2.20.2007

Is Auden only 100?

That's what it saysin the Wall Street Journal. He looked about 100 in the Eisenhower Administration, what with his habit of hiding drafts of poems in the crevasses of his face.

Well, here's part of one I don't like as much as I used to -- the fact that I found it at a website called "magick.net" sets my teeth on edge about the person I used to be -- but what the hell:

Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
On education,
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Administration.

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.

Thou shalt not be on friendly terms
With guys in advertising firms,
Nor speak with such
As read the Bible for its prose,
Nor, above all, make love to those
Who wash too much.

"He's-on-a-different-planet-bullshit"

Wired News: Steve Jobs, Proud to Be Nonunion: "Jobs knows a lot about schools; he's been selling computers to them for more than 30 years. But don't you love it when a billionaire who sends his own kids to private school applies half-baked business platitudes to complex problems like schools? I'm surprised Jobs didn't suggest we outsource education to the same nonunion Chinese factories that build his iPods.

As someone who sends his kids to a struggling San Francisco public school (where 60 percent of the students are eligible for free lunches), I know for a fact that Jobs' ideas about unions are absurd, he's-on-a-different-planet bullshit."

Songs about California

At the Guardian I like Lone Justice's "Drugstore Cowboy," myself:

Well Daddy and his buddies
Are down at Gower Gulch
Smoking and spitting, cussing and hitting
And passing round the jug
Hanging out by the pay phone
Waiting for a call from the studio
For a bit part
In a cowboy movie.

2.19.2007

Hog lagoons to the rescue!

Via Environmental Economics: "

Renewable energy advocates contend that animal waste -- along with solar, wind and other alternative energy sources -- could help offset the need for coal and nuclear power as energy sources for running electrical power plants. North Carolina is home to some of the nation's largest hog producers for whom turning hog waste into fuel would eliminate a continuing environmental concern created by waste accumulation."

Optimism

It feels unfashionable to be optimistic, possibly because when you hang out with comedy writers everything comes -1 peg. But it's grey and rainy in L.A., which I love, and let's greet the weather with a smile and be optimistic about hockey in the Sunbelt markets:

"Hockey is growing in the U.S., despite every effort to kill it, and despite the heaps of scorn piled on each new market south of the 49th since its inception. We have Lord Stanley. We're growing, hockey's staying, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. Kids from Texas, Tennessee and California are playing Division I college hockey. The Kings recently promoted the NHL's first North Carolina native. And with local heroes to emulate, this trend can only improve."
I think it's probably too late for Nashville, though, unless they move them to the Southeast -- Nashville should be playing teams in ACC and SEC markets, not Big Ten markets. Move Pittsburgh to the Central to accomplish this if you have to. Or move Pittsburgh to K.C. and then to the Central.

2.18.2007

The Lives of Others

Mrs. D and I saw it, and you're so thankful you were an American in 1984, it makes you want to go home and make a butter sculpture of Ronald Reagan. EVEN THOUGH I know that Reagan's influence on the end of the Cold War was limited, etc., even though I know that most people who want to rename clouds Ronald Reagan Memorial Meterological Events are a lot closer to the Stasi than the people they hate, but still. You'll want to crank up the Lee Greenwood after this movie -- it's that good.

Attention urban design nerds

Clueless and Slightly Slack is back, if only for a moment. Here's somebody from LADOT:

"She also cast a skeptical eye on the neighborhood-level orientation of contemporary urban design, and helpfully pointed out that the current planning obsession with getting people out of their cars generally ignores goods movement. (Making streetscapes more attractive from the pedestrian perspective often means making them a royal pain in the ass for delivering merchandise.)
"I'd like to know specifics, in the sense that I'd like the specifics delivered to me, not that I'd like to go discover them myself.

(C&SS also took the bus to this particular conference and was impressed with Metro; I was similarly impressed recently when my car was in the shop. I'm taking the bus to The Grove from now on, the parking there is nutrageous.)

