January 31, 2008
It's Already Starting
Democrats say McCain nearly abandoned GOP. Yeah, we already suspected this. But, man, can't the Dems show enough restraint to keep their powder dry or is this an effort to hurt him on Tuesday?
For what it's worth, I don't put it past him but it's really a "he said, he said" thing here with McCain v. a bunch of Democrats. Whom to believe? I think I'll actually give McCain the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the details. Dems ought to be careful not to overplay their hand here.
Two Cheers For The Great Commonwealth of Virginny!
The Legislature moves toward putting the final nail in the coffin of the so-called abusive-driving fees:
RICHMOND, Jan. 30 -- The Virginia Senate unanimously approved repealing the state's controversial abusive-driving fees Wednesday and agreed to give refunds to anyone who has begun paying the fees.
The bill now goes to the House, which also has approved a measure to repeal the fees.
Under a compromise between Senate Democrats and Republicans, the fees on misdemeanor and felony driving offenses would be repealed as soon as Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) signed the measure.
To address the fees being paid in annual installments over three years, the Senate bill orders the state comptroller to issue refunds. But to be eligible, people would have to go to the court where they were convicted and fill out a form requesting that a judge clear their name.
"This is a clean repeal bill. The burden is on us," said Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax), who worked with Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) on the compromise.
Both parties had been pushing to quickly approve legislation to repeal the fees, which range from $750 to $3,000.
Of course, it was a horse's-assed move to institute the fees to begin with. Not only were Virginians enraged by the possibility of getting clocked with a thousand dollar speeding ticket at the whim of some trooper, they were doubly enraged by the fact that the fee was not applicable to out-of-state drivers. The roar of public opposition was heard in Richmond even above the sound of all the calculators being punched by lawmakers eager to figure out how much loot they were going to haul in by means of the scheme.
UPDATE: Speaking of such things, along I-95 somewhere down in North Carolina, there used to be a South of the Border billboard that read, "No, Virginia, 95 Is Not The Speed Limit!" that made me smile whenever I saw it. Anybody know if it's still there?
Gratuitous Historickal Blegging
One of our readers dropped a very nice little note into the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack this afternoon. Along with welcoming me into HMC and comparing notes on the reading of Narnia stories to children, she also informed me that she and her husband had started doing some research on MacArthur, not satisfied with the way Ken Burns apparently treats him in his latest teevee series (none of which I've seen). She asked me if I could recommend any good biographical material on the man.
Well, as I replied, I'm really not much use here, other than to note that MacArthur and I share the same birthday. William Manchester's American Caesar immediately springs to mind, but I can only recommend it on the author's general reputation, not having read it myself. And perhaps because as a kid I thought the ships and planes were much more interesting, my knowledge of the Pacific Theatre in WWII is much greater in terms of sea-borne leaders like Nimitz, Halsey and Fletcher than it is of Mac.
Anyhoo, I said that I would throw the question open to you lot. Any recommendations will, of course, be greatly appreciated (by both of us).
I SHALL RETURN YIPS from Steve-O: Definitely American Caesar. Also, you can't go wrong with MacArthur's memoirs Reminisences written in the 1950s, keeping in mind how egotistical and self-serving an example of the genre they are. But a good read nonetheless, particularly when juxtaposed with Omar Bradley's memoirs A Soldier's Story.
Party Endorsements Falling Into Place for McCain
It is interesting how the party establishment of the GOP is lining up behind McCain at the same time that their counterparts among the Dems seem to be shying away from SWMNBN. Do they smell enough blood in the water to feel comfortable enough to try and exorcise themselves of the she-devil? If she wins there will be hell to pay.
Gaza and the Looming Crisis in Egypt
An interesting look at the events in Gaza and its implications for Egypt in OpinionJournal.
Another Year, Another Round of Gratuitous Babe Postings
Happy Birthday to the lovely and talented Minnie Driver, born this day in 1970 in London.
I know nothing of her musickal career and I don't think I could name a single film I've seen her in other than Grosse Point Blank, but nonetheless I find Miss Driver to be quite easy on the eyes. Further, she possesses at least an air of intelligence, a trait absent from so many of today's Hollywood types.
Today in class
I'm teaching Intro American this semester quite differently: I've gone completely over the edge using YouTube and web visuals in class, and am having a lot of fun.
Today we said goodbye to Rudy, and so dissected his campaign strategy. While doing so, I cued up these two videos to play at the same time.
This website is actually quite invaluable for lecturing on American political history, and fun to play with. Long time LLama buddy TDP I can see losing a whole afternoon to it.
Gratuitous Swimming the Tiber Posting
I don't want to start another bar brawl around here, but I should warn all of our readers that what with Lent about to start, the number of GSTT posts is likely to spike significantly, as ol' Robbo strikes out in earnest for the Roman shore.
My little RCIA group has a pre-Lenten retreat scheduled for Saturday at which I gather we will be getting the "time to fish or cut bait" lecture. I'm happy to report that apart from a couple of people who had no real intention of joining up to begin with (one is already a member of one of the Eastern Churches and the other will probably come in next year), I believe everybody else in my squad will be going through with it. Indeed, after an amazingly good lecture last evening on the Spiritual Life by a Jesuit-trained Extremely Smart Guy, I think the general mood of the group can be summarized as excitement with even a touch of impatience. (I know that's the way I feel.)
Anyhoo, as Johnny Olson used to say on "The Price Is Right," "Heeeeere we goooooooo!!!"
UPDATE: BTW, it certainly won't be the last time, but let me just send out thanks to all of you who have patiently (I hope) watched this little religious drama unfold here at teh Butchers' Shop. I am deeply grateful for all your comments and links of inquiry and support (published and otherwise) and I also appreciate those civil and respectful notes of opposition which have floated in from time to time.
I think I owe especial thanks to Mrs. P and Father M over at Patum Peperium, as well as to our pal The Abbot for supplying what physicists call the energy of activation necessary to finally get my inert backside moving into the River. I'm not sure how Rome will divvy up the frequent flier miles award on your Vatican Visa Cards, but send along the appropriate paperwork and I'll be happy to sign it.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
UPDATE DEUX: Also BTW, on my reading list for Lent is Chesterton's work on St. Thomas Aquinas, The Dumb Ox. Not that there's any comparison whatsoever, but it occurs to me that if ever I get around to writing an autobiography, The Dumb Llama has a nice ring to it.
It's Never Too Early To Start Thinking About 2038
As is her wont, my eight year old was chatting at/with me this morning as I got dressed. After meandering through the chronology of past and present Orgle Manor pets and glancing briefly on the hot-button issue of a potential dog, we got on to the broader topic of her Future.
"Do you still want to be a vet when you grow up?" I asked, remembering her past enthusiasm.
"No, Daddy, not anymore."
"Oh? Why not?"
"Weeeell," she said, "first you have to get really good grades in college."
"Sure," I replied, "but I should hope you're going to want to do that anyway."
"Weeeell," she said, "but then you have to go to four years of vetinary school."
"True," I replied, "but you'll probably wind up doing some kind of graduate work no matter what career you choose."
"Oh," she said. After chewing on that one for a minute, she said, "Daddy? Can I just get married and raise kids?"
"You can certainly do that," I replied, "but first and foremost you also have to be able to take care of yourself, and that requires learning a skill and getting a job."
"Oh," she said. "Well, can I have kids first and then get a job?"
"I think the best plan would be to go to school, then get a job and then (after you get married of course) think about kids. Like Mom."
She thought about it for another minute and then said, "I know! Once I get to be thirty-five, I'll become President! And you can be my Vice President."
"Well, Sweetie, there are laws against people in the same family doing that."
"Oh," she said. "Well then, you can be my Special Advisor. And when I'm President, you can come and live in the White House with me."
"Very well," I said, "it's a deal."
Thank you in advance for your support.
January 30, 2008
Why I hate my wife: Reason #5
She heard a thing on the radio (no, scratch that: apparently, it was on NPR, which is when you listen to the radio but you have your servant turn it on for you or something? Geez, will you stop looking over my shoulder and let me type for crimminy!) that Johnny Mac's campaign was using Abba's Take a Chance on Me as a campaign song. I didn't remember it, and I, like the dumbass that I am, pulled it up on Youtube. For. The. Love. Of. Allthatisholymakeitstop!! I can't get the thing out of my friggin' head! Maybe if I pass on the love to you the voices will leave me alone. So here it is, the reason to embrace the McCain Train of Pain: ten more months of Abba:
Yips! from Robbo: I never really had that much direct exposure to ABBA. But this post brought back to mind a childhood memory:
On the whole, I think I prefer your version these days.....
BTW, Steve-O, you realize you're utterly dead, since the gimme reposte to your title is "Five??! What are the other four??? Stephen!!!!"
Sorry, but my brain seems to have stepped out for a bit. For some reason, it has become harder and harder for me to sleep while on travel, and Sunday and Monday nights I don't think I got more than 45 minutes' worth of uninterrupted snooze time. I did much better back home at Orgle Manor last night, of course, but I'm still behind.
Thus, I'm falling back on the old blogger trick of slapping down just a few random things rattling around in my otherwise empty cranium:
***The woman who cut my hair yesterday not only insisted that the Giants/Pats game was going to be a close one, but that the Giants have a genuine shot at pulling off the upset. I hope so. I hope so.
***Do hotels that cover every square inch of their bathrooms in marble (faux or otherwise) understand the accoustic effect that such material creates? Somehow, I doubt it. Nor, apparently, do most of their patrons using such facilities. I don't believe I'm that much of a prude, but as a general rule I don't care to listen to other people's bodily functions.
The couple in the room next to me the other night seemed to have some grasp of the concept, but I'm afraid they rayther overestimated how much keeping the faucet running would cover their, ah, bathtime frolics.
***There is something hi-larious yet creepy in listening to a non-parent gas on about theories of child-rearing. Recently, I was forced to hear a long diatribe about the eeeeevils of letting kids believe in Santa Claus from such an one. He thought the dishonesty was unprincipled and also sowed the seeds for later distrust of everything else told the child by the parent. Instead, he argued that children should be told Santa is a fraud from the very beginning (as part of a wider "Kantian" ideal of absolute honesty). I replied that if he took that line, his kids would be routinely beat up by their classmates when young and grow up to be prigs. (Helpful ol' Robbo. Perhaps I should start an advice column.)
***I saw a bald eagle yesterday. It was sitting in a tree on an islet in the Potomac just downstream from the Roosevelt Bridge. Very nice.
***I wish my voice were a bit lower. Whenever I read the Narnia Chronicles to the eldest Llama-ette, my Aslan keeps coming out sounding like Liam Neelsen's. I objected to his doing Aslan's voice in the movie because I didn't think it low and resonant enough, yet here I am perpetuating the same mistake.
***Speaking of movies, I introduced the elder two Llama-ettes to The Princess Bride last Friday evening. Instant hit. "Inconceivable!" is now rising fast in the household lexicon.
***I finished Stanley Loomis' Paris In The Terror: June 1793-July 1794 yesterday. Afterward, I noticed something of a bloodbath going on in the review section over at Amazon.com, half of the commenters raving about what a great book it was and the other half denouncing it as outright lies. Personally, I simply don't know enough about the period to offer an informed opinion. However, I will say that I don't much buy Loomis' attempt to separate Danton from the other leaders of teh time, making him almost warm and snuggly in comparison to the raving Marat and the cold, steely Robespierre. He may have loved his wife and appreciated the pleasures of country living, but he was still up to his eyeballs in the collective madness that seized France at that period, and I doubt seriously whether knowing he had a more humane side would have been of any comfort to the thousands of innocent men, women and children slaughtered during the Terror.
UPDATE: Oh, and if anyone can recommend a good history on the Revolution, please feel free to send it along.
A Two-Man Race (Such That It Is)
[Disclaimer: the following does not necessarily represent the views of the other contributors to The Llama Butchers or its proprietors, Steve and Robert, and should be taken in the context of the rantings of someone who spends too much time paying attention to politics]
McCain clearly gets the momentum this week, driven by passionate hugs and kisses from the MSM.
It's not over, but the eventual outcome is becoming clearer.
I'm not miffed or even disappointed, as this possibility seemed the most likely. What I am - as I suspect many Republicans are this morning - is irritated.
Not at McCain, but at the fact that all the various constituencies couldn't seem to coalesce around a candidate that at least best represented the Republican party. John McCain has never represented his party. Since his first day in politics, he's represented only numero uno - John McCain. The pure irony is that I am a registered Republican today because of my desire to vote for him in the CT GOP primary in 2000. But since that day, I've had a problem with the way he has not only been unable to take that defeat in stride but how he's focused so much of his energy holding a bitter grudge against the man who did win as well as the rank and file who didn't give him the victory to which he feels he was entitled. His conduct over the last eight years - as a Republican - has been pretty reprehensible in my opinion. I've been simply awestruck at how deeply he takes everything so personally. It's a character flaw that often reveals an unseemly side to his personality and - in my opinion - clouds his judgment.
Now before all you McCain supporters weigh in be aware that for every valid argument you can make as to why I should vote for McCain on Tuesday I can give you two as to why I feel I shouldn't. So save your breath (and keystrokes) because when I vote in the upcoming CT primary it won't be for McCain.
My first choice was Giuliani. He's gone now but I won't be following his example and moving into the McCain camp. I seriously entertained backing Ol' Fred but he's history, too. That leaves Mitt Romney. Romney has an outside chance which he can kick start at tonight's debate. But since Huckabee insists on hanging around that task is an uphill battle.
To the Huckleheads who go to the polls next week, I recommend that they each have a personal come-to-Jesus meeting and think long and hard about what they can accomplish. Vote for Huck, and you'll guaranty McCain. Vote for Romney and the expected outcome may no longer be inevitable.
Mitt Romney has executive experience - real executive experience - in actually running things and bringing people together to get things done. No matter what you think of him, you know he's not going spend four years in the White House getting off on pissing in everyone's punchbowl. I can't say that about Maverick.
One other thing to consider - the MSM is fawning over him now, but if/when he secures the nomination they will turn on him with the intensity of a rabid pitbull. By the time November comes around, McCain the candidate will be unrecognizable from the surging White House hopeful he is now. They will eviscerate him mercilessly because the whole time they've been riding along on that Straight Talk Express they've been writing down or recording every single frank and candid comment he's been foolish enough to make in their presence. And they will use it against him. McCain won't know what hit him because he will finally understand that all this good will he's been getting from them all these years has been an complete lie.
I'll credit the man for coming back from political death and waging a fierce campaign. He won his votes fair and square. But he won't be getting mine on Tuesday. After that, we'll have to wait and see.
Just to clarify that last sentence, I'm not saying "I'm not voting for McCain in the general!" What I'm saying is once this nomination process is essentially concluded (assuming one candidate hits the magic delegate number, which is likely), I'll have a lot to think about. Certainly, I'm inclined to vote Republican anyway but my presence at the polls is not guaranteed. It has to be earned.
Also, Rasmussen has the following break-down for CT:
As I suspected, it really doesn't matter how I vote on Tuesday. McCain is set win CT regardless.
January 29, 2008
One of the Babes from Stripes in Rehab
McCain Cruising To Win In Florida
Maybe Hillary isn't all that bad after all. At least, this is what Republicans will have to keep telling themselves to prepare for what looks to be the worst possible scenario come November.
The Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient and
his charming little sister, Our Little Debutante, get agitated whenever they see Mrs. LMC and yours truly sharing a kiss. Can't wait to see the looks on their faces when they are old enough to figure out just exactly how they managed to come into the picture.
Sex Workers Show at that College in Billsburg
I am not making this up. My tax dollars are supporting this crap. Via Drudge.
My trip got cut a bit short owing to unforseen circumstances, so I was able to hop a flight back to Dee Cee earlier today than I had thought.
The bad news is that I discovered to my horror that my colleague on this jaunt is a Ron Paul supporter. A very avid one. A very bitter one. Despite every hint I could think of to try and deflect him, he insisted on laying out why teh Paul is the only true Conservative in the whole GOP bunch over drinks last evening. The entire time, this little ditty first seen over at Kathy's kept wandering through my mind:
Sigh. It was a long evening. Place muzzle against temple. Pull trigger. Repeat as necessary.
CLARIFYING UPDATE: That's against my temple, not his.
Effectively sending the Kennedy clan and the Clintons into the night
Mark Hemingway's take in NRO on annointing Obama as the next JFK.
They Just CAN'T WAIT To Raise Taxes
This little bit stuck out for me from the brief portion of the SOTU address last night that I actually watched. Bryan at HotAir highlights the contrast:
I just couldn't help but actually feel the vibe coming through the TV last night. Inescapable conclusion: Democrat-controlled Congress + Democrat President = higher taxes. For everybody.
What was that quote from SWMNBN? I believe it was: "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good".
January 28, 2008
Botox and Valium
The visage of SWMNBN at the State of the Union address was something to behold.
Attention: appetite spoiler
ABC brings up the rapidly aging looks of SWMNBN, again. It includes an unflattering shot of You Know Who, who was obviously not ready for her closeup. Wear protective goggles. You have been warned. H/T: The All-Seeing, All-Caring, All-Everything for the Children Maha Rushie.
Count on us to provide the really important news
Check out the Feline Version of "300" at College Humor. Completely safe for work, even at PETA. H/T to Special Agent Bedhead.
David Bowie and Peggy Noonan, 22 years later
The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave.
Tomorrow's Florida Results - Today
I'm getting a general feeling that a lot of Ol' Fred's supporters are coalescing behind Mitt Romney. This is bad news for Rudy, who (poll-wise) seems to be hitting a ceiling of 20% and hanging back a distant third. Unless he can account for the lion's share of absentee votes - not an insignificant number - I'd say he's in trouble. After tomorrow, there'll be no more patterns of "primary - news coverage - momentum, primary - news coverage - momentum, etc.". It's pretty much gut-check time for GOP voters. Time to make that decision and to stop waiting to see who's in, who's out and who's the flavor of the week.
This flipping of Fredheads is also a problem for McCain. As this looks to become more of a two-way race you have McCain v. anti-McCain. And as of now that anti-McCain vote is looking more and more like Romney. Romney has about a week to convince voters on "Apocalypse Tuesday" that 1) he's the candidate that most represents them and 2) McCain's case that he is the best general election is an illusion perpetuated by the MSM (who would turn around and eviscerate him once he secures the nomination).
