Saturday, August 2, 2008

When I paint my masterpiece

If I ever decide I need that Ph.D - strictly for vanity purposes - it's going to be with the goal of becoming the nation's foremost expert on unions representing lifeguards. Now that's some fascinating shit.

(even) you can get catechism via podcast nowadays

Behind the News featured Adolph Reed two weeks ago, hot on the heels of Reed's unfuckwithable critique of "Obamaism" on the Black Agenda Report. Relatedly, Reed made a pronouncement that clarified my dissertation muddle and resonated with both my inner, leftist crannies and my constructivist, aesthetes-for-alinsky-style yearnings. Below is my severely chopped piece of transcript, hodge-podged together in a way to make Reed's radio parole resonate in a text-y, blogger-y langue:
I think leftists need to break with the notion that you build a movement through elections…. It’s kind of like the way that Trotskyist parties approach the stuff: the underlining presumption is that there is an extant base out there that exists for a Left political programme. And the problem is (perceived as) we haven’t got the right message, we haven’t packaged it the right way, we don’t have the right candidate who can galvanize people…..

The fact of the matter is that bases aren’t called together like that. There’s no naturally-formed constituency that exists. You’ve got to create it. You create it through organizing, through building alliances and relationships and solidarities through struggle over time.

It’s like the difference between organizing a union shop in a shop and running an election. Both depend on making house-calls, for instance. In electoral house-calling, the objective is to drop the literature and engage in as little interaction as you possibly can… In union want somebody to invite you in, you want somebody to offer you a cup of coffee. You want to sit and talk with them and hear what they’re thinking, and build connections with them, and find out the kind of things that people want to struggle about.

That’s what that sort of organizing is. That’s the kind of work that will over time build alliances that can help people. Through the course of fighting for things that are important to them, people see the world a little differently, -even…broaden what people perceive to be the horizons of the possible.

You can’t do that through an election.

, in which I get off the bus

Thus the union idea has been devalued in two dramatic ways. To the extent that the courts continued to honor an outmoded set of pluralist assumptions governing the presumptively equal bargaining power of unions and their corporate adversaries, they generated a false equality between labor and capital….But at the same time, as both the courts and popular opinion have privileged a rights based model of industrial justice, these collective institutions have lost their capacity to command the loyalty of their membership, upon which their strength depends. Individualistic, rights-based assumptions therefore replaced group pluralist ones and devalued the very idea of union solidarity.

- Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Unions

Heart-stopping Good Times

Walking from my playroom, where I was playing some Playstation, into my kitchen, I see a lizard quickly crawling across the kitchen floor to under the fridge. Fortunately, I recognized it was a lizard, and not a snake, or my heart attack would have been followed by a panic attack.

It was about a foot long, maybe a couple inches more. Apparently a Northern Alligator Lizard. I caught it rather easily and let it go outside, but now I am forced to wonder how it got into the house and how it got into the kitchen, which is centrally located, without me or the dog noticing.

Kinda creepy. But my first citing of a lizard in Oregon in a non-outdoor setting.

"Erosion of the Union Idea" snap, circa April 2008

‘He who would understand politics in the large may ponder the status of labor,’ wrote political scientist V.O. Key in 1953, the year in which labor’s membership stood at its proportional apogee, ‘a numerically great force in a society adhering to the doctrine of the rule of numbers, yet without proportionate durable political power as a class.’ Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Unions


Once again, leave it to the Best Show to keep me hip to the NJ-centric sundry and various . After however many years, it would seem that perennial Houlihan's antagonist Bennigan's has shut its heavy doors on the great Office Park night.

Growing up I spent Sundays at my paternal grandparents, so as to round out a weekend with Da. They lived in a nice, picture-of-Christ-laden apt in Caldwell, w/i decent proximity to a good many eateries that, had they lived on until the 2000s, would've been deemed "proto-American casual dining" by people who do the deeming. While we'd sometimes shake things up and go out for somebody's expensive Sunday Brunch somewhere, mostly we'd keep it in the Bennigans/Houlihans pocket. I'd order chicken wings for an appertizer and rock chicken fingers for my entree: God bless!

It'd be Dad and my grandparents and my sister and I, and later, my Grandfather's home healthcare provider. It got so it'd be his only time out of the apt, as the Alzheimer's encroached. After brunch, I remember my dad leading up and down the apartment hallways with his walker, like somehow you could cross-train yourself out of such an organic dilemma as Alzheimer's. Oh Bennigans! In your locale, your victuals and in your vibe, everything salty and empty about middle-class Jersey. But there's a lotta my white ethnic semi-autobiography in those wax-paper-lined chicken baskets, too. A lotta emptiness and salt lives on in my innards, still.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose
Sometimes you got still the blues for me
I could run away, a long time to stay
Sonic Youth, Winner's Blues

My last day campaigning was yesterday. It was oh-very Catholic School, cleaning out my desk and wondering who, if anybody, 'll inherit my textbooks. What is this flame inside me, so I know that it's right and necessary to live in my Lane County home and dissertate a while - but so that I also know I'll be down this painful battlefield road again? It's more than solidarity or love, more like somewhere in between anger and hate. It's my own, very ideological equivalent of an energy source, as renewable as capitalism's slobs/snobs dialectic.

