Musings of a Philosophical Scrivener...
Idle ramblings of an intermittently philosophical nature... Apologies to Martin Gardner, whose The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener is one of the best books you've (probably) never read.

An Idle Thought...
What a misfortune, and injustice, for the University of Tennessee College of Law that [Glenn "InstaPundit"] Reynolds should now be their best-known faculty member.
--Brian Leiter, Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Texas, Austin

About Me (the condensed version)
A member of the tail end of the boomers; a middle aged recovering lawyer turned professional computer geek. Native of St. Louis, Missouri, transplanted to Memphis, Tennessee. Avid reader, amateur philosopher, St. Louis Cardinals fan, one of the last Renaissance men.

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Frederick W. Benteen
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And in case you're interested, here's how many other 'net denizens need a life, or at least more compelling reading:


A blog worth reading:

Bloggus Caesari (Julius Caesar's Warblog)

Two blogs worth reading that I'll plug because the blogger is another Linux geek and a fellow Cardinals fan besides:

Frankly, I'd Rather Not
uptime

Other links of interest (to me, at least), in no particular order:

The Daily Howler
Spinsanity
Bill Maher Blog
The Progressive
The O'Franken Factor
Majority Report Radio
The Gadflyer
Daily Kos
Steve Gilliard's Blog
Whiskey Bar
Just a Bump in the Beltway
The Village Gate (formerly The Right Christians)
Juan Cole *Informed Comment*
Christopher Orlet
lileks.com
TomPaine.com
The Online Gadfly
The Crisis Papers
Ted Rall Online
MikeHersh.com
The Smirking Chimp
Talking Points Memo
Molly Ivins
This Modern World, By Tom Tomorrow
Tom the Dancing Bug, by Reuben Bolling
Bob the Angry Flower
Conservatively Incorrect, by Rack Jite
BartCop
Media Whores Online
Butterflies and Wheels
The Leiter Reports
Nathan Newman
Brief Intelligence
Half the Sins of Mankind
The Swing State Project
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Missouri Liberal
different strings
Shock and Awe
Gotham City 13
Pen-Elayne on the Web
Empty Days
Censored Story of the Day
Roger's Profanisaurus
Rhonda & Jane present: 525 Reasons to Dump Bush
The Bush Scorecard of Evil
Sherman P. Wright's Moderate Weblog
Quaker in a Basement
World Phamous
NLSO Subic Bay (Navy unit alumni blog.)
GRAPHICTRUTH
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
Bracing against the wind
Rants Vitriol and Spleen – JRI
Apostate's Weekly
Redbird Nation
Go Cardinals
The Cardinals' Birdhouse
The Birdhouse Minor League Report
CardsClubhouse.com
The Cardinals Fan Site
St. Louis Cardinals Ultimate Fan Site
RedBird Central
Get Up, Baby!
Royalties and Cardinalate (an all-MO baseball blog)
Pro Sports Daily: St. Louis Cardinals
Topix.net: St. Louis Cardinals news
RobNeyer.com
Rob Neyer's ESPN.com column
The Hardball Times
The Baseball Widow
Management by Baseball
The Nashville Files (RTB member in waiting?)
Madeleine Begun Kane's Notables Weblog
The Select Group of Toys
Pesky the Rat
I, Cringely
The Gripe Line Weblog, by Ed Foster
The Register
MS-BS
Evil Empire
Watching Microsoft Like a Hawk
Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil
Public Defender Dude
Punishment Theory
Savage Cruel Bigots
Treason Online
Hell for Halliburton
Hollywood Lost and Found
Popdex
Popdex Citations

Rocky Top Brigade:



RTB Lounge
NationStates Region

A Little More to the Right
A Moveable Beast
A Smoky Mountain Journal
AlphaPatriot
Beyond the Whispers
Big Stupid Tommy
Bjorn, Again
Bugly
Bully Pulpit
Busy Mom
Celtic Grove
Classless Warfare Jane
Conservative Zone
Dagley Dagley Daily
Damn Art Diary
Damn Foreigner
Democratic Veteran
Dingbust
Doc B
Doug McDaniel
Drawing Dead
Elephant Rants
Filthy Hippy Speak
FishKite
Frank Cagle
Free Speech News
Goobage
Granny Rant
Growth Spurt
Guy Montag
Hatamaran
HobbsOnline
Hypotheses Non Fingo
In a Mays
infozo
Inn of the Last Home
Instalawyer
Jaded Journal
Johnson City Stories
Knock/Snooze
Lay Lines
Lean Left
Les Jones
LissaKay
Loco Parentis
Long Pauses
Longmire
Mike Hollihan
Mike Reed
Mind Warp
Missives Anonymous
Mr. Lawson
My Quiet Life
Newsrack
Newton's Kumquat
No Quarters
One Hand Clapping
Opinari
Orfinanny
Pathetic Earthlings
Philosophical Scrivener
Queen Medb's Castle
Rebel Yell
Resonance
Rex Hammock
Rich Hailey
Road Warrior
SayUncle
SemiPundit
Sick of Bush
Smijer
South Knox Bubba
Southern Reporter
Straight White Guy
Sugarfused
Team Rock
The Golden Calf
Up For Anything
Voluntarily in China
Wandering Hillbilly
William Burton
InstaPundit (link removed, because I think Reynolds is an idiot, and he doesn't need the linkage. If you really want to waste your time reading his drivel, you know where to find him.)
Adam Groves (MIA)
Fat Ass Politics (MIA)
Oz's Lion (MIA)
Rapmaster (MIA)
Rush Limbaughtomy (MIA)
Secret City Scene (MIA)
Twelfth Parsec (MIA)
Uncommon Sense (KIA)
Underground Man (MIA)
Xyon's Rambles (MIA)

Memphis Blogs not in the Rocky Top Brigade

Signifying Nothing
m e m p h i s . c o o l (Jon W. Sparks's personal blog)
Sparks on Memphis (Jon W. Sparks's CA blog)
/home/geek
Peggy Phillip
Tread lightly on the things of earth
Rachel and the City
webraw
Well, I think I'm funny
PhilHarwell.com
Voice of Golden Eagle
when you're 21, you're no fun

The League of Liberals:


Democratic Veteran
The Spy Game
Cosmic Iguana
People's Republic of Seabrook
Philosophical Scrivener
The Mahablog
WTF is it NOW?
blunted on reality
Happy Furry Puppy Story Time
All Facts and Opinions
MadKane
Dubya's Daily Diary
Futurballa
ARMACT Action Alerts
Cup O' Joe
Grateful Dread on the Web
The Poison Kitchen
Indigo Ocean
The Felonious Elephant
Sick of Bush
Arms and the Man
Clareified
Rick's Cafe Americain
A-Changin' Times(ACT)
Estimated Prophet
Gotham City 13
Officially Unofficial
The Gunther Concept
The Mudshark
Hammerdown
Screaming Points
Ink from the Squid
Left Is Right
Byte Back
The Huck Upchuck
Pharyngula
The Sesquipedalian
Stageleft
DeanLand - Dean Landsman's Weblog
Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard
Wilson's Blogmanac
Ayn Clouter
iddybud
Anarchy Xero
Anonymoses

The Liberal Coalition

Archives
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03/01/2003 - 03/31/2003
04/01/2003 - 04/30/2003
05/01/2003 - 05/31/2003
06/01/2003 - 06/30/2003
07/01/2003 - 07/31/2003
08/01/2003 - 08/31/2003
09/01/2003 - 09/30/2003
10/01/2003 - 10/31/2003
11/01/2003 - 11/30/2003
12/01/2003 - 12/31/2003
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Sunday, February 29, 2004

I'm too geeky for my laptop....
It's a lovely Sunday morning in Memphis. Sunny, clear, and surprisingly warm for this time of year. Nothing of great import going on in my life, I'm over at Cafe Francisco enjoying some excellent coffee (much better than I can brew for myself, even if I do buy Cafe Francisco's beans and grind them myself), a bit of breakfast, and Web surfing and blogging via a wireless link.

Life is good today.




Thought for the Day:
Major League Baseball is a lot like Washington, and the Yankees are a lot like the Republicans. One has a $200 million payroll and the other has a $200 million campaign war chest. The Red Sox are the Democrats – perennial losers who can play dirty too, just not as well as their rivals. But baseball is broken in a lot of the same ways our political system is – because they’re both rigged to favor the wealthy. In other words, regular people have about as much hope of getting their concerns addressed as the Milwaukee Brewers have of winning the World Series.
--Bill Maher



Friday, February 27, 2004

Thought for the Day:
The saddest words are when somebody says they "saw" my movie. That means they saw it once. That's not seeing it. I make movies that need to be seen three or four times. This movie ["Gosford Park"] needs to be seen once just to get the lay of the land. Then, when you know who everybody is and how they're related, you can go back and see all the things you didn't know were significant the first time.
--Robert Altman



Thursday, February 26, 2004

Let's talk about 3,000 years of recorded history....
Here's one of the best answers I've seen to the Hate Amendment supporters who claim that for over 3,000 years of recorded history, marriage has been defined as being between one man and one woman (I've cited this in full because I wasn't given a URL, and because I think it's damn good and deserving of wide recognition):

On Marriage in "Recorded History"

An Open Letter to Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

By GARY LEUPP

Dear Governor Romney,

On November 18 the Massachusetts high court ruled that discrimination against gay couples in matters relating to marriage violated the Commonwealth's constitution. You immediately rejected that decision, declaring: "I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history. I disagree with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman ... and our constitution and laws should reflect that." Your official website informed the public that you "will support an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution to make that expressly clear[M]arriage is a special institution that should be reserved for a man and a woman."

So you "agree with history," you say, on this question of gay marriage. As an historian, I don't agree or disagree with "history," which is not a person with an opinion, but merely the record of countless people pursuing their own ends, interacting with one another and their environments through time. (Occasionally they make breakthroughs, producing new things; there's no reason for sentient beings to be stuck on precedent.) "I agree with history" is really a meaningless statement, rather like saying "I agree with time," or "I agree with reality," or "I agree with the way my father and grandfather and my ancestors before them thought about things." What I suppose you're really saying is that you agree with the proposition that heterosexual marriage (of some sort) should be recognized by law, to the specific exclusion of homosexual unions. You deploy in support of that proposition the assertion that this is the way it's always been. Gay marriage, you thus contend, will be a radical departure from our civilized past.

But this is just not true, Governor. You invoke "History" as though it's some source of authority, but you really don't know much about it, do you? "No investigation, no right to speak," I always say, and if you want to talk about homosexual unions in recorded history you should do some study first. First I recommend you read John Boswell's fine book
Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (University of Chicago Press, 1980), in which he documents legally recognized homosexual marriage in ancient Rome extending into the Christian period, and his Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe (Villard Books, 1994), in which he discusses Church-blessed same-sex unions and even an ancient Christian same-sex nuptial liturgy. Then check out my Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan (University of California Press, 1995) in which I describe the "brotherhood-bonds" between samurai males, involving written contracts and sometimes severe punishments for infidelity, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Check out the literature on the Azande of the southern Sudan, where for centuries warriors bonded, in all legitimacy, with "boy-wives." Or read Marjorie Topley's study of lesbian marriages in Guangdong, China into the early twentieth century. Check out Yale law professor William Eskridge's The Case for Same-Sex Marriage (1996), and other of this scholar's works, replete with many historical examples.

What the study of world history will really tell you, Governor, is that pretty much any kind of sexual behavior can become institutionalized somewhere, sometime. You know that polygamy remains normal and legal in many nations, as it was among your Mormon forebears in Utah. In Tibet, polyandry has a long history, and modern Chinese law seems powerless to prevent marriages between one women and two or three men. Getting back to same-sex issues, the Sambia of New Guinea have traditionally believed that for an adolescent boy to grow into a man, he absolutely must fellate an adult male and chug the semen down. I'm not making this up; see Gilbert H. Herdt,
Guardians of the Flutes (Columbia University Press, 1981). Now you and I would see that as a kind of child abuse, but to the Sambians, it's just common sense. It's been that way for well over 3,000 years of their history. (You might want to ask yourself: does that 3,000 year record make it right?) Some ancient Greek tribes had a similar notion of the necessary reception of semen to make a boy a man, only with them it was an anal-routed process. (See works by Jan Bremmer, for starters, on this practice as an "initiation rite" among various Indo-European peoples.)

