators say arenas need to fill 200 dates to generate an operating surplus.
Does anyone know how many dates Sprint Center has booked in the last year? Is it even 100? 75? Less?

Friday, June 26, 2009

long live the king

first off, i am not going to try and convince you all that i am a die hard michael jackson fan. i own thriller, yes, but so do 30 million other people. MJ hadn't had a hit since 2001, and that was barely a blip on the radar (invincible). for the last 15 years or so, most people only associated this man with controversy, turmoil, and embarassment. like most people, i still was rooting for him to go out on top. unfortunately, he did not.

what is extraordinary, however, is that no one seems to be talking about the bad times. no seems to recall the dangling babies, the awkward kisses, or the plethora of surgeries. all people seem to recall is the music. and this man literally changed the face of pop music forever.

before him, there were no black artists on MTV. some could argue, in fact, that MJ literally saved music television. of course this was during the time when they actually played music videos. imagine that!

like many of you, i still recall seeing him moonwalk for the first time. we stayed up late to watch the thriller video for the first time, and it was an event like none other before or since (save peter gabriel's sledgehammer, but that was entirely different). and vincent price's voice still scares me! as the tributes began mounting,however, it became more and more evident that the world really did lose a treasure. as his songs began occupying radio airtime for the majority of the day, i began to realize just how important MJ the artist really was. for my generation, is there really anyone bigger? nope.

currently, jacko albums are holding the top 23 spots on the amazon best seller list, as well as 35 of the top 50. now THAT is impressive. looking back, however, his legacy really lies within 3 albums : off the wall, thriller, and bad. even as a moderate fan of pop music, i must admit that i would be hard pressed to find a greater trilogy of an artist, let alone in sequence. especially a pop artist.

favorite song? again, i am no aficionado, but i always liked "man in the mirror". it just seemed a bit more personal and introspective. of course, "billie jean" is still pretty bitchin. i just finished listening to thriller (on vinyl!) and it all still holds up. i am still trying to figure out they got those sounds in the studio!

not sure why i felt compelled to address this topic, other than it is inescapable. it is everywhere, and will be for many weeks to come. while i am certain that the circumstances surrounding his death are far from being resolved, i do hope that we can all take heart in the lasting music and influence that have been left behind. because when it comes right down to it, i think everyone has the need to moonwalk across their living room floor, let out a scream, and embrace the feel of a single white glove.

i know i do...

NBA Draft

I like the NBA draft better than the NFL draft. Maybe this is because I can tell a lot more from watching a basketball player play in college (or elsewhere) than I can from watching a football player do the same. Maybe it's just because the NBA draft is shorter.

There were several interesting things that came out of last night's draft.

1. I somehow labored under the assumption that Blake Griffin was 6'8" when he is, apparently, 6'10". They may not seem like a huge difference, but for a player of his style it is. The Clipper curse may still get him, but I like his odds to overcome.

2. People are killing Minnesota for taking two point guards at 5 and 6. I disagree. If you think they are the best two players there, take them. Maybe they can't start together in the backcourt, but maybe they can. And maybe they will trade one of them before the season anyway.

3. Brandon Jennings may be a great player. He seems to have the tools. He also seems like the "player most likely to do something real dumb and be out of the league in 3 years."

4. The Cavs have Shaq now and the Magic have VC. I've seen suggestions that the Shaq thing isn't that big of a deal because he isn't what he used to be. That is true, but he also isn't Zydrunas Ilgauskas. And he looked pretty good against Dwight Howard in the all-star game (yes, I am aware I just made a judgement based on an all-star game).

5. Amare Stoudemire is good, but I think the Warriors would be crazy to trade Stephen Curry, Brandan Wright, Andris Biedrins and Marco Belinelli for what could end up being only one year of his services. Check that, super crazy.

6. If you are drafted in the second round you might turn out to be great, but no one should ever describe you as great on draft night. If you were great on draft night, you would have been drafted earlier.

7. I say Patty Mills becomes an integral part of the Trailblazers future success.

8. My bias towards teams really extends to their draft picks. When he was picked by the Pistons, I made a mental note that Chase Budinger might actually turn into a steal. When the Pistons traded him to the Rockets, I mentally moved him to the bust column. There was really no reason for either of those opinions. Actually, the Rockets have a much better recent drafting record than do the Pistons.

9. I am already looking forward to next season.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cautionary Tale

The Royals organization needs to read this article by Bill Simmons chronicling the history of the LA Clippers. Another 10 years and the Royals will have essentially matched this kind of futility. Matching the Clippers is not something you want... ever.

