Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let's Chase Eachother Around the Oval Office

If you don't believe me that Obama isn't so bad, maybe you'll listen to Merle Haggard.

"It's really almost criminal what they do with our president," Haggard said. "There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he's doing certain things that he's not. It's just a big old political game that I don't want to be part of."
I'm going to guess he's a bit of an outlier in Muskogee these days.

Merry Belated Christmas!

Went home for the holidays, then got wicked sick on Sunday. As Led Zeppelin said, good times, bad times, you know I had my share... all in 5 days!

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Week in Being Nuts

If you are crazy this week, you might have done these things:

Called for a boycott of the upcoming movie, Thor, because there is a black guy in it.

Called for the end of the Methodist Church. Actually, you might have said...

"In short, if you hate America, you have a great future in the Methodist church," he says.


Tried to get all of your Supreme Court judges impeached because you disagree with them.

Thought about making a House Rep who said that global warming can't be real because Genesis says so the head of the House Energy Committee.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

TOP 10 Albums of 2010















Top 10 Albums of 2010
1. Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More
2. SSLYBY- Let it Sway
3. Tallest Man on Earth- Wild Hunt
4. She & Him- Volume 2
5. Good Old War- Good Old War
6. Vampire Weekend- Contra
7. Josh Ritter- So Runs the World Away
8. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs
9. Harlem- Hippies
10. Blitzen Trapper- Destroyer of the Void

AA has been harping on me for the past few weeks to post this list. i think it gives him comfort to know he is not alone in the list-making world. hope this makes your day, friend!

this has been one of the best years in music that i can recall, and yet this became one of the easiest years for me to pick my Top 10. i really turned to these 10 albums more than any other this past year, and they never let me down. i know this will be up for some debate, but i deemed Mumford and Sons eligible based on the US release date of their album (Irish was 2009 i think). but hey...my list, my call. though i may have spun "Let it Sway" more often, i just couldn't get over the guttural effect that "Sigh No More" has on me every time i press play thus securing it's position as the best album of 2010.

Top 10 songs list is forthcoming

Friday, December 17, 2010

Don't Mess With Women from New Mexico

Ouch.

When the victim began arguing with her 44-year-old mother-in-law, the older woman allegedly "grabbed (the victim's) right breast and began to squeeze and pull on her nipple." The victim yelled to stop, but her mother-in-law allegedly continued to pull until the younger woman began punching her in the face, according to the police report.

The victim then told police she threw her mother-in-law into the yard, but the older woman allegedly kicked in the back door and had to be physically removed again. It was when the victim was putting her mother-in-law's belongings in the yard that she felt fluid on her breast and realized there was blood on her shirt. When she untucked her tank top, her nipple fell on the floor, she told police.
In the story it explains that everyone had been drinking. How much does one have to drink before they don't realize when their nipple is torn off? I would think a lot.

A Good Rant

Kevin Drum rants today in a way that channels my fears about America. It's interesting because I think many people have a similar feeling, there is a hopelessness to it that keeps those people from ranting about it all the time, and it occassionally boils over when we see something that just seems like too much. But, make no mistake, it is always there.

Anyway, instead of ranting myself, I'll just let the guy who already wrote it well rant for me.

I can't remember when I've been more demoralized about American governance. I have this overwhelming feeling of barnacles building up relentlessly, untouchable because of interest group pressure on both left and right, and a complete inability and/or unwillingness to address any of it. Democrats have some things they want to do, but in addition to satisfying their own interest groups they have to settle for third or fourth best policies because Republicans have simply decided they don't care about anything except tax cuts for the rich, hating gay people, and bennies for favored industries. In the middle of a massive recession they opposed a stimulus bill. In the aftermath of a financial crisis they opposed a financial reform bill. In the face of skyrocketing healthcare costs they demagogued modest cuts in Medicare spending. They spent months negotiating a spending bill — transparently, openly, via the ordinary committee process — and then killed it just because it would annoy Harry Reid. Global warming is a hoax, gay recruits will destroy the military, and creationism is an appropriate topic for high school biology classes. Our infrastructure is crumbling and our schools are mediocre, but the creeping encrustation of government prevents anything serious from being done about either. We're in hock to Middle Eastern theocracies for our oil, and the laughable answer from the right consists entirely of nukes and a bit of marginal extra drilling around the periphery of America. An arms control treaty that could have been negotiated by Ronald Reagan himself is unsure of passage because too many Republican senators deem it unsafe to risk the wrath of Fox News or their tea party constituencies.

Democrats have their pathologies too. Teachers unions really do impede school reform. Public sector unions have bid up government salaries. Environmental and land use rules have made infrastructure development of any kind a grueling, expensive marathon. Both parties subsidize idiocies like corn ethanol, and both sides boast coal state senators who are unwilling to think seriously about pricing carbon.

But at least we all have access to 300 TV channels in glorious high definition! Who says America can't accomplish great things anymore?
I think that about sums it up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

That's It

The last stand alone store selling new music (there are still some resale shops) I can think of in Kansas City is shutting down.

The Facebook page for Streetside in Kansas City announced the closing, and a store manager confirmed the development. Other questions were referred to officials at parent company Trans World Entertainment Corp., who could not be reached Wednesday.
So, if you want music now you better have an Internet connection... or a box store and some mainstream taste.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Word of the Day

Globalization - A process whereby the average American realizes he is the least traveled item in his house.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Best Songs of 2010

As I mentioned yesterday, it was a great music year. I put down a bunch of the best songs from the top 10 albums on that list. But there were a bunch of other great songs too. Here are some of them:

Rill Rill - Sleigh Bells
Who Makes Your Money - Spoon
You Must Be Out of Your Mind - Magnetic Fields
Evening Kitchen - Band of Horses
Sink/Let it Sway - SSLYBY
Cold War - The Morning Benders
Lonely at the Top - Jamey Johnson
Wanna-be Angel - Foxy Shazam
Electrocution - Nada Surf
Power Lies - The Thermals

For an overall Top 10 songs of the year, I'll go:

1. City With No Children - Arcade Fire
2. Juveniles - The Walkmen
3. I Think Ur a Contra - Vampire Weekend
4. The Water - Johnny Flynn
5. You Must Be Out of Your Mind - Magentic Fields
6. Be Your Baby - Harlem
7. Everlasting Light - The Black Keys
8. The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man On Earth
9. Cold War -The Morning Benders
10. Cloud Shadow on the Mountain - Wolf Parade

NBA Unlikely

Sam Mellinger does some nice reporting and thinking about what makes an NBA relocation to Kansas City unlikely. This is the most important part:

American City Business Journals did a study that showed the Kansas City region’s total income is $57 billion short of what’s needed to support the teams we already have — let alone 41 NBA home dates with an average ticket price around $50.

We make up the nation’s 31st biggest market, according to Nielsen. No. 23 Pittsburgh is the smallest with three major-league teams, and remember they almost lost the NHL’s Penguins and the Pirates are consistently near the bottom of MLB attendance.
Actually, Nielsen's 09-10 numbers have us down a spot to 32. Right in front of us is Salt Lake City who has only one pro team. The only three smaller markets with two teams are Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and New Orleans.

