In the weeks following an episode of the Bravo/NBC hit show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy—in which five gay men, known as the Fab 5, make over a low-maintenance straight man—many businesses whose products are featured have seen a significant sales boost.
A recent Jericho Communications survey found that on the day following a new episode of Queer Eye, men were five times more likely to go shopping than women. "Men feel more confident now about being stylish," says Judy Gordon, founder of TheTrendReport.com.
A Queer Eye Recovery in the making? One can only hope.
PS--I still hate to shop and am not stylish (just ask my wife). Apparently I'm not like other guys...
¶ 12:05 PM
I got a top score of 320.5 322.8 322.9323.5 before I gave up. That barely beats MercuryX23, but not Rook, making it imperative that I defeat him in chess.Okay, Merc, Jeff, Rook and I are all winners now with a 323.5 score. Or does that make us losers? Me, I'm just waiting for my wife to get home...
[Update: here's proof that I tied Rook and Jeff:
And it only took until halfway through True Lies to do this!]
¶ 10:54 AM
Some folks have been asking about the Great Bloggers Chess Match and whether it's defunct. It is not, but it's my turn and quite frankly, I haven't had the energy to think about moves and the surrounding post. I've promised Rook that I would do something this weekend.
I also promise to re-engage in OSP and The Liberal Coalition. I've found the beginning of 2004 to be filled with way more work, stress, and minor illness than I would like, so I haven't been up to being a very good community member online, let alone at work or at home (and don't ask about my damned book project).
The next couple months on my travel schedule look absolutely brutal, and that is necessarily going to force some major lifestyle changes (including quite possibly where and how I make a living). In that context, one thing I've discovered is that having a blog as an outlet for writing, poetry, photography, chess, etc, helps me keep my sanity from fraying entirely, so I promise my readers that this endeavor will continue.
And if there are any magazine or newspaper people out there who just happen to discover this site, I'd be better and cheaper than Andrew Sullivan, should you be looking for new talent to cultivate. I promise.
A follow up study shows Diebold machines are still a threat to our democracy, according to a report by RABA Technologies (PDF):
At the request of the State of Maryland, RABA Technology’s Innovative Solution Cell (RiSC) performed a review of the DIEBOLD touch-screen electronic voting system. A team of security experts reviewed the SAIC report commissioned by Maryland and went on to hold a "Red Team" exercise to discover vulnerabilities in the actual voting system as it will be deployed for the March 2004 primary.
The key findings of this effort are two-fold. The State of Maryland election system (comprising technical, operational, and procedural components), as configured at the time of this report, contains considerable security risks that can cause moderate to severe disruption in an election. However, each of these vulnerabilities has a mitigating recommendation that can be implemented in time for the March 2004 primary.
With all these near-term recommendations in place, we feel, for this primary, that the system will accurately render the election and is worthy of voter trust. However, between the March and November elections we strongly feel that additional actions must be taken to mitigate increasing risks incumbent on a system that will receive broad scrutiny. Ultimately we feel there will be a need for paper receipts, at least in a limited fashion.
I found this via the NYTimes, so it's getting some press. Problem is, once again this is being covered in the Technology section of the paper, not in Politics, and is not being blared on the front page.
The glitch-struck Spirit Mars Exploration Rover is on the mend as computer experts consider delicate electronic surgery on the robot’s software smarts. The hope is fixing the rover and returning it to science-gathering tasks at Gusev Crater by early next week.
There remain nagging worries, however, that what ails Spirit can’t be fully understood. If that’s the case, engineers here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) are taking slow steps in certifying that Spirit’s twin – Opportunity that now rests halfway around Mars -- won’t run into the same problems.
Some tele-surgery is planned to deal with some memory issues at the heart of the problem.
The state's school superintendent has proposed striking the word evolution from Georgia's science curriculum and replacing it with the phrase "biological changes over time."
Superintendent Kathy Cox said the concept of evolution would still be taught under the proposal, but the word would not be used.
Cox repeatedly referred to evolution as a "buzzword" Thursday and said the ban was proposed, in part, to alleviate pressure on teachers in socially conservative areas where parents object to its teaching.
Educators and legislators criticized the proposal, saying science teachers understand the theories behind evolution and how to teach them.
"Here we are, saying we have to improve standards and improve education, and we're just throwing a bone to the conservatives with total disregard to what scientists say," said state Rep. Bob Holmes, a Democrat.
Social conservatives who prefer religious creation to be taught instead of evolution criticized the proposal as well.
"If you're teaching the concept without the word, what's the point?" said Rep. Bobby Franklin, a Republican. "It's stupid. It's like teaching gravity without using the word gravity."
[Update: Speaking of the theory of evolution and the theory of gravity, you might be interested in Jay Bullock's excellent takedown of "intelligent design" from last month on OSP. Amazing how these people keep trying to chip away at science in school. Change a word here, edit a concept there, and pretty soon you have no real education.]
A few quotes about the Yawp Heard Round The Campaign:
* "[T]he reason we owe this man (whom, by the way, I do not support for president) an apology is because we say that we want our presidents to be one of us. But when they act like one of us, then we beat them up and say they are not acting presidential," says Dave Lieber of the Star-Telegram (via blogAmY).
* "I don’t think we overplayed [the Iowa speech] a scintilla more than we did Michael Jackson hanging the kid over a balcony," says Fox News Senior Vice President John Moody (via the Howler).
* "Individually we may feel okay about our network, but the cumulative effect for viewers with 24-hour cable coverage is -- it may have been overplayed and, in fact, a disservice to Dean and the viewers," says Andrew Heyward, President of CBS News (via ABC).
Partial credit to Diane Sawyer and ABC. They actually ran a story correcting the misperception about Dean's speech. Too little, too late, I'm afraid. But hey, at least they're admitting to a mistake--contrast to the media's treatment of Gore (or Clinton for that matter).
I'm not in the mood for politics (some developments regarding my work schedule are bumming me out), so I'm going to watch movies instead of the debate (besides, do I really want to hear the same stump speech crap and stuff about the Stars and Bars for the umpteenth time?). I'd appreciate it if any readers alert me to interesting things that come up so my transcript reading will be easier later...
About a month ago I posted a bit about being at Murdoch's mercy, and the dangers of media consolidation. John Nichols at The Nation tackles the consolidation issue in light of CBS' censorship of MoveOn's anti-Bush ad:
CBS officials are still refusing to air a MoveOn.org Voter Fund commercial during Sunday's Super Bowl game because that the 30-second advertisement criticizes President Bush's fiscal policies. There is no question that the network's determination to censor critics of the president damages the political discourse. But the network has not exactly silenced dissent. In fact, CBS's heavy-handed tactics are fueling an outpouring of grassroots anger over the dominance of communications in the United States by a handful of large media corporations. More than 400,000 Americans have contacted CBS to complain already, and the numbers are mounting hourly.
