The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thursday Top Ten

What ho!? Why am I even listening to music on a Thursday? Well, that's just the kind of outside-the-box, iconoclastic thinker I am. Fearless. I care nothing for the strictures of your Internets.

Plus, I'll be heading out of town on a getaway tomorrow. No blogging in the car, don't you know.

Cinnamon Girl - Neil Young, Live Rust
Pigeon Flying Over Berlin Zoo - Ian Anderson, Rupi's Dance
Brother My Cup Is Empty - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Live Seeds
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand - The Beatles, Past Masters, Vol. 1
Pistol Grip Pump - Rage Against The Machine, Renegades
D.O.A. - Phenomonauts, Rockets And Robots
The Boy Done Wrong Again - Belle & Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
The Song Remains The Same - Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
Tiny Robots – Phenomonauts, Rockets And Robots
To Hell With Poverty! - Gang of Four, A Brief History of the 20th Century

Nothing to say about all this, except that I was unable to achieve launch with the Phenomenauts, but will not be missing Gang of Four's miraculous return on October 4.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More on Winning Against ID

This is what I get for posting without checking Majikthise first. Lindsay responded to the same Yglesias post I did, taking a perpendicular approach: mock ID.
I'm going to be contrarian and suggest that pundits should concentrate on subtle stigmatization of creationism and ID.


Education policy is shaped by parents' aspirations for their kids. What's needed is subtle oppo-marketing of creationism and ID as being backward and superstitious.
I'm actually clipping out the bit that some other have seized on, which is a defense of elitism, at least WRT evolution & ID. Which is more or less what had me flummoxed yesterday - evolution is unavoidably associated with blue state elitism. It's absurd, but no less true for being so. Lindsay suggests the ol' ju-jitsu. Specifically, she threads the needle between emotional appeal and demagoguery by leaving national competitiveness unmentioned and instead going straight to the parents: "Do you want your kid to learn real scence, or to waste school time on superstitious hoo-hah?"

Up 'til now, the vocal parents have been the one who don't want the little children told that they evolved from apes. But I think that, even in red states, parents who "want what's best" for little Owen and Nadia are actually the majority. The key is to get them riled up. Right now, they're indifferent on this issue - hence the big plurality for "teaching the controversy." But these are the same people who object to music and art classes, since they don't help Carson with the SATs. They don't care about learning for its own sake, but if they perceive that an ID-friendly education is a liability, they'll storm the barricades for us. It's worth noting that, essentially, this is what happened in Kansas a few years back - the next election after the controversy, the creationist yahoos were booted out. The battle continues because powerful forces are arrayed behind the creationists, but the parents on the ground are no longer asleep.

Of course, all that said, I'm not sure how we achieve Step 1, which is to get the message across to the reachable parents without driving them into the arms of the insane ones. As Amanda illustrated for us all, tribalism tends to trump interest (especially in that neck of the woods), and if the connection between sneering Yankees and the undermining of ID is too obvious, well, little Daisy's just going to have to learn the controversy. That'll teach us.

via Amanda at pandagon

Holy Cow

Apropos of nothing, this is the funniest thing I've read on any of the internets in weeks, if not months:
For, as the Bible teaches: “Old […] people […] are […] wicked”. (Genesis 5:32 - 19:7)
Courtesy of The Poor Man Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


As someone once said, James Wolcott gets it just right:
Two years ago, Ledeen sneered about Hagel's "wimpery" about Iraq..., but it's Hagel who's been vindicated. The fact is that Ledeen and his neocons got the war they wanted, it was waged according to their blueprints, and it's their fuck-up, their moral responsibility, their historical bloodstain, their arrogant, ignorant, blundering, inexcusable mess. It says something about Ledeen's depraved indifference toward the consequences of his own lobbying efforts that he still thinks at this late date that he can get away with being droll.[boldness added, italics in the original]
I was driving somehwere this morning and listening to Le Tigre's New Kicks, and thinking, once again, how amazing it is that we who opposed this war - we who accurately predicted the outcome - remain marginalized in this nation's discourse, while those who supported it remain free to sneer.

Those who supported this war are responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths, the creation of hundreds if not thousands of hardened terrorists who may some day attack our shores, and the establishment of a radically Islamist puppet state of Iran. And yet... and yet there is no hint of shame. No hint of responsibility. And no hint that anything has gone on except business as usual.

