Saturday, May 30, 2009

100 Best Movie Lines In 200 Seconds

Not really, but close given the circumstances.

Susan Boyle Gracious At Loss

Her first outing was the fifth most watched video on YouTube.

LONDON (AP) -- She dreamed a dream, and it very nearly came true.
But Susan Boyle's reality show journey finished Saturday with a second-place finish in the finals of ''Britain's Got Talent,'' an ending that didn't fit the fairy tale. Instead of the 48-year-old internet sensation, an exuberant dance troupe called ''Diversity'' took the 100,000-pound ($159,000) prize and will perform for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show.

Elizabeth Wurtzel Is Getting Old

No, I really don't care but I couldn't resist that.
Seems her beauty is fading and she's disappointed with life.
Jezebel calls her essay in Elle a cautionary tale.
Salon doesn't feel sorry for her either, although the word sad is in there.
I just read the first page of the essay and thought, she needs a good 12-step program.

She was so beautiful that she posed topless for her own book cover. 

Everything Rational On Torture

Despite that, in my bias, I dound Stuart Taylor disingenuous and deliberately misleading at times, Andrew Sullivan recommends this lo-o-ong debate as the two best minds in the business when it come to torture.
So, when you have the time. I listened to all of it. I won't say I absorbed it all. I'm always on Horton's side anyway.

Quote O' Teh Day II

Like yesterday, I got nothin.' Not even Friviality Friday.
Definitely not frivolous is this comment from Billy on Taplin's synopsis on the current rise in oil prices and its ultimate outcome.
schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements. only birth can conquer death – the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. within the soul, within the body social, there must be – if we are to experience long survival – a continuous “recurrence of birth” (palingenesia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death. peace then is a snare; war is a snare; change is a snare; permanence a snare…death closes in; there is nothing we can do except be crucified – and resurrected; dismembered totally, and then reborn.
-Arnold J. Toynbee

Question O' Teh Day:
It is because I'm getting old or because the world is getting worse?
Ans., courtesy Mad Magazine's ancient response to a reader.
"We're getting older, you're getting worse."

Quote O' Teh Day

Canada - where a pack of smokes is ten bucks and a heart transplant is free.
Tagline for commenter known as dpc at Daily Kos. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not Sort of Like Detroit, Exactly Like Detroit

News executives from all the big players, including my alma mater Scripps, meet today to figure out how to make money again. Good luck.

Comment o' teh day:
Newspapers aren't dying. Advertising is dying. It's just taking newspapers with it.
Where do I start? They taught me this sometime in my late undergraduate career. I believed it just from my own anecdotal experience and the observed behavior of those around me. (Yes  I wanted a Rabbit because of its cool ad, but it was also the right car. Why do I buy what I buy? TV gets to me once in a while, I don't even see print ads, even the full page ones. And yes, I use ad block on the net. Maybe I'll go through my cupboards and closets, my refrigerator, and figure out how I made those decisions. Off the top of my head, I'd say price, habit, impulse (on-site, usually), desire, recommendation (definitely last.)
I am driven by information, but largely not by advertising information. Of course, I'm not a sports fan. That could make a difference to beer buyers.
And while I like that Kevin Spacy's voice is selling Hondas, I wouldn't buy one because of it, because I secretly want a Mini.
Even if it does give me a mindset, Graves' products at Target for instance, I didn't buy Graves' products there although I admired them. I bought what I was looking for, a lamp, a toothpaste, a wastebasket, a rug, a tee shirt.
Whoa, Nellie. There's a novel in here somewhere.
More on this from Fallows, and there's a link there to the Ad Age article, which I guess I'll go read now.
Is the world blowing up yet? What, advertising doesn't work? How can that be?

It's Sonia, Dummy, Sonia!

