Saturday, July 30, 2005
We all know and love Google maps, especially their satellite feature. Well, you knew it wouldn't be long until Microsoft tried to steal their thunder. And as you'd expect, the Microsoft version, called Virtual Earth, is pretty danged cool. Not really better than what Google offers, just slightly different. I think the satellite map images are a little sharper with the MS version.
But Google hasn't stood pat; they've introduced a wicked cool product called Google Earth, which is like their satellite maps on steroids. You can zoom very deeply (is that the right term for zooming?) on areas all around the world, from the pyramids to the Great Wall to your grandpa's house (I could even make out my Aunt's and Uncle's car out front!). You have to have high-speed internet, and there's a download of about 10 megs. Lots of fun.
A little farther off the beaten path is the Konfabulator, which is an application that allows you to customize your desktop in ways previously unheard of (at least for PC users; Konfabby's been on Macs for years). It basically bells-and-whistle-izes your desktop with various little plug-ins, called widgets, that do things such as show the weather for the next week, report the traffic conditions in your metro area, and illustrate the phases of the moon. Yeah, I thought it was pretty dumb too until I saw it installed on a friend's computer. I think the word that best describes it is nifty. It won't change the way you compute, but it just might improve the quality of your life a little. The download is around 9 megs, and a couple of the widgets (such as the weather and traffic ones) do require real-time access to the internet.
Each of these programs is worth checking out if you've got some time to kill while your turtle porn is downloading.
Friday, July 29, 2005
First, via Kung Fu Monkey, a feature called "Alien Loves Predator." Hysterical stuff, and it captures the NYC experience better than anything short of getting mugged. Do yourself a favor and read it from the beginning. (Click the image below for a better look.)
Second, courtesy of Malibu Stacy, is Overheard in New York. It's just like being on 14th Street, but without the overpowering smell of urine and falafel! The hobo rants alone are worth the visit.
And, yes, this post was just an excuse to get I-Rod's ancient dildo off the front page. It was starting to creep me out.
|By Jonathan Amos|
BBC News science reporter
Here are mine.
1. Curtis Mayfield, "Keep On Trippin'" -- If there ever was a Patron Saint of Cool, it would have to be Curtis Mayfield. This is one of his mellower tunes, but as the man says, just keep on trippin'. 8/10
2. Cheap Trick, "Surrender" -- This song always makes me think of Mike Damone scalping tickets in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." A rocker about drugs, lesbians and life in the sunny '70s. 7/10
3. Wesley Willis, "Rock and Roll McDonalds" -- If you've never heard of Wesley Willis, he's a middle-aged, overweight, schizophrenic, homeless guy who "sings" about everyday life over a Casio keyboard. It's like they made a Broadway musical about the crazy guy at the bus station. So bad it's good. 9/10
4. Mudhoney, "Good Enough" -- One of their later songs, a little less grungy and a little more strummy, but still full of that Mudhoney flavor. Anyway, the title says it all. It's good enough, OK? 7/10
5. Magnetic Fields, "Take Ecstacy with Me" -- This is what pop music would sound like in a perfect world. Beautiful stuff. 9/10
6. Sufjan Stevens, "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" -- A sweet folk song about Superman, off the new CD "Illinoise." Folk is, I understand, inherently wimpy. But folk songs about the Man of Steel? Not wimpy. Suck it, Luthor. 8/10
7. Mötörhead, "God Save the Queen" -- There's something about the bloated, semi-conscious corpse of Lemmy screaming well-wishes to Her Royal Highness that just works incredibly well. I think Tony Blair should have him perform this at state dinners. 7/10
8. Jay-Z, "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" -- Yeah, you'd better turn the music up in the headphones. I know he's about as establishment as hiphop gets these days, but this is a great tune off a great album. 7/10
9. Death Cab for Cutie, "Title and Registration" -- This may be my favorite song of the decade. The band loses points for winning the hearts of "O.C." preteens everywhere, but not even that level of mainstream exposure can bring this tune down. 9/10
10. Dead Kennedys, "Moral Majority" -- Easily the best '80s punk song written about Jerry Falwell. Sure, there are a lot of great contenders out there, but this is the best. And still, I'd give it just medium marks. 6/10
Overall, the scores here give me a mighty 7.7 average. Checking in with the Cool-o-Meter, that puts me somewhere between Isaac Washington on the "Love Boat" and Isaac Hayes in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." Can I get one rib?
Alright, boys and girls, you know the routine. Drop your own random ten in the comments, with or without the coolness self-audit.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
If you want to help unfuck the donkey, as I-Rod notes below, this is a good place to start. Hackett is a tough, no-nonsense Democrat and he'd be a great addition to Congress.
So click here to donate to the cause. Or, if you happen to live in the area -- Yossarian, I'm looking at you -- think about clicking here and volunteering. Rocketman John Glenn is asking you to serve. How can you say no?
However, the constant front page updates on every little detail of the trip seem a bit over the top; the shuttle is getting the kind of coverage our press usually reserves for missing white women. That got me thinking about manned (or for you more sensitive types, "mynned") space flight and NASA. Nothing generates good publicity like the successful launching of a shuttle, and there's nothing like good publicity to ensure that NASA remains better funded than any of them pointless government programs aimed at helping - gasp - people.
Space exploration is awesome. It expands our understanding of the universe, boosts our national morale, gives us cool screen savers, and provides a wonderful marketing vehicle for crappy products such as Tang. (I, for one, am glad I can't get no Tang 'round here.) But why do we have to send people into space? Unmanned space exploration is way cheaper, offers a much greater range of study options (you'd have to hold your breath a really long time to stay on Mars as long as the rovers have), and usually doesn't kill anyone but the homeless people who are sleeping on the launching platform for warmth.
I know, there are valid reasons to send humans into space. But are any of them worth the risking of human life? Why not spend a couple decades sending up probes while also developing safer, cheaper, better vehicles for humans? Let's thin the gravy train to Boeing and Lockheed et al.; if people want to send up a human, let them start a charity and see how much money they can raise.
Last thing. Remember how, after the tragedy of '03, they spent a zillion dollars investigating the problem and designing solutions? Didn't work. Even with the Discovery still up in the sky, NASA has announced they will once again ground shuttles, for the same foam problem they had in '03.
(1) Nancy Grace - I realized what bothers me about here, she is like the suburban housewife who is bitter about her own life but knows how everyone else should run theirs. Her insights into the "SWF meets Weekend at Bernie’s" in Aruba are criminally mundane and embarrassing.