It will be an interesting experiment. If 60% of Americans oppose the war, but no one in power or with a voice will acknowledge them, what happens? Is it a democracy or not?

Winning on Evolution

For not the first time of late, Matt Yglesias has pointed out that the liberal view on teaching evolution is staggeringly unpopular:
Teaching evolution only 12
Teaching creation only 23
Teaching intelligent design only 4
Teaching all three 55
None of these 3
Unsure 3
He no longer argues that we should simply cave on evolution, but he insists that we need to "persuade some people -- or, rather, a lot of people -- that we're right."

The problem, of course, is how to do it. He points out that the rational solution - teach evolution only - is less popular than gay marriage, less popular than death penalty abolition. It's certainly less popular than single payer health care. Yet it's the only one of these that is simply, literally inarguable - there is no rational, Enlightenment-based argument against it. All arguments are based on ignorance, dishonesty, or both. It seems to me that the only way to meet such a situation is through emotional appeal or demagoguery (if there's even a real difference between the two). But what's the emotional appeal for scientific fact? "Teach evolution or Baby australopithecus will cry?" Lately some have taken to pointing out that the Republican attack on science in general is a godsend to China and India - their best chance to catch up on true innovation, rather than imitation. But that argument, while reason-based, is only persuasive as demagoguery, and rather nasty nationalist demagoguery at that.

So what are we left with?

Monday, August 22, 2005

This Seems Like a Big Deal

I don't understand why I had to go to TPM Cafe to learn about this:
BANGLADESH In an unprecedented scale of terror attacks, a banned Islamist militant group yesterday [August 17] simultaneously blasted at least 459 time bombs in 63 of 64 districts across the country.
The 30-minute mayhem in the morning killed one in Chapainawabganj and injured over 100. Another boy was killed in a blast at Savar in the afternoon.
As the article goes on to explain, we're basically dealing with a Taliban-like group that already has a lot of sway in the countryside, and is supported by our good friend and ally in the GWOT, Pakistan.

Although the bombs were clearly designed for psychological, rather than physical, effect, the sheer number and distribution are stunning. Bangladesh is a staggeringly poor country, and a radicalization of it would represent a virtually limitless pool of potential terrorists. It may be that India has more to fear from this than we do, but if there's one clear "lesson of September 11," it's not "invade other countries for no good reason;" it's "faraway troubles can ripple to our own shores."

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday Top Ten

Desafinado - Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd, Classic Jazz - Jazz Masters 1
(I Want to Move to) The House Next to Yours - Weldon Keys & Bob Helm, Holiday Rag
Man Of Constant Sorrow - Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan
Bones - Luka Bloom, The Acoustic Motor Bike
In These Shoes? - Kirsty MacColl, tropical brainstorm
I Want to Tell You - The Beatles, Revolver
Season of the Witch - Dr. John
The Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix, Live at Woodstock
Veinte Anos - Buena Vista Social Club, Buena Vista Social Club
Baby Driver - Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water

Did anyone see the fascinating New Yorker piece on Weldon Keys? Not surprisingly, I'd never heard of him until my favorite professor, who had known him in San Francisco half a century ago, published this wonderful CD of recordings on piano and clarinet. Just some relaxed jazz with clever lyrics, but very nice. As it turned out, a friend of mine - a poet and clarinetist who recently moved to town - is a Keys admirer, and so was quite pleased with this CD.

Oh, and I should note that the iTunes purchase of the Hendrix is wholly attributable to the stranger

Alright, that's it.

Fuck Michael Lind. Fuck his smug, even-the-liberal-Michael Lind counterintuitive line of BS. "I'm such a bold liberal. I attack immigrants. I attack feminists. I attack the cities. Everybody applaud my bold stances."

No. Fuck off, you smarmy twit.

What the hell is this all about? Try this:
it is only since the Sixties that many American liberals, inspired by what strikes me as unconscious elite class bias, have preferred the idea of warehousing infants shortly after birth in collective baby-kennels so that their mothers can join their fathers as wage slaves toiling in mostly-unfulfilling and poorly paid service sector jobs

You know what? I don't put up with this bullshit from Rick Santorum, there's no reason for me to put up with it from the likes of Lind. If you think that the problem with wages in this country is the fault of feminists in the 60s, then you don't know enough to be commenting on the weather, much less matters of national import. So just STF.