2.17.2007

From the political blogs

• Pie in the sky department: a post on TPMCafe for various worthy goals includes this:

"2. The invention of a secure, five 9's reliable, one person = one vote, and recountable voting system that could be conducted on-line so that polling places can be an artifact of the past."
I'm against it! What's so bad about polling places? What's so bad about a social, meatspace expression of our common political identity? When Mrs. D. and I lived in Hoboken they used to have a bake sale at our polling place -- I think there should be more stuff like that. Bouncy houses for the children, live music, etc -- anything beyond that lame "I voted" sticker.

Atrios has been talking about Jesus:
"...as many people suggested, if you're a liberal the press will pick apart your religion because it's somehow 'weird.' We all know religious means anti-abortion and at the very least not too happy with gay people. If you're Howard Dean or Barack Obama or John Kerry then they'll do anything to suggest that somehow your religion is illegitimate or un-Christian.
I don't have much to add to the politics of it. But it occurs to me that this might be a byproduct of the big media types being irreligious -- churchgoing would seem weird, under the circumstances.

Now, I have no idea whether most media types are irreligious. (I would suspect so, because most (not all) people I know in Hollywood are irreligious, and it seems like political media types would be the same, except with worse clothes.) And, of course, more power to them. But they do miss out on some stuff -- some of the Michael Gerson-penned Bush rhetoric, for example, that even I get with my Catholic education and occasional continual churchgoing. It's like people who haven't taken Latin reading Samuel Johnson -- it's hard to understand his sentence structure without it.

• Finally, from this post by Brad DeLong on social democracy:
In a country in which much social insurance has historically been supplied by employers, the loss of jobs and the closure of businesses is particularly traumatic.
And see, this is why I'm in favor of some form of universal health insurance: it's pro-entrepreneur. It would allow the visionary types to quit their job without worrying about what happens if their kids get sick, and also free them from worrying about providing health care to their employees. I realize this is not a huge percentage of people, but it makes a good story, and us pro-health-care types should be flogging it whenever we can.

2.15.2007

A note on that Fox News comedy show

I read a post here and then went and watched it. Not much to add, except a Joel Surnow-related thing: this show is more fodder for my thesis that if drama and comedy writers switched jobs, you'd see that the half-hours had gotten noticeably shittier than the hours.

(CAVEAT -- The hours would have gotten shittier too, mostly because of the poor attention span that got us into comedy in the first place. Also, in 24, we'd probably make Kiefer Sutherland wink to the camera or some such, thereby ruining the Suspense.)

UPDATE -- I also think it has shitty canned laughter. Memo to Surnow: get the good canned laughter -- from that guy at Radford who has that box he won't let you see. He's the one who has the laughs that sound like their trailing off, like real laughs.

2.14.2007

Mixology Monday

I have to confess that I haven't reviewed the full roundup yet. But the topic is whisk(e)y, so what can go wrong?

UPDATE: here's an interesting-looking one -- and it requires apple juice, so it's perfect for parents of small children! An interesting graf from this post ("If Our Language Was Whiskey"):

He filled both glasses with freshly chipped ice. In traditional Japanese bars the barman works with an ice pick to produce pieces of ice individualized for each drink. They will carve a single snowball sized rock for a scotch on the rocks, smaller shards for highball type drinks, and so on. All this is done with ice so cold it is dry to the touch. It is a world away from the soggy machine ice you find in most bars. When I take people to Constellation they are amazed at how long the ice cubes take to melt. After filling the glasses with ice Mr. Jin began stirring one glass with spoon, thoroughly chilling the glass. He poured the melted ice out of that glass and refilled with more ice before adding whiskey to both glasses, thoroughly stirring the first glass and giving the second a perfunctory stir, adding a little more ice to both glasses and finally topping them up with water.

The taste difference between the two drinks was enormous, and the thoroughly chilled one was very good. That drink totally changed my ideas about Japanese whiskey, and about drinking whiskey with water. These days I think that whiskey needs a few drops of water to bring out the full flavor.
I find this to be true as well.

