If the mascot for the double-A Montgomery Biscuits were, in fact, the google-eyed walking biscuit of their logo, I'd have a new must-get mascot obsession to take the place of the infamous taco (a picture that gets poached at least once a week by various message board discussions). Instead, their mascot is a big orange furry elephant-esque thing. Still, a hat with said google-eyed walking biscuit would be extremely awesome (as would a Delaware Cows hat).
I agree with Jayson Stark that the Yankees-Devil Rays trip to Japan to open the baseball season is a bad idea. Yay for bringing the Major Leagues to other parts of the world, but there's so much not to like about it.
First and foremost, I'm with Kos: I think Opening Day should be a national holiday. Hard to do that, though, when the first games of the regular season are going to go off at 5 AM Eastern. If I happen to be up early (i.e. if the Bean is up early), I'll watch, but otherwise, as far as I'm concerned Opening Day isn't until Red Sox at O's on April 4.
Furthermore, why the Devil Rays? I can see taking the Yankees, what with them being the Manchester United of MLB, and having Matsui on the team. Why not pick another team with Japanese players, maybe the Mariners or the Mets? Could it be they want an absolute doormat for the Yanks to pummel? Also, both these games are considered home games for the D-Rays--heaven forbid the Yankees have to give up any home dates. I hope the D-Rays are getting a good deal on the revenues--of course, they might actually make more from the Tokyo games than they will at games in their yucky dome.
Nonetheless, I can't freakin' wait for the season to start. We'll definitely make a trip to see the new park in Philly, and I'm hoping to pull off a work trip to San Diego so I can see the Padres' new house. Petco Park--does that mean you can bring your dog to the game?
Another busy week has made it difficult to post. Of course you all know about Richard Clarke's bombshells and the administration's lame-ass responses. I agree with Oliver that something weirdly refreshing about this is that Clarke himself is accepting partial responsiblity. The Bushies will never admit blame for anything, and simultaneously Republicans preach "personal responsibility."
Tom DeLay makes me think Bob Barr wasn't so bad after all. Via Kevin comes word that DeLay may be on his way out. Yea verily, let this come to pass.
At Orcinus: big surprise, developing a reputation for being ultraconservative and intolerant may cause others to avoid you.
And finally, Alas, A Blog led us to a blog called One Good Thing, where I greatly enjoyed this post (link may be off, scroll to "Two Stories" if necessary), especially the "Most Creeped Out" part.
R.E.M., In Time. I had said I wasn't going to get this; since I already own every R.E.M. album, why not just download the three or four new songs? But then I was looking at the band's web site and discovered there's a two-disc edition with B-sides and live versions and stuff. The completist in me won out. Good stuff, though no surprises.
Iron and Wine, Our Endless Numbered Days. I was interested to see how Sam Beam would respond to having to make music, rather than it being his hobby. He's handled it just fine, with a similar range of pretty, understated songs. A few of them have somewhat more complete instrumentation, and they're quite nice. He's also preoccupied with death.
Broken Social Scene, You Forgot It in People. Wish I had bought this a long time ago, as it rocks. "Cause = Time" is totally my favorite song right now.
The Mars Volta, De-Loused in the Comatorium. I've only listened to this all the way through once, and it will take a few more listenings to totally sink in (particularly the story line, it's a concept album you know). Just like ATDI and at the same time way different, more complex. Indirectly reminiscent of Jethro Tull, Gabriel-era Genesis, that whole prog-rock thing.
The Postal Service, Give Up. It had been recommended on another message board, and since it was only $10 I gave it a try (you hear that, music industry? Price more CDs at $10 and I'll buy more of them!). Makes me feel like I'm 16 again, listening to Depeche Mode and New Order.
Lots of bloggy goodness out there this week. Ezra at Pandagon has been on freakin' fire all week, with good posts on defusing the "waffling" charges aimed at Kerry, and a response to John Cole who is demanding that Kerry explain his record. From the latter, I love this paragraph:
I'm not scared of Kerry's record, in fact, I welcome that debate. I want to know why Bush cut money for first responders, I want to know why he cherry-picked our intelligence, I want to know why we didn't have an immediate plan for the aftermath in Iraq, I want to know why Afghanistan wasn't given any money for rebuilding the year after we invaded, I want to know why our troops didn't have enough body armor when they went into Iraq, I want to know why we're letting the nuclear-equipped North Korea languish and grow more paranoid when they can produce nukes, I want to know what happened in Haiti, I want to know why Bush wouldn't let the Iraq intelligence report come out until after the election, I want to know why he could only spare an hour to talk to the 9/11 commission, I want to know why the rest of the world hates us, I want to know why Bush dropped the ball on terrorism when he came into office, I want to know why he ended the weekly meeting on Al-Qaeda started under the Clinton Administration, I want to know why the Department of Homeland Security is being used for photo-ops, I want to know why the Hart-Rudman commission was ignored.
