Saturday, May 03, 2008

When a metaphor goes horribly horribly wrong

Hillary was backing Eight Belles, the only filly racing in the Kentucky Derby today, suggesting a metaphorical parallel to Hillary's presidential race. After finishing second, Eight Bells collapsed on the track moments after crossing the finish line. Both of her front legs were broken and she had to be euthanized.

The winner of the Derby? A horse named Big Brown.

Concert experience #1

As I mentioned in an earlier post here, C and I attended a concert last night. It was a perfect night for it (in the 70's, light breeze) and we joined 13,000 others at an outdoor venue in Fair Park to see Roger Waters (ex-bassist of Pink Floyd). We didn't feel out of place age-wise (lots of aging hippies; bikers; parents with kids in tow; tons of old, faded and too-small for the expanded stomachs Pink Floyd t-shirts), but did feel a bit out of place with the obviously fried-brain dopers that somehow figured out how to get out of whatever medical facility they are in for the night. And while the tickets were expensive (we had seats in the back middle section), you definitely got your moneys worth. I've seen many a show where the band played maybe an hour and were done. Waters and band played a first set that was about 1 hour, 20 minutes, which included PF stuff spanning from very early ("Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun") through to their last release with Waters ("The Wall"), with some Waters solo stuff thrown in. After a short break, they came back to play the entire "Dark Side of the Moon" album, then a 4 song encore. Total time about 2 hours, 30 minutes or so. The sound quality was awesome (quadraphonic audio system) and the visuals were certainly up to PF standards. A few more observations:

  • Not nearly as much pot around as I had expected. But, as soon as the opening strains of DSOTM started, you could certainly tell consumption picked up.
  • I had a father/daughter combo sitting next to me. Father was into the whole thing. Daughter spent 85% of her time sending/receiving text messages. She only responded to 3 things - (1) when they played "Another Brick in the Wall"; (2) when Dad bought her a beer (she was certainly of age); (3) when Dad offered her a cigarette (normal type).
  • Near the end of the 1st set, they played a series of obvious anti-war songs. Lot's of anti-Bush, anti-USA, anti-Tony Blair; anti-Reagan; anti-Thatcher imagery. One song in particular (a Water's solo song which I believe was titled "Leaving from Beirut") had lyrics (which were flashed on the video wall behind the band) about the Bush and the educational system in Texas; the religious right; smart bombs, etc. When the song was over, there were obvious pockets of booing, which I've never heard at a concert before.
  • They had the famous PF inflatable pig (which they let go into the sky at the end of "Sheep") that had pro-Obama slogans on one side, anti-Bush and Cheney stuff on the rear end, and anti-religious right comments on the other side. The pig got big cheers.

All-in-all a very nice experience. Didn't need earplugs and I really enjoyed it. C isn't as much of PF fan as I am, but she liked the visual effects. Our next outing is in a couple of weeks - Radiohead. She will not like it as much, and we will be, at least age-wise, in a vast minority. We will be taking ear-plugs to that one.

Re: where white folks' greed runs a world in need

Full text, starting at page 292 (2004 paperback edition), of Dreams From My Father where Obama recounts Rev. Wright's Audicity of Hope sermon (Wright's words are in quotations):

“Lord, we come first to thank you for what you’ve already done for us...We come to thank you most of all for Jesus. Lord, we come from different walks of life. Some considered high, and some low...but all on equal ground at the foot of the cross. Lord, thank you! For Jesus, Lord...our burden bearer and heavy load sharer, we thank you...”

The title of Reverend Wright’s sermon that morning was “The Audacity of Hope.” He began with a passage from the Book of Samuel – the story of Hannah, who, barren and taunted by her rivals, had wept and shaken in prayer before her God. The story reminded him, he said, of a sermon a fellow pastor had preached at a conference some years before, in which the pastor described going to a museum and being confronted by a painting called Hope.

“The painting depicts a harpist,” Rev. Wright explained, “a woman who at first glance appears to be sitting atop a great mountain. Until you take a closer look and see that the woman is bruised and bloodied, dressed in tattered rags, the harp reduced to a single frayed string. Your eye is then drawn down to the scene below, down to the valley below, where everywhere are the ravages of famine, the drumbeat of war, a world groaning under strife and deprivation.