At the same time, the controversy surrounding the censorship of the MoveOn ad has heightened Congressional concern about lobbying by CBS's owner, Viacom, and other media conglomerates to lift limits on media consolidation and monopoly. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, says CBS should be seen as: "Exhibit A in the case against media concentration."
As Bill Moyers observed: "media conglomeration...can take the oxygen out of democracy."
Kerry won because many voters were looking for a candidate who had the best chance of beating President Bush in the November election, and perceived Kerry to be that candidate.
[O]ver half of the New Hampshire voters, 56%, perceived Kerry as having the best chance of beating Bush. Only 16% of the voters felt that about Dean, and smaller numbers felt that about the other candidates. In other words, whatever else they may have thought about Kerry's strengths, New Hampshire voters became convinced that he is the one who is most electable in November...
Dean apparently still retained a considerable amount of good will among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters even as he lost to Kerry...Dean was more likely than Kerry to be selected on three of [five positive personal characteristics], by three- to five-point margins, and trailed Kerry by only two points on a fourth. These include such things as "has new ideas that would help solve the country's problems," "shares your values," and "is in touch with the average American."
Indeed, the exit poll showed that Dean was the favored candidate among New Hampshire primary voters who said that standing up for what one believes in or the ability to shake things up in Washington was the most important criterion for their votes.
Sigh. That damn electability meme. If only people had voted for the person who represented their ideals instead of this bogus idea*. I think that's the only way to truly win in November**.
* Yes, I see polling now shows Kerry could beat Bush. No duh, he's got the momentum and people are starting to pay attention to the race. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that the same thing would've happened if Dean or Edwards or Clark had won IA and NH--all the Dems were within striking distance of Bush before the voting started.
** This is why I don't actually begrudge what Nader voters did in 2000, while I'm still annoyed by Nader and his party (just as I'm annoyed by Gore and his party).
¶ 10:21 AM
Weapons Of Mass Disappearance
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released an interesting report a few weeks ago:
This new study details what the U.S. and international intelligence communities understood about Iraq's weapons programs before the war and outlines policy reforms to improve threat assessments, deter transfer of WMD to terrorists, strengthen the UN weapons inspection process, and avoid politicization of the intelligence process.
The report distills a massive amount of data into side-by-side comparisons of pre-war intelligence, the official presentation of that intelligence, and what is now known about Iraq's programs.
That last sentence caught my attention, and I downloaded the second chapter of the report (PDF), which contained charts with info such as this*:
The report also has this to say about the NIE:
Most of the official statements on Iraq's weapon programs were supported by a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq...Three aspects of this NIE merit particular attention: It was produced far more quickly than is normal for such documents; it went far beyond the consensus intelligence assessments of the preceding five years; and, it had more serious dissents to its key findings than any other declassified NIE.
I guess that's what happens when politics, and not good policy, is in the driver's seat. Can I call this 'lying' on the part of the Bush administration, or do I have to resign myself to 'misleading' and/or 'incompetence'? And does the American public even care?
* I couldn't easily reproduce the chart in text, so did a screen shot. The info is truly side-by-side in the doc, but I moved the last few columns down to fit better on the screen.
¶ 10:12 AM
All Dean All The Time
With the primaries upon us, I hope readers will forgive me my tendency to post a lot of Dean stories. Here are a couple more, submitted without much comment:
People like my mother and Judy Dean stand in stark contrast to our national obsession with consumption. Our "Supersize Me!" society has so elevated the manufactured over the meaningful that when somebody dares question the value of our collective covetousness we react like they've impugned the legitimacy of the scriptures.
In their rejection of our fixation on the fashionable, these anti-Trumps suddenly become the little boy pointing out that despite our designer clothes, top-of-the-line SUVs, and plasma TVs, we're really just a bunch of emperors in expensive birthday suits, trying unsuccessfully to buy our way to happiness.
Consumer debt is at an all-time high as are the number of people filing for bankruptcy -- 1.5 million in 2002. Americans are now spending 14 percent of their income to pay off debt while less than 2 percent of their earnings is being saved. Who can worry about retirement or a rainy day when Best Buy is having a sale on digital camcorders?
Of course, this culturewide shopping spree is happening on the watch of our conservative leaders. Conservatism is supposed to stand in clear counterpoint to the excesses of the counterculture -- with responsibility, self-discipline, and living within one's means replacing the "if it feels good, do it" ethos.
But George Bush and his corporate cronies have sacrificed these values on the altar of consumption: "If it feels good, buy it!"
In a political atmosphere dizzy from spin, how refreshing to come across a simple red -- or simple blue -- sweater-wearing wife, mother and professional woman so willing to speak not from a set of pre-packaged talking points, but from her heart.
"I have a medical practice, which I love, but I also love Howard," she explained when asked why, after all this time, she'd finally decided to step out of the political shadows. "I think he'd make a terrific president."
The U.S. Army’s top general said Wednesday he is planning for the possibility that the Army may be required to keep tens of thousands of soldiers in Iraq through 2006.
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that "for planning purposes" he has ordered his staff to consider how the Army would replace the force that is now rotating into Iraq with another force of similar size in 2005 — and again in 2006.
Of the approximately 105,000 troops going to Iraq this winter and spring to replace the 130,000 who have been there since the start of the war, about 80,000 are Army soldiers. The replacement force, which includes 25,000 Marines, is scheduled to spend a full year in Iraq.
Army officials have said that planning for the 2005 rotation of forces into Iraq will begin in February.
I have no idea if this is really significant or not. On the one hand, I'm glad the Army, DoD, and presumably the administration itself are recognizing that things might not all be rosy and we should plan for contingencies. On the other, I suspect that Bush's political considerations will trump any military concerns just as they did prior to, and during, this war.
Further, how much more will Iraq slip under the radar if we do actually turn over power to the Iraqis in June? We're still going to have a lot of troops there until 2005. If we declare victory, but still don't go home, will the American public fall for the trick as we head into the general election? Who remembers Afghanistan?
Faithful reader Bill S brought to my attention this op-ed by Robert Reich in the NYTimes:
[Dean's] campaign is both grass-roots and reformist, and is based on the proposition that ordinary people must be empowered to "take back America."
Democrats have seen what the Republican Party has been able to accomplish over the years. The conservative movement has developed dedicated sources of money and legions of ground troops who not only get out the vote, but also spend the time between elections persuading others to join their ranks. It has devised frames of reference that are used repeatedly in policy debates (among them: it's your money, tax and spend, political correctness, class warfare).
It has a system for recruiting and electing officials nationwide who share the same world view and who will vote accordingly. And it has a coherent ideology uniting evangelical Christians, blue-collar whites in the South and West, and big business — an ideology in which foreign enemies, domestic poverty and crime, and homosexuality all must be met with strict punishment and religious orthodoxy.