I want Howard Dean to read that at the Democratic convention, and go "YYYYYYEAAAARGH!" at the end.
Kevin Drum's got a new luxury home at Washington Monthly, but I want to link to one of his comment threads which covers everything Bush has done to give Al Qaeda what it wants. (Props to Thumb for writing it and Mikel for bringing it to our attention.)
One of the big left-wing blogs had a post this week on the Bushies' election strategy of "Have the Mighty Wurlitzer run any cockamamie accusation at Kerry it can come up with up the flagpole, and if anything sticks, run with it." Unfortunately I am unable to find that post now; if anyone knows what I'm talking about, please put a link in comments. But it made the point that the Democrats are seemingly unable to hammer Bush with a consistent message. Thumb's comment above would be a great meme, as would the Zarqawi story I referred to a couple weeks ago. Sure, there's probably more to that story, as a commenter pointed out, but I'd rather have it brought out into the open and hashed out. Funny how the SCLM reports anything that the Wurlitzer has to say about Kerry, but something like the Zarqawi story seemingly has no legs.
Excellent article in the Minneapolis City Pages on No Child Left Behind being a front for dismantling public education. Upwards of 80% of Americans don't fully comprehend how draconian this program is; they need to read this article.
And finally, who doesn't love a good implosion?
Why "quiche," anyway? Why not just "egg pie?"
The statement said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign, and would prefer him to win in November rather than the Democratic candidate John Kerry, as it was not possible to find a leader "more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom."
Bwah ha ha ha ha ha! Story here.
St. Croix has a public bus system that just makes a big loop around the island. Big ol' vans serve as taxis, and they generally follow the same loop. You wait at a bus stop, and the first bus or taxi that pulls up, you get in and hand over a dollar or two depending on how far you're going. So we got one of these taxis over to Fredriksted in the early evening. Had some good food, heard a fantastic reggae band, got a toe ring for K. and a bottle of hot sauce for me, and generally had a good time. Then it was getting late, maybe 10 PMish, and things were starting to wind down. We wandered back over to where we had been dropped off.
After waiting about 15 mintues, it dawned on us that the buses and taxis had stopped running. We were about a block off the well-lit street along the harbor; even that close it was awfully dark and kind of forbidding. There were still some people milling around, and I found one taxi/van idling, waiting for passengers, but he was going to the casino/resort on the south side of the island, and despite my protestations he was absolutely not taking us to Christiansted. We were looking extremely screwed, and my next plan of action was to find a hotel or something in Fredriksted and spend the night there. Fortunately K. overheard some people talking about going back to Christiansted; they were locals who were expecting a friend of theirs to come with his off-duty taxi/van. She convinced them to let us come along. When we were dropped off, I insisted that the driver take ten bucks from me, even though he said I didn't owe him anything.
Going to be a light posting week. I'm busy, I tell ya.
Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month.
So, it doesn't matter that Homeland Security is inadequately funded; as long as they can make Bush look like he's protecting America (and that's almost literal, make him look like he himself is doing it personally), that's what's important. All righty then.
Updates to the blog roll: I can't really say I'm a personal friend, but John Perry Barlow's Conversations With His Friends are too good to pass up. His recent pieces on the death of Spalding Gray are particularly touching.
And at the behest of my co-conspirator Rob, I've added Donkey Rising, Talking Points Memo, and Political Aims. You are probably already familiar with all of them, and they won't even notice the 1.8 readers I send their way. Nonetheless, they are highly worthy of linkage.
Note to Rove: it's much too easy to fact-check this kind of thing these days. But that the Post would have put it on page one rather than page four.
Moment of silence for the victims in Spain.
August brings up the Congressional lawsuit exemption for fast food chains. Do I think it's silly for someone to sue McDonald's because they have heart problems? Yes. But I also have a degree of faith in the system. Despite what some people would have you believe, juries are not made up entirely of escaped mental patients. I'd rather have these cases tried on their merits and found wanting (or thrown out by judges for the same reason) than have them denied by legislative order. There's too much room for a legitimate case to be ruled out. Dwight has more on the supposed crazy crap that juries do.