So instead of adding, why don't we start pursuing a trade. Just imagine how far a baseball would travel in that Salt Lake City air...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Top Ten Albums of 2010

Consistently one of my favorite posts each year... and the only one I spend months preparing.

My favorite album not eligible because my buddy did it: American Weekend by Dallas Jones. If you don't know who Dallas is, do yourself a favor and check him out. He's a good guy to boot.

As for the others, whose personal virtues I cannot speak for, here is the list (along with two favorite tracks from each).

1. Contra - Vampire Weekend
(I Think Ur a Contra, White Sky)
2. Lisbon - The Walkmen
(Juveniles, Stranded)
3. The Suburbs - Arcade Fire
(City With No Children, Modern Man)
4. Brothers - The Black Keys
(Everlasting Light, Howlin' For You)
5. Been Listening - Johnny Flynn
(The Water, Amazon Love)
6. High Violet - The National
(Conversation 16, Bloodbuzz Ohio)
7. Sigh No More - Mumford & Sons
(The Cave, Winter Winds)
8. Hippies - Harlem
(Be Your Baby, Friendly Ghost)
9. Expo 86 - Wolf Parade
(Cloud Shadow on the Mountain, Cave-o-sapien)
10. The Wild Hunt - The Tallest Man on Earth
(The Wild Hunt, Love is All)

This was a rough year. I almost disqualified Mumford & Sons since it was actually released last year (but this year for the U.S.). I kept em in thought since they weren't in last year's list. Honestly, though I could have used another spot. I think I could have done a top 25 without much effort. Great music this year!

Best songs post coming tomorrow...

Big Bowl of Interesting Stuff

People continue to assert that tax cuts are unfailingly successful at stimulating the economy... with virtually no evidence to support such an assertion.

Extending unemployment benefits, on the other hand, is helpful.

Turns out healthcare rationing is actually a threat... brought on by Republican decision-makers in Arizona.

Fried chicken is no more at Power & Light.

If I read this right, having a pleasant disposition helps you figure stuff out faster.

Kansas City still isn't getting an NBA team, but one is available.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christian Takeover

Why is it important to defend a seperation of church and state? This is why:

After Williamson sent a fact sheet to SREC members defending Straus, Cook responded by dismissing her claims and saying that "We elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it." Since the SREC governs state Republican Party affairs, this marked the first time an elected party leader had semi-openly called for a "Christian conservative" Speaker.
This is referring to a campaign to get the Jewish Republican speaker of the Texas House replaced by a Christian Republican speaker of the Texas House. Read the whole thing if you want to get more familiar with how oppressed Christians are in this country.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Republicans Reminding Me Why I am Not a Republican

On my way in this morning, there was a story on NPR about Republicans blocking the extension of unemployment benefits unless they could be paid for with other cuts. I would disagree with that priority, but if it is a principled stand, then that is a reasonable position.

But, of course, it isn't. Republicans in the Senate are also threatening to shut down all government business unless all of the Bush tax cuts are extended... whether they are paid for or not.

So if you are unemployed and sturggling because the economy sucks, well you are out of luck. But if you make $1 million a year, don't worry. Republicans have your back.

When YouTube Sucks

Yesterday, I missed a great opportunity to pass along a Dangerous Minds blogpost that the Back to Rockville blog had reposted. It had YouTube videos that broke up all the different recording tracks that made up the Stones' Gimme Shelter.

It was awesome. But now it has been taken down because ABKCO has the rights and isn't sharing. I hate it when this happens.

Monday, November 29, 2010

80's Movie Line of the Week, R.I.P Leslie Nielsen


From the Naked Gun:

Frank: Yes, well when I see five weirdo's dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Solved the Deficit!

The New York Times has a widget that give you a chance to solve the deficit. I did it with 62% spending cuts and 38% tax increases. Pretty tax friendly for a liberal I'd say. Here is the link to my solution.

What's yours?

Thankful

I'm thankful today. I've got good friends, family, co-workers, teammates, and especially a wonderful fiancee. Lots of other stuff in the world isn't the way I'd like it to be, but all those people make it a wonderful world nonetheless.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can't Afford to be Sick

Most of the arguments against healthcare reform were the silliest of the silly. The one that is legit is that the reform didn't do anything to control costs. This chart via Kevin Drum shows why that would have been important.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Apples That Fell Very, Very Close to the Tree

The Palins are just not a smart group of people. Apparently, Bristol and Willow recently entered a fray on Facebook. The subject was the Palin reality show, and some facebook posters didn't care for it.

The fight heats up when a guy named Matt jumps in. Matt apparently went to Teeland Middle School in Wasilla with Bristol. At first, Matt sticks to criticizing the TV show and the Palins' attitude: "man these Palins really don't like it when you don't admire them fully, well Im sorry that people don't like some programming," he writes in his initial post. But after Willow retorts, "Your effin fat as hell. Stfu," Matt responds in kind, calling Bristol fat. Willow replies: "Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are. But what I've seen pictures of, your disgusting. My sister had a kid and is still hot." She adds, "Tre stfu. Your such a faggot." Other than the text-speak abbreviations (stfu stands for shut the fuck up), this is all pretty timeless material. Kids have forever trotted out the gay and fat insults, though one likes to think it has become more taboo now to use the word faggot, especially if you're the daughter of a public figure and you're posting the word in public.
The whole article is pretty incredible. With all the money they have on the line, doesn't the Palin camp have someone monitoring what the girls might be saying online? Or does everything they do at this point just incense Palin's opponents and delight her followers? If so, they might be smarter than I thought.

But I doubt it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why I Like Joe Biden

Honesty.

People Were Strange in the Fifties

There is an interesting slideshow on Slate showing ads form the fifties with ping pong tables in them. The point of the associated piece is that the ping pong table was a symbol for the good life in suburbia.

It's pretty interesting, but I was particularly struck by this ad.



What in the world was The American Home magazine all about? This cover shoot looks like A Clockwork Orange meets Gilligan's Island, with a group of people protraying a family who have approximately zero chance of coming from the same gene pool.

But it did come with a gorgeous 9 x 12 bird print, so I guess all was right with the world.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roger Ailes, I Don't Like Him

Howard Kurtz did an interview with Roger Ailes where he said, among other things:

“They (NPR) are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”
and

“He (John Stewart) hates conservative views. He hates conservative thoughts. He hates conservative verbiage. He hates conservatives.”
and most importantly upon Kurtz's suggestion the Fox has moved further to the right

“Bill has not moved to the right,” Ailes says. “He’s moved to the left. He’s been very fair and balanced on Obama, Bush, everyone.”
That's the really special one, I think, because it kind of shows you that reason Fox news can be in its own self-delusional and deceitful world is because it's boss in his own self-delusional and deceitful world. Kurtz didn't ask what O'Reilly had done, he asked what the network had done. And Ailes responded by answering a different and more self-satisfactory answer. I don't like him.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's Fine for Me Because... Well, Because

If you campaign and win primarily on your opposition to government-run healthcare, perhaps you shouldn't do this at your Congressional orientation:

According to Glenn Thrush of Politico, Harris created a stir at the orientation meeting by demanding to know why he had to wait a month after he was sworn in in January for his government-subsidized health care to kick in. After responding in a huff, he even asked if there was some way he could buy into the government care in advance, seemingly thinking there might be a government program similar to the so-called 'public option' championed by progressive Democrats in 2009.