“It is this world, a world where cruise ships throw away more food in a day than most residents of Port-au-Prince see in a year, where white folks’ greed runs a world in need, apartheid in one hemisphere, apathy in another hemisphere...That’s the world! On which hope sits!”

And so it went, a meditation on a fallen world. While the boys next to me doodled on their church bulletin, Rev. Wright spoke of Sharpsville and Hiroshima, the callousness of policy makers in the White House and in the State House. As the sermon unfolded, though, the stories of strife became more prosaic, the pain more immediate. The reverend spoke of the hardship that the congregation would face tomorrow, the pain of those far from the mountaintop, worrying about paying the light bill. But also the pain of those closer to the metaphorical summit: the middle-class woman who seems to have all her worldly needs taken care of but whose husband is treating her like “the maid, the household service, the jitney service, and the escort service all rolled into one”; the child whose wealthy parents worry more about “the texture of hair on the outside of the head than the quality of education inside the head.”

“Isn’t that...the world that each of us stand on?”


“Like Hannah, we have known bitter times! Daily, we face rejection and despair!”

“Say it!”

“And yet consider once again the painting before us. Hope! Like Hannah, that harpist is looking upwards, a few faint notes floating upwards towards the heavens. She dares to hope...She has the make music...and praise God...on the one string...she has left!”

People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters. As I watched and listened from my seat, I began to hear all the voices of the past three years [of his community organizing activities] swirl about me. The courage and fear of Ruby and Will. The race pride and anger of men like Rafiq. The desire to let go, the desire to escape, the desire to give oneself up to a God that could somehow put a floor on despair.

And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shamed about, memories more accessible than those of ancient Egypt, memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild. And if a part of me continued to feel that this Sunday communion sometimes simplified our condition, that it could sometimes disguise or suppress the very real conflicts among us and would fulfill its promise only through action, I also felt for the first time how that spirit carried within it, nascent, incomplete, the possibility of moving beyond our narrow dreams.

Michael Barone sees trouble for Barry

"Here there are some ominous signs. The latest Fox News poll, conducted after the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's appearance at the National Press Club, showed Obama's favorable/unfavorables at 63 to 27 percent among Democrats, compared to Hillary Clinton's 73 to 22 percent. Suddenly she's not the only one with high negatives. And 36 percent of Democrats say they would be disinclined to vote for Obama because of his longtime relationship with his former pastor. There's more bad news in The Pew Research Center poll of Democrats. Obama's national lead among Democrats is down from 49 to 39 percent to a statistically insignificant 47 to 45 percent."

A world in need because of white man's greed

I had not read this before:

"Obama chose Wright in part because of Wright’s rabid views, as Obama wrote in his first book after hearing Wright talk about a 'world in need' because of 'white man’s greed', and now those views have gotten wide exposure to the nation rather than just on the south side of Chicago."

Friday, May 02, 2008

World Without End

Absolutely terrific. Set several generations after Pillars of the Earth, World Without End is the 50-year saga of the people of Kingsbridge in 14th century England. Wonderful heros and heroines (actually heavy on the heroines) and really hateful villains*, including monks of the cathedral and a scurrilous knight (and brother of one of the good guys) who becomes the Earl of that part of the country. There's a trip to France and a peek at the sovereigns of both countries. While POTE is fairly heavy on architecture (the building of the cathedral), WWE is less so, but there's still a bridge project and the construction of a new steeple, the highest in England. I highly recommend both books even if my description makes them sound like a snooze. You won't be sorry.

* I can't remember a book where I was so upset by the bad guys. Man, they're bad.

Dakota effect

Turns out the Dakotas have a disproportionate contribution to the Congressional population:

“No other state even comes close to North Dakota’s 3.7 exported members of Congress for every 400,000 current residents, nor, for that matter, does any other state even come close to South Dakota’s 1.6 exported members per 400,000 current residents. Moreover, … in both North and South Dakota representation begins at home: every member of the two Dakota delegations was home-grown. Thus, in terms of all members of Congress (that is, natives of a state plus exports to other states) rather than just exports, the very same pattern holds: North Dakota, with 5.6 members of Congress per 400,000 residents, and South Dakota, with 3.2, stand out far above the rest.”