Some suggest that there have been two basic traditions of male homosexual behavior on this planet, prior to the evolution of the contemporary egalitarian model: these inter-generational role-specific ones, in both pre-class and more sophisticated societies; and those that involve males who assume a female or transgender identity, who often also have shamanistic roles, such as the berdache of Native American peoples, or the hijra in Hindu society. These are generally available for "straight" men to bed with if they want to. A variation of this tradition is the ancient Mesopotamian male temple-prostitute (the cult of which spread to Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament; see 1 Kings14:24, 22:47, etc.). The idea was, you'd bugger one of these holy prostitutes, mystically unite with the deity thereby, and by your fee for this pleasure opportunity, assist in the maintenance of the temple. I'm not trying to gross you out or anything, Governor, just help you recognize that there may be more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your (somewhat too confident) philosophy of sexual history.

Over the last 3,000 years to which you specifically allude (someone else was telling National Public Radio that the Supreme Justice Court ruling defied 5,000 years, which would make departure from precedent even more serious), there has in fact been no global marriage norm. In some societies, a man and woman, of their own free will, formed a relationship, decided to forge a life-long commitment, got the necessary permissions and ceremonial legitimacy, started having sex after that, and maintained a monogamous union thereafter until one died. That's been very unusual, though. Arranged marriages involving varying degrees of input by the couple (usually less by the female) have been more the norm. (Do you realize, Governor, how radically sections of humankind departed from the prior "history" you so validate, when we started insisting on the freedom of young couples to marry without their parent's consent, and to do so based on "love"---which is another complex and evolving historical category? You might perhaps read Friedrich Engels' still relevant book
The Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State, and learn something about how capitalism and the whole notion of the free market played a positive role here.)

For demographic and economic reasons (rather than articulated moral ones), monogamy has generally been far more widespread than polygamy. But in more societies than not, wealthy, powerful men have enjoyed the polygamous option. That of course goes for the ancient Hebrews, whose example inclined the founders of your church, that of the Latter-Day Saints, to enthusiastically endorse the practice from the church's founding in 1830 up to Wilford Woodruff and his Manifesto in 1890. Then, whether due to a divine revelation, or to a desire to get Utah admitted to the Union (it's not for me to judge) LDS up and banned polygamy. Although, of course, some rogue elements continue the practice which mainstream Mormons now consider illicit.

But to agree with three, or five, or twelve thousand years of random past practice would require you, Governor Romney, to oppose the ban that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has from its inception placed on polygamy. I tell you, though: if you refused to do that, I'd be right there behind you. I'm a tolerant person and I realize that lots of Thai and Nigerian and Saudi guys have multiple wives, and maybe I even sort of lust, Carter-like, in my heart to emulate them. But I'm not a total moral relativist, and as public policy, I think monogamy's the right road, and you should stand firm in its support, never mind the Mormon past, which isn't your fault in any case.

Another thing. Not to get personal, but I've been married to a Japanese woman for 20 years. I'm aware some people have problems with this sort of arrangement; for a long time (from 1905) in California "miscegenation" between whites and "Mongolians" of all types was banned by law. But such laws seem so stupid now, don't they? At the time, such intimacies were depicted as "unnatural" mixes of racial superiors with inferiors bound to mess up the pure white gene pool. Of course the Mormon Church was committed to the view that African-Africans were inferior (and certainly unfit as partners to Mormon whites) way up until 1978, when Spencer Kimball, the 12th Prophet, got his word from the Lord and the policy was revised. Before that, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that Virginia state law banning black-white intermarriage could not be enforced; very recently (1998), South Carolina chucked its constitutional clause, dating to 1895, forbidding "marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who should have one-eighth or more Negro blood." Things change if people want them to.

When I got married, the Japanese had a law that the children of Japanese men and foreign women would automatically have Japanese citizenship, but those of foreign men and Japanese women would be denied that status. (The idea was: only Japanese semen makes Japanese kids.) This discriminatory treatment reflected the longstanding patriarchal prejudices of the Japanese legal code. By chance my daughter was born in the year that the law was changed (following protests by Japanese wives of foreigners), to confer Japanese citizenship on all children of Japanese nationals. So by random chance my kids are dual-nationals. That just seems reasonable, right? But there was a time in which those in power in Tokyo recoiled at the idea that a hairy-faced foreign barbarian's offspring would mix equally with the progeny of the Sun Goddess in the Land of the Gods. My point, again, is just that views on these issues aren't historically static, and good decent people can work to change them.

The freedom to link yourself to another, and benefit from whatever range of privileges your political and cultural environment confer on "marriage," should not be arbitrarily confined to males who are attracted to females, and to females attracted to males. Even if that premise had, in fact, as you suggest, prevailed since the dawn of civilization, it would be irrational. If history (with a capital H), has any function at all, it is to induce people, merely through cumulative experience, to get more rational, and thereby alleviate the kinds of suffering they can inflict upon themselves. Recognition of gay marriage is a step towards recognizing reality, and alleviating the oppression homophobic ignorance and hatred inevitably inflict. That's the reasoning behind the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts' ruling.

You, in response, panicking at the prospect of a broader, more inclusive concept of marriage, have proposed as a half-way measure legislation recognizing "civil unions" between same-sex couples. But please, Governor, go to sleep, have a dream, an open-minded divinely inspired dream. Let God Almighty, or whoever, Himself appear to you and say, "I've decided to revise the earlier, 3000-year old institution you've been talking about. For no more shall ye make any distinction among my people as to their sexual preference. I the Lord God am no respecter of persons, but all shall come unto me and all of legal age may be worthy to receive all the blessings of marriage. So, Mitt, assemble the people in the tabernacle which is the Massachusetts State House, on Beacon Street and Park Street in Boston, and speak unto them these words, saying: 'Gay marriage actually has lots of historical precedents. May Massachusetts, cradle of the Revolution, point the way once again in demanding recognition of what is just, fair, reasonable, and civilized.'"

Sincerely,

Gary Leupp Historian

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa, Japan and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900.




If you ever despair that the entire Republican party....
has become a stronghold of lunatic wingnuts, go spend some time at Sherman P. Wright's Moderate Weblog. Wright, a West Point grad and self-described moderate Republican, expresses a few opinions that will at least comfort a liberal Democrat, and give her/him hope that not every person who identifies as a Republican is a flaming Freeper/dittohead/idiot. From last Thursday's entry:

You have to be impressed with the campaign strategy behind the Presidential photo I got in the mail yesterday. (A purist may say that canvassing for contributions is not really campaign strategy, but I believe that it is the very heart and soul of the modern GOP political campaign.) Here was a pitch for contributions that appealed to virtually every one of the seven deadly sins, (again a recurring GOP approach). The particular focus was on the Republican crowd-pleasers Greed and Vanity. The Greed part came in the accompanying letter, talking about how Liberals wanted to destroy the economy. In GOP parlance (i.e., the Dittohead language) "economy" equates to "my personal income." The Vanity part comes from their enablement of prospective contributors to frame this nice personalized Presidential portrait as if they were fat-cat contributors with well-worn cards on Karl Rove’s rolodex. Any dyed in the wool Republican who isn’t in that category dreams of it, in the same way that any golfer worth his salt dreams of playing the Masters. I can really picture that a large percentage of these photos will end up framed on the way as a prime conversation piece "yeah, I was pleased and humbled by the appreciation that George and Laura showed over my role in their victory." But what should Sherman P. Wright do with the photo?




Conclusive proof....
that George aWol Bush and his puppetmeisters are idiots. From Nathan Newman: Tenet: US Actions Creating New Terrorists.

So let's get this straight. Before Bush started unilaterally dropping bombs on multiple countries, Muslims in countries like Morroco overwhelmingly liked the United States. Now they hate us.

And large numbers of folks who would never join a terrorist group before are now joining international networks to attack the US...




Fellow RTB member....
Peggy, of A Moveable Beast, has more right than most of us to have an opinion on the proposed Federal Hate Amendment (officially known as the "Federal Marriage Amendment), since she's openly gay. Go read what she has to say on the topic.




My 15 Minutes of Fame...
Jon W. Sparks of the Commercial Appeal was kind enough to mention This Humble Blog in his column this morning. Thanks, Jon, and for those of you who may be visiting thanks to that link, welcome! Feel free to stay a while, look around, poke through the archives, and when it's time to go, please consider reading a few of the other fine blogs in the blogroll to the left. Let me especially recommend the member blogs of the Rocky Top Brigade, the Memphis blogs not currently members of the RTB, and (for those of you who don't agree with Ann Coulter that liberals are traitors) the member blogs of the League of Liberals.

Let me apologize that, owing to an unfortunate set of Real Life™ circumstances Jon happened to throw me the pointer during a period where I've not had a lot of time to do my usual frenetic blogging. Also, of course, this blog is mine, so if perchance there's something you see here that you don't particularly like or agree with, don't blame Jon (who is a really great guy, as evidenced by the fact that he threw me a mention without even asking for the substantial bribe that I'd have been willing to pay for the privilege).

;-) for the humor impaired there....




As you've probably guessed....
its fixin' to be One of Those Weeks™. Apologies for the light blogging in the past couple days; hope to get back up to speed this weekend....




Thought for the Day:
This one in "honor" of the opening of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ yesterday...

"God is good," we were told over and over growing up, yet all we had to do was look around to see some not so good stuff. The single most prominent icon of my youth was the crucifix above the blackboard at the front of every classroom, and in those days, Cathoic crucifixes tended to be very realistic, down to every last nail, every last blood drop, the wide gash in Jesus' side. I mean, God let that happen to his son, and we were supposed to trust in his goodness?
--Dinty W. Moore


Judging from the reviews I've seen so far, emphasizing a level of violence and gore far in excess of any but the most bloody horror/exploitation flick (e.g., Roger Ebert: I said the film is the most violent I have ever seen. It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen. This is not a criticism but an observation; the film is unsuitable for younger viewers, but works powerfully for those who can endure it. The MPAA's R rating is definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic.), it seems to me that properly viewed (i.e., without the preconditioning of a "Christian" upbringing), the message which the viewer gets from The Passion of the Christ should be much more that expressed by Dinty W. Moore than by Mel Gibson.



Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Thought for the Day:
The spot: A small, furry creature, wearing a bowler hat, levitates as he sings an ode to Quiznos subs. Nearby, another flying creature wears an 18th century seafaring hat, and strums on an acoustic guitar. Song lyrics: "We love the subs! 'Cuz they are good to us. The Quiznos subs. They are tasty, they are crunchy, they are warm because they toast them. They got a pepper bar!"

Never have I gotten so much mail on a single ad. I gather that you seek an explanation. And with great urgency. Many of you sound disturbed—as though your lives will be placed on hold until you've come to terms with these haunting creatures.

I wish I could help. But what can be said? I mean, it's a screeching, levitating prosimian in a bowler hat. You'll find no easy answers here, people.
--Seth Stevenson ["Ad Report Card", slate.msn.com]



Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Interesting move....
according to an article in the Indianapolis Star, gay Indiana Democrats, claiming (with a bit of justice) that divorce is probably more subversive of "the sanctity of marriage" that the prospect of gay marriages, have asked their state GOP chairman to identify Republican legislators who have gotten divorced.




Does George W. Bush....
really think we're as stupid as he is? The recent attacks of Sen. Kerry (and let me get my biases out front; when it comes to the Dem nomination I'm just mild about Kerry--and that's exaggerating my enthusiasm, at that) for accepting "special interest" money really makes me want to puke.

Bob Somerby, at The Daily Howler manages to put things into perspective (with a little help from an email correspondent):

CASH AND KERRY: An e-mailer makes an excellent point about Kerry and that mountain of "special interest" money. As we noted yesterday, a Bush campaign ad complains that Kerry has taken $640,000 in "special interest money" over the past fifteen years:
E-MAIL: What I find interesting about that earth-shaking $640,000 is that spread over 15 years, it comes out to less than 43 thousand per year. Now, that's more than I make, but in Washington, to a "multi-millionaire" senator, it's laughably paltry. I've pointed this out to several at CNN and elsewhere, but it seems like my point is a little too tough for them to grasp, let alone make part of the script.