According to an unnamed congressional staffer quoted by Thrush, Harris stood up at the meeting "and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care."
Fortunately, for Representative Harris, politicians can get away with crap like this almost every time.

Older Women

There is a piece on Slate regarding a study by economists on the relationships of high schoolers. The main conclusion for me... if you can land an older woman, you are a rare fellow.

Boys and girls in the same grade account for about 42 percent of relationships, while older boys dating younger girls make up 40 percent of high-school relationships, and older girls dating younger boys make up 18 percent.


Here's to any of you who had an older girlfriend. Well done boys.

Monday, November 15, 2010

If a Democrat Did This (Part 3,487)

It's been some time since we played "If a Democrat Did This" but this seems like a pretty good opportunity. It seems Eric Cantor met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Wednesday.

That probably in and of itself would probably qualify for "If a Democrat Did This" discussion. But what he said during the meeting takes it from a middling contestant to a surefire winner. And he said...

Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.
So, what if a Democrat had gone to meet with a foreign leader and told that foreign leader that his party would henceforth be a 'check' on the President of the United States? What kind of outcry would that provoke?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

If God Had Intended Spiraldy Light Bulbs...

Joe Barton, Republican House Member from Texas and possible next chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on his priorities:

He laid out the central fronts: the battle to repeal what he calls Obamacare, the fight against the EPA, backing the growing insurgency opposed to net neutrality regulations, taking on "environmental radicalism" and -- of course -- defending the "traditional, incandescent light bulb" against government regulators who want to replace it with what Barton called "the little, squiggly, pig-tailed ones."
Only a bunch of pansy-assed, liberal, government do-gooders would dare give us pig-tailed light bulbs. They are clearly like the gay marriage of illumination.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm Easily Distracted

Those of you who know me in real life knew that already. But I was reminded of it again yesterday watching the Chiefs game at a sports bar in Chicago. The Chiefs were playing on a monitor near us, but the audio in the bar was for the Indy-Philly game on other screens.

I think I missed approximately 35% of the Chiefs game because I kept getting sucked in by the audio of the other game. No point to this story. I'm just easily distracted.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

T-Wolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves in a nutshell.

Ignorance is Strength

Timothy Noah writes about Jim DeMint's strange advice to incoming Senate conservatives:

"[B]eware of committees," DeMint wrote. "Committee assignments can be used as bait to make senators compromise on other matters. Rookie senators are often told they must be a member of a particular committee to advance a certain piece of legislation. This may be true in the House, but a senator can legislate on any matter from the Senate floor."
Noah gets a theory from Thomas Mann on why DeMint might say that:

"Perhaps," Mann mused, DeMint "is afraid that his new minions will go native on committees and dilute their role in the revolutionary vanguard." Action equals corruption. Mere knowledge equals corruption. Ignorance is strength.
Noah then goes on to decide that DeMint is just being cynical and posturing to burnish his non-compromising image.

But I think Mann was on to something. In the far right wing, DeMint is kind of the minister leading the congregation. And what was that I saw an evangelical minister saying the other day...


Oh right.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Thoughts

A random assortment of points about the election:

1. I don't feel nearly as bad as I did in 2004. Perhaps that is partly because I've seen over the last 10 years how quickly political fortunes change. Just because you're down doesn't mean you'll be down in two years.

I think the larger source of my salve, however, is that, while I disagree with them wholeheartedly, the voting populace could at least make a case against Democrats. This is much better than in 2004 when just about every possible conceivable shred of evidence showed that Republicans were screwing things up, and the voting public re-elected them anyway. That year, I was really despondent about who was voting. This year, I disagree with those who voted Republican, but at least I can rationalize that many of those votes were really votes against the state of the country.

2. Get out the vote campaigns should really be amended to place more emphasis on getting educated before you go vote. I received several messages this year about how important it is to make my voice heard, but none about how important it is for me to know what I'm talking about before a I cast a ballot. It's as though the voting itself is the goal. It isn't. Making political choices about how you want your country, state, county, or city run is the goal. If you don't know about any of the things you're voting on, you can't do yourself any good, and your vote is really more of a detriment to democracy.

3. Republicans have control of the House. Democrats have control of the Senate. DOes this allow Republicans to pass legislation in the House, continue to obstruct in the Senate, and blame Democrats for not being able to accomplish anything in the Senate? I'm afraid so, but we'll see.

4. Missouri is really no different from Kansas at this point. The bellweather days seem to be gone.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reality and Parody Racing to Meet One Another


Have you ever seen Idiocracy? It is a movie that you will see and likely think it is either "ok" or "not so good". Then you'll get back to living life and witnessing different things that happen in society, and you will say to yourself "my God, they're right!"

The latest example of that for me was this story about the Senate race in Connecticut. From TPM today:

Republican Linda McMahon might be seriously down in the polls for the Connecticut Senate race, but it looks like she'll have some unconventional help on Election Day, The Day reports. Folks from World Wrestling Entertainment, the company she ran along with her husband and business partner Vince McMahon, will be handing out WWE merchandise near select polling places...

...As The Day reports, Vince McMahon is now mounting this new maneuver, and boasting in a statement: "I can't think of a better way for WWE fans to celebrate their constitutional rights and freedom of expression while voting than to proudly wear the WWE merchandise that Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz attempted to prohibit from the polls."I want to still have hope in a climate like this, so I think back to what Luke Wilson's character says in addressing Congress:

... And there was a time in this country, a long time ago, when reading wasn't just for fags and neither was writing. People wrote books and movies, movies that had stories so you cared whose ass it was and why it was farting, and I believe that time can come again!
I hope he's right.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christmas Gift Idea

To any of you planning on spending 7 figures on me this holiday season:

The pages used by James Naismith to write the first basketball rules will be auctioned off Dec. 10 at Sotheby's in New York. The two pages are expected to go for millions of dollars.
That's, of course, if you want to get off cheaply. A great gift for a small sum more would be an NBA franchise for Kansas City. Don't say I'm hard to buy for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thinking Outside the Box of Throwing Stars

Just a reminder of why Bill Clinton was awesome via Foreign Policy magazine:

In 1999 or 2000, after the failed attempt to kill Osama bin Laden with some 80 cruise missiles launched into the al Qaeda camp in Khost, Afghanistan, a frustrated President Bill Clinton thought that somehow the United States could "scare the shit out of al Qaeda if suddenly a bunch of black ninjas rappelled out of helicopters into the middle of their camp," according to the 9/11 Commission.
Maybe he was kidding, maybe he was serious. If you've seen The Men Who Stare at Goats, you'll not find it surprising if he was serious.

Brandon Flowers



One of our best young Chiefs players is getting noticed. This is pulled from an article about Jay cutler being an ass.

