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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

HA! HA! HA! THAT WAS VERY FUNNY 

According to CBS MarketWatch, Brokaw replacement Brian Williams is not bland, not at all. Instead he "is capable of showing good humor and a dry wit in public. " To wit:
When a fellow panelist mentioned that bloggers had a big impact on the reporting on Election Day, Williams waved that point away by quipping that the self-styled journalists are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem."
(Via I Want Media)

My stars those MSM types just keep cracking me up.

Monday, November 29, 2004

KEEPING UP WITH THE LILEKSES 

I congratulated myself for getting most of the Halloween decorations put away this past weekend. The construction paper pumpkins and spiders taped to the front windows, the light-up glitterpumpkin I got on sale at Target last year and one of the kids' treat baskets all got stowed in the basement. The other treat basket turned up a day later and my collection was pretty much complete. It would be nifty to put them all in one of those orange and black plastic boxes Target sells around Halloween. But, since that was about a month ago, it looks like I'll have to wait until next year. No matter. Everything is sitting neatly together on a shelf. Where it'll stay until next year. Or until the kids discover it on one of their flashlight "adventures."

Fortunately, I don't own any Thanksgiving decorations.

My super-duper organization plan is to go get the Christmas tree next weekend. If I avoid my usual procrastination routine it'll be timed perfectly to start dropping needles and screaming "fire hazard" before New Year's Day is over. I firmly believe that dead pine trees are best dragged to the curb by someone sporting a hangover (preferably, not me). It goes well with the scraps of tinsel clinging to the branches. Like oreos and milk.

So I'm feeling all smug and organized and then I see this:
Sunday afternoon I put up the [lightbulb] nets [on the evergreen bushes]. ... The tree’s up, too. We went out in the sleet Friday afternoon to get a balsam fir at the Boy Scout lot. It’s tall enough to play in the NBA. I carried it up the long flight to stairs to the front door, an annual check on my physical fitness, and got the tree in water while it still had a vague desire to drink. ... And then I cleaned the house and made supper and replaced the exterior floodlights with holiday hues. And wrote this. Now I am going to finish the Sunday column, which is about Christmas music.
Who else? Lileks. Sigh. The blogosphere can be brutal on one's self-esteem.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

STRUCK 

I assumed that Thanksgiving would mark both the start of the Christmas gift-rush and the end of the election post-mortems. As one my law school professors was wont to trill: "wrong! wrong! wrong!"

2 Blowhards originator Michael Blowhard:
[H]as anyone else been as struck as I have by the way lefties -- so quick to ask "what have we done to make them hate us?" when we're attacked by foreign nuts -- never think to ask the same question about why so many of the people they share their own country with dislike (or at least mistrust) them?
No, I haven't. But I probably should have been.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

HAPPY THANKSGIVING 

The seven year old makes sure the MLPs enjoy the holiday:

Posted by Hello

Now it's your turn.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

SEABEES? LIKE WARD CLEAVER? COOL! 

Do good and kick ass at the same time:
Leading bloggers are competing to raise funds to benefit the people of Iraq. 100% of all donations go to needs selected by these bloggers. Many of our projects support requests made by Americans serving in Iraq (Marines, Army, SeaBees) for goods that help the Iraqi people. Other projects directly support Iraqis who are on the front lines of building a better future for Iraq.
I think we're more like a trailing blogger than a leading blogger, but no matter. You can join our merry band here, or start your own, but whatever you do, make sure you give.

TARGETING UNIONS? 

Reader Tim P. writes to inform us that Target may have banned the Salvation Army from soliciting in order to fend off any attempts by unions to solicit its employees. The law may require that if an employer allows one type of solicitation (charitable), it has to allow other types. National Review Online's The Corner has some speculation to this effect, including one post pointing out that the National Labor Relations Board issued an opinion letter along these lines shortly after 9/11 regarding charitable solicitations arising from that event.

