What's that picture of? The front (mostly) of THE NEW HOUSE WE JUST BOUGHT! We've closed escrow, which means we own this bad boy. More photos will appear below the fold.
Very excited about the home, which is in San Rafael. (For those not in the Bay Area, that's north of SF, in Marin County where both Abby and I spent most of our childhood - well, for her, her entire childhood, and me after 7th grade.) We'll be about ten minutes south of my brother and his family, and about twenty minutes north of both our parents. All this will be great for babysitting.
What's that about babysitting? Well, that's the other, frankly BIGGER news and move towards becoming an adult. Abby is pregnant! Due in June, and yes we will be finding out the sex beforehand, hopefully next month.
In any case, some big changes lie in store for us including a full kitchen renovation and preparing for lack of sleep for the next two years or so. Good times!
More pics of our new house...
Paul Krugman's gem from yesterday's blog post:
If the economy is growing, and tax receipts are rising, then it shows that past tax cuts achieved wonders, plus the Laffer curve is right — so let’s cut taxes some more!
If the economy is shrinking, well, it needs a boost — and what better boost than another round of tax cuts!
Yup...in the Republican view of things, nothing can't be solved by a tax cut.
Well, that was a hell of a football game, the kind that the 49ers have been losing pretty frequently this year. Kurt Warner threw for approximately 1,000 yards, but Frank Gore and others really rallied, and hats off to Trent Dilfer for getting the offense in gear. It's the first game ALL SEASON that the 49ers gained over 300 yards in total. While it's beyond sad that it took this long, it's certainly a positive development.
Whether it's been injury or something else, Alex Smith didn't move the team down field like this once this year, and remember, this is Trent Dilfer we're talking about, not Johnny Unitas.
In the end, Warner made a few bad plays and shockingly the 49ers capitalized on it. Before anyone freaks out over the victory, these are the Cardinals we're talking about - but still, good times.
I also - I think, since I don't have live scoring in one league - clinched the playoffs in both of my fantasy football leagues. Neither of them have playoffs starting for a few weeks, but it's good to have that sealed up as early as possible. My teams are both weaker than they were just a few weeks ago, but anything can happen!
I was talking to a friend today who gleefully knows almost nothing about sports. It’s bizarre, and probably fodder for more thinking, but I mention this only because in passing, he made a derisive remark about Barry Bonds. Which made me realize that I not only hadn’t posted anything about the recent indictment of Barry Lamar Bonds, I hadn’t really even thought about it.
The indictment, culminating a four-year investigation into steroid use by elite athletes, charged Bonds with four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.
The 10-page indictment mainly consists of excerpts from Bonds' December 2003 testimony before a federal grand jury investigating the Bay Area supplements lab at the center of a steroid distribution ring. It cites 19 occasions in which Bonds allegedly lied under oath.
That ain’t any kind of good. Just for the record, I think he’s guilty as hell – just as guilty as Rafael Palmeiro adamantly screaming at those who suggested he did steroids – until it was proven that he had indeed done just that. Just as guilty as Mark “Let’s not talk about the past – let’s talk about the future” McGwire.
Just as guilty, of course, as Jason Giambi who gets points for being eventually honest, but still did it just the same.
And that’s the point – everyone did it. If you actually think the only guys who did this are the ones who got caught, you’re crazy. It’s like they say – if you see one roach or mouse in your house, you have LOTS of roaches or mice. (So clean up, that’s disgusting.)
And certainly the guys I’ve just named – and others, to be sure – have gotten some grief about their steroid use, alleged or proven. But nothing compares to the way the government, Major League Baseball and the majority of sports journalism has gone after Barry Bonds.
We’ve been over this before – it’s not just because he’s broken seemingly unbreakable records, but that he hasn’t been nice about doing it. The disdain for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa (who also famously corked his bat) came later, if at all. During their successes, they were lauded as national heroes. Three years later, when Bonds hit 73, it was a far different experience, because Bonds didn’t talk cheerily to the press – and never has.