Also via August: Air America Radio, aka liberal talk radio, goes live March 31. w00t!
Tor forwards a new Bush ad proposed by the Poor Man, one the cuts out the code words used so far and gets to the point.
Rob sends a link to "Eating Their Words" at TomPaine.com, a sampling of items from the forthcoming Take Them At Their Words. Next time your conservative friends say "No Republican would ever say something that awful or stupid," you can look it up right here and prove it.
Intervention Magazine has a lengthy interview with an anonymous soldier on duty in Iraq. It ain't pretty.
And on a somewhat lighter note, behold The Exorcist as performed by animated bunnies.
Mark Kleiman has a great post today on the increased emphasis among American business on keeping costs down. In B-school, we were told that the three keys to having a successful business were keeping customers happy, keeping employees happy, and turning a profit. If you do the first two well, they said, the third will generally follow. It was interesting to bring up examples of companies who succeeded and failed on various parts of this trinity (General Motors was a prime example of angering both customers and employees, yet still making cash). These days, the "keeping employees happy" third means less and less.
Increasingly, it's like we're going back to the dawn of the industrial revolution: workers are a commodity to be used up and exploited. Columnists like Friedman and George Freakin' Will are all set to rationalize it all away and claim that corporations have no obligation whatsoever to improve the quality of life of their workers. Yay free market and all, but quite frankly I want more than that from the society I live in. (By the way, read Tom Tomorrow's investigation of Friedman's innovative T-shirt seller if you haven't already.)
Kleiman mentions something that was also brought up on Pandagon a while back: Costco treats its employees very well, and despite Wall Street's protestations, makes money anyway. In short, Costco rules, Wal-Mart is evil, and tomorrow I plan to stop by Costco to buy socks and a ham.
Man, you people are demanding.
Bush and company are doing a fine job of assembling Kerry's talking points for him. Bush has gone on the attack recently regarding an effort by Kerry nine years ago to cut intelligence funding; upon a modicum of research, that cut didn't amount to squat and actually made sense. Republicans love to shriek that any cut to defense and intelligence spending is bad, but they'd be rightfully quick to jump on schools for buying textbooks nobody wanted, or giving children free bubble gum. Why is defense spending a sacred cow that can't be held to that level of scrutiny? Kerry would do well to keep hammering on the troops buying their own body armor story. All this money for defense and we can't give a grunt a freakin' flak jacket.
Kerry would also do well to keep hammering on the relative non-emphasis given to the 9/11 investigation, and Bush's unwillingness to take part in it. His rodeo comment the other day was absolutely priceless. Ted Barlow's piece on Bush's hour of inconvenience is freakin' brilliant, too.
Going back a ways, you've got Bush's tough talk on Letterman regarding kicking terrorist ass back in 2000. The terrorists in question included Osama bin Laden. But no effort was actually made to go get him until after September 11. Combine that with Ashcroft's September 10 FBI budget (there's been more recent discussion of this somewhere, but I can't find it now) and the Zarqawi story, and you've got very serious questions about which party is really more concerned about keeping Americans secure. Go ahead and campagin on 9/11, George; after all, it happened on your watch.
This is the only time of year I pay any attention to basketball. The college conference touranments and that NCAA tournament thing make for some good watchin'. So I actually at down and watched as my graduate alma mater, George Mason U., lost its conference tournament final to Virginia Commonwealth. However, I take pride in GMU apparently having a better English department than VCU, as some doofus Rams student-fan was shown holding a sign saying "THERE AWESOME BABY!" Perhaps after the game he turned it around and it said "PATRIOTS: YOUR DONE!"
Meanwhile, in the who-pays-attention world of Division III hoops, F&M is in the round of 16. Even when they made the D3 national championship game my sophomore year, and much of the team lived down the hall from me, it's just not the same furor that's generated at a big school.
I don't know why I find my server logs so endlessly amusing. The jello page generated some interesting hits, as always. And people sure do like getting info on what to do in Vegas. Sometimes there's a search like "low budget craps Vegas," and I feel a bit of satisfaction knowing I gave that person exactly what they were looking for.