Why is this hitting so close to home? Well, I was raised by a stay at home mom. It was great, and, IMHO (and hers) I turned out fine. My wife was in day care. And guess what? Fine. My daughter is in day care, and while my wife would dearly love one more day at home with her per week, we both know that she gets better care, education, and socialization than she would being home with one ever-more-frazzled parent 5 days a week. Do you get that Lind? Do you get that Santorum? This isn't about my wife's elitist, self-centered desire to earn more cash and have an identity that goes beyond "mommy." It's about what is best for my daughter. And that's day care (others, of course, choose otherwise - that's great. See my upbringing, above).

So, again, fuck off.

Persecution Complexes

I can't get signed in on Pandagon's comment setup, so I'll comment here (as if 0.01% as many will see it, but...).

Amanda wrote yesterday about the fact that, while non-Texans like to mock Bush's Crawford place as a non-ranch, it does, in fact, meet the commonly-accepted Texan definition of ranch, and therefore calling it an estate or whatever just serves to piss off Texans. Today she elucidated on that thought because apparently people went a bit apeshit. Essentially it has whipped into the whole Fuck the South issue, with that patented form of Southern defensiveness and hypersensitivity abounding.

OK, I guess I've already given away where I stand on this. But let's expand a bit, shall we?

First off, I appreciate Amanda's specific point, and disagree with those who say "I won't let Texas dictate word usage for the whole country." It's like bickering over cabin vs. cottage - there's an agreed-upon usage, and it's the local one that rules. That said, Bush didn't buy the place to impress Texans - he bought it (in 1999) to impress the rest of us. So if mocking the place angers Texans but convinces the other 49 states that Bush is a fake, then who cares? But the bottom line is that it's probably not helping, and Amanda has a good alternative: ranchette. It's diminishing, it's basically appropriate, it gets the message across without pissing off anyone unnecessarily.

But on to the larger discussion, which is the good ol' "We in the South are so hurt by mean Yankees that we have little choice but to vote for candidates whose policies we loathe." Believe it or not, that's only a very slightly unfair characterization. Amanda actually cites pro-choice, gay-friendly Texans voting for Bush out of tribalism - and defends it! Says that we supposedly mean Yankees had better knock it off!


If you can't see past perceived cultural slights to vote for the things you say you believe in, then you don't, actually, believe in them. If tribalism trumps human rights, then, well, it's not hard to figure out where you'd stand on any big issue of history. The tribe comes first, every goddam time.

Look, I adore New York City. Don't live there, almost certainly never will, but if I have a tribe, that's it. The notion that I'd vote for, say, Santorum if he came from there because his opponent was a progressive Southerner who mocked NYC? Unimaginable. Literally. Yet Amanda (and a handful of commenters) are defending precisely the same action. Staggering.

Finally, and this is the real reason I'm writing this, there are 57 comments up now, and not a single one references the fact that NO national Democrat has openly mocked the South in years ... ever, that I can think of. Yet what was in Cheney's standard stump speech? The simple word Massachusetts, as a laugh line. No need to expand, no need to tie it to any particular thing. The simple fact that the opposing candidate was from the state that did the most to give us independence was sufficient to mock him. Bush did the same in the debates. And no one from the South said Boo. I didn't see Amanda Fucking Marcotte stand up for John Kerry (and Barney Frank and all 3 Kennedies and John Fucking Adams) and say, That's bullshit, you shouldn't mock regions of the country.

Oh no. It's only the South. It's only her tribe that suffers the slings and arrows of bullshit rhetoric.

Well, frankly, I only have only thing to say to that.

It literally rained cats and dogs!

Great post over at the Slacktivist about God's findness for Creation in general, and beetles and ostriches in particular. It led me to wonder about how Bible literalists cope with the occasional factual misstatements in the Bible (such as that the ostrich is "unmindful" of her eggs - she isn't). I posted a comment, and added in a wonder about how literalists explain squeezing 2 of every animal into Noah's ark.

Silly me.

I wanted to get the dimensions right, so I did a quick Google, and of course literalist sites come up first. Fascinating things from reading The Other Side:

* Boy, do they parrot one another! Did you know that the Babylonian Flood myth includes a cube-shaped ark? That wouldn't be stable at all! I learned this 3 times, similar phrasing each time.

* The ark was bigger than any boat built until the modern steel ship era. Calculations show that it would have been more stable than modern ships! Also covered 3 times out of three.

* Taking every kind of animal isn't the same as taking every species. So apparently, postdiluvian evolution is OK.