"I've played against [Hall] before -- there's no reason to shy away from him. That's hard to say after throwing four picks at a guy, but if we had to play him tomorrow, I'd go at him every time." That was Cutler's response to the valid question: "Why did you keep throwing Hall's way, when he was picking off everything in his area?" It's true that Hall isn't exactly Brandon Flowers(notes) or Darrelle Revis(notes), but this goes beyond hubris on Cutler's part. Easy enough to give a perfunctory answer about how Hall played a great game, and "the breaks just didn't go our way," blah blah blah ... but this?
I think Flowers needs to do it for a few more games before he moves into a class with Revis. But, the early returns are certainly good.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Masters Degree in Communication!

I'm sure many of you have seen this. For those that have not, please enjoy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Life

Keith Richards has a new book out. It sounds like something I want to read:

But is there anything new that can be said about the Stones anyway? As “Life” emphatically demonstrates, the answer is yes. And some of its most surprisingly revelatory material appears in what Mr. Richards jokingly calls “Keef’s Guitar Workshop.” Here are the secrets of some of the world’s most famous rock riffs and the almost toy-level equipment on which they were recorded, like the cassette recorder onto which Mr. Richards dubbed guitar layer after guitar layer for “Street Fighting Man,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and part of “Gimme Shelter.” Here’s how the silent beats in Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” worked their way into some of Mr. Richards’s most inspired solos. Mr. Fox found that “Heartbreak Hotel” itself was the key to some of Mr. Richards’s best musical memories.
That's cool.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fantasyland

Maybe this is fair, maybe it isn't. I think it probably is.

Kevin Drum makes an interesting observation.

The modern, tea party-inflected conservative movement is based on a few core principles. Global warming is a hoax. Income inequality hasn't been growing. Tax cuts don't increase the deficit. America has the best healthcare in the world. Evolution is a myth. The economy is weak because of regulatory uncertainty. Barack Obama is a socialist.

I'm trying to think of another successful political movement in history based on so many objectively fantastical beliefs.
He couldn't think of one. I can't think of one either. I suspect allowing for all of history gives us a pretty good chance of finding someone, but probably not in modern American history.

I do wonder how many of these things most conservatives actually believe. I know there are some conservatives that believe all of these things, but I guess most conservatives at least believe a few of them or they wouldn't keep being talked about by conservatives I know.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Solving the Puzzle

There is endless talk from the right about the ridiculousness of liberal Hollywood stars giving their opinions about this, that, or the other. But, of course, as I believe we have noted here before, the right has a much stronger record of validating the views of Hollywood types by electing them (the Gipper and the Governator to name a couple).

They apparently now also let the celebrity rooters write columns in their magazines. Perhaps they shouldn't. Pat Sajak's first column for the National Review Online tackles the scourge of allowing public sector employees to vote:

In nearly all private and public endeavors, there are occasions in which it’s only fair and correct that a person or group be barred from participating because that party could directly and unevenly benefit from decisions made and policies adopted. So should state workers be able to vote in state elections on matters that would benefit them directly? The same question goes for federal workers in federal elections.
He bolsters his case by pointing out that his family and friends aren't allowed to participate on Wheel of Fortune. I'm not kidding. He doesn't explain whether or not employees' families should be allowed to vote despite their obvious conflict of interest. Likewise left out are taxpayers who have a definite stake in most elections. Perhaps when Sajak's though experiment ends, he will come to the conclusion that we are all too conflicted to vote and thus democracy should be eliminated.

It is exciting, however, to think where this column might go. When you start with the disenfranchisment of a sizeable portion of the U.S. Workforce, there is no telling where you might end up.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Several Things That Suck

I just read all of this, and well, damn.

Anne Applebaum on anti-intellectualism:

In America, the end of the meritocracy will probably come about slowly: If working hard, climbing the education ladder, and graduating from a good university wins you only opprobrium, then you might not bother. Or if you do bother, then you certainly won't go into politics, where your kind is no longer welcome. We will then have a different sort of elite in charge of the country—and a different set of reasons to dislike them, too.
Christopher Hitchens suggesting maybe Applebaum's fears are already reality:

I could introduce you to dozens of enthusiastic and intelligent people, highly aware of "the issues" and very well-informed on all questions from human rights to world trade to counterinsurgency, to none of whom it would occur to subject themselves to what passes for the political "arena." They are willing to give up potentially more lucrative careers in order to work on important questions and expand the limits of what is currently thinkable politically, but the great honor and distinction of serving their country in the legislature is only offered to them at a price that is now way too steep.
Kevin Drum points out that our other groups of elites are doing just fine.

Pay on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, according to a study conducted by The Wall Street Journal...There's some speculation in the article that Wall Street pay might "level out" as profits flatten in response to financial reform, but if that happens "analysts and experts expect that Wall Street will lay off employees in order to keep bonus pools high."
I think I'll go read something about the Royals to cheer me up.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buenos Noches


One more thing about the Royals. There probably is only one guy on the Royals who deserves a big pat on the back this year, and that is Joakim Soria. Not only did Soria set a Royals record by pitching 23 straight scoreless innings, but he also recorded 36 straight saves on his way to a 4th best in the majors total of 43.

But the really impressive thing about Soria's stats this season were the percentage of total Royals wins he saved. Here are the top five closers this season by number of saves, then the number of wins their team had, and the percentage of the wins saved by the pitcher (WS).

Brian Wilson SF, 48 Saves, 92 Wins, WS 52%
Heath Bell SD, 45 Saves, 90 Wins, WS 50%
Raphael Soriano TB, 44 Saves, 96 Wins, WS 46%
Joakim Soria KC, 43 Saves, 67 Wins, WS 64%
Neftali Feliz TX, 39 Saves, 90 Wins, 43%

Granted, this may say more about the Royals than anything, but that is a lot of pressure to heap on one guy. Well done Joakim.

Batting Average at the End of the Season

Thanks to Dan for forwarding this piece that combines two of my favorite things, numbers and being depressed about the Royals.

“Two economists at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, while investigating how round numbers influence goals, examined the behavior of major league hitters from 1975 to 2008 who entered what became their final plate appearance of the season with a batting average of .299 or .300 (in at least 200 at-bats).

They found that the 127 hitters at .299 or .300 batted a whopping .463 in that final at-bat, demonstrating a motivation to succeed well beyond normal (and in what was usually an otherwise meaningless game).

Most deliciously, not one of the 61 hitters who entered at .299 drew a walk — which would have fired those ugly 9s into permanence because batting average considers bases on balls neither hit nor at-bat.”


The Royals part of this is a reminder that this statistic doesn't mean much because the Royals finished second in all of baseball in batting average (.274) yet scored less runs than 19 other teams. Let's go minor leaguers!

Taxpayer Receipts

Missed a couple of days, so here is the first catch up item. Taxpayer reciepts - good idea or bad idea? What would you you reduce on this list? Expand?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Weirdest Walkmen Show


Saw the Walkmen last night on the roof of a parking garage at the Plaza... at a fashion show. Ancillary Girlfriend and I were two of about 30 people there who came to see the band and therefore didn't realized we were supposed to put on our sleekest black outfits for this kind of thing. It was certainly the strangest concert crowd I've been a part of.

The fashion show was for a fall line of clothes inspired by the military, though the only people I saw wearing camo were the two Capital Electric guys running the power. The models were actually wearing a whole range of other things from fur jackets (perhaps inspired by Spies Like Us) to one guy dressed like an English paperboy. I didn't understand much of what was going on.