It'll keep me plunging in and out of corporate receptacles intermittently, no doubt. But not tomorrow, and not today. Dissertation prospectus due Friday. Is a bathetic social science possible? One thinks of Joyce, Marx, Woody Allen. Oh, academy! Not forever, just for now.

Thank Christ for deep familial trouble, or otherwise the series of political beatdowns that accompany life on the Left could really give you a facial tick (too late!)

Saturday 5

Surely we all have more refined tastes now, but given our collective experiences, we've all had our bouts with bad beer. Bad in the sense that drinking more does nothing to improve their taste. Here's my list, descending from "excruciatingly awful" to "piss in a can":

5. Natural Light - The preferred beverage of my college years, just thinking about this beer is enough to induce a hangover.
4. Fat Tire - Brewed with the all important dirty sock to finish.
3. Lucky Lager - They sold this beer when I was in college for $6/case. I think that it was overpriced.
2. Cool Colt - If I wanted my malt liquor to be minty, I would've filtered my Colt 45 through a pack of Kools.
1. Edison Light - May as well pour this crap directly into the toilet and eliminate the middleman.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pappy lets one slip

From digby: (transcript of Rush's show)
BUSH 41: Well, yeah. I'm kind of on the sidelines, but I can't do golf and all that stuff anymore. But life is good. It's wonderful, and it's great having the family up here in Maine, and all is well. Do you see our man Ailes at all?

RUSH: Oh, yeah. I saw Roger at Tony Snow's funeral.

BUSH 41: Oh, did you?

RUSH: And a couple of times earlier this summer.

BUSH 41: Are we on the radio, are we?

RUSH: (laughing)

BUSH 41: I didn't know that. I'll clean up my act here. I'm glad they told me.

RUSH: Yeah, we're on the radio.

The truth slipped out...he didn't think they were on the air...
Big surprise!

Confidential E-mail: Please do not forward.

Dear Friend,

I normally wouldn't be writing to you, but I felt like I had to get some of these FACTS out there, since the right wing media won't tell you. I am writing to you to inform all patriotic Americans about presidential candidate John McCain's real past.

1. You probably know about McCain's time in a Vietnamese POW camp but what they won't tell you is while in Vietnam he was "once considered a model officer and future general, who allegedly went insane and commanded a legion of his own Montagnard troops deep inside the forest in neutral Cambodia. These claims are supported by very disturbing radio broadcasts and recordings made by..." McCain himself!!!! source

2. You may have heard about McCain's wife and her connection to Anheuser Busch and its recent takeover by a major Belgian concern, but what THEY won't tell you is McCain was actually adopted by Belgian parent's and was raised in an evil plot to go back to 1975 and bring back a Dutchman, Johan van der Smut, who had developed a cold fusion unit for a tractor beam. He intends to use the tractor beam to pull a golden meteor into the Earth to strike and melt the polar ice caps and cause global flooding. source

3 Finally, he claims that he is just running for president, but the reporters won't let you in on the secret: he has been quoted numerous times as saying that he plans to "do the same thing he does every day...try to take over the world." but you don't see that in the papers. source

I urge all patriotic Americans to really THINK about these UNDISPUTABLE facts before casting your vote this October. (I have meticuously sourced all claims, so don't let the RWM fool you.)



Alas, Poor Democracy! I Knew It, Horatio

[This post may be missing key links, because the Register Guard doesn't get linky until noon.]

We've discussed on this blog the Eugene police. I am not a big fan. The police in this town make quick use of the TASER, shoot and kill mentally disturbed teenagers, conduct 4 am military raids of people's houses looking for weed (not there), pepper spray environmental protesters who have broken no law, harass the local Critical Mass bike riders, prevent people filming police actions, the arrogant and assholish police union, and then there were the rapes. Ah yes, the rapes while on the job while repeated complaints against the officers went uninvestigated because they came from, you know, women.

Thee years ago, the citizens of Eugene, sick and tired of it, sick and tired of the police covering up/ignoring their own crimes, and sick and tired of the local district attorney providing the police absolution in secret, passed an ordinance establishing a system of citizen review of all complaints against the police.

The auditor's office "conducts the preliminary investigation of all complaints lodged with the auditor's office or internal affairs to appropriately classify and route the complaint." Mind you, this was a law passed by the people of Eugene. Not the City Council, not imposed by the mayor or the city manager. Citizens of Eugene voted the law in two years ago. So, you can imagine why I'm stoked to see this headline in the today's paper:
Police chief accused of violating auditor law
Now, this being Eugene, it's possible that this is just some random crazy hurling accusations, right? Nope, the chief admits he broke the law. He just doesn't think the law is a good one.
From the R-G:
[Chief] Lehner said the ordinance should be rewritten to include language that sets out a process for dealing with complaints that contain information that could interfere with someone's safety if shared with others.

