Pitch week

This is the week I pitch my brilliant idea for a situational comedy around town so blogging will slow from "a crawl" to "nonexistent". I leave you, however, with this juicy piece that makes you
a) wish Mencken were still around, but also
b) profoundly uneasy:

"Prosecutors in the United States say jurors schooled in crime investigations through watching TV dramas are making it tough to prove cases because they expect to see sophisticated forensic evidence, even in white-collar trials.

Alice Martin, the US state prosecutor for the Northern District of Alabama, said the so-called 'CSI effect - a reference to the hit television show about gruesome crime scene investigations - hurt her in a recent corporate case.

Ms Martin has told a white-collar crime conference at Georgetown University Law Centre in Washington how jurors' expectations hurt the case against HealthSouth Corp founder Richard Scrushy, who was acquitted of securities fraud and other charges in June.... Ms Martin says jurors in post-verdict interviews said 'we needed a fingerprint on one of the documents or we needed him [Mr Scrushy] to say the word 'fraud' on the audiotape' that was secretly recorded by a former HealthSouth finance chief.

'They said, 'they always do fingerprints on TV',' Ms Martin said."


Oddly philosophical Bugs Bunny line that popped into my head while driving on Laurel Canyon

"She may be ugly now, but she was somebody's baby once."

BBC Science page

Is just full of climate-change related news today.

First, Heatwave makes plants warm planet:

"A new study shows that during the 2003 heatwave, European plants produced more carbon dioxide than they absorbed from the atmosphere. They produced nearly a tenth as much as fossil fuel burning globally.
The study shows that ecosystems which currently absorb CO2 from the atmosphere may in future produce it, adding to the greenhouse effect."

And, Aviation 'huge threat to CO2 aim':

UK homes, firms and motorists will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero due to air travel growth, a study says.

Even if such growth is halved, the rest of the economy will need cuts beyond targets set for 2050, said the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Aviation is regarded as especially polluting because of the large amount of fuel used at high altitude.

Of course, this latter one is subject to the "if current trends continue" extrapolation error. What if there's a lot less air travel growth because the fuel is so expensive? Etc.


Emmy notes

Yeah, I watched it, bitches. Some notes:

-- The room, to a man/woman, thought the thing as a whole was lame. It's bad enough being the red-headed stepchild to movie people; we don't have to go and prove it.

-- The Daily Show's writing win: A tremendous step forward for the White community. Also, boys. Snarky white boys in general should just feel tremendously empowered this morning.

-- It was funny that they brought Frederica Von Stade out to sing the Star Trek theme, and she seemed to be having fun. But I couldn't help thinking that, 40 or 50 years ago, they would have given her her own Omnibus special or something.

-- I already forgot who won, and I've actually been to the Emmys. I can only imagine how America feels. (Although my only being able to imagine how America feels is kind of a long-standing problem I have.)


The Second Crawford School

I just saw this on Alex Ross's blog:

"JD Considine has analyzed the chord that Bush is playing in the famous guitar picture, taken at the height of the Katrina disaster. It seems to be a strongly dissonant sonority consisting of the notes G, G#, A, B, C, and D. Considine speculates that Bush was trying to play a G-major chord and messed up, but I suspect that our Commander-in-Chief, mindful of the inherent tendency of the musical material, has followed Schoenberg over the threshold of atonality. Here he plays the pitch-class set named 6-Z11 in the Allen Forte system -- a hauntingly ambiguous chord that brushes against the ghost of a now defunct tonality even as it stares ahead remorselessly into the chromatic future. I am looking forward to the rigorously atonal works that Bush will have time to write on Trent Lott's porch."


Another million-dollar idea

For Ben and Jerry's: a pint of ice cream that plays up the fact that you eat ice cream when you're depressed. When I brought this up in the room, someone suggested the name "You're Better Off Without Him Mocha," but then we thought that was too girly, so then we thought maybe half the package would be "Better Off" and the other half, for the guys, would be, "The Bitch Was Crazy Mocha."

But then I thought they should get a Heath Bar or something and mix pieces of it into the ice cream and call it "Breakup Breakup." Bam, a million dollars, right there.

If someone has already thought of this, I would not be surprised, but I still claim that I was there first.


From The Independent, via Stoat

Global warming 'past the point of no return'

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

This place is turning into fucking Russia (2)

From the president's speech:

" 'It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces.'"

Emphasis added, or, in reality, soon to be added.