On the plus side, we got to meet and talk with Pete Bauer from the Walkmen. He was standing next to us during the fashion show and eased my suspicion that the weirdness of the event was related to it being in Kansas City. He claimed to have been at similar events in New York and L.A. and assured us that all such events are, in fact, weird.

Once the Walkmen played, the show was fantastic. They were missing bass player Walt Martin, so they passed the bass around and played songs they could handle with four guys (and songs that don't have horns). The setlist was great. They played stuff from every album except 100 Miles Off. Most of the crowd didn't care. I did. Bravo Walkmen!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Smooth Operators



I am confused by the process that selects stories for the breaking news section of the Star's website. Currently, the top story in breaking news is that Sade is coming to town next year. What, nothing about Danny Pintauro getting a TV Role in 2010?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Billionaires Make Me Hungry



This headline from AP got me all excited for a second:
Gates, Buffett set to dine with China's rich
I read Gates, a word that looks a lot like buffet, and dine in the same sentence and I think something wonderful has happened. Turns out it's just two old rich guys having a dinner function. Damn.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coincidental Deaths

Coincidentally, I read about both of these on the same day.

First:

Jimi Heselden, the owner of the Segway company, has died after riding one of the two-wheeled machines off a cliff and into a river.
And second:

The body of a sailor who disappeared off Jaws Beach – on an island where one of the "Jaws" movies was filmed – has been found inside the stomach of a shark.
Also coincidentally, I just watched part of Jaws this weekend.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maybe He Can

It seems the left is pretty fed up with the Prez these days. And of course, the right lost their collective heads about him some time ago. Yet, the president still has almost half of the people in the country behind him.

But what about me? I was an active campaigner for the man after all. If you ask my more conservative friends, you might understand my political persuasion as just to the left of the Chairman. On the other hand, I have some pretty liberal friends who aren't going to confuse me for a tea partier, but may not be totally convinced of my lefty bona fides. I'm certainly not middle of the road, but I'm far from an ideologue.

I figure that puts me probably in the camp of people most likely to be a firm supporter of the president. If he's lost me, he's probably in trouble I guess. Has he? Well, no. But he's not exactly wowing me either. Here's the rundown of what I think of him right now.

Healthcare - Nice job. Really. I think a lot of the left is so focused on what this Affordable Care Act isn't (national healthcare), they haven't paid any attention to what it is. That's a major step forward for those with medical needs. Take a look at this calendar from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows what happens when in the Act.

Yes, it isn't perfect. But it's something that presidents have been trying to accomplish since the early 20th century. Now we have a start. I say that's worth something.

Climate Change - Not so good. This falls under the general category of stuff Democrats could have done if they were more concerned about the general welfare of the citizens than they were about getting reelected (which is likely going to be a problem for several anyway). The president could have stuck his neck out a little more to try and sway this debate. Some argue this could've made things worse, but I say the president is still, despite is unpopularity, the most popular politician in Washington. The most influential too. He decided to lay low on this one and it showed.

Civil Liberties - Disaster! Best I can tell, the administration recently made the claim they can assassinate U.S. citizens without due process and then keep it under wraps by declaring it a state secret. It's almost as if Dick Cheney never left.

The Economy - Well, the economy sucks. But really I don't blame the president here. The man has argued for more stimulus, but that isn't going to happen. He could have focused on it more, but I think healthcare was actually something that had a tighter window than fixing the economy (after all, everyone has an interest in fixing the economy right? Wait, don't answer that). Anyway, he hasn't magically fixed the economy, but he certainly hasn't made it worse... and he's had to battle every step of the way for what has been done.

Foreign Policy - Pretty good. The Iraq timetable was as promised. He's been aggressive in Afghanistan, and now needs a plan. But plans on Afghanistan have a long history of not working so well. So who knows? Our international relations have been better on almost all fronts, however, and that is good.

Not being the John McCain and Sarah Palin administration - A+ here. And really that is why I continue to be supportive. The president hasn't done everything I wanted him to do (and he's done some things I didn't want him to), but you always have to consider your alternatives. When you add that back in, the man has my support. But he needs to keep working if wants me to feel good about it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hockey Stick Reaffirmed

In case you still care about whether the Earth is in serious trouble, the infamous hockey stick graph has recently been exonerated by two new studies.

"The last decades of the past millennium are characterized again by warm temperatures that seem to be unprecedented in the context of the last 1600 years."
Yeah, but who cares about that stuff anymore?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our Healthcare is Expensive

Multi-part series are all the rage these days I guess. I'm glad to have them, because they actually give more than cursory look at serious issues. The latest is from The Incidental Economist blog on the topic of healthcare costs. It looks like the series could be pretty interesting, but this chart in their first post is most definitely interesting.



Yes, it makes sense for us to spend more on healthcare than everyone else. But that much more? You can see most other countries seem to have figured out similar cost structures. And, of course, we've been over before how all that extra spending has done virtually nothing to improve outcomes. This is why healthcare reform was important, and since they started with something that doesn't do much about cost, it remains important.

Via Kevin Drum.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marketing Wizards

So the Star's Dollars and Sense blog doesn't think much of the idea, but:

Now the company (KFC) is advertising its bunless Double Down non-sandwich on the bottoms of sweatpants worn by female college students. Besides wearing the branded sweatpants, the women recruited to market this stuff will pass out coupons to fellow students.
I think the Dollars and Sense blogger has let their own personal social preferences eclipse their business sense here. I mean, I don't have the market research, but I would imagine (having once been one) that college males are easily the best target demo for a sandwich in which two pieces of fried chicken form the bun of a bacon and cheese sanwich.

That being the case, I cannot imagine better advertising placement than on the backsides of college women. Faith in marketing - reaffirmed!

Not Exactly Breaking News

Kansas City is segregated.



On the bright side (I guess), we're not much worse than most other cities.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Inequality II

If you read the series I mention in the last post, you'll find evidence that inequality has not always been the order of the day. In the middle of the 20th Century everyone's incomes were growing faster and the ones at the bottom were growing faster than those at the top. Since then, not so much. I missed this chart from Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson in their Winner-Take-All Politics that explains how things would look if the trend hadn't changed.



Via Kevin Drum.

Inequality

A really, really good series on inequality that Timothy Noah wrote for Slate finished up today. It was a ten part series that covered all of the usual suspects in terms of reasons given for inequality, and then today made the case why that matters.

I would really urge you to read the whole series, but then I think inequality is a serious issue. I have a couple of friends, however, who disagree. I've had one tell me that rich people make decisions that make them rich and poor people make decisions that keep them poor. End of story. I probably don't need to point out to any of you that I think it is just a tad more complext than that.

But if you are one who things inequality is either a fact of life (a point dispelled pretty easily in the series) or simply unimportant, I'd encourage you to take this point from today's piece to heart.