We don't know many details of the complaint, obviously, but the chief is alleging that he did not pass on a complaint against an officer because someone could have been put in jeopardy if the auditor saw and investigated the complaint. Who this "someone" is is very unstated.

But wait! It's not just the Chief of Police for the City of Eugene who thinks this is a bad law, therefore he can break it at will, the District Attorney apparently agrees with him. Even though the complaint was given double-super-secret status, the chief decided he could share with his buddy the District Attorney because it concerned "potential criminal conduct." You'll be relieved to know that according to the chief, the DA gave his thumbs up to the unlawful withholding of the complaint.

Maybe I'm being over-the-top here. Chief Lehner does assure us that the times he will be breaking this particular law will be rare, but he does, apparently, reserve to himself the right to break whichever laws he feels should be rewritten.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dear Mom

This is kinda long, so before you read it, if you haven't read dave's last post, do it now because it rocks. We'll wait until you're back.

There's a reason I don't open my e-mail at night after I've relaxed. Tonight, I got a forwarded Obama smear e-mail with a note from my Mom at the top that read, "You like this guy?... Why?"

I love my mother, but I never talk politics with her. And she's sent me e-mails like this before (although I'm not usually called out in them). Usually I don't respond, but this time I answered her question. You tell me how I did, and I'll let you know what sort of response I get back:
First things first. The chain e-mail that was attached is mostly lies, a whole lot of horribly racist innuendo, some convenient misrepresentations, with maybe a fact or two sprinkled in. It's a common and cheap campaign tactic that political campaigns or their surrogates use to spread information, both true and false, because let's face it, people love to forward e-mails.

Anyways, just scanning the list, this one jumps out at me as a good example of how bogus these "not exactlies" are:

18.) I Was A Professor Of Law - NOT EXACTLY, you were a senior lecturer ON LEAVE.

A "lecturer" at the University of Chicago is a professor who is not on the tenure-track. Obama taught law students at the University of Chicago. He was entitled to be called a professor. The New York Times actually just wrote a piece where they discussed his time teaching law, which you can read by clicking here.

Points 6, 7, and 8 are transparent attempts (and lies) to paint him as a scary Arab, because obviously all Arabs hate America. It's racist, and is particularly insulting to the millions of Arab-Americans who proudly call this country home. And I have to ask, does it matter if Obama is of Arab descent? Wasn't I taught in school and in the Scouts that anyone could grow up to be president in the United States?

And point 38 bugs me to no end because it's just wrong, but that's another whole e-mail/grad school paper.

I could go on, but I'll simply point out that practically all of these assertions don't include reputable sources where you can go and double-check for yourself whether the claims are true or not. That should raise some skepticism. You you should go to this section of Obama's campaign web site where they deal with most of this (a lot of this trash has been recycled for over a year now), as well as current misrepresentations. [...] The campaign page has links to mainstream news articles which provide evidence for the claim. You can also check out for a more independent look at some of the myths (with more links to supporting evidence) (snopes is also just fun to poke around on - they research a lot of crazy stuff!).

But you asked me why I like Obama. The truth of the matter is, I don't know if I like him. I've never met him. All I see are carefully crafted public appearances that are supposed to make me like him. I do like what I see, and I have it on good authority from people that I trust that he's a good guy. But I'm not voting for him because I like him. I've voting for him because I support his vision for the country and the policies he's proposed to enact this vision. I certainly don't agree with all of his policies - but his views are far closer to my own than the alternatives.

I support Obama because:
1. He wants to end the war in Iraq - a war in which we never should have been involved in the first place.
2. He has a plan to make sure that everyone in this country has access to basic health care. Sure, this country has the best medical facilities in the world, but what does that matter if 47 million people (10 million of them being children) who can't afford health insurance can't get even their basic health needs met?
3. He supports a woman's right to control her own fertility.
4. He's committed to reducing carbon emissions to control human-caused climate change, developing alternative and renewable energy resources, and to a "greener," more sustainable future.
5. He'd invest public monies in rebuilding the countries infrastructure, which would not only mean that we could do the necessary work to fix the over 14,000 bridges that need renovation or replacement so to avoid another collapse like in Minneapolis last year, but also provide decent-wage jobs to people working on these projects.
6. He's committed to re-enhancing public education with accountability measures that actually make sense and funding so that schools have the resources to make sure every child succeeds.
7. He's showed a willingness to actually listen to all-comers on the important issues that face us, be they foreign or domestic.
8. He believes that government can actually be a force to improve the lives of our nation's citizens, like it has in the past.

There's a lot more I could go on about, but instead, I'll point you to his stands on the issues at his web site for you to check out. I hope you'll take the time to look at them and draw your own conclusions. I obviously know that when he's elected all of our problems won't be magically solved. But if that's what he wants our country to look like in eight years, I'm on board.