I was gonna make fun of Huckabee for calling her Maria but than thought better of it. After all, Obama called his SecDef William Gates the other day.
Then, this morning, I realized I'd been calling her Silvia. Oy!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson Is A Tool

I love the way Gail Collins tells a story. I only put the Nebraska Dino in the headline so the bots roaming the 'sphere for mention of his name can pick it up. It's a test.
This story is really about how Obama's student loan reform would save big bucks. Besides, it's a nice change from All Sodomayor, All The Time.
President Obama’s proposal would allow the private companies to continue servicing the loans, protecting thousands of office jobs. However, they would no longer get the loan origination tasks, which involve the world of high finance and high pay. Stunningly, this turns out to be the part of the business that is most popular. (The chief executive of Sallie Mae, the giant in this line of work, made $4.6 million last year. The vice chairman made more than $13.2 million plus the use of a private jet.)

Torture Photos

Some of the photos the administration has decided to oppose releasing include rape and sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib.
No less a personage than Antonio Taguba has confirmed it. I remember being so outraged that I made a copy of his report and read it at the time. He knew his career was over with the report, even though he's been precluded from doing a thorough investigation. We should put up a statue to him.
He doesn't think they should be released either, agrees with the administration's reasoning.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
Of course it's the Brits who get this grisly story. No U.S. outlet would touch it. Let me know the first time you hear anything about it elsewhere.

Headline O' Teh Day

Grandmother of World's 23rd Best Economist Posthumously Offended by Sonia Sotomayor's Spending Habits; Will Obama Withdraw Nomination?

I love Nate Silver. I really do. 

Sotomayor Opposition

Follow the money, honey.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Anybody Can Make Music

even you. Even me!

Sotomayor Trivia

or maybe not so trivial. From TPM:
...Bill Clinton nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Court of Appeals in late June of 1997, and she wasn't confirmed until early the following October, almost 16 months later--Republicans were worried at the time that she was being primed for placement on the Supreme Court, and, over a decade later, their fears have come to pass.
UPDATE: Mara Liasson (of NPR and FOX News [!]) thinks the little slide show the White House put up is part of the spin campaign. Nina Tottenburg accused her of cynicism. Me, I think they are being thorough and pre-empting the inevitable media requests. Liasson needs to get off NPR and stop pretending she's capable of anything but Village People journalism.

Poets Out For Blood

Rule Brittania is all I can think, 'cuz where else? has scandalized the ivy-walled cloisters of Oxford, exposing a culture of jealousy and mean-spirited connivance at sharp odds with the university’s public posture of academic tolerance and reason.
Oh, and the NYT piece is by my man John Burns, lately and for too long, the head of the Baghdad bureau.
Finally he gets to do something fun and non-fatal. Last I heard his wife was still over there, though.

Outta The Park!

Woke up this morning, made coffee, took the meds, turned on the radio and what do I hear?
Sonia Sotomayor will be the new Supreme Court justice! Fabulous.
Why am I so energized? Because there has been a carefully crafted, almost underground campaign against her and I believed President Pragmatic would defer to the skeptics and walk away from a fight. After all, the other potential nominees presented no such problems.
But no, he defied the odds makers and went with what is right. This is the best thing he's done so far, in my opinion, because it shows he's willing to fight when he believes it necessary and boy is it going to be necessary.
David Kurtz over at TPM offers this fun tidbit:

It's hard to believe it now, but there was a time not too long ago when it looked like the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice would be ... Alberto Gonzales.
Disaster averted, narrowly.
TPM is a good place to start for some quick reads on all this.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Picture, Meet 1,000 Words

Omaha Beach 
I chose this from Photos That Changed The World because it's Memorial Day. Warning: Many are more disturbing.

The Bridge To Healthy Aging

I wanted to start playing bridge again when I retired. I still do.
“These are the most successful agers on earth, and they’re only just beginning to teach us what’s important, in their genes, in their routines, in their lives,” said Dr. Claudia Kawas, a neurologist at the University of California, Irvine. “We think, for example, that it’s very important to use your brain, to keep challenging your mind, but all mental activities may not be equal. We’re seeing some evidence that a social component may be crucial.”

The Rule Is...

