Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kanye West's band of vampiric models

A not-quite-finished version of Kanye West's video for his song Monster (off his Grammy-nominated album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) has leaked and has been posted on youtube. (H/t to Ezra who tweeted it.) Warning that it contains images of hanging women, beheaded women, and otherwise creepy, gruesome portrayals of women.

I see it as a commentary about golddiggers and the vampire-like fans who have no limits on the amount of fanservice they require. This video stands in stark contrast to the ballerina video, in which women are portrayed beautifully, their hard-earned skills on display and honored. (In the ballerina video, I was really impressed with the very very long shots of the ballerinas, without cuts to Kanye.) But I expect that all discussion about the Monster video (and there will be lots) will fail to recognize this context and fail to recognize that Kanye has drawn a distinction between women making their own way and women trying to live off someone else.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Decline Effect

This fascinating article in The New Yorker describes the phenomena of the unrepeatability of scientific studies. The scientific method depends upon the proposition that an experiment, properly designed and executed, yields results that can be replicated if the experiment were followed again at a later time. We regard results from a properly conducted experiment to be scientific truth, so the extent that such a thing can be ascertained.

We're accustomed to seeing results of experiments challenged due to faults in experimental protocol. The author of this article, however, describes something more unnerving - the apparently common problem of being unable to replicate results of an experiment without faults in its protocol, thereby raising doubts about the ability of the scientific method to reveal any truth.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are you ready for some (frozen tundra) football?

The Vikings play the Bears tomorrow night on Monday Night Football at the TCF Bank Stadium at the U of Minnesota. It'll be reasonably warm for this time of year (20-25F), and there's a good chance that we'll get several inches of snow tomorrow afternoon and evening.

Here's a time lapse video of the clearing of the snow (17 inches that we got last week) from The Bank:

Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has tweeted that the field is unplayable because it is frozen solid and harder than concrete. He predicts concussions.

This game will be 29 years to the day that the Vikings played their last outdoor home game at Met Stadium. It's also a night that the Vikings/NFL are going to be celebrating the 50 greatest Vikings players of all time to commemorate the Vikings' 50th season.

Cue the quotes from the legends about how they loved to play in the cold.

Neither Favre nor Tavaris Jackson are able to play, so the Vikings will be starting their 3rd string QB.

Sleepwalker and Fever, Club Nokia

Another couple videos from Thursday night. This is Sleepwalker. On the FYE album, this song is highly produced and emotionally flat, but live he sings this emotionally intense, angry, energetic version that I love.

The last one I'll post is Fever, my favorite uptempo song on the album.

Both videos shot by cos2mwiz.

Happy Belated Birthday, Michael

Sorry. I was mostly without computer access and completely distracted.


And, as always, pretend your name is Terrance:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Soaked at Club Nokia

And for a complete contrast from Adam's Purple Haze and Whole Lotta Love encore, posted below, here's Soaked, also from Thursday night at Club Nokia.  Stunning.  The tone in his quiet notes is even more breathtakingly beautiful live.  This video is also shot by cos2mwiz.

Final Glam Nation show

The final show of Adam's Glam Nation tour was Thursday, Dec. 16 at Club Nokia in LA.  Here's the encore.  This show was unreal.  It's an experience I'll never forget.  His speaking voice was really hoarse, so his stellar vocal performance was all the more unbelievable.  Vocal pyrotechnics all over the place.  I'll post some more later, but for starters, here's the encore (Purple Haze and Whole Lotta Love) as videotaped by a fan, cos2mwiz fans and edited by fan terraj.  (Warning or enticement:  Contains Not-Safe-for-Homophobe gestures):

Monday, December 13, 2010

Where are they now? Updates about a few of Scooter's favorite Vikings

Bud Grant

As I mentioned, he's still employed by the Vikings.  He hunts and fishes like crazy and often appears on hunting/fishing shows, like Kent Hrbek's show.  (I thought Bud hosted his own snow, but I'm not able to find anything about it.) He appears on gun calendars for the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Association. Bud was visible in getting a MN constitutional amendment that dedicates funding to game/fish/wildlife and parks.  (Story about that is here, with a fairly recent picture. Bud is as fit and growly-looking as ever.)

 In his free time, he reads not only the entries, but also the comments, at SSJ.

Alan Page

Alan Page is a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.  He was first elected in 1992.  His 2010 election will be his last because, during this term, he'll reach the mandatory retirement age (70).

Carl Eller

It's not fair to reduce the whole of his life to one event, but this is pretty much what people think about when we think of Carl these days: an arrest for assaulting a police officer after being stopped for driving under the influence for the second time in a couple of years.  He's publicly battled chemical dependency for years/decades.

Chuck Foreman
Chuck Foreman is a public school teacher in the area.  Fun to see old football footage of him at his official website.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow dome

<a href="" target="_new" title="NFL on FOX: Metrodome collapse">Video: NFL on FOX: Metrodome collapse</a>


We have it. Lots of it. Abotu 16 inches fell Friday and Saturday. The Metrodome roof has collapsed. (Here for a photo.)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Aftermath, Indianapolis

The live recording of Aftermath that appears on Adam's Acoustic Live EP was recorded during his Indianapolis show on August 31, 2010. Fan-recorded video below from indybeck71:

It's hard to believe he can sing like this sitting down.

Monday, December 06, 2010


Don't tell Mom I did this but here's a picture of her at about age 16:

Friday, December 03, 2010


Here's Aftermath, another of the songs on Adam's Acoustic Live EP (made available for embed by his official site):

Aftermath was written by Adam, Alisan Porter and Ferras Alqaisi. Alisan and Ferras are singers themselves. Alisan sings extraordinary backing vocals for this song on the FYE album. Here's Ferras singing Hollywood's Not America. And here's Alisan singing Into the Fire in The Zodiac Show and singing Over the Rainbow on Star Search when she was 5 years old (too sweet to watch safely if you have a cavity that needs to be filled).

Update to add more Alisan info: Adam and Alisan have been friends for years. Here they both are in The Zodiac Show in September 2008 singing Led Zep's Black Dog. Adam is Singer #3 (starting at 1:26) and Alisan is #4 (starting at 1:46).

Alisan's band, The Canyons, will open for Adam at his LA shows Dec. 15 and 16.

Update 12/6/10: Adam's Acoustic Live EP is now available for download from iTunes here. Rockstar Weekly reviews it here (5 of 5 stars).

How to order at Chipotle

I love Chipotle.  Here is some excellent advice about how to maximize your burrito order.  (I say carnitas and pinto beans, though, instead of steak/barbacoa and black beans.)

