Monday, December 31, 2012

Best Albums of 2012

Almost missed the Top 10 this year! Nothing like just getting it in under the wire.
Those of you who check in on this blog from time to time won't be surprised at many of the choices here. Several of the folks below made appearances on the Friday Music Day posts. This was a great year for music, particularly music that resurrects some of the great rock styles. The list below has music that recreates the early 60s, the classic 70s, the New Wavy 80s, great Motown, and blistering bluegrass.
On top of it all are the Heartless Bastards. Arrow is just a great classic bar rock album. They can bring the crunch and they can slow it down a little too. This album just fits about any time.
‎10. Blunderbuss, Jack White
9. Boys & Girls, Alabama Shakes
8. O Be Joyful, Shovels & Rope
7. The Sheepdogs, The Sheepdogs
6. Carry Me Back, Old Crow Medicine Show
5. The Lion's Roar, First Aid Kit
4. Divine Fits, The Divine Fits
3. Heaven, The Walkmen
2. Signs & Signifiers, J.D. McPherson
1. Arrow, Heartless Bastards

Also in contention: Lambchop, The Magnetic Fields, The White Buffalo, Turbo Fruits, Tanlines, Dwight Yoakum, Dirty Projectors, Dinosaur Jr., Murder By Death, Beach House, The Lumineers, The Very Best.
Here also are my top songs. Gone Tomorrow is one of my favorite in sometime... and if I am not mistaken there is an ode to the great Randy Savage in the lyrics.

My Top 10 Songs:
1. Gone Tomorrow, Lambchop
2. Northside Girl, J.D. McPherson
3. Hold On, Alabma Shakes
4. Default, Django Django
5. Heaven, The Walkmen
6. Shivers, Divine Fits
7. Andrew In Drag, The Magnetic Fields
8. Ghost Fields, Murder By Death
9. Brothers, Tanlines
10. Feeling Good, The Sheepdogs

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Hijinx

I really enjoyed this...


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Consensus

So about that scientific debate around climate change...


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Disabled Americans Indeed

It takes a lot anymore for me to be surprised by Republicans... But even as cynical as I have become, this nearly made me spit out my coffee:


The Senate Tuesday fell short of the two-thirds vote required to ratify a United Nations treaty aimed at securing rights for disabled people around the world, when the vast majority of Republican senators voted against the treaty. The final vote was 61-38 vote. All the nay votes were Republican. 
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities essentially makes the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act a non-binding international standard. It requires no change to U.S. law.
Read the article. This is essentially a high water mark in the idiocy, ideology, and isolation of modern conservatism.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NBA Danceoff

I vote Joey Crawford.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

8 Pints Are the Breakfast of Champions

I never thought I would have two posts on the blog about Eric Bledsoe... let alone two in three days. But after the joke about his in-game consumption, I can't pass up an opportunity to show what all that liquid courage does for a man:


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Competition Is Good

Kevin Drum has a piece today gathering together three separate stories about the problems caused by only two or three giant companies in various industries. The stories cover the meat-packing industry, the beer industry, and the publishing industry.

They all tell the same essential story: when an industry gets extremely consolidated. Consumers, other businesses, and the economy all suffer. Most of this consolidation began in the Reagan administration, but Democrats and Republican alike have allowed it continue. This is the problem with a political process that favors the powerful.

If Republicans would like to do something useful with all the hand-wringing about the election, they could adopt an actual "pro-competition" position. If Democrats want to beat them to the punch, that would be fine too. Government has two roles in the market system that are critical. One is ensuring competition. The other is protecting consumers and workers. Our government does a poor job of both.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Move Over Babe Ruth

Eric Bledsoe apparently has decided on an old school performance enhancing drug:



Cheers to that, Eric!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Song Day

This time it is The Sheepdogs:


The House

I don't have much to say about this on a Friday afternoon, but it seemed worth passing along:
It can be a bit difficult to tally up the popular vote in House elections because you have to go ballot by ballot, and many incumbents run unopposed. But The Washington Post’s Dan Keating did the work and found that Democrats got 54,301,095 votes while Republicans got 53,822,442. That’s a close election — 48.8%-48.5% –but it’s still a popular vote win for the Democrats. Those precise numbers might change a bit as the count finalizes, but the tally isn’t likely to flip.
Of course, the total House tally is a meaningless number in terms of who runs the House. It would seem to suggest that the Republicans must have had an awfully successful redistricting plan though.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Missouri Hates Obama

A few weeks ago, I posted a chart that showed that Missouri had a larger shift away from Obama in polls than any other state except Utah since the 2008 election. Well, the actual election results showed the same thing. 

Romney received 10.2% more of the vote than McCain did in Utah. In Missouri, it was 9.6%. I believe, the next closest state was Indiana (I think) with a 5.3% shift. This is particularly strange in an election where Missourians elected a Democratic senator, governor, secretary of state, treasurer, and attorney general. In fact, the only state-wide office to go to a Republican was the lieutenant governor.

So, what gives? Why do Missourians hate Obama?

Why Republicans Were So Sure

There are pieces all over the Internet talking about why Republicans were so convinced they would win and were so shocked when they did not. The increasingly cocooned nature of the news on the right seems like the culprit to me, and watching Fox News on election night would seem to support that theory.