In contrast, the Democratic Party has had no analogous movement to animate it. Instead, every four years party loyalists throw themselves behind a presidential candidate who they believe will deliver them from the rising conservative tide. After the election, they go back to whatever they were doing before.
As we head into the next wave of primaries, the Democratic candidates should pay close attention to what Republicans have learned about winning elections. First, it is crucial to build a political movement that will endure after particular electoral contests. Second, in order for a presidency to be effective, it needs a movement that mobilizes Americans behind it. Finally, any political movement derives its durability from the clarity of its convictions. And there's no better way to clarify convictions than to hone them in political combat.
I think Reich is spot on. As Bill says, why isn't this guy a Dean supporter? Again, why did the Dems try to shoot Howie down, rather than embracing him?
Well, for me the Dean campaign hasn't been about Dean himself so much as his values and ideas. I guess as long as those can ultimately gain traction, it doesn't really matter who the messenger is--so long as the messenger really internalizes and believes in what he's saying, and effectively communicates and implements it.
So it is nice to see Reich and Dean's Dem opponents co-opt Howie's message and movement. That ought to earn Dean a spot on the Cabinet (Sec'y HHS?) if he doesn't win the whole ball of wax. I'd like to see Kerry, Edwards, and Clark capture some of Dean's energy, too, but that might be wishing for too much.
I just installed a UNIVAC simulator on my PC, did a little programming, entered a bunch of polling data, and have come to a stunning conclusion: General Eisenhower will win the Presidential Election. So all the Democratic candidates can give up right now and save us all a lot of money...
The DNC called again (they last called on Jan 2), asking for a hundred bucks. I reiterated my intention to give my cash only to Dean until after the primary season. I also re-emphasized my desire that the Democratic Party internalize Howie's message of real change, embrace the power of the grassroots movement that supports him, and stop behaving like Republicans in general.
We had a nice chat, then the caller tried to renegotiate fifty bucks out of me, and I held firm. I'm an Indy, I'm a Deaniac, and you're not getting a damn cent from me until after the convention. And I tell ya, I ain't giving to Kerry.
I'll give to the Dems to help the party overall, but I won't be able to enter my credit card info on the Kerry website. Edwards, yes. Clark, yes. But I am not supporting Kerry: I'm fighting to overthrow Bush. I hate voting coming from such a negative place, but that's how I see the political landscape at the moment.
All that said, I am still hopeful that I'll get to make a positive choice in November.
[Update: somebody over at Kos suggested that Dean donors should be pissed about how the Dean campaign squandered their dough. As I observed, this was the first campaign I've ever given to (that's another thing I told the DNC lady tonight), and in light of how much Dean has positively influenced the race, I see all my donations as money well-spent.]
¶ 8:16 PM
The U.S. military is planning for a spring offensive against Taliban and al Qaeda guerrillas in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Wednesday. But they refused to comment on a report that the offensive might extend into bordering Pakistan.
Ah, spring time...always makes me wax nostalgiac about the days when we were told we'd won our wars...
That said, it's clearly time for a change. A grassroots movement is great, but that by itself doesn't necessarily replace good old fashioned political organization. It probably would've been counterproductive to replace Trippi before the first ballots were cast (recall Kerry being declared dead for similar moves), but clearly the campaign was coasting a bit and lost a lot of ground in the days leading up to Iowa, and made some bad moves (e.g., limiting Howie's press contact). Time to refocus, get some better ads, and better mobilize those unions and other groups.
What worries me most right now is the advantage Dean's supposed to have in these critical weeks, overflowing coffers, is possibly vaporware. If it's true that he only has $5M, I wonder how he will be able to compete in the 2/3 primaries, let alone the couple weeks after that.
Question: Mr. President, but how do you describe and account for the difference between what you claimed prior to the war about what he possessed and what he was capable of, and what the intelligence said he possessed and was capable of in terms of a nuclear weapon within the decade, and the fact that David Kay says the intelligence was inaccurate and wrong, and nothing has been found? Don't you owe the American people an explanation?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Well, I think the Iraq Survey Group must do its work. Again, I appreciate David Kay's contribution. I said in the run-up to the war against Iraq that -- first of all, I hoped the international community would take care of him. I was hoping the United Nations would enforce its resolutions, one of many. And then we went to the United Nations, of course, and got an overwhelming resolution -- 1441 -- unanimous resolution, that said to Saddam, you must disclose and destroy your weapons programs, which obviously meant the world felt he had such programs. He chose defiance. It was his choice to make, and he did not let us in.
I said in the run-up that Saddam was a grave and gathering danger, that's what I said. And I believed it then, and I know it was true now. And as Mr. Kay said, that Iraq was a dangerous place. And given the circumstances of September the 11th, given the fact that we're vulnerable to attack, this nation had to act for our security.
Nice to see somebody in the press corps is, uh...pressing Bush to provide an explanation. Shorter Bush: "That's a trick question, and I won't answer it. 9/11!"
Tonight, the people of New Hampshire have asked for change. A real change. We can change America. And we will.
We can have jobs again in America, and we will.
We can join every other industrialized nation on the face of the earth and have health insurance for all Americans, and we will.
We can invest in families with small children and have those kids grow up to go to college instead of prison, and we will.
We can demand -- we can demand for our young people a better future, a solution to global warming, getting us off foreign oil by investing in renewable energy, and we will.
We can regain the moral leadership that this country has held, and we will.
We we can return our school systems to the control of local school boards, fully fund special education and get rid of the federal mandates of no child left behind, and we will.
We can get rid of the president's pharmaceutical bill and instead have a pharmaceutical bill that's helped seniors instead of insurance companies and drug companies, and we will.
We can give the 50% of americans who quit voting in this country because we don't give them a reason to vote a reason to vote again, and we will.
We can take back America and stand up for working families and middle-class families again and take our government back for the people who built it instead of corporations and special interests, and we will.
Well, I was off on the percentages with NH, but it appears I got the order right[Update: okay, so maybe Clark will narrowly beat Edwards. I guess #3 and 4 are going to flop around a bit.]. I'm going to count that as a minor victory, so I'm 1 for 2 in voting predicitions. Now on to the next contest: I predict the New England Patriots will defeat the Carolina Panthers in Houston on Sunday by a score of 24-17 (MOE +/- 4.1%).
That's what CNN is saying, with 24% of NH precincts reporting, and a bunch of close exit polls in hand. Apparently Florida 2000 is a distant memory...
[Update: It's a funny feeling, watching Kerry win NH. Early on I thought he would be my candidate, when I scoffed at Dean's chances (even though I liked Howie and voted for him several times in VT). But Kerry ultimately didn't do anything for me, and while I was initially excited by the prospect of Edwards when I heard him on NPR oh-so-long ago, he also ended up disappointing me.
Only a few weeks before Dean's announcement speech last June, I finally realized that he was truly the candidate for me. He was right about the war, had a vision in sync with mine, and displayed an energy and passion that the other candidates lacked.