These arguments are astonishing tributes to redirection and misdirection. Witness:
According to Ernest Mayr, America's leading taxonomist, there are over 1 million species of animals in the world.

God only provided the Ark for the protection of humans and land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures. A huge number of animals would not need to be taken aboard the Ark because they are water dwellers. Representatives would be expected to survive the catastrophe. With God's protection against extinction during the Deluge, survival would have been assured.

However, the vast majority of these are capable of surviving in water and would not need to be brought aboard the ark. Noah need make no provision for the 21,000 species of fish or the 1,700 tunicates (marine chordates like sea squirts) found throughout the seas of the world, or the 600 echinoderms including star fish and sea urchins.... [it goes on and on in this vein]

How many animals needed to be brought aboard?
Doctors Morris and Whitcomb in their classic book, "The Genesis Flood," state that no more than 35,000 individual animals needed to go on the ark. In his well documented book, Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study, John Woodmorappe suggests that far fewer animals would have been transported upon the ark. By pointing out that the word "specie" is not equivalent to the "created kinds" of the Genesis account, Woodmorappe credibly demonstrates that as few as 2,000 animals may have been required on the ark. To pad this number for error, he continues his study by showing that the ark could easily accommodate 16,000 animals.)

But, let's be generous and add on a reasonable number to include extinct animals. Then add on some more to satisfy even the most skeptical. Let's assume 50,000 animals, far more animals than required, were on board the ark, and these need not have been the largest or even adult specimens.

Remember there are really only a few very large animals, such as the dinosaur or the elephant, and these could be represented by young ones. Assuming the average animal to be about the size of a sheep and using a railroad car for comparison, we note that the average double-deck stock car can accommodate 240 sheep. Thus, three trains hauling 69 cars each would have ample space to carry the 50,000 animals, filling only 37% of the ark. This would leave an additional 361 cars or enough to make 5 trains of 72 cars each to carry all of the food and baggage plus Noah's family of eight people. The Ark had plenty of space.

Who knows? Maybe all this nonsense actually adds up. But look at how they get there: cite an actual scientist for a pretty meaningless number. Then distract from the magnitude of that number with blah blah. Then cite fake experts to get a number that is, in some sense, comprehensible. Wave off the large animals (you just knew that "dinosaur" would link to an explanation elsewhere on the site, right?), and finally pretend that you could pack the animals in like sheep in a railcar for about a year.

They just don't care. And the people who believe it don't care. They just want something with a lot of words so it seems like it's been explained. Any parallels to current events I'll leave up to the reader's discernment.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Noticed this on Friday but couldn't get to it earlier:

In the Times' big story on the Oakland A's resurgence this season, they marvelled at the team's success with untested youth:
Yet other teams have smart players with skill and vision. Tampa Bay has had several first-round draft choices over the years. Texas is loaded with young talent, as are Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and others. But those teams do not get off the ground, while Oakland soars.
How to explain this contrast? Surely it must be through Billy Beane's unparalleled, unprecedented brilliance?
Perhaps another potent stealth force is inside the A's clubhouse. "It's clubhouse chemistry," Zito said. "What it does is bring every ounce of talent out of these guys."
When Eric Chavez, now 27, arrived in 1998, he entered a mature clubhouse. "Now it has leveled out," he said. "I'm finally playing baseball with my peers. It took me six years to do so. We're always youthful. We're always young."
Well sure, that's just players - they're full of superstition. Not our boy Beane. He a stathead - he knows there's no such thing as clutch, he knows that closers are useless, he knows that it's all about talent, not some baloney about team chemis-
"Baseball teams have self-esteem, just like a teenager. Sometimes it can be high, and sometimes low. When you build success, it helps build self-esteem, and that creates those intangibles that allow momentum to happen," [says Beane]
Huh. I wonder what the insufferable statheads of the world are thinking right now?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Great Moments in Headline Writing

Iraqi Leaders Rush to Finish Charter; 5 U.S. Troops Killed

Who knows how long it will last (is it in the paper copy?), but, as written, it pretty clearly implies that, in their rush to complete the charter, Iraqi leaders somehow killed 5 US Troops.

Talk about making sausage....