This is not my area of expertise, but if correct, consumer dissatisfaction won't be enough to sway Target. Hugh Hewitt has been getting input from "financial types" on how to judge whether anger at Target's decision is having an effect on sales. He'll need to balance this against the potential costs of Target going union (Walmart's stock fell 36 cents to $55.37 after an adverse ruling on this issue in 2003) to get the full picture.

UPDATE: The National Association of Convenience Stores says:
NACS supported an amendment offered by Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) last Congress that would have allowed retailers to open their doors to charitable organization without fear of unionization. That amendment failed by a vote of 40-59.
Hey Hugh! Do you really want to put pressure on Target go union? Seems unusually blue of you...

Monday, November 22, 2004

IT'S RAINING TURKEYS 

Every Thanksgiving The Warrior Monk's employer gives each of its employees a turkey. I think they also give turkeys to their retirees. The Warrior Monk has never cooked a turkey in his life so he passes the bird on to his mom.

This year the grocery store I frequent gave me a turkey for having a reliable history of spending lots of money on other food items. When I was in law school, I won a raffle my landlord set up for renters that actually (gasp!) paid their rent on time. The prize: a turkey. Being a turkey novice I popped it in the oven for the prescribed period of time and was mystified when the meat thermometer refused to record its done-ness, even after I nearly doubled the cook time. My roommate and boyfriend were hungry and we all got tired of waiting. We took the thing out of the oven and started hacking. It was still frozen inside. What a gyp.

Of course, I figured out only later that you're supposed to thaw it first. If there put "harmful if swallowed" warning labels on fishing lures why aren't cooking imbeciles like me warned that turkeys need thawing? Do they expect that we learned this from our mothers? Our mothers always thawed the turkeys in a secret ceremony in the middle of the night with suitable spells against polluting the children with turkey lore. And it worked.

I haven't cooked a turkey since. My role is limited to showing up at the designated turkey gobbling station bearing about thirty pounds of mashed potatoes (I was born knowing how to mash a potato) and my new specialty: cranberry sauce (my trick: add at least a pound of sugar). But no more cooking the turkeys for me. I've been spooked.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says more than 45 million turkeys are cooked and eaten in the U.S. at Thanksgiving. I wonder how many of them were actually paid for. Using Spitbull as the sample size: 0.

UPDATE: Even for those who pay for their turkys, the average price of a Thanksgiving dinner is less than last year. (Via Marginal Revolution)

Sunday, November 21, 2004

OK, MAYBE AVOIDING TARGET ISN'T SUCH A BAD IDEA AFTER ALL 

When I could be wrong, sometimes I'm really wrong.

(Via Screenhead).

Friday, November 19, 2004

BLOOD-THIRSTY PRESCHOOLERS 

On Fridays the three year old gets "music" lessons at daycare. Tonight she came home with this doozy:
Sitting on a fence post,
Chewing my bubble gum.
Playing with my yo-yo. (Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!)
"What happened?"
I said, "I ate my ma." (change "ma" to "dad," "sister" etc. for subsequent verses)
One's own child always seems cute, even when threatening to eat her family, but we wondered what on earth they were teaching her at school. Thank god for the Internet: the answer.

Burp!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

TARGETING RED KETTLE CHARITY 

There's a Salvation Army/Target controversy brewing in the blogosphere. Flames are being fanned by much of the Northern Alliance and gasoline was recently added to the mix by Hugh Hewitt who is bribing bloggers who weigh in on the subject with a HughLink (not quite an Instalanche but impressive nonetheless) and e-mail protesters with a promise to read their missives on his radio show.

In a nutshell: Target announced a few months ago that it will be enforcing its solicitation ban against the Salvation Army this season. Response: Grinch! Scrooge!

