In the past year, I've met many bloggers, several of them blog-household names. I've sat only tables away from Jeff Jarvis at a NYC steakhouse in Grand Central Station. I attended a party where Tim Blair (TIM BLAIR!) was seen. I have actually sat in Meryl Yourish's couch that swallows people! But tonight...
Tonight was the pinnacle.
I speak only slightly tongue in cheek. I admired Dodd's blog well before he asked me if I'd like to move COTB to his Blogfodder server, so it was a great pleasure to meet the man behind the blog. And his newly-renovated house is just stunning. Brent... well, he's just as interesting and passionate about his opinions in person as he is on his blog. And now he's started a new band, which is just as fine as you'd expect (which is very fine).
Two handsome, intelligent men. A classy restaurant. A good dinner.
(This is Susanna, even though it says it's by Dodd. It's lying. I wrote it from Dodd's computer. And he wasn't reading it while I wrote it. Well, not the whole time. So he didn't pay me or anything.
Well, he did pay for part of my dinner....)
Have a wonderful holiday! I'll see you on Friday.
This morning, as I sat soaking in the beautiful countryside outside the window, drinking chai tea while my mom read a magazine on the couch across from me, I heard a distinctly poultry-ish and very loud noise.
It came from the kitchen. I had to investigate.
There stood my dad the hunter with a horn-shaped bone protruding from his mouth, his cheeks slightly puffed. With every move of his lips, the loud sound burst out. On closer inspection, I could tell it was actually two bones - one about 4" long, as big around as a tooth brush, curved slight upward and wider on one end than the other, giving it a horn-like look. The second bone was smaller and thinner, straight, like a small straw - almost as small as a coffee stirrer. One end of it was lodged inside the smaller end of the flared bone, and the other end dad was blowing on. This close I could also identify the sound.
It was a homemade turkey call. And he was quite proud of it.
Not only was this homemade. Not only was it a turkey call. It was actually made from the bones of a turkey's wing. It mimics the sound of a turkey hen, and Dad plans to use it to lure wild male turkeys into the range of his gun when the season starts. Talk about the ultimate betrayal - the bones of your turkey brother used to increase the chances you too will soon be dinner with gravy and a side of cranberry sauce.
I need to take photos. It's actually quite cool, and more difficult to operate than you might imagine - I, a former clarinetist and whistle-blower of some skill during my years as field commander for my high school band, was unable to make it sound properly. Of course I might have been put off my stride by the knowledge that I was blowing on hollowed out turkey bones. On the other hand, it certainly is authentic, and something no doubt thousands of hunters have made over the centuries.
And that is Christmas at the Cornett household - quiet mornings, creative endeavors. I'm going to wrap presents now.
UPDATE: Here's the proof:
Also, Alan (my dear brother) has called foul (no pun of course intended) on the possibility that someone might think I was at some point a passable clarinetist. That would not be true. I was never very good at it. But I could blow that whistle like I was calling Gabriel for Judgment Day.
I'm finally at my parents' home after driving about 1100 miles over four days, with stops in Pennsylvania; Alexandria, VA; Washington, DC; Richmond, VA; and Floyd, VA. I met some great people, bloggers, blog readers, their families and friends, and had a wonderful time with all of them. I discovered flavored Dixie Crystals for iced tea in PA, argued gun control in Portner's in Alexandria, saw the Christmas tree and Menorrah on the White House lawn, met the inestimable (and intimidating) Worf, and drove deep into the hills of western Virginia over icy gravel roads for a peaceful evening in front of a wood burning stove. And I crocheted a chenille neck scarf in candy cane colors, starting it on Thursday afternoon while they fixed my car, and finishing it tonight.
I'm very tired, and not much capable of deep thought. Just wanted to say hello, update you, and get one finger back on the blog steering wheel. More tomorrow, maybe even photos if I figure out how to get the Nikon camera software to load properly on this computer.
(I heard that song about 30 times during my drive.)
From a lady at church Wednesday night:
"When I see you, it makes me smile inside."
What the supervisor for the moving crew said when he saw my apartment:
"Did anyone tell you you're moving today?"
The guy at the car place who sold me two tires, changed my oil and fixed the headlight:
"You know how you said to tell you if something else is wrong? Well, your inspection sticker is expired... by more than a year."
Me, as I look at what remains to be done before I leave in the morning:
Today is the 100th anniversary of the first manned flight in the US, by Wilbur and Orville Wright. I remember the first time I flew. I was in my mid-twenties, flying by myself from Louisville, KY, to San Francisco for a conference. It was scary, but exciting, and I sat at a window in the nearly empty plane engrossed by the changing landscape so very far below. I was startled when we passed over the first fingers of cloud. I've flown several times since then, and I still enjoy it.
Take a little time today to think about what a different world we live in because of airplanes, and read up on the Wright Brothers.
And, because everyone needs to know the downside, I give you this:
Passenger planes belch carbon dioxide, water vapour and nitrogen oxides directly into the vulnerable lower atmosphere. Emissions reduce air quality and bolster the greenhouse effect. Around 3% of man's total effect on the climate may be due to aviation, which is not regulated under the Kyoto Protocol...
Even with reduced emissions, aircraft noise remains a big problem. Although today's aircraft are around 20 decibels quieter than those of a generation ago, they still give thousands of people sleepless nights.
Those Wright Brothers! Releasing such horrors on humanity!
For those of you who are normal, I suggest you take a few minutes today to thank the Wright Brothers. For those of you who find the dark cloud in every silver lining, I suggest you never fly again.
[Thanks to Curt Mazzo for calling this anniversary to my attention.]
I'm up to my neck in
alligators boxes, and no end in sight. Except the movers get here at 8 a.m. tomorrow, so I guess that's some type of end. The question is: just how bloody will it be? I suspect I'm going to be up all night.
So it's a good thing that I have this laptop, and yesterday did invoke my six months of free Earthlink dialup, which will be good anyway since I'll be living in other people's spaces for the next six weeks or so. I'll be creeping onto their phone line with my modem in the dark hours of the night...