On a related note, I'm spending some time with some 20-somethings for a fundraising campaign.  One of these kids used to work at a Chipotle, but refused to eat there because, he complained, Chipotle's food is very very bad for your health since they put salt in everything (in the meat, in the beans, in the sauces, etc).  His complaint seemed odd to me since he was smoking as he described this.  But it seemed all the odder when, later in the day, I watched him shake salt onto a pizza.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Adam's Grammy nomination

Adam was nominated for a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for the song Whataya Want From Me. To refresh your memory, here's the video for this song:

An acoustic, live version of this song is included on Adam's Acoustic Live EP that is set to be released in a few days. I like this even better.

The EP includes 4 songs from his album, performed and recorded live and acoustic, plus a live acoustic version of Mad World. The first printing of the EP is sold out, though it hasn't been released yet. An additional printing is expected, though. It'd make an excellent stocking stuffer for Adam fans or all fans of great voices.

Full list of all Grammy categories and nominees is here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

If you ever feel sorry for yourself...

Consider what has happened to a friend of mine and good man--Roger Chan. I had the pleasure of serving with him in Lions in Austin. Good guy and I'm confident he'll overcome and flourish. From the Statesman.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adam's Glam Nation Tour winds to a close

Adam's Glam Nation Tour is over, except for two final shows in LA in mid-December. When the tour started in May, I wondered how Adam's voice would hold out. He's now been on the road for 6 months, headlining about 110 sold out shows around the world, performing typically 4 shows per week, and here's what his voice sounded like in the encore of his show last night in London. Twentieth Century Boy:

Have I mentioned I'm going to LA to see his final show on December 16?

Update moments later: Here's Soaked from last night's show in London. Adam has identified this song as the most challenging vocally in his set.

Kanye West and his band of ballerinas

Ballerinas are everywhere right now. Yay. There are ballerinas on the big screen in Black Swan with Natalie Portman, and there are ballerinas in Kanye West's video and movie for his song Runaway. Whether you like Kanye or this song, you can enjoy the beauty and grace of Kanye's band of ballerinas in this extended version (about 8 min) of his music video for Runaway. (You really should watch it at this link so you can make it full screen. Also, I recommend watching in 1080 HD.)

You can see Kanye's 34 minute movie, from which the above 8 minutes is excerpted, on Vevo here.

Update moments later: Also, there's a history of ballet in the New York Times list of Notable Books for 2010. It's APOLLO’S ANGELS: A History of Ballet, by Jennifer Homans. "The question of classical ballet’s very survival lies at the heart of this eloquent, truly definitive history, which traces dance across four centuries of wars and revolutions, both artistic and political."

Update 12/2/10: Here's a screen cap of the names of the ballerinas in Kanye's video and movie:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beautiful libraries

The relatively new Hennepin County Library in downtown Minneapolis made this list of libraries with the most beautiful facades. (Nevermind that I can't really tell WHO chose these libraries, and nevermind that the facade of a library is not really its most important quality, IMHO.) The design sports an airplane-esque wing that may seem silly but is actually kind of cool, because you can see it suspended over Hennepin Ave. from many blocks down the street. I think that it's great for reminding people that the library is there, since it resides at the edge of downtown. I'm having trouble appreciating the inside of the building, but I haven't spent much time there, so maybe it'll grow on me eventually. It has mostly glass walls and no amount of heat makes up for how cold it looks outside on a gray January day.

This library was designed by Cesar Pelli, who designed my favorite building (post-1930) in downtown Minneapolis. Built in 1989, it was originally the Norwest Bank building and will always be so to me. (Other people now call it the West Fargo Center.) It's deco. Tons of stone and brass and loveliness. At night, it's beautifully lit, though when it first opened, there was a brou-ha-ha about how much energy was wasted to light it all night, so a compromise was struck and it's now dark after a certain hour. I worked in it for a few years and it was as functional as it was beautiful.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Al Gore

is an idiot, in case you didn't already know. Here's wishing that this would be the last time the press will ever report on anything he says. (From a column by Tom Diemer - who? - at Politics Daily - what?)

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Gore said at a green energy conference in Athens, Greece, according to Reuters. First generation refers to the most basic, energy-intensive process of converting corn to ethanol for use as a motor vehicle fuel additive.

On reflection, Gore said the energy conversion ratios -- how much energy is produced in the process -- "are at best very small." "One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee," he said, "and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president."

This ought to be a crime.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WW II Leadership

Victor Davis Hanson on the "masters and commanders" of WW II. Video here courtesy of C-Span and Hillsdale College. Lecture runs about 1:45.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Ghailani trial did not "deliver justice"

The testimony of Hussein Abebe, the terrorist who sold Ghailani the dynamite used in the  bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, was suppressed; in a military commission, where this guy should have been tried, it wouldn't have been.  

And now for something completely different...

In support of civil trials for Gitmo prisoners

Morris Davis, a former Air Force colonel, who was the chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 2005 to 2007, has written this sane and perfect commentary on the recent verdict in the Ahmed Ghailani case. I echo his conclusion:
President Obama is in a no-win situation when it comes to trying detainees — any forum he chooses will set off critics on one side of the debate or the other. I hope he pauses to reflect on what he said at the National Archives in May 2009: “Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and our juries, our citizens, are tough enough to convict terrorists.”

The Ghailani trial delivered justice. It did so safely and securely, while upholding the values that have defined America. Now Mr. Obama should stand up to the fear-mongers who want to take us back to the wrong side of history.

Update 11/19/10: In his commentary, Col. Davis describes why it's an error to assume that a military tribunal would have allowed testimony of the witness whose testimony was thrown out in the civilian criminal trial. Read it.

It's 2010. Do you know who owns your house?

Fab.  Dan Edstrom, a man who for his profession does securitization audits and who teaches seminars on the topic, created a ridiculously complicated chart that diagrams the ownership of his own mortgage.

In recent foreclosure proceedings, we've seen that ownership of mortgages has been hard to discern and prove.  But I wonder what it means for clearing title to all our houses.

Target, the hero dog, is mistakenly euthanized; other dogs euthanized on purpose

According to the American Humane Society, 56% of dogs that enter an animal shelter are euthanized.

Target was a stray dog in Afghanistan who thwarted a terrorist attack by ferociously barking at a would-be suicide bomber, preventing the bomber from entering a building before detonating his bomb, thereby saving lives.  An American service member bonded with Target and brought her home to be his pet.  She got loose from his house and ended up in an animal shelter in Pinal County in Arizona.  Due to an error, Target was euthanized.  (NYTimes story about Target is here.)