Finally, the biggest reason I support him is because I'm tired. I'm tired of seeing people die in a war that was based from the very beginning on lies. I'm tired of watching our government do nothing while a whole city drowns. I'm tired of our dependence on oil. I'm tired of watching the wealthiest people in this country line-up for even more tax breaks while everyone else struggles with a stagnant economy and soaring health care and energy prices. I'm tired of hearing about kids spending more time preparing for a standardized test than actually learning. I'm tired of an administration that pretends science doesn't exist when it doesn't support the "right" political policies. And I'm tired of having the rest of the world either frightened of us or angry at us.

It didn't used to be that way. Barack Obama has convinced me that it doesn't have to be that way, and that he'll take us in another direction. All John McCain has shown me is that I'll be even more tired if he's elected.

One last thing - if you get any more of these chain e-mails, please send this response back to the sender and all the other recipients. You can even put my name and e-mail address on it if people want to respond (don't worry, working in politics gives you thick skin). With such an important decision, people deserve to have the tools and information they need to be truly informed about the candidates. I have no doubt that a lot of people won't agree with his stands on the issues - and that's fine. Policies and issues need to be debated and compromises reached. But I think you'll agree that people shouldn't base their vote on some random e-mail, lacking any sort of references, filled with slander and lies written by some racist bigot.


And that's what I did with my evening.

Ambition makes you look pretty ugly

billmon's back! And he brought with him the definitive account of the cynical opportunism that's defined John McCain's career!

Sequoia On My Mind

I was driving behind an SUV (Toyota Sequoia to be exact) full of kids on my way home from the store. It was sporting a bumper sticker that looked like this:

My response?

Fuck. You.

How many thousands of children had to die in Iraq so you could keep driving your death machine? Many thousands of children have had to die to get you to the top of the economic pyramid so you can have your eight kids, your 6000 sq ft. house, your air conditioning, your vacations? How many thousands of children are exploited each day so you can wear your designer fashions, your shoes, your everything that exists in your world? I can't imagine you shed too many fucking tears for them now do you. So Fuck. Fucking. You.

And on my way to the store I was behind an SUV (Jeep) sporting McCain and Smith bumper stickers. I came up with this:

Sebelius Mistake

I was also thinking that the Kaine thing was a feint...

Jeralyn explores Sebelius as a possible VP:
Why does Obama need Kaine as a smokescreen? To make Sebelius more palatable to Hillary supporters who will be more than a bit upset at his choosing a woman other than Hillary. [More...]:

It's the same theory behind the five stages of grief, 1. Denial and Isolation, 2. Anger 3. Bargaining. 4. Depression 5. Acceptance.

Hillary supporters are just coming out of the anger phase. They realize Obama is going to be the nominee and, as loyal Democrats, have been trying to get to a place where they can accept him. One of Obama's dilemmas has been that Hillary supporters aren't ready to accept a woman other than Hillary for the ticket. They view it as a slap in the face. The only way Obama can pick a woman other than Hillary is if the alternative is worse...
The downside: The Democratic ticket becomes a double-dose of inexperience at the national level. Neither Obama nor Sebelius have enough experience. But when reality sets in, the bottom line will be, contrary to what I repeatedly said and believed during the entire primary campaign, the devil you know actually is worse than the devil you don't. I'm now ready to buy that pig in a poke. A candidate like McCain with bad foreign policy and domestic views is worse than a candidate with good views who may need a little on the job training. Obama and Sebelius are a far better choice than McCain and another four years of Republican rule.

So I am reversing my prediction from June. I think Sebelius is the most likely choice right now. And I'm okay with it.

I would be concerned that the "experience" issue might gain traction...

***To Clarify: I will support the Democratic nominee for President***
(unless He picks a Republican for VP)

So, We're Not Going to the Black Angus?

A Restaurant Review:

There's a new restaurant in the 541 (Eugene, Oregon, USA). For those of you familiar with your Eugene restaurant scene, it's where the Black Angus used to be, which became the River Ranch, part of the West Brothers' empire. Where the Black Angus is known for top quality steaks at top quality prices, West Brothers' specialized heavy BBQ fair at medium quality prices. For those who know their Eugene geography, but weren't down with free meals on their birthdays, it's on Franklin Blvd., across from the old Romania car dealership. Down at the end there where you merge from the freeway. It also happens to be a hop and skip from where the new basketball arena will be (God willing. Ha ha. Phil wants it, it's going to happen).

Anyway, the new restaurant is called The BOULEVARD Grill(it appears in all caps whenever the word is mentioned on the menu). I don't know how old the restaurant is, I just noticed it the other day, but the parking lot looked packed, so I figured there must be some word out somewhere. I was hungering for meat on Tuesday and thought I'd make Ginger go with me to give it a try.

As I am about to savage this restaurant, I want to make clear that I do not believe that any of the people who work for or own The BOULEVARD Grill are evil people or bear anyone any ill will. I am sure they are all fine people struggling to do the best they can. Failing, but struggling.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that all of the cars were parked not in the restaurant parking lot, but, rather, were parked in the adjacent hotel lot. Not to worry, though, it was only 5:30, so we were agonizingly early for dinner. (I forget why we were eating so early, I think I was just hungry as all get out.)