Although I've been forcibly and lengthily reminded of how much faster DSL is.
I've managed to run through about twice as much tape as most normal people would. I am notorious in my family for taping even gifts up so tightly that it takes an electric saw to get into them. I'm in my element with dozens of boxes and half a dozen rolls of tape.
I've not dropped the hammer on anything else, but there's still time. And it's amazing how much stuff I've had squirreled away for years without using, yet which still seems crucial to my day to day functioning in my new space.
You won't be hearing much from me for the next few days, although I'll still try to update daily. Not likely to be much news commentary or linking, though, as I haven't time to browse the Net. Thanks to those who've sent encouraging email; I appreciate it. And to those who I'll be visiting over the weekend on my long trek to KY - I'll be in touch with final arrangements probably sometime tomorrow, after my apartment has been reduced to dust bunnies.
I have to disarticulate my computer so I can finish packing; hopefully I'll be able to connect tonight from My New Laptop. But this little story will let you know how things are going generally:
I like to buy interesting stemware because they make even the most mundane beverages fun. One lovely goblet is a pale green glass with etched leaves on it; not expensive, $5 at Marshall's, but pretty. I carefully set it down between a stack of boxes and the radiator in my kitchen, to keep it out of the way until I was ready to pack it. Safe, right?
I dropped a hammer on it.
There's just nothing else to say.
Macy's windows are always a pleasure, intricately detailed tableaus with a common theme. This year, it's Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story. Closer to Christmas, there's usually a roped-off viewing area along the windows, where crowds of people file past. Fortunately when I was there last week, the velvet ropes were not yet in evidence. Here are this year's Macy's windows:
Something to see, one time in your life. I'm planning to go to see the Rockefeller Center tree on Thursday night, so I'll post on that Friday before I leave on my trip home to Kentucky for Christmas.
UPDATE: Edited to correct the fact that I apparently couldn't read what's on the windows, as Chris kindly pointed out in comments.
I woke up this morning to the news that Saddam Hussein has been captured. What wonderful news! Let's pause for a moment to enjoy it.
Okay. I also woke up to hear the news media spinning it as it "Yeah, but it's not that big of a deal! There's still going to be insurrection!" Not all the media, but I've heard it from about five reporters or pundits already.
On NBC, Campbell Brown said, to Tom Brokaw, "This is a big victory for the Bush Administration." And Brokaw, bless him, said, "This is a big victory for the Iraqi people", and went on to discuss why that is true. I guess now I'll be watching Brokaw if I have to watch any of the network newscasts. Meanwhile, someone needs to slap Ms. Brown.
While I wish Saddam was dead, I also see the value in the Iraqi people trying and convicting him. And the image of Saddam meek and disheveled in the hands of the Americans has to be very powerful for the Iraqis and the Arab world in general. I'm so proud of our military, but I'm also so very happy for the Iraqi people. This, I think, is a turning point.
UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis has a summary/transcript of the high points of the press conference, and excerpts from Iraqi bloggers with links.
I suggest you keep an eye on Jarvis's Buzzmachine - he's the one who's stayed in closest contact with the Iraqi bloggers, and will likely be the first with news and summaries from them.
God bless the Iraqis. God bless America.
UPDATE: This is going to come up a lot, so let me just link it now. Jason Steffens has a very worthy sentiment, urging that we pray for Saddam and decrying the joy in his ill-fortune to be captured. It's a good thing to pray, always, and concern for another's soul is likewise a good thing. However, God is not a pacifist when it comes to excising evil. For those who are interested, my comment on Jason's post quotes and links several passages about God's reaction to evil, and also points out that governments are God's instrument of justice in many instances. That's to head off anyone who starts quoting, "Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord" at me. Yes, I shouldn't wish horrific torture and debasement on Saddam - more for my sake than his - but don't forget that God is not easygoing about evil, and Jesus was not an effete blue-eyed ascetic. He ran blasphemers of God's house out of the place, overthrowing their tables. And David, who is called "A man after God's own heart", was also a warrior. Toughness is not anti-Christian.
When I went to the Simon & Garfunkel concert last week, I took photos of Manhattan in its Christmas dress. Tonight, I'm posting a few photos from around 33rd Street, where I disembark from the PATH train. Tomorrow, there'll be photos of the Macy's windows, always a high point in the "what to see in Manhattan at Christmas" tour.
The Empire State Building is lighted by the season and at specific holidays. Of course Christmas finds it in red and green. Not easy to photograph well with a little digital camera (wielded by someone who has yet to read the instruction booklet), but still impressive, I think. And yes, that white dot on the right is the moon.
I wasn't quite sure what they were going for here. It's in Manhattan Mall, which sits above the PATH station at 33rd Street. The mall is an atrium style, with an 8 story center area, a clear glass elevator and shops around the first few floors - the rest is office space. The tree was amazing, but this reindeer... well. Whatever they were going for, it didn't quite work.
Christmas in New York - a wonderful time of the year.
The car approaching the US outpost in Iraq looked suspicious.
The soldier on guard duty for the 300-soldier base opened fire. He kept shooting until the car blew up, leaving a 9-foot crater. Nearly 60 of his fellow soldiers were injured, some seriously, but none died.
That soldier is Kentucky boy James Lawrence Ross III.
And he's modest too:
"I've had a lot of people come up to me today to thank me for saving their lives," Ross told the Telegraph, a British newspaper. "But I tell them I was doing my job. It's a miracle no one was killed."
It's because of young people like Ross that we're safe, and the Iraqi people are free and moving toward a democracy. We know it, he knows it, they know it - we just need to make sure he knows we know it:
Because his tour was to end in six months, Ross recently re-enlisted, his mother said. She told him a friend thought he was crazy for re-enlisting during a war.
"He said that the next time someone asks me that, 'Tell them I am over here protecting them.' "
We know you are, JR, and we're over here praying for you.
Sparkey tells us about another military man about to deploy to Iraq, and he'd like some advice from anyone who's done their time there. Read what Sparkey has to say, and help out if you can - especially if you know how to protect your electronics from that talcum-powder sand.