2.13.2007

Annals of Capitalism

As It Polishes Green Image, GE Fights EPA - WSJ.com:

"General Electric Co., which is running a marketing campaign promoting itself as environmentally friendly, has pushed to weaken smog controls for railroad locomotives in rules about to be proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency"

Bloviations we never got to the end of

‘Ulysses’ Without Guilt - New York Times: "By one estimate, 27 novels are published every day in America. A new blog is created every second. We would appear to be in the midst of a full-blown epidemic of graphomania. Surely we have never read, or written, so many words a day. Yet increasingly we deal in atomized bits of "

2.12.2007

This I believe also

A guy from the Oil Drum goes to a climate change conference:

I think it became very clear...that the future energy supply (for at least the next few decades) will rely on coal, whether as a primary fuel for electricity, or as a feed stock for liquid fuels. The little that renewables will be able to contribute is not going to be that significant in overall supply terms. And the public will be unwilling to pay the costs to ensure that the coal is burned cleanly and the CO2 sequestered.

...no matter what is done locally, the energy needs of the rest of the world are such that coal will be burned, and gas will be generated, and if that is the cause of Global Warming, then what we are going to do is not going to make a difference because it will be too little, too late. And if the GHG are not causing Global Warming, then as the graphs show, the world is heating up anyway under the next cycle. And we certainly won’t be able to change that.

And so, as one of the speakers said, and as an editorial in Newsweek this week notes, all we can do is adapt.

[Though t]here is an increasing interest in Energy Productivity, in saving through conservation... the inertia of the system is such that, globally, it won’t make much difference. Note that, in California, despite universal agreement almost in the room that we had a problem, no-one in the entire conference, that I heard, talked about mandating speed limits again, as was done in the 70’s.

So that’s my opinion, I don’t really think that most of the audience grasped the immediacy of the problem, nor did some of the speakers. It was as though it was a nice intellectual exercise, without the reality of the physical impact that is going to happen.

Except it isn't

Martini Republic:

Other cities have a Wailing Wall, an Arms of the Church, a Place de la Concorde, a Speaker’s Corner, a Sheep’s Meadow, in which the residents are invited to contemplate their greatness and acknowledge their failings. There is no better place in LA to do that than the space between City Hall and the DWP—and we’re on the verge of blowing it, handing it over to guys who dream of Banana Republics, whose only real promise is to put a few more dollars in the City coffers if we give them enough tax breaks to let them do what they want. It should not happen. Our civic identity should be better than that.

2.11.2007

Noah's ark

So I'm at church today and the preacher quotes somebody saying, "The Church is like Noah's Ark. When you see how bad it is outside, you don't mind the smell inside so much."

I liked the simile. And I thought, There's all sorts of creative metaphorical work being done by Christians that you never hear about unless you go to church. And then I thought, you could say the same thing about hip-hop, which I don't know anything about anymore. Basically America is filled with enormously creative subcultures living under the shadow of Two and a Half Men.

And then later I realized, this simile is why some (some? most?) religious people will never vote for Democrats, no matter how many gay men Giuliani is proved to have bunked with. Democrats are part of the storm outside the ark. Giuliani, or any Republican, is part of the smell inside. They'll stay inside, thank you very much.

Les Glorieux

I don't really believe this, but I would like to believe that I do:

"We are the Archimedean point of hockey, we are the center that holds. Giving up is for other places. Fans in Nashville and Tampa give up. The Hawks might be invisible in Chicago, the Capitals may play to empty seats in DC, the Penguins may yet be driven to Kansas. Other teams come and go, move to different cities, change their colors and their uniforms. The League as a whole might be consumed in a black pit of indifference. That is all very far away from us, here, on this small island. Our Montreal Canadiens were here before there was ever such a thing as the NHL, and one feels as though they will always be here, no matter how bad the season, no matter what upstarts might manage to pull off a few moments of glory at their expense. Time, ultimately, is on our side, and we are among the very few who can look forward and backward with equal confidence."
And also, see earlier in the same post:
[Scene: 12ish in the 3rd, a penalty is whistled for no apparent reason.]