I haven't given up on Howie yet (no wins next week and he's done for, though I'll still vote for him on March 2), and I'll cast my ballot for Kerry in the general election if he wins the nomination, but it's not going to be with a great deal of enthusiasm. That's why I've got such a sinking feeling in my stomach right now: I don't like the prospect of supporting a boring politician who voted for the war in Iraq and leveraged his personal wealth to take down a man who engaged me in the process like no other candidate ever has.]
¶ 8:23 PM
What's interesting, and up to this point I think overlooked, is the total delegate count to date: Dean leads with 104 delegates, followed by Kerry with 81, Edwards with 36, and Clark with 30. 2,161 are needed to win the nom.
While I knew that superdelegates were in the mix, and Dean was still really leading even after Iowa, I'd never seen a tally on CNN or elsewhere displayed so prominently. I wonder why? Could the SCLM be trying to make it seem more like a horse race, or am I being too cynical?
"Two Become One" from Nirvana Lounge 2. It's part of the"Alt" Smart Playlist I made last night containing a couple hundred songs in the Alternative, Electronica, New Age and other genres.
FedEx arrived a couple hours ago with some accessories I ordered, including the NaviPod remote control and some stuff for easy listening in the car. I'm messing around with iPod stuff until the NH polls close, and then I'll be watching the returns come in on TV...
Faithful reader timshel brought to my attention a rough transcript (via NRO, of all places) for The Most Exclusive Interview With Howard Dean (RealAudio) by the Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Oddly enough, we were watching a tape of the show when I read timshel's comment. Very funny (inner monologue in itals):
Stewart: "Obviously, a difficult week in Iowa, wish you could have done better ... you did an interview with Diane Sawyer ... do you consider those damage control interviews?"
Dean: 'Good question, Cronkite.' "Well they are certainly gonna help some..."
Stewart: "How will you control the damage from this?" 'This is going great!!'
Dean: 'You've got five minutes, jackass.'
Stewart: "The media has tried to pigeonhole you as an angry guy."
In both these polls, both Clark and Edwards are hovering around 12 percent.
The National Review's The Corner has Kerry 36, Dean 31, Edwards 12 and Clark 12.
I really don't like the media releasing polling data during the day, but what the heck, it's already floating around out there so I'll post it. Apparently it's easier for the SCLM to analyze numbers and political strategies rather than substance and policies. Besides, we need a horse race or the ratings will suck.
Two CNN employees were killed, and a third was lightly wounded Tuesday afternoon when the cars they were traveling in came under fire.
Translator and producer Duraid Isa Mohammed, 27, and driver Yasser Khatab, 25, died from multiple gunshot wounds. Cameraman Scott McWhinnie, traveling in another vehicle, was grazed in the head by a bullet.
The CNN vehicles were headed north toward Baghdad when a rust-colored Opel approached from behind. A single gunman with an AK-47, standing through the sunroof, opened fire on one of the vehicles.
That lead CNN vehicle, hit at least five times, managed to escape from the gunman as the CNN security adviser returned fire.
I guess death is so common-place in Iraq these days that winter weather, which I thought was common-place during winter, trumps it even when it's your own employees. In CNN's defense, the people killed were clearly darkies and not American. Oh wait, that won't wash because the deaths of 3 US soldiers also barely made a blip*. Our media hard at work...
What I want to know is: what's President Bush going to do about this winter weather crisis?
*[Update: The total bloodshed for today is now 6 US soldiers, 4 Iraqi policemen, 2 CNN employees, and 1 Iraqi civilian.]
¶ 2:53 PM
I'd just barely gotten home from the vet when they called to tell me Sam's procedure went fine, and we can pick him up after 4PM. I guess it really is just a snip-snip kinda thing.
The joke about "getting tutored" has been floating around here for a few weeks, and in comments below a couple faithful readers brought up the Far Side comic that inspired the line (alas, my books are in storage, so I can't illegally scan and post).
I'm hopeful that Sam learned a valuable lesson at his tutoring session. What that lesson is, I do not know (maybe "don't be bad, or they'll take you to the vet"?).
I was afraid I looked all weepy when I dropped him off, since I woke up with a pink right eye this morning. Hope it's not conjunctivitis. Anyway, between that and some sinus troubles I've been having since last week I've decided to take a sick day.
[Update: Sam's fine, happy to be home, and appears to think that since he feels, ah...changed, all the household rules have changed as well.]
¶ 10:09 AM
I figure my track record on primary/caucus voting can't get any worse, so here are my predictions for tomorrow's primary in NH:
What would be nice is that Dean wins, but whatever--I'll take a strong comeback and decent 2nd place showing. I have to agree with lots of folks, though, that he needs to pick up a couple Feb 3 states or he's toast. Cross fingers...
[T]housands of women who bought their husbands and boyfriends an iPod for Christmas are beginning to regret it as their partners become "increasingly fanatical Poddies, spending whole evenings and weekends with this small object of desire, their partners have been rendered iPod widows."
The report includes two case studies from the recently "widowed". One describes how: "Every evening he gets the iPod out straight after supper and starts fannying around with it. It’s taking over our lives."
The other iPod Widow reflects: "He’ll occasionally come downstairs and tell me all about some amazing thing it can do, although I’ve never actually used it myself."
477 of them, in fact: yup, that's our projected record deficit this year, according to the CBO.
Oh, but the deficit will get smaller soon, right? Not so fast! CNN tells us:
All the estimates assume lawmakers will not rewrite any tax laws and let spending grow only at the rate of inflation.
Because tax and spending changes are inevitable, the forecasts are not meant as a prediction. Rather, they provide lawmakers with a baseline from which to measure the effect their policies would have on the budget.
Many analysts say the budget office's deficit projections will probably prove too low -- especially in the long-term -- because they omit expenses the president and Congress are likely to approve.
These include making at least some tax cuts permanent, changing the alternative minimum tax so it doesn't affect growing number of middle-income earners, and spending increases for popular programs or unforeseen needs like war or disasters.
Heh, "unforseen needs like war". That's rich! But I digress. It seems pretty clear that the deficits and our national debt are going to grow, especially when the baby boomers retire.
Your grandkids' debt of tomorrow, brought to you by the adults in charge today...
I ended up not listening to The Blogging of the President last night--busy ripping CDs, mucking around with the iPod, and doing maintenance on Stef's PCs. Judging from the comment threads at the BOP site and Eschaton, it seems the old adage "NPR can make anything boring" held true.
I have a recording of the show that I might check out later, and I did listen to the snippet of Atrios vs. Andy at the end of the show. Atrios was articulate, Sully was annoying and has carried an on-air "challenge" over to his blog (to which I refuse to link). Bottom-line: for some strange reason, Andy wants Atrios to cite when he has criticized the Left or praised Bush. Atrios has eloquently responded (typos aside). Sullivan also criticized Atrios' use of a pseudonym.