The whole question though seems particularly crazy when you consider that, if Mitt Romney was representative of the conservative id, that they already knew they had no chance at 47% of the electorate. At that point, Obama needed only to find another 3% of voters to agree with him (plus one, theoretically). The idea that he couldn't go find that is pretty implausible... But if this election taught us anything, I suppose it is that math and conservatism are not good bedfellows.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who Would Have Been Better?

A lot of talk today about how Romney never really had a chance because he wasn't a good candidate, wasn't a real conservative, wasn't (insert whatever he wasn't). But, an article on Slate about how the right's extremism killed Romney contains this paragraph that I think indirectly makes a point about why Romney was really the only choice:
This failure began with the spectacle of the extended primary season, which was dominated by candidates with views far outside the political mainstream. Rick Santorum rejected the separation of church and state. Newt Gingrich challenged the notion of judicial supremacy. Michele Bachmann claimed the government had been infiltrated by radical Muslims. Donald Trump refused to recognize the validity of Obama’s birth certificate. Rick Perry wanted to take down more parts of the federal government than he could successfully name. In the debates, the country saw the GOP talking to itself and sounding like a bizarre fringe party, not a responsible governing one. 
So, which of these nuts was a better candidate that Romney? None of them. In fact, if any of the other Republican primary candidates had been the nominee, last night would've been decided a couple of months ago. Mitt Romney, for all his awkardness and missteps, was a very formidable candidate. I know plenty of liberals who didn't like him, but I know far fewer who thought he couldn't be a competent president.

Republicans are going to need to face up to the fact that Mitt Romney wasn't the problem, they are. They are going to have ensure that competent people run for office and can win in their primaries. And more importantly, they have to make sure that they don't hamstring their own candidates by making them act like baffoons before they ever enter battle with a Democrat.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Cable Media Choices

I had heard someone arguing recently that MSNBC has become as nakedly partisan as Fox News. These photos don't really prove otherwise, but they certainly are a data point in the other direction.

The homepages of the 3 major cable news networks at about 10:45 this morning:




I report, you decide.

Get It Together Missouri

I am a responsibly informed voter. Or maybe I am not, because today I found out my Missouri House District is not the one I thought it was. I believe I must live right on a line, but after 45 minutes of searching on Google, not one place can I find the updated District maps for Missouri with enough detail to see my district.  Now my fault for assuming I knew what district I was in, but...

What the hell? The Missouri Supreme Court upheld the new districts in March. So how is it possible that our great state hasn't managed to update the state House page by October with new maps?

Get it together Missouri.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Appendix


The Political Significance of My Tastes

Well, there isn't any actually. However, Buzzfeed has a few pieces up explaining how I relate to the Obama and Romney voters based on my tastes in things like movies and food.

As it turns out, my preferences spread me across the spectrum a bit more than my politics do.

I am a

Media Liberal
Book Liberal
Booze Moderate Conservtive
Movie Independent
Music Moderate Liberal
Fast Food Moderate Liberal (Except I Love Chik-Fil-A sandwiches)
Food Brand Conservative
TV Show Non-Qualifier
TV Network Independent

But in reality I am the worst kind of liberal because most of the stuff on all the lists was more mainstream than anything I prefer. I am told snobbery equals liberalism, so there you have it I guess.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Quite an Endorsement

There have been quite a few tortured logic endorsements of Romney in the last week. David Frum clearly provides one of the best.
The question over his head is not a question about him at all. It's a question about his party - and that question is the same whether Romney wins or loses. The congressional Republicans have shown themselves a destructive and irrational force in American politics. But we won't reform the congressional GOP by re-electing President Obama. If anything, an Obama re-election will not only aggravate the extremism of the congressional GOP, but also empower them: an Obama re-election raises the odds in favor of big sixth-year sweep for the congressional GOP - and very possibly a seventh-year impeachment. A Romney election will at least discourage the congressional GOP from deliberately pushing the US into recession in 2013. Added bonus: a Romney presidency likely means that the congressional GOP will lose seats in 2014, as they deserve.

How To Keep Reality at Bay

Somebody puts out a report that refutes one of your core beliefs? Just get rid of it.
The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economy theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.    
Easy as that.
   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November

So, it's November... Anything going on this month?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Conservative Media Bias

There is now conservative media bias. It has started to happen more and more, but last night was a pristine example of how conservatives have actually taken their alternate reality and imposed it on the mainstream media. I am referring to the presidential debate, which was clearly a win for President Obama. All the polls after the debate gave the president a clear margin of victory. Yet, this is the story today on Politico...

There was far from a consensus view on who won the debate in the hours after it ended. Two instant polls gave Obama a clean edge over Romney, but the pundit class was, to quote Obama, all over the map.