It’s a game, and Bonds refuses to play – and in doing so, takes on the onus of the fallout from that decision. But what bothers me is that…I respect him for not pretending to be something he’s not. Mark McGwire, by all accounts from people I know who have met him in public, is a world-class douchebag. But when a reporter is around, he’s all smiles (well, until now, when he hides, apparently.)
My friend Bryan passed this along – not sure of the source, but it sounds disturbingly right: The longest a Grand Jury was held open to investigate sexual abuse by Catholic Priests – hundreds of cases of such – was three years. The Grand Jury that investigated Bonds took four years. That’s some fucked up priorities, in every single aspect.
So whatever, this is a road we’ve all already been down. As for the indictment? I am curious to see how the trial plays out, should it go that way. Since Bonds wasn’t part of the Giants plans for next year, it feels more distant than had this happened last season – I’m still curious to see where he signs and how this news impacts that. Like I said, he’s probably guilty – but when does everyone else get the same treatment? And is this really what we want to use our legal system for? I don’t want my tax dollars going to prosecuting athletes for steroid abuse. And sure, there are LOTS of other things my taxes are spent on that I don’t agree with either. But this is definitely on that list.
It’s worth noting that the White House even felt it necessary to chime in on this:
In Washington, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said: "The president is very disappointed to hear this. As this case is now in the criminal justice system, we will refrain from any further specific comments about it. But clearly this is a sad day for baseball."
Do you see any irony here? There should be two fairly obvious ones. One, George W. Bush owned the Texas Rangers, which employed steroid abusers like Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco (and others, if you believe Canseco) while he owned the team. It’s highly possible he didn’t know anything about it then, but he sure does now. If anything, he knows more than most folks how widespread the issue was and is – and yet, his administration wants to get in on the fun of piling on Bonds.
But the second, much more egregious offense by a White House that constantly charts new territory in being offensive, is that this is the exact same crime that Bush just wiped out the sentence for Scooter Libby. Not sort of the same crime – the exact charge. (Plus a few others, as Libby was convicted of one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI. Good times.)
As always, with this White House – whether it’s perjury, military dictatorships or egregious business practices, if you are a friend of the Administration, the rules don’t apply.
I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war … I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
That's right...Barack Obama. What's more, can you ever imagine Hilary Clinton saying something that so clearly puts her on this side of the war? Or any war? I sure can't. John Edwards says things like this now, but not back in October of 2002. And no other Democratic candidate really matters in the big scope of things. As for the Republicans, only Ron Paul thinks this war is anything but a great idea, and a rousing march on the path of freedom, or whatever treacle our President is currently spouting.
If you want change (and...why wouldn't you?) Obama is your guy...I'm just saying.
As anyone paying attention to technology these days probably knows, Amazon released something called Kindle this week – an e-book reader. Such devices have failed in the past for a variety of reasons – but virtually no one disputes that IF a good device gets out there, it’s a huge market opportunity.
Now, I love books. I’ve made it a key part of my career which makes me happy on a daily basis. We have bookshelves packed to the hilt of books and stacks elsewhere of newer purchases that simply don’t have room on the shelves. Some of those I personally will always want in hard copy form, but I used to say that about CDs – and now I own about 400 that I literally never listen to since I’ve burned them all to iTunes. So, this is a real thing – but is Kindle the answer?
Seems like it depends on who you talk to – and by talk, I mean read. From what I can tell, it’s not bad looking (but I am sure Apple could do better). I’m excited by this because the market it potentially opens up is fantastic – anyone remember the early MP3 players? Nope…I owned one too, and I couldn’t tell you the brand. I’d guess within five years or so, there are some very good e-book products on the market and that has to be a good thing.
I want a proper e-book reader as much as anyone, but Amazon's Kindle sounds underwhelming (and unfortunately looks, as a friend put it, like "the Pontiac Aztec of e-readers"). Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says:This isn't a device, it's a service.