From a journal article by Garry Young and Lee Sigelman, discussed here on The Monkey Page.

I Want To Believe

Flying woman complete with X Files music. Watch until the end where the "woman" is walking then flies off the hill. Via Drudge.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Maybe President Carter was on to something...

From today’s Stratfor report:

[Opening] The Middle East, already monstrously complex, grew more complex last week. First, there were strong indications that both Israel and Syria were prepared to engage in discussions on peace. That alone is startling enough. But with the indicators arising in the same week that the United States decided to reveal that the purpose behind Israel's raid on Syria in September 2007 was to destroy a North Korean-supplied nuclear reactor, the situation becomes even more baffling.


[Conclusion] Deals have been made on less. Israel and Syria are moving toward a deal that would leave a lot of players in the region — including Iran — quite unhappy. Given this deal has lots of uneasy observers, including Iran, the United States, Hezbollah, the Palestinians and others, it could blow apart with the best will in the world. And given that this is Syria and Israel, the best will isn't exactly in abundant supply.

Rev. Wright's invitation to receive honorary degree canceled by Northwestern

Story here.

"April Love" by Pat Boone

Find the #1 song on the day you were born (or any other date). Via The Corner.

Can money stop bridges from falling?

As you may have heard, Minnesota's most traveled bridge, the 35W over the Mississippi in the middle of the Minneapolis, fell to earth last summer. It's been a political football since. The storyline offered up by Minnesota Democrats is that the Republican approach to starving government of needed funds leads to a failure to serve the needs of the people and as a result bridges fall down. Our governor, Republican Tim Pawlenty, and Republican cohorts insist that no additional money in the transportation budget would have been at all helpful in preventing the bridge from falling; the problem was antiquated design, not money.

So it was no help to Gov. Pawlenty when McCain this week took the position that the reason the bridge fell was because money was spent in the wrong places. McCain's theory implies that money could have prevented the disaster. Pawlenty is McCain's co-chair for his campaign. Thanks alot, Boss.


S. Weasel

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can you tell which pair cost $350 and which cost $99

And even if you can, is it worth spending $350 (with a half off coupon) when the others (at $99 and a two week wait) are available online? The scrip seems perfect.

The only downside between the two pair is that I prefer the straighter pieces over the ears. Still, I'm happy with the purchase. Can purchase three and a half pairs to one.

Re: Re: Leglessness

Sorry, C and I have been in NE Wisconsin looking at some property. We put in an offer and I've been dealing with real estate people / bankers / attorneys since then.

I'm so anti-politics these days. I'm sick of it. The process goes on WAY to long. There was a blurb in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel over the weekend about Hillary wanting another debate with Obama. The article stated that so far they have had 21 so far. I can't remember that many, but that just shows how drawn out this process has become. The amount of money raised and spent in the political process is just obscene. People, institutions, organizations, etc. will donate money for politics, but not to build schools or improve infrastructure? The whole thing is out-of-control. All politicians at this level are liars, crooks and phony. I never vote for incumbents anymore, nor in general elections do I vote for anyone in the 2 major parties. Since the elected officials in DC won't enact term-limits, then I will do my small part and do it. Everyone talks about getting rid of career politicians, but never "theirs".

As for the military-analyst thing, because most Americans don't read newspapers or watch network news, unless CNN or Fox or the right-wing radio shows rant about it, no one cares. I don't care. From the beginning, the whole thing has been a disaster. I don't believe anyone in regards to what is going on over there. It was and has been a giant cluster....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A poll question?

What's more annoying?




A grain of salt...

is that with which all today's Scooter comments should be taken. I played in my Lions golf tourney today and played as poorly as I used to play with Michael and LJ. I am sour.

Re: Leglessness

Part of the difficulty here is what makes this interesting...the role of the press. If we believe that these "analysts" are monsters using the war in an evil (uncapitalist, unfree market) way and are in bed with the media and that the television MSM has joined Ike's industrial military complex (IMC), then the silence is perfectly understandable, especially if the TV MSM is also invested in those industries.

Has the NYT followed up? Often stories of that length are considered "dump" stories, i.e., "this story isn't really going anywhere but I have ALL this material." I'm not saying that is the case here but sometimes that is how those lengthy stories get handled.