The first hint that there might be trouble came when the hostess went to seat us. First she said "Two?" and responded to my nod by grabbing two menus. To quote Dr. Evil, "Pretty standard stuff, really." But then she hesitated, went back to her seating diagram, erased where she had sat us, moved us somewhere else, and took a step toward the dining room. But wait, maybe over there would be better. Back to the diagram. Another move toward the dining room, then back to the diagram, and back toward the dining room--this time for real! I don't expect perfection from people, I really don't, but when your job is acting as hostess at a restaurant, it is one of the basics of the job to know where you are going to sit the next party that comes in. In fact, other than grabbing menus and walking people to a table, it's your only job.

So we sat down and looked at the menu. One thing was obvious right away, this restaurant existed to plunder the tourists who stayed at the hotel next door, to plunder people looking to grab a bite before the basketball game, and to plunder the fine folks who attended the Olympic Trials. And old people. The place was lousy with old folk. For you big city folk, the prices might have been par for the course (FORE!), but for us small town folk, a $31 ribeye is bit of a joke. Twenty-seven dollars for halibut is a lot. (For those that didn't notice, I'd like to point out that I used the work "folk" three times in the last two sentences. I call that a tri-folk.) So I knew I was going to be blowing the budget. I didn't mind it too much, I expected the food to be good.

Waitress comes over and takes our drink order. I order a pint of Nikasi Pale Ale, Ging sticks with water. (I'm not a big fan of people sticking with water in restaurants. Restaurants make a lot of their money off of drink sales. Have a glass of wine and leave the sticking to water to the local pizza joint). The waitress brings my glass of beer and takes our order. Ging orders the special "Asian" scallops appetizer and the red snapper. I go with a wedge salad (large size) and the fried chicken for dinner. I had been watching an episode of Good Eats about making fried chicken and Alton had given me a jones. The menu described the fried chicken as coming with corn mashed potatoes and smothered in sausage gravy. I wasn't too sure about smothering the chicken in gravy, as fried chicken must be eaten with the fingures, but I thought I'd let it roll. Surely, the fine restaurant owners know what they are doing.

The waitress mentions that they may be out of the red snapper. She thought she heard the chef shout that they were just as she was leaving the kitchen. She was going to check and let us know. I thought it odd that a restaurant might run out of a special (it wa son the paper insert menu) at 5:30 pm, but what the hell.

Back to my beer for moment. It was distinctly non-pint-like. Normally, this would be upseting, as a pint is usually only 50 cents or something more than a glass and you're pretty much ripped off for being the small-glass chump, but in this case, a full pint is $1.50 more and the price of a pint and a glass were once-per-dollar equivilents. Still, I did order a pint.

We got bread, we got garlic butter, very tasty.

The waitress came back to inform us that yes, they were out of the snapper. Ging, with some coaching from me, had prepped for this moment, so she was ready to counter-order with the eggplant spring rolls.

Shortly thereafter, our appetizers arrived. All plans to share the scallops went out the window. There were just two. The were slightly under done. Not so much that you would get sick, just enough that you would worry about it. The had a vague "Asian" taste to them in the sense that you could tell that at one time they had touched soy sauce, but that was about as Asain-y as they got. The real problem with the scallops is that Ging never should have ordered them. She doesn't really like shellfish, but one time I accidentally made the most kick-ass scallops ever and Ging has been convinced she likes them ever since.

The wedge salad was awesome. Half a head of iceberg. Blue cheese, bacon. Could not have asked for more. No complaints about the wedge salad.

Waitress is back at the table. It seems that they are out of the eggplant spring rolls. She is very sorry. Terribly sorry. Is there anything else she can get Ging? We get a menu to look it over. She's back in a couple of minutes. Ging goes with the porcini ravioli. I forget to order another beer.

Again, a surprisingly short time later, our dinner arrives. Yes, my fried chicken is liberally smothered in gravy. No problem, as I do not have too much dignity to suck gravy off of fried chicken before I eat it. I gave up dignity a long time ago. Ginger gets her rather small plate of pasta. And I remember to order a beer. A pint, I say very distinctly, of Ninkasi.

The chicken was good. Pan fried, not deep fried. Alton had just taught me you can tell because with deep-fried chicken the skin and crust will pull away from the meat the first time you bite it. The gravy, however, was interesting (the academia "polite, interesting = crap" interesting, not the actual interesting). It didn't taste bad, but the sausage in the gravy was not country sausage or breakfast sausage but, I believe, keilbasa. Some kind of casing sausage sliced and cut into quarters. Weird. The mashed potatoes were flavorless and closer to the glue end of the mashed potatoes spectrum than the clouds end. I ate the leg and the wing and was oddly full.