Anyway, I'm sure there were other good bits on the show, and it's nice to see blogging is being recognized by the more traditional channels, though it's clear they still don't quite get it.
The Democrats’ fierce battle for New Hampshire entered its final 48 hours Sunday with the latest MSNBC poll showing one-time front-runner Howard Dean making a strong comeback from his stumble in the Iowa caucuses.
Sen. John Kerry still held double-digit leads in most of the polling data released Sunday, and a seven-point advantage in the three-day figures from the MSNBC/Zogby Reuters Poll, which showed him leading Dean 30-23 in Thursday-Saturday totals, down from 31-22 the previous day.
However, in just the Saturday survey, it was 28 for Kerry to 25 for Dean, a statistical dead heat in the poll’s four-point margin of error. The Friday-only figure was 26-22.
Click on the bat to help Howie get back in the game!
Is blogging an essential part of our political and cultural future, or just a new talking point for activists and pundits?
Two days before the New Hampshire Primary, this program will open a national conversation on the Internet transformation of politics and the new rules of "the making of the president." It's about bloggers: the influential new class of chatterers and their bottom-up democracy - new voices building new communities on the web.
The rise of Howard Dean, on blog energy and blog fundraising, is the tip of the Internet iceberg, moving like a high-speed glacier across American politics and culture. Mixing live calls, guest interviews, and produced pieces, listeners will hear and interact with the people that are taking the "mass" out of media and putting in individual citizens.
PS--I was chatting with my folks earlier today about this and Mom thought I'd said "The Flogging of the President". Not a bad idea--can we send Bush to Singapore?
¶ 6:20 PM
Coming To A Computer Near You
So I've been thinking a lot about electronic media and business models and social interaction the past couple weeks. In the class I was teaching in Dallas, we talked quite a bit about new networking technologies and how they are changing how telecoms do business, driven by the changing business needs of their customers. To kick off those discussions, I brought up a consumer example of technological change: my iPod.
We've only had iPods in the house for a few weeks, but Stef and I have already noticed interesting changes in how we approach music. First of all, the simple fact that I brought a lot of music on the road is a big indicator of an immediate, radical shift in my listening habits.
I sometimes would bring a few discs on the road with me in a CD wallet, but that was pretty cumbersome and didn't give me a lot of selection. I generally would forego bringing any music at all, especially on long trips when flying was involved--gigs I could drive to allowed me a bit more freedom, but even then I wouldn't bring too much.
In Dallas I realized how much music was an important part of my life, and even though I only had about 180 songs on my iPod, it really helped keep me sane. I cranked high energy tunes to get me going in the morning, and played nice soothing stuff at night when I was winding down. Just having some of my favorite pieces gave me an anchor during some tough weeks.
What's more, I discovered that I am indeed no longer beholden to the album format or even the physical distribution of content. Ever since I read Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital almost a decade ago, I've been anticipating the day when I was emancipated from atoms and could only care about bits.
I initially resisted buying an MP3 player for years--that was hard for an early adopter like me to do, but given my huge investment in CDs I wanted the technology to mature before I took the plunge (my 600MB worth of MP3s that "backed up" my ancient vinyl collection notwithstanding). The 40GB iPod is the perfect realiztion of Negroponte's vision in the music space for me, since the device can hold about 2/3 of my physical music collection, and really all the songs I actually like and listen to regularly.
The portability of my music collection is actually the least important impact. As I said, I'm no longer stuck in the album structure. One of my fave albums from the 80s is Siouxsie and the Banshees' Peep Show. I have always hated the track "Rawhead And Bloodybones", to the point that I programmed one of my first CD players to skip that song whenever I played the disc. Today I ripped the CD without the offending track, and someday I can see totally forgetting the tune even existed.
Some people lament the demise of the album, particularly in the LP format because of the cover art and associated creativity. True, in an electronic world you're not going to get things like Sgt. Pepper's mustaches, or big unfolding sheets of lyrics, but artists are now discovering the power of the electronic medium with interactive websites that allow them to go beyond the limitations of physical media. Every technology is going to have the effect of diminishing earlier mechanisms (witness how writing has reduced the import of oral traditions, or e-mail has all but eliminated the art of writing letters), but the old ways don't always completely disappear (buggy whips have, but fireplaces haven't).
The original CD was designed to be able to fit Beethoven's 9th symphony on a single disc--an example of how content from almost two centuries ago impacted our musical structures of today. But now that 650MB pales in comparison to the capacity of the average hard drive and is really a limit on artists. Besides, most albums today are nothing more than collections of singles, lacking unifying themes or epic stories to tell. If we were able to free ourselves from the bounds of the CD, maybe we'll get more works like Pink Floyd's The Wall or Planet P Project's Pink World.
What's also interesting is that I've been more inclined lately to try new music. Stef had ripped a few of her discs, which I put on my iPod before my trip. Ordinarily I wouldn't have bothered bringing some of her stuff with me, for fear that I wouldn't like it and would thus have wasted precious space in my luggage. But it was no big deal to add her tunes to my collection, and as it turns out I enjoyed the music! Similarly, I'll be more receptive when we driving to the camp or Maine or whatever if she wants me to check out something new she just got at Half.com or on iTunes.
Extending the whole idea of experiencing new music a bit, the lending culture I think will change quite as well. Stef is loaning a few discs, including some stuff by Nirvana Lounge, to a friend at the radio station. In the "old days", Stef might go for weeks without that music, but now she can loan the CDs to her friend while still enjoying the listening experience. I suspect this means it will be more likely that people will get exposed to new music since it can be even more easily given away.
I'm still probably going to be buying CDs for some time to come. I think it will depend wholly on how important the music is to me (e.g., I'll likely always buy a Peter Gabriel disc, but only download Liz Phair's latest). Regardless, the iPod and iTunes has already fundamentally altered how I look at music.
What I think is actually the coolest thing about iTunes is not even the service itself. Rather, it has charged out in front to show there's a different way to approach the distribution of music, which should open the doors for other business models to emerge. In fact just this week a student pointed out a McPaper article on one new idea.
If only the recording industry had embraced the technological and social change represented by MP3s, Napster, et al. Now the movie industry is learning the lesson and trying to figure out how to prevent similar problems. Of course, the work factor for the time being is greater to copy a DVD than a CD, with encryption (such as it is), capacity and bandwidth issues, and the like. Not only that, but the movie folks are actually trying to live up to the promises of their new media, bringing ever more value to DVD releases, while the CD never became cheaper or more feature rich (a couple "enhanced" discs from people like Sarah McLachlan aside).
Getting back to my class discussions for a moment, now imagine you have an MPLS-based network allowing any-to-any connectivity, combined with Fiber-to-the-Home services giving end-users 100Mbps (or even 1Gbps). What's that going to do to the movie industry?
