1.29.2008

b's election scorecard: better than most polls

I made some predictions last May about how the presidential primaries would play out. While not perfect (and they aren't over yet) I'd just like to point out the fact that Thompson amounted to a whole lot of nothing (just like I said he would) and that Republican primary voters really, really don't like Rudolph Giuliani (exactly as I pointed out that they wouldn't.)

McCain's resurgence is as awe-inspiring as it is surprising and utterly terrifying. And it only goes to confirm (albeit by completely different means than what I anticipated) my worst fears about today's GOP: that they are united around the cause of perpetual war and not a whole hell of a lot else.

So fuck them. Hard.

It also seems that I vastly underestimated Barak Obama. And at this point, I sincerely hope Sens. Clinton and McCain have as well.

Addendum--Oh and yes, there are two Americas. And neither of them will vote for John Edwards.

1.27.2008

quoteable

At some point I stopped reading Will Wilkinson's blog, and I cannot for the life of me remember why. Especially when he writes stuff like this:

I sometimes think that liberal individualism is something like the intellectual and moral equivalent of the best modernist design — spare, elegant, functional — but hard to grasp or truly appreciate without a cultivated sense of style, without a little discerning maturity. National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they’ve really got it all figured out.


Read the whole thing. I just didn't want to quote the whole post.

pork+beer=happiness

The recipe for palette de porc al la biere in Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook is so incredibly good and so stupendously easy that I'm still kind of in shock. I never thought it was possible for pork shoulder to be good if you cooked it for any less than 6 hours.

I was very, very wrong about that.

can you say "mobilized base"?

Not only did Obama get more than twice as many votes as Hillary Clinton, he got more than twice as many votes as John McCain and Mike Huckabee combined. In South Carolina.

Democrats who are serious about winning in November (and I'm neither a Democrat nor particularly invested in any of the candidates at this point) really ought to be reevaluating the idea that Ms. Clinton is their "most electable" option today.

1.25.2008

science 1, superstition 0

Craig Venter and company have taken a pretty major step towards synthesizing life.

Meanwhile, Jesus is appearing in a potato in Orlando.

(both stories via Hit and Run)

1.22.2008

When my grandmother died, I had a rather odd experience.

Now mind you, this was an intensely sad event for my family and me, but--she was 90 years old at the time, had a lived an extraordinary life, and really had only experienced a precipitous decline in her health and quality of life in the last month of it. Would that we could all be so lucky.

So yes, I grieved; yes, I was sad. Inwardly, for a long time (and still), but outwardly for only a couple of hours. And the rest of the family took pretty much the same tack, at least as far as I could tell, such that by the time visitation at the funeral home came about, we were really in pretty good spirits. We greeted the people that came by, thanked them for their kind words, and then--we caught up with the living. Really, it was a pretty relaxed social occasion. There were jokes and chuckles and stories and all that.

And if you knew my family--and (especially) if you'd known her--you would realize that not only was this OK, but that it was entirely appropriate. After all, she was ours and she wouldn't have had it any other way.

So I was a bit perplexed when a woman I'd never seen in my entire life came in and began to weep and wail loudly and uncontrollably. All the more so when I looked to my mom, my uncle, and anyone else in the room who might know just who she was, and realized that they were just as confused as I was.

To this day I'm really not sure what her connection was to my grandmother. I'm sure that my grandmother had touched her life in some way. But still, I found myself in the rather odd position of wanting very badly to ask her to pipe down with her mourning of someone whom I had known and adored for 28 years.

My point here is that grief does, in a way, belong to certain people. To family, to friends, to the those that feel the loss in a very real and proximate way. Sharing in the various sorrows of the world may seem like the sensitive thing to do, but in some cases it can actually be very much the opposite.

I'm just sayin'.

my candidate

Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

It is probably (and sadly) no coincidence that the first time a Presidential address was committed to film with sound was the last time a Presidential address made any damn sense.

"The staggering sum of $700 million."

Today the only thing staggering about that figure is how low it is (adjusting for inflation, that figure is roughly equivalent to $10 billion, at most...yeah, still pretty staggering in an era where the DOD burns through $2-3 billion in Iraq every week.

(via)

80 gazzilion comments and counting

Aw geez, reason just put up a post about Ron Paul and abortion. I hope their servers are ready...

1.19.2008

dum dum dum dum dum....

I'm sure I am inviting charges of religious bigotry by pointing this out, but...

94% of Mormons voted for Mitt Romney according to CNN. I mean, I assumed he would do very well among LDS voters, but I've seen less unanimity in ant farms.

On a tangentially related note, Mike Huckabee makes me very thankful that Baptists can barely agree on where to eat lunch.

1.18.2008

let in snow (even if it is wasted on a 3-day weekend)

Depending on who you believe, we are slated to get somewhere between 1 and 4 inches of snow tomorrow. Lows will dip to 14° F on Sunday.