Indeed, given the scope of modern fund-raising, this is a fairly modest sum. Again, we quote Brooks Jackson on his Annenberg site: "So far, for example, Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist reported $1,022,063 in PAC donations for his 2004 campaign alone." Weirdly, the Bush ad complains about a much smaller amount--an amount raised over the past fifteen years!




Good luck....
Interesting news back home. O.J. Simpson was apparently stupid enough to attend an autograph signing event in St. Louis, notwithstanding that one of the parents of one of his victims (Ron Goldman) lives in St. Louis County. Here's the story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and from the Jefferson City (MO) News Tribune.

Then again, it might not be an issue of Simpson being stupid. From the Post story (the quote is from Katharyn Davis, attorney for Ron Goldman's mother, Sharon Rufo):

"I told O.J. and his assistant that I would personally make sure there was a writ against him in every state in this country," Davis said.

If Davis is not just blowing smoke (something lawyers do constantly, so I wouldn't necessary take her word here as gospel), then O.J. is going to get the same treatment everywhere, so he may as well get it in St. Louis. Frankly, I'd be ashamed to show my face anywhere that any of the judgment holders in this case live, but then O.J.'s proved he has very little shame anymore, so that's not going to be a real issue.

But in the "Duhhhhhh!" department, this quote from Sharon Rufo (from the News Tribune article) scores pretty high:

Countered Rufo: "I don't understand why anybody, unless you're sick, would want something from a murderer, an autograph from a murderer. I don't get it."

Um, because, Ms. Rufo, he's a Heisman Trophy, NFL star, movie actor murderer. And because a lot of us have no shame anymore. Not just O.J.




From Brian Leiter yesterday...
The less they know, the less they have a sense of humor.

Go follow the links in the first sentence to get the background, then come back to Prof. Leiter's subject post. It's good....

Though perhaps there should be a law against shooting trolls in a barrel....




Sometimes, life surprises you...
Generally I try to live my life by the principle that one should always expect the worst, so that one can always be pleasantly surprised. So imagine my pleasant surprise yesterday when I received my settlement check, in the amount of $13.86, representing my cut o'the swag in the Compact Disc Minimum Advertised Price Antitrust Litigation. One of the reasons I was so pessimistic about seeing anything worthwhile out of it was simply this provision of the settlement (scroll down to read it):

Cash Distribution

The cash paid by the Defendants, after the payment of attorneys' fees, litigation and Settlement administration costs, shall be distributed to consumers who purchased Music Products. The number of claims filed will determine the actual amount of the individual refund but will not exceed $20.00 per claimant.
If the number of claims filed would result in refunds of less than $5.00 per claimant, there will be no cash distribution to individual consumers. Rather, the cash portion of the Settlement shall be distributed to not-for-profit, charitable, governmental or public entities to be used for music-related purposes or programs for the benefit of consumers who purchased Music Products.

[my emphasis--LRC]

Given the number of music CD consumers, and the speed with which news of this class action and settlement was winging through the blogosphere, I thought for sure that the refund would dip below the $5.00 per claimant floor, and I'd never see a penny of it. Glad to know I was wrong.

My Memphis area blog-brother and fellow Rocky Top Brigade member tgirsch of LeanLeft got his check too:

My settlement check from the CD price fixing suit came. A whopping $13.86, or approximately 3.7¢ per CD I own (and not enough to buy even a single additional CD, I might add). That ought to teach those record companies not to mess with me!




There may be no hope....
or as Juan Cole puts it: About Half the American Public is Terminally Stupid:

A new poll shows that 51% of Americans believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the US went to war with it last spring. Some 47% believe that clear evidence that Iraq was supporting al-Qaeda has been found in that country. Both of these allegations are false (whether they are lies is a different matter), and any halfway informed person should know by now that they are false.

I hate to pick on Professor Cole, who is one of the few voices of sanity about the mideast in general, and Iraq in particular, in the blogosphere, but if you actually follow the link to the story in The Australian, the dark cloud does have a silver lining: the 51% who believe that Iraq had WMDs is actually down from 61% of us believing it in mid-December. So the truth is gradually filtering through. I'm curious when it will stop; in other words, what percentage of the population has made up its collective mind and doesn't want to be bothered with the facts?




For those who care about these things....
Brian at Redbird Nation has an excellent rundown of The Teams of the Decade for each decade from 1901-1909 to 2000-2003. I'm not qualified to dispute his rankings, but I think he makes a fine case for his picks. Check it out.

And check out the graphic of the Bob Gibson baseball card that illustrates his discussion of the Sixties. I once owned that card, and tears are even now welling in my eyes thinking how much it might be worth if I'd kept the damn thing in mint condition....Ah, lost opportunity.




Right idea, wrong action...
Over at Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil Anthony Rickey recently had a mini-fit (I was going to call it a "mini-hissy fit" just to yank Anthony's chain, but I respect him too much to yank his chain when he's stressing out over moot court--Anthony, I've been there, done that, and understand completely) over the silence from the left leaning commentators over the issuance of marriage licenses in San Francisco contrary to California state law, when they were so willing to jump all over Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore six ways from Sunday for his attempt to install a Volkswagen sized granite monument to the Ten Commandments (Note to Anthony: when the moot court stress is over, look into the concept of "an embarassed silence"; it may explain a lot in this case--or it may not).

Over at Slate yesterday, Richard Thompson Ford suggested that the San Francisco city officials should have taken a different tack to get their point across. After noting the officials' defense of their actions (to not issue marriage licenses to gays is to discriminate against same-sex couples on grounds of sexual preference, in violation of the California constitution), Ford says:

So, if it cannot flout the state ban, is the city required by law to discriminate against same-sex couples? Maybe not. If the city believes that licensing male-female but not same-sex marriage is unconstitutional discrimination, it could borrow a page from the anti-commandeering book and refuse to participate in the state's heterosexist marriage scheme; it could stop issuing marriage licenses altogether. This may sound spiteful ("If gay couples can't get married, no one can!"), but a moratorium on marriage could be a responsible temporary measure that would avoid the discrimination, while waiting for the courts to settle the issue.

It would also jibe with an influential political theory of unconstitutional discrimination. The constitutional law scholar John Hart Ely argued that the U.S. Constitution should prohibit discrimination against minority groups because such discrimination is especially likely to be the result of a failure of the political process. Discriminatory laws that target well-defined minority groups do not affect the majority of the voting public, who could be said to pass laws under which they do not have to live. By refusing to issue any marriage licenses, the city could make the majority see what it's like not to have marriage available at all.

Sure, the move largely would be symbolic. It would merely inconvenience heterosexual couples, who could go to a neighboring jurisdiction and have their marriages licensed. And it's really people outside San Francisco who need to be convinced; most San Francisicans--straight and gay--support gay marriage already. But we're dealing in symbolism here in any event--legally, the city's gay marriages will last about as long as Dennis Rodman's to Carmen Electra and almost everyone involved knows it. Even unequivocal supporters of the city's actions defend it with phrases like "civil disobedience." But purporting to license same-sex marriage is an odd form of civil disobedience: It has the look and feel of a lunch counter sit-in, but it replaces the elements of sacrifice and risk with what looks like political patronage. Shutting down the marriage shop altogether might send a more powerful message because it would involve a sacrifice for San Franciscans and (as a result) risk for local politicians.


What strikes me as either sad or ludicrous (depending on my mood at the time) is reports that I've read that some folks getting married in San Francisco (but living far away from the city) are getting multiple certified copies of their marriage licenses, thinking that they are going to somehow force their home jurisdictions to recognize their marriages as legal on their return. Surely they jest and they know it, but then again, hope does spring eternal.... or as Scott Adams better put it: Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion. But far be it from me to point out their irrationality; either they know the unlikelihood of the payoff, in which case they have no right to be despondent when their home jurisdiction slaps them down, or they are true and sincere in their belief that they are going to prevail, in which case I'm not going to snatch their delusion from them; life's going to shit on them big time Real Soon Now, and I'll let them enjoy their fools paradise as long as they can (besides, I can sympathize; I date actively, so I do enough irrational things in the pursuit of a phenomenally unlikely payoff, too).

Before I leave this topic, however... Since it's considered more or less obligatory for Rocky Top Brigade members to cast links each other's way, a number of RTB members have linked over to Donald Sensing's ("One Hand Clapping") recent ongoing ruminations on the topic (my failure to do so is because Sensing got "InstaPundited" shortly after his first post on the topic, and he needed my linking to him like the local fire department would need me tossing a water glass on my blazing apartment to help them fight the fire). Right now he's got a master post to his punditry on the topic, and if you feel so inclined, have a gander. For a (as I see it) conservative Christian minister he's being quite reasonable on the topic (especially in his first post, where he proclaimed "Traditionalists need to get a clue - we lost this fight 40 years ago"). "His" solution to the problem, separating the civil and religious aspects of marriage, isn't really "his" solution; I've been saying the same thing for some time now, and his own post on the issue establishes that he's aware that other folks have had similar solutions to the problem as well. But then again, there's no such thing as an original idea anymore, and even the Bible has a few plagiarized plots....

But speaking of mutual RTB linkage, when it it my turn to be InstaPundited, eh?

;-)




Thoufht for the Day:
A few days ago, a Respected Party Elder advised me to stop dissing John Kerry on account of "he will be our nominee." He may be "our nominee," but he'll still be a boring stiff. OK, sort of an impressive boring stiff.
--Molly Ivins



Monday, February 23, 2004

From Molly Ivins...
the best obit of the Dean campaign that I've read so far.

Meanwhile, the punditry is busy cranking out mostly pro forma hail-and-farewells to my man Howard Dean. I hate whining, and life is not fair, but I still think a whole lot of people who should have known better freaked out over Dean, treating a mostly mild-mannered, perfectly sensible and quite cheerful fellow as some kind of anti-establishment Antichrist. I mean, he was governor of Vermont for 12 years, not Vladimir Lenin.

But he did tap into some real political anger, and look how many people turn out to be just scared to death of that. This is not the fake, pumped-up indignation of Rush Limbaugh's dittoheads over gay marriage -- now there's something that'll cost you your job -- but real anger about being lied to over war.

What was so scary about Dean? Could it be because he (and some very bright young people who worked with him) found this way to raise real money in small amounts from regular people, and that just threatened the hell out of a lot of big corporate special interests? And out of an entire political establishment that is entirely too comfortable with the incestuous relationship between big money and politics?

For just a moment in time, Dean was ahead of the pack -- and no one owned him. Go back and look at whom that scared.

Sure, Dean self-destructed to some extent. He now does a very funny imitation of his own "scream speech," delivered in a quiet monotone and ending with a mild, deadpan "yahoo." (Come to think of it, he should have done that riff on Leno the night after he made the speech. We all have great ideas when it's too late.)

I'm not crazy about anger as a motivating force in politics, but didn't
someone need to point out that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes? Didn't someone need to say that we were led into war under false pretenses? Imagine an entire campaign in which all the candidates ignored that because they were all complicit in it.

I think we owe Howard Dean more than a "Gee, thanks for participating in our noble political system." Personally, I'd like to say, "Gee, thanks for helping keep democracy alive when it looked fairly dicey."




I should pay more attention...
to Josh Marshall and Talking Points Memo. Revisiting today, I see this gem:

Just when you start debating how much or whether the president's military service record should be an issue in this campaign, you realize that the main reason it's an issue is that the president and his surrogates just won't stop lying about it.

This morning Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot was interviewed by Juan Williams on NPR. When asked about the president's Air National Guard service he said, the president's and John Kerry's service "compare very favorably... He (i.e. the president) signed up for dangerous duty. He volunteered to go to Vietnam. He wasn't selected to go, but nonetheless served his country very well..."

He volunteered to go to Vietnam?

Marc, no he didn't.

Does he think no one is listening?


Go read the whole thing, it's excellent.




When life gets stranger than my fantasies...
it's time to consider giving up and going home. Chasing pointers from Rachel and the City, I ran into this:

David Gest to marry Diana Ross?