(2) Evangelism on TV - Back in the good ole days (90's), TV evangelists had an offer - send us money and we will pray to make you (a) loved, (b) get better, (c) get into heaven. Now, there is a decidedly crusade-like tone where the money is to be spent in Washington to save the nation. Now, I know these folks will go where the money is - but if you are not even going to talk about the soul, is this evangelism? Gone are the days when the pink haired lady asked for money to launch a satellite to reach Africans with Christ’s word.
(3) Atlanta Braves - This team has a lot of rookies and is a lot of fun to watch. Look for the Braves to lose today so take the Expo's/Nats (and the over if you're feeling gutsy).
(4) Tony Blair - While up at 4am, I caught his live press conference. The difference between the press there and the questions they get to ask is amazing. I found Blair a little annoying like a British prep school boy. I didn't find his tough talk particularly convincing.
(5) Rumsfeld's "Surprise Visit" to Iraq - I love the phrasing "surprise visit," like its Mr. T showing up on Different Strokes. If you can't announce it because every gun will be pointing at the sky on your planes approach, I don't think that constitutes a "surprise."
(6) Troop withdrawal in early 2006 - somehow this does not feel anything like victory or a transfer of responsibility. But with regiments going over for a 3rd tour of duty, no stomach to institute a draft, no plan to fund the war - what else can you do?
(7) Boy Scout Troop Jamboree - Be prepared? This thing sounds more like Little Big Horn.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
But this poll is easily the worst of the lot. Wow. 5 votes for "ass." I don't even remember them calling me.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Here's some of the playlist, with my deep thoughts on them:
U CAN'T TOUCH THIS, M.C. Hammer: This is what leads off the collection, and I can't think of anything better suited to the task of putting you back in 1990. Proper!
BALL AND CHAIN, Social Distortion: A nice '90s rocker. I saw these guys in college, and Mike Ness was at the bar before they went on stage. He had so much ink on his skin I thought he'd been attacked by Squiddy, the giant squid.
GROOVE IS IN THE HEART, Deee-Lite: Anything that brings in Bootsy Collins and Q-Tip is alright by me.
NEW JACK HUSTLER (NINO'S THEME), Ice-T: I just had a flashback to "New Jack City" and remembered they had Judd Nelson playing a crazy, violent cop. Right. Judd Nelson.
HARD TO HANDLE, The Black Crowes: Yes, what better way to celebrate the music of the '90s than to include a remake of a '60s song.
O.P.P., Naughty By Nature: I have to admit, the sampling of the Jackson 5 in this song was a real novelty when I first heard it. The 1,024,235th time? Not so much.
INTO THE DRINK, Mudhoney: Thrilled to see some Mudhoney on here. If you didn't live through the late '80s, you can't understand how much we needed the emergence of grunge. MTV was in the middle of the Hair Band Age, and had a requirement to play those neon-vomit videos of Poison every five minutes.
I'M TOO SEXY, Right Said Fred (R*S*F*): No, you're not.
ONLY SHALLOW, My Bloody Valentine: Shoe-gazer music, so named after the "dance" done at its concerts, which mostly consisted of shy unloved singles swaying back and forth and looking at their feet. Still, a gorgeous song.
BABY GOT BACK, Sir Mix-A-Lot: He apparently is an assman.
THEY WANT EFX, DAS EFX: Excellent (or "efxcellent") hiphop with some surprisingly good riffs and samples.
LITTLE MISS CAN'T BE WRONG, Spin Doctors: Ugggggghhhhh.
UNDER THE BRIDGE, Red Hot Chili Peppers: Once I heard this in a supermarket, I knew the Chili Peppers were dead. This wasn't exactly "Catholic School Girls Rule," you know?
CONNECTED, Stereo MC's: I know I should hate this song, but for some reason I can't.
IF I CAN'T CHANGE YOUR MIND, Sugar: This is Bob Mould. This is Bob Mould on anti-depressants. Any questions?
THE DEVIL'S CHASING ME, The Reverend Horton Heat: Phenomenal band. Surprised to see them here. If you ever get a chance to see them live, go. I said go, dammit.
GENTLEMEN, Afghan Whigs: Great song from another great band. A friend saw them in Boston in the early '90s, and Greg Dulli punched the bass player in the middle of a song. They rolled off stage, continued the fight, and then came back to finish the set. Awesome.
MMM MMM MMM MMM, Crash Test Dummies: No, no, no, no.
WHAT'S THE FREQUENCY, KENNETH?, R.E.M.: Thank God it wasn't "Everybody Hurts."
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, Deep Blue Something: Easily the worst song of the decade. Worse than the Macarena. Remember the chorus to this gem? And I said "What about Breakfast at Tiffany's?" / She said "I think I remember the film / And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it" / And I said "Well, that's the one thing we've got" That was the chorus!
TUBTHUMPING, Chumbawamba: Apparently, Chumbawumba is cockney for "one-hit wonder."
This is just scratching the surface. There's tons more there to talk about, so have it and let's party in the comments as though it were the last year of the 1990s.
A special election is about to happen in the 2nd District of Ohio, between Republican Jean Schmidt and Democratic newcomer Paul Hackett. (No, not that Paul Hackett. This Paul Hackett's a former Army major who presumably knows how to run an offensive strike.) Normally, a race in OH-02 would be a Republican landslide, but in light of the current GOP problems in the state -- including, but not limited to, the scandal over their decision to invest worker health funds in that oh-so-safe realm of rare coins -- this race has become a dogfight.
And, as we all know, when the going gets tough, the GOP starts playing dirty. Well, this time, as they flounder around, they've decided to give Hackett the old Swift Boat treatment. One of Schmidt's advisers, Eric Minamyer, had this to say recently:
I understand that Hackett did not participate in combat at all. It is still dangerous over there as I can personally attest. Let’s just not act as though we led marines in combat if we did not, okay…And you know, given all the opportunities that Eric Minamyer has had to say that he does not frequently dress up in a tutu and fondle goats at the petting zoo, one fair conclusion is that he does.
I have asked the question time and again, what role did he actually play?
Given all the opportunities he has had to say “I served in combat” one fair conclusion is that he did not.
Anyway, if you'd like to help fight back against this tried-and-true douchebaggery, and help win a seat deep in the heart of Republicanland, click here. From what I've read about Hackett, he's the real deal, a tough, smart Democrat. And it's long past due that we start building a bench in what's likely to be a swing state for decades to come.
Monday, July 25, 2005
I guess we'll just have to content ourselves with the heroic struggles of Dr. Hillbilly and the Iron Yuppie.