J: I don’t get it, what’s the call?

E: They called the Senators for BEING A BUNCH OF CHEAP WHORES.

J: I thought you liked the Sens?

E: FUCK YOU EMERY, I HOPE YOU GET HERPES.

2.10.2007

"I cannot claim the distinction of being Jewish, but a whispered “oy” escaped my lips at that moment."

Ken Levine digs up a Steve Allen mystery novel.

That's What She Said

Via the NY Times, I found this blog which estimates how much The Office's Michael Scott is costing his company each week. Sample:I’m also going to go out on a limb and say that locking your employees in a conference room is a bad idea. It could lead to a claim of false imprisonment. And because there are no statutory caps (in most states) for this type of claim, I think the company may have to cough up a bunch of money. Truthfully, I’ve never had a case where a manager has locked employees in a conference room. But when I sent a firm wide e-mail around to see if anyone else had, amazingly, there were attorneys who have handled similar claims. They tell me the cases were resolved for some pretty staggering figures.

And the blog comes with its own disclaimer!

The ring came off my pudding can.

Take my pen knife, my good man.

Apparently The Las Vegas Monorail is shitty. I've taken it myself and can concur. It's impossible to get to, for one -- you have to walk all the way through the hotels to get to it. By that time you might as well walk directly to your destination.

This is an example of how private enterprise is not magically better than public planning. It would be better if it went to the airport, though.

Untitled 2007 Iran War Project

It occurs to me that the people who really know what's up are the people in the CNN and Fox News graphics departments.

Crypto-liberal

TAPPED: "like Al Gore before him, John Kerry has finally set his presidential hopes aside. And, like Gore before him, he's using the occasion of their demise as a chance to boldly undertake more clearly liberal actions than he might otherwise have done. "

Doesn't this justify the right-wing trope that these politicans can't be trusted -- that they may seem moderate while campaigning, but their secret selves are anything but? And therefore, unless you're an unusually good panderer like W.J. Clinton, you should campaign more balls-out?

The Big Stick

A discussion, here, about Untitled Fall 2007 Iranian War Project, and does Congress have the power to redlight it.

My own opinion is that this Administration will only mind Congress with a 2x4. Accordingly, I think impeachment needs to be in the air a little more, because nothing less, I fear, will be effective.

Yes, it will cause a constitutional crisis, but that may be what it takes, and to paraphrase the greatest work of American political literature, "one party would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came."

2.09.2007

Cop Show

So the "awesome" substitute turns out to be "Cop show.":

I've been worried about "awesome." It's getting clapped out, and I don't want to be the last guy to use an outmoded piece of slang, like some loser wearing a leisure suit in 1982 and saying "groovy." (Of course, "groovy" is now OK.) Now, it's not easy to make a plausible bit of new slang. And whatever is going to take the place of "awesome" has some pretty big shoes to fill. But cop shows embody a certain all-American swaggering cool that anyone who has been the Beastie Boys video for "Sabotage" will immediately recognize. Cop show cops have savoir-faire, derring-do, and telegenic brutality. Yes, I'm contradicting my own anti-torture flexing in the previous paragraph, but consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, etc., and anyway, it's just a show.
There follows some clips, including the main title theme of "Taking of Pelham One Two Three," a movie I love.

"Cop show." It's all right, I guess. It's a little dorky (said the comedy writer to the musicologist). But then "awesome" is also a little dorky. However, I have fallen in love with the exaggeration, the overpromise, if you will, of "awesome," e.g.

Me: Can you tell me where the toothbrushes are?
Salesperson: Aisle 5.
Me: Awesome, thanks.

In these circumstances "cop show" won't cut it.

2.08.2007

"You don't say" department

Blurb in the New York Times site:

"In London, alcohol and the supernatural assume significant roles in two new plays written by Irishmen."