I know those of you in more northern climes will scoff at this, but please remember that here in the sunbelt, there is basically no infrastructure of plows, road salting, and competent drivers in place. So this actually is kind of a big deal.

But I'm OK with that, because lately my criteria for a successful Saturday involves not cranking the car a single time.

In the meantime, [m] and I are about to sit down to the spaghetti and meatballs she's made, then we're off to view Blade Runner: The Final Cut--one of the four 35-mm prints!--down the street at the Carolina. Sunday, I will be spending the day with my Guatemalan godmother (she lives a couple of blocks over--so no driving necessary) making tamales, then eating them with the neighbors.

Life is good.

1.14.2008

sounds of life

In the next room I hear my wife counting cells. (It's the sound of a mouse clicking and a CPU fan like a jet engine preparing for takeoff. Metamorph uses a lot of RAM.)

The dog sighs, periodically, as if to say he grows tired of waiting for us to come to bed.

Though I can't hear it, approximately 100 billion of my friends of the genus Sacchromyces, species cerevisiae are happily converting sugar into ethanol and carbon dioxide, sugar water into beer, at the bottom of the basement stairs. (Close up, it's a gentle, steady bubbling.)

In my head I hear strains of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, which I just spent a couple of hours rehearsing.

There really is no such thing as silence. But it is golden, sometimes.

1.13.2008

must-not see tv

I'm not really much of an environmentalist. The extent of my (voluntary) recycling is that I tend to refill beer bottles. I try not to drive more than I have to, but this reflects my aversion to traffic and the price of gas more than anything else. I use a LOT of paper towels to clean house. I eat meat with gusto and I enjoy cooking it over an open, fossil fuel-fueled flame. Hell, I'd probably eat humpback whale steaks if you seasoned them well.

You're not going to find me chained to any trees any time soon, is what I'm saying.

That said, the asshole/s that dumped a television set into the Eno River at the northwest corner of Penny's Bend this last month should have their testicles cut off and fed to them.

Today wasn't the first time I'd seen the offending 22-inch (I first saw it shortly after Christmas) but today was the first day I got genuinely angry about it. I think because it no longer surprised me to see it. And that just isn't right.

What I find particularly galling about it is that someone had to actually go to some trouble to get the TV to this particular spot. Water levels being what they have been for months now, there is absolutely no way it could have been carried downstream from elsewhere...it was dumped where it currently sits, about 10 feet from the shore on the peninsula side of the river (approximately at the point circled in white, below.) Which means it was carried from either the trailhead that ends (as far as I can tell) in someone's backyard on Wanderlust Lane (number 1) or from the parking lot of the nature preserve (number 2)...at a minimum. (I suppose it could have come from the other side of the river, but that would have required throwing it a considerable distance, which seems very unlikely.) That's a minimum of 1000 feet, including a very steep and treacherous (if you are carrying a TV set) descent to the river itself.




Anybody local have a wheelbarrow and a couple of pairs of hip waders? I figure this is a two-person job, to be done safely.

1.11.2008

second chances missed, second choices considered

Still not good enough.

Once again, Balko nails it:

I have no idea if Paul is a racist. I suspect that he isn’t, at least today. But he’s certainly had no problem benefiting from the support of people who are. It’s more than a little disingenuous for him to now defend himself by invoking what the criminal justice system has done to the black community when for fifteen years a newsletter bearing his name, and the profits from which went into his bank account, celebrated and encouraged the black-people-are-savage-criminals lie in particularly vile and perverse ways.

The newsletter defended the Rodney King beating, for God’s sake, on the bullshit argument that King was part of a criminal class of people. The implication is that some people deserve substandard treatment under the rule of law because of the color of their skin. There’s nothing remotely libertarian about that.


Libertarians are nothing if not capable of devouring our own. I'm OK with that. Right or wrong, Paul is currently an embarrassment to the causes that he champions. I think he is intelligent enough to realize this, eventually. But he is also stubborn enough to not realize it immediately. His nonchalance in the Blitzer interview shows it.

There is also the small matter that I frankly no longer believe his pleas of ignorance about the content of the newsletters.

Which truly sucks, because Paul has gotten more people talking about liberty, the Constitution, and a fundamental reassessment of our foreign policy this past year than anyone ever expected him to. And if there is a silver lining in any of this, it's that the "Ron Paul Phenomenon" really has been about the ideas, not the man--after all, it certainly hasn't been because he is a particularly adroit or engaging speaker.

My hope is that the movement will outlive its namesake. I also know better than to count on this.