It's horrifying, of course, to imagine a beloved pet being euthanized accidentally.  But I'm sorry, too, for the dog who was supposed to have been euthanized, the one whose death would not have made headlines.

During giving season, think about helping the ASPCA or your local shelters or rescue organizations so that they can save lives.  If allowed to live long enough to be found and adopted, more dogs can have happier endings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Antonia, Willa Cather

My Antonia was a book club pick.  (We'd read One of Ours by Cather a couple years ago and liked it.)  I'm betting that my dad never read this; otherwise it definitely would have made his reading list.

My Antonia tells the story of immigrants who settled and farmed the Plains. It is narrated by Jim Burden and begins when Jim moves to his grandparents' Nebraska farm when his parents die.  Jim meets and befriends Antonia Shimerda whose family, Bohemian immigrants, lives on a farm nearby.  I love the details of farm life.  My own great great grandparents were immigrant farmers on the Minnesota and North Dakota Plains, so I imagine that this describes their lives to some degree.

In the middle section of the novel, Jim and his grandparents move to Black Hawk, a nearby city, while teen-aged Antonia and other teen immigrant girls are hired by city families to help as housekeepers and nannies to earn money to help pay off family debt and send younger siblings to school.  Cather has a romantic view of the immigrant girls and contrasts them with the city girls. (I'll quote a big section behind the cut, for your sampling pleasure. Copyright has expired and the whole book is available free online.)

My Antonia follows Jim and Antonia into their middle-aged years. Antonia remains an object of Jim's great admiration throughout. Because he narrates, we only see her as Jim sees her; we never get inside her head. She's an iconic character in American lit. She's spirited, hard-working, resilient and good-natured and Cather offers her as a worthy tribute to immigrants who settled the Plains.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Took a rifle class yesterday...basically a baby steps program for beginners. Learned a lot and the instructor made me feel very comfortable both with his personality and emphasis on safety.

Got to shoot a Remington 700 rifle (essentially a tricked out sniper rifle in .308) and there were no mishaps. Not sure what CNBC has on that rifle...worked fine for me.

Also an M-4 (the dreaded black or "assault rifle" but really a carbine) in 5.56 mm and a little lever-action (cowboy gun) in .22.

Last gun to shoot was something called a Steyr AUG. That was fun but got my worst groups with that one because I shot it off-hand (standing with no supports) as opposed to seated, kneeling or prone. Looks a little like the Star Gate gun (Fabrique Nationale, I think) because of its "bull pup" configuration.

I need more toys.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

O'Donnell explains socialism

He's right that it's important to recognize that every modern economy is a blend of capitalist and socialist practices. I appreciate his characterization of unbridled capitalism as inhumane. Labeling something or someone "socialist" shouldn't be akin to calling them evil.

If there are any politicians calling for complete repeal of Medicare and Medicaid and progressive taxation schemes, I want to hear them acknowledge the inhumane consequences of such repeals.

Monday, November 08, 2010

20th Century Boy again

I just saw Velvet Goldmine for the first time. In the film, Placebo performs the song 20th Century Boy as a fictitous band, the Flaming Creatures. Adam has been covering 2CB during encores for several weeks. I posted one video of it earlier. Here's one with good audio and gorgeous video from September 15, 2010, in Atlanta. (Adam and the band are wearing dreadlock wigs in honor of this being the last night that Longinue Parsons, their dreadlocked drummer, was with them on this tour before leaving to return to his band Yellowcard.)

Adam has cited Bowie as an influence many times and has talked about his love for the film Velvet Goldmine. Adam has paid homage to both in several ways in his first year of his career. As I mentioned before, the album cover for FYE nods to the Hunky Dory cover. There's a favorite image of Adam, taken by Lee Cherry, that you'll see in the beginning of the video, in a feather collar thing that nods to the feather collar that Brian Slade wears in VG. He may have borrowed some tongue action and homoerotic stage antics from Slade, though maybe that's just Adam being Adam.

Velvet Goldmine explores the issue of artifice in the pop/rock world. Every artist has to find the right blend (for them) of artifice versus authenticity in their work and their image. I think this is a tricky thing for Adam to navigate. He's happy adopting a character and wearing costumes and being all artifice, but it's difficult when you've established a fan base via American Idol to suddenly hide yourself behind a character. He's also personally charismatic and plenty talented enough to not need to rely on gimmicky artifice, but he can't compete with singer/songwriter types for angsty authenticity. At present, he sort of comes in and out of character based on a song's mood or lyric. Fans get this about him, but it may be confusing for non-fans and that may make it difficult to grow fandom.

This video is compelling to me because it's apparent that by this point in the tour he's so much more comfortable and skilled at being a rock star on stage than he was at the beginning of this tour. He knows, by this point, exactly what his audience enjoys from him. As skilled a singer as he is and as comfortable as he has always looked performing, he had some stagecraft to master when he started the tour, and now he's developed that.

I also find the video compelling because of the blend of masculine and feminine that I've mentioned before. The wig is supposed to read as dreadlocked rasta. But it doesn't. He looks like he's in drag. The lipstick probably contributes to that. And he's gorgeous. But then his performance is sprinkled with masculine, aggressive, body language.

Yeah, the "Indian giver" reference is reprehensible. He heard about it from fans.

Update: I should note that for the encore songs (like 20th Century Boy and Whole Lotta Love), Adam is just Adam - no character.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Extending "All" the tax cuts (politically speaking)

Not getting into the merits of of the extensions for the richest few (or even the rest of us), it seems to me that politically the Rethugs simply can't bend on this if they really believe that that it is good for the economy that all the cuts be extended. If they make "permanent" the cuts for say everybody making less than $1M, $500K, $250K, or whatever the compromise figure turns out to be and then just extend for a couple of years the cuts for the remainder, they'll lose the issue mightily at the end of the extension period.

Assuming they are right and that the economy needs these cuts, it seems that if the economy is turning around at the end of the extension period then they will not find very sympathetic voters at that time like they did this election cycle. If I were the Rethug king and had to compromise, I'd probably choose to make all the extensions "temporary."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Gee...election day was yesterday? Guess I missed it.

Just a few observations....

1) I was really torn about the Nevada Senate race. Did I want the waste of a Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or the absolute wacko Sharron Angle to win? For comedic value, I was sorta rooting for Angle; at least when she spoke, she wouldn't put me to sleep. Sadly, for my insomnia issues, Reid somehow won.