After all the hubub from the Schiavo crowd about how this movie was all attacking their faith (it seems like everything from education to weather patterns are intent on attacking Christianity nowadays...), I expected an entertaining flick. I was disappointed with it. The fact that anyone reacted to this movie at all or compared it to the Teri Schiavo tragedy shows just how lost this movement is. The MDB situation was pretty freaking far from the Schiavo debacle because of one major fact: in the movie (do I need to remind everyone this is a fictional movie?), the Hillary Swank character is begging to die. Begging! Now, I can see how anyone would be unable to fulfill a request like that (kill someone no matter how many times they ask), but what gall to say that the question should not even be posed. What kind of movie would the wingnuts make?
INT. HOSTEL - DAYOf all the "kill your best friend" films I've seen MDB is surely one of the least controvertial. How about Last of the Mohicans when Daniel Day Lewis shoots his buddy being burned at the stake? (Uh, spoiler warning?) What about the scene in Starship Troopers where Michael Ironside shoots one of the soldiers under his command after one of the evil alien bugs starts to eat him? Or The Fly, with Jeff Goldblum asking Geena Davis to blow his head off?
Swank lies on the bed with a bunch of machines hooked up to her.
Please kill me.
No. Just lie there and watch TV.
I think the 700 Club is on.
Eastwood turns on the TV and leaves. Swank lies in bed for 30 years.
Why don't these people raise a stink over Of Mice and Men? George puts down Lenny, his mentally retarded (but otherwise healthy) best friend after Lenny kills a woman out of fear and panic. (Wait, I think I know why the wingnuts don't want to object to that.)
So, why this film? Why Million Dollar Baby? As I look through all the above examples, I notice that all of them have men dying. Which brings me back to Teri Schiavo. Could anyone imagine a media shitstorm of that magnitude over a man in a persistent vegitative state? I honestly can't. And what if in the movie it was Jamie Foxx that was begging to die? Would anyone have objected?
Is it that simple? Is it that sexist? Is it that disgusting? That these people only object when it's a woman trying to make decisions for herself? Surely not.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Thankfully, he'll be on the Washington Post website tomorrow to field all these questions and more, as part of the promotional tour for his book, It Takes a Village Idiot. Click here to post your question.
But don't be surprised if you don't get a civil answer. Remember what former Sen. Bob Kerrey said: "Santorum. That's Latin for 'asshole.'"
Update: So far, all the questions have been softballs. The few questions that have come even close to challenging him have been met with the ad line from that old Time-Life series on "Mysteries of the Unexplained" -- "Read the book!"
Saturday, July 23, 2005
Anyhoo, she was doing a scrapbook page for the years her grandparents were born, 1901 and 1911. For the 1901 page she had a sheet of stickers that had historical and pop culture trivia from that year, such as 1) the first facelift was performed (in Germany), 2) President McKinley was fatally shot and succeeded by Teddy Roo, and 3) one of the most popular songs of the year was entitled "Coon Coon Coon!"
Yeah, I thought the same thing you're thinking: Does that song title refer to what I think it refers to? I googled it, and it turns out the answer is yes. It's exactly what I thought it was. Click here for the lyrics to said song, ugly lyrics from a hit song of 1901. (Warning: racial epithets by the boatload.)
Let's all pray that he doesn't lose air during the confirmation hearings, forcing Orrin Hatch to reinflate him by blowing on the hose on his waistband. Because there's no amount of alcohol that could remove that image from my head.
Ballers : Lance Armstrong - this subject has been beaten to death given the race is all but over, so all we have to discuss is his legacy. I would note - a legacy and Sheryl Crow.
Bust: T.O - The Eagles have essentially called you their bitch and with you admitting you will actually report to training camp, you acknowledged it. This is Max Power negotiation at its best.
Ballers: W. Bush Administration - Hate to say it, but the administration has successfully danced around the Plame leak, deepening Iraq quagmire, troop morale erosion, conservative Supreme Court nominee, and US homeland security questions after additional London bombings. They are surviving the results of their own decisions and with the magnitude of the mistakes they have made - staying alive is an impressive feat.
Busts: Hillary Clinton (D-NY) - In an embarrassing play for the soccer mom vote and national exposure, she has alerted world to the threat of violence/nudity in video games. This is simply a political move, wasting time and effort when homeland security improvements languish in committees.
Baller: myspace.com - A website that didn't make much money, but still was sold to the Fox empire for $400 million. Nice.
Bust: Courtney Love - Checks into hospital for over-dosing.
Friday, July 22, 2005
On the July 20 Radio Factor, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly referred to Chief Justice William Rehnquist as a "vampire," and, later on, Supreme Court associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a "zombie." Elaborating on his Rehnquist comments, O'Reilly said that "he does not believe" Rehnquist "is a human being" and that "I believe that ... you have to drive a stake through the man's heart." He then warned viewers that if he ever meets Rehnquist, he will be "wearing garlic around my neck and a cross."
As usual, O'Reilly's shrewd analysis sheds a lot of light on the current state of the Supreme Court. It really helps explain the recent decision in George Romero v. Braaaaiinnns.
They were incredibly thorough, as this quote reveals:
According to one assessment, at the root of the creationist argument is the concern that evolution undermines moral beliefs, leading to lawlessness, family breakdown, homosexuality, pornography, and abortion.
Teaching evolution leads to viewing pornography? I think someone needs to explain to these people that "homo erectus" doesn't mean the dirty thing they think it does.
If you're feeling frisky, feel free to add on the Coolness Self-Audit. Someone asked me by what standards we should define "coolness." I worked at a hipster-filled radio station in college, where most of the other DJs were cloned from the assistants working with John Cusack in "High Fidelity" -- you know, Jack Black and Not Jack Black. I generally try to imagine their reaction, and go with that. (Alternatively, you could always use the Millhouse standard, as long as your mom does, in fact, think you're cool.)
Anyway, here's my list:
1. Loretta Lynn, "Fist City" -- A catfight set to sweet, sweet country music? Sold. 6/10.
2. The Clash, "I'm So Bored with the U.S.A." -- A nice punk anthem with lyrics like "Move up, Starsky / For the C.I.A. / Suck on Kojak / For the U.S.A." I'm both stirred and strangely aroused. 7/10.
3. MC Pee Pants, "I Want Candy" -- If you've never seen the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" episode with this song, then you probably have something approaching a social life. Still, this is hysterical and gets bonus points for being the only rap tune to reference Jessica Tandy. 10/10.
4. The Gories, "Outta Here" -- An outstanding garage-grunge trio from Detriot, Rock City. There might be two, or perhaps three, chords in this song. Less is more, my friends. 7/10.