The ending to one of my more recent bad dates (though as bad dates go, this was really nothing to whine about) found us in her living room watching, in horrid fascination, David Gest's recent, excruciatingly whiny interview with Stone Philips (? I think that's who it was, but I don't watch enough TV to know any of those professional pretty faces) on Dateline, while I tried desperately to figure out an excuse for ducking out of the date early. Oh, the humanity!

My guess is that if Diana's really considering marrying him, she's still in need of industrial strength rehab.




A rather circuitous route....
from TalkLeft via South Knox Bubba... Human Rights Watch is sponsoring a MillionforMarriage petition drive. Generally, online petitions aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and you do "agree" to receive email from HRW and the petition drive central HQ when you sign, but if those terms and conditions aren't too onerous, consider signing up.




Want $10,000?
All you have to do is prove to Garry Trudeau that George aWol Bush really showed up at Dannelly ANG Base:

For the past twelve years, George W. Bush has had to endure charges that he didn't take the final two years of his Guard service as seriously as duty required. (For updated timeline, click here.) And the two witnesses who have come forward in support so far haven't exactly cleared things up. We at the Town Hall believe that with everything he has on his plate, Mr. Bush shouldn't have to contend with attacks on the National Guard, which is serving so bravely in Iraq. And we're willing to back up our support with cold, hard cash.

His teeth were there.Granted, this has been tried before. In 2000, concerned veterans in both Texas and Alabama offered cash rewards to lure former guardmates of Mr. Bush into stepping forward, to no avail. The problem, in our view, was that these enticements weren't serious enough, that the sums offered were insulting. In contrast, we at the DTH&WP respect how inconvenient it can be to subject yourself to worldwide media scrutiny in general, and Fox News in particular, and are thus prepared to sweeten previous offers by a factor of five. That's right, we're offering $10,000 cash! Yours to either spend or invest in job creation. All you have to do is definitively prove that George W. Bush fulfilled his duty to country.


Unfortunately, what the large print giveth, the fine print taketh away:

Q: Is there some sort of hitch?
A: Well, yes, but it's a hitch for a good cause. The winner won't actually receive the reward for himself; instead we'll be donating $10,000 in his name to the USO. That way everyone's a winner, including GBT's tax accountant.


Still, I wouldn't mind $10K being given in my name to the USO.




I was going to blog this this weekend...
but Brian at Redbird Nation beat me to it. FWIW, Aaron Schatz at The New Republic online penned a piece on the rise of sabermetricians in the front offices, and argued that as long as most clubs weren't utilizing sabermetrics in their personnel management decisions, those clubs that did so have an advantage, in that they can perceive perceive and take advantage of inefficiencies in the baseball labor market. However, as more clubs (including, eventually, the Yankees and Red Sox juggernauts) jump on the sabermetric bandwagon, these advantages will basically even out, and once more the big purses of Evil Empires like the Yanks will dominate. Brian is not so sure:

Well, that day may come, but I'd say we're about, oh, two or three hundred years away from that. There's just so much we still don't know about talent evaluation and player development. Once some franchise comes along to precisely quantify defensive prowess, or how to avoid injuries to young pitchers arms, or how to determine the attitudes and adaptability of the best players, then we'll see a whole new set of competitive advantages and a whole new group of franchises trying to catch up.

While the Stats Guru makes an interesting point at Baseball Musings:

The way the system is set up, players don't cost you an arm and a leg until they become free agents, at which point they've played six years. Unless you are like A-Rod or Robbie Alomar who came up at 19, most players are not free agents until they are past their prime. So in general, the team that drafts a player is going to get that player's best years.

Now it's a lot easier, given unlimited resources, to hire good players rather than draft them. So teams with lots of money will tend to spend their resources on free agents rather than the farm system. That's pretty much what has happened with the Yankees. Teams without a lot of cash will do the opposite; they develop players, bring them to the majors, get their six years out of them, and let them go. If you do this well enough, you will always be able to have a decent team on the field. In addition, you'll have resources you can trade for veterans when you need to fill a hole to put you over the top. You just have to stay close, and let luck work it's magic.

Remember, there are many different ways to win in baseball, none much better than the others. Some just require more work.


There's still 162 games in a season, and you have to play them all.




How does my name get on these lists?
Other people get porno spam. I get Korean heavy equipment spam.

I am not making this up. Several months ago, I started getting, for some strange reason, unsolicited emails from Daewoo's heavy construction equipment division. So while my friends get emails with pictures of big chested beauties, with a subject line of "You know you want to fuck a MILF", I have to slog my way through emails with long, dense, marginally grammatical (this is Korean spam, remember?) descriptions of earth movers, cranes, etc..

Karma's a bitch.




Thought for the Day:
Perhaps I'm old and tired but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say "hang the sense of it" and just keep yourself occupied.
--Slartibartfast [TV show, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"]



Sunday, February 22, 2004

Catching up with some old blogfriends...
who have gotten short shrift because of Real Life™ demands... I see from Elayne Riggs that one can actually get a Trailer Trash doll (think of it as a Barbie for redneck girls) in either the Standard Trailer Trash doll configuration, or in the Drag Queen version (blond or redhead Drag Queen; take your pick).

That I never got this idea explains why I'm not rich. sigh




Garbage in (the White House), garbage out...
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., just wrote a fascinating article in The Nation on The Junk Science of George W. Bush.

The Bush Administration has so violated and corrupted the institutional culture of government agencies charged with scientific research that it could take a generation for them to recover their integrity even if Bush is defeated this fall. Says Princeton University scientist Michael Oppenheimer, "If you believe in a rational universe, in enlightenment, in knowledge and in a search for the truth, this White House is an absolute disaster."

If this is the kind of governance we get with a businessman as the head of state, give us back to the lawyers. Please.




Winning friends and influencing people? Not f*cking likely...
We hear that the U.S. Government's answer to Al-Jazeera, Al Hurra (aka "Radio Free Islam"), went on the air recently. According to the Guardian, it's met a frosty reception in Cairo:

The day after the United States unveiled its Arabic-language satellite channel, based in Virginia and beamed across the Arab world, few people in downtown Cairo confessed to tuning in for the inaugural broadcast. Opinions, however, were plentiful.
"You mean the American propaganda channel?" proved the most popular response.

On Saturday, the American answer to Al Jazeera hit the airwaves. Al Hurra, "the free one", began its broadcast at 5pm in Cairo when Mohammad - who asked that his full name not be used - was still busy helping customers in his busy electronics store. The station ran an exclusive interview with President Bush over two days, but Mohammad saw no reason to listen, yet again, to the American point of view. No matter how many times he hears the American line it will not make a difference.

"Why would I watch Bush on television when every day I can read what he says here," he said, pointing to his newspaper. "We know what the American policies are, and we still don't like them."


Of course, the bAdministration had to believe that Al Hurra would be welcomed with open arms; after all, Arabs trust us like brothers, and would never have any reason to doubt our motivations, right?

Asked their opinions at a coffee house near Midan Talaat Harb, most Cairenes said they simply do not trust Bush. If he cared about human rights, then he would help the Palestinians, they say.

"Human rights, democracy, yes, these are all good things," said Osama Medhat. "You ask 90% of Egyptians and they say the same thing."

Distrust of the Bush administration's intentions runs so deep that US support for human rights groups and other democratic institutions is interpreted as meddling in domestic politics. Even the innocent look suspect. Nahdet Misr, an independent, liberal-minded weekly was widely rumoured to be Uncle Sam's stooge when it hit the news stands last autumn. Many considered it the beginning of "American infiltration" into Egyptian news media, despite adamant denials from the publisher and US officials.


Sounds like it's going to be a screaming success.




I've noted this myself....
but Bill Maher at his blog says it much better than I can:

The classic description for chutzpah used to be the man who killed both his parents asking for mercy on the grounds that he was an orphan. There is now a new standard, which consists of White House advisor Richard Perle's statement that "heads should roll" at the C.I.A. over the Iraqi WMD catastrophe. Perle, who's only had a hard-on for Iraq for about twenty-five years or so, blames George Tenet for the "intelligence failures" that led us into this war, despite numerous reports that the Bush administration-- mostly on the advice of Perle-- had been planning to depose Hussein since the day Bush took office. Perle is right about one thing, though: head should roll over this idiotic war. Starting with his own.

The only thing that Maher misses.... Maybe my memory is failing, and I'm conflating my fantasies with reality, but my recollection is that the intelligence being provided by the CIA was pretty much spot on, with the professional analysts there telling us that the intel on which the bAdminstration war hawks were basing their case for war was not as strong as the bAdministration was claiming. So I agree with Maher that heads should roll. And not just Perle's. Hopefully, the electorate will hand George aWol Bush's head back to him, and send him back to Crawford to play cowboy.




George aWol Bush in the Guard: RIP?
Bob Somerby, in the Daily Howler writes the obit for the George aWol Bush Air National Guard "story":

What ever happened to coverage of Bush-in-the-Guard? Several readers have written to ask. The answer is simple: At some weekend cocktail party or other, the Insider Press Corps agreed it was scared, and decided the discussion had gone far enough. Result? On Meet the Press, Tim Russert promoted Bill Calhoun to general--and accepted his unlikely tale without a word of caution or comment. The rest of the press corps dropped the tale like a rock. But this is the course the corps always takes when it gets involved in such a discussion. After years of ignoring a story, they initiate a sudden, frenzied discussion--in which they can't get simple facts straight, and often focus on the wrong issues. Then, on a dime, the story is dropped. It's as if the whole thing never happened.

It's enough to make one give up on the United States, its mass media and its political institutions.

What a fucking joke.




Thought for the Day:
Sex comedies need two obvious ingredients: sex and comedy. Eurotrip has some of the former (plenty of bare breasts and buns) but almost none of the latter.
--James Berardinelli



Friday, February 20, 2004

Best Blog Quote of the Day:
From Rocky Top Brigade demigod South Knox Bubba (on a visit by Tom Delay to Knoxvegas):

This one is pretty good, too:
He said that a "very telling difference" between the Democratic and Republican parties is that the former "is becoming the party of gay marriages..."

Really? It seems like Democrats are talking about jobs and healthcare and it's the GOP that's "becoming the party of gay marriages."

At any rate, this is a Seriously Weird issue on which to build a presidential campaign. But I suppose they can't really run on their record. They need something, anything, to divert attention from jobs, healthcare, the economy, war, war profiteering, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, corporate scandals, and so forth. And what a great issue, with so many Americans so afraid of being converted to homosexuality or being forced to have sex with their dog.

What a sick, cynical bunch of bastards.




May as well jump on the bandwagon (or, the "This One's Been Travelling Around Left Blogistan" department)....
Damn, for someone with a business degree, George aWol Bush is starting to act like a lawyer. How can we hide the fact that the country is bleeding manufacturing jobs? Simple, let's redefine what a manufacturing job is...

Is cooking a hamburger patty and inserting the meat, lettuce and ketchup inside a bun a manufacturing job, like assembling automobiles?

That question is posed in the new Economic Report of the President, a thick annual compendium of observations and statistics on the health of the United States economy.

The latest edition, sent to Congress last week, questions whether fast-food restaurants should continue to be counted as part of the service sector or should be reclassified as manufacturers. No answers were offered.

In a speech to Washington economists Tuesday, N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, said that properly classifying such workers was "an important consideration" in setting economic policy.

Counting jobs at McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food enterprises alongside those at industrial companies like General Motors and Eastman Kodak might seem like a stretch, akin to classifying ketchup in school lunches as a vegetable, as was briefly the case in a 1981 federal regulatory proposal.


There's an old line that runs, "There is no proposition so stupid that no lawyer will argue for it." After seeing both "Ketchup is a vegetable" and "Making burgers is manufacturing" both get serious consideration, in my lifetime, by two presidential fools, I've rewritten the line.

"There's no proposition so stupid that a Republican administration won't endorse it."




It appears to be official...
Over at The Cardinals Birdhouse they're reporting what appears to be the details of the 7 year/$100 million (or 8 year/$111 million, if an option year is picked up by both sides) contract that the Cardinals will be signing with Albert Pujols. Not bad for a man in his early twenties (discounting the "Pujols age controversy" for a moment):

Here’s the deal:

2004:$7M
2005:$11M
2006:$14M
2007:$15M*
2008:$16M*
2009:$16M*
2010:$16M*
2011:$5M buyout or $16M option
Total:$100M over 7 years or $111M over 8 years

* For each of the years 2007-2010, $3M of salary is deferred without interest. The total of $12M in deferred money is paid out at the rate of $1.2M per year from 2020-2029.