Looking ahead, this makes Barack Obama much, much more appealing to my mind. Some excerpts:

Obama's preference for reducing healthcare costs while preserving the freedom to choose whether or not to participate in the healthcare system, as against Clinton's (and Edwards's) insistence on mandating participation, is not a one-off discrepancy without broader implications. Rather, Obama's language of personal choice and incentive is a reflection of the ideas of his lead economic advisor, Austin Goolsbee, a behavioural economist at the University of Chicago...

Instead of recommending traditional welfare-state liberalism as a solvent for socioeconomic inequalities and dislocations, Goolsbee promotes programmes to essentially democratise the market, protecting and where possible expanding freedom of choice, while simultaneously creating rational, self-interested incentives for individuals to participate in solving collective problems...

Goolsbee and Obama's understanding of the free market as a useful means of promoting social justice, rather than an obstacle to it, contrasts most starkly with the rest of the Democratic field on issues of competition, free trade and financial liberalism...The evidence that Obama heeds Goolsbee's lessons is ample, his healthcare plan being but one of many prominent examples. Whereas Clinton has recently taken to pulling protectionist stunts and rethinking the fundamental theoretical soundness of free trade, and Edwards is behaving like the love child of Huey Long and Pat Buchanan, Obama instinctively supports free trade and grasps the universe of possibilities that globalisation opens up...


We could do worse.

it's friday, so...

Bring on the hyperviolent bionic Japanese schoolgirl revenge movies!

(Strictly speaking, the following is probably not safe for work.)



Also, it's Retrofantasma night at the Carolina...next week is Blade Runner: The Most Recent Cut.

1.08.2008

tnr, ron paul, etc...

I've taken the Ron Paul banner down, for now. Here's why, succinctly:

This is not an adequate response to this.

Now, for what it's worth, I'm inclined to take Eric Dondero at his word when he claims that the ghost writer was "80% Lew Rockwell". First, because Dondero worked for Paul at the time, and second, because Dondero has bashed Paul every chance he has gotten during this campaign. So he really has no reason to out Rockwell, and thus support the campaign's position that all of this was the work of (poorly supervised) ghost writers (unless he has a beef with Rockwell even bigger than the one he has with Paul.)

Also, because frankly this sounds like the sort of shit a confederate apologist like Rockwell would write if he didn't have to sign his name to it.

Radley Balko's take on this pretty much reflects my own. To which I will only add that I stand by my support of Paul for the reasons I have supported him--to wit, that he is the only candidate in the race (either major party) who has clearly articulated 1) a position on the constitutional limitations of the executive that I can stomach, and 2) a comprehensive foreign policy of non-intervention. With regard to the presidency, everything else is small potatoes as far as I'm concerned.

That said, I'm pissed off at Paul and his campaign for not handling this better.

Addendum--The fact that Paul was not contacted by Kirchick or The New Republic for the piece is just plain shitty. This doesn't mean that the newsletter issue doesn't need to be addressed, but let's not pretend that this is objective journalism, here.

1.03.2008

swf, 23, seeking democrats for nsa fun in iowa after the cacuses

OK, now that I have your attention, Iowa Democrats:

If you really feel like you have a dog in the fight among Clinton, Obama, and Edwards (or if you feel you need to make a principled stand for Kucinich or Dodd--believe me, I empathize) then by all means, do so tonight.

But if not, then please consider that you have the opportunity to do something really special this evening. You can, by virtue of your residency, take a giant metaphorical dump in the oatmeal of Republicans everywhere, and especially the Fox News/GWB/26% crowd.

You can cross over and vote for Ron Paul.

Seriously--if you want to register a rebuke to the policies of the last 7 years, vote for Ron Paul. I know he's not perfect, I know he's been pandering to the xenophobes, that he isn't terribly sanguine about Roe v. Wade, and that he doesn't seem to buy into the whole evolution thing. Give the man a break--he is from Texas, after all.

Look inside your heart. You know that deep down, you want nothing more than to see GOP suck it, big time. Make your vote really count.

Thank you for your attention. Drive safe tonight, and stay warm.

And don't worry, I won't tell your wife you came looking here.

1.01.2008

resolutions

I don't think I've ever done this, but what the hell...

In 2007, I managed to do the following, which I am pretty happy about:

1) As of December 28, I am down to my pre-grad school fighting weight. Not bad for the holidays.
2) I started doing music again.

In 2008, I want to:

1) Make better use of non-work hours (action on this one has already been taken...we disconnected the cable)
2) Have more non-work hours (which means making better use of my work hours).
3) The kitchen floor. (Don't ask.)
4) Brewing:
a) Start maintaining yeast cultures (thereby cutting per-batch costs)
b) Make more beer, more often, and start a serious cellaring program for the high-alcohol/Belgian-style stuff
c) All-grain, baby!
5) Get something published (or at the very least, submitted) in a non-scientific publication
6) Cook through a significant portion of this.

Happy 2008, all.