Bad Straw Man

I ought to be writing something. Something about the Republican Convention, hereinafter referred to as "The Straw Man Festival," or "Straw Man." But Straw Man, instead of making me laugh, just depresses me. It depresses me that Bush is gaining ground. It depresses me to listen to John Kerry -- it doesn't even tranquilize me anymore. I miss the feel-good half-charlatan/half-nerd changeling we used to have in office.

I suppose I ought to take comfort in the classics, the way Zbigniew Herbert would have -- like that Simpsons where Homer buys the car with the "speed holes." Maybe I'll just feel better if I avoid Straw Man.

And look how good they are!

Yglesias: "That's why the government is run by professional politicians, professional political operatives, and professional policy analysts, not by random members of the public. It's like how movies are made by professional filmakers, not by movie fans."
(Emphasis added by me.)

Seriously, though, dude may have a point. Too much professionalism, though, leads to (a Joel Schumacher-like) sclerosis.


Programming note

So I'm blundering around my cable system trying to figure out where C-SPAN is, and I come upon Oxygen -- which is showing "Dazed and Confused." On Oxygen? Are they going to get first rights to "Harold and Kumar"?

More music notes


"It's one thing to play 'New York, New York' (that's practically mandatory, and the DNC would have done the same if Boston had a more memorable song than The Standells' 'Dirty Water')."

I submit that "Dirty Water," though (arguably) not more memorable, is a much better song than "New York, New York." It's even, or perhaps particularly, a better song to sing drunk.

Please stand by

You want television test cards from around the world, you say? Right here.

(Via The Morning News, which I have just started to enjoy.

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch (2)

I hate to link to the LA Times, which is the worst site in the world, but that's where I saw it:

Governor Is Sprinting for Donations :
" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once ridiculed politicians in the Capitol for taking 'dirty money' and proclaimed that he didn't need to take 'any money from anyone,' is immersed in what could prove to be the most aggressive fundraising sprint by a California governor.

Schwarzenegger hopes that by the time the Nov. 2 election rolls around, he'll have raised about $818,000 a week during the preceding 11 weeks, according to aides. He wants to take in about $9 million in that period."

Schwarzenegger Bullshit Watch

If Kevin Drum weren't already doing it, and I weren't lazy, and the moon was in the seventh house, I think I would like to specialize in Schwarzenegger Studies. The man is so full of shit his eyes are brown.

In the above link, his minions exaggerate savings by 25 in order to...to what? Take California even deeper into the bond market, I guess.

Veronica Geng, thou should be living at this hour

...while watching Bush on TV I thought of her phrase from "My Mao," -- "It was happy to be simple." What she would have done with G.W.!


Movie Review

Just saw Collateral. The moral of the picture? "Be yourself."


Too ridiculous to leave as a comment

in his blog, but when I saw Yglesias's entry
Spies In The Pentagon
all I could think of was:

Spies in the Pentagon, shoo spies shoo
Spies in the Pentagon, shoo spies shoo
Spies in the Pentagon, shoo spies shoo
Skip to Sharon my darlings.


More sports blogging, ponies edition

Awesome idea. Delicious is no stranger to Saratoga so anything that enhances its prestige is to be welcomed.

However -- this would put 2/3 of the triple crown under the authority of the NYRA, which is bad. The NYRA has already overextended the Saratoga season by like, what, 10 weeks.

Why not a Grand Slam instead of a Triple Crown? That way we could finish up in California in the fall.

The effect of Messiaen on the neutral-zone trap

I am not a culture blogger -- indeed, I am barely a blogger at all -- but I am willing to become one, if it means we can get a little hockey talk in. Maybe we can hang out somewhere and steal a CBC feed sometime.

For, and you heard it here first, just as the Calder Cup is the new Stanley Cup, so is hockey the new poker.

UPDATE: As proof that I am not a culture blogger, I had to look up how to spell "Messiaen."


Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

I've always enjoyed Alex Ross's writing in the New Yorker, so this looks like a great blog, except it has nothing about hockey:

"One more thought about film music, following on the Elmer Bernstein obituary below. Bernstein, Jerry Goldsmith, and David Raksin, by doing their utmost for a few immortal films, have, in the process, gained a certain kind of immortality. This is an ironic turn of events because film composers are so often dismissed as the hacks of the composing world, the manufacturers of imitative background pap. 'Sounds like a film score' is the put-down of choice for tonal orchestral music. 'Serious' composers are supposed to suffer neglect in their lifetimes, with the gratitude of posterity their invisible reward. The my-time-will-come mindset was especially widespread in the twentieth century, with composers believing that if they invented a new sound or came up with a 'big idea' they would win their place in history. The result was a great deal of superficially difficult, emotionally disposable music, whose ultimate historical value is now very much in question. By contrast, it seems certain that in a hundred years people will still be talking about Bernard Herrmann's Vertigo, Goldsmith's Chinatown, Raksin's Laura. They have gone down in history, because they found a way to make their music matter."

A link for you.

I don't even really like Mark Cuban. But I find his blog, blog maverick, interesting, especially this.

I realize I have no readers, but there is some kind of karma in doing these links, so I thought I'd go for it.


Freaking blogger

So I forget to put my paragraph tags in the last couple of posts.

Like this.

Then I go back and edit the last couple so as to make them reader-friendly.

Again, like this.

And freaking Blogger won't recognize that. So now I have a couple of posts that I slaved over for minutes that look like a plate of cooked spinach.

Not like this.

Freaking Blogger, is all I have to say.

UPDATE: There it goes. Still, I stand by my freaking blogger stand of two minutes ago.


The Bush Administration said its tax cuts would lead to job growth.

They haven't.

The Bush Administration said Iraq would be a cakewalk.

It wasn't.

The Bush Administration may like its Americans poor and/or dead.

I don't.



I love Adam Gopnik (not literally), and I like World War I pieces, but what are we to make of this:

"How a great power at the apex of its influence, with no obvious rivals in sight...grew convinced that it was beset by an overwhelming existential danger is difficult for a contemporary American to understand, of course, but somehow that is what happened."

Some of the things you read people saying about the war on terrorism make it quite easy for this contemporary American to understand.

In some ways, of course, terrorism is an existential danger. Los Angeles could be blown up tomorrow. On the other hand, our enemy is a terrorist group, not a nation. Even if all of Egypt (say) hates us, the fact on the ground is that all of Egypt is not working to kill us. Just a crazy subset.

Given the technology, this is now dangerous. And we will have to get rough. But to treat it like WWII, or WWI, is to invite folly. Indeed, folly has already accepted the invitation.

Against Giblets

Who writes:: "3. No one wearing t-shirts for non-Giblets personae, such as Fafnir or the seminal proto-punk band Velvet Underground, will be permitted."

Giblets is defining the Velvet Underground by its posterity. This is wrong. Nor will it be forgotten; and it will be avenged.


Enjoy arguing about 1968, people

Kristof: " I don't think the odds of nuclear terror are quite as great as he does. If I were guessing wildly, I would say a 20 percent risk over 10 years. In any case, if I lose the bet, then I'll probably be vaporized and won't have much use for money.

Unfortunately, plenty of smart people think I've made a bad bet. William Perry, the former secretary of defense, says there is an even chance of a nuclear terror strike within this decade - that is, in the next six years.

'We're racing toward unprecedented catastrophe,' Mr. Perry warns. 'This is preventable, but we're not doing the things that could prevent it.'"