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"Our kind of people"

Many of you may have already seen a link to this over at Atrios:
Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

To follow up, here's a great letter to the editor from a well-to-do suburb south of the city
I wonder how many people read "Parent-Trap Snares Recruiters" (Aug. 11) and noted the suburban mother's comment, "Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people." What kind of people is it for exactly? She was wearing an American flag T-shirt and proudly displayed two American flags in her yard. What a hypocrite! I am sure she voted for George Bush, too.

I am a suburban mother, too. I have two sons, one a member of the U.S. Army, although not currently in Iraq, and one not in the military. I do not support George Bush and his war, and I certainly do not consider myself unpatriotic. If people like this woman's "kind" had family members at risk of dying or being maimed in war, perhaps our troops would all be back on American soil sooner. Since President Bush's daughters are eligible to serve in the military and do not, he obviously is like this mother -- the war is not for his "kind of people" either.

God bless Cindy Sheehan, the mother whose son died in Iraq, for trying to get George Bush to explain his noble cause.

NARAL and Street Fighting (Wo)Man

Digby has some good thoughts on the NARAL Roberts ad controversy. Long post short, pulling the ad isn't a real loss: the goal is to get the issue out there and stir some shit up. The fact that fellow "progressives" felt the need to jump on the anti-NARAL bandwagon is pathetic, but beside the point (for some Dems, it provides genuinely useful cover - but there's no excuse for blue staters and true lefties to pile on).

As so often, I think Digby has a good handle on the rough-n-tumble tactics we need to employ. What is so frustrating and baffling is that we seem to be such naifs about the whole thing - as if Atwood or Rove invented tough politics (I think they've obliterated some previously blurry boundaries, but that's different). Here's my theory:

Back in the day, Dems were a bad ass Machine. From Tweed to LBJ, we knew what it took to get elected, and to get legislation. As time went on, this was in the service of ever-more progressive causes. Which (together with the Southern Strategy) led progressives to join the Dem coalition. But of course the Progressive Movement was all about opposing Machine politics. So we had this huge disconnect between the past and future of the party, which probably led directly to some of the failures of the Dems between '66 and '80. But what's happened since then is worse: the Machine is dead. Labor is moribund. And what we have left is a party led by a bunch of wusses who have no idea what it takes to win. When they had power, it was handed down from the Machine they despised, but they never recognized the debt. Now that they've lost all power, they have no clue what it was that had once put Dems in power. It wasn't positioning, it wasn't going down to Alabama to ask voters about gay rights. It was playing hard, getting (a little) dirty, and making smart promises and compromises to get in a position to win.

I don't know if any of the current Dem leadership has a clue about this - even Mean Dr. Dean I think may confuse fiery conviction with actual badassery. But I think that the angry grassroots, frustrated at powerlessness, is getting ready to embrace the brass knuckles again. I only wonder who will wield them.

Friday, August 12, 2005


This piece by Gary Hart makes me think one thing:

Gore in '08?

He's the only viable anti-war candidate the Dems have. Do we need one? Well, as Hart puts it:
If ... the opposition party, in this case the Democrats, has hand-cuffed, blind-folded, gagged, and hog-tied itself to a failed invasion and occupation in the Middle East, where will the expanding majority of Americans look for a representative, a spokesperson, a voice for their anger, frustration, and distrust at being misled?

The circumstances suggest it should be a Senate or House Democratic leader, a recognized authority on foreign policy constantly seen on the Sunday talk shows, certainly one of the many “leaders” lining up to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2008.

Strangely, no one in any of those categories comes to mind. Their voices are silent. Thus, both they and the party they claim or presume to represent look dumbstruck, awkward, pitiful, and timid. Where the single greatest issue of the day, and one of the most potent issues of our time, is concerned, there is no courageous opposition.

Anyone who's seen Gore speak since late '02 knows that "courageous opposition" describes him very well. And, in the words of a well-known war booster, he was proved fucking right. That's got to be pretty powerful. He stood up and spoke truth to power, was ridiculed for it (including, disgustingly, by the late Michael Kelly, for whom I haven't the least mourning).

The counterargument is that Gore is damaged goods, and that the "20 month War Against Gore" would be reinstated instantly. If Republicans hate him, and the press hates him, how can he win? Well, I think an awful lot of people who were (subtly) swayed by the internet-Love Canal-farm chores BS in 2000 really wish he'd been president for the last 5 years. Furthermore, the Clinton Years look better and better all the time - stat of the day: the much-ballyhooed 207,000 new jobs last month would have been 69th-best in the Clinton Years.