Anyway, my predictions (which have been awful so far):
As for the Dems? It's wide-open with Edwards only staying in to try and parlay a second chance at the Veep spot.
John Hinderaker on the likely two-man race scenario after tomorrow:
Barring a surprise in Florida, Republican primary voters and caucus-goers on mega-Tuesday will face a stark but classic political choice: do they go with Romney, whose views across a broad range of issues are more palatable to conservatives and whose economic expertise may be badly needed, or with McCain, who seems pretty clearly more likely to prevent the Clintons from re-inhabiting the White House? It's not an easy choice. We'll have more to say about it in due course.
Giuliani hints he could drop out after Florida. Unless he or his campaign vehemently denies this, he pretty much takes away any incentive for Floridians to vote for him. (Disclosure: I declared for Giuliani back in December).
More proof SWMNBN is not so inevitable anymore
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg endorses Obama in the print pub that still thinks itself The Newspaper of Record. What say you, Steve-O? Gary?
Yips! from Gary:
"Inevitable"? She keeps using that word. I do not think it means what she thinks it means.
Seriously, though. This is a fascinating political dynamic to observe. Obama pulled most African-American votes and a large chunk of the Chardonnay-sipping, well-educated, wealthy white Liberal elite types and You-Know-Who seems to have retained most of the rest of the traditional "rank and file" Democrats. Now it looks like many of the "establishment" (Kerry, Kennedy, et al) figures of the party are turning on these two. Does she start to lose some of her organizational foot-soldiers who might be getting...uh..."cold feet"? Stay tuned.
If You Really Want to Know: "Where's Robbo?"
Well, then, click here . "What have you been doing, Robert? Moonlighting superhero work?"
January 27, 2008
I'm heading out of town this afternoon for a couple nights (leaving my poor Missus to have to host a potluck supper all by herself this evening). I'll be back Tuesday evening, but probably not posting until Wednesday.
In the meantime, let's everybody take a deep breath, think happy thoughts and start working in earnest on our Bill Bellicek voodoo dolls.
January 26, 2008
Bad Music Video Saturday
Lost in the closet of mirrors with two Hefty-clad Japanese zombies . . . from the future!!! (Technical note: Wrap the camera in mylar and then no one can see it in the rotating mirror.) Bad music video at it's finest.
All too rare in the "Drive-By Media"
Yesterday, I attended a continuing legal ed seminar in Norfolk hosted by the local bankruptcy bar association to bone up on recent developments and obtain CLE credits necessary to return my law license to active status. I arrived in plenty of time to register and say hello to long-time colleagues before taking a seat in the middle of the pack for promised to be a day of the latest comings and goings in what one speaker jokingly referred to as "the insolvency arts."
I was floored when the opening speaker, a bankruptcy judge from the Richmond division, started his remarks by recognizing me and thanking me for my service. My colleagues in the bar joined in for what will probably be the only standing ovation I will ever receive. I bring it up because it is the latest example of the unwavering support shown to servicemen like me by fellow Americans.
The most heartwarming aspect of my entire mobilization experience has been the extent to which ordinary Americans have gone out of their way to show their support for servicemen and women. The support of veterans and Army family readiness groups is not surprising--the vets have been there and know what we are up against and the families have a "we are all in this together" attitude. The eye-opener has been unwavering support of complete strangers, ranging from the merry band of volunteers manning the Atlanta airport USO, to the gal who lent me her BlackBerry so I could let my wife know I was on the final leg of my flight home for mid-tour leave, to the fellow who pressed a twenty into my hand and told me to have drink on him. No matter where I have gone, strangers have offered their support and I have not been confronted by so much as a dirty look. These stories are all too rare in the MSM but are the ones which need to be told.
Juuuust A Bit Outside
An asteroid up to 2,000ft (600m) long will skim past the Earth during rush hour on Tuesday morning in a close encounter unlikely to be matched for two decades.
Asteroid 2007 TU24 will be only 334,000 miles (540,000km) away at its closest point to the Earth, about 1.4 times the distance between the planet and the Moon.
“This will be the closest approach by a known asteroid of this size or larger until 2027,” said Don Yeomans, of Nasa’s Near-Earth Object Programme Office.
“There is no reason for concern. On the contrary, Mother Nature is providing us an excellent opportunity to perform scientific observations.”
Amateur astronomers are expected to train their telescopes towards the asteroid and should, weather permitting, see it. It should be visible through telescopes of 7.6cm (3in) or more as a bright moving dot.
I suppose this means I have to go to Cleveland tomorrow night after all. Rats.
January 25, 2008
De Rail Denied!
The Fed effectively puts the kybosh on the current plan to extend Dee Cee's metro out to Dulles:
The federal government will not fund the Metro extension to Dulles International Airport without drastic changes, officials said yesterday, effectively scuttling a $5 billion project planned for more than 40 years and widely considered crucial to the region's economic future.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and Federal Transit Administration chief James S. Simpson stunned Virginia politicians at a meeting on Capitol Hill yesterday when they outlined what Simpson called "an extraordinarily large set of challenges" that disqualifies the project from receiving $900 million in federal money. Without that, the project would die.
"The sheer number and magnitude of the current project's technical, financial and institutional risks and uncertainties are unprecedented," Simpson wrote yesterday in a follow-up letter to Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). "I have serious concerns whether it would be appropriate to continue further investment."
This, IMHO, is outstanding news. While running the metro out to Dulles would have been a good thing, the current configuration of the plan called for a gi-normous elevated section right through the heart of Tyson's Corner, the construction of which would have been catastrophically disruptive and the presence of which would have been hidious. I don't live any great way away from that area, and the thought of having to fight my way through it on a regular basis was downright nightmarish.
A plucky ad hoc group has been lobbying to get the damned thing put through Tyson's via a tunnel. I reckoned their collective gooses to be cooked until this nooz came out, but if and when planners have another go at this project, perhaps they'll have a better chance of getting their way.
Another Gratuitous Admiral Akbar Warning
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — For the second consecutive day, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wasn't in the locker room or at practice when reporters and cameramen were allowed inside Friday.
During the 45-minute period in the locker room, several cameramen lingered near his locker, but he didn't show up. Nor was he there for the first 12 minutes of practice that the media were allowed to watch.
Asked if he could say whether Brady would practice Friday, New England coach Bill Belichick said, "Not now. We'll see."
Brady was photographed in New York on Monday wearing a protective boot on his right foot. He took it off later in the day and hasn't been photographed wearing it since. He reportedly has a minor high ankle sprain that isn't expected to keep him out of the Super Bowl against the New York Giants on Feb. 3.
Brady wasn't seen during the first 15 minutes of Thursday's workout to which media were admitted, nor in the locker room.
As Belichick was asked Friday to compare the current trip to the Super Bowl to the other three the team has played in, vice president of media relations Stacey James said, "Final question."
One reporter tried to squeeze in another, asking if Belichick could say what Brady did or didn't do on Thursday, the Patriots' first day of practice after a three-day break.
"Was that the last question?" Belichick said with a smile, turning toward James.
"That was the last question," James replied.
With that, Belichick walked from the podium and out of the room.
I've got a baaaaaad feeling about this.....
Scots Wha Hey!
Our Maximum Leader reminds us that today is Rabbie Burns Day.
Ah, yes. Robert Burns. The National Poet of Scotland. The only poet of Scotland.
I jest! I jest! However, I must confess that, despite my own Scots heritage, I've never got quite so cranked up over it as many of my fellow Caledonian-Americans seem to do. For that you'd have to go to my Godparents - it's heelan coo and kilts, sporrans and black tie for special occassions and the Selkirk Grace every evening with them. Not that I complain, mind you. (Among other things, Uncle always has a fine selection of Island and Highland single malts at the ready when I pay a call.) But recently I've begun to feel a bit like Guy Crouchback at Mugg when visiting.
Also, I never have tried, nor ever will try haggis. Period.
Nonetheless, here's a little nugget by way of marking the day:
V for Vendetta (2005)
I purposely avoided reading reviews before I saw this movie. Actually, I read enough to see that it was favorably accepted, but I read them months ago and forgot the premise of the film before I watched it this past weekend. If you can imagine a very stylish graphic novel version of the film 1984 with a super hero instead of Winston Smith, and a lighter more swash-buckling tone, you'll get an idea of what V is like.
I'm going to avoid spoilers for a moment and go straight into talking about the acting. Natalie Portman is so incredibly good in this film she is almost too good. Her fear and anguish are so real that they more properly belong in a drama like Schindler's List. But her emotion grounds a film that, without her presence, would not work at all. She carrys this film on her thin shoulders and she does an amazing job.
Why wouldn't this film work without Natalie Portman? Because, V (the super hero) wears a Guy Fawkes mask for the entire film. The actor beneath the mask is Hugo Weaving, who's voice you may recognize as Agent Smith's from The Matrix. While Weaving does a masterful job of overcoming the limitations imposed on an actor by a mask, he needs his precious, tiny little Natalie Portman by his side to make us care.
What is a Guy Fawkes mask you ask? Well, in V it looks like this:
But this is just one version. Read this entertaining post titled "So This Guy in a Guy Fawkes Mask Walks into a Bar..." to learn more. Did Guy Fawkes actually wear a mask? I do not know, but since the mask supposedly looks like him, I imagine not.
Who was Guy Fawkes? Please don't tell Robbo you asked that question. He may thrash you! If you really don't know, you may quietly and discreetly slip away from this site just for a moment here to refresh yourself. Quick now while Robbo isn't looking!
SPOILER ALERT! The rest of this review is for people who've read the graphic novel or seen the movie. I need to talk about the threads in the story that seemed to lead somewhere but didn't end up being used. I didn't know if this was because they were in the graphic novel, but couldn't be tied up neatly in the film OR if it was just sloppiness on the part of the adaptation crew.
For example - V tells Evie early on that "there are no coincidences." This led me to believe that at some point the story would reveal why V had chosen Evie as his quasi-protégé. But their meeting was never explained in this light and it ended up coming off as an accident. From spending 132 minutes with V we know accidents don't happen to him.
Another example of a dropped thread - Evie's friend Deitrich makes "eggy in basket" for breakfast for her, only days after V did the same. Why? If it's not a coincidence then it must the official breakfast of the resistance. But that makes it funny. I couldn't figure out what we were supposed to make of this.
I could go on, but I won't because I want to read the graphic novel to see what I'm missing in this story. This is the second movie adapted from a graphic novel that I've seen which inspired me to want to read the novel. The first was Constantine. Both characters were developed by Alan Moore. I love this guy's apocalyptic vision of the world and I plan to spend some time exploring his work later this year.
Dang - We Need A Bigger Soap-Box
We're only No. 8 out of over a million Google hits for "University Mary Washington stupid name."
(For those of you unaware of the backstory, Mary Washington College was a perfectly respectable school down Fredericksburg way. About two years ago, the school decided to rename itself, incorporating an ambitious expansion into new undergrad and grad programs. Instead of the perfectly obvious "Mary Washington University", the school chose to go with "The University of Mary Washington." I said it was a stupid idea at the time and I still say so.)
Last evening as I was eating a belated and solitairy omelette (the Missus has the flu and had gone to bed already), the soon-to-be ten-year-old suddenly appeared in the kitchen, wide-eyed. She explained that she had checked out a library book of scary folktales, had read a few of them, and was now - in her words - "seriously freaking out" about being alone in her room. Could she stay with me for a little while and talk?
From earliest days, we've always been bedtime nazis: eight o'clock and you're in your room. Period. Whether you sleep or not is up to you, but we don't want to see you again. And overall, this has served us extremely well, as we've totally avoided all those horror stories about kids who won't go to bed before midnight, and then only after a lengthy and labor-intensive ritual on the part of Mom and/or Dad. Furthermore, all the gels have developed excellent sleeping habits, usually conking within five minutes of the end of bedtime story and the ritual drink of water.
Of course, the eldest Llama-ette isn't a baby anymore (indeed, she's not that far off from the Big Change) and we've gradually become more lax with her, letting her stay up to watch ball games or movies on weekend nights. However, we're still pretty strict on school nights, particularly as she is usually quite hard to pry out of bed in the morning.
Thinking of all this but recognizing that this seemed to be a special circumstance, I invited her to sit down with me. The very first thing she wanted to know about the stories she had read was were they true?
"Well, not really," I said. "Folk tales come from an awful lot of different sources. Some were invented to explain things that uneducated people couldn't understand. Some developed as warnings of a practical (don't go into the woods on the other side of the mountain) or moral (don't desecrate hallowed ground) variety. Some tales, as Tolkien said, simply grew in the telling."
As an example, I cited the case of Vlad the Impaler and his gradual evolution from ferocious Balkan warlord fighting the Turk into the most famous vampire. But I also pointed out how this often worked with good people, heroes, as well, including men like George Washington and Davy Crockett.
"So you see," I concluded, "it's most often the case with tales of this sort that they hold a kernal of truth in them somewhere, but are usually not factually accurate. So don't worry about it. Oh, and maybe you shouldn't read any more scary stories for a while."
The gel pondered this for a bit and then said, "You know, just talking things out with you like this really helps. Thanks, Dad. Say, could we go listen to some music for a little while?"
Well. How could I say no to that? We proceded down to Robbo's Former Fortress of Solitude and ran off, in succession, a quirky little string concerto by Telemann called "The Frogs", Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4 and Mozart's 4th Horn Concerto. The gel had done a reading assignment on Frederick the Great and Prussia this week: I widened her eyes by remarking that C.P.E. Bach, son of the great J.S. Bach and Godson of Telemann, was a musician in Frederick's service and his teacher as well. I also made her laugh with the story of how Mozart wrote the horn piece for a friend of his who later owned a cheese shop and how Mozart filled the autograph copies with all sorts of silly jokes and comments to make his friend laugh while trying to play them. (See, some fathers entertain their kids with magic tricks. Others talk about sports. Me, I pull out useless pieces of historickal trivia.)
By then, teh gel was completely relaxed and went to bed without a fuss. And this morning, she woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. "Thanks again for last night, Dad," she said, giving me a big hug as I shaved, "Because of our talk and the music, I had a great sleep."
Ya know, tomorrow happens to be my 43rd birthday. I've long resigned myself to the fact that I'm never going to be a Great Man, no captain of industry, no leader in some field of arts or sciences, nobody who anyone in particular is ever going to remember outside my immediate family and friends. However, if within that small circle I am remembered as a Good Man, well, that will be a sign that I've led a worthy life.
Random Commuter Observation
Seen on the back of a fellow Jeep Wrangler this morning:
If I wanted a HUMMER, I'd have called your sister!
('Course, I had to outright lie when the Llama-ettes demanded to know why I suddenly started hooting with laughter.)
Tearing The Party Apart
Yeah, I know the pull quote on Drudge from Peggy Noonan's latest is "Bush destroyed the Republican Party" (it's what's guaranteed to get the most clicks). But the main thrust of the piece is the internal rendering of the Democrats by the Clintons:
[T]he Clintons are tearing the party apart. It will not be the same after this. It will not be the same after its most famous leader, and probable ultimate victor, treated a proud and accomplished black man who is a U.S. senator as if he were nothing, a mere impediment to their plans. And to do it in a way that signals, to his supporters, How dare you have the temerity, the ingratitude, after all we've done for you?Had You-Know-Who run away with Iowa and NH, the predicition of "inevitable" would have come true and the party would now be coalescing around her candidacy. But Democrats are getting a reminder of the kind of ugliness that this political machine is capable of. And I predict their reconsideration of her viability in the general election will come just a bit too late in this process.
Watch for the GOP to attempt swoop in after the November elections and make profit of the wreckage.
January 24, 2008
Our friend Christine pastes a couple of classic Victor Borge clips.
I'll see you, Christine, and raise you a Chico & Harpo:
(My long-time teacher looked very much like Chico. And the youngest Llama-ette looks and acts very much like Harpo whenever I play around her these days.)
Gratuitous Admiral Akbar Warning
A fully armed and operational battle station....
Message to Obi-Wan Coughlin and the Giants: You guys all realize that this Tom Brady-with-the-injured-ankle meme is at best a bit of a Sith mind-trick just to taunt you and at worst a trap to lure you closer in, don't you?
And Now For Something Completely Different.....
Whoops! I see that I've been rayther cranky here today. My apologies. As I stood in the freezing cold waiting for my train to show up this morning, I also happened to read the first sixty-odd pages of Stanley Loomis' Paris in the Terror, my copy of which was just delivered yesterday.*** I expect this had something to do with it.
***Oddly, this is a book that I remember from my parents' library from my earliest yoot, but had never got round to reading. But Mom was quoting some passages at me t'other day and I suddenly got the urge to dive in. Glad I did, but it makes one extremely tetchy on the subject of people who believe they can bring about Heaven on earth.
Anyhoo, in order to shake things up, how about a golden oldie that always makes me smile?
Ah, that's better!
The Stations of the MDG's
I used to mock the Millenium Development Goals the Episcopal Church has been hustling the past couple years, but this goes far beyond harmless "Buy a goat for Jesus" do-gooderism: TEC now has come up with a Lenten worship liturgy specifically designed to take the place of the Stations of the Cross.
That's nasty, that is.
It's just under eight weeks before I can o-fficially say, "No, thank you, I'm Catholic." Not a moment too soon, either.
Gratuitous Cranky Musickal Posting ***
(***Extra crankiness due to the fact that I stood on the metro platform for two solid hours this morning freezing my llama hooves off.)
Anne-Sophie Mutter is an extremely popular concert violinist. And yet, every time I hear one of her recordings, my reaction ranges from the lukewarm to the outright incredulous.
This morning I happened to hear her perform Pablo de Sarasate's Carmen Fantasy. It's a trashy piece of music, designed mostly to let the solo violinist show off, but I confess to a weakness for it. Nonetheless, in Ms. Mutter's hands, I though the thing awfully butchered - wild shrieks, questionable accuracy and indifferent tone throughout.
So why is Ms. Mutter so immensely popular? My guess would be that it is because she happens to be something of a babe:
Yup. Call me a cynic, but I doubt, say, Itzhak Perlman would have got very far playing like that.