But not Northern Alliance Target-lover James Lileks:
It never stops, in other words. There’s always something to tick you off; the tentacles of business and the non-profits are intimately intertwined. Pick any big shop and you'll find they fund something you like, and something you don't. That said: if I find that Target kicked out the Salvation Army for religious reasons, I’ll be peeved. Doesn’t mean I won’t buy my soap there. But it would chip away at that ephemeral thing called good will, the stuff companies often spend too fast without heed. I love Target, but I’d leave it in a second if someone did it better. So far no one within five miles of my house does it better. I'll be willing to go six if they do it really, really better, and they're near a mall and grocery store and all the other nodes I hit three times a week in my 90-minute chore window.

End result? I wrote out a check to the Salvation Army tonight. Figured out what I put in the kettles, and doubled it. They’re happy; Target’s happy; I don’t have to drive 20 miles to find a frickin’ Wal-Mart.

The Salvation Army red kettle brigade is a Christmas tradition in my book and I'm always sorry to see the chipping away of traditions. However Lileks' approach appeals to me as someone who just last night persuaded a friend not to invest in one of those "ethical" mutual funds. Invest where you're most likely to make money, I counseled. Then send a check off to the charity of your choosing.

Target regularly tops Forbes' list of America's most philanthropic companies. Put your money where your mouth is. Donate to the Salvation Army here.

UPDATE: Frater Elder has a heart of unwashed socks. King recommends Walmart (seems you can pick up both cleaning supplies and chicks there--at least in Germany).

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

THE SECOND RULE OF JANE 

"Jane Galt" (Megan McArdle) is one of the most penetrating and succinct bloggers out there. Here she effortlessly boils down the causes of poverty:
[T]he poor suffer from three main problems: their own poor impulse control or decision making; a culture that encourages poor decision making; and limited means, which give them no buffer against the results of their poor decision making.
She goes on to note that conservatives try to change the first two variables; liberals, the third. The corollary: liberal policies that encourage poor decision making are just as bad as conservative policies that would eliminate buffers.

Click here for the equally perfect First Rule of Jane (aka "Jane's Law").

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

419 SOLICITORS SURE ARE UP-TO-DATE 

Suha Arafat has made the move to Lagos:
From: SUHA ARAFAT [mailto:suhafat@netscape.net]

Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2004 5:00 AM
To: ----- Subject: I NEED YOUR ASSISTANCE; SUHA ARAFAT
Importance: High

Dear Friend,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine in particular.

I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

That payoff she got for allowing them to pull the plug on Arafat just wasn't up to snuff.

Monday, November 15, 2004

FAREWELL TO A ONE-MAN GROUP THINKER 

The name Laird Brooks Schmidt hadn't crossed my mind for years until I read in the Strib yesterday that he died on Veterans Day at age 80 after battling Parkinson's disease for 15 years.

Since no one else but my mother seems to recall him, here's a refresher--or a belated introduction, as the case may be:
He was best-known for a six-month stint as the midnight-to-6 a.m. host for KSTP, Channel 5, in 1978-79. One television critic called him "a freestyle Delphic oracle."

KSTP was the first local TV station to operate for 24 hours, and Schmidt was its first late-night host. In between late-night movies he would sit in front of the camera wearing a heavy winter coat, flanked by a toy gopher and a collection of plants. He would hold up signs with long words on them and offer irreverent comments about the movies, life, human behavior and intellect.

He found that an amazing number of people were awake at that time, said Beverly Schmidt. They included musicians, health care workers, insomniacs and, starting about 4 a.m., farmers getting up for work.

"He had a wonderful array of people who liked him," she said.

But not enough. He lost the job when a late-night viewer called Stanley S. Hubbard, then head of KSTP, at 1 a.m. to complain. Hubbard switched on the TV to see Schmidt delivering his usual discourse. He was fired.
What I was doing up between midnight and 6:00 when I was 12 I'm not sure (I suppose I should ask my mom about that). And I could have sworn that his show aired for a lot longer than six months. But in my (admittedly highly idiosyncratic) memory his flaky schtick was of a piece with the much more well known stuff that I was watching contemporaneously, like Monty Python reruns on public television, the old half-hour pre-NBC syndicated SCTV shows, and early Letterman (anyone remember his ill-fated morning gig?).