Brian Walton, at the Birdhouse, suggests that this is a win-win deal for both parties; especially considering that for 2004 the Cardinals are paying the same for Pujols as they would if they won the scheduled arbitration case. It's nice to see a plan come together.

UPDATE: Hey, if the St. Louis Business Journal is reporting it, it seems that it's about as official as it can be.

Congratulations, Albert. Now go out onto the field, kick some butt and take some names.




Interesting ad at Slate...
it read: Hannety's new book just 99¢ Save almost $26!

Hmmmmm... so Sean can barely give his inane drivel away. Maybe there's hope yet....




Thought for the Day:
The good news is Albert Pujols might be baseball's best hitter. The bad news is GM Walt Jocketty might have to pay him like he might be baseball's best hitter.
--Shane A. Seaburg [ProSportsDaily; 2004 NL Central prospectus]



Thursday, February 19, 2004

Well, it was a low carb diet...
According to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a Frenchman presented to the hospital with symptoms including constipation and stomach pains. After examination, X-rays revealed an opaque mass in his abdomen. Basically, on further examination doctors discovered that he'd swallowed about 12 or more pounds of coins--so many that his stomach had apparently settled down around his hips...




Stupid Quizilla tricks time:
Frankly, I'd always described myself as "a real-life Michael J. Doonesbury", but that wasn't what the quiz was about. Still, I have to admit this answer resonates with me:

Charlie Brown
You are Charlie Brown!


Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla




Shameful episodes in U.S. History Department:
At nathannewman.org, Nathan weighs in with a post on Why Gay Marriage is Like Polygamy. Be warned, it's not pretty.




Good news for Brian at Resonance?
This bit o'analysis from Daily Kos:

But ultimately, Kerry's biggest weakness is that no one likes him, unlike the well-liked, charismatic Edwards. The exit polls have been clear -- people vote for Kerry not because they are inspired, agree with his policies, or otherwise find him an attractive candidate. They vote for him because they think he is "most electable". And that aura is fading. The attacks are taking a toll on him and that perceived "electability". And since his support is not deep, it's artificial and thin at best, he has nothing to fall back on.

Which makes me wonder.... It's always seemed to me that politics is about likeability...so why would people think Kerry is "electable" if nobody really likes him?

Speaking personally, if Kerry wins the nomination, it's gonna be a real chore to go to the polls. I'll probably do it (unless I'm on my deathbed), because George aWol Bush is such a turd, but it'll be a real chore.




From Bill Simmons at ESPN...
"33 random thoughts about the A-Rod trade, the Yanks and the upcoming season". Some excerpts:

2. All right, how can this POSSIBLY turn out well with Jeter playing shortstop and A-Rod playing third? Defensively, Jeter has been a below-average shortstop for years -- every possible defensive statistic says so. A-Rod is significantly better. Maybe he isn't Ozzie in his prime, but his defense at a premium position was one of the things that made him special.

You're telling me that this isn't a little weird? You're telling me that the New York press won't be making a big deal of this? What happens when Jeter misses a few games -- he missed 43 last season -- and A-Rod takes over and shines at shortstop? A-Rod idolized Ripken, even insisting on calling pitches in Texas like Ripken did ... suddenly he's happy playing out of position next to a guy who can't carry his jock? This won't be a big deal? Really?

3. Consider this: No more Grady Little.

4. It's official: America has its greatest sports villains since either the Russian Hockey Team in 1980 or the Iron Sheik in the mid-'80's, depending on your perspective. They're like a cross between Cobra Kai and the Nazis in Victory -- everyone hates them now, no matter where you live. How is this a bad thing? Isn't it better that we all have something in common now?

...

11. You know how we have K-Rod, T-Mac, J-Will, J-Rich, J-Lo and all these other annoying celebrity acronyms? Well, "A-Rod" started the whole thing. Did we really want a guy on our team who once caused Linda Cohn to say the words "I-Rod" instead of "Pudge"?

12. Once again: No more Grady Little.

...

14. Now Dan Shaughnessy can update his "Curse of the Bambino" book for its 162nd printing ... clearly, he needs to make more money off this. God bless him. Do you think he patented the "Valentine's Day Massacre" phrase on Saturday at 2 p.m.?

...

20. Another silver lining: This A-Rod fiasco made us realize that Ben Affleck needs to be stopped. I loved "Good Will Hunting" as much as anyone, but did you see him ranting and raving at the Daytona 500? Since when did Ben Affleck become The Voice of Red Sox Fans? Who nominated him? Would a true Sox fan ever propose to a chick with a big ass from the Bronx? In a million years? I really think we should vote on this -- let's have an election and everything. Ben Affleck needs to be stopped. I'm not kidding.

(And really, who is Affleck to lecture us about someone ruining the sport of baseball? Isn't this the same guy who sold out with "Reindeer Games," "Paycheck," "Pearl Harbor," "Armageddon," "Gigli" and everything else? Has any actor cashed in as gleefully and gratuitously as Ben Affleck? How is this different than A-Rod weaseling his way to New York? And when you think about it, isn't working for the Weinsteins basically the Hollywood equivalent of playing for the Yankees? I thought so.)

21. Seriously ... no more Grady Little.

...

27. The Yanks have the weirdest clubhouse of all-time -- they're like a roto team sprung to life, aren't they? Sheffield, Brown, Giambi, Contreras, Matsui, A-Rod ... it's like one of those "Saturday Night Live" seasons where Lorne Michaels brought in too many cast members and all hell broke loose. Doesn't clubhouse chemistry count for anything? And will A-Rod's reputation as a prima donna precede him?

28. Along those same lines, you can't buy your way to a championship. Many have tried. Few have succeeded. Last time I checked, you still have to play the whole season. In the words of Adam Carolla, "You can't just go out and buy a championship ring ... well, unless Dwight Gooden runs out of coke."

...

31. Just in case you forgot ... no more Grady Little.




Volunteer Tailgate Party
is here....




Somewhere on the web....
there's a collection of physics jokes, I'm sure (I know there is, but I'm too lazy to Google for it right now). I know I've seen a few physics jokes in my time, but I'm surprised this one never crossed my line of sight before:

Werner Heisenberg got pulled over by an officer on the Autobahn. The cop walked up to his window and asked, "Sir, do you know how fast you were going back there?" To which Heisenberg replied, "No, but I know where I am."

I may just use this as my new screening question for dates; if the prospective girlfriend laughs at this one and doesn't need an explanation, she's in....




Well, it's "unconfirmed"...
by the ball club itself, but the Cardinals Birdhouse reports that both ESPN and the AP are running stories "confirming" that the Cardinals and Albert Pujols are close to signing a 7 year, $100 million contract. And FWIW, a news story from mlb.com graces the official Cardinals website reporting pretty much the same thing. Quoth the mlb.com reportage:

"[Albert] called me to give me the good news early in the morning," his aunt, Miriam Pujols, told The Associated Press in the Dominican Republic.

I'm hopeful.




From the "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there" Department:
This was today's "Buzzword of the Day" mailing from buzzwhack.com:

DIRECTIONALLY CORRECT: Consultant-speak for "Trust us. We don't have a specific answer, but if you go in this general direction we think you'll be making the right decision."




The case for George W. Bush, Nobel Peace Laureate
Timothy Noah, of Slate, makes this intriguing case that, by waging an aggressive war in Iraq in violation of international law (NOTE: this legal "analysis" is my take, not Noah's, but bear with me; it makes the irony even more delicious) George W. Bush has done much to promote world peace in the coming years. Or, as the Slate subhead puts it, If they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to thwarted hawks, he'd win it. Here's the nutshell version of Noah's analysis:

But if the award were based on peaceful outcomes rather than peaceful intent, President Bush, at least, would have a decent claim. Bush is a purveyor of peace not because he wants to be, but because circumstances he himself created—and, in all likelihood, does not yet fully appreciate—have made him so. Even if Bush wins a second term, the Bush White House will find it very difficult, and perhaps even impossible, to launch any new full-scale wars. Here are the three reasons why:
1.) He doesn't have the troops....
2.)
He doesn't have the money.....
3.)
He doesn't have the credibility....

Noah concludes (and to my mind, we have to be cheerful about this possibility, because Ghod knows there's not too much left to be cheerful about):

Here, then, is the silver lining for Democrats who fear that John Kerry will lose to George W. Bush: Kerry may be less inclined to take the nation into war, but Bush will be even less able to. Bush has probably done more to promote the cause of peace than any president since Lyndon Johnson, who begat the Vietnam syndrome. The Quakers should put up a statue of him.




Thought for the Day:
God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time--life and death -- stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don't think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.
--Richard Feynman



Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Too good not to blog....
The Timeline: Alex Rodriguez's career in New York--if he'd signed with the Mets.

Thanks to Big Stupid Tommy for the reference....




I wish I were talented....
A Eulogy for Howard Dean's Campaign (in the style of one W. Shakespeare). Fuckin' brilliant!




Congratulations are in order....
to Rocky Top Brigade demigod South Knox Bubba, who just won the Koufax award in the category "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition".

Now, don't let it go to yer head, SKB. ;-)




Male psychology in a nutshell....
From an email correspondent:

Men have only two emotions: "hungry" and "horny." So, women: if you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich!




Interesting Baseball Contract news....
I happened to get both of these stories from today's Cardinal's Birdhouse, though I'm sure the Maddux story is out on all the wire services and major press outlets...

According to "a credible source", Albert Pujols and the Cards are set to announce agreement on a seven year contract, pending approval by both MLB headquarters and the MLBPA. If true, this is probably the best news of the pre-season so far for the Cards.

And there is probably much rejoicing in Wrigleyville (and at my dad's house, since he's a Cub fan), as the AP announced yesterday that Greg Maddux agreed with the Chicago Cubs on a 3 year, $24 million dollar contract which, barring some unforseen surprises (and aren't those the heart and soul of baseball?) should pretty well lock up the Cubs' chances of repeating as NL Central champions.

Only 47 days til opening day.....




Good news on the SCO lawsuit front?
(which is, incidentally, a topic I've been quite remiss in covering lately). Anyway, according to a recent column by Frank Hayes in Computerworld, a document recently found by Novell and submitted to SCO last week may show that AT&T torpedoed SCO's claims in its lawsuit with IBM--and by extension, freed Linux once and for all from the evil clutches of Darl McBride--all the way back in 1985.

Quoth Frank:

But on the same day SCO's lawyer was explaining his legal theory in court, Novell was faxing something to SCO's offices.

It was a copy of "$ echo," a newsletter published by AT&T in 1985 for its Unix licensees. In it, AT&T clarified what that derivative-works clause in the Unix license meant. (Apparently, there was confusion about it even then.)

AT&T said it wanted "to assure licensees that AT&T will claim no ownership in the software that they developed -- only the portion of the software developed by AT&T."

In other words, AT&T never intended for Unix licensees to give up ownership of code they added to their versions of Unix. That was never part of the deal. And the deal AT&T cut is the one SCO has to live with -- even 19 years later. That's how contracts work.

Of the million lines of Linux code that SCO claims IBM hijacked from Unix, SCO hasn't identified a single line that came from the original Unix source code. It was all created by IBM. According to AT&T in 1985, that means it's IBM's to keep -- or give away. And SCO's theory that it owns Linux code appears to be kaput.

Of course, AT&T's blast from the past won't bring the gavel down on SCO's suits tomorrow. IBM, Red Hat and Novell are already in court with SCO. If a corporate Linux user joins them, even with good lawyers and help paying for them, any suit is likely to be painful and long.

But it helps a lot to have the company that wrote those Unix licenses on their side. Even if it's AT&T in 1985. Because 1985 just may mark the end of SCO's lawsuits -- and the beginning of Linux's future.