5. Sly & the Family Stone, "I Ain't Got Nobody (For Real)" -- A scorching song off their incredible second album, Dance to the Music. Killer organ work, which we all know is spelled c-o-o-l. 9/10.
6. Elvis, "Burning Love" -- A brief flash of goodness during the otherwise sad journey to Jabbatown. But nothing performed by a man with that many sequins and peanut-butter stains can be considered cool. Nothing. 3/10.
7. Dilated Peoples, "Pay Attention" -- Great hip-hop tune with a piano loop and a hat-tip to Chuck D. Plus, lyrics like: "So much smoke when I'm this high, I sky-write." 8/10.
8. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Effigy" -- Easily my favorite CCR tune. About six minutes long, with lyrics about a revolution against Richard Nixon. An obscure political rocker? That'll do, pig. That'll do. 6/10.
9. The Black Keys, "10 A.M. Automatic" -- These guys are getting a little bit of recognition, ever since their "Have Love, Will Travel" appeared in that truck ad this spring. (Suck it, Bob Seger!) This song isn't my favorite, but it sure is a scathing rocker. 8/10.
10. Radiohead, "There There (The Boney King of Nowhere)" -- My iTunes is crammed full of Radiohead, so it was only a matter of time. Great tune off Hail to the Thief, especially the part where they shift down an octave or so in the guitar riff of the chorus. Just loverly. 7/10.
Let's see, that gives me a 7.1 average. According to the Cool-o-Meter, that puts me somewhere between Tito Jackson and Tito Puente in the grand scheme of coolness. I can live with that.
Alright, your turn. Drop your own Friday Random Ten in the comments, with or without the Coolness Self-Audit.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
In this corner, Karl "Bunsen" Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
And in this corner, Bob "Gargamel" Novak and Tim "Timmah!" Russert.
As reported by the fine folks of Think Progress, it looks like we're heading to a showdown between these two sides in a He-Said-He-Said-He-Said-He-Said four-way cage match.
Two top White House aides have given accounts to the special prosecutor about how reporters told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to persons familiar with the case.
Lewis “Scooter'’ Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn’t tell Libby of Plame’s identity.
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, who was first to report Plame’s name and connection to Wilson. Novak, according to a source familiar with the matter, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor.
These discrepancies may be important because one issue Fitzgerald is investigating is whether Libby, Rove, or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a CIA agent.
In a showdown between Rove and Novak, it's really hard to find someone to root for. But in a showdown between the most trusted name in Washington journalism and Dick Cheney's consigliere, well, I wonder which one's going to be believed?
"What I'm telling you is that we're focused here," Bush said from the Port of Baltimore, where he got a waterside demonstration of cargo-screening techniques. "When you're at war, you can't lose sight of the fact that you're at war."The article doesn't say precisely when in the speech the president removed his coat and dress shoes and put on his colorful sneakers and sweater, before heading off to consult with his counterpart, King Friday of the Land of Make Believe. But I'm sure that he did it before boarding the magic trolley.
Among the state-of-the-art techniques Bush observed were computerized systems, sophisticated radiation detectors and advanced X-ray equipment.
"You can look inside in the truck, and you don't even have to get in it," Bush said afterward to an audience of state and local officials and port employees. "That's called technology. And it's working. It makes a big difference."
Since we're now apparently living under the benevolent, short-bus reign of the Children's Television
From the Washington Post:
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.So either Karl Rove is a liar and a criminal, or he too has the intelligence of a five-year-old.
It's like the country is being run by a kindergarten full of ADD kids.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
All in all, I suspect he'll be confirmed. I really doubt we'll see a filibuster here since (a) Roberts isn't nearly as right-wing as some of the other contenders and (b) the seven moderate Democrats who brokered the last judicial compromise will have little political cover here to claim there are "extraordinary circumstances" to warrant the filibuster. The Republicans already have 55 votes in the Senate, and if they can just get five Democrats to side with them, there's absolutely nothing that can be done to prevent him from reaching the floor and getting on the bench.
If the Democrats are smart, they'll put up some tough but fair questions at the Judiciary Committee hearings, but ultimately let the nomination sail right through. The right-wing media is already making noise about the fact that Roberts was first denied a spot on the bench by the mean ol' Democrats in '92, and then had to wait two years to get onto the bench after being renominated in '01. They're clearly priming the fairness issue they so love. (Assuming it's a conservative who's been treated unfairly. Liberals can suck it -- right, Orrin?)
Anyway, given the inevitability of his nomination, it would be shrewd for the Senate Democrats just to go through the motions, asking tough questions and voting their consciences, without resorting to anything that even remotely resembles a delaying tactic. If Roberts is going to be confirmed anyway, the sight of the right's favorite punching bags -- Sens. Kennedy, Leahy, Durbin, Feinstein, and Schumer, all of whom are on the SJC -- tearing into him is only going to rally the base behind Bush. If they treat him fairly, it'll make all the right-wing predictions about "Democratic obstructionism" look overblown.
It'll also let the news cycle get right back to Rovegate.
I'm too slow to grab actual quotes, but I'm sure you're familiar with the general style. "I told the Prime Minister that we would have a meal together. In other words, we ... would ... sit down ... and ... eat food. Together. That means both of us, OK? Both of us eating, like friends. Like allies. That is, people who ... who ... who work together ... to meet a, um, common goal. Together. OK?"
Ladies and gentlemen, the Leader of the Free World.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Some people -- mostly liberals and communists -- might characterize this as, oh, a "flip flop" or something like that. Maybe they'd even call it a stunning demonstration that the president values political loyalty more than he does national security. Of course, to say such a thing would mean that one does, in fact, hate America.
Personally, I hope that Bush's bold new "No Felons" policy will be retroactively applied to all of the former convicted participants in the Iran-Contra scandal who now populate the administration. Perhaps the administration will once again split hairs here, noting that the standard is now "No Felons" plural and therefore they're allowed to keep at least one. (See also, the "No Homers" rule.)
UPDATE: The second link has been changed to point to the correct comment. The previous link, like past White House claims, is no longer operative.
Sunday, July 17, 2005
As these pieces remind us, "Rovegate" is much bigger than just what Karl Rove did to Valerie Plame, just as "Watergate" was much bigger than the "third-rate burglary" at the Watergate complex. Indeed, just as the Watergate break-in was a thread that unraveled a much larger set of conspiracies and cover-ups, one that exposed everything from the illegal bombing of Cambodia to the illicit f-bombing in the White House, so too is the scandal over Rove's activities here connected to a much larger, and much more important, set of issues.