As it happens, I had been mentally composing a Why Not Hillary post before I saw the Hart piece. And obviously the non-Iraq elements play very similarly, plus I think Hillary will get a net gain as the first viable female candidate. But an awful ot of Americans are hungry for straight talk on Iraq, and a Hillary campaign simply can't provide it (unless they're in the midst of some brilliant Two Year Plan to position her perfectly come late '07).

So I dunno. I'd kind of like to see Gore give it a go, and let the best candidate win

Friday Again Already?

Seeing Other People - Belle & Sebastian, If You're Feeling Sinister
Mission – Phenomenauts, Springman Records Sampler #1
Dust Radio - Chris Whitley, Living With The Law
Clever - Jill Sobule, Happy Town
Papa Won't Leave You Henry - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Live Seeds
Voice Of The Voiceless - Rage Against The Machine, The Battle Of Los Angeles
Peggy-O - Simon & Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM
The Power Of Equality - Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Renegades Of Funk - Rage Against The Machine, Renegades
We're Coming Back (Cock Sparrer) - Bouncing Souls, BYO Split Series Vol. IV

Actually, this is a pretty topical list. I'm hoping to see the Phenomenauts at Mr. Small's on Monday, and there was a nice, long piece about Chris Whitley on NPR last night.

It was great timing, as I was headed on a semi-long drive to the hinterlands (and back) with a stack of his CDs. Some of you may recall Living with the Law (even got airplay on the late, lamented WNEW in NYC), but he then effectively dropped off the planet, largely due to his consistent inconsistency. The followup to his Lanois-produced, Delta-inflected debut was raucous, nearly-cacophonous rock, then a quieter, more psychedelic album that got him dropped by Sony in the great mid-late ‘90s label-purge. Since then he’s done pure acoustic, electronica, and stuff approaching – but not really - Law. I like it all, and love most of it. It’s powerful, soulful, raw stuff, and the guy just lays it out there.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Vino to Seguros!

OK, I didn't talk about the Tour while it was going on, largely because I don't have cable, so all I caught was reportage by others, and it didn't seem like I had much to add. Also, frankly, I was rooting for Lance, and so was everyone else. Where's the fun in that?

But one of the most interesting stories of the Tour was Alexandre Vinokourov, the Kazakh national champion who rode with T-Mobile. (Quick background: most teams that have a rider trying to win the whole thing have a single leader, like Lance with Team Discovery Channel. T-Mobile has been 1997 Tour-winner Jan Ullrich's team for years, but last year the young Andreas Klöden actually came in ahead of Jan). T-Mobile had 3 contenders for overall winner, and apparently had no plan for dealing with this. Klöden failed to repeat his great 2004 run, so that was that, but Vino chafed under the limitations placed on him all three weeks.

In the final week, you actually saw the spectacle of T-Mobile chasing down Vino when he'd try to break away! It was like a catcher tipping pitches, or a lineman tripping his own back. In a great personal victory, Vino took the final stage on the Champs Elysees, beating out the sprinters who traditionally win in what is otherwise a parade atmosphere. Doing that jumped him into fifth place overall, but before the race was even over, it was public that Vino would not return to T-Mobile. Where would he go?

Jan Bruyneel, Discovery's director and Lance's guru dismissed Vino, which took me a bit aback. Vino had to find a strong team, but one without a clear leader. I've just learned that he ended up with Spain's Liberty Seguros-Würth, which had pinned its hopes the last two years on Roberto Heras. Heras had been Lance's super-lieutenant in '02 and '03 (his toughest ride), and was a spectacular climber. I liked him, and looked forward to his GC contention, but it turns out he's not a contender. Instead, he's riden like a bum, which is what he is.

OK, not quite, but he wasn't even climbing the way he used to, and it's become clear he'll never win. But perhaps he can be for Vino what he was for Lance. Everyone likes Ivan Basso for next year (he came in 2nd the last 2 years), but I think I've got my favorite.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Top Ten

A little late, but hey.

Hold On - Melissa Ferrick
Good Clean Fun - Cat Power, What Would The Community Think (a George Harrison composition!)
The Navajo Know - Pixies, Trompe Le Monde
(I Know) I'm Losing You - Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore - Michelle Shocked, Short Sharp Shocked
All The Things I Wanted - The Clarks, Another Happy Ending
Hot Cha - They Might Be Giants, Flood
Nothing Is Easy - Jethro Tull, Stand Up
I Don't Wanna Talk About It Now - Emmylou Harris, Red Dirt Girl
I Love You - Daniel Lanois, Shine

I ran the numbers last week, and although neither the Beatles nor Jethro Tull is likely to come up every week, it's pretty damn likely that one or the other will. And I have some 1900 songs.