Executive speak

(Hopefully one of a series.)
On a given moment in a script: "We think there's more fun to be had." This equals, "We think this should be funnier."

One's imagined reply:

"Well, if there were more 'fun to be had,' we probably would have had it, seeing as we're fucking comedy writers."

Actual reply:




We were talking about this piece in the room the other day. It's pretty funny.


WWOZ in exile

Obviously there's the human cost, but part of what we love about New Orleans is the music, and a bastion of that is WWOZ. WFMU, the freeform station of the nation, and home of the fabulous classic soul DJ Mr. Fine Wine, is allowing them some bandwidth so they can play your classic Crescent City favorites.

Let us continue on undaunted, the way Professor Longhair would've. And throw a few shekels their way if you cann.

BREAKING: WSJ Editorial Page Saner Than News Pages

According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal (which I actually subscribe to but am stealing from Billmon:

The Bush administration is importing many of the contracting practices blamed for spending abuses in Iraq . . . The first large-scale contracts related to Hurricane Katrina, as in Iraq, were awarded without competitive bidding, and using so-called cost-plus provisions that guarantee contractors a certain profit regardless of how much they spend."

Contrast this with Pete Wilson's Op-Ed from today's paper:

Second, we took a page from the book of private sector incentives for accelerating performance. We told contractors bidding to repair the bridges that they must submit bids that specified not only the cost but the date of completion, and that they must agree to an added condition: For every day they were late, they would incur a penalty of $200,000; and for every day they were early, they would be rewarded with a bonus of $200,000. The winning bidder, C. C. Myers, Inc., put on three shifts that worked 24/7. In order to prevent any delay in the work, they hired a locomotive and crew to haul to Los Angeles steel sitting on a siding in Texas. Myers made more on the bonus than they did on the bid.

That's how you line the pockets of contractors! By making it a win-win!

The Wisdom Of Crowds

Baseball style. (Via Fire Jim Tracy.)


It's not Republican or Democrats

Who failed us. It's conservatives. Check out even the conservative National Review on Blanco in 2003 :

"Similarly, given that the conservative Blanco only marginally differed from Jindal on policy points (her slightly-more-liberal view on abortion rights helped her with suburban women), it's hard to see how national Democrats can translate her victory into a winning game plan elsewhere."

And the mayor, of course, was a Republican-turned-Democrat. So are they all honorable men.

This place is turning into fucking Russia

Tight Constraints on Pentagon's Freedom Walk:

"Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today.The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and 'sterile,' said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense."


You're welcome

From something quoted in this Yglesias post:

"A generation's worth of survey data has demonstrated a causal link between levels of TV viewing and civic disengagement."


Professional Tennis Query

I play tennis, badly, and often find myself losing the first set, 6-4, and then getting in a shame spiral and trying too hard and suddenly I'm down 3-0, so I pack it in and lose 6-0, something like that. And that's the kind of thing I've come to expect from me, a bad athlete with a worse state of mind.

What I don't understand is that this seems to happen in professional tennis all the time. It seems like I see lots of 7-5, 6-1 scores, or, on the men's side, 6-4, 6-3, 6-0. I mean, Jesus, you're a professional, don't pack it in. You have customers! I don't get it at all.

On the other hand, there are lots of shitty TV shows where the writers are just hoping to be through in time to get home for dinner. But then writing was never accused of breeding character...

Idea I'm storing here

Chili's presents... The United States of America.

"...and the home of the baby back baby back ribs.". Play ball!



Not only does the emperor have no clothes, he's ugly when he's naked.



This article on FEMA I found through Yahoo, by the Seattle emergency-management director:

"Witt fought for federal funding to support the new program. At its height, only $20 million was allocated to the national effort, but it worked wonders. One of the best examples of the impact the program had here in the central Puget Sound area and in western Washington state was in protecting people at the time of the Nisqually earthquake on Feb. 28, 2001. Homes had been retrofitted for earthquakes, and schools were protected from high-impact structural hazards. Those involved with Project Impact thought it ironic that the day of that quake was also the day that the new president, George W. Bush, chose to announce that Project Impact would be discontinued."

Somehow this FEMA regime makes one uneasy, if one were living say, in an earthquake zone.


The independent Menlo Park bookstore where I spent a lot of temping money is no more.

Sometimes civilzation goes all at once, and sometimes it goes brick by brick.


Would it help

If we called Katrina the Ronald Reagan Memorial Hurricane? I think it would buck up everyone's spirits tremendously.