Well, cinemas probably won't go away any time soon, even if you can get movies on the day of release into your home theater. We still are social creatures--malls haven't disappeared just because of e-commerce, for example. But the distribution models might change over time, and consumer expectations will shift as well, especially as younger generations grow up in a world with more possibilities than we experienced.
Hegelian dialectic (a 50 cent phrase I taught my class last week) rears its ugly head: thesis is followed by antithesis and then synthesis. Our thesis was CDs (atoms). The antithesis was MP3s (bits). And now we've got synthesis (I rip CDs to play on my iPod, and I can burn CDs with iTunes). I'm sure we'll see the same play-counterplay stuff in the movie industry, just as we saw in music, e-commerce (bricks and mortar vs. pure play vs. clicks and mortar) and even politics (go Howie!). It's sure going to be entertaining at the very least.
And now I'm going to plug my iPod into my stereo and listen to some Queen while I check out the sites in my blogroll...
[Update: correcting typos and bad grammar here and there...]
¶ 6:14 PM
Get Out The Vote
The most important vote you'll ever cast is for DM as Best New Blog over at Wampum. Yes, DM made the final list for the 2003 Koufax Awards! Other finalists:
Steve Gilliard's News Blog
The Left Coaster
Open Source Politics
I'm extremely pleased and humbled to be mentioned in such exalted company (and now that I'm home from TX, maybe I can earn some votes by actually blogging again). The usual suspects (not DM, despite my readers' best efforts) are up for Best Blog.
Please note that our friends at corrente and OSP are also finalists in the Best Group Blog category. And friends Norbizness (Happy Furry Story Puppy Time), Tom Burka (Opinions You Should Have), and skippy (that adorable marsupial) are in the running for Most Humorous Blog.
Thanks once again to the folks who nominated DM in the first place and supported this site in the first round voting. If you have a moment, I'd appreciate your vote in the final stage (though I suspect Kicking Ass will, well...kick ass).
[Update: the stuff above is just a sample--there are a lot of other categories and wonderful blogs competing at Wampum, so check 'em all out.]
['nother Update: I'm getting my ass absolutely kicked by Billmon and Baghdad Burning, not to mention the other blogs. It's worse than Iowa. Maybe I should put up a comeback bat? Don't make me yawp!]
¶ 12:44 PM
Faithful reader, Bill S, tipped me off to a NYTimes piece on the Politics of the Web. An interesting read about how the Net has enabled a lot of "preaching to the choir" and so forth. Nothing earthshattering, but then I came to this graf and started musing:
[E]ven some Dean supporters, the pioneers of politics on the Internet, have begun to worry that their insularity contributed to their candidate's poor showing in the Iowa caucuses. "It's all well and good to cheer each other on,'' wrote one supporter last week. "But clearly that's not enough.''
There were myriad factors, including the concerted attacks on Dean, a renewed Kerry focus, the media filter, inexperienced caucus-goers, Howies gaffes and "gaffes", his apparently poor organization in the state, etc. Did the Dean grassroots' insularity contribute to Dean's lackluster performance in Iowa? I don't think so.
It did not stop us from contributing in many ways to his campaign and potential success. We gave money, we gave time, many supporters went to Iowa to canvass for him, etc. I still see the Dean campaign as superior in not only its Internet presence, but also its efforts to synthesize online and offline channels. What our preaching to the choir did was perhaps convince us that all of this assured our candidate's victory, which is of course silly.
Dean's campaign is on the leading edge of clicks-and-mortar e-campaigning, just like REI was an early leader in the e-commerce space. It ain't an easy thing to do, and the first ones out of the gate are likely to stumble as they try to get the balance right. One lesson the Dean campaign clearly did learn from the e-commerce boom/bust is that the Internet lowers the cost of entry into a market, but eventually you need a physical presence to grow your share. They've done that, and done it pretty damn well.
The fact of the matter is that Dean has to work really hard to overcome some of his weaknesses as a candidate. As an insurgent, he also has a lot of forces naturally aligned against him, which only amplifies his warts (to borrow a term from the Diane Sawyer interview). Quite frankly, I'm amazed at how well he has done in the current political climate, and I still am very optimistic that he will prevail in the end.
But let's face it: the Internet isn't changing politics; it's only changing one aspect of how politics is waged. Politics, like shopping, is a social endeavor, and the Internet only alters the speed of the cycle and eliminates the impact of distance. In the end, voters and shoppers are still going to cling to their old tendencies. So if Dean isn't the right candidate for the electorate, a blog isn't going to change that, and the people who read the blog aren't responsible for his ultimate success or failure.
There's probably an argument centered on Fisher-Pry, early adopters and Beta vs. VHS (or Mac vs. Windows), but I'm too tired to pull it all together right now.
Mars has received a one-two exploration punch as the second Rover -- Opportunity -- achieved a successful landing tonight on the red planet.
Engineers and scientists broke out in cheers and tears here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), mission control for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) program.
"We're on Mars everybody. We're getting a strong signal," said Rob Manning, JPL's Entry, Descent and Landing manager.
Opportunity looks to have completed a near-perfect entry, descent, and landing, plopping down in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars. The spacecraft's exact whereabouts are not precisely known, but did touch down within a pre-determined, cigar-shaped ellipse within Meridiani Planum.
Roughly 4 hours after landing, the first images from Opportunity were being reviewed by anxious scientists staring at large screens at JPL.
"The data is flowing," cried out a voice from mission control.
As first images appeared, it was clear that the landscape was dark in color, very different from the Spirit landing site in Gusev Crater.
"It looks like a very different site, said John Callas mission science manager. "The scientists must be running wild."
And it looks like NASA has found a workaround for Spirit, too. Eyyahh!
Got home about an hour ago, having left my hotel room at 730AM Central. Mechanical delay on my 1010AM flight from DFW, which I eventually got around by snagging the 1245PM flight (which ended up leaving over 2 hours before my original flight!). Weather delay at ORD, but tailwinds helped us make up a lot of time, and only arrived 5 minutes late (well, ignoring the fact that I should've been home 2 hours earlier). A 12 hour trip, all told, and the iPod lasted the day.
Sam has gotten a bit bigger than when I left. Probably some cat blogging tomorrow, along with a fit of general blogging to make up for lost time...
Leaving on a jet plane in a few hours, and if all goes well I'll be blogging from home around dinner time. If things don't go well, I might very well be blogging from a Red Carpet Club in Chicago*.
Happy to be heading home, despite the -15F weather that awaits me.
* [Update: Nope, blogging from the Club in DFW. My flight to O'Hare is delayed, and that means I'll be getting home a couple hours late. Sigh. Silver lining: I got upgraded on the DFW-ORD leg.]
¶ 8:09 AM
Hasty Funky Poopy Stinky Tang again steals a page from the DM playbook and begs for traffic with a caption contest, laden with valuable prizes. Go there now (why the hell am I driving visitors away when my traffic has plummetted during my Texas exile? Oh yeah, because the hotel bartender sold me a nice bottle of wine at cost).