Maureen Dowd told the NYT public editor that the Josh Marshall paragraph she used in her column without attribution came from a friend in an email, which explains why she didn't know it was from Marshall.
The incident created all sorts of anti-Dowd flaming in the blogs, but Marshall himself forgave her.
Still, the Times' public editor decides she should at least have attributed it to the source. He's right.
I mean, even bloggers have links. The right-thinking ones, anyway. Me, for instance.
Sullivan, I noticed long ago, double attributes, making sure the body of his copy also credits the source, and then linking. Sometimes he triple attributes, also crediting the source of the link when it's found at another site. I'm a little lazy about that.
Andrew Rosenthal, the editorial page editor, said journalists collaborate and take feeds from each other all the time. That is true with news articles, but readers have a right to expect that even if an opinion columnist like Dowd tosses around ideas with a friend, her column will be her own words. If the words are not hers, she must give credit.
TRIVIA: Clark Hoyt, the Times' public editor, was the model for the beleagured city editor at the semi-fictional Baltimore Sun in The Wire. He was much beloved at that paper.

Another Poet, More Direct

Sullivan had this today and it's all I needed.
Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defence is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you."
                                                                                                                                 Abraham Lincoln 

Memorial Day Poem

I get a poem a day and sometimes they're really good, in which case I post, and sometimes they're really bad or just ho-hum, which is most of the time.
Today's merits a suspension of criticism, though. And it's pretty good.

by Angie Estes

My mother said that Uncle Fred had a purple
heart, the right side of his body
blown off in Italy in World War II,
and I saw reddish blue figs
dropping from the hole
in his chest, the violet litter
of the jacaranda, heard the sentence
buckle, unbuckle like a belt
before opening the way
a feed sack opens all
at once when the string is pulled
in just the right place:
the water in the corn pot
boils, someone is slapped, and summer
rain splatters as you go out
to slop the hogs. We drove home
over the Potomac while the lights spread
their tails across the water, comets
leaving comments on a blackboard
sky like the powdered sugar
medieval physicians blew
into patients' eyes to cure
their blindness. At dusk,
fish rise, their new moons
etching the water like Venn diagrams
for Robert's Rules of Order
surfaced at last, and I would like to
make a motion, move
to amend: point of information, point
of order. I move to amend
the amendment and want
to call the question, table
the discussion, bed
some roses, and roof the exclamation
of the Great Blue heron sliding
overhead, its feet following flight
the way a period haunts
a sentence: she said that
on the mountain where they grew
up, there were two kinds
of cherries—red heart
and black heart—both of them

With Love To Dowdy Contrariennes Everywhere

From AP
Surprise singing sensation Susan Boyle made a new television appearance, showcasing once again her soaring voice — but refusing to compromise on the frumpy look that made her an Internet sensation.
The shy church volunteer gave a rousing, but occasionally nervous, performance on the "American Idol"-style show "Britain's Got Talent," with a version of the song "Memory" from the musical "Cats."
Members of the public voting in a telephone poll picked her as the best of eight performers who appeared Sunday, meaning she will sing again in the contest's final next Saturday.
Not like the first time. Nothing will be like the first time, for us. For her, singing before the Queen next week might be pretty cool.

And for a little perspective, the woman many believed to be the finest contemporary singer of her time, Eva Cassidy. Cancer took her away at when she was 33, 13 years ago, but she's an icon to jazz fans.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Grow Your Own Food?

I've been thinking that if I stay here, I'll do some, even though it has to be harvested.
Anyways, this is all the rage again. FYI


Or maybe not, with a body like that, who cares.
My favorite among the backless ladies of Cannes.

Warning: Do Not Blog. Ever.