January 23, 2008
Going To The Late Inning Pinch Hitter
Whoa. Since I've fanned out completely with you guys today with my inane excursions into history and musick, I give you instead a pretty durn good Tom Cruise impersonation:
Yips to Lintenfiniel Jen, who also has clips of the Original.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting - II
In their book Haydn, His Life And Music, H.C. Robbins Landon and David Wyn Jones neatly juxtapose two letters that illustrate a relationship I've always cherished.
The first is from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to Franz Joseph Haydn, in which Mozart dedicates a set of six string quartets to Haydn:
Vienna, 1st September 1785
To my dear friend Haydn:
A father, having resolved to send his sons into the great world, finds it advisable to entrust them to the protection and guidance of a highly-celebrated man, the more so since this man, by a stroke of luck, is his best friend. Here, then, celebrated man and my dearest friend, are my six sons. Truly, they are the fruit of a long and laborious effort, but the hope, strengthened by several of my friends, that this effort would, at least in some small measure, be rewarded, encourages and comforts me that one day, these children may be a source of consolation to me. You yourself, dearest friend, during your last sojourn in this capital, expressed to me your satisfaction with these works. This, your approval, encourages me more than anything else, and thus I entrust them to your care, and I hope that they are not wholly unworthy of your favor. Do but receive them kindly and be their father, guide and friend! From this moment I cede to you all my rights over them: I pray you to be indulgent to their mistakes, which a father's partial eye may have overlooked, and despite this, to cloak them in the mantle of your generousity which they value so highly. From the bottom of my heart I am, dearest friend,
Your most sincere friend,
In a December 1787 letter to Franz Roth of Prague in reply to a request for a comic opera, Haydn says, in part:
... You ask me for an opera buffa. Most willingly, if you want to have one of my vocal compositions for yourself alone. But if you intend to produce it on the stage in Prague, in that case I cannot comply with your wish, because all my operas are far too closely connected with our personal circle (Esterhaz, in Hungary), and moreover they would not produce the proper effect, which I calculated in accordance with the locality. It would be quite another matter if I were to have the great good fortune to compose a brand-new libretto for your theatre. But even then I should be risking a good deal, for scarcely any man can brook comparison with the great Mozart.
If I could only impress on the soul of every friend of music, and on high personages in particular, how inimitable are Mozart's works, how profound, how musically intelligent, how extraordinarily sensitive! (for this is how I understand them, how I feel them) - wihy then the nations would vie with each other to possess such a jewel within their frontiers. Prague should hold him fast - but should reward him, too: for without this, the history of great geniuses is sad, indeed, and gives but little encouragement to posterity to further exertions; and unfortunately this is why so many promising intellects fall by the wayside. It enrages me to think that this incomparable Mozart is not yet engaged by some imperial or royal court! Forgive me if I lose my head: but I love the man so dearly. I am, &c.
- Joseph Haydn.
Gratuitous Musickal Posting - I
From a letter of Johann Sebastian Bach to his cousin J.E. Bach:
Leipzig, November 2, 1748
MOST NOBLE AND MOST ESTEEMED COUSIN,
That you and your dear wife are still well I am assured by the agreeable note I received from you yesterday accompanying the excellent little cask of wine you sent me, for which I send you herewith the thanks I owe you. It is, however, greatly to be regretted that the little cask was damaged, either by being shaken up in the wagon or in some other way, for when it was opened for the usual customs inspection here it was almost two-thirds empty, and according to the inspector's report contained no more than six quarts; and it is a pity that even the least drop of this noble gift of God should have been spilled. But, while I heartily congratulate my honoured Cousin on the rich vintage he has garnered, I must acknowledge my inability, nunc pro tunc, not to be in a position to make an appropriate return. But deferred is not cancelled, and I hope to have occasion to acquit my debt in some way.....
- JOH. SEB. BACH
P.S..... Although my honoured Cousin kindly offers to oblige with more of the liqueur, I must decline his offer on account of the excessive expenses here. For since the carriage charges cost 16 groschen, the delivery man 2 groschen, the customs inspector 2 groschen, the inland duty 5 groschen, 3 pfennig, and the general duty 3 groschen, my honoured Cousin can judge for himself that each quart costs me almost 5 groschen, which for a present is really too expensive.
That always cracks me up.
Must Read (Political) Post Of The Day
Via The Anchoress, who pulls no punches taking the GOP base to the woodshed.
If Ronald Reagan were alive right now, watching the GOP split into these tantrum-throwing factions (whereby “perfection” is duly defined as “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-free-market, pro-worship, pro-Bush-doctrine, pro-tax-cut, pro-ship-back-all-illegals” and then, as each less-than-perfect candidate’s failure on one or more issues is noted, each are thus deemed unworthy of the support of the pristine and uncompromising “base”) I think he’d be disgusted with the lot of you.Read it all. "It's Gold, Jerry! Gold!"
Utterly Gratuitous Historickal Pedantry Observation
I was finishing up the last chapter of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (a chapter devoted to the progressivist traps into which well-meaning conservatives can skid if they do not maintain their vigilance), when I came across this line:
Rousseau was right about one thing: censorship is useful for preserving morals but useless for restoring them. A Department of Judeo-Christian Culture would only succeed in creating a parody of real culture. In Europe the churches are subsidized by the State, and the pews are empty as a result. The problem with values relativism - the notion that all cultures are equal - is that important questions get decided via a contest of political powers rather than a contest of ideas, and every subculture in our balkanized society becomes a constituency for some government functionary. The result is a state-sanctioned multicultural ethos where Aztecs and Athenians are equal - at least in the eyese of public school teachers and muticultural gurus. In an open society, best practices win.
- Liberal Fascism at pp 395-396.
"Wait a minute, Self!" I said to myself, "Didn't you just read almost exactly those words about censorship somewhere else recently?" A quick check reveals that I did, indeed. Edward Gibbon says of the Emperor Decius' plan to appoint Valerian as Censor in about A.D. 250 in order to "restor[e] public virtue, ancient principles and manners, and the oppressed majesty of the laws":
A censor may maintain, he can never restore, the morals of a state. It is impossible for such a magistrate to exert his authority with benefit, or even with effect, unless he is supported by a quick sense of honour and virtue in the minds of the people, by a decent reverence for the public opinion, and by a train of useful prejudices combating on the side of national manners. In a period when these principles are annihilated, the censorial jurisdiction must either sink into empty pageantry, or be converted into a partial instrument of vexatious oppression.
- Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter 10 (p. 230 of Volume I of my Folio Society edition)
Before sending one of those snide and snooty corrective emails off to the G-Man, I did a little more digging. Alas, Rousseau's Social Contract - to which Jonah alludes - was published in 1762, while Gibbon's opus was published in 1776. I can only assume that Gibbon had Rousseau in mind when he made his observation, although he does not footnote it.
BTW, I still strongly recommend Jonah's book. His history of the common roots of American Progressivism (which colors modern Liberalism) and the various branches of European Totalitarianism, is masterful and eye-opening. There has been a goodish bit of criticism hurled around about his application of these historical commonalities to his analysis of the current Left, but most of it seems to be based on assertions that Jonah never actually makes. (For instance, just because the Nazis were obsessed with organic food, Jonah does not say that Whole Foods is a Nazi operation.) And his final chapter mentioned above, entitled "The Tempting of Conservatives", ought to be required reading for anybody who calls him or herself a person of the Right these days. And if you haven't seen it yet, Jonah's got a blog up over at NRO devoted to the book, in which he tracks its sales, answers its critics and just generally follows up on things.
Happy Birthday, Buck
On this day, 65 years ago, Gil Gerard was born in Little Rock, AR. Folks of my vintage well remember his version of "Buck Rogers In The 25th Century" and oh, have I mentioned lately that I did a whole series of posts on the episodes of Season One?
Oh, yeah. I did. Never mind.
Ah The Era Of Soundboards (The Arnold Prank Call)
Matt Romney has a little fun at his dad's expense.
January 22, 2008
Gratuitous Roe Day Observation
Taranto has this to say about the anniversary of Roe v Wade and the current state of the abortion debate:
Today is the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision in which seven men imposed their views on abortion on the entire country. This ruling, which had no basis in the text of the Constitution and only a tenuous connection to then-existing precedents, was supposed to settle the matter once and for all. Instead, it turned the court into a de facto review board for state abortion policies and made abortion--and by extension the court itself--into the most divisive issue in presidential politics.
Both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have articles noting, with some surprise, that today's antiabortion movement includes lots of young people. The Post piece includes this delightful bit of Fox Butterfieldesque puzzlement:Despite the steady drop in abortions across the United States in the three decades since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in 1973 in the case of Roe v. Wade, a new generation of activists is taking up the cause with conviction and sophistication. There are Students for Life chapters on more than 400 college campuses nationwide.
What is the logic of that "despite"? Abortion tends not to be carried down through the generations: If your mother had an abortion when she was pregnant with you, the likelihood of your ever having an abortion is close to zero. The L.A. Times describes a meeting of an antiabortion group called Generation Life, which sheds some further light on the subject:"I feel like we're all survivors of abortion," Claire said.
She has five sisters and a brother; most of her classmates, she said, come from much smaller families. The way Claire sees it, they're missing out on much joy--and she blames abortion.
"I look at my friends," she said, "and I wonder, 'Where are your siblings?' "
They're not out marching for legal abortion, that's for sure!
Now Taranto has been on this pro-abortion-rights-types-tend-to-thin-themselves-out kick for quite a while and I imagine there's something to it. However, the Missus and I happened to be talking about the whole business yesterday and she brought up what I think is a perfectly valid point: in the past twenty years or so, the advances in pre-natal technology - with sonograms, detailed photos, heart-beats detected ever earlier in the cycle, and so on - have made it abundantly clear that the issue is about the interests of both the mother and the child within her. Armed with this information, younger people are simply harder to convince that it's all just about a woman's body or some abstract Right to Choose, and are pushing back more and more, accordingly.
Very smart woman, my wife.
The New State Of The Race - GOP Division
With Ol' Fred taking his leave of the process (NRO has an analysis on why he never really took off), let's look at where the remaining (major) candidates stand:
Huckabee: Word is the Huckster is out of money and he's all but abandoned Florida. Had Fred withdrawn earlier he probably would have won SC. Since he came in second, his big hope now is to "hang around" and accumulate some delegates. VP spot, anyone?
McCain: His challenge now is to win primaries that are closed to non-party members (i.e. independents). If he loses Florida, the bloom of "inevitability" may wither and his softer support may elude him on Extreme Tuesday. The MSM loves him. The conservative base of the Republican party? Not so much.
Romney: His biggest advantage is the money. He can stay in as long as he wants. Ad buys may be effective in introducing himself to voters who may not be that familiar with him. He's currently got the most delegates and looks like slow and steady is his strategy. He has an uncanny ability to win you over if you're not firmly in another camp.
Giuliani: If this comes down to a three way race (McCain-Romney-Giuliani), even a second place finish in Florida can keep him alive for Feb. 5th. He's got the name recognition down. He's probably got the toughest sell. But stranger things have happened already. And Rudy could end up defying all pundits and come away with a plurality of the available delegates.
From where I sit (and I'm still a Rudy guy) I see the best chances for the nomination - over the long haul - in this order:
We shall see.
"Good Night, Bob"
I'm old enough to have been a great fan of the old Bob Newhart Show back in the 70's. I'm also old enough that Pleshette's dark hair, cool and poised delivery and two-pack-a-day huskiness made quite the impression on my burgeoning...well, let's just say she was one of my early crushes.
Indeed, so taken with her was I in my yoot that I even forgave her for her role in The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin when I finally saw it. This despite the fact that the movie, very loosely based on By The Great Horn Spoon, a favorite novel of mine at the time, made a complete hash of the book, and was indeed my first experience of Hollywood screen adaptation butchery.
Calling Sarah Connor
Israel to deploy Skynet! Okay, not quite but check this out.
Ol' Fred Hangs It Up
NAPLES, Fla. - Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.
"Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Thompson said in a statement.
Thompson's fate was sealed last Saturday in the South Carolina primary, when he finished third in a state that he had said he needed to win.
In the statement, Thompson did not say whether he would endorse any of his former rivals. He was one of a handful of members of Congress who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2000 in his unsuccessful race against George W. Bush for the party nomination.
Guess we're gonna have to revamp the sidebar. For any other candidates seeking our support, just keep in mind that the PayPal donation button over to teh right works just fine....
"Jesusanity" is a coined term for the alternative story about Jesus. Here the center of the story is still Jesus, but Jesus as either a prophet or a teacher of religious wisdom. In Jesusanity, Jesus remains very much Jesus of Nazareth. He points the way to God and leads people into a journey with God. His role is primarily one of teacher, guide, and example. Jesus' special status involves his insight into the human condition and the enlightenment he brings to it. There is no enthronement of Jesus at God's side, only the power of his teaching and example. In this story, the key is that Jesus inspires others, but there is no throne for him. He is one among many – the best, perhaps, and one worthy to learn from and follow.
The post (which is a review of a book debunking the idea) caught my eye because while I've heard a goodish bit of this kind of talk lately, I've never seen a name put to it. It strikes me as a way to rationalize being able to say nice things about Jesus ("He was kind to children! He didn't kill cute puppies! He separated his plastics!") while at the same time avoiding the leap that true Faith demands.
UPDATE: Dropped below the fold for the benefit of certain of our regular readers, I can't resist reposting this little a propos gem. (If you don't want to look, don't click. Then everybody's happy, right?)
Heh. Hey, don't blame me - blame the Elves!
I've Got A Baaaaad Feeling About This
Half of my office showed up for work this morning with a wicked pissah flu. Now I happen to feel just fine n' dandy at the moment, but my birthday is coming up Saturday and I have to fly out for a deposition Sunday night.
Think I don't see this one coming? Where'd I put those zinc supplements?
MID-DAY UPDATE: Okay, not feeling so fine and dandy anymore. Geh. But no! I refuse to believe that there is any connection! I just didn't get a very good night's sleep last night, that's all. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Old Stars Give Birth Again
No - not Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton!
Astral body stars, billions of years old, are producing new planets. It thrills the geek in me. Read the article at Space.com.
January 21, 2008
Well, this explains . . .
why people are looking at me wondering what will trigger my latent PTSD. Via NRO.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - For The Birds Division
(Photo lifted from the Cornell Ornothology Lab)
This is the Red-breasted Nuthatch. As I was idly gazing out the library window at Orgle Manor this morning, I noticed one messing about the feeder. While we have lots of ordinary Nuthatches 'round here, I've never noticed one of the Red-breasted variety before. Very nice.
January 20, 2008
Gratuitous Football Observation
Help us, Eli-Wan Kenobi, you're our only hope!
Hats off to the Giants for toughing it out on the frozen tundra of Green Bay this evening, but I'm apprehensive about their chances against the Pats Juggernaut.
Still, dum spiro, spero, right?
Yips! from Gary:
Hey, the pressure is all on the Pats. They're supposed to win. They're the best team in the NFL, right? For the Jints, it's all gravy.
And how humiliating is the prospect of going through a perfect season only to be beaten by a Wildcard team. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Gratuitous Llama Movie Observations
Two things came to mind as I was recently watching The Cowboys for the umpteenth time:
1. Can you imagine what a ride that film must have been for the boys who starred in it? Not only were they in the saddle, riding & roping & yippie-kay-yaying all over New Mexico and Oregon (I believe), but they were doing so with The Dook! For a nine, ten, eleven year old kid, how could it possibly get any sweeter than that?
2. One of my many beefs with the movie Master & Commander, indeed probably my chief beef, was the casting of Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey. All wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Crowe's shtick is dour broodiness. Aubrey, on the other hand, is a big, sanguine, leonine man. Know who would have suited him well, the accent issues aside? John Wayne, that's who.
Gratuitous Llama Political Observation
If it came down to it, I could live with McCain. Yes, there are some -cough- things -cough- I hate - McCain-Feingold - about his record, but I'd certainly trust him on foreign policy, which as I've said is the big issue for me this year.
If you'd have told me back in 2000 that I would be saying this now, I'd probably have howled with derisive laughter.
UPDATE: The Irish Elk has more on McCain as a Scoop-Jackson Donk in Elephant Clothing. Yeah, maybe. But again, I say, consider the alternative.....
UPDATE DEUX: Flipping about the blogsphere, I notice several conservative types - Ace and Jeff Goldstein come to mind - making Achilles-sulking-in-his-tent rumblings. While I appreciate their frustration, I can't approve their means of showing it. This ain't 1992 when the country was drowzing in false peace. We're in a proxy war against Iran already and likely to be in a full-scale one in the next couple years. God knows what's going to happen to Pakistan and, of course, we can't let up on the Al-Q boys anywhere else. Plus, the next prez is going to pick how many Supreme Court justices? Two? Three? Truth of the matter is that there's just too much Real Life Stuff at stake for conservatives to let She Who Must Not Be Named take the helm just to teach the GOP a lesson this year.
Steven, at The Sneeze is running a study in psychology on his small son. Hilarity ensues.
Large cuppa steaming Darjeeling for the lovely Mrs. Keysunset!
January 19, 2008
Hillary, Still Milking It for All It is Worth
Monica Lewinsky, of course, but ten years down the road-it is just getting a little thin.
Happy Birthday, General Lee!
Robert Edward Lee was born this day in 1807 at Stratford Hall, Virginia.
Regular reader (and fellow Dubyanell alum) Monica sent along this article by Paul Greenberg that captures nicely what made Lee, well, Lee:
Lee's was but the code of the gentleman. But who now can remember what a gentleman was? Therefore we conclude that there never really was such a thing. We assume there had to be some self-interest in Lee, and that we can find it if we just keep chipping away at the marble man. Shard by shard, we will yet explain him, until his spell lies shattered into a hundred different pieces. Instead, it is we who are shattered, revealed as incomplete, broken and, worse, unaware of it.
Modernity, which is another name for the American experience, is incapable of seeing wholeness. And it is his wholeness that explains Lee's emotion without sentimentality, his mythology without fictiveness.
Lee did not exult in victory or explain in defeat. At Chancellorsville, arguably the most brilliant victory ever achieved by an American commander, his thoughts seemed only of the wounded Jackson. As if he understood that losing Jackson would be to lose the war, that nothing would be the same afterward. At Appomattox, he was intent on the best terms he could secure for his men. His own fate did not seem to concern him except for the ways in which it might affect others - his family, his countrymen, the next generation. From beginning to end, his circumstances changed, but he remained the same. And does yet.