So that's your new team, Blake Griffin. You have 33 straight years of bad luck working against you. You're entering a world of "Tonight Show" put downs and half-empty buildings. You're playing for the worst possible owner and the worst possible coach for the Lakers' ugly stepbrother in Los Angeles. You're dealing with a dwindling fan base that's almost supernaturally depressed at this point. You will be the 18th forward they drafted with a top-nine draft pick since 1976. None of them lasted longer than six seasons on the Clippers. Not one.

Since 1976, the Clippers have drafted only one player who made an All-Star team as a Clipper: Danny Manning in 1993 and 1994. Think about that for a second. It's impossible. It's absolutely true. They made 38 first-round picks since 1980; you will be No. 39. They earned a top-10 pick 23 times since the '76 draft; of those 23 times, 12 were in the top four and three were No. 1 overall. They failed to turn the first 21 chances into a Hall of Famer, borderline Hall of Famer or perennial All-Star. The 22nd chance was Gordon; the 23rd chance is you. The odds are against both of you.
Read the whole thing, especially if you are a Royal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The Iranian soccer players I mentioned a few days ago have been "retired" from the Iranian soccer team.

A former head of Iran's soccer governing body was also arrested over the weekend. That is precisely why doing what they did was such a brave thing to do.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I'm watching a History Channel program about the decline of infrastructure in the U.S. In what I've seen of it so far, St. Louis is one of the stars of the show. Apparently, the sewer system is one thing Albert Pujols can't even fix.

That got me to thinking about the fact that a water pipe broke in my neighborhood last week and that I hit a pot hole that nearly swallowed my car the other day. I think KC could have easily stood in for St. Louis in this thing.

The question is, what are we going to do about it? Will we pay to have these things fixed? In the case of the highway system, should we fix what we have, create an even larger system or figure out how to integrate mass transit more appropriately? None of these questions are very novel, but they are definitely worth asking until we have answers.

The Importance Of Sample Sizes

Now that the MLB season is nearly 40% complete, I thought it might be fun to go back to an April post by Jim to see how things are shaking out for the Royals now that the sample set is large enough to judge the team’s pitching. The timing of this post also comes immediately after the Royals were just swept by the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend and gave up 29 runs in 3 games.

Remember, when the April post was submitted the season was less than 8% complete. Here is the section of the post about the pitching:

“The Royals pitching staff is off to an incredible start. They have the league's second best ERA, and if not for Kyle (The Arsonist) Farnsworth, they would likely be on top. The most encouraging stat, however, is the team's number of strikeouts. Royals pitchers are currently striking out more batters than any other team in baseball.

This is important because strikeouts reduce the number of things that can go wrong when a ball is put in play. It is also big news because from 2000-2007, the Royals were in the bottom five in strikeouts every year (twice finishing dead last). Last year, they moved up to a below average but more respectable 17th place. Now they are #1. That may not last, but it is hard to imagine them dropping out of the top 10.

So now, on June 22nd, the Royals staff ERA ranks 19th in the league. They also rank 17th in the league in strikeouts (exactly where they ended the year in 2008), and are 10 games under .500.

Am I piling on the Royals right now? Maybe. But more importantly, I think there should be a rule that Flag Day has to come and go before we start drawing conclusions about how a baseball team will fare for the season (or at least wait longer than April 21st).

Baseball, above any other sport, is dominated by stats and usually those stats don’t lie. You just have to wait long enough for there to be enough stats there to sort through.

Democrats May Really be Feckless

The public overwhelmingly supports universal health coverage. So does Dan. The president says the time to address health care is now.

Republicans, of course, think it is preferable to continue running a system that costs more, works worse and results in a large section of our country having no coverage. But Republicans face a Democratic party with a huge (though not insurmountable) majority, and the public does not see it their way.

This all should add up to Democrats delivering on one of the major initiatives President Obama campaigned on. How are they doing? Paul Krugman has a nice column in the Times about how they are about to vomit all over themselves.

What the balking Democrats seem most determined to do is to kill the public option, either by eliminating it or by carrying out a bait-and-switch, replacing a true public option with something meaningless. For the record, neither regional health cooperatives nor state-level public plans, both of which have been proposed as alternatives, would have the financial stability and bargaining power needed to bring down health care costs.

Whatever may be motivating these Democrats, they don’t seem able to explain their reasons in public.

