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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Happy Blogiversary to Me

The first posting to this weblog occurred on June 30, 2003.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Brandishing Guns Reduces Crime!

So said a North Carolina congressman at yesterday's hearing about the possible repeal of DC gun laws:

"If you level the playing field, simply brandishing a handgun may deter a crime," said Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., who added that allowing more private citizens to own guns would deter crime in the city.

Or alternatively, more people brandishing guns could lead to more people shooting each other with those guns, whichever.

Lap Dances, Alien Attacks, Piglet and Tigger

A few other links I wanted to throw out here...

A.O. Scott's War of the World review concludes with the usual content/rating warning, and he tries getting cute:

War of the Worlds is rated PG-13. Much of the earth's population is wiped out, leaving very little time for sex or bad language.

No sex I can understand, given the time constraints of running for your life, but no swearing? I would be a bleep machine if the space aliens attacked me.

Have I mentioned I've been enjoying Joel Achenbach lately? I would be concerned right about now if I were the guy who did the animated voice of Winnie the Pooh (unless he's already dead, of course).

And finally, some BET Awards fun:

Perhaps even more memorable were Destiny's Child, who ended their rendition of "Cater 2 U" by randomly pulling Terrence Howard("Crash," "Ray," "Hustle & Flow"), Nelly and Magic Johnson onstage for steamy lap dances. While Nelly and Johnson simply sat stunned, Howard played along, fanning himself and staring deeply into Beyoncé's eyes.

"She touched me!" an excited Howard said backstage. "She touched my face! She touched my hair. I'm thrilled. My wife can't be too happy, but baby, she came and got me. ... I tried to say no."

I guess with the group's break-up looming, Destiny's Child is going out with a bang (or at least, a simulated one). Bob Johnson screwed up scheduling the awards against the NBA Draft last night.

The Tired Debate Over Energy

The Senate version of the energy bill is better than the House version, not that that's saying a hell of a lot. See the handy chart--which won't allow me to hot link--at the bottom of this Christian Science Monitor article for a side-by-side comparison.

Word is that the conference may fall apart over whether to give MTBE producers liability from lawsuits (again, same thing happened in '03). The House wants to give that present to Joe Barton's pals, along with drilling in ANWR and setting no renewable energy standards for utilities to meet; the Senate differs on these three points, though it does carry a bigger price tag. Yes, this is what passes for energy policy debate in Congress.

By the way, France is getting a nuclear fusion plant. Say what you will about France, they do come out looking better than us on this one.

Happy Talk

Dan Froomkin has the details on the web site Bush mentioned at the end of his speech last night.
As of 11 a.m. ET today, the site boasted 73,216 messages received -- but only 25,913 were viewable by the public.

And indeed, none of the messages I saw expressed any reservation about the war effort whatsoever.

Searching for the word shame, for instance, you find things like: "The media definitely doesn't tell of all the good they are doing. What a shame."

Searching for the word rotten, you get: "Don't let the rotten news from home get you down . . . it's only the dirty press looking for headlines." And searching for the word quagmire, you get nothing.

The web site is AmericaSupportsYou.mil and the viewable messages are here.

Clueless Foreign Leaders Wednesday

Tony Blair on the Downing Street Memo: We were just kidding!

Blair added he was "a bit astonished" at the intensive U.S. media coverage about the leaked memos, which actually were leaked minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting between Blair and top government officials at his Downing Street office.

What "intensive media coverage" is the AP article referring to here?

Meanwhile in Mexico, Vicente Fox thought he had Jesse Jackson off his back, but then he trots out the Jim Crow stamp collection.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Gun-Toting

Just what Joe Gibbs needs, another offseason problem. I did find the description of LaVar Arrington's ill-fated party interesting:

Arrington and Peterson, who plays for San Francisco, hosted the party along with a company called True Playaz Entertainment at a 18,000-square foot mansion they rented.

Once again, my invitation must have been lost in the mail.

How Stella Lost Her Gaydar

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Ted Kennedy Throws Down the Gauntlet

Brian McGrory has an interesting column in which he says Ted Kennedy wants to get rid of the perception that his Republican opponents can go on to do big things. I hope this means that we'll see Teddy K. opening up a can on whoever he faces next fall, gettin' all red-faced--should be fun. McGrory cites three examples of GOP losers who later achieved prominence in other roles (notably Mitt Romney), but he leaves out the 2000 turkey who didn't even get the state Republicans' support, the totally pathetic Jack E. Robinson.

Feelin' Drafty

Tonight, as the young men on ESPN embarked on their professional basketball careers at the NBA Draft in New York, the president's speech over on the news networks reiterated that we don't need a mililtary draft since there's no need for more troops in Iraq. But then Bush seemed to contradict this point, as Wonkette noted:

8:30: Wait, we don't need any more troops, but, you know, PLEASE ENLIST NOW.