The right is in a panic now because they realize that the Rove story goes much further than Rove. If followed, these threads -- like the threads that began Watergate and gave that scandal its name -- will unravel the administration's handling of the war in Iraq. It will highlight their tendency to make up facts to fit their agenda (WMDs, yellowcake, the Saddam-al Qaeda "connection"), their ruthlessness in destroying anyone who dared object (Shinseki, Clarke, O'Neill), and, most of all, their easy willingness to sell out the nation's security for the administration's political gain.
It may be slow in coming, but most of the pieces are there. I doubt we'll hear insider leaks from another high-placed Deep Throat, but if the Democrats can reclaim at least one house of Congress in 2006 -- and with it, the all-important subpoena power -- then we just might see this thing unravel. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, as long as I mentioned Deep Throat, let me use this post as an excuse to post a favorite photo. This is, I believe, the grandfather of Inanimate Carbon Rod, circa 1972. Enjoy.
Saturday, July 16, 2005
Here is a new feature for the blogger site. The editors will propose "Ballers" and "Busts" for the week. The areas may be grown and shrunk, but I would propose as follows: Sports, Politics, Life.
On Monday AM, we will post the official winners who will receive the official "Baller" Seal of Approval or "Bust" Block of Shame.
Here are my picks:
SPORTS--- BALLER: Rafael Furcal - Atlanta Braves SS. Has played excellent in the field and went 9/16 (.563) at bat. His efforts have been critical to keep
POLITICS: BALLER: Senator Collins (R-ME) - Senator called the House out on its embarrassing behavior fighting over the (potential) Rove controversy instead of focusing on terrorist legislation. Thank you for doing the right thing. BUST: Bill Frist (R - TN) - given your job description reads that you are the "leader" of the "majority", (a) your followers seem sparse and (b) your ideas seem fringe at best, idiotic at worst. Mary Helen Lowery would be disappointed.
LIFE: BALLER: Joseph Hachem: Winner of the $7.5 million grand prize for the World Series of Poker (as a first time entry). Thanks to you millions of average joes will become problem gamblers next year. (But use me as the referral, I could use the cash). BUST: Parents Television Council - Who is "telling on" ABC for airing Live 8 with the band "The Who" saying the same "f" bomb they have uttered for 25 years. I am a parent. You guys deserve to have the lame ass kids you have.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Doc Staley said his son has been "floundering around" since dropping out of high school. "This is where the drinking came in. And he's not very good at it," the father said.Mind you, the kid burned a flag and is up on charges to protect ... God knows what, but the Dad is most disappointed that his 19 year old son just not good at drinking.
Next thing you know, the Lush will let his pregnant teenage fiancee talk back to him.
That reminds me, how do you fix your dishwasher? You smack her in the ass! Get it? Here's another one, there's this guy of the Polish persuasion....
The rules are basically the same. Open up your iTunes, hit random, and write down the first ten songs that appear. No skipping the schlock. For the Coolness Self-Audit, rate each song on a scale from 1 to 10. (And for those of you with the works of Ms. Streisand on there, be advised, 1 is as low as you can go.)
Alright, let's get this thing going. Come on big bucks! No Whammies!
1. Eric B. & Rakim, "Paid in Full (Seven Minutes of Madness--The Coldcut Remix)" -- This is easily the best hiphop group of the '80s, doing one of their best songs. However, it gets points off for being an after-the-fact remix. Since it's a full seven minutes of madness, that sounds like a 7/10.
2. Radiohead, "I Might Be Wrong" (live) -- A scorching live version of an excellent tune. I know the band isn't exactly unknown, but dammit they're good. 7/10.
3. South (UK), "Paint the Silence" -- You'd think a group that collaborated on the "Sexy Beast" soundtrack would be ultracool, but jeebus this sounds like Coldplay. Watered-down Coldplay. 4/10.
4. R.E.M., "Time After Time" -- Easily the worst song off an otherwise classic album. Plus, the subtitle is "annElise." 3/10.
5. X, "Los Angeles" -- Outstanding punkitude. Sure, it's the closest thing they ever had to a mainstreamed song, but with good reason. 8/10.
6. Stereolab, "Super-Electric" -- A pan-European line-up playing shoe-gazing moog music? If they were any hipper, they'd implode. 9/10.
7. Black Sabbath, "Sweet Leaf" -- Great song, but I'm pretty sure the 15-year-old fry cook at Fatburger knows this one. 5/10.
8. The Roots, "Distortion to Static" -- Brilliant song by the best hiphop band of today. Plus, it's off an early album, and we all know earlier=hipper. 8/10.
9. Cocteau Twins, "Heaven or Las Vegas" -- Shut up. I like it. 5/10
10. Merle Haggard, "Okie from Muskogee" -- This is a tough one. This is perhaps the ultimate tribute to Squaresville, but it's almost so square it's actually become hip, as the great philosopher Huey Lewis might say. Hmmm. I loves me some Merle, so I'm giving it a 6/10.
Alright, adding up the score, it looks like I got a 6.2 average -- somewhere between DJ from Full House and DJ Premier from Gang Starr. Stupid Michael Stipe.
Alright, give it a whirl yourself in the comments. Feel free to give a straightforward Friday Random Ten, or else Super-Size it to include the Coolness Self-Audit.
Thursday, July 14, 2005
It was a fantastic show, listening to religious leaders pontificate on things they know so much about, like constitutional law and congressional procedure. And, of course, the persecution of Christians. (I dozed off a couple times, so I may have missed parts, but it seems we've started throwing Christians to the lions again. Or something like that.) Sadly, it was just one Sunday. "Oh," I thought, "why can't every Sunday by a Justice Sunday? It would be better than ten Super Bowls!"
Well, praise the Lord and pass the remote, because the FRC has just unveiled "Justice Sunday II." And in case you were worried that there might be some kind of sophomore slump here, that they'd just halfheartedly go through the motions in the sequel, let me reassure you with one image:
That's right. Former Senator Zell Miller (D-Thunderdome) is taking time off from his retirement duties (i.e. dueling uppity journalists) to turn this into "Justice Sunday II: The Wrath of Zell."
Outstanding. I haven't been this excited since I heard Corey Feldman was appearing in "Streetcar Named Desire" here in New York.
Update: In case Zell isn't enough for you, JSII will also feature perennial favorite James Dobson, former Watergate felon Charles Colson, anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly, the always restrained William Donohue of the Catholic League, and music by Mr. Lee Greenwood. Wow.