So, the instant polls of the public gave Obama a clear advantage but we aren't really sure who won because the pundit class couldn't agree. I wonder how that could've happened. Here is Kevin Drum's roundup of conservative pundits to help explain:

Was there any rending of garments anywhere else? Not for a second. Conservatives just reveled in the fact that Romney apparently made himself acceptable to undecided voters.Yuval Levin: "Romney clearly achieved his aim." Ramesh Ponnuru: "Advantage Romney." Rich Lowry: "Romney executed what must have been his strategy nearly flawlessly." Bill Kristol:"Tonight, Romney seems as fully capable as—probably more capable than—Barack Obama of being the next president." Stanley Kurtz: "Romney has now decisively established himself as a credible alternative to Obama." Erick Erickson: "Mitt Romney won this debate."
A bunch of conservative commentators just flat refuse to admit that Romney lost and the story becomes "there was no consensus view on who won." Compare this with the first debate that Obama clearly lost, and the reaction of liberal pundits who not only admitted he lost but commenced with wailing and gnashing of teeth. The mainstream media story there was that "Obama was destroyed in the first debate."

And that is where we are today. Conservatives, using their own media outlets, can totally change the narrative of any story simply by refusing to accept reality. I suppose someday liberals will figure this out, and then reality will truly have no meaning at all.


Monday, October 8, 2012

One Rule

God help me, this is my favorite ad in some time...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Go Vote - Drink Sierra Nevada!


This chart from National Journal shows how beer choices correlate with political preferences. Most people I've seen commenting on the chart have been focused on the X axis and what your favorite beer says about your likelihood to be a Democrat or Republican. While that is interesting, I am maybe more intrigued by the Y axis. In many ways, it shows what you would think, the price of beer correlating somewhat with chances that you'll vote.

But what is up with Heinekin? Apart from the fact that I am chagrined that it is the most liberal beer here (I would rather have the conservative darling Shiner Bock), I am also mystified as to why it's relative expense produces no more voters. Are these people too liberal too vote?

Also, cheers to drinkers of High Life. It's cheap, but if you drink it you are more likely to vote than the guy drinking a "fancy" Bud Select. Champagne of beers indeed.

Finally, it seems the whole chart comes together at Bud Light. It represents your average American in most elections it would seem - somewhere in the middle and most likely not going to vote.

Kansas City Sports in Two Pictures





Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fact Checking

So this is a post where I talk about something that seems small, but drives me absolutely crazy.

In case you hadn't heard, IKEA is planning to open a store in Merriam. This is exciting news for KC, but this post isn't about that. It is about Channel 41 and basic fact checking. Here is the video in question:



The part that is making me crazy is where the reporter mentions that the two closest stores to Kansas City currently are in Texas and Colorado. This is just about the easiest fact to check ever. All you have to do is go to the Ikea "Find a Store" page and type in Kansas City. Here are the results:

Bolingbrook, ILView Store Page 427 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Schaumburg, ILView Store Page 439 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Twin Cities, MNView Store Page 444 mi Get Directions Get Directions
Dallas, TXView Store Page 476 mi Get Directions Get Directions
West Chester, OHView Store Page 597 mi Get Directions Get Directions

Texas is actually 4th and Colorado doesn't even make the list. For the record, using the totally deep and sophisticated research method of Mapquesting, it turns out the Colorado store is 609 miles away.

Look, I am all for cutting news organizations under deadlines some slack when they screw up. But this was just so easy to get right...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Well, That Blows

Turns out a I wasted what is probably a statistically significant portion of my childhood...

So, dear readers, all signs point to no: blowing in the (Nintendo game) cartridge did not help. My money is on the blowing thing being a pure placebo, offering the user just another chance at getting a good connection. The problems with Nintendo’s connector system are well-documented, and most of them are mechanical — they just wore out faster than expected. 
Having said that, it’s true that kids can be grubby, and getting crud into the cartridge or slot was a real problem — I suspect that most of that crud was not just dust, though, and required a more thorough cleaning than a moist mouth-blast could provide. In fact, Nintendo released an official NES Cleaning Kit in 1989 in an attempt to keep both the slot and cartridges clean. Ultimately, Nintendo redesigned the NES console, releasing an NES 2 console in 1993 that’s commonly known as the “top loader.” Its main feature? A top loading slot. It was more like the original Famicom, using a slot that held up better to abuse. Similarly, the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) was a top loader.
I suppose that whatever time I saved from not blowing on the cartridge  I would have used to just to keep loading the game or playing more Rygar or Mighty Bomb Jack anyway. So, I guess I can just file this under things I once really believed to be true that science ruined.

Romney's Biggest Problem

Is probably Mitt Romney.

 Yes, I realize these are stupid jokes for the benefit of a specific audience. But, good grief. Is it any wonder this guy can't seem to get out of his own way...


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What's Up in Missouri?

In my ongoing quest to figure out what is happening to my state, I present this chart from a fivethirtyeight post today:


So only Utah has moved more toward the Republican candidate that Missouri in the last 4 years. That would be the same Utah that is the home of Mitt Romney's Mormon faith. I think that makes it fair to exclude them and assert that, if the polls are correct, Missouri is home to the fastest growing Republification (can I TM this?) in the U.S.

Now maybe the polls aren't correct. But if they are... what the hell is going on?

Vindication

My better instincts were correct it seems...
The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney's airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times's Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. "Romney was joking," she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn't explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. "The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann's plane scare," she said, "and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious."
It is important for us to remember in this time of election madness, this is not George Bush. This is Mitt Romney. Those are two very different things.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Just Don't Believe It

This just has to be Mitt not saying exactly what he really meant. Right?
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”

Right?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Meager Roots of Dishonesty

This is animated talk from Dan Ariely tells us how easy it is to be dishonest and still think of yourself as a good person under the right circumstances. Towards the end he explains how this relates to Wall Street's issues and how changing the system will be a lot more effective than just getting rid of all the current participants. It seems I can think of another institution who that would apply to...