In order to kill time while Ging ate, as I was full (see above), I visited the bathroom rest area. Luckily, I knew where they were. There were no signs or visual cues. The bathroom was awesome. Just in the door way there was mural of a campus scene. It involved Deady Hall, which is pretty iconic around the U of O, but several other buildings that do not reside on our campus. They were buildings with crosses on the top. On another wall was a mural of a stadium with a big sign over it that says "Hayward Field," which makes sense, as the Olympic Trials, National Champoinships and other big track meets will be held here in the coming years. Except that as I looked at the picture, I thought that it didn't look like Hayward. I realized it was actually a statium and the reflection of a stadium in a reflecting pool, which certainly does not exist near Hayward. Odd. And then, on closer inspection, I realized that the stadium in question was not Hayward, but Autzen. Double odd.

Having finished my business, but failing to make use of the complimentary mouthwash, I returned to my table. Ginger was done eating, so we were just waiting for the witress to come round (maybe with that beer I ordered) so we could request the check. The waitress hit the tables on other side of us without seeming to notice that we were just sitting there (not drinking our beer). The next time we saw her was when she brought the beer. To her credit she offered to box up our remnants and brough the check right over. For some reason the check was brought on a plastic bright green clipboard with rulers on either side of it. If I'm paying $17 for fried chicken, I'd like a little class with the check.

Check paid and 3 oz of my pint drunk, we left. There was a new hostess by the door as we were leaving. You expect the hostess to give you the ol' "Thanks for coming, have a great night." Not in this case. We got glared at. I swear to God he had yellow eyes. Yellow eyes! Glared at.

There you have it. The new BOULEVARD Grill. Unless the father-in-law is buying, do not check it out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Take On Mad Men Exactly

James Walcott at Vanity Fair and Brendan Bernhard at the NY Sun have it right.

We all wish there was some there there.

I watched most of the first season, but about half-way through I realized that I didn't care about any of the characters and the '60s "cool" was not enough to sustain my interest. I'm surprised the show is so critically acclaimed.

By "Unrestricted," We Mean "Restricted"

Part of the agreement to let China host the Olympic games was that foreign journalists be allowed to have unfettered access to the internet. I am sure you already know that China, with the co-operation of many American tech firms, blocks many websites so that its citizens cannot learn dangerous information. It seems that, despite promises to the contrary, China has gone back on their word, with the approval of the Olympic Committee.
Some International Olympic Committee officials cut a deal to let China block sensitive Web sites despite promises of unrestricted access, a senior IOC official admitted on Wednesday.

"I regret that it now appears BOCOG has announced that there will be limitations on Web site access during Games time," IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said, referring to Beijing's Olympic organizers.

"I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related," he said.
If you guessed that some of those sites that are not "Games related" are sites that detail human rights abuses in China, you'd be right. Amnesty International is blocked. As are websites related to the Falun Gong, leading to this quote from a Chinese official which I thought was hilarious:
I would remind you that Falun Gong is an evil, fake religion which has been banned by the Chinese government.
Interestingly, one of my favorite sites, Fire Joe Morgan, has also been banned in China, leading contributor Ken Tremendous to issue this statement:
We will not stop blogging until every Chinese citizen has the right to read curse-filled nonsense about Dusty Baker. And that is a kind-of promise!
While censorship is horrible, I do have to acknowledge that the blocking of FJM probably means some poor Chinese wife is being spared her husband reading her the "hilarious" snarky comments found on FJM, even though her knowledge of baseball does not really incorporate an understanding of RBI, let alone why they are such a poor predictor of future success compared to, say, OPS+, as my wife frequently is.

All that said, let's hope that NBC doesn't spoil that majesty and non-political wonder that will be the Olympic games by injecting a lot "politics" into their commentary. After all, we wouldn't want anyone thinking that China is anything but a wonderful, wonderful country that is finally taking its rightful place on the world stage, now would we.

My Mind is Blown

The Tree of Labor, my friends.

Kaine't be happening

I have to say I would not be too happy with a vp choice that was anti-choice, anti-stem cell research, and would mean the loss of a weakly held gov's seat.
I also think Daschle would be a very very bad choice.

I am sure this will not be popular here, but I have to agree with BTD:
The VP Choice: Do No Harm
By Big Tent Democrat, Section Elections 2008

Trapper John has an interesting post on how Barack Obama MIGHT be approaching his VP choice. Trapper's bottom line? Obama will choose the "do no harm" option. I suspect that is the thinking in the Obama camp and likely the McCain camp (though clearly McCain will be more likely to take a risk for some upside). Here's the problem I see with Trapper's analysis - it is impossible for any choice to not do some harm.

I know they do not like to hear this at daily kos, but the day Obama announces his VP and it is not Hillary Clinton, that will cause Obama harm. It may be unfair, it may be wrong, but it is a fact. (My own view is that picking Hillary Clinton clearly remains the best choice for Obama, both on the positive and negative side. Clinton's supporters will be energized, her fundraisers will work their heart out, the Clinton brand will help with voters on the issue of the economy, she has become a first rate campaigner, etc. But he will not pick her for reasons only Obama can and will have to explain.)