The obituary also reveals that in some of his other lives he served in the military, worked as a schoolteacher, and did stand-up comedy. And I think it's safe to extrapolate from all this that if he'd been a generation younger, he'd have had a blog. R.I.P., Mr. Schmidt.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

TRIAL TEDIUM 

I have always assumed I am, well, unusual in being completely uninterested in crime trial news. I figured everyone else was fascinated by it--if not, why else would the news channels devote so much time to covering it? Roger L. Simon makes me feel more mainstream:
Was the public really interested in this trial or was it just filling a vacuum on cable? One of the major results of the OJ case has been the nearly endless parade of tedious trials on television, none of them remotely as interesting as watching the Juice get away with cold-blooded murder in front of our eyes. ... I have no opinion. I switched off the case months ago.
I did watch the OJ verdict, but I was in LA at the time which added a certain piquancy. Besides, there was something more profound about the OJ trial. My (now deceased) grandmother who couldn't see that well assumed every black man she spotted on the cover of a magazine was OJ; every white man was "Robert Shapiro!" (You have to add in a thick accent to get the full effect.)

The Scott Peterson trial doesn't lend itself to that sort of every-villain effect. Well, come to think of it, Ben Affleck does bear a certain resemblance...

Thursday, November 11, 2004

OOPS, FALSE ALARM 

Some lefty blogs were all abuzz after two tanks showed up at an anti-war protest in Los Angeles Tuesday:
  • : Our period of mourning is over. The streetfight has begun, and we need to be fully aware that they are bringing tanks to this fight.
  • : The message is simple, though, we know where you are and what your protesting, and although we haven’t figured out how to call you terrorist yet so we can use more force, we just wanted to show you what you we look like so you can all go home and think about it.
  • : One hopes this was a very isolated incident and some National Guard boys are going to be busted down to scrubbing toilets with their own toothbrushes, but I am very worried this might have been something "called down" by someone on high.
  • : Okay this makes perfect sense for someone who wanted to send a message to protesters and not get caught.

    They send it to a smaller protest so no local media would be there to document the event. They also just stay for a little bit not do much just sit there then drive off. No one would be able to prove they were there (no local media) but the message would get out to the protesters.

    This is intimidation tatics people.

Well, the commenters might be hallucinating a bit, but they weren't hallucinating about the tanks. Two tanks had driven up from Camp Pendleton that night in preparation for a Veterans' Day event the next day and gotten lost. An eyewitness questioned one of the drivers the next day:
"Did you drive around the block twice?" I asked.

"Yeah, we did. We stopped to ask them (the protestors) directions, but they weren't very nice."
Actually, some of them were yelling "baby killers!" and "Shame!"

Happy Veterans' Day.

VETERANS' DAY 

Just wait a bitt... The Northern Alliance will be feting the vets at Keegan's Irish Pub on Saturday November 13th. Anyone who has served or is currently serving in the military will get a free drink courtesy of publican Terry Keegan. They'll also be raising money for Soldiers' Angels.

Oh yes, and tomorrow (Friday) they're filling in for Hugh Hewitt again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

HE AIN'T DEAD YET 

Tom at FunctionalAmbivalent is, like many people, on a sort of distracted death watch:
I get up, I check the latest news, and see that the old bastard is still alive. I take solace in the fact that every morning the headlines are more dire.
The fate of "the old bastard," also known as Suha Arafat's husband, is currently in dispute.

Tom fancies himself a humane person, "a person who captures bugs and releases them outside (well, sometimes) rather than crushing them," but admits that news of Arafat's unplugging will make him glow like Christmas morning.

Well Tom, it seems forty-seven percent of Israelis feel the same way (except, presumably, for the Christmas part). And most of the 32% who disagreed did so because the wanted to see Arafat continue to suffer.