 

Via Open Culture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

More Important Than Mitt

Mitt Romney said something either really, really callous or really, really stupid yesterday (or both). But in a way it is almost too bad that it happened when it did because I was starting to see a report from the Congressional Research Service (a non-political unit of the Library of Congress) circulate that takes on the real issue with Romney's comments. The report is titled Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates Since 1945, and what it really does is show us that there is absolutely no truth the decades long argument from Republicans that lower taxes for the wealthy mean a stronger economy. You should read the whole report, but the most important part is here:

The results of the analysis suggest that changes over the past 65 years in the top marginal tax rate and the top capital gains tax rate do not appear correlated with economic growth. The reduction in the top tax rates appears to be uncorrelated with saving, investment, and productivity growth. The top tax rates appear to have little or no relation to the size of the economic pie. 
However, the top tax rate reductions appear to be associated with the increasing concentration of income at the top of the income distribution. As measured by IRS data, the share of income accruing to the top 0.1% of U.S. families increased from 4.2% in 1945 to 12.3% by 2007 before falling to 9.2% due to the 2007-2009 recession. At the same time, the average tax rate paid by the top 0.1% fell from over 50% in 1945 to about 25% in 2009. Tax policy could have a relation to how the economic pie is sliced—lower top tax rates may be associated with greater income disparities.
In other words, decreasing taxes for the wealthy does virtually nothing for anyone except the wealthy themselves. This, to me, is a pretty important piece of evidence to think about when you hear Mitt Romney talk about the 47% and how they don't contribute to society. The truth is, Republicans have been on a 40 year quest to ensure the 1% contribute less and less to society, and in the meantime create a nation where the 47% grow in ranks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Silver Lining

I've been documenting for awhile now Missouri's distressing fall from middle-of-the-road bell weather state to increasingly nutty conservative stronghold. But, there is always a bigger nut than you. And this week we found out it is our neighbor Kansas who is daring to go places even we wouldn't go...
Three top Republican elected officials in Kansas, including “informal” Mitt Romney adviser Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, are consideringchallenging Obama’s eligibility to appear on Kansas ballots this fall based on concerns over his citizenship. Kobach would not directly say whether he believes Obama’s birth certificate is real in an email to TPM Thursday night.
So, I guess, way to go Missouri... for not being Kansas.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Foreign Policy in Fantasyland Part 2

So Mitt Romney recently said that Russia is our #1 world adversary. Most people know that isn't true, because they are aware that it isn't 1985. However, one person appreciated the comment: Vladimir Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked Mitt Romney earlier this week for labeling Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe,” explaining that Romney’s position has helped to justify Russia’s strong opposition to a NATO missile defense shield in Eastern Europe.
You hear something like this and then you realize that instead of Romney it could have been Cain, Santorum, Bachmann, or Gingrich in this spotlight! That is really sobering... and it wasn't lost on Putin either.
“The most important thing for us is that even if [Romney] doesn’t win now, he or a person with similar views may come to power in four years. We must take that into consideration while dealing with security issues for a long perspective,” Putin said.
Hard to imagine Republicans reclaiming the national security advantage anytime soon.

Foreign Policy in Fantasyland Part 1

At some point, even Rush Limbaugh's most ardent fans hear him say something that prompts them to go "Wait... What? Why have I been listening to this guy?" Actually, I am not sure that is true. But as someone who wants to have faith in humanity, I believe it has to be, right? Anyway, I would think if it was true, this would have to have been the trigger for some of them:
Implying that an Obama re-election would mean progression towards the end of an Israeli state, Limbaugh then floated his theory: “What if Ayman al-Zawahiri and other al-Qaeda leaders gave up Osama bin Laden for the express purpose of making Obama look good? Giving Obama stature, political capital?”
This is either breathtakingly stupid or crassly dishonest. In Limbaugh's case I always assume the latter. But if you are listening to his show and that statement doesn't strike you as dubious, you may suffer from the former.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wall of Sorrow

The Star is once again putting all the important stuff at the head of their homepage. This time they are showing off the entrants into their Man Cave contest. Among the contestants is the room below, which I believe must also go by the title of "The Pit of Despair".


Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday, Song Day

Get your weekend started by remembering what if felt like to be 12 with the White Buffalo.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Difference is Opportunity

Julian Castro pretty much summed up why I am a liberal in a few minutes last night. The really key part is about at about 7:45 in... It isn't about everyone having the same outcome, it is about everyone having a fair chance.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Electoral Irrelevance

Visual evidence of Missouri's continued slide.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Listen To This!


Spoon frontman Britt Daniel has a new band... that sounds a little like Spoon.

But that is an unqualified compliment.

LISTEN

Monday, August 20, 2012

Missouri! (part 1364)

Only 24% of Missourians like Todd Akin.

But 44% still would vote for him.

What have we become?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mr. Fascinating


  • Karate champion.
  • Fulbright scholar to M.I.T.
  • Grace Jones's lover.
  • Bouncer gig with Chazz Palmenteri.
  • Andy Warhol subject.
  • Stallone rival.
  • Direct to video king.