That's CEO-speak for "yay, we can charge you for buying this gadget again and again". That emphasis makes it seem like the Kindle is less of a "read any text you want on the go" device and more of an interface for purchasing Amazon's e-books, e-magazines, and blogs (yes, they're charging for blogs somehow...). E-ink is a genuine innovation but until someone without some skin in the media game takes a good crack at it, e-book readers are destined to be buying machines and not reading machines.
Will it replace printed books? Many people are going to opine about whether Kindle can replace a good ole printed book (and Amazon seems very focused on this topic too). Most will conclude that it won’t because of cost, requirement to recharge, dropability, and dunkability (ie, in water), and in these ways it won’t. But this is mostly true for novels and any book that you’d read once and not again. However, for reference books, Kindle kicks butt. For example, I would love to have the Chicago Manual of Style on Kindle, so I can search for rules in a much better way than referring to an index. You can roll your own by sending documents to your account, and they will appear on your Kindle.
37 Signals (funded by Jeff Bezos):
There’s a lot of premature hating going on. Hypercritical negativity is in season among a large set of the web’s independent tech observers.
Most of the 300 reviews on Amazon’s Kindle product page were overwhelmingly negative. Most of the blog posts on the web were overwhelmingly negative. Much of the tech news/review sites were overwhelmingly negative. Again, few people had actually used a Kindle. And none of the reviewers had a chance to live with one yet….Kindle isn’t the first eBook reader, but it’s the first portable bookstore. That’s novel. A book in 60 seconds whenever I want it at used-bookstore prices. And the daily push newspaper feature sounds like one hell of a bonus. I love getting the paper, but I hate getting the paper. What a complete waste of resources just so I can get yesterday’s news. I like that there’s some genuinely new thinking behind Kindle. We should embrace this, not tear it to shreds before it even has a chance.
The beauty of real books is that they don't require a reader, which means that millions of people are eligible members of the market. Even if you only have .0001% market share, you can still get your book read.
The challenge that my hero Jeff Bezos has is that if he's really really lucky, he'll sell a million of these things in a year. And that means that at $10 a book, you need to have significant market share to make an impact. The Sony reader has been out for months and it has sold, perhaps, a few thousand units.
My thought was to use it, at least for a few years, as a promotion device. Give the books for free to anyone who buys the $400 machine. (Maybe you can have 1,000 books of your choice, so there's not a lot of 'waste'.) You'll sell more machines that way, that's for sure. And the people willing to buy the device are exactly the sort of people that an author like me wants to reach. No harm, no foul, all three of us win.
If there were a million of these machines out there and an author had a chance to have her next book show up automatically on all of them, few among us would say, "no thanks to that exposure."
This is a disruptive approach, the sort of thing only a market leader could pull off. It changes the world in a serious way. I wanted to be part of that.
I was unpersuasive. Sorry.
Given that even my most skeptical friends have literally been desperate for ebooks for years now, there's definitely demand for such a device -- the question is whether all the pieces are in place, and whether regular people agree with us geeks…Does the fact that books or other content have to be converted to MOBI format mean that they're eliminating the potential for Long Tail revenues from Kindle users? They say they've got 100 out of 112 best-sellers supported already, but isn't the killer app the books that aren't NY Times best-sellers?
The last question is really the killer...what content will be available? Can I use a device to scan my own books (or download the same book on the cheap)? Time will tell.
When How I Met Your Mother is funny, it's HILARIOUS. One of the funniest running gags on the show is called The Slap Bet - Marshall (Jason Segel) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) have a bet, which Barney loses...which gets paid out in the form of five slaps to the face, whenever Marshall chooses.
This was one of the planks of this week's show, where Marshall chose to tell Barney that he'd be slapping him on Thanksgiving - aka, Slapsgiving.
Totally lived up to the hype, and Marshall's glee of "I wrote a song about it to celebrate!" was also great.
What is this feeling that's put you in your place?
The hot red burning on the side of your face?
You feel the blood rush to your cheek.