If the South is more than a geographic designation, if there is still a South worthy of the name, it is because myth continues to shape her, and Southerners may still be able to imagine what it is to be whole, all of a piece.
When Flannery O'Connor was asked why Southerners seem to have a penchant for writing about freaks, she would say: Because in the South we are still able to recognize a freak when we see one. To do that, one must have some idea of what wholeness would be. In these latitudes, the idea of wholeness has a name: Lee.
As I said last year, Lee was a tragic hero - the best of men who, through one character flaw and a set of horrid circumstances, found himself on the wrong side in the great battle of the times. I think both Shakespeare and the classical Greek authors would have recognized him as such.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Technological Seduction Division
So the Missus went and bought herself an I-pod. True to our rayther Luddite leanings, we had to have one of the Llama-ettes' little friends come over and set the durn thing up for her.
For the past day or two, therefore, the talk around Orgle Manor has been of nothing but said I-pod, the Missus praising its glories and the Llama-ettes squabbling over it like seagulls fighting over a dead crab. I was sniffing about the whole business this morning when the Missus said, "Oh, yes? Well what about you and your blogging?"
"That, my dear," I replied loftily, "is an exercise in creative writing."
"Uh, huh," she said. "And I suppose all those babe photos you post are an exercise in creative writing, too?"
IN FOR A PENNY UPDATE: It happens to be the late Robert Palmer's birthday today. In his honor, let us study one of his more famous MTV videos with a view to a discussion of the so-called Reagan Revolution of the mid-80's and the aesthetics of babe objectification in popular musick and culchah and stuff during that period. This is strictly academic, of course:
January 18, 2008
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Manning the Ramparts Division
So the eldest Llama-ette came home from St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method singing a new song recently. It is set to the tune of La Marseillaise and goes something like this:
Caused the Fre-eench Revolution.
He was the worst king since Louis the Fifteenth,
Who was the worst king since Louis the Fourteenth...
And so on, apparently all the way back if not to Charlemagne, then at least the first of the Bourbons. I can't get the words and meter exactly right, but you get the idea.
"No he didn't and no he wasn't," I snapped when I heard her. "Where on earth did you get that?"
"From my music teacher," the gel replied. "She wrote that song."
"Well, she certainly didn't write the tune," I said, "And she's quite wrong about her history. The forces that erupted in 1789 had been building up for a loooong time. Louis' problem was that he was too soft and too kind-hearted. That gave those Jacobin dogs and their rabble the opening they were looking for, with the result that poor old Louis, his wife and a lot of other perfectly innocent people suffered for it terribly. There's not much good can be said of the French Revolution."
I told her not to, but I have every reason to believe she's gone straight back to her teacher and relayed my comments.
This is the same teacher who wrote a Columbus Day song that starts:
In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-Two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
It was a courageous thing to do,
But someone was already there.
The chorus is a laundry list of Indian tribes, all implied to be living in perfect harmony with each other and Nature.
This one happens to scan prettily, but I still don't like it. When the gels sang it for the first time, I launched into a cranky little screed about the myth of the primitivist paradise, touching not only on the great imperial civilizations of Central and South America and what they did to their neighbors, but also the fear and loathing of the Sioux by everyone around them and the outright terror inspired by the Iroquois in every other tribe east of the Mississippi.
Dueling Papaws of Rock
I recently bought two CDs:
The one on the left is All the Road Running featuring venerable Papaw of Rock Mark Knopfler, formerly of Dire Straits, with Emmylou Harris. The right hand CD is venerable Papaw of Rock Robert Plant, formerly of a little quartet called Led Zeppelin, singing along with Alison Krauss.
The title of the Plant / Krauss collaboration is "Raising Sand," but I've gotta tell ya, slow as most of these songs are, they should have titled it "Giving Sand Three Benedryls, a Down Comforter and a Hot Water Bottle on Its Feet."
IMO, the voices blend well, but even on the best cuts, of which there are about three, I get the feeling that Plant is there doing self-involved vocal stylings while Krauss is providing all of the emotional weight - and that weight can be measured in milligrams. They seem to be singing past each other as though they never even met to make this album. And maybe they didn't.
"Fortune Teller," "Gone, Gone, Gone," and "Please Read the Letter," are my favorites. All the others are slow as cold molasses and soft as a bunny fluffed with dryer sheets. But there is little to no emotional investment on the part of the singers. They don't care - you don't care. It's music to fall into a coma by.
By contrast All the Road Running is a delight from start to finish. Emmylou Harris has a deeper emotional range than Krauss. And if pipe tobacco could sing, it would sound like Mark Knopfler. His barbed guitar is the perfect counterpoint to his smooth mellow voice. Knopfler and Harris together make you believe and relish every moment of this recording.
Guitar soundscapes remind me of Daniel Lanois and - sometimes - even The Police. The resulting sound is less traditionally country than the sounds on "Raising Sand."
So in this particular duel between Papaws of Rock, I give the title to Mark Knopfler. He comes across as more flexible, more engaged and he's certainly created a much more enjoyable aural experience, for my ears.
Somebody call Brooke Shields
POPSUGAR has clips of TC accepting some LRH award or another, not to mention a rant on the evils of psychology. Via the incomparable Kathy the Cake-eater whose favorite is the one claiming credit for saving all the firefighters at Ground Zero.
Happy Birthday, Archie!
On this day in 1904, Archibald Alec Leach was born. You know him better as Cary Grant. I inherited a love of old films from my mother who would always point out to me her favorites when they aired on broadcast TV (to supplement my steady diet of cable-tv).
Grant was - IMO - one of the very best actors ever to appear on screen. Whether comedy or drama, Grant commanded every scene he was in and made the performances of other actors even better. Contrast this to the...ehem...fella in the post below.
Truly a legend.
Yips! from Robbo: In a truly felicitous coincidence, Netflix sent me a copy of Holiday today. This is my single favorite Grant/Hepburn movie, a delightful little comedy complete with snappy banter and even some acrobatics.
And speaking of such things, here's an interesting little thesis for you: I happen to believe that Will Smith, of all people, is the closest thing going to a modern day Cary Grant. Discuss.
Tom's Scientology Pitch
Supposedly this video of Tom Cruise, hosted at Gawker, is one that the Church of Scientology has desperately tried to suppress. This is the very definition of fanaticism. His maniacal laugh from the middle to the end rivals even that of She Who Must Not Be Named for creepiness.
I find it interesting that so many people in Hollywood are afraid of Christians yet they think these people are fascinating. Ironic, no?
January 17, 2008
'Nuther Show Of Hands, Please
Who else around here gets a case of the creeps when they hear the expression "Government economic stimulus package"?
Something Up With Our Banter?
We're the top Google/UK search hit for "llama and the kettle".
Must be some kind of Cockney rhyming slang. As in "So me girl an' me left the pub and went up to her flat and it was nuffin' but llama and the kettle for three hours!"
The imagination boggles, dunnit?
Show of Hands, Please
Of all those out there who think "Chip" and the Crack Young Staff over at the Hatemonger's Quarterly have had ample time for backsliding and gold-bricking now and need to get off their collective duffs.
Former TV President Backs Obama
Dennis Haysbert who played President David Palmer on the hit show "24" comes out for Barack Obama and opines that "his character on the FOX hit is at least partly responsible for opening America's mind to a black commander in chief".
Actually, I partially agree with him. Being a big fan of the show myself, I can attest to the fact that Haysbert's performance was so compelling that the fact that he was African-American was irrelevant. Even in the first season, which highlighted the historic implications of his fictional Presidential campaign, the character was never even remotely defined by his race but rather by the leadership qualities he displayed - which made him a fan favorite since day one.
"Face it, Wayne. Even you're no David Palmer."
While President Palmer never really had the opportunity to reveal his political idealogy in general, the character was written as a Democrat. It was his steadfast resolve and conviction in fighting the terrorist enemies that won him his popularity among viewers. (Incidentally, Haysbert himself is a Liberal Democrat who has cited his Presidential influences as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.)
On the one hand, if you're inclined to think that race is an issue in choosing a President I suspect it would take more than a popular TV character to open your mind to the idea.
However I also believe that any candidate for President - man or woman, black or white - who demonstrates the qualities of a President David Palmer would be pretty popular with American electorate. Considering his Liberal positions, though, I don't see Obama as that candidate.
h/t: Jonathan Garthwaite at Townhall.com
Gratuitous Crossing the Tiber Posting
The last few weeks of my RCIA class have been taught by a friend of mine (and my sponsor, as a matter of fact). He's a dour sort of fellah to begin with, plus he's a convert of about fifteen years' standing himself, with all the, ah, zeal not at all uncommon to such folk.
For better or worse, he was told off to lecture on the Commandments. And as you might imagine, when he gets going on modern social problems in this context, he sounds like rayther like one of the minor prophets on an extremely cranky morning.
Anyhoo, he was in the middle of the Catechismic teachings on the Third Commandment last evening when I started chuckling to myself because I had suddenly remembered the old Steve Martin routine which runs, as near as memory can make it, something like this:
Wouldn't it be weird if you died and then you woke up and found yourself in Heaven and it was just like they'd always said? With the Pearly Gates? And everybody had wings and everything? Wouldn't you feel like an idiot? "Oh, noooooo!!! You mean-? Awwww!!!!!...... In college, they told us this was all bullshite! Well, I'll just go on in and....What? You mean you've been keeping track? Awwwwwww!!!! Well, look, I wasn't such a bad guy! I mean, for instance how many times did I take the Lord's name in vain? A million six? Jesus Chri-."
That routine is, what, nearly 30 years old now and it still makes me smile. (My apologies to any purists out there if I did not repeat it correctly word for word.)
Anyhoo, I contained myself and avoided a disruption. And you'll be proud to know that I also successfully resisted telling the joke about the Episcopal Church now having four Commandments and six Suggestions.
Speaking of RCIA, thanks to all of you who have dropped notes in the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack asking how it's going. In fact, it's going just fine. I thought at the beginning that I would have more to say, but really the journey has been so very short and - frankly - easy, that I've found this hasn't been the case. This really shouldn't be surprising, I suppose: Coming out of an Orthodox Anglican tradition, I was already about 98% of the way there theologically anyway. The change has been more akin to the optometrist switching from Lens A to Lens B than anything else - same wall chart but much greater clarity. And if I may be permitted to extend the metaphor, being able to read the chart more clearly has allowed me to read it much more deeply and meaningfully, too. The fact of the matter is that the past six months or so have been the, well, happiest and most fulfilling that I can ever remember.
BTW, for those of you keeping up with the Robbo Patron Saint Sweepstakes, I am leaning very heavily toward Augustine and Aquinas, while also keeping St. Cecilia's Day because of my musickal interest. A number of folk seem to think that Thomas More is a good fit, too, but the fact of the matter is that I wish to stear clear of the whole messy business of the English Reformation. Just because I'm leaving the Anglican Church now in its present - perhaps fatal - crisis, I have no desire to go back and savage its entire history. I leave that to other people. Plus, whether he intended it or not, I've always felt that More's introduction of Utopia into the collective conscience has allowed a great many very naughty people to do a great deal of harm over the years.
LOW HANGING FRUIT YIPS from Steve-O: Third Commandment? So what is Benedict's take on the quartering of troops, anyway?
Random Musickal Observation
Regular readers will probably already know that when it comes to musick, my heart is thoroughly in the Baroque. (What does that make me? A Baroquist? A Baroquian? A Nerd?)
This is not to say that I don't like other periods, of course. After all, where would that leave Haydn and Mozart? However, the truth is that most of the time I would much rather listen to a piece of C3 Baroque musick than anything but the best of any other period.
Having said all that, I happened to hear a couple of pieces on the radio this morning - one of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances and the last movement of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. (Dvorak and Tchaikovsky were almost exact contemporaries, incidentally, born in 1841 and 1840, respectively.) And it occured to me yet again that every time I hear Dvorak's musick I like it more and more, while every time I hear Tchaikovsky's (with the possible exception of some of his ballet musick), I find it all the more tedious.
I throw that out for what it's worth.
UPDATE: Having trouble getting into the comments again, dang it. But following up on JohnL, yes, I definitely need to expand the CD collection in that regard. Speaking of which, I heard a bit of a cello suite last evening by one Georg Mathias Monn, a Viennese composer I'd never heard of who died the same year as Bach (1750). Pleasant and at times interesting, but every now and again a shudder went through the piece that had me scratching my head.
Also, I of course agree with RBJ about 20th Century music as a rule, although I do confess to enjoying certain select bits by Holst, Vaughn Williams and Walton. (With the latter two, it's primarily their treatment of stuff written by other people - like the Tallis Fantasia - or else their English Folk Song settings.) Also, I've recently become more interested in the works of Saint-Saens. Plus I enjoy the snotty things he said about Debussy.
Bear in mind that I'm just talking about what is generally referred to as "Classical" musick here. Certainly, I am very fond of a wide variety of other kinds of musick as well.
It's the Storm of the Century of the Week!
Run for your lives!
A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect from 7 am this morning to midnight EST tonight.
An area of low pressure over the northeastern Gulf of Mexico will
move northeast to near Cape Hatteras by late this afternoon... and
then up the eastern Seaboard tonight. Well ahead of this system
precipitation will spread north from near Fredericksburg early
this morning... to near Baltimore by late morning.
Precipitation is expected to remain snow into the afternoon
hours... before gradually mixing with and changing to rain from
east to west this afternoon. Precipitation will mostly be rain
tonight... but with temperatures hovering near freezing...
particularly west of Interstate 95... some patches of freezing rain
may linger into the evening hours.
An inch or two of snow can be expected along the Interstate 95
corridor today... with 2 to 4 inches possible in the nearby western
I confess that I drank the kool aid this morning and came to work decked out in tweed, corduroy and my ol' Bean boots, the last because my dislike of cold, wet feet grows more intense as I get older.
The punch line? Not a flake so far......
Meanwhile, Mom reports that her little corner of Midcoast Maine has already seen near four feet this year, waaaaay above average. We blame global warming, of course. Or sump'in.
NOONISH UPDATE: Okay, it's coming down nicely now. Very pretty. They say the snow won't last but will turn into sleet or rain later. Since I have to drive home in it, I don't feel too bad about this. Glad I wore my Bean boots after all.
January 16, 2008
Killer still at large!
I kid you not--this evening's 11 p.m. news included a feature on a local Chihuahua knocked off by a redtail hawk. It included interviews with two of the bereaved, stills of the departed, file footage of a redtail, helpful facts such as the hawks are found in all of the lower 48 states, and well as a graphic representation of a raptor in a dive.
The police may not make it there in time to save poor Fifi if you live anywhere near the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC. Arm yourselves to save your rat-like dog from certain death that will come without warning from the sky.
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
YIPS FROM A FAITHFUL READER: From a Boy Named Sous: When I lived in San Diego, I loved to attend the bird of prey shows at the Wild Animal Park, including the up-close "Hawk Talks" after the whistles-and-bells show. In one of these I learned that Red-tailed Hawks are , which are diving raptors. Once they commit to a dive, they are very unmanouverable, and if their prey sees them and scampers, chances for escape are good -- 90% of the time, a Buteo misses its prey. Owls, on the other hand, swoop in from low altitudes, and 90% of their attacks result in a meal.
And even at 9 to 1 odds, the Chihuahua couldn't beat the spread. Tells ya something, donnit?
Is it just me? Or did this week's Noozweek cover look, umm, familiar?
Finally, a hobby more stupid and less socially-redeeming than blogging
Dude, I'm at a loss:
Geist's breath fogs the winter air as he surveys the frozen Minneapolis skyline, searching for signs of trouble. His long duster flaps in the breeze as his eyes flick behind reflective sunglasses; a wide-brim hat and green iridescent mask shroud his identity from those who might wish him harm.
Should a villain attack, the Emerald Enforcer carries a small arsenal to defend himself: smoke grenades, pepper spray, a slingshot, and a pair of six-inch fighting sticks tucked into sturdy leather boots. Leather guards protect Geist's arms; his signature weapon, an Argentinean cattle-snare called bolos, hangs from a belt-holster.
A mission awaits and time is of the essence, so Geist eases his solid frame, honed from martial arts training, into his trusty patrol vehicle—a salt-covered beige sedan. Unfamiliar with the transportation tangle of downtown, he pulls a MapQuest printout from his pocket, discovering his goal is but a short cruise down Washington Avenue.
Soon Geist faces his first obstacle: parking on the left side of a one-way street. "Usually one of my superpowers is parallel parking," he chuckles as he eases his car into the spot, emerging victorious with a foot and a half between curb and tire. He feeds a gauntleted fistful of quarters into the parking meter, and then pops the trunk on the Geistmobile to retrieve his precious cargo. On the street, he encounters businesspeople on lunch break—some stare openly; others don't even notice his garish attire. "It's easier in winter," Geist says with a laugh. "Winter in Minnesota, everybody's dressed weird."
Finally, his destination is in sight: People Serving People, a local homeless shelter. Geist strides boldly into the lobby—a cramped, noisy room where kids and adults mill about chatting—and heaves his stuffed paper bags onto the counter. "I have some groceries to donate," he tells Dean, the blond-bearded security guard on duty, whose placid expression suggests superheroes pop in on a regular basis. "And I have an hour on the meter if there's anything I can do to help out."
Wendy Darst, the volunteer coordinator, looks taken aback but gladly puts the superhero to work. Soon the Jade Justice finds himself hip-deep in a supply closet, piling books into a red Radio Flyer wagon. He wheels it back to the lobby, entreating the children to select a text. But the kids seem more interested in peppering him with questions. "So are you a cowboy or something?" one boy asks.
Geist kneels down to reply with a camera-ready grin, "Maybe a super-secret, space-cowboy detective!"
Another kid, awed by the uniform, just stares silently. "Hi," Geist says with a smile, holding out his hand in greeting. "I'm a real-life superhero."
The kid grabs Geist's leather-clad mitt and grins back. "I'm four!"
Such is the life of Minnesota's only superhero—a man in his mid-40s who sold off his comic book collection to fund a dream borne of those very pages. Unlike his fictional inspirations, he hasn't yet found any villains to apprehend in Rochester, a sleepy city of 95,000 about 80 miles south of Minneapolis. But that doesn't mean he's wasting his time, he says. "When you put on this costume and you do something for someone, it's like, 'Wow, I am being a hero,' and that is a great feeling."