Why the surprises in the Iowa caucuses? Why did the liberal media's anointed darling Howard Dean come crashing to a third place loss? The simple answer is that Democrats there are (1) illiterate, (2) wimpy, (3) doddering, (4) sore losers, and (5) pig farmers.
This past week someone tried to provoke Wesley Clark to an attack on other candidates over defense, asking him if he wasn't a "wolf in sheep's clothing". The General scored at least three points for saying he never considered the Democratic Party a bunch of sheep. In last night's TV interview Howard Dean said "I feel a little sheepish." Though I ripped that line out of context, just wait. Some media puff adder will turn those words into a disagreement with Clark. They love to play "Let's you and him fight."
NASA's Spirit rover communicated with ground controllers early this morning, sending back some data and giving hope that normal operations might resume.
The rover had gone mostly silent Wednesday, returning only beeps to acknowledge it was alive. For unknown reasons, Spirit could not transmit data.
NASA officials said in a statement this morning they had received a signal at the agency's Deep Space Network antenna complex near Madrid, Spain at 7:34 a.m. ET.
Spirit communicated for 10 minutes initially and then later for 20 minutes more, for a total of a half-hour of data transmission.
The transmissions arrived during 90-minute window of opportunity after the rover woke in the Martian morning. Data was transmitted at a rate of either 10 bits per second or 120 -- two separate NASA statements give differing numbers. Officials did not indicate whether the rate was normal or how optimistic they are based on the transmissions.
"The spacecraft sent limted data in a proper response to a ground command, and we're planning for commanding further communication sessions later today," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager Pete Theisinger at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
If Spirit had my mother, it would never live this episode down... ;-)
When I got to college in '87, I finally got my first exposure to the Mac. I'd been using the IBM PC and PCjr, in addition to my II+, and at first thought the sissy icons and mouse and double-clicking were lame. After about a week, enlightenment hit.
I was somehow able to parlay my Mac and publishing experience into a job at my current employer, waaay back in '92. I spent almost 3 years in the Production department as a Computer Graphic Illustrator, drawing boxes and clouds for the technical training materials I use to teach my classes today. The Big Brother ad alst represents a professional transition for me: I used a screen shot from it to start a presentation during my interview to become a Member of Technical Staff (what we call our instructors) back in '94. I've been on the road teaching ever since.
While my IIsi, IIci, and 520c are all retired, and I'm using a Wintel machine to blog right now, I consider myself a Mac-head to this day. I still have all my old computers in the disaster area I call my office (much to my wife's chagrin). I'll also note I'm listening to music at the moment on Steve Jobs' latest innovation, the iPod (which he is now wisely licensing to HP).
I am not abandoning Dean, have not given up on his prospects, and am actually still firmly convinced that he will pull a Clinton and take the Dem nomination and the White House. That said, I realize that I bought into the inevitability meme despite my best intentions and need to be vigilant. Iowa showed we need to redouble our efforts for our candidate.
Fellow Vermonter, Bob Keeshan, died today. Better known as Captain Kangaroo, he was one of the people who informed my worldview as a toddler.
I met him a couple of times at appearances over at the South Burlington Barnes & Noble. I shook his hand and told him how much he meant to me as a kid, and he was very gracious and kind to me as we briefly chatted.
10. Switch to decaf.
9. Unveil new slogan, "Vote for Dean and get one dollar off your next purchase at Blimpie."
8. Marry Rachel on the final episode of "Friends."
7. Don't change a thing, it's going great.
6. Show a little more skin.
5. Go on "American Idol" and give them a taste of those pipes.
4. Start working out and speaking with an Austrian accent.
3. I can't give specifics yet, but it involves Ted Danson.
2. Fire the staffer who suggested I do this lousy Top 10 List instead of actually campaigning.
1. Oh, I don't know — maybe fewer, crazy, red-faced rants.
I was in the hotel bar last night, and a few folks were sitting at a nearby table. One exclaimed, "Dean sure got his butt kicked in Iowa, didn't he?" I was shocked. Not by the truth of it, but that somebody in Texas (besides Steve Bates) was following the race closely enough to know about Howie.
The people chatting were clearly way more conservative than I am. They also weren't very pleased with the SOTU. Another shock.
My candidate might not win the Democratic nomination, but I still have a glimmer of hope that whoever does win just might beat Bush.
PS--Many humble apologies to my faithful readers for the dearth of blogging, cat or otherwise, during my exile in Texas. Class is over mid-afternoon tomorrow, and after several drinks in the hotel bar I might be able to muster some drunken blogging. Elsewise, probably not until Sunday, since I'll probably delayed and/or wiped out during my trip home on Saturday. Thanks for the concern, and for visiting despite the drought.
¶ 8:28 PM
No, I don't mean in Iraq. Next couple of days mean lighter prep time for me, and maybe a bit of a breather. Still exhausted, but I'm almost home. I've got a great group of people in class, which has made this week go by pretty quickly.
Dunno if I'll blog tonight. Right now I'm chillin' to Putumayo on the iPod.
So I'm disappointed Dean didn't do better, but really, Clinton didn't win Iowa in '92 (Harkin did), Dukakis didn't in '88 (Gephardt did), Bush didn't in '88 either (Dole did), Reagan didn't in '80 (Bush did), and Carter didn't really in '76 (Uncommitted did!). Iowa is first, and it's a nice feather in your cap, but it really doesn't mean a whole lot.
I've also seen Dean's passionate speech in the aftermath. Friends and family reported to me that it was embarrassing, but quite frankly, I don't see what the big deal was. Yeah, it plays into the media meme of the "angry Dean", but at this point, even if he's sugar and cream nobody will report it that way.
In a way, the pressure's kind of off Howie. No longer the alleged front-runner, maybe he'll get a little breather and Kerry will pick up some more flack.
It's a long contest, Dean's still got a reasonable lead in NH polling (if you believe any polls), and the truth will out.
All that said, I would gladly vote for Kerry if he wins the nom. I'd rather have Dean, or Edwards, or Clark, and I won't forgive Kerry for his dirty pool, but he's infinitely better than Bush. All the same, it's probably time to give a little more cash to Howie...
And here's what they're reporting on the early results with 20% of precincts reporting:
And there's the expectations game from ABC:
Democratic presidential candidates vied for victory Monday across the chilly precincts of Iowa, the first step in the battle to face President Bush this fall. John Kerry was leading in preliminary results of an Associated Press survey of Iowa Democrats taken as they entered the caucus sites.
The survey showed John Edwards and Howard Dean battling for second, and Dick Gephardt, the winner of the 1988 caucuses, trailing. Just weeks ago, before the Iowa race turned tumultuous, Dean was the undisputed front-runner and anything less than a victory for him would jolt the crowded field and raise questions about the former Vermont governor's standing.