It goes on, but you should just go read this article about Dolph Lundgren. Totally bizarre.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Accidental Honesty

Via Kevin Drum, I see that John Boehner accidentally expressed his views on the Tea Party when asked shy Paul Ryan would vote for TARP against the wished of the broader Tea Partiers.
He's got a very conservative voting record, but he's not a knuckle-dragger, all right?
Understood Mr. Speaker.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Three Fewer Steps

Usain Bolt is incredible. Yesterday, he won his fourth Olympic Gold in either of the two sprint races in the games. He dominated so thoroughly that he was able to pull up a bit at the end, a move that brought renewed calls of showboating from many. But those criticisms don't stop him from being arguably the greatest sprinter of all time.

One of Bolt's countrymen finished with the silver. His name is Yohan Blake, and Bolt himself named him the Beast because of his incredible work ethic. This work ethic has made him second best sprinter on the planet. But he isn't the best. He isn't because Bolt is, and Bolt is because he has the most natural athletic ability of any sprinter by a fair margin.

This is an excellent reminder for the folks who think their hard work, and their hard work alone, is the reason for their success. Talent in sports is pretty similar to advantage in life. Advantage - be it economic, educational, social, etc. - endows its possessor with an ability to either work less to achieve the same or to work equally hard and achieve more.

One of the facts NBC talked about during their coverage was that Bolt takes 41 strides in the 100 while almost all his competitors take 44. Those three fewer steps matter. In life, those three fewer steps might be a better school, or smarter parents, or a safer community, or any number of things. It is important for all of us to remember that we all owe some part of our successes to forces outside our control. We should always try to work to be the Beast, but we have to recognize that there is a little Bolt in every victory.

Something Your Probably Kind of Knew Already

Via The Plum Line, I see that there is a new book out on the stimulus that outlines the extent to which Republicans staked their political fortunes on screwing the president consequences for the country be damned.
“If he was for it, we had to be against it,” Voinovich tells Grunwald. And at another point, characterizing a strategy session Republicans and McConnell had held in early January of 2009, Voinovich said: “He wanted everyone to hold the fort. All he cared about was making sure Obama could never have a clean victory.”
Of course, this isnt' really news because McConnell himself has said that his top priority was denying the president a second term. Not fixing the economy, not worrying about the unemployed, not foreign threats, not anything. Just ruining the president. I am not sure I can think of a much more disgusting display of negligence among elected officials.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Missouri Has a Chance

Missouri has been working extremely hard at becoming a full-fledged backward state over the last decade or so. And now, after the Republican primary, we have a legitimate chance to represented in the Senate by someone who can make us the embarrassment we seem to long for.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Part 2

The most accurate observation about the entire episode.

Via BuzzFeed.

Inequality Worse Than We Realize

From a Guardian story on a new report on tax havens...
The sheer size of the cash pile sitting out of reach of tax authorities is so great that it suggests standard measures of inequality radically underestimate the true gap between rich and poor. According to Henry's calculations, £6.3tn of assets is owned by only 92,000 people, or 0.001% of the world's population – a tiny class of the mega-rich who have more in common with each other than those at the bottom of the income scale in their own societies.
For the record £6.3tn equals about $9.8tn. By the way, tn is short for trillion. Also by the way, the entire U.S. GDP is about $15tn.

Chick-Fil-A and Me

1. I really despise Chick-Fil-A's politics. 2. I really love Chick-Fil-A's chicken. I suppose, interestingly enough, that the best way to describe my feelings about this are through a movie about two gay cowboys.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Missouri!

Missouri is -

Now unequivocally Republican.

And

Still making terrible headlines.

UPDATE: And a Congressmen from my old stomping grounds is still a moron.

And this:



In a World Where Opinions Didn't Mean More Than Reality...

...Mitt Romney probably couldn't hope to win an election with this as his tax plan:
“Even if tax expenditures are eliminated in a way designed to make the resulting tax system as progressive as possible, there would still be a shift in the tax burden of roughly $86 billion from those making over $200,000 to those making less than that amount,” the report reads.
Fortunately for Mitt, somebody somewhere will say that isn't true. Then we will spend all of our time talking about the persecution of Christians in America.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

You know, just some regular ol' tourists out for a Segway tour of Spain.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interesting Stuff

Transparent solar cells could make solar power a lot more usable.

This is how to protest, and back it up, Olympian style.

Caterpillar has record profits... and is celebrating by trying to force a six-year wage freeze on employees.

Chick-fil-a continues to confound me by being dickish while simultaneously making the most delicious chicken nuggets in the world.