Ambassador Joe Wilson, who once dared Saddam to hang him while wearing a rope around his neck while acting ambassador in Baghdad in fall of 1990, was the first to let the American people know that the Bush administration lied about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger.
Has anyone else heard this this story before? If I had so much as touched Buddy Revell's jacket, I would work it into every conversation I had. How can Wilson sit down for an interview with Katie Couric and not say, "Some weather we're having, isn't it? It reminds me of the day I had a noose around my neck daring Saddam Hussein to hang me."
McCLELLAN: I think we've exhausted discussion on this the last couple of days.
Q: You haven't even scratched the surface.
Q: It hasn't started.
Sure, McClellan is trying to exhaust the press corps with his flopsweat-and-stammer routine, but I don't think it's going to work.
And just now, CNN is showing a clip of Howard Dean, asking Bush to keep his word. Something to the effect of "Who do you value more, Mr. President? An intelligence operative from the CIA, or a political operative from Texas?" Nice.
"Rove is not just any White House staffer. He is the man," said Scott Reed, a Republican consultant with close ties to the White House. "They haven't named it the `Roval Office' at this point, but that's coming down the pike. At least they should call it the `Rove Garden."'
Thanks for helping pile on, Reedy boy!
Frankly, I think the whole project shows an arrogant disrespect for our show, for our cast, for America's families, and for the sensibilities of the heartland of our country.Let me remind everyone that this show, the embodiment of "the sensibilities of the heartland of our country," had protagonists who were bootleggers driving a car with a big rebel flag on it. There are a lot of reasons to hate this film, but I think being insensitive to drug runners who proudly display a symbol which is - at best - somewhat divisive may not be the first one to jump on.
And when your name is "Cooter," it kind of undercuts your credibility when you complain about the raunchiness of a TV commercial.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
As Digby says:
[Republicans] are making a mistake by pounding the fact that the entire leadership of the Democratic party including Kerry and Clinton are calling for Rove to resign. Mehlman even seemed a little gobsmacked by it. The problem is that almost everybody in the country believes that Democrats are the last people on the planet to go out on a limb. Without realizing it, Mehlman is being hoist by his own petard. Somebody just turned to me and said, "Jesus, if they're saying it, he must be toast."
Calling Democrats wimps for 20 years has its effects. It means that when they actually do say something people automatically assume that they aren't acting out of political courage. They assume that there is no risk involved.
Mehlman also said that everyone knows that Karl Rove has the highest ethical standards. Hahahahahaha. To quote the Clenis --- that dog won't hunt. Once again, they are hoist by their own petard. You can't go around telling everyone who'll listen that Karl Rove is a cross between Sun Tzu and Machiavelli for years on end and then suddenly portray him as a simple, straight shooting public servant. Only the most ardent neanderthals are going to buy this. Certainly not one member of the press will.
As Digby's post continues, Bush's ratings for being "honest and trustworthy" have now sunk to a new low of 41%. The effort to backpedal from the party line is only going to make matters worse.
(AP) "It's a great technology with enormous potential, but I think the environment's not strong for it," said James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation who blames the military and Congress for not spending enough on getting directed energy to the front. "The tragedy is that I think it's exactly the right time for this."
I don't know if it is a "tragedy" that this weapon is not available to the military.
My word, indeed.
It's been said before, by folks more eloquent than me, but I miss Republicans. Remember them? The grown-ups who were all about fiscal responsibility, government accountability and deeds-not-words patriotism? The folks who used to think that outing one of our own covert intelligence agents was a bad thing?
Details found here.
What Bush said on the Plame matter is what is important, and Bob Somerby backs me up on this:
Yes, the Bush Admin will torture the language, saying (perhaps correctly) that Rove didn’t “leak classified information.” But over and over, Bush said he wanted people with information to come forward. “I want to know the truth,” he said. And: “We can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.” But two years went by, and Rove didn’t come forward—or if he did, Bush kept his trap shut. Rove flirted with jail time for Matt Cooper; he may have put Judith Miller in jail. (The Admin will say that Rove signed that blanket waiver.) But the question here seems obvious—and it’s the question libs should be asking. When Bush said he wanted the truth, why didn’t he get the truth from his number-one top adviser? Or did he actually get the truth? Did he actually get the truth, then keep the truth to himself?The words that come out the President's mouth are all that matters to the American people. Showing a videotape of some dork saying some things and looking uncomfortable is not very persuasive if you have no idea who the guy is. Do you remember what Joe Lockhart said about Monica Lewinsky? Yeah, neither does anyone else.
McClellan’s statements are much less important than Bush’s. Two years ago, the sitting president said, “I want to know the truth.” Obvious question for a Bold Leader: Why are we just starting to get the truth two years after this public statement? And: What do you plan to do to the person who kept you in the dark?
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Some people don't enjoy it. Those people are sad people.
Now, here's some fun - gambling and politics!!!
Odds as of 12:01 AM 7/13/05 for the Supreme Court
- Alberto Gonzales 5-8
- Edith Brown Clement 4-1
- Edith Jones 10-1
- Emilio Garza 8-1
- J Michael Luttig 12-1
- James Harvie Wilkinson III 18-1
- Janice Rogers Brown 8-1
- John G Roberts Jr 18-1
- Michael McConnell 9-1
- Samuel Alito 15-1
Go Alberto Go!!!
Philips: "Bob, definitely a major smear campaign going on. I mean, what [are] the chances of hearing from Karl Rove? Could he speak? Could he come forward? A lot of people said that could clear the air if he just came forward and gave the facts?"
Yes, yes, poor little Karl Rove. He maliciously outed one of our covert CIA operatives for some cheap political payback, and now the mean ol' Democrats are saying that he shouldn't be running things in the White House.
The Loneliest Boy in the World just doesn't have anyone to defend him -- his lawyer has acknowledged Rove spoke to the reporters about Plame, the press is actually demanding accountability for past White House statements that (a) Rove wasn't the leaker and (b) whoever it was would be fired, and Republicans in Washington are running away from him like he's got cooties. Gay cooties.
Thank God that Kyra Philips is there to befriend this noble public servant.
But as far as public conservatives go, he's certainly not the worst. Why don't some dems suggest giving him a shot at the Supreme Court? He's mostly okay on social issues, and Lord knows he's established his bona fides regarding the law. He'd give the conservatives fits; how can you oppose America's Mayor?
I'm sure there's 184 reasons not to support a Rudy nomination, but I'd rather see him on the bench than on Air Force 1.
Writing in the journal Tissue Engineering, Matheny said scientists could grow cells from the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, poultry or fish in large flat sheets on thin membranes. These sheets of cells would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked to increase thickness and resemble meat.