The speech was the same old song and dance, for the most part--support the troops, stay the course, don't cut and run, the terrorists are evil, we're awesome, etc. The only "new" stuff is as follows:
To further prepare Iraqi forces to fight the enemy on their own, we are taking three new steps:

First, we are partnering Coalition units with Iraqi units. These Coalition-Iraqi teams are conducting operations together in the field. These combined operations are giving Iraqis a chance to experience how the most professional armed forces in the world operate in combat.

Second, we are embedding Coalition "Transition Teams" inside Iraqi units. These teams are made up of Coalition officers and non-commissioned officers who live, work, and fight together with their Iraqi comrades. Under U.S. command, they are providing battlefield advice and assistance to Iraqi forces during combat operations. Between battles, they are assisting the Iraqis with important skills - such as urban combat, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques.

Third, we are working with the Iraqi Ministries of Interior and Defense to improve their capabilities to coordinate anti-terrorist operations. We are helping them develop command and control structures. We are also providing them with civilian and military leadership training, so Iraq's new leaders can more effectively manage their forces in the fight against terror.

I won't pretend to know anything about military strategy, but these seem like sensible things we should've been doing already. Amazingly, in a half-hour speech that was supposedly going to clarify how to fix the mess in Iraq, that was it for the fresh material.

Enough of that crap before I get depressed. Check Simmons tomorrow for the annual NBA Draft diary, in which I hope he mentions my favorite moments, which has to be the interview with Chris Paul's brother. The elder Mr. Paul said that he and Chris used to play as kids and the games would inevitably generate into fights. Once Chris even went and grabbed a knife, his brother confided! "But it was all love." Really? I would consider threatening a sibling with a knife crossing a line, but that's just me. This was followed by Stu Scott touting Paul's class in the interview with the draftee--the same guy who punched Julius Hodge in the groin and got himself suspended for the ACC tournament, for those keeping score at home.

That, and the fact that Jay Bilas keeps telling us every player's wingspan kills me. "He's only 6-2, but he has a 7-4 wingspan!"

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hope for the Future

When I hear that the people of San Antonio, Texas, went crazy for Tony Parker's French rap at the NBA victory parade/rally, I think that maybe this world isn't in so much trouble after all.

Meanwhile across the country, the Philly sports fans sure know how to welcome back a former manager:

In other sporting news, there was so much grunting going on in my gym earlier this evening, I thought that someone was watching the women's Wimbeldon matches on the TV. Thanks, I'll be here all week.

I wish the Supreme Court drama queens would go ahead and say if they're staying or going already. I wonder if they have such egos that they will make an announcement tomorrow--wouldn't want the media attention on them to be fragmented by the Ten Commandments and Grokster decisions!

Too tired to write much else now, will try to do better soon. You can see my first 15 minutes of work on a Yahoo! 360 page here. No word yet on whether Anderson Cooper plans to sue them over the name.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thanks for the keys, Al

Al Gore restores a head-scarf-wearing young woman's faith in America by picking up her keys for her at the gym. What is this doing on the NYT op-ed page?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dorking out on Time's "50 Coolest Web Sites"

I had a look at the list and found a few goodies on there that I may want to revisit. I'm going to give Mercora a try, having used Last.fm and Radio Sonicnet (before it sold out to The Man).

This video search site made the list and looks promising. I've noticed that CNN.com has been pushing its free video updates hard lately; the video stuff keeps on growing, soon I wonder how much we'll be reading online at all.

I may as well mention the pretty new Technorati design.

I've been meaning to screw around on MSN Spaces for a while now--I may show what I've done some time in the near future. Also, if anyone out there can get me an invitation to try out Yahoo 360, which is still in beta testing, drop me a line at dimmykarras@yahoo.com, thanks.

"The Discomfort Zone"

The Globe has a new series debuting in today's paper detailing how blacks and Latinos don't like Boston very much, or at least that seems to be the theme at hand. This first installment shares the thoughts of a young black woman who moved to the area recently and has had some truly horrifying experiences. A sampling:

Dufu found it jarring that a white woman whom she had just met felt comfortable confiding, "Oh, I just love bald black men," without seeing the objectification inherent in that remark.

Shocking! I'm sure no one in the rest of the country makes comments about racial characteristics and what they find physically attractive.

"When you talk about diversity, they tend to tense up here," says Dufu. In Seattle, she says, people of other ethnic groups would challenge her in an argument, whereas "Here, people are too afraid of being perceived as racist, so they close up."

They don't want to seem racist--how racist of them! Personally, I think she's incorrect on this one, since I've been around plenty of people who enjoy discussing diversity and such.