Kevin Drum provides the rant of the day discussing a study on pre-K education:
The investment return on these two things is probably astronomical. Unfortunately, like all good things, they cost money and require rigorous execution, something that's nearly impossible because one of our major parties will never consider shifting money out of K-12 and the other is run by nihilists who are unwilling to spend money on anything other than national defense. So instead we twiddle our thumbs, doing nothing until the evidence in favor of these child-centered programs is literally bulletproof, something that might take a while since social science evidence is, by its nature, almost never bulletproof. 
In the meantime, though, there's plenty of bipartisan support for ethanol subsidies. Welcome to America.
And here is a great Rolling Stones song with a hilariously silly 80's video.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Kindly Cease and Desist

I've never been much of a Jack Daniel's fan, but the company gets kudos for this:



That is managing your brand in more ways than one.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Confusing the Uninformed

Because if you were intent on imposing Shariah law on the U.S., you would definitely start with the Tennessee state Department of Economic and Community Development...
“To date, the Haslam Administration has displayed an unfortunate ignorance to the threat of Shariah,” Kookogey said in an email to TPM. “They seem willing to accept the claims and defense of the Muslim Brotherhood at face value, refusing to even consider that, perhaps, those bent on destroying Western Civilization might just be infiltrating our institutions. … It is not like this has never happened before. The Muslim Brotherhood is following the blueprint of the Communists, who infiltrated the highest levels of government and society in the 1950’s. Shariah, however, is an even greater threat, because it has cloaked itself under the auspices of a religion, thus confusing the uninformed.”
Thank God there are well-informed citizens like Kookogey to beat back the specter of things that don't actually exist. And to do it while being rather poetically named Kookogey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Royals Life

Even the Royals section at the Target can't get its act together...

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Greatest of All Time

The number one reason I should have gone to the celebrity softball game...
Rickey Henderson!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Song Day

This one takes us all the way back... to 2010 (re-released in 2012). But is sounds so much older, and is impossible not to tap your foot to. Courtesy of J.D. McPherson.


Climate Change Give-in

Look, I normally like to argue that the mountain of scientific evidence in support of climate change is what the  98% of us in the world who want to do something about it should use to sway to the 2% of the world who happen to be in control of a lot of the interests who would prefer it not be real (or are conservatives in the United States). But I just saw an article the other day that said people rated hot weather, as opposed to global climate measurements, as the more convincing evidence of global warming. If that means you, then, you win and here you go:



Every red dot on this map shows a record high temperature in the U.S. in the month of June.

Science schmience.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Homelessness

So all politics aside, there are a lot of people struggling. Rolling Stone has a very moving story about some of them:

Then she stood alongside the road and held up the sign. The day was so windy it was hard to hold on to. "I was like, 'Please hire me,' and everybody's flying by, trying to ignore you, but this one guy drives up, looks at my résumé, looks at me and goes, 'Very effective. I'll take one of those.' I said, 'Thank you, I really appreciate that,' but I never heard from him. And then a homeless guy came up to me and goes, 'Wow. That ain't gonna work.' I didn't want to talk to him about it. I just wanted to stick my sign out there – I didn't have any more cardboard. And about halfway into it, I just started crying and I couldn't stop. I was so embarrassed. It was incredibly humiliating. You know how a lot of women hold their hand over their mouth when they cry? I started doing that, and that's when I raked in the money. I was sort of scared because there were so many cars that I was boxed in, and I was holding this gigantic sign and I was saying, 'I'd rather work, I'd rather you take my résumé, please help,' and I'm crying and the dollars just started coming out of the windows." But finally she cried herself out, and people stopped giving. She made $12 in three hours, all of it drawn by tears.
The piece features a couple of other formerly middle class families as well. No matter who you intend to vote for this year, you should let them know that you think this a a very real problem that needs very real solutions.


Friday, June 29, 2012

Journalism... It's a Sprint, Not a Marathon

NPR posted these awesome pictures of the press corps hauling ass after the ACA decision.

RUN!!!!!


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Even Nutshellier

Now this one is a gif too...


NBA Finals Game 1 in a Nutshell

This picture tells the whole story.


Or, if you prefer your stories told in gif form, you can use this one.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals


It's a little difficult for me to explain just how excited I am for this year's NBA Finals. I adopted the Thunder when they moved to OKC on the premise that we will never likely have an NBA team in closer proximity to KC. It's a little depressing because Oklahoma City now joins the list of cities whose teams have played for a championship since the Royals won the '85 World Series (it is all of the cities with at least two franchises and most of the ones with only one).

Wait, griping about KC sports is not the point of this post. The point is that this is the first time "my" professional team has played for a championship in my adult life. I don't know what that means necessarily, but I am quite excited.

Will they win? I don't know. I like their matchups. I don't like their inexperience. Kevin Durant is my favorite player and has been incredible in the playoffs. Lebron has been otherworldly for the last two games. I guess in the end these are my predictions:

OKC in 7
Durant wins MVP.
Lebron loses but redeems his rep by playing very well.
The Finals have a higher rating than they have since Jordan.

Killer

Mind blown.
The white mask that Michael Myers wears in the Halloween franchise? It was in fact a William Shatner Mask spray painted white. Apparently it was the cheapest mask they could find at the costume store, and it didn't take much to make it one of the most iconic and terrifying masks of all time.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

While I'm Complaining...

A Johnson County mom is leading a crusade to get a statue of a partial woman snapping a photo of her own bare chest removed from the Overland Park Arboretum. Look, I may not agree with her but if she wanted to make an argument about how the artist's intention is not properly conveyed, or that she doesn't agree with the interpretation, or that the shock value outweighs the interpretation, or whatever, I could respect her position.