2) In the same vein, I was also torn about the Delaware Senate race, where again, for comedic value, I was really torn about perhaps wanting a witch being a member of the hallowed Senate. Alas, Christine O' Donnell couldn't pull out the victory. The question I have is....was that because of her poor campaign skills, her poor debate skills, or her poor witch-craft skills?

3) I tried, really tried, to watch CNN last night. Wolf would get all excited around the top and bottom of the hours about polls closing and how "I think we'll have some projections, so stayed tuned, you might be surprised". They would have this little countdown clock and when it would hit 0:00, they would announce some are the ones I saw...

With 0% of precincts reporting, CNN projects John McCain
With 0% of precincts reporting, CNN projects Chuck Grassley
With 0% of precincts reporting, CNN projects David Vitter
With 0% of precincts reporting, CNN projects Roy Blunt

Wow, way to go out on a limb there CNN. Exactly which one of these was a surprise? This is when I tuned off election coverage.

4) And finally, Dallas re-elected our version of Sheila Jackson Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson. She has recently been found to have been awarding Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Scholarship money to relatives and children of aides, some of which don't even live in her district. Of course, she won re-election in a land-slide. When this all came out, she of course blamed the media and of course, the vast majority of her supporters sided with her and also blamed the media. I'm not exactly sure what the media had to do with it but when in doubt, blame them.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Good but LATE

Question to the DNC: Why hasn't this ad, which strikes me as likely to be effective, been all over my TV for the past several weeks?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dracula discussion on MPR's Midmorning with Kerri Miller

As I mentioned earlier, my book club read Dracula last year and loved it. It spawned one of our best ever book discussions.

Here's audio of Minnesota Public Radio's Midmorning show from 10/26/10 (re-aired from 10/28/08) wherein Kerri Miller interviews Leslie Klinger, editor of "The New Annotated Dracula."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I love Jim Cantiello

He recaps Idol and Glee for MTV. His "Glee-caps" are in song. I share with you his Glee-cap from the Rocky Horror episode that aired last night, with a notable (to fans of Idol's Season 8) cameo. His writing for the Glee-caps is probably a tad less witty than his Idol recaps due to the extra challenge of putting them to music. His writing in his Idol-in-Sixty-Seconds recaps is A+.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Anyone care to defend?

Monday, October 25, 2010

My book club has made its picks for 2010-11

Lots of great books:

Nov. 22: My Antonia, Willa Cather
Jan. 3: Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson
Jan. 31: Madame Bovary, Flaubert
Feb 28: Little Bee, Chris Cleeve
Mar 28: A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
Apr 25: Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
May 23: The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky
June 27: Alias Grace, Margaret Atwood
July 25: Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Aug 22: The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Sept 26: I'm Not Scared, Niccolo Ammaniti

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Get ready for Movember!

Do you know about Movember?
The Mo, slang for moustache, and November come together each year for Movember.

Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.

The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health. Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement.

In 2004 the campaign evolved and focused on raising awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men – prostate cancer. 432 Mo Bros joined the movement that year, raising $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia - representing the single largest donation they had ever received.

The Movember moustache has continued to grow year after year, expanding to the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands and Finland.

In 2009, global participation of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas climbed to 255,755, with over one million donors raising $42 Million US equivalent dollars for Movember’s global beneficiary partners.

You'll want a T-shirt for Movember. K has designed some that you can get through zazzle. Zazzle keeps 81%, but K will donate the other 19% to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The main purpose of the shirts, though, is to generate discussion, raise awareness and encourage people to donate.

Make personalized gifts at Zazzle.

Reading list with Scooter's info added

The Scarlet Letter

Just kidding, not quite done yet.


My knowledge of history is best defined by its enormous gaps; the assassination of Lincoln, the conspiracy, and the aftermath is one of those gaps.  Early on I thought that for an academic and non-writer that Swanson was, yes, fabulous, but revised my opinion as the book progressed.  Still, fascinating stuff.

Our Kind of Traitor




American Assassin - How Rapp Became Rapp

It's a prequel.  I'm not the biggest Mitch Rapp fan, but this is fabulous.

Juan and NPR

I've been thinking for a long time that Juan Williams had ceased to contribute anything of value to NPR, so I'm not sorry to see him go. He never seemed to be fully prepared and kept offering ill-supported conclusions. But, as Ezra describes so well, NPR erred in the way they let him go.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I always appreciate help getting perspective on huge piles of money

This NYTimes story highlights the disingenuousness of Republicans claiming to be the party of fiscal responsibility by putting recent Republican policy choices in perspective. For example:
Calculations by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other independent fiscal experts show that the $1.1 trillion cost over the next 10 years of the Medicare prescription drug program, which the Republican-controlled Congress adopted in 2003, by itself would add more to the deficit than the combined costs of the bailout, the stimulus and the health care law.

Technology is amazing; creative people are amazing.

 "In October of 2010, New York's Atomic Tom had their instruments stolen.  Fortunately...they know how to improvise."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Russell and John

Interesting article that made me go, "Wow, I had no idea."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Adam in Malaysia

HuffPo ran a story (I think it's the AP story) about Adam's decision to perform in Malaysia sans stage kiss, rather than cancel his show there.  I was shocked at the comments that the story generated.  I suppose it's just a handful of hateful bigoted people, but to see it in writing, at HuffPo no less, was disheartening.

And of course, some loser made the predictable "I'm sure he'd love going to prison" comment, but HuffPo deleted that one.  You know how I love him, so it breaks my heart to see people be so hateful to him.  I can't imagine what it's like for parents to see their child bullied or be the object of hate.

In a press conference in Malaysia yesterday, Adam noted the hate that he sees in the comments section of news stories about him:
"[I]f you go down into the comments section, there's a lot of hate.  But you know what? If I focused on the hate and let it affect me, I'd be letting that hate win and I refuse to do that.  I'm going to focus on the positive, focus on the love, and ignore all the hate."

Here's the press conference, in which he could not be more charming:

His Malaysia show was finished a couple hours ago.  He blew the audience a kiss in "Fever" instead of kissing Tommy.  All reports are that his vocals were insane (as judged by people who've seen video of every song in every concert this summer).  Over 16,000 Malaysian fans attended and showed him love.