The United States' economy is currently struggling to emerge from a severe recession brought on by the financial crisis of 2008. Was that crisis brought about by income inequality? Some economists are starting to think it may have been. David Moss of Harvard Business School has produced an intriguing chart that shows bank failures tend to coincide with periods of growing income inequality. "I could hardly believe how tight the fit was," he told the New York Times. Princeton's Paul Krugman has similarly been considering whether the Great Divergence helped cause the recession by pushing middle-income Americans into debt. The growth of household debt has followed a pattern strikingly similar to the growth in income inequality (see the final graph). Raghuram G. Rajan, a business school professor at the University of Chicago, recently argued on the New Republic's Web site that "let them eat credit" was "the mantra of the political establishment in the go-go years before the crisis." Christopher Brown, an economist at Arkansas State University, wrote a paper in 2004 affirming that "inequality can exert a significant drag on effective demand." Reducing inequality, he argued, would also reduce consumer debt. Today, Brown's paper looks prescient.
The last time inequality was this high in the United States was just before the Great Depression. We spent the next 40 years after working on the problem, and then spend the last 30 making it worse again. Perhaps we need to think again.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Really White

If you've ever woken up on a Saturday morning read a bit of Tom Clancy, rode your Harley down to the local golf course, then watched Ghostbusters before heading out in the evening to see Van Halen in concert... then you are the whitest person you know.

At least so says Real Stuff White People Like, a post from the blog at OKCupid. The whole post is pretty funny, but it points out that white dudes loves dude rock, dude movies, and dude activities. White women basically want to get away from white dudes (but they love the Red Sox?). And other races have some pretty funny tendencies as well.

Here is the official chart for white men. Check out the rest at the post.


Via Matt Yglesias.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fantasy Football

As I do every year, I drafted a fantasy football team this year. As they do every year, my team discovered a new way to confound me. This year's twist is that they all put up great yardage but somehow figure out how to ensure none of those yards end up in the endzone. Good one team!!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chiefs Prediction

Getting it in just under the wire... I'll say 7-9. Hoping for more, worried about less.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Inequality

Timothy Noah has a great series going over at Slate that covers one of my favorite political topics - inequality. More to the point, it covers the growth in inequality in the U.S. over the past 3 decades. I hope to mention some specific pieces when I get a chance, but for now just go read it if you have time.

Speaking of...

Well, I know I said let's not get too excited about Mike Moustakas. I stand by that, but this baseball america report is still the best Royals news to come around in some time...

If you needed any more evidence that it was a great year for the Royals, here it is: Five of the 15 first-team all-stars figure to one day wear Kansas City blue...

C Will Myers
1B Eric Hosmer
3B Mike Moustakas
SP John Lamb
RP Tim Collins


While it is important not to get too excited about any of these guys... you have to think someone is going to pan out right? Right? Football!!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Moose Tacos



As most Royals followers now know, Mike Moustakas hit 3 homers and had 11 RBIs in the Omaha Royals game last night. This is exciting for Royals fans because Royals fans follow the Royals. Moustakas has the first jersey you see when you walk into the Royals merchandise shop at the stadium. That is what it is like to be a Royals fan.

But before we get too caught up, it's important to look at the Ball Star blog entry on how to put Moustakas's season into context. Five other players have hit at least 35 homers in a minor league season in the last decade. One of them is Ryan Howard, and that's good. The other four are Jonathan Gaston, Dallas McPherson, (current Royal) Kila Ka'aihue, and Brandon Wood. These are not so good.

Essentially, with recent history as a guide, Moustakas still has about a 20% chance of being a great major league player. And he's a Royal, so that probably has to negatively impact that number as well. Let's be cautious.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Petty! Loyalty!

If you haven't seen Peter Bogdanovich's Tom Petty documentary Runnin' Down a Dream, you should definitely take a look. I watched the director's cut this week, and it was four hours well-spent. It presents Petty as an extremely gifted guy and a guy with an unshakable loyalty. But the loyalty is to making great music more than it is to his band members. It was pretty clearly Petty's was or the highway.

Some of the most interesting scenes in the movie were discussion where a band member (soon to be an ex-band member), is upset with the direction Petty wanted to take the band. One of the best is when bass player Howie Epstein says he isn't interested in playing on a particular song because he doesn't think it is very good. The song turns out to be the Petty classic Free Fallin'.

But that got me to rethinking Petty's loyalty. The man has kept at least the core of the same band together (with Ron Blair even returning), through an over 30 year career. And as BSD and I discussed this, BSD pointed out that since 1982 the best three Petty albums were the three solo albums, not the eight Heartbreakers albums over the same period. So if that is the case (and I agree that it is), why does Petty bother to keep the Heartbreakers together at all? Maybe Petty's loyalty is a little more complex than the documentary would have you believe.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blood Suckers

An article in Slate about mosquitoes confirms what I have feared:

Even if it were possible for bats, birds, and pesticides to eradicate them all—which it isn't—wholesale mosquito slaughter would not be a great idea. Their huge numbers of larvae feed small fish, and those small fish feed big fish, and those big fish are the primary source of protein for much of the developing world.
I had really been on the "let's just destroy every mosquito on the planet" bandwagon, but I always figured there would be some awful unintended consequence if we did. Welts are here to stay.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today's People/Things I'm Angry With

1. T-mobile
2. David Glass
3. The Independence Police Force
4. Community Faces from the Star
5. Floods
6. Florida
7. Lebron
8. Mowing
9. People That Dress Like Founding Fathers to Protest
10. Love Handles

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Burnt Ends

There is a travel series from 2005 on barbecue that Slate is running again for some reason. I'm not sure about what recycling their content says about the fortunes of Slate, but I can say that most of the stuff I've seen recycled lately has been great.

At any rate, the five part series spends 40% of its time in KC, and Oklahoma Joe's and Arthur Bryant's in particular get rave reviews. But my favorite part of either piece is a quote in the first installment:

The "burnt end" is, after jazz, Kansas City's most important gift to civilization. Some great Kansas Citian of the past realized that the ends of a barbecued brisket were the fattiest, saltiest, smokiest chunks of meat on God's own Earth. Every barbecue joint in KC—and practically nowhere else—sets aside its burnt ends, chops them up, and serves them with a little sauce. It is a profound experience to eat them.
Here, here!

Friday, August 20, 2010

We're Number 1-1!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not entirely sure what makes Newsweek qualified to rank the world's countries, but I generally find these things interesting anyway. We are apparently the number 11 country in the world based on a variety of statistics.

If you can't stand not being #1, you need to move to Finland. Those Nordic jerks apparently do most everything well. Actually, if you can deal with the cold, all the Nordic countries would be good options. Sweden is #3, and laggard Norway is #6.

The overall ranking is a composite score based on five individually ranked categories (methodology is here if you are interested). The U.S. does great coming in #2 in economic dynamism, and ranks #9 in quality of life.

Quality of life is a silly category to me, or at least it is a category with a crappy name. If you are #1 in quality of life (that's you Norway), then you are the best country. But they don't quite mean quality of life in the overarching sense that I would use the term. Anyway, we'd do a little better in their definition if we had better income equality.

So, back to the rankings, we kind of drop off from there. We come in 14 in political environment, which kind of makes you want to read the political columns in the newspapers of the 86 countries behind us. But we get points for stability not for intelligence.

The last two categories are health and education. We rank 26th in both. This is how you know their definition of quality of life differs from mine. I can't imagine a population that isn't too bright and isn't very healthy as one with a great quality of life. But hey, we have lots of TVs right?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Walkabout

So there is this tool on the Interwebs that gives your address a score based on how walkable it makes your life. My life is about half walkable... if that is what a score of 52 means.