Any other sources?

It seems to me that if the story had "legs," others (not in bed with the IMC) would be piling on in spite of my earlier comments about this happening late in Bush's term or because it would give too much cred to him. OTOH, maybe the IMC is so ubiquitous that they stand there, padded gavel in hand, whacking the mole of the story every time it appears. Where's LJ on this? Seems like a story he'd be all over.

Re: Wright-wing nuttiness

Very well done, this time. From a purely critical standpoint, one might ask where this was several weeks ago. From a purely personal standpoint, I still have difficulty believing that any/most of this nuttiness is new to the Senator.

If Senator Obama is picking a fight (as he seems to be doing), why didn't he just back room the Reverend when this first popped up? I'm definitely not one for a politician squelching religious speech but wouldn't that have been easier? That would have been the more expedient route.

One last thought: I think I heard this correctly and I thought it the strangest part of Wright's Q&A. I think he said that he wasn't Sen. Obama's "spiritual mentor, I was his pastor." Huh?

Obama on latest Wright-wing nuttiness

In his own words:

Candidates on the Gas Tax

Greg Mankiw, econ prof at Harvard and blogger, gives Obama props for being against the gas tax holiday supported by Clinton and McCain.


Meteor Blades at Kos today discusses the continued pronounced silence of the MSM regarding military analysts for the media who delivered purportedly independent opinions that were, in effect, purchased by the Pentagon and defense contractors and that helped to influence public opinion to be in favor of invading Iraq. Nine days since the NYTimes reported the story, there's still:

No news coverage, no commentary, no questions for any candidates. No abject apologies to viewers from station CEOs who paid double-dippers and triple-dippers to give an official patina to fabrications that have caused the killing and maiming of tens of thousands of Americans and other coalition soldiers. Plus millions of Iraqis. Business as usual. Even two days after the Pentagon suspended the briefings last Friday, Foxaganda was still employing retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney without disclosure.

Has anyone heard any outcry that the NYTimes story was inaccurate? I have not. Presuming the story is accurate, have any crimes been committed here?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Eyeglasses Update

Shipped today. Report in soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Re: Dogs

Sure, break my heart with those pictures.

Still dogless after Malcolm and Mollie (the two most recent collies...Grace was the collie I had in my youth). One of these days.... It is a little hard being a "single parent." I spent the entire weekend at the office and that just wouldn't be fair. When Mollie died in '03 I had great guilt because I hadn't been able to really treat her as she deserved during the last 18 months because of work. Malcolm was just the opposite. Shortly after moving to Denver he was diagnosed with cancer and we three spent most of that summer in the mountains. They just went nuts when we came across big horn sheep. I also need more room before I get another big dog.

I've always just loved collies. In spite of their Lassie rep, they are not the brightest dogs in the world but boy are they gentle and affectionate. I think LJ and Michael would both attest to those latter qualities. Michael will certainly agree they aren't doggie rocket scientists. Though they aren't the best herders on the planet, they are pretty impressive to watch. There is a pretty good annual competition here in Texas but its nothing compared to the one they have in Colorado.

And, in spite of those gentle qualities, they are pretty protective. Malcolm once prevented a break-in at my place in Houston. Per the next door neighbor, some guy tried to crawl in through the dog door until Malcolm ran him off. Grace once ran off intruders from my boy scout campsite per my scoutmaster.


I'd like to hear the story of how Scooter ended up with two collies and why Scooter is currently dogless (I think). I can't find a collie at the Austin Humane Society or Austin Collie Rescue, but if I were dogless and living in Austin, I'd want to meet these:





Your pound has oodles of dogs (unlike the Minneapolis pound which is typically empty because rescue groups take them), including this adorable collie mix pup: A507072 Update: Can't link to that dog, and I see that searching by number doesn't work. Here's his heart-stealing picture:

Pentagon reacts to NYTimes story

Reports Jeff Schogol at Stars and Stripes: "The Defense Department has temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue, said Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs."

Japanese Arisaka Rifle with Bayonet

Stephanie, you're a genius. That is exactly it. I should have thought Japanese from the beginning since my dad was part of the occupation.

Pretty amazing that you were able to find with just the pictures.