It's not "renumerative"?

I've always said "renumerative," and no one's ever said anything about it. What else about me makes people snicker behind my back? Am I wearing my pants too high?

It's "remunerative." Shit, I'll never get that straight.

2.04.2007

All sorts of interesting things

in the LA Times Current section this week (and it's amazing how handy a newspaper can still be, out on the backporch in the 70-degree weather with a pipe):

• The contrarian in me is drawn to Francis Fukuyama's buck-up piece -- that it is also true that things could get better. I'd have liked him to address climate change, though.

Joe Queenan's piece is newspaper-funny, not hilarious, but I enjoyed his including the Dallas Stars on a list of "franchises that deserted their roots yet ignobly refused to allow their grubby little fingers to be pried away from a name, a logo and a mythology to which they had no moral claim."

• I want to pull something out of this Gregory Rodriguez piece:

...the pessimism of the aging Anglo electorate is one of the biggest obstacles to preparing for the future. "Immigrants have shown a lot more potential than we thought," he said, "but voters haven't responded yet with a strong vote of confidence."

Generations are often at odds, but California's generational gap is confounded by the ethnic differences between old and young. Despite their diminishing percentage of the population, Anglos are projected to make up the majority of the electorate for nearly another quarter of a century.
I want to pull it out because it illustrates one of my favorite theses: one of the reasons we are in such conservative times is because there are more old people around than ever before. (Disclaimer: My evidence for this is just my mother-in-law.)

Su-per Bowl?

1. One of the nice things about not working on a show (in addition to being free from pesky paychecks) is that I don't have to watch the Super Bowl. I'm not going to be talking to anyone about it. Instead Mrs. D and I are going to the movies.

2. For what it's worth, though, I agree with this:

A main thesis of Michael Lewis's "Moneyball" is that traditionally oriented judges of baseball talent (scouts, and others) often fail to see the talent because they are misled by the image. […] Nowhere is Lewis's thesis better borne out than with quarterbacks, who, as Tommy Craggs's article on Peyton Manning makes clear, have to live up to a characterological as well as a physical archetype. […]

The reason quarterbacks always seem to look like a handsome Big Man on Campus is because they are chosen for that quality as much as for their football skill. The two qualities typically have to coincide for them to have a chance at stardom. There must be hundreds of "big ol' dorks" and other misfits who were potentially stunning quarterbacks who were screened out by image selection as early as grade school. Only a few Doug Fluties who defy the image squeak through to accomplish something.

So how did Peyton Manning succeed as an atypical but brilliant quarterback and Cal Ripken succeed as an atypical but brilliant shortstop? Well, the fact that they were both born into the upper echelons of their sports might have had a lot to do with it. Few could be more favorably situated to overcome the perception issue.

2.03.2007

Cleaning out my net news wire...

"Don't put our landscape in a terrible condish!" It's Industrial Musicals! (I haven't listened to the Goodyear one yet.)

• Another oddity in a similar line, except with Telly Savalas.

• Again, the only thing I want to order from Cheesecake Factory is schadenfreude (and they would even fuck that up).

Pink gin

I'll try this tonight. But I recall somewhere that you have to use the discreet, refined Plymouth Gin(which I like in my Martinis), not a London gin. This makes sense to me since the article says Pink Gin has Navy associations, as does Plymouth.

2.01.2007

Le Chandail de Hockey

I'd never heard of this children's book, but then I don't know why I would have; I'm too old for it, and not really Quebecois. But I'm enough Quebecois to share in the sentiment of the climax:

"So Carrier heads off to church where — and this is my favorite part — “I asked God to send me right away, a hundred million moths that would eat up my Toronto Maple Leafs sweater.”


Right on. For more on Quebec cultural identity & hockey, see here.

Count me in

From Dial "M" for Musicology: Ipod random challenge:

"New slang synonym for 'awesome' to be unveiled tomorrow!"