BY MOST OBSERVERS' RECKONING, between 150 and 200 real-life superheroes, or "Reals" as some call themselves, operate in the United States, with another 50 or so donning the cowl internationally. These crusaders range in age from 15 to 50 and patrol cities from Indianapolis to Cambridgeshire, England. They create heroic identities with names like Black Arrow, Green Scorpion, and Mr. Silent, and wear bright Superman spandex or black ninja suits. Almost all share two traits in common: a love of comic books and a desire to improve their communities.
I could mention a third trait in common, but that would be cruel.
Two things: first, you know this is going to be worked into an episode of The Office, featuring Dwight as the Scranton Avenger or something. Second, Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes would be what, 31 now? About right for this.
I first read this post by the Irish Elk over at Patum Peperium this morning and I'm still erupting in periodic fits of laughter about it toward the end of the day. That makes it seriously link-worthy, and I invite you to nip on over. (You'll see which bit I thought the funniest because I commented on it.)
Gratuitous 'Fins Posting
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet the new head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Tony "Soprano" Sparano:
"Didn't I tell ya not ta trow it inta double cov'rage? Ha? Didn't I? S'matter whichoo?"
Okay, it's a lame joke. But I'm sure I'm not the first to make it, nor will I be the last. Also, maybe a little Goodfellah-like enforcement is just what the 'Fins need.
T'anks ta regular reader Mike for da link.
Gratuitous Llama Book Blegging: Listening To Temptation Division
The devil's website just sent this mighty enticing little suggestion to my email inbox:
So what do you guys think? On the one hand, I have been preaching the virtues of thrift around Orgle Manor pretty regularly of late. On the other hand, well....we wants it! And after all, my birthday IS a week from Saturday....
UPDATE: One point the book has against it is its cover design. I happen to know that painting. It's The Awakening Conscience by William Holman Hunt, one of the early Pre-Raphaelites. I've never liked it - I consider the colors to be artificial, the line work fussy and the look on the young lady's face positively bovine.
Shallow, I know. But there it is.
UPDATE DEUX: Ai! More temptation! This time it's from the Telegraph, in which David Twiston-Davies reviews A Wodehouse Handbook: The World and Words of P. G. Wodehouse by N.P.T. Murphy:
Driving out the myth that Wodehouse knew the world of great houses only from childhood visits to servants' quarters, Murphy identifies him as the descendant of a soldier at Agincourt, the kinsman of an earl, the nephew of four clergymen.
He shows how Wodehouse's first major creation, the scapegrace Ukridge, was an amalgam of three early friends. While Jeeves's name was taken from a Warwickshire cricketer, his erudition coincided with that of a butler called Robinson who, asked about the sex life of the African spider, explained that she bestowed her favours on her male counterpart then had him for lunch.
As for Lord Emsworth, he seems to be based on the pig-loving 6th Earl of Dartmouth. In traipsing around the Midlands Murphy found the model for Blandings Castle at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, though its grounds are at Weston Park, Shropshire.
Most remarkable, he discovered that the Junior Ganymede club for gentlemen's gentlemen was located in a Mayfair pub now called 'I Am the Running Footman'. Its customers are no longer servants of the big houses nearby. But when the colonel entered another pub off Pall Mall he found it full of clubland's uniformed porters, stewards and waiters who immediately lapsed into silence. He realised his mistake and apologised. As he left, a hall porter held the door and murmured 'Well done, sir - quite right.'
I've already got Murphy's In Search of Blandings, but.....we wants it! We Waaaaants It!!!
Absolve Me, Pater, Quia Peccavi UPDATE: No, I haven't clickied any of the above yet, but I must confess that earlier today I did give in to the temptation - based on David Frum's recommendation - to pick up Ancient Rome on Five Denarii a Day by Philip Matyszak.
At the time, I rationalized to myself that it would be educational for the Llama-ettes. But of course that's not really why I bought it.
I was all set to get right behind this report:
LONDON (Reuters) - Bad news for Coco and Blinko -- children don't like clowns and even older kids are scared of them.
The news that will no doubt have clowns shedding tears was revealed in a poll of youngsters by researchers from the University of Sheffield who were examining how to improve the decor of hospital children's wards.
The study, reported in the Nursing Standard magazine, found all the 250 patients aged between four and 16 they quizzed disliked the use of clowns, with even the older ones finding them scary.
"As adults we make assumptions about what works for children," said Penny Curtis, a senior lecturer in research at the university.
"We found that clowns are universally disliked by children. Some found them quite frightening and unknowable."
Ban clowns? Great! However, as you can see, the reasoning behind this seems to be because researchers have found them to be "scary" or "frightening".
This is all wrong. How the hell do we expect future generations to fight off the Islamofascists or a resurgent Red Tide or space aliens if they can't face up to a little grease-paint and a few silly balloon shapes?
Clowns shouldn't be banned because they are (to use the buzzword of the article) "unknowable". No, instead they should be banned because they are overly cheerful, a trait which, when encountered by Robbo, inevitably fills me with the urge to hunt about for a brick.
I still remember vividly the end-of-school party we had at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method one year. The party was outside, the temperature dancing near triple digits and the humidity well up into the 60's. In short, a miserable afternoon for frolicking outside the cool, protective embrace of the HVAC system.
Anyhoo, after a couple hours of beastly weather, blairing oldies and disco musick, mobs of smelly, sticky-fingered kids and interminable games of resume quick-draw with their parents, I found myself beside a clown, a middle-aged woman who had been hired for the afternoon to do face-painting and balloon-sculptures. She was decked out in the full clown monty - silly suit, flappy shoes, heavy make-up and wig - the Works.
By way of being pleasant, I said something like, "Warm work!"
"Oh," she replied, "It's not so bad."
"No, really," I said, "I admire your ability to carry off all that paint and polyestre clothing on a day like this and look happy about it! I certainly couldn't do that."
"Oh," she answered, "I just don't even notice the heat. I'm too busy making the kids smile."
And she smiled.
I blinked, somewhat aghast.
We talked for a couple more minutes, self trying various tacks to get her to come clean, she maintaining her original position. And smiling. And smiling. She wouldn't stop smiling, Dave!
It was at that point, nearly delirious from the heat and humidity myself, that I started scanning around for a brick. Confess! I wanted to shout. You're hot as hell! You're sweating gallons inside that suit! You're not enjoying yourself! You'd much rather be out of that rig with your feet up somewhere, knocking back a cold one! Confess! CONFESS!!!!!
Well, I didn't do it, of course. Instead, I just made my way off to try and find some shade and water. But the memory of that uber-cheerfulness has stuck with me. I never liked clowns to begin with. But this refusal to break - even in the most awful of conditions - was what finally put me over the edge.
I hate clowns.
Gratuitous Post-Michigan Observation
Truth be told, I completely forgot about the primaries last evening. Instead, I was immersed in Edward Gibbon's description of what W.S. Gilbert termed "all the crimes of Heliogabulus".*** (I am determined - determined I say! - to finally get all the way through Decline and Fall.
So I don't really have much to say on what a Mitt! win means or even how I especially feel about it.
As it happens, this is the first election to which the eldest Llama-ette has paid any real attention at all and she's started asking me pretty regularly about who I want to win. I've had to tell her honestly that nobody in the GOP field really excites me, and that as far as I'm concerned, I can only hope that the one who is strongest on national security and fighting the GWOT wins. Even then, I will undoubtedly be forced to hold my nose about some other aspects of his policy, but hey - priorities, right?
*** Spot the quote. It shouldn't be hard.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal picks up on this same theme this morning. (The lack of a GOP front-runner, I mean, not the determination to read Gibbon.) I toss this in just as a bit of gratuitous link-whoring and also to remind those of you who have not yet checked out the new format and expanded (free!) content on the WSJ's website to get on over and have a look.
January 15, 2008
Hey, NY's got to win once in awhile:
Yips! from Robbo: Heh. No offense, Gary, but I think I would rather see Favre going up against the Pats than Eli.
I Guess Those RCIA Classes Are Working....
It's the Belief-O-Matic. My results (to which I actually replied "Well, duh!"):
1. Roman Catholic (100%)
2. Eastern Orthodox (100%)
3. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (96%)
4. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (83%)
5. Jehovah's Witness (79%)
6. Orthodox Judaism (71%)
7. Seventh Day Adventist (69%)
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (65%)
9. Orthodox Quaker (64%)
10. Islam (62%)
11. Bahá'í Faith (60%)
12. Sikhism (54%)
13. Hinduism (52%)
14. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (47%)
15. Jainism (39%)
16. Liberal Quakers (39%)
17. Mahayana Buddhism (33%)
18. Theravada Buddhism (32%)
19. Reform Judaism (30%)
20. Unitarian Universalism (26%)
21. New Thought (25%)
22. Scientology (20%)
23. Nontheist (18%)
24. Neo-Pagan (16%)
25. Taoism (11%)
26. New Age (9%)
27. Secular Humanism (7%)
Speaking of such things, I was mulling again the other day over what saint or saints I'd like to tag as my personal patrons. Is it possible to go now with St. To-Be-Named-Later and to wait around for the eventual Patron Saint of Anglican Converts? That would somehow feel very fitting.
My computer is going through one of its periodic fits whereby I cannot get into the Butcher's Shop without the whole thing freezing up. The result is that I can't get at the blogroll or sitemeter, nor can I reply to comments.
As for the blogroll, I can of course just surf off somebody else's (I usually go to our Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy for this). Sitemeter isn't all that interesting anyway, as it's usually clogged with google searches for "Juliette Huddy's toes" and "Jefferts-Shori bong-hit blessings " and the like.
But as for comments, I feel kind of bad. To me, maybe the most rewarding part of this blogging business is the steady stream advice, abuse and observations that you guys send our way, and when I have the time (and the technology), I like to banter back when I can. So I'm sorry if it seems as if I'm ignoring your remarks. I'm really not.
Which brings me to three responses I've tried and failed to post in the past 24 hours. Since I can't put them in the comments sections, I'm just going to slap them up here:
Pass the secret along? If I ever stumble across that particular cure, I'm going to patent it, retire on the profits and buy myself a new home like, say, France.
Actually, the Great Wolf Lodge is not anything near as awful as Chuck E. Fargin' Cheese, a place in which I refuse point-blank ever to set foot. In fact, the waterslides are rayther fun. However, being there aaaaaall day gets to be a burden after a while.
Fortunately, there is a snack bar which serves, among other things, adult beverages. About 4:00 or so Saturday afternoon, I ambled over to it and ordered a Margarita Smoothie. "You know they're alcoholic?" said the counter guy. My response was, "They damned well better be."
My Dear Mrs. P:
Yes, but I've only been to Providence the once. It was back in my dissolute undergrad day and I went to visit to an old high school flame at Brown. What with one thing and another, we never quite got round to discussing the local op-ed talent.
Yes, yesterday I dared to come out and say that I simply don't find Black Adder all that funny. But by way of reasserting my credentials and avoiding being chucked from the Pan-American & All Empire Anglophilia Club, I may mention that last evening I popped in my Netflix copy of Yes, Minister and had quite a good time. I'd forgotten both how clever this series is and the fact that Nigel Hawthorne was in it.
Speaking of which, I've also got one of the Ian Carmichael/Peter Wimseys in the queue (Clouds of Witness, in fact). I must say that I've always felt the later dramatizations starring Edward Petherbridge were closer to what Sayers had in mind, but I do enjoy old Ian's horsing about as well.
Ah, nothing quite like Brit tee vee in the 70's and 80's.
January 14, 2008
The pace of this evening's installment of The Sarah Connor Chronicles was glacial and this series is going on my personal "no-fly" list. I ditch a program whenever it produces dialogue which is no better than than lines I could write myself.
The Dem Un-Civil War
This was the opening monologue from today's edition of Rush Limbaugh. It is hilarious.
Last Night on the Amazing Race . . .
. . . the four remaining teams were in Japan when they received instructions to fly to Taipei, Taiwan.
Nate said to his partner Jen, "I don't know anything about Taiwan except that I like Thai food and I have some Thai friends."
Can you hear me snickering?
Jen spent the rest of the race being unbearably bitchy and snarky about another team and whining that Nate was being mean to her on her biiiiirthdaaaaaaay!
Then, in one of the most satisfying turns of event, ever on Amazing Race, they came in last and were asked to leave the race.
That leaves three teams I like competing for the million dollars next Sunday night. Can't. Wait!
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Part III
Last evening at dinner, the eldest Llama-ette and I got into a convoluted discussion that started with bananas and somehow wound up - after many twists and turns - with the Iranian problem and the presidential elections. At one point, the gel said, "You know what I like about these conversations, Dad? They just go all over the place!"
Must be doing something right....
Law Firm Layoffs
Read this via one of the blogs at the "Daily Diary of the American Dream." Boys and gels: law firms are affected by the economy just like any other business and firms will lay off lawyers like GM will lay off assembly line workers. Blaming "greedy partners" for down-sizing is pointless because law firms cannot defy the laws of financial physics any more than dot-com businesses. I was a bankruptcy specialist at my first firm in the 1993 and was on the street by 1996 when insolvency practice cooled off. Moral of the story--lawyers like everyone else need to have more than one skill set to keep their options open.
Yips! from Robbo: Amen, Brutha. I still occassionally stop to put flowers on the grave of my telecom practice. Back in the boom-boom 90's, they couldn't hand out the corner offices fast enough. By the end, I recall the gallows humor prevalent at the FCBA seminars. R.I.P.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Part II
While on my travels last week, I wasn't able to mark here the fact that last Thursday was the middle Llama-ette's eighth birthday.
As it happened, that was the day I came back to Dee Cee from Houston. I had originally been scheduled to get in after the gels' bedtime, which meant that I was going to miss giving a timely birthday wish. However, as luck would have it, I was able to get on an earlier flight. Score one point for Robbo.
Not only that, as I was ambling through Houston Intercontinental, I spied a NASA outlet. And sitting at the front of the store was a collection of teddy bears dressed in astronaut suits. The gel has a passion for teddies (I believe she actually owns in excess of 60, but she refuses to count them), so grabbing an Astronaut Bear for her was the work of an instant for me. When I whipped A.B. out of my bag when I got home, the gel was enchanted. Score another point for Robbo.
Yep, a goood day.
Yip! Yip! Yip!
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - Part I
I can't let the day go by without mentioning that it happens to be the youngest Llama-ette's sixth birthday.
Regular readers will know that I have spent a great many pixels here describing what a swash-buckling brigand the gel can be. And the LMC has had endless fun predicting the body-piercings, biker boyfriends and sky-diving lessons that we can expect to have thrust upon us earlier in her teen years than later.
Well, the good news is that the future is not looking nearly so dire as all that anymore. In recent weeks, the gel has undergone a noticeable behavioral change and is beginning to answer her helm. I'm not sure I can exactly pinpoint specifics, but it is abundantly clear that she has finally made up her mind to start trying.
This is good.
Of course, she still has the table manners of an orangutan, but I begin to feel there's hope even for this.
Happy Birthday! Yip! Yip! Yip!
Today's reading assignment is Andrew McCarthy's post at National Review Online. Read it-you will be tested later.
Which is more pathetic?
Play them side by side.
Yips! from Gary:
Wow, that's almost as weird as watching "Leave Britney Alone".
Last evening I was unwinding by watching a little Black Adder when the thought suddenly crystalized in my mind: I really don't much like Rowan Atkinson. Sure, he has some funny moments, but one has to go through an awful lot of, well, tedious muggings between them.
Am I going to be drummed out of the Pan-America & All-Empire Anglophilia Club for this?
Who The Hell Is Froma Harrop?
Don't ever say that I'm not constantly on the lookout for new rats to serve up on sticks to our loyal llama readers.
Whilst on my travels last week, my hand fell across a copy of the San Antonio Express nooz-paper. Idly flipping through the opinion columns, I came across this one about the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy story by somebody named Froma Harrop, of whom I'd never heard before but who seems to be a syndicated columnist of some sort. (The link is to another paper's website - I couldn't find the column on line at the Express.)
Harrop starts out ranting about the fact that the 16 year old "nice" sister-o-Britney star of some show for young girls suddenly turned up pregnant and broadens out into a general critique of what might be called the Spears' family business model, which is - to put it tamely - pretty damned sordid. In particular, Harrop goes after the Spears sisters' mother for, as she puts it, "serving up her young daughters" for public consumption.
All fine and dandy. Until I got to the one paragraph in which Harrop opines about what Mrs. Spears ought to have done with regard to Jamie Lynn:
It's now Jamie Lynn's turn at bat. She established her virginal bona fides in "Zoey 101." Then she's turned 16, time for her high dive from chastity into the pits of sexual availability. Mom could have insisted she use birth control. She could have helped Jamie Lynn quietly end the pregnancy. But the business model requires a drawn-out public decline.
Emphasis added. Is this appalling or am I completely out to lunch? I'd have thought that the mother's duty would be to try and prevent the child's "high dive", not to stand by with floaties when she lands in the pit. I gather that "Mom" didn't lift a finger regarding the former (from brief conversations, I understand that among other things, she not only permitted the kid to date a 19 year old guy, she also condoned regular "sleepovers"), and I find Harrop's criticism that she didn't do the latter to be....horrifying.
Interestingly, I mentioned this column to several different people over the weekend, specifically focusing on Harrop's failure to confront the underlying behavioral problem and instead to serve up bone-chilling suggestions for how the consequences of such behavior ought to have been "quietly" disposed of. Each of them said the same thing: that such a suggestion was positively Clintonian.
"Better put those back in the holster"
(or something like that) - money quote from the series premiere of The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Ahnold is replaced by Summer Glau who looks better, fights better, and can do the android expressionless look just like Sarah Michelle Geller. Her performance is reminiscent of River Tam laying out the entire clientele of a bar on Persephone or some other Alliance planet in Serenity but without the subliminal triggers.
January 13, 2008
A Well Fought And Satisfying Victory Against "America's Team"
Now Tony Romo can get back to rubbing Jessica Simpson's feet.
Sorry, T.O. Time to go home.
Oh, Eli. Where've ya been these past four years? Way to go, kid.
This confirms my long-held belief
that Cosmopolitan is porn for women. Via Special Agent Bedhead.
YIPS for Jen, formerly Jen Speaks: The link is embeded in the caption but here it is as well.
What is with the state of fitness in this country? What about the "body art"?