Using another method, scientists could grow muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The resulting tissue could be used to make processed meat such as chicken nuggets or hamburgers.
Most of the stuff I consume is only nominally meat anyway (hot dogs, lunch meat, chef boyardee, etc.) I can't imagine that something grown in a lab could possibly be worse for me than the stuff they scrape of the killing floor to make hamburgers. In fact, with all the additives they could shove in there, the triple bacon cheeseburger could actually be the healthiest meal on the menu.
Just saying that the ambassador’s wife worked for the CIA is not an outing and doesn’t demonstrate that Rove was aware that she might be a secret agent.
The agency has thousands of employees, with only a small percentage of them having a covert status. The question still remains whether Plame was covert at the time Rove spoke with Cooper.If anyone is responsible for Plame’s outing, it is Wilson himself. Not content to express his opinion within the diplomatic, military or intelligence communities after his inconclusive report was dismissed, he went public.
"I'd be lying if I said my men weren't committing crimes."
Money, we make it
Fore we see it, you take it
Oh, make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is
I can't pay my taxes
Nice. A song about high bills, dying, and having to wait. What better tune to soothe the troubled nerves of a patient?
Follow up: What does that say about your son?
Monday, July 11, 2005
This is getting interesting.
Update: Crooks and Liars has a video of the press conference, if you'd rather watch Scott's Care-Bear-Caught-in-Headlights act instead of read it.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Saturday, July 09, 2005
After returning from the summit on Friday, Bush visited the British Embassy in Washington and signed a book of condolence and laid a wreath in front of the ambassador's residence.Really? Try telling that to Londoners.
Bush said the London attacks were a reminder of the "evil" of the Sept. 11 attacks and underscored that the United States and its allies were fighting a "global war on terror."
"We will stay on the offense, fighting the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them at home," Bush said.
You know, the way Bush tells it, you'd think the Army had successfully enclosed the Middle East in a gigantic Ziploc bag, hermetically sealing it off from the rest of the world and preserving the tangy freshness of the Fertile Crescent -- all at the same time!
If we know anything about Al Qaeda, we know that it's not a traditional foe, based in one nation and moving as a coherent army. There isn't some neatly-drawn red line on a map where we're holding the bad guys back -- the 17th Parallel, the 38th Parallel, the 59th Street Bridge, etc. I know this is a complicated concept for some of the war's architects, but it really is entirely possible for a fluid collection of terrorist cells like Al Qaeda to operate simultaneously in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Western cities. They can multitask, boys. Maybe you should, too.
I guess we shouldn't be surprised the administration thinks in such two-dimensional terms. With an attitude towards science rooted firmly in the 12th Century, I'm surprised their maps of the war don't have "Here There Be Dragons" written in the corners. They probably don't let the Sixth Fleet move past Japan for fear they'd fall off the edge of the flat Earth.
Friday, July 08, 2005
Florida's state attorney said there was no evidence Terri Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago involved criminal activity, and Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday declared an end to the state's inquiry.(Please note: The link goes to the Fox Nooze printable page - therefore passing the $0.0002 in banner advertising they would have gotten.)
On the one hand, it's quite funny to read the twistings, wafflings, misdirections, and buffoonery (yes, even Pat "turning Nixon in for impeachable offenses was traitorous" Buchanan's quoted) of these luminaries. However, as is all too typical of publications such as TNR, the author cedes the language of the debate to the conservatives and/or creationsists. Here's the big question he puts to these guys: "Do you believe in evolution?"
Here's a newsflash. Nobody should believe in evolution. You believe in love, you believe in your religion, you believe in humanity, you believe in aliens. Belief is specifically for the things that you can't prove but that you think are true.
You don't believe in gravity, you don't believe in the Pythagorean theorem (haven't typed that in, well, ever), you don't believe in nuclear fusion, you don't believe in evolution. You accept or reject; you agree or disagree. You explain your position not by citing personal beliefs but by using provable, transparent, tangible evidence (before the post-modernity of the cultural conservative movement became dominant, these things were called "facts").
Evolution is a scientific theory. It should not be treated as a religion (as some folks seem to do), and it should not be discussed as such. If you start out talking about it as a belief, you're already more than half way to dismissing it as a science.
Evolution: you're unbelievable.
For those of you who missed the inaugural Friday Random Ten here at LLatPoN, along with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting by McDonaldland's very own Mayor McCheese, the rules are very simple. Open up your iTunes or any other, inferior MP3 thingamajig, put it on shuffle, and give us the first ten that pop up.
Here are mine:
1. Merle Haggard, "The Bottle Let Me Down"
2. Greenskeepers, "Lotion"
3. Muddy Waters, "Walkin' in the Park"
4. KISS, "Detroit Rock City"
5. Neutral Milk Hotel, "Holland 1945"
6. Stereolab, "The Seeming and the Meaning"
7. Electric Light Orchestra, "Evil Woman"
8. Interpol, "Evil"
9. Django Reinhardt, "St. Louis Blues"
10. Lou Rawls, "You'll Never Find a Love Like Mine'"
Wow, I really stuck the landing, didn't I? God bless you, Lou.
Alright, put yours in the comments.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Terrorism expert Professor Michael Clarke from the International Policy Institute at King's College London, speculated that the problems might be a security measure.
"I've heard rumours that the mobile network is down, possibly shutdown," he said.
"This could be because the MO (modus operandi) in Madrid was by setting off devices with mobile phones."
But mobile firms denied that the government had used emergency powers to shut down the networks.
Not Brit "Conservative Values" Hume (from Media Matters)...
From Fox News' July 7 breaking news coverage between 1 and 2 p.m. ET:
SMITH: Some of the things you might expect to happen, for instance, a drop in the stock market and some degree of uncertainty across this country -- none of that really seen today, and I wonder if the timing of it -- that it happened in the middle of the night and we were able to get a sense of the grander scheme of things -- wasn't helpful in all this.
HUME: Well, maybe. The other thing is, of course, people have -- you know, the market was down. It was down yesterday, and you know, you may have had some bargain-hunting going on. I mean, my first thought when I heard -- just on a personal basis, when I heard there had been this attack and I saw the futures this morning, which were really in the tank, I thought, "Hmmm, time to buy." Others may have thought that as well. But you never know about the markets. But obviously, if the markets had behaved badly, that would obviously add to people's sense of alarm about it. But there has been a lot of reassurance coming, particularly in the way that -- partly in the way the Brits handled all this, but also in the way that officials here handled it. There seems to be no great fear that something like that is going to happen here, although there's no indication that we here had any advance warning.