And Scrappleface relieves our minds.
I'm officially unemployed.
But I do have a nice bouquet of white lilies and red carnations scenting up my living room. It was a sweet sendoff, and I appreciated it very much.
I'm happy that I'm done there. But it's a bit disorienting.
Now, back to packing.
Well, not really, but I sent him a long email yesterday commenting on the reasons behind the lack of coverage of the Iraq demonstrations, an email I should have posted here but didn't have the energy to write an appropriate introduction or give it context. I was pleased to see this morning that Glenn posted it on Instapundit, thereby saving me the trouble of posting it while still gifting you with the opportunity to partake of my deep and stirring insight.
Today is my last day as an employee of the Jersey City Police Department.
The lasts are piling up: The last time I'll drive to Jersey City during rush hour. The last time I'll take my laundry to the place down the street. The last time I'll have pizza at Helen's while working nearby (I'm sure there'll be nostalgia stops in the future). The last time...
Even when you want to make a change, the "last times" can be poignant. But like I said to a friend yesterday, while there's a lot to like about this area, I'll be a happy woman when I'm watching the Manhattan skyline recede in my rearview mirror.
A lot of people twist off the top of an Oreo cookie to eat the creme before eating the cookies. But it takes a little more... oddness? obsession? excessive amounts of time on your hands? ... to regularly deconstruct your sweets. I myself have been known to eat the candy coating off an M&M before eating the chocolate, and if it's a peanut M&M, eat the chocolate off the peanut before eating the peanut. I've also, occasionally, eaten raisins one by one, nibbling off the end, squeezing out the middle and then eating the skin. I regularly eat the chocolate off a Heath bar before eating the crunchy toffee center, and will eat off an inch of cake with the icing and leave the rest of it sitting. Not always. But sometimes.
That's why I find this guide to deconstructing sweets so very charming. I just wish I knew what all those things were.
And yes, I do bite the Tootsie Roll sucker, too impatient to lick my way down to the center.
I'm really trying to stay out of this...
Even though moxie has now passed me up.
I will not beg... I will not beg...................................
(If you want to know what's being clarified, read the post below first)
In the policy about linking in comments, I AM NOT SAYING DON'T LINK AT ALL! I want you to link. I will be like a PMSing woman finding the chocolate stash if you link. I will be over the moon, beside myself, unable to contain my joy. What I am saying is, give other readers (and me) a little hint of what your linked post has to say about the post you're commenting on, for those who won't link over, or just to add something to the dialogue on the actual blog where the dialogue is being held. That's all. One little sentence, for goodness sake! Why is this hard? Why is it evil? Why is it anti-Internet? I want people to be able to get the basic points of a discussion just through reading the comments, and if they want to gain further illumination by clicking through to your linked post, or article, or whatever, I say, how delightful! Let's all sing! It's a beautiful thing! The more the merrier! Link 30 things! Just give us some idea why we should care! And yes, it does annoy me to see link-only comments on other blogs. But they aren't my business. This one is. This is my preference. And I'm not the RIAA of blogs.
Beginning of original post
I've been thinking about the comments section lately, as a result of things said on other sites, the new blog-spamming and just general review of it. Mostly I'm very happy with my comments section, although (are you listening?) I wish more of you WOULD comment, and more often. Reading comments is among the brightest spots in my day.
That said, two new policies:
1) If all you do in the comment is link to your own blog where you talk about the same topic, I will delete your comment. You must say at least something about the post you're commenting on (and more than "I agree with you! See this post" or "You're full of it! See this post"). If it's clear that your point is to feed traffic to your blog rather than add to the discussion here, the comment will be toast.
2) This is for spammers: Any post linking to and/or advertising commercial products from this blog's comments section with the intent of deriving monetary gain (as described below) will be considered paid advertising, to be charged at a cost of $500 per comment per week. This cost will track the average weekday traffic of this blog, so when traffic tops 1,000, the cost will be $1,000/week. The charges will accrue from the date of the posting until the demise of the blog, or until the comment is removed, whichever occurs first. I reserve the right to permit commercial products or services to be advertised here for free, but only at my discretion and with written permission. Ignorance of this policy is not sufficient to void this contract. Such commercial linking is done with the clear intent to derive monetary benefit from using this blog, either directly through linking to your products in the hope of sales or indirectly through driving your site higher on Internet search engines, and thus you should expect to be charged for using the resources of another entity with the intent of personal gain, without a clear indication that it is permitted for free. If you think this cost is too high, don't link in my comments. This policy is in effect no matter how far back in the archives of this blog the comment is placed.
Now. A third point, which is not a comments issue nor new, but a reiteration. Trackback pings to posts that are on the same topic as the one on my site, but don't link to my site, will be deleted.
No notice. No discussion.
I reserve the right to change my mind as I see fit, when I see fit, and 14 times a day if I want. No spammers have a right to expect equal treatment, as long as no one is charged above the amount stated in 2).
(Can you tell I've been packing for a week and have another week to go?)
France, Germany and other
whiny little slimepits countries who didn't support the war won't be getting any tasty reconstruction contracts.
I just have four little words to say:
I was listening to Curtis & Kuby on WABC Radio yesterday morning (and I'm not the only blogger who does), getting annoyed at a woman defending Michael Jackson, when suddenly her comments were interrupted by the sound of ... something, it seemed watery to me, and then a faint, "Help!". Kuby said, "Cheryl? Cheryl, are you okay?" It was obvious something had happened.
And what was it? She had pulled her SUV over to make the call, and she was rear-ended by another vehicle which then sped away without stopping even to see if she was okay!
It all turns out fine, which is why it's fun to tell about. One of the most interesting things to me, though, is that it rated a big article with photos in the NY Daily News, and even made at least two of the NYC evening news shows. Now, how's that for small town coverage in the big city?
Of course now that I've heard it 30 times, I'm ready for them to stop already.
The Star Tribune reports a Democratic investment group is close to buying radio stations in five major cities to broadcast liberal talk radio and is considering hiring Franken as a host.