I tell people I'm not a gardener, but really a plant collector. And that's true.
But blogging can be just about anything, including what I do still here, still indoors, still in my pajamas and down to my last cigarette and drinking cold coffee because I don't want to take the time away from the laptop to warm it up.
Addiction, I tells ya!
Anyway, I was going to just mention how I liked the quote that is the basis for the Crooked Timber blog (don't remember how I got there, TPM maybe, a citation to an econ discussion of unemployment that saw me through a couple cigarattes back).
That sequed (sp? no, blogging) into an interesting discussion about Jared Diamond, much discussed author of Guns, Germs and Steel, which I read twice (even the chapter on seeds) and the subject of some jealous criticism among his less entrepreneureal (sp, nbg) peers whose publications are restricted to obscure journals.
Seems Diamond may have made something up or got hoo-haad by the natives in New Guinea.
Aa-a-nyways, what should pop up but StinkyJournalism. Here, it's yours.

UPDATE: But don't go there. I've read a lot of comments about this controversy now and even I'm not going there. Go to Crooked Timber, though. It's good. Oh, and wordy. Commenters seem intelligent and informed, unlike this blogger, who only looks for shiny objects.

For After the Sun Goes Down

'Cuz I'm not spending another minute indoors, outdoor blogging is no outdoors at all. Well, the air is fresher.

What's Bill Bradley up to these days, anyway, besides participating in these panel things?
Maybe I'll Google Wiki him and find out.
He would work on the court for "three and a half hours every day after school, nine to five on Saturday, one-thirty to five on Sunday, and, in the summer, about three hours a day. He put ten pounds of lead slivers in his sneakers, set up chairs as opponents and dribbled in a slalom fashion around them, and wore eyeglass frames that had a piece of cardboard taped to them so that he could not see the floor, for a good dribbler never looks at the ball."[5]

UPDATE: I guess he's consulting and stuff, an obvious choice for some Obama appointment. Hey, dark horse, non-lawyer yet brilliant Supreme Court? Nah, too white, too male.

F*** You, Robert Samuelson

All I had to do was read this Newsweek headline and I was instantly transformed into a laid off auto worker.
Let Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt? Goddam!
But it turns out, Samuelson is just a lot of smoke and deliberately gets it wrong about Obama because that's his job, I guess.
Instead of carefully argued analysis, he throws in a few numbers, falsely alleges Obama hasn't mentioned placing more burden on the wealthy old, then trails off in a puff of blah-blah.
Goddam, Samuelson, I could do your job with one eye and one hand. Then I wouldn't need Social Security.

No More Fighting In The Workplace?

The horror, the horror?
Richard Florida, helping fill in over at Andrew Sullivan's blog, cites a Globe & Mail piece by a woman noting that retraining working class men for 21st century jobs may not work very well.
But no matter how much education and retraining we offer, we are not going to transform factory workers and high-school dropouts into customer-care representatives or nurses' aides any time soon. It's their wives and daughters who will get those jobs ...
Just off the top of my head, I'm of two minds about this.
My first reaction is, what a lot of hooey. Any studies on this? It sounds, especially with Florida's personal experience added in, pretty anecdotal.
Second, I've known plenty of working class men who are eminently capable of empathy, compassion and generosity of spirit. I would argue that they might be relieved to be in an atmosphere where they are no longer expected to prove on a daily basis that they've got balls.
On the other hand, I sort of see the point. Guys with a lifetime of overt machoness (new word!) under their belts may not adjust so well. They may be angry, and fail. But probably not most of them. Money is a great motivator when you don't have any.
Oh, there are a lot of other things wrong with this theory, but it's interesting anyway.
Guess I'll go read the original piece.

UPDATE: Well, I read it and someone more familiar with the writer's work had this to say in the comments:
Wente shows herself, once again, to be out of touch.

She lives in a bubble form the fifties not noticing the changes in the world.

If she had to make a living in the real world she would know that manufacturing changed long ago, largely driven by union education and union struggle for the rights of ALL workers. The image she portrays as ending ended in the 70s.

Why does this person have this pulpit to preach? Her lack of insight and understanding of real Canadians shows in every one of her columns. Just lately she was ASTONISHED that we had Tamils in Toronto!

Wente be gone.
But I'm leaving the post up, because I think it's the sort of thinking the talk radio hacks have permanently imprinted on our culture, and who knows, Charlie Rose may decide to explore it.