Thought for the Day:
When I was in high school, I got in trouble with my girlfriend's Dad. He said, "I want my daughter back by 8:15." I said, "The middle of August? Cool!"
--Steven Wright



Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Thought for the Day:
Finally, the legislature found a change everyone could agree on—a syllabic one—and the Lees Amendment gained traction by becoming the Lees-Travaglini-Finneran-Rogers Amendment. The amendment was a middle-of-the-road mishmash, hashed out on scraps of paper during a brief recess. The bill would have created civil unions but with requirements no couple could possibly meet. It defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman and provided that same-sex couples could have civil unions "if they meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage between a man and a woman."

In other words, it seems gay couples can have civil unions if they meet all of the requirements of straight marriage, of which one requirement is that marriage must be between a man and a woman. So, gay couples must be heterosexual before they can get married. A banner day for civil liberties.
--Dana Mulhauser [slate.msn.com, on the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention contemplating an amendment to ban same sex marriage]



Monday, February 16, 2004

And the Cardinals....
are dragged (probably kicking and screaming, knowing the front office), into the 21st century. I first saw this news on Redbird Nation (because that's the Cardinals blog I check most regularly, but all the Cards blogs on the blogroll have a mention of this item:

Dave Cameron over at USS Mariner (which may well be the liveliest team-based blog on the web) sends along this juicy email:
Not sure if you had caught wind of this or not, but it was announced today that the Cardinals have hired Ron Shandler, Deric McKamey, and several other BaseballHQ analysts to serve as part of a six man advisory board, which will help steer the Cardinals as they begin to focus more on statistical analysis. Personally, I'd expect this board, if utilized correctly, to be even more of an asset to St. Louis than the other notable statistical analysts are to their clubs, including Bill James in Boston. This is a big step for Walt Jocketty and crew and a very positive thing for your organization.

And how does that bode for Our (at least My) Favorite Team? Brian's guardedly optimistic:

Needless to say, this is fantastic news. Just today Aaron Gleeman divvied up major league franchises according to saber-friendliness. Here's how he has it (this was assuming the hiring of DePodesta by the Dodgers, which, we're now told, is not the done deal it seemed 24 hours ago):

First Tier:
Oakland A's
Toronto Blue Jays
Boston Red Sox
Los Angeles Dodgers

Second Tier:
New York Yankees
Cleveland Indians
San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Kansas City Royals

And the third tier is, well, everybody else -- the lumpenproletariat of stat-averse GMs who often grade talent as if, in Edward Cossette's words, they were judges at the Westminster Dog Show.

Our top dog, Walt Jocketty, belongs to this class of guys. He's old school. (Although, to be fair, there are benefits to being old school -- i.e., there are a lot of other old-school GMs around, and Walt is a wizard at working the phones come trading time.) But you gotta hand it to Walt. The hiring of Shandler, McKamey, et al is a definite step in the right direction, a willingness to go new school.

Will these new guys help the Cards? The key phrase is supplied by Cameron: "if utilized correctly." Craig Wright was a sabermetric pioneer hired by the Texas Rangers in the early '80s to do objective analysis for the ballclub. He had a lot of answers for what ailed those Rangers teams, but no one above him came up with the right questions, or if they did they didn't bring them to Craig. Apparently he spent a lot of time twiddling his thumbs before parting ways with the Rangers a couple years later.

Only time will tell how well Jocketty utilizes his new team of analysts. But in the meantime I'm thrilled. Welcome aboard, Ron and Deric and all the newest members of the Cardinals family.


And if you want more information, you can read Brian Walton's interview of Ron Shandler at The Cardinals Birdhouse.




There has to be a point...
at which some sanity would have to reassert itself in the fantasy world of Major League Baseball, wouldn't you think? Just caught this interesting little factoid over at Redbird Nation:

HOW HIGH, HOW FAR? The Yankees 2004 payroll (excluding payments made to the MLB Benefit Plan) is currently $194.8 million.

If the Big Deal goes down, the Yanks will send out Soriano's $5.4 million salary and assume A-Rod's $24.08 million salary for this year. That brings their payroll to $213.48 million. Throw in the additional luxury tax levied against the team (30% of all salary over $120.5 mil), and the Yankees overall payroll comes to $222,574,000, give or take a few pennies. That's almost $100 million more than the second highest payroll in the league. Scary, right?

In 2003, the Yankees' YES Network (their own regional sports network) brought in an estimated $200 million from cable operators and advertising, most of it derived from Yankee telecasts. The bulk of the proceeds will stay in the pockets of Steinbrenner and his YES partners. As far as I can tell, this figure doesn't include operating costs, but it also doesn't include all the other mainstream forms of income -- ticket sales, merchandising, the share of the TV deals with Fox and ESPN, etc.

Which means--and this is the scariest thing about landing Alex Rodriguez: they can afford him.




Thought for the Day:
The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.
The Second Law of Philosophy: They're both wrong.



Saturday, February 14, 2004

As the old saying goes....
it's a shame a few abusers have to ruin a good thing for the rest of us... According to a new page up at the justly famous Urban Legends Reference Pages (i.e., snopes.com), apparently the Disney empire has ceased providing "special assistance" passes for guests with special needs. Apparently, people without special needs were abusing the system so badly, that Disney decided it was simply easier to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Prior to the Disneyland crackdown, anyone holding a Special Assistance Pass (SAP) or seated in a wheelchair could go to the front of a line in the company of up to six people and quickly board an attraction with his or her entire party. The laxness of the system prompted some guests to take advantage of what was seen as an easy way to get on rides quickly — why wait in line for an hour and a half with hundreds of other guests when, for the price of a wheelchair rental, you and your five best friends can skip from attraction to attraction, each time being ushered to the head of the line? According to the Associated Press, "In the past, visitors insisted on hopping to the front of the line by saying 'I have a bad back' or 'I have a handicapped parking placard.' Sometimes, groups of teenagers would flip a coin to see who would rent a wheelchair, then use the chair to get a pass to the front for a group of six."

Some of our readers have themselves witnessed this type of abuse:
[Collected via e-mail, 2004]

There was one family with many kids we kept seeing waiting near us at several rides to get on without standing in the line. We quietly observed that the kid in the wheelchair looked like he was perfectly mobile, but who knows? Perhaps he had a heart problem or more trouble walking than we could detect. Well, our questions were answered as they left a ride and the mother asked, "Who wants to sit in the wheelchair next?"




Thought for the Day:
We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and values systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals, and with anything like intellectualism, even to the point of not reading books any more, though we are literate. We seem much more comfortable with propagating those values to future generations nonverbally, through a process of being steeped in media. Apparently this actually works to some degree, for police in many lands are now complaining that local arrestees are insisting on having their Miranda rights read to them, just like perps in American TV cop shows. When it's explained to them that they are in a different country, where those rights do not exist, they become outraged. Starsky and Hutch reruns, dubbed into diverse languages, may turn out, in the long run, to be a greater force for human rights than the Declaration of Independence.
--Neal Stephenson



Friday, February 13, 2004

Memphis Flyer scoops the Commercial Appeal?
From LeanLeft today, a link to a story in the Memphis Flyer, the local "alternative" weekly fishwrap: BUSH A NO-SHOW AT ALABAMA BASE, SAYS MEMPHIAN

Apparently a local FedEx pilot was assigned to the same Alabama Air Guard unit at the same time as George aWol Bush, and guess what? He didn't see Bush there, and Our Memphis Pilot was actively looking for Bush:

Two members of the Air National Guard unit that President George W. Bush allegedly served with as a young Guard flyer in 1972 had been told to expect him and were on the lookout for him. He never showed, however; of that both Bob Mintz and Paul Bishop are certain.

The question of Bush's presence in 1972 at Dannelly Air National Guard base in Montgomery, Alabama--or the lack of it--has become an issue in the 2004 presidential campaign.

Recalls Memphian Mintz, now 63: "I remember that I heard someone was coming to drill with us from Texas. And it was implied that it was somebody with political influence. I was a young bachelor then. I was looking for somebody to prowl around with." But, says Mintz, that "somebody" -- better known to the world now as the president of the United States -- never showed up at Dannelly in 1972. Nor in 1973, nor at any time that Mintz, a FedEx pilot now and an Eastern Airlines pilot then, when he was a reserve first lieutenant at Dannelly, can remember.

"And I was
looking for him," repeated Mintz, who said that he assumed that Bush "changed his mind and went somewhere else" to do his substitute drill. It was not "somewhere else," however, but the 187th Air National Guard Tactical squadron at Dannelly to which the young Texas flyer had requested transfer from his regular Texas unit--the reason being Bush's wish to work in Alabama on the ultimately unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of family friend Winton "Red" Blount.

...

"There's no way we wouldn't have noticed a strange rooster in the henhouse, especially since we were looking for him," insists Mintz, who has pored over documents relating to the matter now making their way around the Internet. One of these is a piece of correspondence addressed to the 187th's commanding officer, then Lt. Col. William Turnipseed, concerning Bush's redeployment.

Mintz remembers a good deal of base scuttlebutt at the time about the letter, which clearly identifies Bush as the transferring party. "It couldn't be anybody else. No one ever did that again, as far as I know." In any case, he is certain that nobody else in that time frame, 1972-73, requested such a transfer into Dannelly.

Mintz, who at one time was a registered Republican and in recent years has cast votes in presidential elections for independent Ross Perot and Democrat Al Gore, confesses to "a negative reaction" to what he sees as out-and-out dissembling on President Bush's part. "You don't do that as an officer, you don't do that as a pilot, you don't do it as an important person, and you don't do it as a citizen. This guy's got a lot of nerve."

Though some accounts reckon the total personnel component of the 187th as consisting of several hundred, the actual flying squadron--that to which Bush was reassigned--numbered only "25 to 30 pilots," Mintz said. "There's no doubt. I would have heard of him, seen him, whatever." Even if Bush, who was trained on a slightly different aircraft than the F4 Phantom jets flown by the squadron, opted not to fly with the unit, he would have had to encounter the rest of the flying personnel at some point, in non-flying formations or drills. "And if he did any flying at all, on whatever kind of craft, that would have involved a great number of supportive personnel. It takes a lot of people to get a plane into the air. But nobody I can think of remembers him.

"I talked to one of my buddies the other day and asked if he could remember Bush at drill at any time, and he said, 'Naw, ol' George wasn't there. And he wasn't at the Pit, either.'"

The "Pit" was The Snake Pit, a nearby bistro where the squadron's pilots would gather for frequent after-hours revelry. And the buddy was Bishop, then a lieutenant at Dannelly and now a pilot for Kalitta, a charter airline that in recent months has been flying war materiel into the Iraq Theater of Operations.

"I never saw hide nor hair of Mr. Bush," confirms Bishop, who now lives in Goldsboro, N.C., is a veteran of Gulf War I and, as a Kalitta pilot, has himself flown frequent supply missions into military facilities at Kuwait. "In fact," he quips, mindful of the current political frame of reference, "I saw more of Al Sharpton at the base than I did of George W. Bush."




Paul Krugman today....
On George aWol Bush's cult of personality:

To understand why questions about George Bush's time in the National Guard are legitimate, all you have to do is look at the federal budget published last week. No, not the lies, damned lies and statistics--the pictures.

By my count, this year's budget contains 27 glossy photos of Mr. Bush. We see the president in front of a giant American flag, in front of the Washington Monument, comforting an elderly woman in a wheelchair, helping a small child with his reading assignment, building a trail through the wilderness and, of course, eating turkey with the troops in Iraq. Somehow the art director neglected to include a photo of the president swimming across the Yangtze River.

It was not ever thus. Bill Clinton's budgets were illustrated with tables and charts, not with worshipful photos of the president being presidential.

The issue here goes beyond using the Government Printing Office to publish campaign brochures. In this budget, as in almost everything it does, the Bush administration tries to blur the line between reverence for the office of president and reverence for the person who currently holds that office.

Operation Flight Suit was only slightly more over the top than other Bush photo-ops, like the carefully staged picture that placed Mr. Bush's head in line with the stone faces on Mount Rushmore. The goal is to suggest that it's unpatriotic to criticize the president, and to use his heroic image to block any substantive discussion of his policies.

...

But when administration officials are challenged about the blatant deceptions in their budgets--or, for that matter, about the use of prewar intelligence--their response, almost always, is to fall back on the president's character. How dare you question Mr. Bush's honesty, they ask, when he is a man of such unimpeachable integrity? And that leaves critics with no choice: they must point out that the man inside the flight suit bears little resemblance to the official image.