Tears start to fill your eyes, and your lips are trembling and you can't speak,
And you're trying, you're trying not to cry...
You just got slapped!
I remember when I moved back to the Bay Area in 1998 and everyone - from the people watering the plants to the CEO's -- were getting filthy rich off of stock options. Seriously - at Schwab, where I went back to work - a woman who had watered plants for years, since the inception of the firm, retired a multi-millionaire.
Well, it's not nearly as widespread as it was, but stories like this warm my heart for the good old days...
Bonnie Brown was fresh from a nasty divorce in 1999, living with her sister and uncertain of her future. On a lark, she answered an ad for an in-house masseuse at Google, then a Silicon Valley start-up with 40 employees. She was offered the part-time job, which started out at $450 a week but included a pile of Google stock options that she figured might never be worth a penny.
After five years of kneading engineers’ backs, Ms. Brown retired, cashing in most of her stock options, which were worth millions of dollars. To her delight, the shares she held onto have continued to balloon in value.
“I’m happy I saved enough stock for a rainy day, and lately it’s been pouring,” said Ms. Brown, 52, who now lives in a 3,000-square-foot house in Nevada, gets her own massages at least once a week and has a private Pilates instructor. She has traveled the world to oversee a charitable foundation she started with her Google wealth and has written a book, still unpublished, “Giigle: How I Got Lucky Massaging Google.”
Yep, that's a masseuse who now has a gigantic home and started a charitable foundation. Awesome.
Michael Vick got a head start on a possible long prison stretch Monday, surrendering three weeks before he was to be sentenced for his involvement in a bloody dogfighting ring.
The disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback surrendered to U.S. marshals in what his lawyer said was another step in his public repentance.
And then you lost me.
"From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for his actions, and his self-surrender further demonstrates that acceptance," attorney Billy Martin said in a statement. "Michael wants to again apologize to everyone who has been hurt in this matter, and he thanks all of the people who have offered him and his family prayers and support during this time."
Vick pleaded guilty in August to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge after his three co-defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities.
From the beginning? Really, you want to go there? Cause...that's part of the problem here. Sure, Vick's utter dishonesty with the NFL, the Falcons and anyone who tried to call him on it until the evidence was out there...well, that's the least of his offenses. (There's the whole abusing and murdering dogs, the illegal gambling, the resin soaked water bottle at the airport...the list goes on.)
Let's remember this about the repentant Michael Vick:
His troubles began in April when authorities conducting a drug investigation of a Vick cousin seized dozens of dogs, most of them pit bulls, from a Surry County property, along with equipment linked to dogfighting.
It's there that the dogfighting enterprise known as Bad Newz Kennels operated since 2001 on 15 acres of land Vick owned.
The gruesome details outlined in the federal indictment -- dogs were hanged, drowned and electrocuted -- fueled a public backlash against the Falcons star and cost him several lucrative endorsement deals, even before he agreed to plead guilty.
In his written plea, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. ... Vick and his co-defendants also face state felony charges. Vick has been charged with two state felony counts -- beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
In short, this is not a nice guy - showing up a few weeks before you have to is actually impressive, but it just moves up the date of when we say goodbye to Michael Vick for awhile. He'll be back - nobody goes away anymore - but for now, it's time for him to actually to go away.
Poll: Obama Takes Lead In Iowa
The new Washington Post/ABC News poll that Dems have been talking about today has finally been released -- and it finds that Obama has edged into a lead over Hillary in Iowa, though the race remains close.
Obama has 30% of likely voters, while Hillary has 26% and Edwards has 22%.
Key fact: Obama is running even with Hillary among Iowa women, 32%-31%.
I saw David Weinberger speak at shop.org a few months ago, and his blog is always an interesting read. He's posted a few times about Facebook recently, and all of it is worth reading. A few selected quotes, but go bookmark the site yourself:
When Blockbuster gives you the popup asking if you want to let your Facebook friends know about your rental, if you do not respond in fifteen seconds, the popup goes away ... and a "yes" is sent to Facebook. Wow, is that not what should happen! Not responding far more likely indicates confusion or dismissal-through-inaction than someone thinking "I'll save myself the click."