Thus Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska initially declared that the public option — which, remember, has overwhelming popular support — was a “deal-breaker.” Why? Because he didn’t think private insurers could compete: “At the end of the day, the public plan wins the day.” Um, isn’t the purpose of health care reform to protect American citizens, not insurance companies?
Republicans say a lot of things about Democrats that are wildly inaccurate and slanderous. The fact that they are spineless may not be one of those things.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twitter Jokes

Via TPM, I learned that Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) has been taking an enormous amount of heckling after he compared Republicans to Iranian protestors with this tweet:

Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House.
There is a list of them if you follow the link, but I think my favorite three heckles are these...

TahirDuckett @petehoekstra ran through the sprinklers this morning, claimed solidarity with victims of Hurricane Katrina

netw3rk @petehoekstra Someone walked in on me while I was in the bathroom. Reminded me of Pearl Harbor.

paganmist @petehoekstra Had to move all my stuff to a new office w/o a corner view. Now i know what the Trail of Tears was like. #GOPfail

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Matchup Problems

If you had your choice of Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre or Trey Hillman and Don Wakamatsu who would you take?

By the way, this is in a coaching contest not a facial hair growing contest or a bare-knuckle brawl.


An image of the Iranian football team from a match today. The green bands were reportedly gone in the second half, but I suspect they did their work in the first half. They also probably jeopardized the careers (or worse) of those players.

This pic came via Andrew Sullivan's blog. If you want a ton of information about what it going on in Iran, that's the place to go.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

NBA Wrapup

My enthusiasm for writing about the end of the NBA season is not where I would like it to be. As those who have read this blog for awhile know, I am an advocate for professional basketball.

The problem is that I don't like the Lakers, and for that matter, I don't care much for the Magic either. I do love Magic coach Stan Van Gundy who has to be the best press conference coach since Jon Cheney.

Anyway, a Finals in which the Lakers won in 5 games is not my idea of a thrilling end to the season. Still, there was some interesting stuff about this season.

Derrick Rose is really good, and the Bulls made the right choice taking him first in the draft.

The Celtics lost because Kevin Garnett was hurt. Kevin Garnett was probably hurt because he OD'd on intensity. I wonder if he is the kind of player who could still be a decent player if he dialed it back a notch or two.

Lebron is the best player on the planet... but not good enough to turn Ilgauskas and Varejao into Bynum and Odom. That's probably what he needed to be able to do.

The draft should be interesting because nearly half of the lottery talent is point guards.

Kansas City is not getting an NBA team.

I think that is all for now.

Bail Outs Really are for Everybody

Apparently, credit card companies are in the mood to cut their losses. You could be the beneficiary.

As they confront unprecedented numbers of troubled customers, credit card companies are increasingly doing something they have historically scorned: settling delinquent accounts for substantially less than the amount owed.

The practice started last fall as the economy worsened. But in recent months, with unemployment topping 9 percent and more people having trouble paying their bills, experts say this approach has risen drastically.

They say many credit card issuers have revised internal guidelines to give front-line employees the power to cut deals with consumers. The workers do not even have to wait for customers to call and ask for a break.

“Now it’s the card company calling you and saying, ‘Let’s talk turkey,’ ” said David Robertson, publisher of the credit industry journal The Nilson Report.
Perhaps the guy at all the sporting events with the "Hey Congress, where's my bailout?" sign will be able turn his ample creative abilities toward something more constructive.

Friday, June 12, 2009

But I Want to Go to War!!!

Charles Krauthammer offers up an interesting study on those who understand nothing about the role empathy plays in human relationships. The subject of the study is, of course, himself.

In fariness, I suspect he knows what Obama is doing has a chance of being successful. But building relationships lowers our chances of going to war, and Krauthammer can likely think of nothing more depressing than that.

Iranian Election

Just a reminder to everyone that if Ahmadinejad wins the election in Iran, it is no more a confirmation that the country is filled with anti-Semitic, fundamentalist jihadists than the 2004 reelection of George Bush meant this country was lock-step in support of Bush policies.

The inverse is true, of course, as well. If Ahmedinejad loses, Iran does not magically become our Middle Eastern version of Great Britain.

The point is really a pretty silly one to make, but I think it is worth reminding ourselves that countries are filled with lots of people. The beliefs and politics of those people have as many shades of grey as in the good ol' U.S.ofA.

Soapbox exited.

80's Movie Line of the Week (Royals Special)

As I mentioned in the previous post, Major League is a movie that today would be made about the Royals. Many of the lines would still be appropriate. Here is Bob Ueker's announcer character talking special promotions.

Harry Doyle: Remember, fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant.

For the Love of Steve Balboni...

The Royals, being the Royals, lost last night 4-3 on a ball that got past Coco Crisp in the outfield because it hit a bird and changed directions. Joe Posnanski has a great blog post up putting this into context with all the other things he has seen is his time covering the Royals. He has seen a lot.