How's that for bait dave?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

New frontiers in constitutional thought

By now you're all surely aware of the Great Frackin' Cracker Desecration of 2008 (Cliff Notes version here). One of the pleasant byproducts of this highly entertaining sacrilege has been my making the acquaintances of some, shall we say out of the way organizations. Like the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, for example, whose poorly designed web site leads me to believe that they're a small organization of right-wing priests.

I know I should probably cut them some slack because they're clergymen and not law-talkin' guys, but their legal reasoning, especially on constitutional matters, seems somewhat suspect:
We find the actions of University of Minnesota (Morris) Professor Paul Myers reprehensible, inexcusable, and unconstitutional...


The same Bill of Rights which protect freedom of speech also protect freedom of religion. The Founding Fathers did not envision a freedom FROM religion, rather a freedom OF religion. In other words, our nation's constitution protects the rights of ALL religions, not one and not just a few. Attacking the most sacred elements of a religion is not free speech anymore than would be perjury in a court or libel in a newspaper.

Lies and hate speech which incite contempt or violence are not protected under the law. Hence, inscribing Swastikas on Jewish synagogues or publicly burning copies of the Christian Bible or the Muslim Koran, especially by a faculty member of a public university, are just as heinous and just as unconstitutional. Individual freedoms are limited by the boundaries created by the inalienable rights of others. The freedom of religion means that no one has the right to attack, malign or grossly offend a faith tradition they personally do not have membership or ascribe allegiance.

It's funny how their understanding of the First Amendment is exactly the opposite of what it actually means. Yes indeed I have a right to offend any faith tradition I damn well please, so long as I'm not damaging anyone's property or person. I can tell you the Church coddles pedophiles. I can tell you your mystical cannibalism is so much bullshit. Hell, back in college I used a page from the Gideon's Bible to roll a joint (that Word of God gets you fucked up). And it's all constitutional (well, the rolling a joint part is obviously subject to debate, but the blaspheming is definitely constitutional). And to equate symbolic blasphemy with the Holocaust? That's just fucked up.

Not content to just demonstrate their utter lack of legal understanding, they also show their unfamiliarity with the university and with these little things called facts:
The Chancellor of the University refused to reprimand or censure the teacher, who ironically is a Biology Professor. One fails to see the relevance of the desecration of a Catholic sacrament to the science of Biology. Were Myers a Professor of Theology, there would have been at least a presumption of competency to express religious opinions in a classroom. Yet, for a scientist to ridicule and show utter contempt for the most sacred and precious article of a major world religion, is inappropriate, unprofessional, unconstitutional and disingenuous.

A biologist has no business 'dissing' any religion, rather, they should be busy teaching the scientific discipline they were hired to teach. Tolerating such behavior by university officials is equally repugnant as it lends credibility to the act of religious hatred.

That's so cute. They seem to have this vision of PZ standing before his Intro to Microbiology class, blood dripping from his beard, gleefully desecrating the Host while giggling manically, "Kill Jesus! Kill Jesus!" It's almost a shame to have to inform them that the desecration to place in PZ's private home, on his own time, and the results posted on his private blog - oh yeah, and that what he does as a private citizen is none of the university's goddamned business (which, fortunately, his employer realizes).

I'm sure one of these priests is praying for my soul right now. But if their theological skills are on a par with their grasp of logic or law, I'm sure there's a very confused Buddha somewhere wondering why these fucking Catholics won't leave him the fuck alone.

Let's Not Politicize This Particular Shooting

I've dipped my toes into the waters of the wingnut blogosphere to report back to you the wingnut take on the shootings in Tennessee.

First, the MSM is reporting that the guy is a right-winger who hates all liberals, gays, Democrats, etc. and thinks we should all die. He picked the Unitarian Church because it is the most liberal church out there.

The wingnuts are having none of it (no links, because fuck 'em).

1. This is a tragedy and no one should be "exploiting" it. No mention is made of any other shooting and an exploitation thereof, although I can recall just about every other shooting in America being an occasion to call for increased gun rights, deportation of all "foreign" students, ruminations on "Sudden Jihad Syndrome," etc. In this particular case though, for no particular reason, quiet non-comment should be the order of the day.

2. The shooter wasn't really a conservative. This is line of argumentation is advanced in both the "real conservatives take personal responsiblity for their problems and don't blame others, so this guy is not a conservative" and "conservatives would never kill Christians" forms. Rarer, but still there, is the idea that only a liberal could be so hate-filled, so this must be a liberal posing as a conservative just to give conservatives a bad name, not that this does, because the guy is so obviously not a conservative.

3. This is more properly described as an anti-Christian shooting, not an anti-liberal shooting. I mean, who looks for liberals in churches? No one. The man hated Christians [this appears to be true] and he targeted Christians. His anti-Christian attitudes call into question his so-called conservativism (see above).

4. Lastly, but not leastly, the violence on display here is the result of the liberals' "politics of hatred." You see, liberals are such unrelenting haters of Bush, McCain, Rush, unborn babies, homophobes, etc. that it's no wonder people have forgotten what civility is. Talk about your chickens coming home!