1) The Dems can't earn the space because they don't know how to be funny and partisan at the same time. So they're having to buy it. For some reason, this "if you can't get it fairly, buy it" thing is sounding like business as usual for the Dems, to me.
2) This shoots down any more plaints from the Dems that their voice isn't being heard because of a sinister cabal of right-wing radio types. They're going to buy the stations, they're going to put Al Franken in, it's going to get mediocre ratings for a few months for the same reason people watched Joe Millionaire - to have something to mock over the water cooler. Then it's going to tank. Because it's going to be pathetic.
That's my prediction.
If I wasn't already convinced I was making the right move in going to Birmingham, the fact that it is left-unfriendly would tip the balance. This is a very (unintentionally) funny site letting you know where is and is not left friendly, and B'ham raises all kinds of hackles:
If you are at all progressive or anything else but an idiotic right-wing fundamentalist christion, Do not even think about coming to Birmingham. There is nothing for you here.
As an "idiotic right-wing fundamentalist christion", I find this excellent news. Apparently B'ham is also:
a tight culture of Southern Society People who do not welcome Liberal thinkers.
Well, I personally think the last two words are often mutually exclusive, but that's just me; as far as I know, most leftists don't welcome thinkers at all. It messes up their illogical argumentation. I also wasn't aware that Southern Society People were drunkards. Could be true, although I've always thought it a grand tradition of the Dems - Ted Kennedy, Tip O'Neill, assorted others.
And if this isn't just laughable, I don't know what is:
Now technically black people can eat in the same restaurants as whites, but few actually dare to do so.
This person hasn't been to B'ham, (s)he's only read about it - and old books at that. When I was visiting there a few weeks ago, the restaurant and store patrons were of quite a few races, black not least among them. Is it possible there's still a lot of racism there? Sure, and I wouldn't defend it. But this person's viewpoint is just silly. If people are afraid to eat where he does, it's probably because he runs up to them, wraps them in a hug and sings, "We shall overcome!" when all they wanted was the pork bbq.
Unsurprisingly, New Jersey is not on either list, most likely because it's not friendly to anyone.
And Dodd - I notice Louisville is on the "liberal friendly" list. You've got a bit more work to do, my friend.
Or maybe I should say, what goes around comes around. Or something. Even Steve at Little Tiny Lies was taken aback by Bill Maher's latest. Hillary - and some not-to-be-named-here part of Bill - are involved. Or mentioned. Involved just sounds... ew.
I'm staying up till midnight packing, and crunching in training and last minute projects at work. I'm starting to get to that panicky stage where you know there's no more time and yet there's still so much to do. So posting will continue to be light here, for at least a few more days, which I regret given that so many new people are showing up as a result of the Wizbang blog awards and gracious links like this one from Citizen Smash. I encourage new readers to take a stroll through my archives, where there are lots of things to pique your interest and give you an idea of what I typically do. And come mid-January, when I'm settled in a new state, with a new job and (hopefully) a new home, I'll be back full speed.
Henry Rollins, front man for the 1980s group Black Flag and still-active musician, producer, etc., took exactly the right attitude with him on his recent USO trip to Afghanistan. From his talk to the military personnel:
“In America, on the news, we see the exclamation points about this whole thing, casualties, helicopter crashes, because it makes for good news and it’s very important when we lose all those people; but what we never hear about, what I’ve found out today, are all the good things that are happening to this country because of all of you that are here,” Rollins expressed to the crowd. “I’m about to start of 50 or 60 speaking dates all across America and by the time I’m done with them they’ll all know what I saw, so you can count on me for that.”
About his thoughts on going over, and what he found:
“I didn’t even hesitate,” Rollins said, adding that he agreed not really knowing what to expect, but what he saw was a pleasant surprise. “What I didn’t expect was to meet so many bright, amazing people, who are so focused on their jobs, so highly educated, and so fully intense; and I’m quite in awe."
And he was loved right back:
“To have someone come over here like him, it’s like for a couple of minutes you’re back home again,” said Pfc. Ethan Kreutzer, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment. Kreutzer said he’s a huge fan of Rollins’ music and spoken word material.
Many of the service members were impressed with how “down to earth” Rollins was during his visit.
“I thought it was really cool that somebody like him could take time out of his schedule to come visit us out here,” said Spc. Nicole Ward, 327th Military Police Battalionn. “We kind of get wrapped up in what we do out here and it’s kinda cool to think that somebody as talented as he is wants to spend time with us.”
Thank you, Henry Rollins. May your life and career prosper.
Kentucky politics is always volatile, usually one whistleblower away from scandal, but I'm optimistic about its newest governor, former US Congressman Ernie Fletcher. He seems a decent man, and I've not heard anything negative about him even including the whispers I remember from when I worked in Lexington, his home base. Well, nothing I would consider negative - he was thought to be too strait-laced and full of that uncompassionate conservatism that all tolerant-until-you-disagree-with-me left-leaning liberals whine about so vociferously. Fletcher is to be sworn in tonight, just past midnight (when he will swear not to fight a duel). I wish him the best.
An interesting point of history:
[Current governor Paul] Patton, due to constitutional amendment, was the first to serve consecutive terms since James Garrard, a Jeffersonian Republican who held office from 1796 to 1804.
James Garrard was my grandfather, quite a few greats back in the reaches of time. I hope he would have been as distressed by Patton as I was. Nice to know the Republican thread stayed true.
[And which of you, without researching it, knows where my title came from?]
Apparently the New York Times Magazine asked several prominent PR types to make up posters for the Nasty Nine's campaigns, and they're all quite laughable. But my favorite is Dean's, for the simple reason that apparently the guy who did it wouldn't know irony if it ran over him on 5th Avenue in broad daylight:
Michael Bierut is a partner in the New York office of Pentagram, an international design consultancy...
"I wanted to convey the idea that Dean is a man unmediated by pollsters and handlers, and the poster and button should project that this isn't an ad agency speaking on the man's behalf -- this is the guy himself..."
You just couldn't make this stuff up.
[Thanks to Dodd for the poster link.]