Facebook is getting privacy right where privacy is taken as a matter of information transfer. But it is getting privacy wrong as a norm. Our expectation is that our transactions at one site are neither to be made known to other sites nor made known to our friends. We may well want to let our friends know what we've bought, but the norm and expectation is that we will not. Software defaults generally ought to reflect the social defaults. And when you're as important as Facebook — two billion page views a day — your software's defaults can nudge the social defaults.
Our privacy norms are changing rapidly. They have to because we've now invented so many new ways to be in public. That's why Facebook's move is especially disappointing. Although they are rigorously supporting informational privacy, they are setting the defaults based not on what's best for their users but on what's best for them. It's clearly and inarguably better for users to be able to opt out of the entire third-party system, but it's clearly more lucrative for Facebook to make it hard to opt out (not to mention making it an opt in system).
Businesses always choose sides, implicitly or explicitly. Facebook has been notable for being on its users' side. Not in this case. In fact, because this new ad plan invokes Facebook on other companies' sites, it feels like we're being ganged up on. Even worse, in this case the gang is so strong, it could reshape privacy's norms.
- Tonight, my TiVo suddenly decided we didn't want it to record Survivor, which is ranked #1 in my Season Pass. A week ago, it did the same with Pushing Daisis. Fortunately I caught the second half of Survivor by pure chance, but that's not cool. Neither was the outcome of the show, as I liked Frosti. The worst part of Survivor, and many other reality shows, is that those who are the best at the game get kicked off early, leaving a less interesting group of finalists.
- Another show with that flaw is Big Brother. And apparently, Big Brother 9 is going to be this winter instead of next summer, precipitated by the WGA strike. Will it be more interesting if it's rainy and cold outside (relatively speaking...it will still be in Los Angeles.)
- For what it's worth, the fact that The Amazing Race is NOT structured that way is one of the reasons I've always liked that show so much, though it's had some less than stellar seasons.
- The Sundance Channel is now into season three (I actually thought it was just the second year) of Iconoclasts, a show I generally quite liked the first year. For those who haven't seen it, it pairs two celebrities, generally in different fields: Samuel Jackson and Bill Russell; Dean Kamen and Isabella Rosselini; Michael Stipe and Mario Batali. The two talk about their crafts, and go about a day (generally) together. It is generally pretty cool to see people open up on their own terms.
This season, it seems different. I enjoyed Sean Penn and Jon Krakauer, and felt that the political talk was only natural because Penn is so notably part of that national discussion. Then, during the Norman Lear/Howard Schultz (owner of Starbucks), the discussion went there again - against the war in Iraq, asking corporations to be more community-based and generous to employees, etc. (Amusing because in the Bay Area, Starbucks is considered the enemy to small independent coffee shops.)
Let's be clear: I agree with all the politics being preached in these shows. But it still is being preached. And that's kind of lame - because it feels like Robert Redford is preaching to me. I can't imagine how much lamer it would feel if I didn't already agree with him.
- 30 Days is coming back on the air. This makes me very, very happy.
- And Project Runway is already back. The designers seem to be very capable; something Top Chef AND Project Runway both do well is cast talented - not just entertaining or overly attractive - contestants. This year's cast is hard to keep track of - but it was fairly clear who the bottom two were...the crazy lady won't last long but it seemed fairly obvious they'd keep her around for entertainment value. Looks like a good season.
This happened last night, but it still astounds me and I therefore find it worth posting...
My commute is 14 miles, door to door, varying slightly depending on the route.
Last night, it took me one hour and 45 minutes to get home from work. Which is enough time to calculate that this is roughly about eight miles/hour.
That's not fast. It's atrocious, is what it is. First, there was a huge wreck on the Bay Bridge, which stacked everything up. Then, I took my traditional exit, which happens to go right by the Moscone Center. Only when I finally got to Market Street did I realize my route was closed due to a Barack Obama speech.