Other stuff I’ve seen: I saw the Royals lose once when a pitcher, attempting to start an inning-ending double play, slipped on the resin bag and threw the ball into centerfield. … I saw the Royals begin a game batting out of order. I mean, batting out of order is one thing, but the FIRST BATTER was out of order? … I saw a Royals baserunner literally fall off of first base on a pickoff attempt. He got back to the bag safely and then, almost in slow motion, he just fell off the base and was tagged out. … I saw the Royals lose a game when, with the bases loaded, a batter hit a ball back to Mike MacDougal. He threw home — literally. The ball had to be at least 5 feet over the catcher’s head. I remember it being 10 feet high. … I saw the Royals release a pitcher IN THE MIDDLE OF THE GAME … I saw a Royals prospect, with two runners in scoring position, look so frightened that, even though the opposing pitcher threw three batting practice fastballs right over the heart of the plate, he never even thought about swinging. … I saw the Royals try out a professional softball pitcher … I saw a Royals pitcher get hurt during spring training SLIDING practice (you might recall, the Royals are an American League club) … I saw Esteban German get hit in the face with a fly ball because (1) he was playing centerfield, (2) he’s not a centerfielder, (3) the sun was out and (4) he was not wearing his sunglasses. Fortunately, Esty was wearing his sunglasses on the flight home after the game so no one could see his shiner … I saw Tony Pena lose a ball in the sun because he wasn’t wearing sunglasses. After the game, Pena explained that he had ordered his sunglasses but “they had not come in yet.” … I saw Royals pitcher Miguel Asencio throw 16 consecutive balls to start off his major league career. … I saw the Royals draft the first high school pitcher who ever officially threw 100 mph. Apparently, nobody noticed that he did not throw strikes.

Of course, there’s the Ken Harvey oeuvre. Once, he lost a battle with a tarp. Once, as the cut-off man, he turned his back on an outfield throw and got hit in the back. Once he threw a baseball into his own pitcher’s face.*
Read the whole post. Despite being opressively depressing, it's quite amusing.

The thing that is most disappointing to me about all of this is that the movie Major League has already been made. Does anyone doubt that if it were made today, it would be about the Royals and not the Indians?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Creative Writing Time

My book club had our annual poetry month meeting last night (I know it actually isn't poetry month). At this event everyone brings something they've either read that they love or something that they have written themselves. Among a few things I contributed was this poem based on my recent travel experiences:

Drama in the Air (the Great Wide Yonder)

I'm beginning to sweat.
The hours ahead seem like days.
I shift and shrink and shiver.
I cannot escape all that is trying to fill my space.
They should've charged you for two seats.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Evolving Into Something We Do Not Even Recognize

I'm currently outsourcing all work on this blog to quotes brought to my attention by other bloggers. I'm sure I'll write something again someday, but in the meantime, be entertained by Sarah Palin:

Hannity: Tim Geithner got laughed at in China last week. Is this even more than you thought was going to be in terms of where the president would take the economy?

Palin: What's more than I thought would be is, we're hearing a lot of good rhetoric. A lot of this is wrapped in good rhetoric, but we're not seeing those actions, and this many months into the new administration, quite disappointed, quite frustrated with not seeing those actions to rein in spending, slow down the growth of government. Instead, China's Sean it's the complete opposite. It's expanding at such a large degree that if Americans aren't paying attention, unfortunately, our country could evolve into something that we do not even recognize, certainly that is so far from what the founders of our country had in mind for us.
Not one of the four sentences makes any sense at all. And they make even less sense when you put them all together. I still know a disturbing number of people who think Sarah Palin would be a great leader for the country. I don't know how you could ever come to that conclusion after seeing something like this. Hopefully, at some point, even the diehards will recognize that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Missing the Point

"Look, if it (torture) were illegal, Bush and Cheney would have been arrested," - Bill O'Reilly.

Monday, June 8, 2009

the unskipable

i do believe the world needs more lists, and this is as good a place to start as any. i also think it is somewhat fair to say that each track listed is probably my favorite from each artist, or at least in the top 3 most days.

please note, it took me several hours to compile this list, because upon listening to said track, it could not be skipped. it was tough, but hey...rules are rules.