There is, as far as I can tell, no positive evidence that Mr. Bush is a man of exceptional uprightness. When has he even accepted responsibility for something that went wrong? On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that he is willing to cut corners when it's to his personal advantage. His business career was full of questionable deals, and whatever the full truth about his National Guard service, it was certainly not glorious.

Old history, you may say, and irrelevant to the present. And perhaps that would be true if Mr. Bush was prepared to come clean about his past. Instead, he remains evasive. On "Meet the Press" he promised to release all his records--and promptly broke that promise.

I don't know what he's hiding. But I do think he has forfeited any right to cite his character to turn away charges that his administration is lying about its policies. And that is the point: Mr. Bush may not be a particularly bad man, but he isn't the paragon his handlers portray.

Some of his critics hope that the AWOL issue will demolish the Bush myth, all at once. They're probably too optimistic--if it were that easy, the tale of Harken Energy would have already done the trick. The sad truth is that people who have been taken in by a cult of personality--a group that in this case includes a good fraction of the American people, and a considerably higher fraction of the punditocracy--are very reluctant to give up their illusions. If nothing else, that would mean admitting that they had been played for fools.

Still, we may be on our way to an election in which Mr. Bush is judged on his record, not his legend. And that, of course, is what the White House fears.


But then again, it's always been difficult for people to admit that the emperor has no clothes.




Scary...
I can remember back to the mid-1960's, when it seemed that all one needed was a high school diploma to get a decent paying job (usually in manufacturing). Then, in the mid-70's or so, it seemed that everyone was going to college, and somewhere along the line I noticed that a distressing number of my classmates with bachelors' (or in some cases, masters') degrees were taking jobs (like secretarial and administrative assistant positions) that really didn't require that level of education; it seemed that one really needed a bachelor's degree to get those jobs that the high school grads could get in the '60s--not to mention that price levels had risen (more quickly than wages had risen) to the point that one couldn't consider those jobs decent paying anymore.

Now we get this analysis from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

According to a new Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast, most of the big growth areas will be low-skill -- and low-paying

Americans don't just want jobs. They want interesting jobs that pay well. But according to a forecast released Feb. 11 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a large share of new jobs will be in occupations that don't require a lot of education and pay below average. The fastest growth of all will be for medical assistants, who require nothing more than "moderate on-the-job training."

The government does the study every two years. The new one covers 2002 to 2012. And of the top 10 occupations with the highest percentage expected growth in jobs, only four will require as much as a bachelor's degree.

It's the same pattern when you look at the 10 occupations that will add the greatest number of jobs. This list includes some that aren't growing rapidly in percentage terms, such as cashier, waiter/waitress, janitor, and retail salesperson.


Oh well.... the cloud does appear to have a silver lining--according to the BLS, the outlook for IT professionals doesn't seem as bleak as some reports would lead you to believe:

The other field that dominates the top-10 growth list is info tech. Here, the educational requirements tend to be higher, and the story is more positive. Many of these jobs actually benefit computerization and automation because they're involved with those trends. Three of the fastest-growing jobs on the BLS list are "network systems and data communications analyst" and two kinds of software engineer. All three require at least a bachelor's degree.

The BLS doesn't seem appear to suggest that info-tech jobs will all leak offshore to India or elsewhere. Some will, of course. But American info techies can thrive if they're better trained, stay abreast of the latest developments in their fields -- and exploit knowledge of local customers and business processes that foreign competitors can't match.


Finally, some good news--if it's not based on Bush-style reliance on overly optimistic forecasts and selective use of data.




Thought for the Day:
Here's the other part of Hailstorm-type services that I don't get. I have cable, and when I don't pay my bill, they deny me TV shows. What if I don't pay my Microsoft bill? They have everything of mine: my contacts, calendar, documents, cellphone caller IDs, relationships... they have my business and my personal life. What if we have a dispute? How can I afford to argue with them?

It's not even like when you don't pay your rent and they put your furniture on the sidewalk. They
keep your furniture. If it's my data, I want it in my house on something I own.

(Don't get the wrong idea; except for cable, I pay my bills. I know about the furniture thing from the movies.)
--Frank Willison



Thursday, February 12, 2004

Not-so-silly blogroll tricks...
A number of additions to the blogroll today. First and foremost, we have a number of inductees into the prestigious and exclusive Rocky Top Brigade:

Welcome all!

And immediately following the RTB listing, I've gone ahead and added a listing of Memphis bloggers (who haven't, as yet, been inducted into the RTB; Memphis bloggers who are RTB members are listed there):





The Memphis Blogger Bash was yesterday...
and Mike Hollihan has a good summary of the dignified insurrection over at Half-Bakered. I really hate to disappoint him by not having my own detailed summary of what went on, but Real Life™ isn't cooperating with me still (anyone noticing the dearth of posting in the last several days/weeks is seeing the fallout). As a general comment I just have to note that I'm surprised that Mike was worried that an RL meeting was going to be that awkward; seems to me that if you gather a number of opinionated individuals (and if you aren't opinionated, then WTF are you maintaining a blog, anyway?) around one table and catalyze the reactions with ethanol (at least I think most of us were drinking, nobody to excess, however), you're bound to get some interesting conversational precipitate, and we did. All in all, it was an enjoyable night however, and worthy of memorialization by the late Art Schroeder's favorite summation of a Noble Bachelors' function: "A grand time was had by all, and nobody was arrested."




Thought for the Day:
There are three principal ways to lose money: wine, women, and engineers. While the first two are more pleasant, the third is by far the more certain.
--Baron Rothschild



Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Thought for the Day:
[I]t was quite refreshing to hear Rowland say "I'm a performance whore. If they want me to be a parapsychology expert, I'm a parapsychology expert. If they want me to be a teamwork expert, I'm a teamwork expert. If they want me to be a power sales expert, I'm a power sales expert." [In other words], he's delivering the same bullshit message with different spins, and businesses are lapping it up and asking for more.
--Dave Palmer [SKEPTIC list, on UK mentalist Ian Rowland]



Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I am remiss in my social obligations....
I should have had this up ages ago (like, Sunday, when Mike announced it on his blog), but apparently the first of an indeterminate number of Memphis Bloggers Bashes is going to come down tomorrow, February 11, 2004, at about 7PM at Zinnie's East (not the Zinnie's at the corner of Madison and Belvedere, but the second one on the same side of Madison about a block or so east--or "towards Cooper", for you directionally challenged). Per Mike: They will give us the large round table in the front room, facing Madison. When you walk in the door, it's over your right shoulder. I told them to expect between 6 and 10 people.

Anyway, I don't know if any other Memphis area bloggers other than Mike (Hey, Mike!) read This August Blog at all regularly, but if you do, then you know where to be. Be there or be square.




Thought for the Day:
Stanley Motss: The President will be a hero. He brought peace.
Conrad 'Connie' Brean: But there was never a war.
Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.
--"Wag the Dog"



Monday, February 09, 2004

There are just some things humankind was never meant to know...
Tonight is the opening night of the second most important sporting event in my sports year, the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (the most important is, of course, the World Series), and I'm doing my annual dog show thang. They are opening, as always with the Working Group, and the listing of dogs in the Working Group includes the Anatolian Shepherd Dog, and the Komondor, two dogs which were bred for livestock herding and guarding. Why are these dogs in the Working Group, and not in the Herding Group where it seems they are a more natural fit?




Great days in Baseball History:
Hall of Famer and longtime baseball executive Bill Veeck was born this day in 1914. Veeck, one of the great promoters in baseball (at both the major and minor league levels) was born into his career. Veeck was actually born William Louis Veeck, Jr., and his father, William Louis, Sr., was a Chicago sportswriter who was tapped by William Wrigley to be president of the Cubs. As a youth, Bill Veeck worked for his dad and the Cubs in various capacities, and it's well known that Veeck helped plant the famous ivy on Wrigley Field's outfield wall back in September of 1937. During his career as an executive, Veeck owned the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox (twice), and is, if I'm not mistaken, still memorialized at "New Comiskey" Park (sorry, I refuse to refer to it by whatever corporate name du jour it currently bears) with the exploding scoreboard he had installed in the old Comiskey Park.

Of course, Veeck is best known for the "stunt" of sending 3' 7" Eddie Gaedel to bat as a pinch hitter (for Browns outfielder Frank Saucier) in a game against the Detroit Tigers on August 18, 1951 in St. Louis (Eddie walked on four straight pitches; what do you expect--by all accounts the man's strike zone was approximately 1.5" high). I was lucky enough to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in the summer of 1991, the year Bill Veeck was inducted into the Hall, and as part of the special exhibit which the museum sets up in honor of the year's inductees I got to see the uniform that Eddie Gaedel wore for his one major league plate appearance. There is, interestingly enough, a connection between the Browns of that day and the current St. Louis Cardinals: current Cardinals co-owner Bill DeWitt was a Browns bat-boy in 1951, and Gaedel's uniform (number 1/8, for you trivia buffs) was in fact DeWitt's bat-boy uniform, lent to Gaedel for the occasion.

Some choice Veeckisms in honor of Bill's birthday:

My epitaph is inescapable. It will read: "He sent a midget up to bat."

It isn't the high price of stars that bothers me. It's the high price of mediocrity.

====
In 1951, in a moment of madness, I became owner and operator of a collection of old rags and tags known to baseball historians as the St. Louis Browns.

The Browns, according to reputable anthropologists, rank in the annals of baseball a step or two ahead of Cro-Magnon man. One thing should be made clear. A typical Brownie was more than four feet tall. Except, of course, for Eddie Gaedel, who was 3'7" and weighed 65 lbs. Eddie gave the Browns their only distinction. He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big league ball. He was also the only one.
[ From the book
Veeck as in Wreck]
====

The Mets achieved total incompetence in a single year, while the Browns worked industriously for almost a decade to gain equal proficiency.

Suffering is overrated. It doesn't teach you anything.
[on his many ailments and operations]

It's fine to be appreciated for a day; I recommend it highly for the soul. It's better for the box office, however, to be attacked for a full week.
[on the fallout from the Eddie Gaedel appearance]

Dan Daniel, a well known high priest from New York, wondered what "Ban Johnson and John J. McGraw are saying about it up in Baseball's Valhalla," a good example of Dan's lean and graceful style. Non-baseball fans should understand that baseball men do not go to heaven or hell when they die; they go to Valhalla where they sit around a hot stove and talk over the good old days with Odin, Thor and the rest of that crowd. (I am assuming that the baseball people haven't driven the old Norse gods out to the suburbs. You know what guys like Johnson and McGraw do to real-estate values.)
[on the fallout from the Eddie Gaedel appearance]

There is nothing quite so phony as a phony phony.

[L]ike [Max] Patkin, Jackie had his idiosyncracies. One of them brought his playing career with the Indians to a slithering halt. Everybody needs relaxation, right? Some people like golf; Jackie Price liked snakes. He liked his snakes so much that he used to wear them around his waist like a belt. Jackie was one of the most identifiable men I have ever known; I mean, he was the one with the snake around his waist.

I agree completely with the conservative opposition that you cannot continue to draw people with a losing team by giving them bread and circuses. All I have ever said--and, I think, proved--is that you can draw more people with a losing team plus bread and circuses than with a losing team and a long, still silence.

An interesting footnote to this trade is the part played by Joe Tipton, a nondescript catcher. Joe started my best trade for me by going to Chicago for Haynes. Lane then sent him to Philadelphia for Nellie Fox, the best trade Lane ever made. Fox, of course, was waiting for me along with Wynn when I arrived in Chicago. Nellie won the Most Valuable Player award in our league, and Wynn won the Cy Young award as the best pitcher in baseball. Which would seem to make Tipton, by transfusion, the most expensive nondescript catcher of all time.

=====
There was still the matter of answering the thousands of letters that came pouring into our office. One woman, summing up the general tone neatly, wrote only two words: "Drop Dead."