Update 2:20 pm  Perfect commentary from peacevehicle via Twitter

Monday, October 11, 2010

Adam singing Fever in Manila

In follow-up, here's a video of Adam singing Fever in Manila last night. This is my favorite song on the FYE album. It's the only song on the album that includes a male pronoun; rumor has it that that is enough to scare US radio stations from playing it. It's currently topping or climbing charts in New Zealand and Singapore, though. It's during the tour performance of this song that Adam kisses Tommy and I offer it for context. And beauty. And fun!

This video (like most that I've posted here) is taken by Suz526. You can tell she's quite experienced at videotaping this song since she gets the close-up of the kiss, but then moves to the wider shot by the time the dancing begins.

Islam vs. Adam (with bonus bullet casings)

I've found a story relevant to both Michael's and my blogging interests: Muslims behaving badly (Michael) and Adam (me).
Malaysia's Islamist opposition party on Monday demanded that authorities cancel a planned [October 14] concert by U.S. glam rocker Adam Lambert that they say is promoting "gay culture" in the mainly Muslim country.

"Adam Lambert's shows... are outrageous, with lewd dancing and a gay performance that includes kissing male dancers, this is not good for people in our country," said PAS Youth leader Nasrudin Hasan. Homosexual sex is a criminal offence in Malaysia.
Pretty much every night, Adam kisses Tommy Joe Ratliff (not a dancer, but the bass player) on stage, much to the screaming delight of fans. The nightly kiss is a much-celebrated bit of stagecraft. I suppose it "promotes gay culture" but it probably does more to spur the market for homoerotica.

Apparently, Adam's concert in Kuala Lumpur will go on as planned, though he's required to "dress appropriately and not remove his clothes". He never removes his clothes, unfortunately, so he should be safe. (Some contract drafter in Malaysia is going to lose his/her job for forgetting to get Adam's promise not to pantomime ~pleasuring Tommy's bass.)

Finally, for gun lovers: one of Adam's dancers had some trouble clearing security at an airport (not sure if it was in Manila or Hong Kong) a few hours ago because his outfit or accessories included bullet casings.

Update moments later: Taylor's bracelet made the news. Surprising how many airports that bracelet has made it through without problems.

Update 10:30 am: Adam's story mentioned on NYTimes Arts Beat blog.

Update 3:16 pm: Adam tweets

Update 3:24 pm:  And then Adam tweeted some more:
Update 3:33 pm:  And some more.  (Adam, maybe a column in the NYT would be more efficient.)
Update 4:14 pm:  And then Adam's dad, Eber Lambert, tweeted.
Update 10/12/10, 6:16 pm: PRI's The World covers it, with audio from Adam.

Update 10/13/10, 10:17 pm:  Adam tweets before the Malaysia show:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Because it just gets better every time he sings it...

Adam singing Sleepwalker, from Manilla last night (preceded as always by the fab dancers on tour: Terrance Spencer, Taylor Green, Sasha Mallory and Brooke Wendle):

Update: 10/12/10:  And in Hong Kong last night.

I know how Michael enjoys metaphors from the card table

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones offers a critique of Mankiw's assessment of how proposed income tax changes (letting Bush's deficit-enhancing tax cuts expire on high-end incomes) would affect him:
Do you see the card he palmed? Basically, the effect of letting the Bush cuts expire is so tiny that the only way to make it noticeable is to compound it over 30 years, which reduces his eventual payout from $2,000 to $1,700.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Litmus test

Here's Chuck Blow in today's NYT:
Many crimes could have been prevented if the offenders had had the benefit of a competent educational system and a more expansive, better-financed social service system. Sure, some criminals are just bad people, but more are people who took a wrong turn, got lost and ended up on the wrong path. Those we can save.
This is the kind of sentiment that, upon reading it, causes you to 1) nod your head, sigh, and take another bite of your muffin, or 2) spit out your coffee and set your you hair on fire.

Or not.  

I called him Chuck like I'm familiar with him but I'm not; should I be?

Rush called Obama a Jackass

the other day.  I didn't hear it when he said it, but I did hear it the next day when he rected to some criticism.. He made a mistake in my view by comparing it to the time that Obama called the rapper ___   a  jackass.

I hated it when critcs called Bush names, and so did Rush.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Updated title: Some thugs did this

Precluding gay people from marrying ostracizes them and sends a message from the society as a whole that we all believe gay people are less than, thereby emboldening horrendous attacks like this: Update: I'm agreeing with Michael's point from his first Comment and striking this.
There were nine attackers, ranging from 16 to 23 years old and calling themselves the Latin King Goonies, the police said. Before setting upon their 30-year-old victim, they had snatched up two teenage boys whom they beat, the police said, until the boys — one of whom was sodomized with a plunger — admitted to having had sex with the man.

The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the “Goonies” ordered him to attack the man. The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said. Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat.

The beatings and robberies went on for hours.

NYTimes story here.

Update: BUT, I hold to this proposition, which is a reason to allow gay people to get married: there will be more bullying of gay people in a society that doesn't sanction gay marriage than in a society that does allow gay marriage. There is a correlation, I believe.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

VDH teaches Anatomy


Copyright question

Google links millions(?) of images.  Why I can't do the same?  In the Secretariat post, if I had posted an image of Secretariat I found on Google, and linked the image to its source, I've done the same thing Google does.  They're not getting sued for copyright violations, are they?

Secretariat's Secret

Secretariat had a secret that I'm inferring was not discovered until an autopsy:

First, he was a son of Bold Ruler, who fathered many thoroughbreds who were lightning on dirt.
But Secretariat also had something in common with the cheetah, whose heart and lung capacities help make him earth's fastest animal. Secretariat's heart weighed 22 pounds, or 2.5 times the average weight of a horse's heart.

The Roots of Obama's Rage - Fascinating

Picked up yesterday.  Fascinating. 

Monday, October 04, 2010

Simple and stunning all at the same time.

Here's Adam singing an acoustic version of Broken Open in Osaka, JP, last night:

Saturday, October 02, 2010

D'Souza speaks

D'Souza tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview that Gibbs' attack "was a red herring, because my article and the book have nothing to do with where Obama was born. It has to do with the ideology that he got, he adopted, from his father. So the birther issue is completely irrelevant."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Terror Threats and Alerts in France

Because I've always been a francophile and because STRATFOR lets me (link is here):

Terror Threats and Alerts in France is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Scott Stewart

The Eiffel Tower was evacuated Sept. 28 after an anonymous bomb threat against the symbolic Parisian tourist attraction was phoned in; no explosive device was found. The day before the Eiffel Tower threat, French authorities closed the Gare Saint-Lazare in central Paris after an abandoned package, later determined innocuous, was spotted in the train station.