There's quite a little stir over John Kerry using the f-word in an interview with Rolling Stone. My immediate thought when I first saw it - and it was quoted somewhere for another reason, not highlighted for the language - was that he was definitely trying to be hip. I thought about posting on it here, saying how thoroughly lame and pandering that was, but didn't because... well, what else would you expect from me? I'd be happy if no politicians used any language harsher than, "Egads!" My commenting on it would thus fall in the, "well, duh!" category, as in, "Well, duh! Of course she'd object!"
But now others are objecting too, not so much on the vulgarity factor but on the lameness factor. I'm a little ambivalent about this, actually. While I wish they didn't use that language, at the same time, I'd prefer they be honest about whatever they are. I know a lot of people who use extremely vulgar language at times who are the best at what they do. Yes, it can be strong enough and frequent enough to where I can't deal with them. And I appreciate the fact that most of them clean up their language around me (without, by the way, my saying anything to them). But an occasional expletive isn't going to make me think someone isn't, for example, capable of being a good president. I think pundits complaining is fine, but for Andy Card to get into the act? That's rather like Terry McAuliffe trying to give Turkeygate legs.
The point of that is... Kerry's problem here is lameness and pandering, not so much the use of the f-word. It's actually condescending to his audience, to think that they'll decide he's a tough man and a go-to guy because he uses that word in an interview. If that's a measure of a candidate's quality, then, hey, Eminem for Prez!
As an aside, I was also amused with this from the NY Post:
...Kerry told the youth-oriented magazine
Do 20-somethings buy this rag? I've always thought of its readers as the 25-60 crowd who either buy it for the occasional profile of a current star, or who remember its 1970s heyday (because they were 20-somethings then) and buy it for exactly the same reason that 10s of thousands showed up for the Simon & Garfunkel concert this week - nostalgia and a lingering sense that this is still hip.
I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time or the last. But it gave me a good chuckle.
Thanks to those of you who nominated me for the Wizbang blog polls in the "Best Female Authored Blog" category, and also thanks to those of you who voted for me. There's a lot of tough competition, and I'm honored to be on the list. It's a fun thing to participate in, and a nice validation of my blogging when (in my own judgment) I've been in less in top form for a couple of months. But come January, things will pick up. I promise.
I'd also like to thank John Hawkins for including me in his "The 25 Best Blogs That Didn't Win A Thing" list following his own Warblogger Awards. John is one of the hardest working and most talented bloggers out there, and to find myself on his list of good blogs is an honor indeed. It often amazes me just how much content, and of such fine quality and widely ranging types, that he consistently posts on his site. Well worth your time.
Today is a packing day. I slept in really late, which is unusual for me but much needed. I think I'm having some low-grade depression because of the move and the disruption my life will be in for the next two months, with residual effects from my exam that I didn't think I did that well on. Those of you reading my blog, especially when you comment, really help lift my spirits - it's an encouragement and a connection while I'm struggling through some hectic times. I'll be okay, I always land on my feet, but some times just require more out of you than others.
And today I'm even happy about the snow, since I'm home and don't have to go anywhere. Here's a photo for you:
This is the last photo for today. The other 3 are in MORE.
Have a great day. I'm off to immerse myself in boxes, tape and tears of separation as I (try to) throw away about half of what I own. Perhaps if UK beats UCLA this afternoon, that will help me too...
UPDATE: I'm going to change the photos a few times, the original one taken at 1 p.m. is now in the MORE section, and a new one taken at 2 is up. I'll take them hourly until it's too dark. Or I get tired of it.
A new calendar for 2004 is out, featuring nearly nekkid women with various anti-Bush slogans; it's called "Babes Against Bush" (probably not safe for most workplaces). It's actually pretty funny. Yeah, I'm thinking some swing voters are gonna pick THIS up and be convinced to vote against GW!
The reason I decided to link it is that yesterday Sean Hannity interviewed one of the "babes" on his show and... she didn't know who Dick Cheney was. She considered being asked who Dick Cheney is to be aggressive and hostile interviewing. This is a "socially conscious babe", no doubt a prime example of the kind of brain trust that would vote for one of the current Dem candidates.
There are some legitimate criticisms of Bush, and I actually (perish the thought) do think some Dem voters are intelligent and honest people. Were I them, I'd find something like this embarrassing.
And if the Republicans wanted to do something like this, they could find sufficient conservative babes to fill up a calendar without even going outside the blogosphere - babes who don't have more silicone than brains. In fact, I'd say all of them not only know who Dick Cheney is, they can rattle off most of Bush's cabinet, the ambassador to Iraq, and the heads of the British and Australian governments, and even - as a bonus question - make significant inroads into listing the top Clinton administration officials. Although they would be embarrassed for the people who thought knowing those kinds of facts is sufficient to be considered "socially conscious".
Not, you understand, that I'm advocating that the Republicans answer back. I think it's very lame, although a wonderful opportunity to mock the liberals behind it. I'm just saying... even our babes are better than their babes.
It took me four hours to get home today.
I drove nine miles.
I had no book, no notebook paper, no computer, no CD player, and I couldn't even find my crochet needle!
Yes, I'm okay. But it was a close thing. I nearly got out and seriously road-raged a guy who tried to play chicken with me on an on-ramp just past where the Raymond Blvd photo was taken.
Here's what it's like in New Jersey right now.
5 p.m. - Heading toward 1&9, about 1/2 mile west of the Holland Tunnel
This is about a mile and a half from work.
6 p.m. - On Raymond Blvd in Newark, almost to Harrison
This is about 7 miles from work and 2 miles from home.
7 p.m. - Home
Fortunately a lot of other people were stuck in the traffic too - I found a parking space immediately, and it was easy to get in to. That's gold, in these parts. And my car won't be moving again until at best Sunday morning. Even that's questionable, because by then we're supposed to have up to 14 inches of snow.
Snow. Much more fun when you're already home.
Reader John McCrarey, who's daughter recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan, sent in this eyewitness account of Bush's visit to Iraq, from a captain on the scene:
An Email from a Captain in Iraq
We knew there was a dinner planned with ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez.