UPDATE: go ahead--start glowing!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? 

Forget all the handwringing over the future of the Democratic party. The real danger is to the Onion's continued claim to be America's Finest News Source. Seems to me The Weekly World News has just won a mandate:
MOST POODLES ARE GAY!

A new study has confirmed what many people have long suspected -- most male poodles are gay!

"The meticulous grooming and sassy outfits favored by most poodles have always made people suspicious," explains Dr. Kip Gobblestock, a sociologist who directed the three-year study of canine sexuality.

Interestingly, the study found that over 75 percent of male poodles are homosexual, while only three percent of female poodles are lesbians.

These findings have led many to wonder if male poodles are born gay or if they become gay due to their environment.
(Via Political Theory Daily Review)

Poodle bans have been proposed in twelve counties and are favored to pass with substantial majorities.

A NEW ERA OF BLOGENDORSEMENTS DAWNS 

Each and every one of the Fraterslibertas endorsed candidates for Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor (District 5) has won!

Frater Saint Paul has some advice and words of warnjng for the victors.

Monday, November 08, 2004

JACKASS, PRESCHOOL STYLE 

The seven year old is lying in an arm-chair chair with one leg extended, foot flexed. The three year old gets a running start and rams into the foot. Then does it again. And again.

Now she's trying it with the front of her dress pulled over her head.

What are their parents doing? Video taping it.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

COMPARE AND CONTRAST 

Amsterdam's Muslim deputy mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb (another fun fact: the mayor is Jewish) addressing his fellow Muslims in an Amsterdam mosque shortly after the murder of Theo Van Gogh:

For people who do not wish to share the fundamental core values of our society is no room in a society like the Dutch one.

Everyone who does not share these values is best advised to make his or her conclusions and leave. It just can’t be that someone demands all of us to respect his viewpoints and at the same time refuses to respect the viewpoints of others.

Yesterday's New York Times editorial:
Urgent efforts are needed to better manage the cultural tensions perilously close to the surface of Dutch public life. The problem is not Muslim immigration, but a failure to plan for a smoother transition to a more diverse society. One very real danger is that the public trauma over the van Gogh murder may lead to a clamor for anti-Muslim policies that could victimize thousands of innocent refugees and immigrants
Individual responsibility versus government planning. Which do you think is more likely to make a difference? And since when must we make room for ideological murderers in a "diverse society"?

Friday, November 05, 2004

GEE, YOU'RE DUMB 

For all your purported devotion to nuance and thoughtfulness and complexity and yadda yadda yadda, you Democrats are almost unbelievably dense. Why did you lose? Because you nominated a crappy candidate! A candidate so crappy that he lost to George W. Bush, and lost resoundingly! Next time give the electorate someone who will promise booty to everyone like a good little lefty and is credibly tough on defense and you'll win in a landslide. Granted, your bullpen ain't exactly overflowing with hawkish arms, but you gotta be able to put someone decent on the mound, don't you?

Yet this glaringly obvious truth continually eludes you. And now, instead of improving your product, you trash your customers. No wonder all good businessmen are Republicans.

LET'S HOPE IT DOESN'T COME TO THIS 

Well hello there! In the unlikely event that someone missed me, I've spent the last several weeks preparing for and then recuperating from Atomizer's wedding toast (I thought it was supposed to be a roast; sorry, man!). Seems that Bush fellow performed rather well in my absence. Maybe we won't get killed in the next four years after all.

On the other hand, maybe W will. I hate to say this, but the odds that someone will try to assassinate the President seem pretty high. For years the wacko Bush haters having been counting on booting him out of office the civilized way, but now that the stubborn electorate has yanked their little party away, what are they going to do? Rejoin the ranks of the sane? Seems unlikely, given early indications.