What can I say - I'm a completist.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Excuse me, can you tell me where the big apple is?

Man: Passengers, do not keep quiet if you see George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. If you see George W. Bush or Dick Cheney attempt to get them impeached. This has been a MTA announcement.

--6 train

As norbizness says, there may not be time left for anything else, once you've discovered Overheard in New York. And yes, NYC really is like that. Greatest city in the world.


OK, there's been a huge to-do over at the Slacktivist, due to a series of three posts in which Fred discusses the never-acknowledged fact that Bush & Cheney will be enormous beneficiaries* of an estate tax repeal - Bush by some $750,000, Cheney by at least $12.6 million.

Some people are, of course, horrified that anyone would question the motives of politicians... hmm, that can't be right. They must have some other objection....

Ah. Of course: "just like people selling their votes for govt checks get an ethical pass." The old 'bribes from the wealthy for legislative favors are identical to poor people voting for politicians who support poor-helping policies." Let's have a little thought experiment on this, shall we?

Old Man Potter calls up his congressman. Turns out there's a boil on his neck - some penny-ante building & loan that's taking garlic-eaters out of his slums and filling them up with crazy notions. So, Potter wonders whether the law might be changed - perhaps building & loans could be required to have $8,000 cash on hand at all times. And of course, Potter would love to see that the congressman gets something for his troubles - nice trip to Europe maybe?

Now Al, Joe, & Martini from Bedford Falls have been pretty hard hit by the Depression. They write letters to their congressman (can't afford the long distance, you know), wondering what might be done to help them and ther neighbors through a rough patch. Maybe some sort of social insurance program, or perhaps an indirect subsidy for their recently-built homes. If their congressman helps them out, he would surely get their vote next time around.

So, have Al, Joe, and Martini "sold their votes?" In a sense, sure. After all, given a choice between a candidate who helps them and one who does not, it's hard to see why they should vote for the one who doesn't. So what's the difference between this and what Potter has done? Let me count the ways:
1. Potter, of course, is not offering his vote. He's offering a bribe. If Potter called up the congressman and offered him one vote in exchange for the Potter Protection Act, that would be legitimate - and would have no distorting effects on society. One man, one vote.

2. Potter is not promoting the common welfare - in fact, he opposes it when, as in this case, the common welfare opposes his own. But surely Potter's bribe could promote the common welfare. Could do, but then why a bribe? If it benefits Al, Joe, & Martini, then they would support it, and would vote for the congressman who passed it. By definition, bribery is anti-democratic.

3. But aren't the campaign contributions of the Bedford Falls Citizens' Group just as insidious as Potter's (setting aside for a moment the difference between actual cash bribes - like Bush and Cheney are offering themselves - and indirect 'bribes' of campaign cash)? Could be, except that everyone knows who's in the BFCG, and what that cash represents. No one sees Potter's bribe. And if the Little Rent Collector's Action Council starts pumping money into anti-BFCG advertising, it won't be hard to figure out where the LRCAC's money is really coming from, nor whom it's intended to benefit.
My apologies to those of you left clueless by this little "It's a Wonderful Life" fable. Let's just leave it at this:

It is very important for a certain group of Americans to equate votes and publicly-disclosed campaign support with cash bribes. Think about who that group is, and ask yourself why someone might be pushing their agenda.

*I was going to amend that to indicate that their kids will benefit, but since the estate tax changes peoples' behaviors while living, it's safe to say that Dick & George will themselves be happier.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Blogroll Update

Shame on me for going this long without linking to my hero, a truly rule-breaking architect: Malcolm Wells, "Father of Underground Architecture."

Now, let's be clear right off the bat: this has nothing to do with basements or bomb shelters. Underground buildings - less alarmingly called "earth-sheltered" - are dry, sunny, and comfortable year-round - cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They rely on the moderating effects of a thick blanket of earth and the warming power of the sun to create low-energy structures that coexist with the living environment and last practically forever.

I'll have more to say about this in the future, but for now you can poke around Mac's site. I should mention that he's also one of the warmest, gentlest, and kindest people I've ever known. You want an alternative to starchitecture, well, here he is.