So if Dean, annointed the front-runner by the SCLM who has savaged him at every turn, doesn't win tonight, apparently he's not "electable". Oy. Well, I can't afford the time and energy to watch the caucus results, so hopefully when I wake up tomorrow all this will be as unreal as the Eagles losing to the Panthers...
[Iraqi cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani] believes in the separation of religion and politics; however, the junk-food version of instant experts on Iraq inside the United States and those who are part of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) were quick to confuse his version of that separation with the Western notion of separation of church and state - which underscores the biblical notion of "render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's".
Even though he has been in Iraq for several months now, Bremer could never fathom the nuances of Sistani's thinking. Viceroys in colonies don't mingle too much with the locals. They only learn the "truth" from the chosen sycophants who tell them what they want to hear. This is so true for Iraq, where the Iraqis have been old practitioners of never speaking the truth to the powerful ones at a given time. To them, the Americans only represent the current fleeting phase of such rulers.
Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark, whose party loyalty and war opposition have come under new scrutiny, won the endorsement on Sunday of George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic Party nominee known for his antiwar politics.
"There are a lot of good Democrats in this race, but Wes Clark is the best Democrat. He is a true progressive. He's the Democrat's Democrat," said McGovern, who lost the 1972 New Hampshire primary to Edmund Muskie but won the nomination.
McGovern, an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, went on to a landslide defeat against Nixon in the 1972 election.
Based on my astute reading of the tea leaves in Iowa:
Other completely random guesses for post-Iowa: Dennis Kucinich will drop out after this first real voting (DC notwithstanding). Lieberman will drop out after NH. Sharpton will stay in the race through SC. Kerry will loan himself more money and stay in through SC as well. Clark and Dean will duke it out until summer.
It's been a long while since I plugged Joseph Pillsbury's Bogworld, so here's another:
PS--Yes, Joseph, I'll try to give some coverage to the O'Neill stuff...
¶ 9:14 PM
Okay, so I've had dinner and am winding down a bit. Yes, ROTK was excellent the second time (sorry Bill, I had to see it w/o you, unless you were in Dallas by some off-chance). A number of people have told me if you're really familiar with the book, or just finished (re)reading it, another viewing is essential to truly appreciate the movie. I agree.
That said, I've decided it wasn't the best of the trilogy, contrary to what many critics have said. Yeah, it completes the story arc, it made the battle at Helm's Deep look teeny, yadayadayada, but I liked the films in this order: 1, 3, 2.
I prefer Fellowship for a number of reasons: at a gut level it, or at least the extended version, felt truer to the letter and spirit of the book; much like the first Harry Potter film, it had that electric sense of new discovery, like a first kiss; I loved the imagining of the Shire and Rivendell, which you don't see so much in the other two movies. I'm probably biased since I've seen Fellowship way more frequently than the others, so maybe I'll appreciate them better in time.
PS--I hate noisy moviegoers. About a dozen teens in the back of the theater kept talking, laughing, and tromping down to the lobby. Kids today...
¶ 9:04 PM
Shameless Pandering Redux
Faithful readers might recall that this humble blog was nominated for Best Blog in the 2003 Koufax Awards over at Wampum. DM has also been nominated for Best New Blog, and the voting has begun! You know what to do.
Please pretend I have been blogging more often and with higher quality than I really have lately. Or you might imagine how great my blogging will be when I get out from under my crushing work load. Alternately, I'll be your best friend if you vote for me.
I'm assembling case study books for tomorrow's kickoff dinner, listening to tunes on my laptop (rather than the iPod). Currently playing Dido's Life for Rent. It came out last year, and as the Rolling Stone review said, it ain't groundbreaking, but it's a good listen.
I really liked her first album, No Angel and bought that on CD after hearing "Hunter" on the radio driving from Sacramento to San Francisco a couple years ago. So I figured I'd take a risk and get her latest as well. I bought the entire album via iTunes, so got 11 tracks for $9.99. I don't think I'm going to buy a lot of albums electronically, but I really wanted something new to listen to this week, and overall I like the concept.
It's still unclear exactly how the iPod is going to influence my music listening and buying habits. We'll see after I've had the thing for a couple months. All I know right now is that the device has been worth it's weight in platinum on this trip.
So I have a bunch of work to do, but I also am planning on playing some hookey today. Gotta unwind a bit, and I have plenty of time to do things tomorrow, but my big internal debate: do I go to the 240 showing of LOTR: ROTK? I really want to see it again in the theater and there's nothing else playing that I'm interested in, but can I afford 3 hours and change when I'm so busy getting ready for class next week (not to mention reviving my blog)?
Three U.S. soldiers and two members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were killed Saturday morning when a roadside bomb detonated north of Baghdad, a American military spokesman said.
A patrol was sweeping the area for improvised explosive devices when the blast occurred on a road west of Taji, about 19 miles (30 kilometers) north of the Iraqi capital, according to a statement from the 4th Infantry Division.
The explosion split open the gun turret of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle the patrol was traveling in, a 4th Infantry Division spokesman said.
The blast knocked the 26-ton vehicle on its side and started a fire, military sources said. A gunner and commander escaped with injuries, the sources said. The wounded soldiers were taken to a Baghdad hospital, according to the military.
I really want to believe we're turning a corner in Iraq. Somehow, I'm not entirely convinced.
All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places
Worn out faces
Bright and early for the daily races
Going no where
The daily races are over until Sunday, when I have a welcome dinner with my students and start all over again. Tomorrow I'll get to chill a little, but I have to do some prep work and other miscellaneous things to get ready for class, so no rest for the wicked. Oh, I plan on doing some blogging tonight and this weekend.
But now I'm off for some drinks and dinner to celebrate a great pilot offering of this course. See ya in a while...
Okay, I'm a bad blogger. Sorry for not posting anything of value lately, but I gotta tell ya, the course I'm doing is a quantum singularity of training: nothing can escape. Alas, it's a pilot offering, a super intense case-based class, we've got THREE instructors working this week and we're all wiped. Lucky me, I get to teach the course solo next week, and in the words of Mr. T, "I predict pain!" Anyway, thanks for the comments and concern about my well-being, or at least that of my blog!
So what's happened in the world outside the training facility?
Well, jeebus, the Dem nomination sure doesn't look like a lock for my main man, Dean (see the various discussions at Kos). Is this like when I don't watch the Cleveland Indians or Browns? They always seem to lose if I don't put all my will into their victory--yes, you can blame me for "The Drive", "The Fumble", and the World Series losses to the Braves and the fish because I missed a few snaps or pitches of each game.
Glad to see the Spirit rover is tooling around Mars now. Can't find a link right now, but one of my students had a pic of Wal-Mart on Mars: proof of intelligent life in the solar system, I guess. Anybody have a copy of the photoshopped photo?
More blogging later, but lemme say this: despite the looooong week, I'm so freaking glad I'm in Dallas instead of Vermont, at least when only considering the temperature.