Basically, this just confirms what most of us already know. It sucks to walk in KC. I live in a part of town that is probably more walkable than most of the metro, and I received a score of 52. Not so hot.

What I found more interesting is that it showed me what is walking distance from the house. For instance, I had no idea that The Epicurean was the second closest restaurant to my house. Of course, they have a sign on the outside of the place that says 35 and over, so I'm not quite eligible to attend anyway.

I also got excited when I found out that the Film Society of Kansas City was walking distance from my house. Then I looked closer and found out that it is actually located at the Screenland, and this thing had the address wrong. It turns out that many of the distances are, in fact, wrong. I don't know where the map data came from, but it isn't too swift.

Anyway, you can check the site out if you want. I'm not imploring you to do so, but you might find something of value if you have a little time to kill

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Real Threat

There I was worrying about all the tracking that goes on around the Internet, when what I really should have been worrying about is "terror babies."

Always Waiting, Always Watching

Via Kevin Drum, I see the Wall Street Journal has an interesting infographic and piece on websites and the tracking info they collect on you while you are on the Internet.

It's pretty crazy. The least intrusive major website is Wikipedia, which installs 0 tracking files wehn you visit. Facebook and Craigslist score pretty well here too.

On the other end of the spectrum is dictionary.com (WTF???) who install 234 tracking files when you visit. What on earth they possible need with those kind of files is beyond me. They have to be just selling info right? I mean I can't imagine how they can be collecting info to make my definition finding experience better.

Just remember that someboyd somewhere knows you were here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lollapalooza 2010

As BSD mentioned, I was off running wild in Chicago last weekend. Me and the Ancillary Girlfriend spent three days baking in the sun and taking years off of our ability to hear at Lollapalooza.

I hope to post some pictures once I find the cord that hooks my camera to my computer. In the meantime, here is the list of bands we saw.

Arcade Fire
Beats Antique
The Big Pink
Dan Black
The Black Keys
Blitzen Trapper
Blues Traveler
Dawes
Dirty Projectors
The Dodos
Dragonette
Foxy Shazam
Freelance Whales
Green Day
Harlem
Hockey
Lady GaGa
Jamie Liddell
Metric
MGMT
Miniature Tigers
Mumford & Sons
The National
The New Pornographers
Royal Bangs
Raphael Saadiq
Soundgarden
Spoon
The Strokes
These United States
The Walkmen

Some of these bands we saw only two songs from, while others kept us company for over two hours. It was an incredible three days.

Best Three Shows:

Green Day
We almost went to see Phoenix instead. I'd still love to see Phoenix, but I'm really glad we made the decision to see Green Day. They put on a show for the ages. It really was kind of over the top. There were crowd singalongs, a t-shirt gun, fireworks, and all other sorts of ridiculousness.

But if there was ever an occasion that calls for being over the top, it has to be headlining Lollapalooza. The band absolutely rocked for 2 and half hours. They played songs from nearly every one of their albums, and the crowd ate it up. It helped that we got right down in front for this one. Fantastic show.

The Strokes
Julian Casablancas remarked that this was the first show The Strokes had played in the U.S. in a long time. The crowd was certainly ready for it. One of the great things about seeing a band that has only put out three albums is that they are probably going to play all the hits, and you're also likely to get a chance to hear some of the other songs you want to hear as well.

That is how it was with The Strokes. We heard 12:51, but we also got Hard to Explain. Casablancas spent some time between each song kind of rambling, which I don't mind, especially when the guy behind me is a pretty funny heckler. Anyway, it all seemed in good fun and the band was tight. I'm ready for album #4 next spring.

The National
I had mixed feelings about seeing The National at Lollapalooza. They are one of my favorite bands of the last decade, but many of my favorite tunes are as mellow as they come. So I didn't know what to expect from their live show. I was blown away.

They pretty much stuck to the more amped up tunes, which meant I didn't get to here a few songs I would love to have heard. But they absolutely rocked the entire time. The band was on and added Richie from Arcade Fire on several songs. What made the show unbelievable was front man Matt Berninger's forays into the crowd. During Abel and Mr. November he headed out to the crowd, climbing on the barricade and mingling with the revelers 50 feet from the stage. Not bad for a guy who came out wearing a jacket and tie. This was an exciting show.

I'll get some pictures up soon, and hopefully add a few more thoughts about the festival.

Monday, August 9, 2010

why can't i own Canadians?

i found this letter floating around on the book of faces today and thought it was worth sharing. it is long, but certainly thought provoking. AA is off gallivanting through the streets of the windy city today, so someone has to hold down the fort. :)

here it is:
In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of
debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there "degrees" of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room
here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family
affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education
University of Virginia PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a
Canadian)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Uncooperative Journalists

It says a lot about the public in Nevada that there person who said this is only two points down in polls:

"We needed to have the press be our friend," Angle said in an interview that aired on Fox over the weekend.

"Wait a minute. Hold on a second. To be your friend?" said a disbelieving Carl Cameron. Before Angle could fully answer, he added: "That sounds naive." Apparently this was too much for even him.

"Well, no," said Angle. "We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported."
What you think it says about Nevadans probably depends on how cynical you are.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Love for August

Despite the fact that without August there would be no Ancillary Adams, I kind of agree with this piece that Slate reran this week on the subject of how much August sucks.

August is the vast sandy wasteland of American culture. Publishers stop releasing books. Movie theaters are clogged with the egregious action movies that studios wouldn't dare release in June. Television is all reruns (or worse—new episodes of Sex and the City). The sports pages wither into nothingness. Pre-pennant-race baseball—if that can even be called a sport—is all that remains. We have to feign interest in NFL training camps.
There is quite a bit more they have to say about crime and dictators and heatwaves. I guess my one counter would be that without August we would have far less county and state fairs. And that means far less corn dogs and fried Snickers. Long live August!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Middle Class America

A really good article from Edward Luce of the Financial Times regarding the woes of the middle class in America.

The slow economic strangulation of the Freemans and millions of other middle-class Americans started long before the Great Recession, which merely exacerbated the “personal recession” that ordinary Americans had been suffering for years. Dubbed “median wage stagnation” by economists, the annual incomes of the bottom 90 per cent of US families have been essentially flat since 1973 – having risen by only 10 per cent in real terms over the past 37 years. That means most Americans have been treading water for more than a generation. Over the same period the incomes of the top 1 per cent have tripled. In 1973, chief executives were on average paid 26 times the median income. Now the ­multiple is above 300.
Read the whole thing. It'll be worth your while.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not Just Snack Time and Dinosaurs

If you find yourself to be relatively successful and well-adjusted, send your kindergarten teacher a thank you note.

From the New York Times:

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
Read the whole article. The biggest question it brings up in my mind is that if life success is correlated with kindergarten success but high school test scores are not, what does that say about the usefulness of high school test scores?

Monday, July 26, 2010

If Economics is All About Self-Interest...

And politics is all about economics, then I would have to say most of the people I know should prefer Obama's proposed tax policy to simply extending the Bush tax cuts. Or at least that is how this chart from the Wall Street Journal reads.