At a professional networking event, a woman regaled Dufu with a tale of a childhood friend who had five children and lived near her mother. The woman's tone of voice implied there was something wrong with both those facts. Then the woman bitingly observed that despite her early promise, the friend "ended up going to a state school." As a graduate of the University of Washington, Dufu was jolted by that strange locution -- "ended up." "That was the first time it dawned on me that I am not part of some upper echelon, because I didn't go to Harvard or Yale or MIT," says Dufu. Back home, she had felt like a success, having received both a bachelor's and a master's degree in English. "Then I come here, and I find there's a crop that's creamier," she says with a bemused laugh.

Wow, she met a snobby woman at a "professional networking event." Will wonders ever cease?

I freely admit Boston isn't perfect. I think the real problem is an overarching parochialism to the area, which makes all outsiders feel somewhat unwelcome. It's got some racial history too that isn't so wonderful, but it doesn't help much to connect petty crap like the stories in this article to busing and the past unpleasantness, please.

Mitt Romney News Flash!

The Massachusetts governor says he's considering running for president. You don't say!

Game Seven and Age 19

Wow, this must be the most exciting NBA Finals since that unforgettable Houston-New York slugfest 11 years ago. Actually, my most enduring memory of that series was that one of the games was preempted for the most part so that NBC could cover OJ and the Bronco chase. Never mind.

I really have enjoyed the last two games, though, which coincidentally are the first two games I've bothered watching most of. And like I said before they tipped this series off, Spurs in seven.

While it's nice that the league now has a labor deal in place, it's also too bad that it has to be marred by the imposition of a new age limit of 19, plus the rule that US players have to be a year out of high school to be draft eligible. I won't re-hash my previous comment on this issue here, only adding that I wish LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire--two of the last three NBA rookies of the year and now 2nd Team All-NBA guys in their second and third years respectively--were going head-to-head in the Finals this week. That would rather effectively point out the idiocy of David Stern's position.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Now I Get It!

I watched Soylent Green earlier this evening on Turner Classic Movies, one of my favorite TV operations. This helps to explain the name of Pops's blog, which is actually rather clever, now that I know the background. I wish I had a clever blog name. From the film's final scene (spoiler!):

Det. Thorn: It's people. Soylent Green is made out of people. They're making our food out of people. Next thing they'll be breeding us like cattle for food. You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!
Hatcher: I promise, Tiger. I promise. I'll tell the exchange.
Det. Thorn: You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people! We've gotta stop them somehow!

The NBA Playoffs Need to End

That way, we won't be subjected to any more Matt Yglesias columns like this one, good grief. It's tied late in the 3rd quarter as I write.

While I normally enjoy reading the Prospect, I also disagreed with Mike Tomasky's piece yesterday, in which he called out the Republicans who didn't bother to co-sponsor the lynching apology.

"I don't think I'll get in the business of apologizing for acts that previous Senates took," said Cochran, who holds the Senate seat once occupied by James Eastland, one of the most virulently open racists in the Senate's history.

Is it Cochran's fault that a senator who preceded him was such a bastard? And how far back does this go? Should there be an apology for slavery too, or all the crap that was done to the Indians, and ever other terrible wrong that has occurred throughout history? I don't even see how a senate action against lynching back in the day could've helped without good local law enforcement which was obviously lacking. I assume murder was illegal back then too.

So in short, I'm against all of the official apology stuff. Call it one of my handful of liberal heresies.

Again on Tomasky for a second, he writes, "Most notably, both Mississippi senators, Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, opposed it." This is flatly false. If they had "opposed" the apology, it couldn't have passed on a voice vote. Their "opposition" consisted entirely of not signing on as co-sponsors to the thing. This becomes clear if you read the Times Week in Review, which also mentions the George Allen thing I noted below.

There are really plenty of retrograde racial views out there to bluster about without concocting things like this.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

George Allen's Race Problem II

To follow up on a previous post, I found it interesting that George Allen was front and center for the senate's apology on lynching. I think I know what his presidential campaign will point to if critics raise racial issues with Senator Allen now.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Please Stand By

Been busy of late, so much so that I haven't even watched the first two NBA Finals games, which comes before blogging in my priorities list. Sorry, my bloggy friends, I will be back soon.

For now, I'll briefly note that I found Fred Hiatt's WaPo column refreshing today, even if I'm too lazy to excerpt it. In brief, it's on why saying the US torturers aren't as bad as the terrorists isn't good enough.

I note for no reason at all today that the only web site I could find at work to give me a decent feed of the live Michael Jackson verdict coverage was CBS News. Don't the people in charge of such things anticipate that there will be millions of users jamming the online feeds of audio and video when such an event comes down? Shouldn't they make bandwith plans for this?

Went to a WNBA game Friday night, which was something I wanted to do once, and now I have. The crowd, I have to say, was quite enthusiastic, making some decent noise in a half-filled stadium. The whole event was painfully family-friendly, though. That league needs to have an Adults Night where they bring out sexy dancers at halftime, play the rap music without the edits and push the alcohol sales more.