This, however, I can not respect:
“I didn’t take the time to understand the artist’s message,” Hughes said. “I was really thinking, ‘Good grief, what is that doing here?’ It is vulgar. It is provocative. I thought it was glorifying sexting. For me, it is very offensive.”
 Why take time to try and understand something, when you can just react?

A Win For Big Government... er the Voting Public

Last night voters in Springfield continued their reign of tyranny, trampling the rights of small business owners and smokers by reaffirming the smoking ban on workplaces and public spaces they had enacted just a year ago. These voters proved once again that, just like big government, they care not a bit for the will of the people. The small band of freedom fighters that had managed to get the issue back on the ballot only a year after the public had overwhelmingly supported it the first time around were disappointed but pointed out that sinister special interests were not going to let the ban be lifted.
“They were funded by special interest groups,” she said, referring to large donations One Air Alliance received from the American Cancer Society and American Heart Association.
Truly an example of special interest looking out only for their own selfish desires.

In all seriousness, however, there are several things about this whole affair that are worth noting:

1. The repeal effort was led by a doctor. Actually, it was led by my favorite doctor/school board member. How this impacted his adherence to the hippocratic oath is probably up for debate.

2. I'm not sure whether to celebrate the people of Springfield not changing their minds based on a silly argument that the ban limits freedom, or to be concerned that quite a few of the votes to uphold the ban must have come from people who really would consider this to be a rights issue but are willing to take away rights to do things they don't like.

3. I followed a few Facebook debates on this subject, and as BSD pointed out to me, many of the people arguing about "freedom" are really just people who want to make money off of smokers. Ah well, same as it ever was.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

And Sometimes Numbers Don't Tell the Whole Story

So I went into last night's game armed with my research that says the Thunder are better when Westbrook shoots more than they are when Durant shoots more. And last night, Westbrook shot more. And the Thunder won.

But you could not convince me with all the statistical evidence available on the planet that the Thunder wouldn't have been better off with Durant taking 5 more shots and Westbrook taking 5 less. I see the numbers, but I also see the game. So what is the inconsistency?

If I ever have time, I will spend some time trying figure out if there is a pace difference in the games where each guy takes more shots. Or if there are certain matchups? Or if it has to do with the other team's quality?

I don't know, but I do know that when I watched last night I was not thinking "Shoot, Russell, shoot!" I was yelling "Pass it to Durant!"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sample Size Matters

I declared on Twitter yesterday that the Oklahoma City Thunder should obviously ensure that Kevin Durant gets more shots than Russell Westbrook. I based this on the fact that Durant had more shots in the two wins thus far against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, and Westbrook had more shots in the two losses. It also just happened that the two wins came at home and the two losses on the road. That didn't matter because the stats fit my perception of what is best for the Thunder.

I like to think of myself, however, as one who like empirical evidence and can admit when I am wrong. So...

If you expand out to the rest of this year's playoffs, the Thunder are 5-2 when Westbrook takes more shots, and 5-1 when Durant takes more shots. Pretty close. Even more interesting is that in the 66-game regular season the Thunder were 21-5 when Westbrook took more shots and 24-13 when Durant took more shots.

1. I was wrong.
2. Shoot, Russell, shoot!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nihilist Apes

More mainstream liberal columnists are usually a bit too demure to write what they really think. At the very least they seem to write it, sober up, and then soften the edges a bit.

Today, Michael Tomasky is not having any of that:
It’s just a shockingly unserious approach to a very serious problem of roughly 4 million uninsured Americans who have cancer, diabetes, emphysema, and the like. Republicans don’t give a happy crap about any of these people. They have no interest whatsoever in trying to solve a public problem. See, this is the Democrats’ burden, and when you come down it, the true difference between the parties these days. Democrats are actually concerned with trying to address a public-policy problem in a responsible way. You can disagree with their way, but they’re at least trying to do something positive in the country—help those 4 million as best they can. This involves difficulty and choices because nothing meaningful in life doesn’t. It also requires the people to stop being selfish apes for five minutes and look at the larger picture. 
The Republicans, on the other hand, are complete nihilists. They don’t care about solving any policy problems. They care about two things. They care about politics—advantage, winning, humiliating Obama. And they care about ideology, their drunken and medieval belief that the market can fix everything. But wait; it’s not even really a belief. They’re dumb, but they are not that dumb. They don’t fully believe it. Like Romney accidentally acknowledging to Mark Halperin that huge budget cuts cause recessions. It’s just the garbage they say because it sounds good. No pain! Nothing is complicated! Be selfish!
Get 'em Mike! This is from a piece on the Daily Beast in which Tomasky talks about Republicans wavering on the repeal of the popular pieces of ACA.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Heaven




Do yourself and favor and listen to this.
On Heaven, The Walkmen's seventh full-length album in 10 years (out May 29), the band continues to refine and mature its increasingly stately, deliberately paced sound. The wiry intensity of "The Rat" long consigned to the archives, The Walkmen's members again assert their place as kings of the dramatic slow burn — in "Line by Line," "No One Ever Sleeps," "Southern Heart" and beyond — though they also make the most of upbeat outliers like "The Love You Love" and the title track, a rousingly devotional pep talk in which Leithauser urges a loved one to "remember all we fight for."