With that, I go home to nap.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

Sizable earthquake 7 miles from the new homestead...

Rolling and shaking for 7-10 secs....

very unnerving...

everyone ok as of now, no damage.

Toby Keith: American Idiot

I was watching Colbert last night, which I know I shouldn't do, and Toby Keith was his guest. After some chit chat about his up-coming movie, Colbert expressed concern:
Here's my worry're going to go all Hollywood, hanging out with Sean Penn, chaining yourself to whales...
After chuckling and assuring Stephen that no such thing would happen, Keith gets real for a moment:
You'd be surprised how many people in Hollywood actually come up -- there's a lot of Hollywood people in this movie -- but when I'm in Hollywood and stuff, you'd be surprised how many people come up to me and say 'Hey, we support the troops, it's nothing political about supporting the troops.'
Toby Keith is surprised that people in Hollywood "support the troops"? And he thinks Stephen Colbert or Colbert's audience might be surprised that "Hollywood people" support the troops? Christ on a shingle, this guy actually believes the right-wing talking points about "Hollywood" people and, I'm guessing, "liberals."

Although it occurs to me that wherein most people say "support the troops" to mean "care for then men and women who serve the US and hope they all come home safe and secure," Toby is probably interpreting "support the troops" to mean "want them to kill as many terrorists as possible and bring glory and honor to the US." Otherwise, you'd have to be as dumb as a post to actually believe that anyone in the US wants our troops put in harm's way or doesn't "support" them in the sense of wanting them to come home alive. For fuck's sake, I can't believe we're still five years into this thing and anyone not screaming "America, Fuck Yeah!" is viewed with suspicion until slipping Toby the appropriate code words.

We truly live in George Bush's America.


I am busy renovating, but thought I would note the plethora of tasing incidents:

Michigan Police Taser Durango Bride & Groom at Wedding Reception

Family questions death after Statesville Police Department Taser

"Missouri Police Taser injured boy 19 times"

digby's take:
on the tased bride:
Maybe there was no taser. But I wouldn't be surprised. Wedding receptions are notoriously dangerous and there were only 14 different law enforcement agencies present. The police must have felt overwhelmed and would naturally need to taser the groom or risk having to use deadly force instead. That, after all, is the rationale for taser use.

on the broken back tase:
Right. A kid lying on the ground with a broken back was allegedly saying "shoot cops, kill cops" so they had to taser him 19 times to "subdue" him. Sure, that makes sense.

What is it going to take to end this reign of terror? Every single day we hear of police officers somewhere tasering people who present no threat to them and who could easily be dealt with without shooting them with electricity to make them comply. In this case, it's perfectly obvious that the kid was injured and couldn't get up! The police interpreted that as non-compliance, which they seem to automatically use as an excuse to shoot citizens full of electricity these days.

Well... at least they weren't shot....

The only thing I can add is that the father of the guy who was killed after multiple tasings is in jail and was tased by the same cop....crazy....

I use ellipsis too often... but... what are you going to do....?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mark your calanders!

If you're like me, you're too busy to take the time to know when you should be properly terrified. Luckily, the AP is on the scene to make sure you're properly informed about when a terror attack is likely. I, for one, have marked the dates in bright orange and plan on cleaning my hazmat suit and having plenty of Depends on hand.



"I'm Afraid of Americans"


And one of my all-time favorite songs, "Life on Mars?"


Not that any of us need to be told, but Ezra put up a great piece on why card check is so important. And he used The Office as an example. Talk about using technology to reach out to young workers!

Peking Politics

I'm a little late in getting to this (I spent all day Sunday reading a great book), but apparently the Maverick is defending his gas tax holiday idea against the charge that no economist thinks it will work on two grounds:

1. No economist can begin to understand what it is like to be a poor person who has to drive long distances to work in an old car because "a lot" of economists are driven to work in chauffeured limousines.

2. He'll get oil companies to pass on the tax savings, instead of pocketing it, which the entire history of capitalism leads me (us, everyone but the McCain campaign) to believe will happen. How will he do this? He will "shame" them into it.

Obama is having a rough time right now, but it's stuff like this that helps me breath easier and remember that we will stomp this guy come November. Thank God Obama didn't bite on this canard like Hillary did because we should be able to use this weak-ass shit against him.

Now, if only Obama would show some "moxie" and say that we won't be drilling off-shore and in ANWAR because it would be bad for the environment, I will have hope again.

A Friendly Note

Unless your checks have carbon copies, writing "Insurance" (or anything else) on the "memo" line of your checks isn't going to do you any good. It's kind of a waste of time. Plus, if you can't remember what you wrote a check to the "GTFF Trust" for, then you have larger problems than figuring out why you paid the GTFF Trust $221.80.

Blogging malaise

Am I the only one suffering from a general case of blogging blahs? I want to contribute, but just have nothing to say at the moment. Anyone got any ideas?