We woke this morning to the terrible news of the bombings in London. Congratulations, terrorists, it takes a lot of courage to take down an unsuspecting civilian.
But know this - you will never win. Why? Because you have no sense of marketing. I know, I know, these aren't mandatory classes in the mountains of Pakistan; but no one really knows what exactly you want.
Out of the middle east? Well, that's too vague for our short attention span minds. Does that include Walmarts? Probably, we all want Walmarts out. KFC? Now hold on. I'm as family value based as they come, but how do you plan on watching football on Sundays?
Another thing, the names for your organizations, "Secret Organization Group of al Qaeda of Jihad in Europe" or SOGOAQOJIE for short. Where is the Nike Swoosh? This is just lame.
And if there is anything we learned from the Kennedy's is that looks = leadership. You guys have some ugly ass leadership. I don't mean to get personal, but I gots to keep it real.
Finally, this chick I know who went to college with you says you have a reason to be so angry. Apparently, you can't do much with 40 virgins after all.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
First, to those of you driving up and down Interstate 81 in Virginia -- I know you like to think of yourself as dangerous, hellbent-for-leather, biker dudes, the kind of roughnecks who'd have a bumper sticker reading "Speed On, Brother -- Hell Ain't Half Full!" and a tattoo that said "Momma Didn't Love Me." But seriously, going 66 in a 65 does not qualify you for the fast lane. Get the minivan with the suction-cup Garfield in the right lane.
Second, to all of those people who've been waiting to make a left turn in front of me in Los Angeles -- just go already! There is no turn signal, there never will be a turn signal. I'm sorry, Cletus, but you're just going to have to cross your fingers and punch it. There's a reason you have insurance, and buddy, this is it. (P.S. Hang up and drive, Stefan. Spielberg will call you back.)
One might guess that the real problem in music is the quality of the artists and the recording industry - not the peer to peer file sharing....
Also, I had some forensic scientist confirm that it is a microphone. (Shudder)
LOS ANGELES (AP) - North American concert attendance declined nearly 12 percent in the first half of 2005 despite the first drop in average ticket prices in a decade.
Fans purchased 14.5 million tickets to the top 100 concert tours from January to June, according to Pollstar, the industry trade magazine.
The tours generated $730.9 million in gross receipts, a decline of 17.2 percent from last year.
Saddest man ever or personal hero - I can't decide....
Ok, thanks to the image of the PJ's with the smokes - saddest is the correct answer.
PITTSBURGH -- James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a TV showing his beloved team in action.
Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night. The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays. Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand.
He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.
"I couldn't stop crying after looking at the Steeler blanket in his lap," said his sister, MaryAnn Nails, 58. "He loved football and nobody did [anything] until the game went off. It was just like he was at home." Longtime friend Mary Jones called the viewing "a celebration." "I saw it and I couldn't even cry," she said. "People will see him the way he was."Smith's burial plans were more traditional; he'll be laid to rest in a casket.
Ok, fellow bloggers - how would your funeral look?
You? No, Smithers, not to worry. You will be buried alive with me.
The ball & chain pointed me to an interesting article on how crappy writing skills are among gubmint workers. Here's the opener:
States spend nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year on remedial writing instruction for their employees, according to a new report that says the indirect costs of sloppy writing probably hurt taxpayers even more.
The National Commission on Writing, in a report to be released Tuesday, says that good writing skills are at least as important in the public sector as in private industry. Poor writing not only befuddles citizens but also slows down the government as bureaucrats struggle with unclear instructions or have to redo poorly written work.
Remedial writing instruction, folks. Not advanced writing instruction, not essential writing instruction, remedial. I absolutely agree with the findings of the report (which can be read in full here), and there are indeed many factors contributing to this problem, but I wish they had addressed this obvious point: despite the fact that government employers value writing skills even more highly than their counterparts in the private sector, they keep hiring people whose writing skills are so poor that they have to be sent back to school to relearn it. Yes, of course this is primarily an issue of education, but don't let the HR folks off the hook that easy.
Look at any job listing for an office-type job (i.e., at a computer for at least part of the day) and you're almost assured of seeing "Ability to communicate in writing" as a requirement. How many of these listings say that a writing sample is required, or that a writing test will be administered? Just about none. Some employers say that they carefully examine cover letters and resumes for writing quality, but that’s not nearly enough; anyone can swipe a well-written template off the internet and just plug in their info, or they can drop a few dollars and have a pro help them clean it up.Here's my outrageous suggestion. If you really mean it when you say in your job listing that writing is important, then administer a writing test to each applicant. If you expect a lot of resumes, it's probably best to wait until you've narrowed it down to just a few folks (a good portion of potential applicants will weed themselves out because they don't want to deal with a writing test). It doesn't have to be long, just get them to write a paragraph or two. Don't have them write about something too mushy, like "Why I love apple pie." Make it concrete, such as "Explain how to make a BLT sammich." Remember that you’re not really trying to find out how to make the most delicious BLT; you want to know if the applicant can write clearly and concisely (lordy, PLEASE check for concision).
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
WOODSTOCK, Ont. (CP) - Ontario workers are well-trained.Are schools in the South really that bad?
That simple explanation was cited as a main reason why Toyota turned its back on hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies offered from several American states in favour of building a second Ontario plant.
Industry experts say Ontarians are easier and cheaper to train - helping make it more cost-efficient to train workers when the new Woodstock plant opens in 2008, 40 kilometres away from its skilled workforce in Cambridge.
"The level of the workforce in general is so high that the training program you need for people, even for people who have not worked in a Toyota plant before, is minimal compared to what you have to go through in the southeastern United States," said Gerry Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association, whose members will see increased business with the new plant.
The factory will cost $800 million to build, with the federal and provincial governments kicking in $125 million of that to help cover research, training and infrastructure costs.
Several U.S. states were reportedly prepared to offer more than double that amount of subsidy. But Fedchun said much of that extra money would have been eaten away by higher training costs than are necessary for the Woodstock project.
He said Nissan and Honda have encountered difficulties getting new plants up to full production in recent years in Mississippi and Alabama due to an untrained - and often illiterate - workforce. In Alabama, trainers had to use "pictorials" to teach some illiterate workers how to use high-tech plant equipment.
"The educational level and the skill level of the people down there is so much lower than it is in Ontario," Fedchun said.
Oh, and there's also this:
In addition to lower training costs, Canadian workers are also $4 to $5 cheaper to employ partly thanks to the taxpayer-funded health-care system in Canada, said federal Industry Minister David Emmerson.