So here's some crazy crap that led people to bigfool.com last month. As always, the googler's satisfaction is not at all guaranteed.
victim piranha attack
jello in the garbage
marcus samuelson meat loaf recipe
Why did Scotland people come to Wisconson
BEST EVER CHICKEN PHOTOS
giantess strong women wrestling
bug zapper wave sound file download
jobs for monkeys
national anthem hockey boob
rat hair vienna sausage
snail man song
yakitori vs teriyaki (is that Ultimate Fighting Championship, or a monster movie?)
hookers at the bar in vegas photos
Lenny Dykstra is a jerk
honey bunches of goats
Seen on last night's news, and again in today's Post: a DC teacher showed The Passion of the Christ to sixth-graders. Without requesting parental permission first. From what I've read of the move (I have no desire to see it), it's mind-bogglingly violent, and no matter what religious lessons anyone thinks it may teach, reports of people taking children to see it just make me shake my head sadly. There's excellent coverage of the Passion phenomenon over at Orcinus.
Also, via Atrios, another post-Passion "Blame the Jews!" moment. Perception = Reality, as I like to say; no matter how much Gibson et. al. may say their movie isn't anti-Semetic, if people keep coming out of it going "Blame the Jews!", then we have a freakin' problem.
I am really surprised that the Zarqawi story I mentioned yesterday isn't all over the blogosphere. As far as I've seen, Kos is the only major blog to pick it up (update/correction: Matthew Yglesias posted about it at TAPPED, and it's up at Body & Soul as well). It's an outrageous story in a world full out of outrageous stories, and I demand that Kerry shove it in Bush's face during a debate, the first time Bush tries to act like he and only he is tough on terrorists.
Apparently everyone is too busy gloating about negative reactions to Bush's new campaign ads by firefighters and 9/11 victims' families. Conversely, Jim sends what would be a fine Democratic campaign ad if it weren't for the FCC's crackdown on bad language (consider this a warning--if you're easily offended, don't click it).
Ned sent a link to RFK Jr.'s Nation article on the Bush administration's dependence on junk science. Arrive at your conclusion first, and ignore anything that doesn't support it. If only we could have done that in high school physics classes.
Via Kos: a report that the Pentagon had a plan ready to go in 2002 to nail Abu Musab Zarqawi, known terrorist with ties to al-Qaeda, but the administration nixed them because they thought it would undermine popular support for the war in Iraq.
Zarqawi is believed responsible for recent terrorist attacks in Iraq. Death toll: 700 plus.
Hey Lileks, you friggin' jackass: who did you say the terrorists want to be president, again?
Apparently, the Post had a "Who can pass off the biggest whopper?" contest on their op-ed page today.
Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics: We Dont' Play Politics With Science.
Dave Lesar, chairman and chief executive of Halliburton: Piling On Halliburton, denying any war profiteering or other misconduct at the expense of taxpayers. My favorite: the vastly overpriced Kuwaiti fuel contracts were OK, since they were approved by the Army Corps of Engineers. Hey, the infamous $300 hammers were approved by somebody from the government, too.
And the winner: Steven Waldman, with the laugh-out-loud whopper, Bush Advances Gay Rights. Actually, just the headline wins, as the column itself isn't that bad--Waldman says that Bush is in favor of state decisions on civil unions, and that's the advance. I'm not so sure of that; I think he's said it's a states-rights issue, but I'm not sure he actually wants civil unions. When the amendment fails and Bush is challenged on the issue by his base again, I'd be stunned to hear him suggest any form of homosexual partnership is OK.
Kerry cleans up on Super Tuesday and the primary season is all over but the shouting. SKB notes how poor the turnout was, disappointing even by crappy American standards of voter participation.
I hear a lot of people saying "Well, fine, he's the nominee, but Kerry doesn't excite me that much. I'll still vote for him, but I won't be as forthcoming with my support as I would have been for some other candidates." Makes you wonder how exactly he got elected. But for those now willing to sit back and let November's election happen without their help, Billmon sums it up:
And if the spirit doesn't move you, just visualize Shrub, DeLay and Bill Frist up on a podium on election night, hands raised in triumph as they celebrate four more years of Republican hegemony.
There were no fights, actually, but we did go to the Caps game last night, our first game all season (free tickets, whoo!). We took the Bean with us, and she held up quite well. I really wanted to see her reaction to a Caps goal; when we went to games with her in utero, she'd kick and squirm whenever the Caps scored and there was a great uproar from the crowd. We've always wondered if she was excited or terrified. But we sure didn't find out last night, as the Caps were shut out 1-0 by the Panthers. Not that the crowd would have made enough noise anyway: the box score has the attendance at 12,000 plus, which is being very generous. I guessed 8,000.