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Clutch

Just so you know. Via ESPN.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Time Travel

From Buzzfeed:


Politacos

Every now and again I have a touch of sympathy for critiques of liberal behavior. This paragraph struck me as generally accurate:
In the course of this culinary blending, a multibillion-dollar industry arose. And that’s where leftist critics of Mexican food come in. For them, there’s something inherently suspicious about a cuisine responsive to both the market and the mercado. Oh, academics and foodies may love the grub, but they harbor an atavistic view that the only “true” Mexican food is the just-off-the-grill carne asada found in the side lot of your local abuelita (never mind that it was the invading Spaniards who introduced beef to the New World). “Mexico’s European-and-Indian soul,” writes Rick Bayless, the high priest of the “authentic” Mexican food movement, in his creatively titled book, Authentic Mexican, “feels the intuitions of neither bare-bones Victorianism nor Anglo-Saxon productivity”—a line reminiscent of dispatches from the Raj. If it were up to these authentistas, we’d never have kimchi tacos or pastrami burritos. Salsa would not outsell ketchup in the United States. This food of the gods would be locked in Mexican households and barrios of cities, far away from Anglo hands.
On the one hand, I really love Rick Bayless's food. And I can appreciate the desire to create ethnically authentic experiences and cuisine as much as the next white guy. On the other hand, I really love kimchi tacos. The world would be a worse place without them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Missouri Again

Would it be too much for someone in our state to do something that receives some positive national attention instead of doing stuff like this:
In March, officials accused a Missouri guardsman of participating in neo-Nazi activities while also serving in the military’s honor guard, which routinely helped pay last respects at funerals for veterans who fought in WWII. The sergeant was fired from the honor guard after former coworkers said he kept a picture of Adolf Hitler in his living room and tried to recruit them to the white supremacist movement.
We are really having a tough go these days. Hopefully it's just a phase...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Science Friday - Safety Warning

Don't put your hand in the large hadron collider.

Via TPM.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time is Still At It

A couple of months ago, I posted on my complaint that Time Magazine thinks the American  public doesn't care about world issues (and may well be right). This week Time garnered a lot of attention when it released a cover of a mother breast feeding her 4 year old child. The cover is certainly startling, but I was more interested in how it compared to the covers of the European, Asian, and South Pacific versions of the magazine.

Sure enough, Time has once again gone with some strange American pop sociology project, while the rest of the world learns about things the rest of the world cares about.


Avid reader Jackknife Rodriguez believes I am making too much out of this whole thing. His argument is that many of editions have specific covers, and I am just cherry-picking the most egregious examples. You can go click through the covers here, and decide for yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2012

We Ain't Got Much, But We Got More Than Some



I have made a fairly regular habit of complaining about sports in KC on the blog. And my largest gripe is that we haven't won a playoff game in the major sports since 1993. (For the record, this does not include Sporting KC who I think should be included if hockey is included, but whatever. Go Sporting!)

But recentness is only one way to look at the numbers. If you look at them from an overall perspective, things are a little better. A chart on Slate shows championships in the major four sports by city. KC is there with our 2 (that happened eons ago). But also on the chart is Houston, who has 3 teams and only 2 championships as well. Indianapolis has 2 teams and 1 championship. Phoenix has 4 teams and 1 championship. Seattle has 2 championships. Charlotte has 0 championships. Milwaukee has 2, and one of the teams isn't even there anymore (the Braves).

Speaking of the Braves, the winner for least decorated city per team has to be Atlanta. Atlanta has 1 championship despite having all 4 major sports for a fairly lengthy period of time.

There is no real point to this, by the way. Just making myself feel a little better after watching Luke Hochever pitch this weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

How to Teach By Bertrand Russell


If you have never been, you should check out the blog Brain Pickings. There is almost always something very interesting there. Yesterday, they posted Bertrand Russell's 10 commandments of teaching. It sounds like the opposite of what most people actually do.

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

But How Do I Back It Up?

The Explainer piece today tells us that the human brain can store a lot of video, audio, and documents.
Most computational neuroscientists tend to estimate human storage capacity somewhere between 10 terabytes and 100 terabytes, though the full spectrum of guesses ranges from 1 terabyte to 2.5 petabytes. (One terabyte is equal to about 1,000 gigabytes or about 1 million megabytes; a petabyte is about 1,000 terabytes.)
So while our retrieval system can leave a little to be desired, our storage capacity still bests most of the hardware you can buy today. It won't be long before that isn't the case no doubt, but before you worry too much about the rise of our computer overlords, remember that the juice just isn't there to run a human brain outside of a human.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Song Day

I believe 2012 is shaping up to be the year I appreciate female singers like never before. One I really appreciate is Erika Wennerstrom of the Heartless Bastards. "Parted Ways" ways is form their new album Arrow.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Analogies

The whole Secret Service sex scandal is slightly amusing. Yesterday, the NY Times talked with the Columbian escort involved. Apparently, the Secret Service agent was purchasing 10Cane when he thought it was an Admiral Nelson kind of deal.
She was dismayed, she said, that the news reports have described her as a prostitute as though she walked the streets picking up just anyone. 
“It’s the same but it’s different,” she said, indicating that she is much more selective about her clients and charges much more than a streetwalker. “It’s like when you buy a fine rum or a BlackBerry or an iPhone. They have a different price.”
 

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