ease down the road- bonnie prince billy

ohio- Damien jurado

from the morning- nick drake

I’m always in love- wilco

Still be around- unlce tupelo

Mississippi- bob Dylan

Dent county- jay farrar

Tear stained eye- son volt

The weight- the band

And your bird can sing- the beatles

Factory girl- rolling stones

You’re still on my mind- the byrds

Heathens- drive by truckers

Winding wheel- ryan adams

It’s a motherfucker- eels

Christine’s tune- the flying burrito brothers

Naked as we came- iron and wine

The charging sky- jenny lewis

Imagine- john lennon

A good time- john prine

Victoria- the kinks

Hotel yorba- the white stripes

Glenn tipton- sun kil moon

Boys your welcome- Mississippi john hurt

I can’t be satisfied- muddy waters

Tell me why- neil young

Later days- over the rhine

Hallelujah, I love her so- ray charles

More adventurous- rilo kiley

Why do you let me stay here?- she and him

The comeback- the shout out louds

Devil in me- the skeletons

The way we get by- spoon

Flirting with time- tom petty

Substitute- the who

Don't Skip This

Haven't posted a list in awhile, so I thought it might be time to put together one I've thought about several times. This list is songs I almost never skip when they come up at random. This doesn't necessarily make them my favorite songs, but it does pretty much ensure that I like them a lot. And if I was making a list of favorite songs, this list would at least be a good starting point.

If I really was putting together a favorite songs list, however, it would likely include some tunes that are either very mellow or very energetic. These types of songs are great, but they might not fit the mood. This list, on the other hand, features songs that seem to strike me as something I want to hear no matter how I'm feeling at the moment. I am limiting it to songs at least a year old so the newness factor doesn't influence the decision.

This list isn't exhaustive probably but is comprised of a few I thought of immediately. It isn't in any particular order. I reserve the right to add or remove at my discretion.

My Mathematical Mind -- Spoon
Karma Police -- Radiohead
Where is My Mind? -- The Pixies
You Ain't Going Nowhere -- The Byrds
Out of Gas -- Modest Mouse
The General Specific -- Band of Horses
Sister Do You Know My Name? -- The White Stripes
Dead Flowers -- The Rolling Stones
Anything You Want -- Spoon
We've Been Had -- The Walkmen
In the Garage -- Weezer
The Runner -- Kings of Leon
Needles in My Eyes -- The Beta Band
Hateful -- The Clash
Maps -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Black, Red, Yellow -- Pearl Jam
Bones -- Radiohead
Wildflowers -- Tom Petty
Donde Esta La Playa -- The Walkmen*

*This one broke my one year rule. But it's close, I'm not sure that I've ever skipped it and it's my list.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Family Values

Yesterday, the House passed four-week paid maternity leave for federal employees. As usual, the party of family values voted overwhelmingly against the measure.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Few Things

None of which I want to say a lot about, but think deserve a mention.

1. Whatever quality it is that helps teams overachieve, the Royals have heaps and heaps of its opposite quality.
2. After seeing the new Star Trek movie last night, I want the last three Star Wars movies remade by J.J. Abrams. I might also consider watching Lost.
3. In an environment rich in stupid political accusations, the accusation that Obama claimed the U.S. is a Muslim nation is particularly egregious in its stupidity.
4. Listen to new albums from White Rabbits and Phoenix. Good stuff.
5. I checked in with Rush Limbaugh on Monday, and in 10 minutes heard enough BS to last me for the next few years. I'll forget that, of course, and check in again in a couple of weeks.
6. The city's oldest fountain was turned back on. As good a time as any to remember we really do live in a beautiful city.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jimmy Carter's Lament

Via Matt Yglesias, Nate Silver has a piece on the racial makeup of the Democratic and Republican parties. Among other things he says:

Consider this remarkable statistic. In 1980, 32 percent of the electorate consisted of white Democrats (or at least white Carter voters) -- likewise, in 2008, 32 percent of the electorate consisted of white Obama voters. But whereas, in 1980, just 9 percent of the electorate were nonwhite Carter voters, 21 percent of the electorate were nonwhite Obama voters last year. Thus, Carter went down to a landslide defeat, whereas Obama defeated John McCain by a healthy margin.
This is really why Republicans are in so much trouble. Demographics are working overwhelmingly against them, and their answer to the problem is to attack Supreme Court nominees almost entirely on racial grounds.

There is always a chance that a catastrophic performance by Obama leads the Republicans back to power, but for the next few years that would seem to be about their only avenue if they are intent on not changing.

Monday, June 1, 2009

blue foot

not sure what possessed me to do this, but for some reason i thought i could jump over a camp fire this weekend. wasn't even especially inebriated. just thought, "i can make it!"

alas, i could not. oh sure, i cleared the flames, but i did NOT stick the landing. and now i have a swollen blue foot as proof of my idiocy. when do we ever out grow the need to tempt fate?

answer: never. now, someone hold my beer...

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