These two incidents serve as the latest reminders of the current apprehension in France that a terrorist attack is imminent. This concern was expressed in a very public way Sept. 11, when Bernard Squarcini, the head of France’s Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (known by its French acronym, DCRI), told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that the risk of an attack in France has never been higher. Never is a long time, and France has long faced terrorist threats, making this statement quite remarkable.

Squarcini has noted in recent interviews that the combination of France’s history as a colonial power, its military involvement in Afghanistan and the impending French ban on veils that cover the full face and body (niqabs and burqas) combined to influence this threat environment.

A Month of Threats

After the French Senate approved the burqa ban Sept. 14 — which will go into effect next March — a bomb threat against the Eiffel Tower was called in that evening, causing French authorities to evacuate the site and sweep it for explosive devices.

On Sept. 16, five French citizens were abducted from the Nigerien uranium-mining town of Arlit in an operation later claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a claim French Defense Minister Herve Morin later assessed as valid. In July, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon declared that France was at war with the North African al Qaeda franchise after the group killed a French hostage it had kidnapped in April. Fillon’s announcement came three days after the end of a four-day French-Mauritanian offensive against AQIM militants that resulted in the deaths of several militants. After the offensive, AQIM branded French President Nicolas Sarkozy an enemy of Allah and warned France that it would not rest until it had avenged the deaths of its fighters.

French officials have also received unsubstantiated reports from foreign liaison services of plans for suicide bombings in Paris. National Police Chief Frederic Pechenard told Europe 1 radio Sept. 22 that in addition to the threatening statements from AQIM, the French have received specific information that the group is working to target France.

On Sept. 6, Der Spiegel reported that authorities were investigating reports provided by the United States that a German-born Islamist extremist arrested in Afghanistan has warned of possible terrorist attacks in Germany and elsewhere in Europe — including France — planned by jihadists based in Pakistan. This story hit the English-language media Sept. 28, and included reports that the threat may have involved plans to launch Mumbai-like armed assaults in multiple targets in Europe.

In the words of Squarcini to the press, these combined incidents mean “all the blinkers are on red.” This statement is strikingly similar to one in the 9/11 Commission Report attributed to then-CIA Director George Tenet, who said that in July 2001 “the system was blinking red.”
While an examination of the current threat situation in France is interesting, it is equally interesting to observe the way that the French are handling their threat warnings in the media.
The Threat Environment in France

While its neighbors such as Spain and the United Kingdom have suffered bloody attacks since 9/11, the French so far apparently have been spared — although there are some who suspect the yet-unsolved June 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447 may have resulted from foul play, along with the explosion at the AZF fertilizer plant in September 2001.

France has long been squarely in the crosshairs of jihadist groups such as AQIM. This is due not only to its former colonial involvement in North Africa but also to its continued support of governments in countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia deemed un-Islamic by jihadists. It is also due to France’s military commitment in Afghanistan. Moreover, on the domestic side, France has a significant Muslim minority largely segregated in slums known in French as “banlieues” outside France’s major cities. A significant proportion of the young Muslim men who live in these areas are unemployed and disaffected. This disaffection has been displayed periodically in the form of large-scale riots such as those in October 2005 and November 2007, both of which resulted in massive property destruction and produced the worst civil unrest in France since the late 1960s. While not all those involved in the riots were Muslims, Muslims did play a significant and visible role in them.

Moves by the French government such as the burqa ban have stoked these tensions and feelings of anger and alienation. The ban, like the 2004 ban against headscarves in French schools, angered not only jihadists but also some mainstream Muslims in France and beyond.

Still, other than a minor bombing outside the the Indonesian Embassy in Paris in October 2004, France has seemingly been spared the type of attacks seen in Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. And this is in spite of the fact that France has had to deal with Islamist militants for far longer than its neighbors. Algerian Islamist militants staged a series of attacks involving gas canisters filled with nails and bolts on the Paris subway system in 1995 and 1996, and during the 1980s France experienced a rash of terrorist attacks. In 1981 and 1982, a group known as the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction attacked a series of diplomatic and military targets in several French cities. Algerian militants also hijacked an Air France flight in December 1994, a situation resolved when personnel from the French Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) stormed the aircraft in Marseilles and killed all four hijackers.

“Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to blow up a Paris-to-Miami flight with an explosives-stuffed shoe in December 2001, staged his attack out of France.

In 2001, French authorities broke up a French-Algerian terrorist cell planning to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The six militants, some of whom French authorities had linked to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan, were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Also in 2001, Algerian extremists were convicted in connection with an aborted plot to attack a Christmas market at Strasbourg Cathedral on New Year’s Eve 2000.

In January 2005, French police arrested a cell of alleged Chechen and Algerian militants, charging members with plotting terrorist attacks in Western Europe. According to French authorities, the group planned attacks against government and Jewish targets in the United Kingdom as well as against Russian diplomatic and business targets in Western and Central Europe. Other targets included tourist attractions and crowds in the United Kingdom and France and French train stations.

More recently, in October 2009, French particle physicist Adlene Hicheur and his brother, Halim, who holds a Ph.D. in physiology and biomechanics, were arrested and charged with helping AQIM plan terrorist attacks in France.

In the final analysis, France is clearly overdue for a successful jihadist attack, and has been overdue for several years now. Perhaps the only thing that has spared the country has been a combination of proactive, skillful police and intelligence work — the kind that resulted in the thwarted attempts discussed above — and a little bit of luck.


France has a national security alert system called the Vigipirate, which has four levels:

· Yellow, which means there is an uncertain threat.

· Orange, which signifies there is a plausible threat.

· Red, which signals a highly probable threat.

· Scarlet, which indicates a certain or known threat.

The Vigipirate level has been set at red since the aftermath of the July 2005 London bombings. This level is probably justified given that France is overdue for an attack, and French authorities undoubtedly have been busy investigating a large number of potential threats since the decision was made to raise the level to red. Still, as we have long discussed, this type of warning system has a tendency to get some attention when the levels are initially raised, but after five years of living at level red, French citizens are undoubtedly experiencing some degree of alert fatigue — and this is why Squarcini’s recent statements are so interesting. Apparently, he does not have the type of hard intelligence required to raise the threat level to scarlet — or perhaps the French government does not want to run the political risk of the backlash to the restrictive security measures they would have to institute if they raised the level. Such measures could include dramatically increasing security personnel and checkpoints and closing certain metro stops, train stations and airports, all things that could be incredibly disruptive.