Robbo, The Butcher's Wife, and the LLama-ettes were kind enough to invite the LMC entourage to join them at The Great Wolf Lodge and Tourist Trap outside of Williamsburg yesterday. We had a great time, the LLama-ettes were in rare form, the water activities were fun, and the bar was open.
Robbo and I are in agreement that we are still beating ninety percent of the field, despite our decrepit conditions. We still don't get the whole tattoo craze. What is up with that?
Yips! from Robbo: Yes, indeed. In all my puff, I have never seen a tattoo that had the slightest aesthetic appeal, no matter what kind of body carried it (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Angelina Jolie). On the other hand, the conundrum that continues to baffle me is why the people who one would think would least wish to draw attention to their, ah, figgahs are the ones who seem to go in for such decoration the most. I mean, it's not like a sunburst between your shoulder blades is going to disguise the fact that you're pouring over your waist-band and have double-chin knees.
Gratuitous Llama Quick-Hit Book Review
Honestly, I picked it up Friday and am about two-thirds of the way through. Jonah lays the hammah down on the history of totalitarian utopianism, from Jolly Jean Jacques Rousseau and Robespierre right up through She Who Must Not Be Named. No, you cannot call modern day American Leftists Nazis (as the G-Man is very very careful to make clear). But you also cannot deny that they are citizens of the same collectivist village.
More later after I've had time to fully digest it. I'm interested in Gary's take, as I know he just picked up a copy as well. Also, I'm particularly interested to hear what Steve-O has to say, given that he's the house poli-sci wonk.
January 12, 2008
Add it to the Clinton Crony Perp Walk Hall of Shame
Do you get the feeling that Sid Blumenthal's above mugshot is going to find its way onto Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians?
Still no mug shot for Karl Rove, even though he used his Jedi Dark Lord of the Sith powers to throw the NH election....for Hillary?
Funniest sports column. EVER.
Ken Tremendous at Fire Joe Morgan breaks a pool cue in half and completely beats to a bloody pulp some idiot at the Chicago Tribune who has a baseball Hall of Fame ballot but no clue.
In a related thought, has anyone started the campaign to get Bill James in the Baseball Hall of Fame in the pioneers of the game category?
I mean, seriously, if Henry Chadwick is in the Hall, why not the man who corrected Chadwick's serious mistakes and reinvented how the game is managed?
January 11, 2008
"I went to Wellesley-it was practically part of the curriculum"
Money quote from this evening's Cashmere Mafia, uttered by Lucy Liu's character. Topic: experimentation of the sort Dr. Rusty does not oppose. We will now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
It is SO on!
Quote of the century, politics division:
“Oprah has given us Swartzenegger [sic] and Dr. Phil,” Roseanne rants. “If that was not offensive enough to decent thinking people, now she brings us Obama.”
Addressing Oprah directly, Roseanne adds, “You are a closeted republican and chose Barak [sic] Obama because you do not like other women who actually stand for something to working American Women besides glamour, angels, Hollywood and dieting!”
Wednesday night, Roseanne seemed to throw her support behind Hillary Clinton, stating, “I have decided that having a woman president before any man of any color is what these times call for.”
Courtesy of--who else?--Allahpundit.
What I love about this---even more than the prospect of an Oprah/Roseanne slap fight (and you know my money is on Oprah in that battle)---is how this is the replaying of the ancient split going back to the 1870s over the fifteenth amendment, and how Elizabeth Cady Stanton had a cow and split the movement over the issue of black men getting the right to vote before white women.
Of course, Roseanne probably thinks "Elizabeth Cady Stanton" is nothing more than a euphamism for an [DELETED FOR BAD TASTE]. But that doesn't diminish the irony at all.
UPDATE: Of course, she is right about Dr. Phil.
UPDATE DEUX: I read the above quote, and thought of this:
Hillary Clinton for President: Let 'em know you're there!
Global Warming Update-Middle East Division
Snowfall in Baghdad for the first time in a hundred years. Via Drudge. Yet, the global warming hysteria continues, at least according to Reuters and the UN . . . (Via Drudge, of course).
Daddy Needs a Drink: Snow Days Edition
"My friends think you're weird," Poppy said after hanging up with her Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
I opened a beer of the winterfest variety. "Tell them to get in line."
"Will you take us sledding tomorrow?"
"Who are you, Nostradamus? You don't know if there'll be a snow day."
Poppy dashed away to begin her daughter dearest routine of washing, brushing, flossing, rinsing and when she came out, I saw that her pajamas were on inside out.
"Taa-Daa!" she exclaimed, cranked up like that impossible-to-escape kid from Little Miss Sunshine (without the fat suit).
"Are all the light bulbs burned out?" I asked, examining the tags on her wardrobe.
"Very funny. Every kid knows that to get a snow day, you need to wear your PJs like this."
"Like a blind man?"
"Not very politically correct. Besides, I'm a girl, remember?" She headed into the kitchen and returned with a soupspoon in her hand.
"Let me guess. You need to drink from the toilet for your crazy voodoo to work?"
She rolled her eyes. "The final step is to put a spoon under your pillow."
"Makes sense. In Bizarro World."
Just for the record.
At Bible Study last night, we were doing John 1:29-42, and I had this great insight that synthesized Magnum PI, and the George Clooney versus Frank Sinatra versions of the Danny Ocean character vis a vis John the Baptist.
And yet they let me keep coming back.....
A plot line for the worst romantic comedy starring John Cusack and Diane Lane. EVAH!
I think I can join the rest of non-Ozark America and say, "Ewwwwwwwwwwwww."
Yips! from Gary:
I can see it now: Must Love Kin
Better Late Than Never, I Suppose
Ol' Fred comes roaring back at last night's debate. Didn't see it myself but Race42008 has the round-up of reax.
Anyone who's seen it have any thoughts?
January 10, 2008
I'm Baaaaaack!!! At Least for the Moment....
Not that anybody may have noticed, but I've been out and about this week (or as our Scots friends might say, oot and aboot) in this great country of ours. Well, in Texas at any rate, which actually still considers itself a separate country. (And where nobody seems to think anything of building a luggshery hotel right next to a fargin railroad crossing, thereby guaranteeing that the guests hear every single farookin train that rolls through during the night.)
No doubt it's same ol' same ol' for some folks, but my travels included four flights in four days and three hotels in three separate cities in three nights, and I am utterly exhausted.
In addition, I woke up this morning (in Houston) with an extreme wrench in the left side of my neck. I dunno if this was the result of my having slept in an odd position, or whether it's the result of my obsessive clutching of my seatbelt during all those flights I've taken this week.
Now before Mrs. P and others start hurling snarks at me, I will say again that yes, I have a terrible fear of flying. Yes, I know it's completely irrational, but there it is. (On the other hand, I'm convinced that it's only other people's immense stupidity and self-obsession that keeps them from understanding things the way I do - i.e. that it is only the collective will-power of the passengers that keeps the wings from falling off - so there you are.) And it was not helped this evening by the beastly, choppy flight I had into Dee Cee from Houston. If you want to call me a coward, go right ahead.
In relation to this, and also with my Tiber-swimming activities, I have taken recently to appealing to the Holy Mother for strength while flying. However, as we buffeted about tonight over the stormy Southeast, I think she began to lose patience, because after about my twentieth Hail Mary, she suddenly said, "Oh, for Heaven's sake. Man up!" I did, too, and, after calmly finishing the crossword and reading the WSJ cover to cover (and enduring a bottle of Fish Eye cabernet - thank you, Continental! Not), forced myself to look out the window as we made our way along the Potomac Giant Slalom Glide Slope into National Airport, spotting and identifying the various landmarks as they went by. I did okay, too, until we hit that last sharp dog-leg to the right that you do over the 14th Street Bridge at about 300 feet. When all I saw was River, I had to look away. Ah, well. Baby steps.
Anyhoo, more on all that later. In the meantime, I only get one night in the comfort of Orgle Manor for the moment, because at the crack of dawn tomorrow we're off to the Great Wolf Lodge, there to celebrate the birthdays of the younger two Llama-ettes, who turn eight and six (respectively) over the next couple days. I'm only going a) because the LMC is scheduled to put in an appearance as well, b) because the place is self-contained and crawling with lifeguards, c) because rumor has it that there is a bar and a hot tub for the grown-ups and d) because the Missus can trump me every single time with "Fine, I'll drive them all there by myself."
*uck, *uck, *uck da Huck! Bugger off, Huckabee.
No more slick, sleezy, liberal nanny-state jerkweeds from Hope Arkansas in the White House in my lifetime.
Steve-O: the surge worked. I arrived in Baghdad in late January and left in late December. The security situation improved markedly over the course of 2007 and was the result of more American forces in the city and the improving readiness of the Iraqi security forces. The progress made in 2007 was real by every measurable yardstick--bad guys killed, attacks on Coalition forces, Coalition casualties, ISF trained and on the streets, availability of essential services, oil production, and the willingness of ordinary Iraqis to venture on the streets. To suggest otherwise requires willfully ignoring the obvious.
Make no mistake about it, there is plenty of work to be done and it will take years to finish the job. The Coalition must continue to shwack the bad guys while building ISF capacity to continue the fight. The government of Iraq for its part must deliver the electricty, water, sewer, education, fire, ambulance, and road repair which are essential to prove to the population the government can deliver both security and essential services.
The stakes are huge. Al Qaida sees Iraq as the central front in its war on the West and has said so on many occasions. Iran needs Iraq as a client state, or at least unstable, to further its goal of regional domination. Progress is being made--Sunni Al Qaida is on the run in the western provinces and Shia militias are fracturing.
In the larger sense, we have to recognize radical Islam is at war with the West and must be stopped by whatever means necessary, including the use of military force. Unfortunately, one of the major political parties refuses to recognize the importance of this conflict. One of its two leading contenders for the presidential nomination mocked the ground commander's report to the Congress, saying: "it requires the willing suspension of disbelief." Her chief rival calls for an immediate pullout.
The war against radical Islam will be fought in many ways and in many places, but Iraq is where it is being fought now and where we must win.
That's my Church, Steve-O (S)edition
I'm getting cracking on my Lenten reading list a little early. It's weird, for the only time in my life Mardi Gras is on my birthday this year, and Easter will be its earliest in the western churches on the whole Easter chart covering 100 years in the Book of Common Prayer.
This year, I'm going for a mix of old things to return to as well as some new to me stuff.
Somehow, I completely missed C.S. Lewis, both fiction as well as essays until a few years ago. I'm about three quarters through the Four Loves, and yes the LLamabutcher side of me snickered all the way through the "Eros" chapter every time he talked in hilarious British euphamisms. But I grooved on the friendship chapter--parts of it are sadly ridiculous, imho, but the central argument was very powerful.
What's wrong with this picture?
I realize as an author you have little control over your cover art, but isn't this a little embarassing for a book you want to charge fifty bucks to students for? You've got eleven candidates on the front cover, and seven of them never even ran for president in the first place?
Well, aint that special
On the heels of the Glacier's return from the dead Tuesday night, Bloomy is getting frisky with the data:
Using the microtargeting model, research firms working for Bloomberg are gathering comprehensive information on voters throughout the country, such has who owns a home, has children in college, where they vacation, type of car or computer and past political support. All the puzzle pieces will then be arranged to create a picture of each individual.
Most of the data already exists in commercial databases that the multibillionaire Bloomberg can simply purchase. It will then be analyzed to determine how each voter fits into several categories: "strong supporter," "persuadable supporter," or "potential volunteer."
They need to add the category for "creeped out, ticked off middle-finger flipper to Nanny State jerkwads" to get a true profile of my sentiments here at Stately LLama Manor.
RE my Terminator clip from yesterday
I'm still cracking myself up over the Terminator clip from yesterday, juxtaposing Hillary! with the T1 in the awesome final scene of the original movie. That is, until I saw this clip over at Hot Air and was chilled to the core:
What's going to be fun about the next month is watching the Donks destroy themselves Old School style. For the first time, a lot of them are going to see the venal acid flecked Clintons and their proxies for what they really are.
There will be blood, indeed.
Kurtz on the media blowfest Tuesday
The series of blown calls amount to the shakiest campaign performance yet by a profession seemingly addicted to snap judgments and crystal-ball pronouncements. Not since the networks awarded Florida to Al Gore on Election Night 2000 has the collective media establishment so blatantly missed the boat.
The reasons are legion: News outlets are serving up more analysis and blogs to remain relevant in a wired world. Many cash-strapped organizations are spending less on field reporting, and television tries to winnow a crowded field for the sake of a better narrative. Cable shows and Web sites provide a gaping maw to be filled with fresh speculation. Tracking polls fuel a conventional wisdom that feeds on itself. The length of today's campaigns provides more twists and turns long before most voters tune in. And there is a natural journalistic tendency to try to peer around the next corner.
What was interesting to me was that the political futures markets were just as off too. They caught the shift earlier in the late afternoon, but they were just as snowed. Someone could make a killing if they could take a Warren Buffett style approach to value picking in politics.
So, the media blew it because it was arrogant and hubristic. Or, they had it right, and the New Hampsterite Democrats are just a bunch of crackers. Take your pick.
UPDATE: John Harris, who was shovelling on the Clinton's grave just days ago, responds.
Popeye and Joltin' Joe on the Surge
"The Surge Worked." I wonder if McCain would pick Liebs as his running mate:
It was exactly one year ago tonight, in a televised address to the nation, that President George W. Bush announced his fateful decision to change course in Iraq, and to send five additional U.S. combat brigades there as part of a new counterinsurgency strategy and under the command of a new general, David Petraeus.
At the time of its announcement, the so-called surge was met with deep skepticism by many Americans -- and understandably so.
After years of mismanagement of the war, many people had grave doubts about whether success in Iraq was possible. In Congress, opposition to the surge from antiwar members was swift and severe. They insisted that Iraq was already "lost," and that there was nothing left to do but accept our defeat and retreat.
In fact, they could not have been more wrong. And had we heeded their calls for retreat, Iraq today would be a country in chaos: a failed state in the heart of the Middle East, overrun by al Qaeda and Iran.
Instead, conditions in that country have been utterly transformed from those of a year ago, as a consequence of the surge. Whereas, a year ago, al Qaeda in Iraq was entrenched in Anbar province and Baghdad, now the forces of Islamist extremism are facing their single greatest and most humiliating defeat since the loss of Afghanistan in 2001. Thanks to the surge, the Sunni Arabs who once constituted the insurgency's core of support in Iraq have been empowered to rise up against the suicide bombers and fanatics in their midst -- prompting Osama bin Laden to call them "traitors."
Read the rest for an interesting analysis. LMC, thoughts?
The Grit Off
Things are going to get plumb wacky the next month:
Darth Rove on the New Hampshire Primary
in this morning's Journal Online. Read it.
January 09, 2008
"I found my own voice."
Unfortunately, her own voice was saying "Sarah Connor"
The look on Kyle's face was the same one as on Brian Williams last night. They keep an enemies list that makes Richard Nixon's look like a Girl Scout cookie order sheet.
Today I pay the price for failing to learn how to splice clips properly, interlacing this clip with the one above.
January 08, 2008
I think I'll be the only honest political science professor who will admit the truth: WTF??????
The Clintons man, I tell ya, it's like a Max Brooks Zombie book with these people.
And I'll be the first to admit that this morning I was the "What the hell we supposed to do ya moron?" dude this morning, predicting a general election blowout for the forces of light.
So here's to you, John McCain: run with this as your campaign theme in South Carolina and I'm your man.
Let's do it!
Count on us to highlight the really important news . . .
Princess Buttercup drops Spicoli, via Special Agent Bedhead.
Uggh. screw the brave new world, matey
I've spent the morning dicking around on my facebook page, trying to set up a page for my courses for the spring term. If anyone has any suggestions on how to add applications to a group page I'd appreciate any insights. Thanks.
(What I'm trying to do is be able to post document attachments, either pdfs or .doc files, as well as urls etc with a minimum of rooting stuff back to my regular page).
Line of the day
"Give me a break. This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. ... But the idea that one of these campaigns is positive and the other is negative when I know the reverse is true and I have seen it and I have been blistered by it for months is a little tough to take. Just because of the sanitizing coverage that's in the media doesn't mean the facts aren't out there."
Desparate, moi? It's almost as if there's some type of large, vast perhaps, conspiracy on the part of the press to get ol' Bill...
Talk about stepping on the Washington News Cycle
Gloria Steinem goes off on a wicked rant about how everyone's being mean and piling on Hillary in the NYT today: what's particularly hilarious is the way she taps into the olde Elizabeth Cady Stanton rant about how manifestly unfair the fifteenth amendment was by giving the vote to black men before the much more deserving white women.
She accidently steps on her thesis with this backhanded slap, though:
That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).
But I guess the exit thought is that Gloria Steinem is still alive: who knew?
It will be ugly and it will be dirty
She Who Must Not Be Named will go negative, first through surrogates, then with leaked stories courtesy of private investigators, and finally it will be by SWMNBN herself. As her "inevitable" candidacy goes down the drain, she will finally go Algore-blame her politcal handlers, take over the day to day operation of her campaign, and "let 'er rip". All will see her for who she truly is-this will be a dream come true for her acolytes and critics alike. It will truly be something to behold.
All Eyes On The Granite State
Six months ago, I said John McCain had almost no chance of winning the Republican nomination. I stand by that statement. He may win NH, barely. But a NH win is no indication of solid support among the GOP voters. In 2000, McCain beat Bush handily. But his margin of victory was due to independent voters who were allowed to vote in the primary (a policy which I, to this day, don't fully understand or agree with).
NH prides itself on its independence and likes to turn the conventional wisdom on its ear. But unaffiliated voters will be energized by the prospect of making a bigger impact in the Democrat race. I expect they'll break for Obama today in greater numbers than McCain anticipated. At the end of the day, I see McCain just edging Romney. It won't be enough to derail Romney's campaign because of his (seemingly) unlimited financial resources. And it won't be enough to make McCain the clear front-runner. In other words, tomorrow the race on the GOP side will still be muddled.
Huckabee will likely pull up the rear in third place but that's not a given. NH voters may want to make a counter-statement to Iowa. Rudy's challenge at this point is to try and finish above Ron Paul. If he doesn't, it will undermine his wait until "Rapture Tuesday" strategy severely.