I raised this theory with an old law-school friend, and he pointed out (to quote his e-mail) that "it's hard to imagine a card carrying member of the Michael Moore brigade being a decent shot," and that the Secret Service should never be underestimated (he had a brief inside experience with them during the 2000 campaign and came away very impressed). Fair points. Remember Squeaky Fromme? Then again, handguns have become a bit passe in this line of work--you've got your trucks filled with fertilizer, your shoulder-fired missiles, your suicide bombers, your hijacked airplanes, etc., etc. Wackos get pretty inventive when it comes to killing.

Plus, look at our history. Four of our presidents--almost 10%--have been killed in office, Reagan missed being number five by the slimmest of margins (and what the hell would the world be like now if Reagan had served for two months instead of eight years?), and several others have been subject to attempts. I mean, wackos tried to kill Gerald frickin' Ford twice, fer cryin' out loud, and he wasn't the object of white-hot hate like W is. On the other hand, Nixon was hated that way, and he lived to a ripe old age. So who knows. Just keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

WHAT'S THE OPPOSITE OF GLOATING? 

The contempt and fury unleashed by the clear Bush victory is enough to curl your toes:
A nation of self-righteous bullies got what it deserved on Wednesday.
(Via Romenesko). No, this isn't from a fever-swamp message board. It's the vaunted MSM, the Sun-Sentinel to be exact.
And morality is what it's all about.

That's what the exit polls in Ohio said. This is what happens when a country's education gets gutted and minds get flabby. Words lose their meaning.
Ah! So No Child Left Behind was really President Bush's secret re-election weapon. Thanks for clearing up the mystery.

If you feel up to dealing with the vitriol, Professor Bainbridge has more examples of frothy fury.

UPDATE: And the beat goes on...

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

NOW WHO'S THE OSTRICH? 

I suppose it's nice that the networks are being all super cautious and such by refusing to declare a winner in the Presidential election. This caution is meant to bring back the public's trust after their eager miscalls in the 2000 election right?

Sorry, but it's just not working. The networks just seem like they're being willfully blind to reality (some say their bias is showing, yet again). The stock market thinks the victory is clear enough, so does the blogosphere. I can understand why Kerry's camp is having difficulty coming to terms with the result, but why is the MSM being so obtuse?

UPDATE: Kerry is more realistic than the MSM; he's conceded.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

CIAO HOLLYWOOD? 

Well, I don't know who will be our President come January, but if it's Bush, lots of folks have promised to get out of town. Here's who we might lose:
  1. A whole bunch of hysterics to New Zealand, Canada, France, a cave, Italy and even suicide. (Check out the poll; Canada is the top vote-getter.)
  2. A whole bunch of Californians.
  3. Some "elderly! women."
  4. A columnist ("Some English-speaking havens look mighty appealing. Middle-earth—I mean, New Zealand—anyone?").
  5. Nanci Griffith.
As author Tom Wolfe explained:
I would vote for Bush if for no other reason than to be at the airport waving off all the people who say they are going to London if he wins again.
But I doubt we could hold them to their promises. Luminaries such as Eddie Vedder, Alec Baldwin and Robert Altman all promised to skedaddle in 2000 if Bush won, and we're still stuck with them.

UPDATE: I see Ann Coulter says she'll ditch NYC for Utah (or Idaho) if Kerry wins. But it seems all the righties expect to be staying stateside even if The Worst Happens.

Monday, November 01, 2004

TONIGHT IS MY HALLOWEEN 

There were people standing on street corners waving lawn signs as I drove home tonight. None of them were Bushies; all the signs were Kerry signs. Not that surprising when you consider that I live in SW Minneapolis.

I thought: boy oh boy were folks waving signs the night before the election four years ago? And I thought: I am not cut out to be a political blogger. My biggest political wish is that the election happened three weeks ago and right now we all were dealing with the results (assuming we weren't dealing with the results by asking judges to tell us who won).

People who wave candidates' signs in the rain (well nigh sleet) the night before an election scare me.