Generally speaking, a figure like Squarcini would not provide the type of warnings he has recently shared in the press if his service had a firm grasp on the suspects behind the plot(s) about which he is concerned. For example, the FBI felt it had good coverage of groups plotting attacks in some of the recent thwarted plots in the United States, including the group arrested in May 2009 and charged with plotting to bomb two Jewish targets in the Bronx and shoot down a military aircraft at an Air National Guard base. In such a case, the director of the FBI did not feel the need to alert the public to the threat; he believed his agents had everything under control. Therefore, that Squarcini is providing this warning indicates his service does not have a handle on the threat or threats.

Information about a pending threat is not released to the public lightly, because such information could well compromise the source of the intelligence and endanger the investigation into the people behind the plot. This would only be done in situations where one has little or no control over the potential threat. There are numerous factors that would influence the decision to release such information.

Perhaps one of the first is that in a democracy, where public officials and their parties can be held responsible for failure to prevent an attack — as the Aznar government in Spain was following the Madrid train bombings — information pertaining to pending threats may also be released to protect governments from future liability. Following every major attack in a democratic nation, there is always an investigation that seeks to determine who knew what about the threat and when. Making threat information public can spare politicians from falling victim to a witch hunt.

Alternatively, some suggest that French authorities are being pressured to make such warnings to distract the public from domestic problems and Sarkozy’s low popularity. Many also believe the French government has been using its campaign against the Roma as such a distraction. Sarkozy, widely perceived as law-and-order oriented and tough on crime and terrorism, is indeed struggling politically. While the current warnings may provide such a beneficial distraction for Sarkozy, it is our assessment that the terrorist threat to France is very real, and is not being fabricated for political purposes.

Warnings also can be issued in an effort to pre-empt an attack. In cases in which authorities have intelligence that a plot is in the works, but insufficient information to identify the plotters or make arrests, announcing that a plot has been uncovered and security has been increased is seen as a way to discourage a planned attack. With the devolution of the jihadist threat from one based upon a central al Qaeda group to one based upon regional franchises, small cells and lone wolves, it is more difficult to gather intelligence that indicates the existence of these diverse actors, much less information pertaining to their intent and capabilities. In such a murky environment, threat information is often incomplete at best.

Whatever Squarcini’s motive, his warning should serve to shake the French public out of the alert fatigue associated with spending five years at the red level. This should cause the public (and cops on the beat) to increase their situational awareness and report suspicious behavior. The suspicious package seen at the Gare Saint-Lazare on Monday may well have been reported as a result of this increased awareness.

As the jihadist threat becomes almost as diffuse as the criminal threat, ordinary citizens who practice good situational awareness are an increasingly important national security resource — a complex network of eyeballs and brains that Squarcini may have been attempting to activate with his warning. With the burqa ban scheduled to begin next spring, French troops in Afghanistan and the ongoing conflict with AQIM, the threats are likely to continue for the near term — meaning France will remain on alert.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

This was a book-club pick.  It's also a Pulitzer Prize winner.  It's a lovely novel told through short stories in which the title character appears.  Olive is at the center of some stories and barely present in others.  
Strout does a particularly stunning job of describing and reflecting on aging.  She's got a degree in gerontology and makes good use of her knowledge here, taking Olive from middle-aged to her seventies.
Olive has not been a particularly easy person to live with.  She abused her son, though she insists fiercely that she loved him.  She's gruff, prone to temper flares, and opinionated.  She's none too fond of people unless they are in dire need of love. 
The stories cover themes of finding companionship and emotional support outside of marriage while staying married, depression (treated and untreated), parenting and results thereof, the walls people build between themselves and others (sometimes by choice, sometimes made of the debris of resentments, sometimes indestructible).  This reminds me a bit of Wendell Berry, but with a darker slant.  

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Archive for subtitles

Since I can't get anyone else interesting in tags, I'm confident you won't be interested in archiving subtitles either, but I'm going to give it a shot and you should feel free to help out. When you create a new subtitle, make an entry on the new page for "Subtitle Archive" (at the bottom of the column on the right), with the date you published the new subtitle. Optionally, add a link to the source.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Which candidates' parents are praying to "bring America back to her knees"?

From Joel Demos' parents:
We ask for your prayers that God will use Joel to advance HIS Kingdom and help bring America back to her knees! Joel has passed phase one of this venture with flying colors, gaining the favor and backing of key MN Republicans in a miraculous way in a very short time. Now, it is crucial that he pass through the second phase successfully, raising the large amount of money needed to launch his campaign in a very short time. Pray that the finance needed for this venture will miraculously come in from unexpected and solicited sources. Pray that the Word will be fulfilled, Matthew 10:18-20, throughout the remainder of this campaign to become Congressman Joel Demos from CD5 in Minnesota! ...
For the Kingdom and for America,
Alan and Valerie Demos
I'm not sure exactly what this means, but I'm betting that if Keith Ellison's parents publicly prayed that Allah "bring America back to her knees," Glenn Beck would be having a cow.

Here's the Matthew passage:
Matthew 10:18-20 (King James Version)

18And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

19But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.

20For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

h/t quichmoraine

Joel Demos!

Canoeing with the Cree, Eric Sevareid

I just learned of the existence of Canoeing with the Cree, a book written by Eric Sevareid that looks interesting.
In 1930 two novice paddlers--Eric Sevareid and Walter C. Port--launched a secondhand 18-foot canvas canoe into the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling for an ambitious summer-long journey from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. Without benefit of radio, motor, or good maps, the teenagers made their way over 2,250 miles of rivers, lakes, and difficult portages. Nearly four months later, after shooting hundreds of sets of rapids and surviving exceedingly bad conditions and even worse advice, the ragged, hungry adventurers arrived in York Factory on Hudson Bay--with winter freeze-up on their heels. First published in 1935, Canoeing with the Cree is Sevareid's classic account of this youthful odyssey. The newspaper stories that Sevareid wrote on this trip launched his distinguished journalism career, which included more than a decade as a television correspondent and commentator on the CBS Evening News. Now with a new foreword by Arctic explorer, Ann Bancroft.
I can't believe I didn't know about this book and its role in Sevareid's career.


Want help thinking of something to make for dinner? Try this.

Click on the food name to get to a recipe for it. Or click on "I Don't F***ing Like That" or "I Don't F***ing Eat Meat" to change the suggestion.

I'm still shopping at Target and I still support same-sex marriage

There's a boycott going on in our area against Target for its contributions to MN Forward, a group that has backed Tom Emmer, the Republican candidate for Minnesota governor. Mr. Emmer is against gay marriage.