So, here we go:
As for the Dems, I expect Obama to win by single digits (6-8%). Edwards will be third. At this point, Edwards will be hoping for a two-man race by the time SC roles around. Will She Who Must Not Be Named throw in the towel or fight on? Stay tuned...
January 07, 2008
Gee, Ohio State getting blown out in the college football "title" game? Who could've anticipated that?
Our Little Debutante
While I was gone, Mrs. LMC commenced potty training for our three-year old daughter, known to the post chief of staff as Our Little Debutante. Our Little Debutante developed a disturbing habit of ditching her diaper whenever it gets full, wherever she is. As soon as I notice she is "going commando" the race is on to find the diaper before the dog gets to it. Today, I noticed she had just taken it off and asked her to hand it to me. She was at the top of the stairs and yours truly was at the bottom-Our Little Debutante responded by launching the damn thing at me. If this keeps up, the only prom dress she will wear will be made of duct tape.
Cashmere Mafia: B-School Babes on Steroids
This series premiered last night and stars LMC fav Lucy Liu. It is the aimed at the chick set and follows the comings and goings of four business school grads with the predictable emotional carnage. The plot twist was the introduction of the prospect of lesbian experimentation with one of the four, something you would expect from a series about to go down the drain. One wonders what will be on next week to top that.
Why I love the American legal system, Monday Division
Major League Baseball could face a class-action lawsuit from former minor leaguers who believe they were denied a fair shot at making the majors because of steroids in the game.
Ex-St. Louis Cardinals farmhand Rich Hartmann told the New York Daily News he is considering filing the lawsuit, and has support from former teammates.
"Was I cheated of my dreams of a big-league career?" Hartmann said in Sunday's Daily News. "I don't know. But I do know there were thousands of guys who were right on the doorstep between 1990 and 2005 and they were cheated because they didn't use steroids."
Hartmann, now a 35-year-old New York banker, was a 26th-round draft choice of the Cardinals in 1994. He impressed at Class A level but lasted only a couple of seasons before he quit after an arm injury.
Although he never made it close to the majors, he still feels he was denied a chance to move through the minor leagues and show what he could do.
My advice to you, Mr. Hartmann, is to marry Timothy Busfeld's sister, buy an Iowa farm on a huge mortgage, and plow over half the corn to build a baseball field. Then you'll have your chance to play in the majors...
Meanwhile, I'm going to file a suit against Lorne Michaels because my refusal to imbibe copious amounts of coke, tequila, and Mt. Dew cost me my chance to be the weekend update anchor on SNL. That, and the lack of major league talent.
A guy and gal with average to low intelligence are cryogenically stored in a suspended state for what is supposed to be a year-long experiment by the military. Unforeseen circumstances take over, however, and the pair awaken 500 years in the future. They find that due to the worldwide over-population of idiots, and the general degradation of culture, they are the smartest people alive.
The United States is headed by former professional wrassler and p*on film star, President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. A single Costco covers an entire county, and shoppers can get everything there, including a law degree. Emergency room triage consists of a panel of graphical buttons designed for illiterate clerks to push so that recorded diagnoses blare over loudspeakers.
For The Onion’s A.V. Club, Nathan Rabin wrote “A perfectly cast Luke Wilson stars as a quintessential everyman who hibernates for centuries and wakes up in a society so degraded by insipid popular culture, crass consumerism, and rampant anti-intellectualism that he qualifies as the smartest man in the world. Corporations cater unashamedly to the primal needs of the lowest common denominator—Starbucks now traffics in handjobs as well as lattes—and the English language has devolved into a hilarious patois of hillbilly, Ebonics, and slang. Idiocracy's dumb-ass dystopia suggests a world designed by Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, a world where the entire populace skirts the fine line separating mildly retarded from really fucking stupid, and where anyone displaying any sign of intelligence is derided as a fag.”
Its lean-over-your-knees-and-gasp-for-air funny, but once it was over I remembered a real-life brush with Idiocracy I had a few years back. My employer contacted a government-run program for at-risk youth to have local disadvantaged teens work during the summer in our building. In order to make sure we, the employers, could work “effectively” with the teens, we were required to attend a day of government sponsored training.
The trainer at one point during the day advised us that we were not to “use big words” when speaking to our future employees as this might cause them to have a crisis of self-esteem while in our care. Ladies and gentlemen – I had to literally grip the sides of my chair and bite my tongue in order to prevent myself from launching from my seat to interrogate this .GOV flunky as to when and how she had decided that talking down to people was a blessing to those so graced and a warm, longed-for reassurance of equality among morons.
But I’ve begun to rant . . .
I’m warning you now – if you have no sense of humor this movie will offend the monocle right off your face. A woman so PC she assuredly uses only one square of t.p. per potty trip told me about this movie, yet it is one of the most anti-pc films I’ve seen . . . . perhaps ever. Advertising in this future version of Umerica has devolved to “If you don't smoke Tarryltons... Fuck You!” The Violence Channel and the Masturbation Channel are two of the most popular on air in the year 2505.
But I laughed harder than I remember laughing for years. And 24 hours later throw-away lines and scenes are still making me chuckle.
"It's Very Personal For Me"
She Who Must Not Be Named tears up a bit at the prospect of losing.
The internal polls must really, really be bad for her. I almost feel sorry for her.
That's a lie, I really don't.
Happy Birthday, Col. Deering!
On this day in 1950, Erin Gray was born.
Say, wasn't I supposed to do more "Buck Rogers" posts for Season Two? Meh, to hell with it.
This day in Clinton History, what a difference a decade makes department
January 7, 2008: Drudge Report top headline reports battle in Clinton inner circle over whether Hillary will drop out of the race after losing in New Hampshire.
Caveats, yadda. Still, I'm stunned about how quickly the engine has fallen out of the Clinton juggernaut.
Yips! from Gary:
January 7, 2008 - is about the time that I got the serious inclination to switch party affiliations from Democrat to "none". As it happened I moved to another town that summer and that's what I did when I registered to vote in the new town. Has that really been ten years? Sheesh.
January 06, 2008
GOP Debate Quick Hits (Part Deux)
- I watched the Frank Luntz "patented" dial-o-meter focus group and you can only come to one of three conclusions: 1) the "undecided" group of 30 were all actually in the tank for Romney and pretending to be "undecided", 2) they were under secret mind-control from the Romney campaign or 3) Mitt Romney did a lot of good for himself tonight. My gut tells me he did well for himself, specifically in making the case that a President does best when he has a good amount of executive experience under his belt. If Romney wins on Tuesday, you can point to this debate as a turning point.
- McCain definitely dialed it back a notch from last night. He was less "testy" and "bullying" than last night. He made better cases for his candidacy which helps him. The immigration issue, however, may prove to be his Achilles Heel. It may also be the thing that makes voters say "yeah, he did do a lot of things in the last seven years that really pissed me off".
- Ol' Fred is just fading into the background. I really like him but, honestly, when I listen to him talk I think he'd make a great part of the next administration. But President? Eh, not so much.
- Huckabee did pretty well. I think his answer to Wallace's question over his recent foreign policy "gaffes" was very good. I'm a lot less frightened at the prospect of his being the GOP nominee but he's still number five out of a field of five for me.
- Giuliani didn't hurt himself tonight. He still remains in the hunt if we get to a stalemate by the time Florida rolls around. But after New Hampshire he needs to kick it into gear if he expects to be in control by Feb. 5th.
- Did I say yesterday that I don't mind Ron Paul being in the debates? Screw that, it was refreshing not having him around. What a pain in the ass. Might as well have a Democrat up on the stage.
Recent polls show McCain's lead dwindling. Don't know if it's Mitt mojo or if it's just too close to call.
I will say this. After watching two debates in the last twenty four hours I feel a lot better about the choices we have than the Dems have.
UPDATE (REDSTATE, That is):
Huckabee's in trouble in the Granite State, according to Jackie and Dunlap, because "New Hampshire hates Jesus".
Max Boot on the Mideast "Peace Process"
In the Sunday OpinonJournal. Read it. Negotiation for the sake of negotiation does not settle lawsuits nor does it settle wars. In civil actions, the parties settle when the principals see it in their best interest. If they do not, then they fight it out to a verdict where a resolution of the dispute is imposed by the court or by a jury.
Diplomacy is no different. The disputes between Israel and her neighbors will be settled when the parties see it in their best interest and not a moment before. If not, resolution will come when one side so thoroughly defeats the other that the victor will impose the peace.
Random Epiphany Observation
Took the ol' Christmas tree down this afternoon.
For some reason, it seems the ornaments neglected this year to nominate the tradition sooper-sekret kamikazee decoration that lies craftily hidden within the foliage, waiting until one has hoiked the tree out of its stand before hurling itself to the floor in ruin.
Must be slipping.
Gratuitous Historickal Posting
It's taken me about a year to get all the way through the series, but last evening I finally finished off the last book of Winston Churchill's memoirs on WWII, Triumph and Tragedy.
I have to say that this is one of the saddest books I've ever read.
So here's a question for you history buffs out there: Given "Uncle Joe" Stalin's ruthlessness, FDR's declining health and feebleness at Yalta, Truman's slowness to pick up on the threat and the strong political pressure in the States to yank the American troops from Europe as soon as possible either to send them to fight the Japanese or bring them home, was there a damned thing that Winston could have done to stop the loss of Poland, the swallowing of Eastern Germany and the rest of the villainy that occured behind the Iron Curtain? Or did the Old Boy do the very best he could with what he had?
UPDATE: Mrs. P brings up the Home Front issue in her comments. I've tried to respond twice but got spammed both times, so I'll put my answer in the main post:
No, I did not forget the politicians. However, my compound sentence was already hidiously bloated and I was afraid it would burst if I added any more factors. Also, the truth of the matter is that without enthusiastic American support, Britain simply didn't have the capacity to face down the Soviets by herself, no matter how unified at home.
This raises an interesting question, though. Supposing that FDR and then Truman had decided to act to stop the Red Tide rolling into Central Europe. For example, what if the Americans had refused to withdraw from their farthest line of advance into Germany, or had pushed even farther in a concerted effort to beat the Soviets to Berlin. Supposing it had been the Allied policy to encourage German surrender to the Western powers, instead of throwing them to the tender mercies of the Soviet juggernaut. Supposing Alexander had been given the go-ahead to squash Tito and drive on Vienna. Supposing, even, that we had threatened to nuke Moscow if the Russians didn't get the hell out of Poland. Given that, could Winston have mustered enough support on the home front in order to keep the Coalition Government together?
GOP Debate Quick Hits
- Romney was the focus of attack, as if he was the front runner. Generally, he responded pretty well which may offset any collateral damage and he might get a little sympathy from the NH voters who already know him so well their neighbor's former Governor.
- McCain came across as a little too cocky. His contempt for Romney was clear and the "candidate of change" shot was less effective because of a silent audience (by Charlie Gibson's instruction). All in all, not that Presidential. And no matter how he tries to defend the immigration bill of last May, it's clearly his weak point.
- Ol' Fred is the elder statesman here. I really like him personally and agree with him on a lot. But there just seems to be something missing. Perhaps the charisma he demonstrates as an actor just isn't there in the candidate. Treading water.
- Huckabee is a swell guy. Nice enough. But I can't help but coming away from his non-substantive comments and thinking: Is he as surprised as everyone else that he's doing so well?
- Giuliani is still very much in the mix. He held his powder and focused on his own principles and experience. Even his aside to Romney that Reagan might have been the subject of one of his attack ads seemed more a good-natured jab that a slap.
- Ron Paul definitely has a consistent point of view. Unfortunately for him, it's a minority view in the Republican party. I don't mind him as much being in the debate because it gives the other five an opportunity to contrast themselves against his neo-isolationism.
I expect it to be close between McCain and Romney on Tuesday. I wonder how much independent support McCain can depend on considering that they have an opportunity to back Obama instead. If Giuliani campaigns hard I think he can make a strong third place showing. Fred and Huckabee are probably already looking to SC.
BTW, did anyone else notice that Romney won the lion's share of the delegates in Wyoming yesterday? He's actually in the lead for delegates at this point.
January 05, 2008
The unkindest cut
The DeeCee Clinton Democrats are out for blood, and one of them dropped this MacBeth-worthy dagger into Time Magazine's ear:
"Fundamentally, she is who she is; she can't change who she is, and maybe this is not her time."
Who said it? I don't know, but I'm sure if a body of a former Clinton insider shows up in Fort Marcy Park later this week we'll have a pretty good idea.
Yips! from Robbo: "Maybe this is not her time." As it happens, the Missus and I were discussing this very question at din-dins last evening. (The Missus is a moderate, fairly non-political person. Her take on She Who Must Not Be Named is that she would certainly like to see a woman become president, but not that one. SOOPER-SEKRET NOTE TO CLINTON CAMP: Remember all those moderate Republican women who were going to cross party lines to vote for Hill' in the general? Ain't. Gonna. Happen.)
My take is that while maybe this is not her time, she really doesn't have any other. Clintonism will, I think, go down in the history books as a footnote, a political fluke only made possible by the false peace of the 90's. For better or worse, SWMNBN is firmly tied to Bubba's legacy, and as it sinks, she goes with it. (This is also his worst nightmare, btw. Nemesis certainly knows where to place her daggers most effectively.)
If this is the case, she has no choice but to keep going now. And if her position continues to crumble, she'll have to go nuclear. Ft. Marcy Park isn't big enough for all the bodies of which she'll have to dispose if she expects to make it to the Oval Office.
Gratuitous Llama Netflix Movie Review (TM) - Family Film Night Division
So the gels came home from Blockbuster last evening with Happily N'Ever After (2007), an animated flick that purports to be a hip retelling of the Cinderella story in which the powers that ensure happy endings in fairy tales go awry, allowing evil to triumph temporarily.
Well, the one good thing I can report about this film is that writing a review of it is easy: In a word, it sucks. The plot is lame, the characters either cardboard or incomprehensible, the writing so self-satisfied that you want to pound it with a two-by-four, the animation clunky. And if I were the legal team over at Pixar, I'd be suing the pants off whoever produced this dog because the bone-headed Prince character is a direct visual rip-off of Mr. Incredible.
It's too bad, also, because I've been a fan of this type of thing ever since "Fractured Fairy Tales". But in order to pull it off successfully, one has to have wit, not just flippancy; a coherent story, not just gratuitous swipes at the originals; and style, not just edginess for its own sake. In this case, it was three strikes and you're out.
Robbo's Recommendation: No Yips! for you! I wouldn't just recommend against buying or renting this flick, I'd also recommend against watching it free if the offer is ever made.
Mrs. LMC teed up the latest installment in the Pirates of the Carribean series last night after lights out for the Future ROTC Scholarship Recipient and his little sister. The plot was thin, the acting stilted, and not even Kiera Knightley could save this flick. I am glad we saw it through Netflix rather than incurring the substantial costs that come with seeing it in the theater.
The first time I've said anything nice about Henry Waxman. EVAH!
BTW, I'd expect a libel suit over this. Sour grapes from the mile high choke club.
Sorry, couldn't resist. Mickey Kaus flags the funniest thing I've read in a long time:
Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence
I've got an epiphany on this, but am too busy to photoshop the Obama brand of frankincense.
UPDATE SPECULATION ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: How much pull does McCain get in New Hampster with Curt Schilling campaigning for him?
Interesting quote of the day
This one's going to leave a mark, coming from Clinton biographer John Harris:
A second Clinton presidency would suggest that Clintonism was not just a 1990s-era bag of political tricks, but a historical movement dominating American politics for a generation or more.
Without a second Clinton presidency, Bill Clinton might be remembered as a colorful but in the end not terribly consequential president who governed in comparatively placid times between two war presidents named Bush.
For all that he is often touted as a political superhero, Bill Clinton was always a mere mortal. He never cleared the 50 percent threshold in two presidential elections. He steered his party to disaster in the congressional elections of 1994 and never steered it back over the next six years even through years of peace and prosperity.
In Iowa, it is not clear that Bill Clinton’s tireless campaigning and importuning on behalf of his wife did any good at all.
At times, it seems likely he hurt the cause, as with his clumsy and ill-supported assertions that he was opposed to the Iraq invasion at the time. His very presence, coupled with his legitimate but sometimes irrelevant defenses of his own record in office, seemed to draw attention to the 1990s and undercut one of his own political truisms — that all elections are about the future.
It was not so much that he was off his game as that he was on it in some very characteristic ways.
The fear to Bubba that he will wind up on the list of presidential consequence and greatnes amidst the Chester Arthurs and Grover Clevelands burns with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns.
And it's causing Bubba to make comments like this: you can almost see the finger wagging in this granite gem of self-pity
"Nobody would like it better than us if you could get that personal vilification out of there, because nobody’s been vilified more than we have," he said, after noting that he thought Hillary and McCain could run a respectful campaign. "One of the problems with laying down and turning the other cheek is McCain had one dose of it. They gave it to us for eight years.
"And the fact of the matter is, independent voters think you’re polarizing if someone else attacks you, even if that someone is Rush Limbaugh, even if you’ve been totally exonerated of every single charge ever leveled against you, which Hillary was — and some people forgot to tell you about that," he said, jabbing again at the press.
"Nobody would be happier to see all this go away than us. But you can’t ask somebody who is at a breathtaking disadvantage in the information coming to the voters to ignore that disadvantage and basically agree to put bullets in their brains," he said.
But attacking the press in this way isn't smart, as they always hit back (how smart was it for the Clintons to go after Tim Russert?) Harris counters:
Some of that petulance has been seen lately, as with comments in New Hampshire Friday suggesting that the media has been unfair to his wife. In fact, the Clintons’ celebrity has been a constant media advantage, giving them entrée to network interviews and magazine covers. They used this to promote a narrative of her “inevitability” and can hardly complain now that Obama has exposed that she is not inevitable at all.
January 04, 2008
Finally, an online quiz with some real utility
A leetle Friday afternoon heh:
Stolen from GroovyVic.
Random Literary Observation
I discovered just now that lovely WordImperfect decided it was not in the giving vein today viz the automatic saving of documents, and therefore that it had swallowed about half of an interview outline I'm putting together.
Fortunately, this discovery only warrants about half a head-bang. The outline was still pretty short and primordial, and I had most of the main points in my head anyway. But it prompted me to think again about the business of composition.