And on that wholesome note, I'm getting some rest.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

No, Here's to You, Unoriginal Headline Writers

As when Arthur Miller died, the obits for the recently deceased Anne Bancroft, aka "Mrs. Robinson," are a little lacking in the creativity department:

"So here's to you, Mrs Robinson, the seducer of a generation" (Sydney Morning Herald)
"And here's to you, Ms Bancroft" (Times of London)
"`Graduate' co-star dies: Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson" (San Jose Mercury News)
"And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson: Anne Bancroft recalled as a 'consummate actress'" (Newsday)
"And Here's to You ... Remembering Anne Bancroft" (Slate)
"Here's to you, Mrs. Bancroft" (Film Stew)
"Here's to you Mrs Robinson..." (Glasgow Evening Times)
"So here's to you, Mrs Robinson..." (Scotsman)

This one is better for using a less-obvious lyric:

"Sultry Mrs Robinson has left and gone away - oscar-winner anne bancroft dies of cancer" (Telegraph, Calcutta, India)

Then there's this:

"The Oscar-winning actress who hated being called 'Mrs Robinson' dies aged 73" (The Independent)

So much for respecting the wishes of the dead!

(Thanks to the invaluable Google News.)

Monday, June 06, 2005

I'm Still a Genius

I picked San Antonio in six, they needed five. I picked Detroit in six, they needed seven. That's still pretty good.

My pick for the Finals is Spurs in seven, in what will be a dreadfully boring, grind-it-out series. Bonus prediction: this will be the lowest-rated NBA Finals in history!

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Big Funeral Financier

Shaq wants to pay for George Mikan's funeral. I guess that's a nice gesture and all, I just think it was bizarre how he announced this intention in a live postgame interview on TNT, telling the Mikans to contact the Miami Heat offices. Perhaps there was a more tactful way to do this.

Tom Wolfe and Arnold Schwarzenegger

I just started reading "I Am Charlotte Simmons" and the (fictional) governor of California makes an interesting cameo in the very first chapter. On campus to deliver the commencement address two days later, the governor--described as a very muscular man--is observed in a rather intimate situation with a young woman late at night. Does Tom Wolfe have something against the Governator?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

49ers Drop the Ball

An interesting PR strategy was revealed today by the Bay:

The tape, which was intended to be seen by players and coaches only, was an attempt to educate players on diversity and media relations and included topless dancers, vulgarity and racially insensitive stereotypes of gays and lesbians and Chinese Americans.

Yes, how are those media relations working out these days, guys?

Just when I think the San Francisco 49ers have hit their nadir, they find a new low. The only way it can get worse now is if Alex Smith goes on a multi-state killing spree.

Fortress America

Friedman's column today makes the important point that maybe foreigners don't like the US so much because we do everything short of anally probing them when they want to enter the country. It's also worth noting that Washington, DC, is very unwelcoming these days, a sharp contrast to what I experienced seeing the sights around the city only five years ago.

Terrorism concerns can be quite handy as an excuse when you want to, say, put political protesters a mile away from the president's motorcade. That's what these people didn't get. In a sense, the war on terror has already been lost because we've defeated ourselves.

How Do You Spell "Addict"?

For the gambling-addicted out there, Nick Denton's got a new blog, Oddjack, which features posts on things like the odds in the National Spelling Bee.

Here's the Spelling Bee site, which confirms I'm dumber than plenty of 10-year-olds. I wonder how the president would do?

Deep Throat Action

Does the name "Deep Throat" sound dirty to anyone else? (Yeah, here come the p()rn() hits.) Not even one solitary sex joke about the name on Wonkette today, amazing.

It turns out that Deep Throat Uncovered was wrong. A bunch of University of Illinois students thought the source was someone named Fred Fielding, and they wrote a whole book about it. Oops. (Via Jeff Jarvis.)

The Guardian Newsblog: "Those Were the Days" -- remember when the press in America aggressively investigated wrongdoing at high levels of government? I don't mean trysts with interns. The Boston Phoenix editorial waxes nostalgic too.

Finally, Editor & Publisher previews the Post's mega-coverage that's coming in Thursday's edition:

According to the Post, Woodward's article will detail the "accident of history" that connected this young reporter just off the suburban beat to a top FBI man. The story will describe how Woodward and Felt met by chance, as the reporter researched stories about the shooting of presidential candidate George Wallace by Arthur H. Bremer in a parking lot in suburban Maryland, just before the Watergate break-in. Felt was known for being friendly with reporters, and he provided Woodward with a few nuggets on that story.

So Woodward called him again after the Watergate break-in. The rest is literally history.

Interesting that the guy who shot George Wallace ended up indirectly ending the political career of Richard Nixon.