Of course, I love the idea that these political contributions have consequences to the businesses that make them, but this boycott against Target doesn't quite make sense to me. Here's the problem: I don't think very many people who've started buying their paper towels at Cub Foods instead have investigated Cub's political donations.

Cub is owned by SuperValu, Inc. Its political action committee has donated to a lot of Democrats, but it also has supported Republican candidates who are against gay marriage. One example, Joe Linus Barton:

Maybe the scale of Supervalu's donations (via a PAC) is small enough, compared to Target's contribution to MN Forward, that it's a different animal, but I daresay that lots of boycotters haven't considered whether their alternative paper-towel source is really better.

And, by the way, has anyone checked on political contributions of the manufacturer of those paper towels (and everything else)?

Monday, September 20, 2010

This is pretty simple

I have a few more thoughts about the D'Souza piece. It's not that I merely disagree with his conclusions, it's that I can clearly see that he's carrying the party's water at the expense of intellectual integrity.

It's completely, utterly, intellectually dishonest for D'Souza to write these opening sentences, without any acknowledgment whatsoever of the epically depressed economic conditions in which Obama's policy choices have been made:

Barack Obama is the most antibusiness president in a generation, perhaps in American history. Thanks to him the era of big government is back. Obama runs up taxpayer debt not in the billions but in the trillions. He has expanded the federal government's control over home mortgages, investment banking, health care, autos and energy. The Weekly Standard summarizes Obama's approach as omnipotence at home, impotence abroad.

The President's actions are so bizarre that they mystify his critics and supporters alike.
Those actions might be bizarre if they were done in the midst of an economy perking along. D'Souza surely knows this and yet chooses to omit mention of the economic conditions.

How about this:
The rich, Obama insists, aren't paying their "fair share." This by itself seems odd...
Oh yes, so very odd. It's almost as odd as our country's 1950's tax policy. Apparently, we've had Kenyan anti-colonial, socialist policy-makers fathered by Obama's dad in our past but just weren't aware of it.  (From here.)

D'Souza actually wrote these sentences:
Obama railed on about "America's century-long addiction to fossil fuels." What does any of this have to do with the oil spill?
Yes indeed.  What ON EARTH could be a reason someone would reflect on fossil-fuel consumption in the midst of an oil spill.  I just can't figure that out either.  It surely must have something to do with one's (completely absent) father's view of colonialism, because there just is no other explanation for such a thing.

If you don't think D'Souza is playing a dangerous game of pushing buttons to cause Rethugs to salivate, then ask yourself this: What is the point of including the dollar figure in this sentence: "He supports a $100 million mosque scheduled to be built near the site where terrorists in the name of Islam brought down the World Trade Center."

The point, of course, is to repeatedly connect Obama's name to expenditures. Nevermind that this isn't government money being spent. Doesn't matter. It's a signal to generate the desired Pavlovian response: "Obama spends my hard-earned money. There he goes, spending another $100 million, this time on Muslims."

D'Souza uses the words "odd" and "bizarre" to characterize Obama's behavior. These are word choices calculated to fit the rightwing meme that Obama is a foreigner (and of course we all know foreigners are threatening to our well-being). Seriously, why else would D'Souza call it "odd" to discuss dependence on fossil-fuel at the site of an oil spill? Why else would he use the word "bizarre" to characterize stimulus spending that was voted on by Congress (none of whom shares Obama's father)?

As The Economist put it this way in reaching the conclusion that D'Souza is deranged:
There's no need to search for abstruse reasons why an extreme movement conservative like Dinesh D'Souza might oppose raising taxes on the rich or defend privilege in access to education. And it's not surprising that a centrist liberal like Barack Obama thinks people earning more than $250,000 per year ought to be paying more taxes. In fact, that conviction is shared by a majority of the American electorate. If Mr. D'Souza finds it bizarre, it's not Mr. Obama who's out of touch with America.

Incidentally, who isn't anti-colonialist? Is there a pro-colonial movement afoot in the Conservative party?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nothing like kindly being chastised by an atheist...

And Michael has chastised me before along the same lines:

"How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?" -- Penn Gillette

Video here.


The Boy Scouts are going to attempt a world record rocket launch on October 9 in College Station and invited the Cub Scouts to help.  Here's our pack yesterday testing some rockets. 

Charlie, I can't see a thing...

Charlie, I can't see a thing in here, where are you?  Wait.  OK.  Here, hold out your hand.  Here's your whistle.  Got it?  OK, later.

October Sky is an anagram of Rocket Boys

Scooter:  It's October Sky on P______ H______!

Michael: It's more Simpson than Hickam...

Friday, September 17, 2010

I guess I've been behind the Pine Curtain too long...

If this is my new fantasy love interest and new favorite sport's league:

Kenda Lenseigne and Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association. Videos here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I would not have guessed that Kanye was a fan of classic lit, but here you have it:

Blogging mystery

Why is my proof-reading proofreading more thorough and accurate after I post than it is before I post?

Update:  You'll think I misspelled proofreading for effect, but I did not.

Was going to put this as a subhead

but still can't take down "man-biz".

Mr. O'Rourke describing Scooter in the last paragraph of All the Trouble in the World:

Maybe this isn't such a hopeful moment in history. Really, it's something of a disappointment to know that when mankind--through noble struggles, grim sacrifices (and a lot of money-making)--does achieve such things as property rights, rule of law, responsible government, and universal education, the fruit borne of these splendid achievements is, um, me.

The Fourth Branch on D'Souza

If anyone is looking for a more detailed take-down of D'Souza's nonsense, try this post at The Fourth Branch. Have a few key points, but do read the whole thing:

1) D'Souza ascribes a policy choice (loans to Brazil's oil industry for off-shore drilling) to Obama, but that choice was actually made by a board that had more Repbulicans Republicans than Democrats, every one of whom had been appointed by Bush.

2) Obama's speech about the BP spill DID spend several paragraphs talking about the clean-up. Besides, since when is it Kenyan-anti-colonial to talk about the dangers of dependence on non-renewable sources of energy?

3) Bailout money is actually getting repaid. TARP was under Bush.

4) Military:

Perhaps D’Souza is unaware that Obama has escalated the war in Afghanistan since taking office and left troops in Iraq longer than he said he would as a candidate. He has also increased predator drone attacks into Pakistan and deployed troops to the US border with Mexico. Are these honestly the acts of a man driven by an impassioned hatred of the US military or who views the US military as a neocolonial force?