You see, I'm firmly convinced that the words I actually put down on the page - whether dead-tree or pixilated - are influenced by time, place and circumstances. Give me a specific topic and the assignment to write something about it half a dozen different times. The result will be half a dozen very different compositions. Maybe not different in terms of ultimate conclusion (although one can't rule that out completely), but different in choice of word or phrase, priority of arguments, logical connection and, ultimately, perhaps persuasiveness or artistic merit (depending on the type of compostion). And those differences can be influenced by a staggering variety of factors. Just a few examples include: time of day, amount of sleep I've had, diet, a recent piece of praise or criticism, whether I'm in dutch with the Missus, what musick is on the radio, even what book I last read before I sat down to do my own writing.
Indeed, the list of possible influences - and the continually shifting combinations of them - is virtually endless. And if that is the case, then the number of potential writings with which I might come up is also endless. And when I look at something I've written and contemplate the theoretically infinite number of versions it might have taken but didn't, well, then I get quite dizzy.
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
Remember the "600,000 civilian deaths in Iraq at the hands of the U.S. military" meme? Eh, perhaps not so much.
This just reinforces my personal view that science and politics is a baaaaad combination.
Gratuitous Domestic Posting - "Same Words, Different Tune" Division
The Missus and the Llama-ettes have been planning a "family movie night" for tonight. So this morning I asked the soon-to-be-eight year old what movies she had in mind.
"Oh, Daddy!" she said. "How about the Sponge-Bob Movie?"
"For Heaven's sake, child," I replied. "You've seen that about a dozen times already! And anyway, I know for a fact that Mom wouldn't sit through it in a billion years."
"Well....." she said, "I know! What about Atlantis Squarepantis?"
"Um," I answered, "How is that any different? It's just more SpongeBob."
"Oh, no, Dad-dee!" she countered, "It's different! In this one, they go to Atlantis!"
"So I gathered. The answer is still 'no'."
"Nothing that has anything to do with Nickelodeon, dammit!" came the voice of
the Missus floating down the stairs.
"That's right!" I said, switching on the cranky old geezer rant function. "You're missing the point! The idea to find some good old-fashioned wholesomeness! Something you haven't seen before! One of those old Disney films like....like...say the "Flubber" movies!"
"Flubber? Oooh, Daddee! I'd love to see Flubber!" she exclaimed.
"Huh?" I thought. Well, okay. Good! Except, where would the girl possibly have heard of......
"Yes!" she went on. "That's the one with the butt-shaking moves!"
"Oh! And the little dancing flubber guy! Can we see it? Please?"
"Whaaaaa...?" I thought again. And it was at that moment that I suddenly realized that she wasn't talking about the harmless old Fred MacMurray gems from the early sixties that I remembered fondly from lazy weekend matinees in my own yoot. No, she was thinking of that abominable Robin Williams remake from a few years back, which had totally slipped my mind until this point.
I suddenly felt very old. It was about all I could do to tell her not to use the term "butt-shaking".
Who Really Won Last Night
Not to sound too snarky, but the citizens of the other 49 states are now the big winners because we can forget about Iowa until 2012. Aah. Sounds good, doesn't it?
Now we have to undure the over-hyped importance New Hampshire. They really, really need to change this process.
Anyway, let's look at how far I was off:
1) Ol' Fred will edge his buddy McCain - check (barely)
2) Ron Paul passes Giuliani - check (more than expected)
3) The big story: Fred ain't dead (yet) - WRONG
The big story is the Huck-upset. My rationale for a Romney win was that organization beats passion. WRONG. Turnout was good for Romney but better for Huck. Why? A slew of new/first-time voters for the Huckster. And they were by and large younger and evangelical.
Let's take a look at the data. Patrick Ruffini explains:
"In the 2000 Caucuses, only 37% described themselves as “religious right.” This year, 60% described themselves as “Evangelical Christians.” That’s an imperfect comparison, but the universe of Evangelical voters almost certainly expanded this year."That may be the case in Iowa, but will that be a benefit to Huckabee in future primaries, say in SC? And is the evangelical vote comparable to that of Iowa? Or are they more practical? We'll have to wait and see.
One other result from last night is that Giuliani's got to be smiling. True he registered just 3% in Iowa, but he pretty much wrote off the state. Huckabee hurt Romney in Iowa. McCain is surging in NH. A muddle race by the time Florida roles around benefits his Super-Duper-Mega-Extreme Tuesday strategy.
As for the Dems, I said "Obama wins, 'You-know-who' squeaks past Edwards." Well, Obama won and Edwards squeaked past HRCR, barely. Edwards needed a win but he'll hang around hoping that she tanks. Because of the "viability" requirement, the rest of the crowd registered either at zero or single digits. Interesting when you think of it. 38% of Democrats basically told She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named "we hate you so much we're willing to throw the dice on a guy with absolutely no experience." Of course, the problem with Obama is that right now he is an empty vessel, filled with all the different expectations of a dissatisfied Democrat party. Will the voters of NH and beyond agree with Iowa? We'll have to wait and see.
Oh, and another plus - we don't have to see the pantload and the plagiarist in anymore debates.
In the meantime, the candidates will spend the next five days listening to local yokels say things like, "Well, then guess your way to Redbud."**
** spot the quote
And, as always, Jim Geraghty has the best (and most amusing take) on each candidate's finish. My personal favorite - advice to Obama: "Just brace yourself, because Hillary is going to go negative on you, in a way that the Clinton machine has never gone negative before. Wear two cups."
Obligatory Quick Post-Caucus Take
Gary's the one who's swallowed the political kool-aid round here, so I'll leave the heavy analysis to him. However, I have just two points to make:
1.) The Huckster is not going to be the next President of the United States. Period.
2.) As for She Who Must Not Be Named? "Melting! Meeeeeelting! What a world! What a wooooorld!!!" Heh.
Yips! from Gary:
And on that note, allow me to filch this gem from Allahpundit.
January 03, 2008
Pack-Rats Of The World, Unite!
The so-called "Medical Establishment" is trying to suppress our perfectly normal urge to keep everything by branding us with the stigma of suffering a mental disorder:
Compulsive hoarding is defined, in part, by clutter that so overtakes living, dining and sleeping spaces that it harms the person’s quality of life. A compulsive hoarder finds it impossible, even painful, to part with possessions. It’s not clear how many people suffer from compulsive hoarding, but estimates start at about 1.5 million Americans.
Dr. Tolin recently studied compulsive hoarders using brain-scan technology. While in the scanner, hoarders looked at various possessions and made decisions about whether to keep them or throw them away. The items were shredded in front of them, so they knew the decision was irreversible. When a hoarder was making decisions about throwing away items, the researchers saw increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in decision-making and planning.
“That part of the brain seemed to be stressed to the max,” Dr. Tolin said. By comparison, people who didn’t hoard showed no extra brain activity.
While hoarders are a minority, many psychologists and organization experts say the rest of us can learn from them. The spectrum from cleanliness to messiness includes large numbers of people who are chronically disorganized and suffering either emotionally, physically or socially. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help: a recent study of hoarders showed that six months’ therapy resulted in a marked decline in clutter in the patient’s living space.
Although chronic disorganization is not a medical diagnosis, therapists and doctors sometimes call on professional organizers to help patients. One of them is Lynne Johnson, a professional organizer from Quincy, Mass., who is president of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization.
Ms. Johnson explains that some people look at a shelf stacked with coffee mugs and see only mugs. But people with serious disorganization problems might see each one as a unique item — a souvenir from Yellowstone or a treasured gift from Grandma.
Hmph! Personally, I think Ms. Johnson is just afraid to come to terms with her own feeling that perhaps her collection of mugs is somehow inadequate. Come out of the cupboard, Madam!
[Not to spoil the meme of this post, but as an aside I have to say I can't help but shake my head in disbelief that somebody has not only fadged up a gravy-train job title like "professional organizer", but that they've also put together a pseudo-scientific "study group" to legitimize it. Honestly, there are times when I think I ought to chuck the Law and just set myself up as a kind of Consultant Without Portfolio. Sure, I might eventually wind up on the Golgafrincham "B" Ark,*** but in the meantime, I'd be living high on the hog.]
***Spot the reference.
Llone Star Llama Blegging
I have to go to Texas next week, hitting Dallas, San Antonio and Houston in rapid succession.
Travel usually wears me out. Plus, I hate eating alone in public. So I may well wind up hiding in my hotel and ordering room service each night. Nonetheless, any recommendations about good foody spots would be appreciated. Specifically, what's the best Tex-Mex down on the Riverwalk these days?
From the Tasty Bits (TM) Mail Sack, the Big Tuna cleans out the dolphin tank:
DAVIE, Fla. -- Cam Cameron was fired as the Miami Dolphins' coach Thursday by new boss Bill Parcells after plunging to an 0-13 start in his first year on the job and finishing with just one victory.
The dismissal comes three days after Parcells ousted general manager Randy Mueller and means the reeling franchise will have its fifth coach in five seasons.
Parcells began work Dec. 27 as executive vice president of football operations and quickly concluded the Dolphins need another fresh start.
It has been 37 years since the Dolphins fired a coach. But they never finished 1-15 before.
All but two members of Cameron's coaching staff were also fired, although some might be rehired by the new head coach, the Dolphins said. Retained were assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach George Edwards.
Parcells made the decision to fire Cameron in consultation with new general manager Jeff Ireland, hired Wednesday after seven years in player personnel with the Dallas Cowboys.
"We just felt in order to move forward and not look back, we needed someone in place who shared the same philosophical compatibilities we shared," Ireland said. "We didn't really know the guy that well. We were going to try to get someone that does share those things, and we weren't completely sold that he did."
Buh-bye, Cam. Thanks for playing and we have some lovely luggage and body-care products as a parting gift for you.
So did Parcells throw away a potentially valuable resource who, given a few years, could have brough the 'Fins back just to placate the howling mob who wanted Cameron's head, thus giving himself (Parcells) some breathing room? Or did Cam really just suck that much as a coach?
I dunno. But now that Cam's gone, what do I do with this torch and this extra-sharpened pitchfork?
Because sometimes politics can be so damn funny you almost wet yourself. Take it away Jackie and Dunlap:
Alas, now we'll never know whether or how Flashy gets himself mixed up with the Battle of Gettysburg or the Mexican Revolution, both of which stories Fraser had hinted around he might commit to paper in the near future.
Ah, well. Most other fans will no doubt pay homage to the rollicking badness of ol' Flashy and the delicious way he gets himself in and out of scrapes. But I'd also like to note the wonderful historickal accuracy of Fraser's tales: the endnotes to each of his stories are a joy in and of themselves and a positive goldmine of primary sources. Indeed, it has always been something of a struggle for me, when reading a Flashman novel, to restrain myself from nipping over to the devil's website and ordering the entire collection of such references on the spot. And I must confess, it's a struggle I haven't always managed to win.
UPDATE: Our dear pal Kathy gave Flashy a whirl not too long ago and didn't think much of him. Well, all I can say is that I had some reservations after my first encounter as well, reservations that I quite overcame as I got farther into the series. The books definitely improve as Fraser finds his stride.
Speaking of which, the RP and I have been emailing on the side about writers of historickal fiction, specifically Fraser and Patrick O'Brian. One difference between the two, IMHO, is that the Flashy cycle stays fairly strong throughout (with obvious highs and lows, of course), while there is a definite arc to the Aubrey/Maturin novels, with a notable downturn in both energy and quality after The Wine Dark Sea, as O'Brian seemed to get sick and tired of the whole damn' business.
So here's a question for you: Who are the good writers these days? I'm sure many of you would say Bernard Cornwell (author of the Richard Sharpe novels, among others). In reply, I would say that Cornwell's books certainly are entertaining, but surely not in the same league as those of Fraser and PO'B. I also happen to be a fan of Derek Robinson, who wrote a number of books about the air war in WWI and WWII.
First Comes Iowa
Much to the chagrin (and bemusement) of the other 49 States. But, it is what it is, so let's go to the purrrr-dictions:
Huckabee's solid support has a ceiling (IMO). Based on the strong fluctuations of these wacky polls I'd say that there's a decent portion that jumped on the "flavor of the month" appeal of the nice-guy Arkansas Governor.
Unlike the secret ballots of a primary, you have to stand up and be counted. And I think this is why the candidate with the more committed support wins. That points to Romney. I think he edges Huck tonight by about 4%. [note: apparently the GOP caucus are by secret ballot, but I still think the persuasion factor by the participants comes into play here.]
The real contest is for number three, between McCain and Thompson. Neither have strong resources or organizations in Iowa so this is anyone's guess. But my gut tells me that Ol' Fred will edge his buddy McCain. Conventional Wisdom says his support peels away from Romney but I'm not so sure. In any case, Romney's turnout operation probably gives him the edge.
Ron Paul has been overlooked in this contest, I think he passes Giuliani who's been largely absent here.
The big story: Ol' Fred ain't dead (yet) and he'll hang around until at least SC.
I s'pose I should make Dem predictions as well:
Obama wins, "You-know-who" squeaks past Edwards for 2nd place. Mike Gravel soils himself. Richardson will continue to badger
HRCR Obama about being her his running mate. Dennis Kucinich wears his tinfoil hat, yelling "Mars needs women!" Chris Dodd tries to entice Joe Biden into a "waitress sandwich" at a diner in Dubuque.
Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien
Born on this day in 1892.
And allow me to take this blatant blegging opportunity to refer readers to my "Tolkien Geek" site. Enjoy.
Yips! from Robbo: How timely. I just polished off the LOTR cycle again for the umpteenth time. And after all these years it suddenly dawned on me: I think I read Tolkien much more figuratively and much less literally than many other people.
Perhaps it is because I grew up under the influence of Mom, who dismisses all fantasy and scifi lit as "little green men" books, but whenever I do read such stuff (which, aside from Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, is virtually never), I try to horn as much of it into a "real world" frame of reference as I can. So, for example, when Tolkien writes of one character's s eyes flashing or of another's suddenly seeming to grow larger or smaller, or (to give a specific example) of Theoden suddenly seeming to grow younger under the counseling of Gandalf, I read it in the same sense as I would read such a passage as written by a non-fantasy novelist such as (say) Dickens, Trollope or Conrad. I don't look for an actual flash of light or change in size or reverse aging process. This is not to say that I don't accept the larger fantasy elements - the power of the various Rings, for example, or the parallel spirit world inhabited to one extent or another by the different folk of Middle Earth - just that where there is what one might call a Real World explanation, I go for it first.
Perhaps I'm blinkered in my approach. Perhaps Tolkien meant all of these things to be taken quite literally. I dunno. But there it is. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy the books.
Happy Birthday anyway!
January 02, 2008
No Place Like Home . . .
Yours truly arrived home Sunday evening, ending a long adventure where it began, at the doorstep of the post headquarters (located, of course, amidst the vast real estate holdings which comprise Fort LMC). Mrs. LMC relinquished her duties as Civil Administrator and Director of Martial Law to return to her former position as post chief of staff, stay-at-home mom, and Final Authority on All Matters Concerning Popular Culture.
Robbo, The Butchers Wife, and the LLama-ettes drove down from Our Nation's Capitol to join us for New Years Eve frivolity, keeping a tradition we have maintained for fifteen years. I managed to tell Robbo how to park the LLama war machine on a short side trip to Home Depot (I was in the vehicle commander's seat, after all), proving I will need every one of the next thirty days to unwind before I return to practicing law.
This experience has been more than can be put in a single post and I have not decided how to organize my thoughts, much less put it on the blog. I will say I have been blessed by many kindnesses, large and small, of family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, fellow soldiers, and complete strangers far beyond my ability to ever adequately express. My reaction to returning is best described by recalling Rear Admiral Jeremiah A. Denton's words spoken upon his return from Vietnam thirty-five years ago:
It is an honor to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to the Nation for this day. God bless America.
David Byrne in Wired
David Byrne wrote a very interesting article about the music industry for the December issue of Wired magazine: David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists — and Megastars
A thankee and a mug o'hot Darjeeling for Mrs. Keysunset!!!
I Knew It!
Study shows congested traffic caused by:
"motorists using cell phones" aholes.
New computer simulations show that chatty drivers — using regular cell phones or even hands-free devices — take longer to complete their trips because they drive more slowly on highways and pass sluggish drivers less frequently.It's been getting worse and worse in certain stretches for my own commute. And the kind of back-ups I see that used to be caused by accidents or stranded motorists now seem to have to apparent external cause.
"At the end of the day, the average person's commute is longer because of that person who is on the cell phone right in front of them," said Dave Strayer, a University of Utah psychologist and leader of the research team.
And then I see these dimwits still talking as they walk from their cars - looking like they're chatting to themselves before I notice that stupid bluetooth thingy hanging off their ears. Grrrr.
I've Got The Powah....Oh, Wait. Never Mind.
An cold front came into the Dee Cee area last evening and, as is the case every time the wind cracks Level 2 on the Beaufort Scale, the electricity at Orgle Manor cut out.
Ya know, I'm solidly pro-Commonwealth in most things, but I just have to point out to Virginia Power that the electricity goes out a whooooole lot more often here in the heart of NoVA than it does in our place way the hell out on an island in mid-coast Maine. None of the lines are buried here and we live in a heavily wooded area. Of course branches are going to fall across them. Has this not yet occured to Virginia Power? Or does it get distracted every time it comes out to rectify the situation? (Oh, look! A squirrel!)
The power was out about three or four hours altogether last night. However, about every forty-five minutes or so, it would flicker on and off for about a minute. This caused a wonderful cacaphony of beeps and chirps among all the electronic gadgets spread about within hearing distance as they switched on and off. (And in case you're wondering why I didn't get up and unplug them, it was freakin' cold. No way was I coming out from under the pile of blankets.)
And to add insult to injury, I am virtually certain that it was a Va Power maintenance truck, several of which slowly and noisily crawled up our street at about three ack emma, that knocked the mailbox off its post for the umpteenth time.
The Video Hilla-pitch To Iowans
Linked over at HotAir.com.
Ugh. I can sum it up in one phrase - "Vote for me and I'll take care of everything."
And while watching it I couldn't help thinking of one name: Dolores Umbridge.
Congratulations To A Real Baby New Year 2008!
Yesterday at approximately 9:30pm, my new nephew was born. Happy birthday Colin James! 9lbs, 6oz, 22.5". Baby and mommy (after almost sixteen hours of hard labor) are doing fine, I'm told.