There were 600 seats available and all the units in the division were tasked with filling a few tables. Naturally, the 501st MI battalion got our table. Soldiers were grumbling about having to sit through another dog-and-pony show, so we had to pick soldiers to attend. I chose not to go.
But about 1500 the G2, LTC Devan, came up to me and with a smile, asked me to come to dinner with him, to meet him in his office at 1600 and bring a camera. I didn't really care about getting a picture with Sanchez or Bremer, but when the division's senior intelligence officer asks you to go, you go.
We were seated in the chow hall, fully decorated for Thanksgiving when all
kinds of secret service guys showed up.
That was my first clue, because Bremer's been here before and his personal security detachment is not that big. Then BG Dempsey got up to speak, and he welcomed ambassador Bremer and LTG Sanchez. Bremer thanked us all and pulled out a piece of paper as if to give a speech. He mentioned that the President had given him this Thanksgiving speech to give to the troops. He then paused and said that the senior man present should be the one to give it. He then looked at Sanchez, who just smiled.
Bremer then said that we should probably get someone more senior to read the speech. Then, from behind the camouflage netting, the President of the United States came around. The mess hall actually erupted with hollering. Troops bounded to their feet with shocked smiles and just began cheering with all their hearts. The building actually shook. It was just unreal. I was absolutely stunned. Not only for the obvious, but also because I was only two tables away from the podium. There he stood, less than thirty feet away from me! The cheering went on and on and on.
Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying. There was not a dry eye at my table. When he stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks. It was the most surreal moment I've had in years. Not since my wedding and Aaron being born. Here was this man, our President, came all the way around the world, spending 17 hours on an airplane and landing in the most dangerous airport in the world, where a plane was shot out of the sky not six days before.
Just to spend two hours with his troops. Only to get on a plane and spend another 17 hours flying back. It was a great moment, and I will never forget it. He delivered his speech, which we all loved, when he looked right at me and held his eyes on me. Then he stepped down and was just mobbed by the soldiers. He slowly worked his way all the way around the chow hall and shook every last hand extended. Every soldier who wanted a photo with the President got one. I made my way through the line, got dinner, then wolfed it down as he was still working the room.
You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn't just a photo opportunity. This man was actually enjoying himself! He worked his way over the course of about 90 minutes towards my side of the room. Meanwhile, I took the opportunity to shake a few hands. I got a picture with Ambassador Bremer, Talabani (acting Iraqi president) and Achmed Chalabi (another member of the ruling council) and Condaleeza Rice, who was there with him.
I felt like I was drunk. He was getting closer to my table so I went back over to my seat. As he passed and posed for photos, he looked my in the eye and "How you doin', captain." I smiled and said "God bless you, sir." To which he responded "I'm proud of what you do, captain." Then he moved on.
That makes me want to cry. I'm thrilled that Bush took the good wishes of the American people to our military personnel on Thanksgiving. And one thing I love about this President is that while he is not an Alan Alda weepy feminist type, he's capable of being genuinely moved and shows that emotion openly.
A fine man. And Captain, when Bush said, "I'm proud of what you do", he spoke for me and for millions of other Americans. God bless and come home safely.
This is what I did tonight:
UPDATE: Photos and everything else are now in MORE, because I added the weather pictures and didn't want this to be so difficult to load.
And this is what it was like inside:
I've loved their music for decades, and it was obvious that many there had as well. Sometimes it was like a big singalong. Neither did much from their solo careers, which I regretted, but the overall tone was one of nostalgia and ... I have to say it ... love. Both men grew up in Queens, met at the age of 11, and have been friends (off and on, as they said) for 50 years - they're now 61. The feel in that huge arena, packed with people, was a warm and loving embracing of their own. And S&G loved them right back. I don't know how they managed it, but the concert was almost intimate. They came back for two encores, to standing ovations, and after each just stood and basked in the adoration for a while. It felt completely right that they do so.
It was simply stunning, moving beyond just the memories and pleasure of the songs themselves. It was one of those moments you always remember.
My friend Dory took me as her guest. Thank you, Dory, for a fantastic experience. I love you too. Get all better soon.
UPDATE: Here's a slightly snarky article on the S&G concert Wed night - he calls the audience "Generation M, as in Metamucil". Very funny, Mr. Reporter! I'll have you to know that prunes still do it for me!
The concert I saw was the third of a three-night run. Here is an article on the first night, even more snarky, and I have say that, nostalgia aside, he's right in some ways. I just choose not to focus on the obvious hiccups in love between the two performers. They deserved the accolades for their career, and if Garfunkel tried a little too hard to make it seem that he in every way had as robust a career and talent as Simon... well, even he has more musical talent on a bad day with laryngitis than I do, and he is a wonderful vocalist, so I wasn't going to let it disrupt my deep pleasure in the experience. If anything, it just made them more human and (IMHO) increased the intimate feel without detracting enough from the music (because it wasn't that apparent or disruptive).
More later, though, when I have time.
I got my new Dell notebook with mucho bells and whistles, including Centrino technology and all the internal wireless gizmos they had. I don't have wireless Internet at home, and I've not hooked up the notebook to my home Internet connection either. But every time I turned the thing on, I got a little pop-up window that said, "Wireless Connectivity Available - would you like to connect?" I thought it meant, "We have the capability, baby! You gonna plug us in?" So I always clicked "no", because I wasn't plugged in to anything.
Then, one day, just because I was curious, I clicked "yes".
And it connected.
To someone else's wireless system.
A woman named Nicole, who uses AOL.
Freaked me out. The connection strength is very low, I can only get it to pull up Google, not any more graphics heavy sites, but still... I was using another person's Internet connection!! What's up with that? Is she brainless? Obviously she's lacking a firewall. I even get a little AOL menu icon popping up in the lower right corner of my screen. And now that I've clicked "yes" once, it doesn't ask any more. Every time I turn on my notebook, it gets cozy with Nicole's wireless. I don't use it, but it does make me very edgy about getting wireless myself. I don't want the world to have access to it!