I answered them all, explaining carefully that having heeded the voices of the people I was bowing to the will of the fans. The woman wrote back: "Drop Dead, twice." I saw little reason to pursue that correspondence any further since she was obviously a lady of strong views and limited vocabulary.
[on his attempted trade of Lou Boudreau]
=====

When I signed Larry Doby, the first Negro player in the American League, we received 20,000 letters, most of them in violent and sometimes obscene protest. Over a period of time, I answered all. In each answer, I included a paragraph congratulating them on being wise enough to have chosen parents so obviously to their liking. If everyone knew their precious secret, I told them, I was sure everyone would conform to the majority. Until that happy day, I wrote, I was sure they would agree that any man should be judged on his personal merit and allowed to exploit his talents to the fullest, wheether he happened to be black, green, or blue with pink dots.

I am afraid irony is lost on these people, but that's not the point I want to make here. A year later, I was a collector for what is now called the Combined Jewish Appeal. This time I got something close to 5,000 violent and sometimes obscene letters. In answering, something very interesting happened. The names began to have a familiar ring. I became curious enough to check our files and I found they were to an astonishing degree--about 95 percent--the same people. A year after that I converted to Catholicism. about 2,000 anti-Catholics were concerned enough about my soul to write me violent and again often obscene letters. All but a handful of them were already in our anti-Negro and anti-Semitic files.

So I am one man who has documentary proof that prejudice is indivisible. The jackal, after all, doesn't care what kind of animal he sinks his teeth into.
=====

Satch doesn't hold conversations, he holds court.
[on Satchel Paige]

All our players... were given personal questionnaires to fill out. Sometimes Satch would write that he was married, other times that he wasn't. Every day, though, he was leaving a ticket at the box office for Mrs. Paige, and every day a different woman was picking it up. At length, we cited this phenomenon to him to try to get his marital status straightened out for our records. "Well," he said, "it's like this. I'm not married, but I'm in great demand."
[on Satchel Paige]




Playing the religion card, Act II....
The topic recently came up on one of the mailing lists I'm subscribed to, where someone forwarded a recent column by St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Bernie Miklasz: Believe this, Kurt: Faith isn't the issue. Bernie's take is pretty much the same as my old man's, save that my old man is convinced that the sports talk radio antics of Brenda "The Mouth That Roared" Warner has quite a bit to do with it too (Bernie discounts that theory):

After all of this time, Kurt Warner still doesn't get it. To Warner, losing the starting job has never been about on-field performance. Warner and his fans have introduced theories that deflect from the real issue: his decline as a quarterback.

Warner's benching isn't about his wife; it's not about his teammates having more fondness for Marc Bulger; and it's certainly not about his religion. Last weekend in Houston, Warner spoke at a church service and implied that his devout faith cost him the starting role.

...

If Warner in any way was suggesting that the Rams are intolerant of a player's religious views, I sincerely believe he's off-base. I've been around pro locker rooms for 25 years, and the Rams are the most openly Christian team I've covered. Walter Enoch and Ricky Horton of the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are a constant presence at Rams Park. They have unlimited access in the locker room. They work out of an office used by Ray Agnew, the Rams' player adviser who is one of the most devout men I know. When Agnew retired as a defensive tackle, the Rams immediately hired him to counsel players, and they did so knowing that he's a man of faith.

If the Rams frown on Warner's Bible reading and dedication to God, then why are they so generous in giving the FCA and Agnew the freedom to basically preach to players on company time? Why have the Rams provided space at the facility for the FCA to hold Bible study sessions for players and their wives? Why does coach Mike Martz occasionally seek Enoch's soothing guidance when feeling stressed? Why have Martz and Warner ended at least some one-on-one meetings by joining together in prayer?


Hmmmmm... is it too much to ask players to take a little personal responsibility? And perhaps, while we're at it, clue them in on a fundamental secret of the universe: Guys, God don't give a shit about the outcome of our little games here; if he exists, he has much more important things to do.




Thought for the Day:
Newcomer Sara Foster is gorgeous - almost as gorgeous as the eye-popping Hawaiian flora and fauna. With Foster's toned body perfectly fitted into a bikini and the waves crashing behind her, it's almost enough to make a viewer forget that "The Big Bounce" is a caper movie. And, while there are obvious advantages to making us forget about the plot and goggle over the sights, it's not the best approach for a film that's supposed to be about grifters and double-crosses.
--James Berardinelli



Sunday, February 08, 2004

Thought for the Day:
Devout Christians have the most reason to be alarmed at this: a church that engages in murder, slander, deceit, compulsion, and intimidation could not plausibly be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus himself, true Christians did not write down their beliefs to argue or prove them, but simply had faith, accepting their deaths without a fight. Thus, if there is any true Holy Spirit, it was more likely inspiring the first believers, none of whose literature survives, and those souls who turned the other cheek to the "orthodoxy's" bullying and machinations rather than fight back. And so true Christianity could well have died a silent death. But even if you turn aside from that awful possibility, you are faced with the original problem: Christian literature, and history, holds almost no analogy with any other literature or history we could care to name. From Homer to Tacitus, there is by comparison virtually no such background or context of ideological conflict affecting the texts--affecting not only the doctoring or editing of their content, but their very selection and preservation. Christianity's own history, and above all the nature of Jesus, was the very target of contention here. I cannot think of any comparable problem in ancient history that is as seriously challenged by such biasing of the source material.
--Richard Carrier



Saturday, February 07, 2004

Thought for the Day:
Life isn't a support system for work... it's the other way around.
--A.J. Axline



Friday, February 06, 2004

Thought for the Day:
The members of this administration act as if they're incredibly special. They've brought their paranoia and their sharpshooters with them to put us all at some risk. They've disrupted everyone's day. The real message of course is that we should all be fearful and thank god we have such alert leaders keeping the terrorists from killing us. They remind me of bad actors portraying school bullies, or Mafia underlings, letting us know how safe we are now that we've paid for protection. Unfortunately their amateur theater is accompanied by live ammunition.
--Anonymous employee, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
[describing security arrangements for a speech by U.S. V.P. Dick Cheney]



Thursday, February 05, 2004

Thought for the Day:
One of these days in your travels a guy is going to come up to you and show you a nice brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of the deck and squirt cider in you ear. But son, do not bet this man, for sure as you stand there, you are going to wind up with an earful of cider.
--Damon Runyon



Wednesday, February 04, 2004

First, playing the "race card" was popular, now will it be "playing the religion card"?
Sometimes I wish I paid attention to football.

Interesting article on the Post-Dispatch website today: Warner: Coaches said 'I was reading the Bible too much' Apparently, former Rams golden boy QB Kurt Warner is saying now that he got benched this year because of his Christian faith.

In a story on the "BP News" web site (www.baptistpress.com) that was headlined "Former MVP Kurt Warner counts blessings from season's woes," Warner was quoted as telling the audience:

"I actually had [Rams] coaches say I was reading the Bible too much and it was taking away from my play. It was OK when we were winning, but now I was [messing] this thing up?

"People were saying I had lost my job because of my faith."

Warner made references in recent interviews with James Brown of Sporting News Radio and on KFNS Radio that "off-the-field stuff" had been a factor in his benching after the first game of the 2003 season -- a 23-13 loss to the New York Giants in which he fumbled six times.


I can't make an informed decision; I don't follow football, though frankly I find it interesting that the fact that Warner fumbled six times in the opening game of the season hasn't struck him as having something to do with his benching for the 2003 season. According to my dad, who is an avid fantasy football player (and therefore follows the sport very closely), the main factors in Warner's benching have to do with the facts that the quality of his play had fallen off quite a bit, and that his wife is something of a loudmouth who had made a lot of calls to sports talk radio stations in St. Louis which the coach and the Rams organization didn't exactly appreciate.

I find that a much more likely explanation for Warner's benching than a specious claim of religious persecution.




Thought for the Day:
But here's an interesting irony: This is the 20th anniversary of the Macintosh 1984 ad—perhaps the most famous Super Bowl ad of all time, with the Big Brother guy, the automaton people, and the hammer-throwing lady. (There was speculation Apple might run an ad to mark the occasion, but no dice.) Back then, IBM was the hegemonic enemy ridiculed in the Mac spot. But this time the monolith is Microsoft (which owns Slate), and, lo and behold, it's IBM that hopes to "shake up the world," as Ali intones.
--Seth Stevenson ["Ad Report Card", slate.msn.com]



Tuesday, February 03, 2004

And this is my one and only Janet Jackson post...
a day late and quite a few dollars short, but fergawd's sakes, the Republic has more pressing issues facing it. This is from today's "Buzzword of the Day" mailing from BuzzWhack:

WARDROBE MALFUNCTION: A term that could not be found in the 3,307,998,701 Web pages searched by Google until uttered by Justin Timberlake to explain Janet Jackson's Super Bowl unveiling.




Ah, feels like we're back home again....
For some reason, a recent "upgrade" of my Mandrake Linux 9.1 installation hosed the X server (I'd received a notification of a security related upgrade for X), robbing me of my GUI. I know, a real Linux geek would never have noticed the difference, however I still have to spend my professional life in the Windows world, which means that I get into bad habits.

Anyway, last night, after spending about an hour on my hands and knees cleaning up liquid shit in my bedroom (literally; my dog has a case of the gastrointestinal nasties, resulting in this month's contribution to the "Dr. Rusty Bell Needs A Bigger Boat" campaign, to be paid shortly), I decided that it'd be a good time to reinstall Mandrake. This time, immediately after re-installation, the X server upgrade took correctly (which it didn't the first time around, which is why I suspect it was the attempted X upgrade which hosed it), and I now have a Linux box on my desk again (I still have Mandrake installed in a dual boot config on my laptop, so I could satisfy the need for a Linux fix whenever I needed it). Life is good.

At least until I get the Vet's bill today.




You'd think a story like this would get more press....
I mean, come on, I noticed this early in the bAdministration, and it's not like I'm particularly tuned in to economic news (or economics in general for that matter.

Anyway, Daniel Gross in Slate has an interesting "Moneybox" column on Bush budgets. Suffice it to say that the OMB has, for a number of years now, been basing the bAdministration's budgets on rosy, "best case scenario" revenue estimates that have always, when the money rolls in, fallen far short of expectations:

President Bush today announced his budget proposal for Fiscal 2005. Thus far, most of the outcry has focused on the plans to spend $2.4 trillion and the mammoth deficit. But spending is only half of the story. Too little attention has been focused on the other half—revenues.

President Bush has submitted four budget proposals to Congress. Each year, he lays out how much he'd like Congress to spend on programs. Each year, he has proposed spending one sum and then signed off on a substantially greater sum. Each year, the president also projects how much money Congress will have at its disposal. And each year, he has promised that revenues will come in at one sum, only to see them fall far short of expectations.

...

Instead of being chastened by its poor track record, the OMB has become emboldened. With each passing year, as Fiscal 2005—the first fiscal year of a prospective Bush second term—has drawn nearer, the Bush administration has forecast that revenues will rise by a greater degree. In 2001, it projected revenues would rise 4 percent in the year; in 2003, the prediction was a rise of 11 percent. Now, it's 13 percent. (Will President Bush's signature proposal for a second term be a huge and immediate tax increase?)

The latest figures cast doubt on the capabilities of OMB Director Joshua Bolten, subject of a richly undeserved puffer in today's New York Times. Sure, reducing taxes in between budget messages is likely to mess with the estimates. But when it released all those forecasts, the administration planned to cut taxes.

The faulty estimates offer a pretty devastating refutation of the supply-side fantasy. If you cut taxes, and cut them again, and again, government revenues will be far more likely to fall than to rise. Of course, one could ascribe the tendency to overestimate revenues as yet another manifestation of the president's boundless optimism. But the line between optimism and self-delusion is a thin one. And at the OMB, it seems to have been erased.


One might inquire if Dubya's been hitting the nose candy again--and whether he's been sharing it with the folks at OMB.




Thought for the Day:
Whatever the majority of people is doing, under any given circumstances, if you do the exact opposite, you will probably never make another mistake as long as you live.
--Earl Nightingale



Monday, February 02, 2004

Noteworthy days in American History
Today is the 68th anniversary of the announcement of the selection of the original class of inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The members of the original class were (listed in order of number of votes received):





Thought for the Day:
When I'm on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo.
--Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky



Sunday, February 01, 2004

Because I'm a sucker for the latest meme...
we present the states I've visited (the ones in red, in case you can't figure that out):



create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide




Thought for the Day:
In honor of Today's Sporting Event

Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules, and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.
--George Orwell