Rebuilding still sucks at this point, as I struggled to identify players. Gonchar didn't play, and now comes word that he's the latest to be shipped out. Equally disturbing: the apparent depature of Allan Scott, former HFS DJ who did the between-periods games and stuff. He was cheesy, but at least he could command the room. Now they have some ditzy young blond thing who can barely string two sentences together. They must have released Allan due to his big salary and brought in someone who'd work on the cheap.
True, the fire sale is returning some good prospects and draft picks; perhaps in a few years the Caps will be good again. But things are looking pretty sad right now. I may even have to go to Caps-Flyers on Saturday in my Flyers jersey.
For they are an abomination. Let the Constitutional amendments commence.
The ethics of file sharing, a subject near and dear to my heart. Rob is correct that the music industry's ongoing dramatics about file sharing are all about their survival, and don't necessarily have anything to do with artists, despite their claims about art and musicians and such. I've heard that downloading a song illegaly takes approximately one dime out of the artist's pocket, and I have a hard time feeling too bad about that. No discussion of the evils of the music industry would be complete without referring to Steve Albini's "The Problem With Music." Back in the day, my band probably would have gone for a swim in that trench, but after reading that second part, sometimes I'm glad we never got signed. So the first question is, if the labels care so much about the musicians, why don't they give them better deals?
The Internet does provide amazing potential for musicians to reach listeners directly, but so far we're still waiting for the Nirvana of the Internet--a band that becomes wildly successful based solely on on-line distribution. Fact is, starting from basically nothing, it's freakin' impossible to get noticed on a national scale. Outlets like Yahoo Launch only want to deal with artists who are already successful in some fashion.
The other big question for the labels: When are CD prices coming down? When compact disks first hit the scene in the late 80's, they were $16, $17 apiece, a good 50% pop from vinyl records and cassettes. We were told that prices would come down when more CD pressing plants came online. Elimination of the longbox was supposed to knock a dollar off, too. Now it's 2004 and how much do CDs cost? $16, $17 apiece at full retail. Inflation? Whatever. It costs pennies to create a single CD in mass production, but the labels have decided to keep prices high. But you don't have to be a marketing genius to think that if CD prices were lower, maybe people would buy more. I can think of discs I've bought precisely because they were on sale for $10 (Pete Yorn, Jimmy Eat World) that I wouldn't have bothered with at a higher price point.
I don't download music much these days, not like I did in the heyday of Napster. But when I do, it's for one of two reasons. One is the preview. Two bands I kept hearing about were Belle & Sebastian, and Sleater-Kinney, but I didn't feel like shelling out $16 just to see if I liked them. I downloaded a few tracks by each, and within a week had bought a Belle & Sebastian CD (and established that I don't go for Sleater-Kinney). Without downloading, I wouldn't have made that purchase.
The second reason is to track down the single obscure song, like Mantronix's "Who Is It" or Biz Markie's version of "Benny and the Jets." Don't feel like paying for the whole album, and probably couldn't find it even if I wanted to. As services like iTunes mature (and hopefully grant us greater flexibility), I'd be happy to pay 99 cents for these songs, rather than spending hours trying to find and download them.
Bottom line: the labels are trying to cling to their existing business model, but ultimately the listening public, the bands, and the labels themselves would be better served if they embraced the future.
Finally, Rob's mention of making mixes: I read a discussion somewhere that making a mix tape used to be an art, something that took time and care (think of Jon Cusack's character in "High Fidelity"). Now, any idiot can do it. Well, sorry, I'd rather make it easier. The best mixes I make are my year-end jobs, where I put together the best music I picked up in a calendar year (not necessarily that came out in that year, just what I got). Here's 2003's version:
Spoon “Me and the Bean”
Spoon “Stay Don’t Go”
Longwave “Tidal Wave”
Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros “Coma Girl”
Grandaddy “Stray Dog and the Chocolate Shake”
1 Giant Leap (feat. Robbie Williams and Maxi Jazz) “My Culture”
The Roots “Thought @ Work”
Outkast “The Way You Move”
Robert Randolph & the Family Band "I Need More Love”
The New Pornographers, “July Jones”
Neko Case, “Deep Red Bells”
Dido vs. Underworld “Take My Slippy Hand”
Belle & Sebastian “The Boy With the Arab Strap”
My Morning Jacket “Golden”
Iron and Wine “Such Great Heights”
Iron and Wine “Bird Stealing Bread”
Nickel Creek “Out of the Woods”