I talked to a computer tech here at work, and he said there are ways to protect the connectivity, with passwords and such, so if I do get it I'll have the whole system set up by someone who knows what he's doing. But I thought you all would find the whole situation interesting, either because you are techie and will laugh uproariously or snidely at us brainless computer-twits, or because you too are a Nicole waiting to happen, and thus appreciate the warning.
Apparently the "nones" are the fastest growing religious group in the US. Sounds like a few of them are more "all of the above" instead of "none".
Meanwhile, one local library says yes to porn, no to Jesus.
If that librarian had a brain, she'd probably sit up with it nights.
Here's a lovely short essay by Jennifer Busick, a friend of my brother's who has published widely in both fiction and non-fiction. Something to lift your spirits, and maybe pass along to someone else.
By now, most of you have seen the video tape of the Cincinnati police officers trying to subdue a man resisting arrest. The whole scene is difficult for a lot of us to watch: his repeated attempts to get away, to overpower the officers, and their continued beating with their nightsticks. It's especially hard knowing that as a result, he died. And then yesterday all the media outlets blared the news that the coroner had ruled the death a homicide, which surely made some nod their heads and say, "See? He was murdered."
But "homicide" and "murder" are not synonymous in this situation, something that you don't see in the headlines although it's explained in the articles:
He said the death will be ruled a homicide, but added that such a decision does not mean police used "excessive force." The coroner said he had to rule the death a homicide because it did not fall under the other categories: accident, suicide or natural.
And at CNN:
[Coroner] Parrott said Jones' death being ruled a homicide doesn't imply hostile or malign behavior...
He said Jones' death "must be regarded as a direct and immediate consequence, in part, of the struggle, plus his obesity, heart disease, and drug intoxication." He said Jones had several lethal health problems when the confrontation happened. The struggle caused cardiac dysrhythmia, which was the ultimate physical cause of death, but he stressed the event precipitating his death was the struggle.
He added, "Absent the struggle, however, Mr. Jones would not have died at that precise moment of time."
A ruling of "homicide" by the coroner is a determination that, as the last quote says, the suspect wouldn't have died if the actions of another person hadn't been involved. It's not a ruling of intent, or justification. If a man tried to rape me, and in the middle of his ripping off my clothes I grab a gun from my nightstand, shoot him and kill him, then I just committed homicide. I didn't necessarily commit murder - that's a judgment of intent and circumstance that is defined by statute and determined by a jury. But while the media make that distinction in the article, it's a fine point not made in the headline - and a lot of people won't read the article. The combination of the Rodney King history, the history of police shootings in Cincy, the video of Jones' beating and the cry of "homicide!" from the media all stack up against the officers.
But were they wrong?
I've watched the video, and I've talked about it with half a dozen police officers, all with 20 or more years on the job and most men I respect who would neither beat down a suspect unnecessarily nor cover for a cop who would. Their opinions reinforced my initial impression: Some decisions could have been made along the path that would have caused it to end differently, but none of the individual decisions (known so far) that the cops made were wrong or outside of procedure. The man was huge. He was high. He attacked the cops. They used departmentally approved procedures to bring him down. The exertion of the fight resulted in cardiac dysrythmia, which he was already at high risk for because he was fat and he was high - similar to the way pepper spray would make a healthy man tear up and be easier to subdue, but could (and has) cause the death of a man with asthma (although different in that the asthma isn't a condition resulting from personal choices). And also similar to situations where the exertion of intercourse can result in the death of a man with a heart problem.
You know that this will be reviewed intensely, precisely because of the context - black man, Cincy already suspect, widely distributed raw video. And there will be many who won't believe there wasn't some collusion when the final result is that the officers are reinstated with a ruling of justifiable force. From all I've seen, that ruling would be accurate, although the situation as a whole may lead to some needed changes in procedure - for example, if 10 officers instead of two had assembled before Jones was engaged, the fight would have been much briefer, thus putting his heart at less risk. He may still have died, but it's less likely, and the cops would have seemed less culpable. As it is, the discussion keeps turning to the nightsticks even though the coroner clearly states that the beating itself did not cause Jones' death, but rather the effect of the exertion on his heart.
And now the issue of race. The family is actually taking a fairly even tone, considering the circumstances:
"I'm not saying that the officers did not have a right to engage in self-defense, I wouldn't say that at all," [the family's attorney Kenneth] Lawson said...
Although Lawson does find two reasons to blame police:
"I think with the enlarged heart and the ability not to breathe ... the pressure that's put on him at 350 pounds when he was laid down on his stomach, I think the lack of oxygen still would have probably generated a heart attack"...
Lawson also said he partly blamed the police officers and paramedics for Jones' death because he believes Jones was trying to surrender when police made him lie down.
And yet still, immediately black leaders leap in with anger and demands:
African-American community leaders also are calling for a full investigation into the incident and have demanded that the police chief resign.
If they had stopped with "calling for a full investigation", I'd say, yes, you're right to do so. But "demanding that the police chief resign" is grand-standing, and indicating a foregone conclusion that the beating was unjustified. Although from what I've read - and I've done some research on it - the Cincinnati police department deserves some of the distrust from the black community, reflexive determinations that they're guilty here do not bolster the impression that the black leaders are reasoned themselves.
But the thing that really got to me - and the thing that leads to a bigger concern - is the discussion about this on Sean Hannity's show yesterday. I was at work, so I didn't listen to the whole thing closely and I don't have the names of the people involved. But there was a man defending the police action, and there was another man - obviously a black activist - saying that the police were wrong and the beating clearly racist. The activist explicitly compared the Jones beating to a KKK lynching of a black man, using that imagery and saying that [paraphrase] "it was just like the KKK getting a black man, putting a noose around his neck and lynching him. And to say that he [Jones] died because of the drugs and his heart is like saying the man lynched by the KKK died of a broken neck."
Now where is the reason in that? There is none. NONE. So why was he on Hannity's show? Perhaps he is associated with the case in some way, but the Jones' family attorney - at least as quoted in the newspaper - did not even approach this tack. I think he was included because he was inflammatory, because it made good radio, even though his pronouncements likely had the dual effect of delegitimzing (in the minds of listeners) any reasoned claims of racist behavior that might arise later, and also increasing the likelihood that they will turn a deaf ear to discourses on racism in general. I think this activist is a race-mongering idiot, and I think Sean Hannity sacrificed principle on the altar of good radio by featuring him on the show.