Via Kevin Drum.

Quote of the Day

Isn't it possible to engage in a conversation about the problem we face from Islamic extremism without being cartoonish in our attitudes towards Muslims as a whole? Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey votes "no".

"Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it," Ramsey said. "Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face."
Nationality?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Links

I'd love to see a renaissance on Armour. The plan sounds good, but its got a long way to go from here.

If it does come all the way back, maybe the American aristocracy can live there.

The Royals pretty much just gave away Alberto Callaspo.

I'm going to miss Daniel Schorr.

Yes, in fact, the world is getting hotter. Not that we're going to do anything about it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rich Kid, Poor Kid, Red Kid, Blue Kid

Ross Douthat has a piece in the New York Times about how it is harder for poor white people to get into prestigious colleges than it is for rich white people. He attributes it, at least partially, to discrimination against Christian conservatives:

But cultural biases seem to be at work as well. Nieli highlights one of the study’s more remarkable findings: while most extracurricular activities increase your odds of admission to an elite school, holding a leadership role or winning awards in organizations like high school R.O.T.C., 4-H clubs and Future Farmers of America actually works against your chances. Consciously or unconsciously, the gatekeepers of elite education seem to incline against candidates who seem too stereotypically rural or right-wing or “Red America.”
This finding is fine, though there seems to be no indication that being in 4-H has a causal relationship with getting into a school, but to expand this out into an idea that kids from red states don't go to Ivy League schools because of bias against future farmers seems patently ridiculous.

As a kid from a small rural town, I can tell you that there are simply less kids clamoring to get into Ivy League schools from where I'm from. Parents don't make it a priority, in fact they often would rather not see their kids head off to the east coast. Kids, because they haven't been around a lot of people who went to Ivy League schools, don't think about it much as an option. When they do, it is often later in the game than you would need to seriously compete for a spot. And, of course, there are lots of exceptions... I know some Ivy Leaguers who hail from the Midwest.

But what gets lost in all of this, is that rich kids get in more than poor kids. That's the real divide. No matter where you live.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why to Be Concerned If You Are a Democrat



Because the American public thinks you're better, but will vote for the other guys anyway.

(Update: Emaw makes a helpful point in the comments that the graph is misleading. The first column's label doesn't actually match anything in the underlying data. The last two columns are correct.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Things We Think We Know

I'm always intrigued by the fact that human history is completely full of the things we are sure we know, right up until we find out they are totally wrong.

I had an argument with some friends awhile back that there is very little that we could find we are wrong about that would surprise me. I think I argued that if we found out cells didn't work the way we thought they did, I wouldn't be shocked. Everyone else seemed to agree that perhaps my cells weren't working properly.

But I stand by my assertion, and the New York Times today has an article that bolsters my convictions.

It’s hard to imagine a more fundamental and ubiquitous aspect of life on the Earth than gravity, from the moment you first took a step and fell on your diapered bottom to the slow terminal sagging of flesh and dreams.

But what if it’s all an illusion, a sort of cosmic frill, or a side effect of something else going on at deeper levels of reality?

So says Erik Verlinde, 48, a respected string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, whose contention that gravity is indeed an illusion has caused a continuing ruckus among physicists, or at least among those who profess to understand it. Reversing the logic of 300 years of science, he argued in a recent paper, titled “On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton,” that gravity is a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics, which describe the behavior of heat and gases.
If gravity might not exist, what isn't possible?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Decision and Other NBA Stuff

1. You can't expect the city of Cleveland not to feel like a jilted lover.
2. You can't really fault Lebron for wanting to play in a better situation with guys he wants to play with.
3. You can fault Lebron for the way he handled the situation, and not understanding that Cleveland wouldn't embrace the decision.
4. I am not going to root for the Heat. Part of my disappointment in the whole thing is that Miami is a terrible basketball town, and they were given this gift. Totally undeserved.
5. The Cavs owner had every right to be disappointed, but it is awfully silly to claim your Antawn Jamison, Moe Williams, and Delonte West led team is going to win a championship before Lebron. Makes him sound kind of foolish.
6. Kevin Durant has been hanging out at the Thunder summer league games helping the young guys, and very quietly signed a five year extension. Favorite player.
7. I watched John Wall's summer league debut. He is going to be really good... but he still needs to learn to shoot.
8. The Suns adding Turkoglu and Childress may not make them better, but if Nash stays healthy, they will probably be even more fun to watch.
9. Joe Johnson ended this whole free-agency bonanza with the best deal (money-wise).
10. I think the Lakers still might be better.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

All the Pretty Grills

After several years of apatment living where I could not have a grill, I am now back in business in the new AA pad. I love grilled food, and I love the cleanup involved in cooking that way. I sometimes wonder, though, if I am doing everything with my grill I could be.

Fortuantely, the New York Times just printed an article with 101 easy ways to use your grill. Stuff like this:

93. An idea whose time has come: Halve and grill peaches, nectarines or apricots. Brush with barbecue sauce or, if you want to be sophisticated, a mixture of bourbon, sugar and mint, or simple syrup laced with basil.


That sounds pretty good to me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Kansas City Kings

Please bring them back. I'm wrong a lot, but I think the Sacramento Kings just had the best draft in the NBA for the second stright year. Tyreke Evans was fantastic this year, winning Rookie of the Year honors.

And I think DeMarcus Cousins may turn out to be the best player in this draft. His floor is probably Derrick Coleman, but his ceiling is Kevin McHale. If he develops close to that, the Kings have filled the two most imporant spots on an NBA team.

If only I could head down to the Sprint Center and watch them play.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chart of the Day



From a new Commonwealth Fund report on how the U.S. healthcare system stacks up.

Short answer... well it at least it costs twice as much.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Local Man Acts Before He Thinks



What's your pleasure? Blatant hypocrisy? Firmly entrenched know-nothingism? A liberal dose of general honkeyness? Well, a farmer in Raytown has it all for you.

The Raytown farmer who posted a sign on a semi-truck trailer accusing Democrats of being the “Party of Parasites” received more than $1 million in federal crop subsidies since 1995...

Jungerman said he put up the sign to protest people who pay no taxes, but, “Always have their hand out for whatever the government will give them” in social programs.

Crop subsidies are different, he said. When crop prices dip below a certain point, the federal government makes up the difference with a subsidy payment
.See, it's all about being a producer in the free market. So there.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Fun

Because it's Friday, I am stealing this in its entirety from McSweeney's.

7 Things Mario Games Have in Common With the Bible.
By Jake Ardoin
- - - -

1. Stars sometimes play important role.
2. One man saves everyone.
3. Hero comes back to life after dying.
4. Nationality of main hero is a minority.
5. Main hero has a trade unrelated to his role in story.
6. Women most often the cause of all the trouble.
7. Talking reptiles.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Families

I went to a family reunion with the lovely Ancillary Girlfriend in Iowa this weekend. It was fun. I have a family that generally gets along, but it has been awhile since we got a big group together. I forgot what an experience the extended family gathering can be, but this group helped remind me. The video below is evidence that AG's extended family is as big an experience as they come.



Two things I should note. First, I had a great time. Second, neither of those people had a drop of liquor.
 

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