To digress further, I'm really really tired of the constant drumbeat on racism in this society that flares up hot any time a person of color is prominently involved in a negative situation, criminal or otherwise. I've seen enough and talked to enough people of all races to know that racism still has a foothold in this society to a degree that should be worrisome to all good people. But it does not help the cause of alleviating racism when it's used as a stick to beat society with at every turn, regardless of its validity. It shouldn't be ignored, but someone in the black community needs to call a halt to the damage its overuse as an excuse has done, and someone in the white community needs to call a halt to the gross pandering to false claims. It damages the ability to get legitimate concerns addressed, and goodness knows there's enough of them.
The truth is, there are a lot of bad guys who happen to be black. You can talk with a lot of validity about the difficult circumstances many black males grow up in, you can talk about unfair attention from police and racial profiling, you can talk about the imbalanced percentages of blacks vs whites that wind up in prison for similar crimes. But in the final analysis, I'd say the majority of the ones in prison deserve to be right there. And as someone once said to me (in the context of a discussion on the death penalty), the problem isn't that too many black men are in jail. The problem is that too many white men who deserve to be aren't.
Nathaniel Jones wasn't just "a good old, fat jolly fella" as his grandmother said. He may have been that, when he wasn't flying high as the Concorde, but he was in the position he was in that night because he chose to use drugs, he chose to be fat, and he chose to attack police officers. When police back off of enforcing laws for fear of charges of racism, the people who suffer are most often the poorer communities where the greater level of street crime occurs. In urban settings, those communities are disproportionately black. Much of the crime is black on black. So unreasoned cries of racism most damage the very communities most at risk.
Some good discussion on race-mongering in a political context (as well as rants by me in comments) is here on Little Tiny Lies; it's a discussion of this post and this post. Baldilocks also gives her view about the death of Jones , where she says similar things to what I say, but much more succinctly. But you know I don't do succinct.
UPDATE - ANOTHER REASONABLE VOICE: Here is a great piece on the role PCP played in Jones's death, by Courtland Milloy, in WaPo. He doesn't say the cops were completely right or badly wrong; in fact, he doesn't talk about the cops much at all. He talks about PCP and the dangers using it poses to the user. His closing quote is great:
If there is concern in Cincinnati that police are targeting blacks, there must also be concern when blacks make targets of themselves. And anyone on PCP is a walking bull's-eye.
Again, he nails the premise of my post above, only with much more punch on fewer words. The investigation will show whether the cops behaved improperly. But whether or not they did, it's inescapable that Jones would not have been in that fight with them if he had not chosen to use PCP.
[Thanks to Mary Beth in comments for this link.]
Here's a little snowman/bathroom humor for taste-challenged people like me.
Or perhaps "taste-challenged" is the wrong term to use.
And yes, I'm dropping it in the extended entry so as not to offend those more delicate than I.
[Thanks to Bill Robinson for this cartoon. I think. It fits his sense of humor too, which frightens me, because that means in some way we're similar. Do they do humor upgrades?]
I either did okay on the exam or I totally blew it.
I'm leaning toward the latter.
The question was different from what I expected, and it seemed more policy oriented than academic. Basically, it was about how a police chief should handle the press when he wants to do a public referendum as an end run around a recalcitrant council. I had all kinds of ideas, but I wasn't sure how academic they wanted the answer to be, and some aspects of the questions (there were four, referring to a scenario I was given) didn't seem closely related to the academic literature on my bibliography. I'm sure they saw the connection clearly, but I didn't. So. We shall see. And if I have to take it again? Not the end of the world.
So tonight, it's curling up on the couch with the movie John sent me and the chocolates Sean is responsible for. Thanks, guys! I appreciate your support - and the support of all of you out there who've passed along good wishes and thoughts. We'll get through this :).
Today's my core area exam.
I think I'm going to do fine, but...
I can't tell you why I know these things, but lately it's been borne on me with greater weight. And no, not in my personal life. Not recently. Most men of my acquaintance are decent sorts.
And yes, I know that title could be switched around. Sometimes women are scum, and men are the idiots. But right now in my circle it's the other way around.
Which is better? To explain to the damaged party precisely what the antecedents of the change were? Or to let them wallow in uncertainty rather than anguish over unvarnished assessments? And if someone is told very clearly the boundaries of the game, and those boundaries are adhered to... doesn't some fault lie in both parties, when the one being used gets hurt?
I'm going back to studying. Determining the role of media in shaping public opinion about whether police activities are racist is a much easier, cleaner task.
CNN.com has a transcript of an on-air interview with Staff Sgt. Bruce Jones after the attack on a US convoy yesterday. The whole thing is worth reading, but here's a couple of perfect quotes.
On "civilian vs terrorist":
(CNN's) O'BRIEN: Tell me a little bit about any civilians. I heard and read that there was a barricade blocking off the streets. Did it seem to you that there were no civilians around? Did that seem surprising to you?
(Staff Sgt. JONES: Well, what they attempted to do -- and we don't know if it's actually civilians. I called them all terrorists. If they're blocking the streets or if they're attempting to block the streets, then obviously they're not a civilian. They're some sort of combatant. They're helping out the terrorist projects with that. I'm a true believer of that.
And then on why he's there:
JONES: Yes. Mercedes [his wife], Nicholas [his 10 month old son], they're -- they're my heart and my soul right now. What I'm doing over here, I'm doing to protect the freedom and the future freedom of my son. And, you know, they're my driving force behind everything that I do.
What a wonderful guy. Like most of our guys over there.
Evangelical Christianity is apparently on the rise on college campuses, even - or especially - in the Ivy League. This article is not just interesting for its topic, but also is one of the most even-handed pieces on religion that I've read in quite a while. Even if the topic doesn't interest you, read it to see how a really good journalist handles a volatile issue.