Which still makes no sense to me, but I guess it's a security thing? There were people EVERYWHERE, and while I plan on voting for Obama, I can't say this was a particularly lovely outcome. Hope he raised some good money though.
ONE HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES. TO DRIVE 14 MILES.
Because to some degree I’m still an emotionally immature male, from time to time I post pictures of women on the blog. (Find them all by clicking the link in the right hand navigation called “women” or do so right here:)
The blog itself doesn’t generate a lot of traffic, but it’s relatively unsurprising that aside from a chick playing the theme from Star Wars on a trumpet, or an occasional sports post that others pick up on, the majority of the traffic seems to go these pages with pictures of hotties.
What surprises me about this is which of these lasses gets the vast, VAST majority of hits.
Is it girl of the moment Megan Fox, star of Transformers and popping up on websites all over the place?
Is it Mandy Moore, the under-rated but white-hot actress/singer?
How about Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly?
Jessica Alba? Emmanuelle Chriqui? Hilary Duff? Evangeline Lily? Miss Lindsay Lohan?
Nope on all counts.
It’s Pamela Anderson. That’s right, 40-year old Pam Anderson drives a vast amount of traffic to the site. And while I obviously get it – the pictures of her aren’t 40 years old, though she still looks great – it’s not just the fact that she poses so provocatively, or that she’s been on the cover of Playboy 11 separate times.
Ms. Anderson has something that really hasn’t been taken over by anyone who is a bit more youthful – that is, someone who fully embraces the cheesecake factor, the pin-up girl mentality…without degrading into soft core porn, etc. Sure, you have your Katie Price’s, but really almost no one stateside really knows who she is. Somehow we embrace Pam in a way no one else has been able to achieve – she’s trashy, but not crude. She’s cartoonish – so she jumps out and stars in a cartoon about herself called Stripperella. And people everywhere are still scouring the internet for pictures of her, which is STUNNING considering what’s out there on the web these days.
I’m not sure of the real reason – she keeps herself in the public eye, and even when it’s for the myriad of bad, stupid marriages, no one seems to ever talk about her with the hostility reserved for Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan or even the deceased Anna Nicole Smith (who would have seemed to be a sister-in-arms, though one with more obvious problems). It’s cliché to say that Ms. Anderson is probably a lot smarter than she seems – but she certainly keeps herself relevant, in a way that no one else has been able to replicate.
Plus, she drives traffic to my blog. So, kudos, Pam. Way to go.
In another day, I'd be posting this as the Douche Nozzle of the week, but it's become acceptable to call Hilary Clinton a bitch for some reason. (Look, I don't like her and hope that she isn't the Democratic nominee, and I'm sure she's not the sweetest person, but she's no different than any other politician in that regard. It's insane that this is considered appropriate.)
Oh, you don't think it IS appropriate to call a former First Lady, current Senator and Presidential Candidate a bitch?
Well, John McCain thinks it's a foregone conclusion that when someone asks "How can we beat the bitch?" that they're talking about Hilary, and what's more, it's an excellent question:
Stay classy, John. Fuckwad.
For those who haven’t been paying attention, quite a little infighting is going on over at the New York Times Op/Ed pages. It all started with David Brooks, one of the more conservative writers there, echoed a theme that many on the right are trying to make “common knowledge” – that is, that Ronald Reagan never did things to cater to the racist Southern white that comprises the basis of the ‘Southern Strategy.’
This despite the fact that Reagan kicked off his Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a place known ONLY for the civil rights murder of three activists fighting for African-American’s rights. The fact that he pledged in that speech to support ‘states rights’ was code everyone could easily crack – states rights, of course, is a term that only started being used when those in the South wanted to be able to make slavery legal in their state, regardless of federal policy.
But Reagan is considered by his fans to be one of, if not THE greatest modern president. (A preposterous claim, but let’s leave that on its own.) That’s why David Brooks can utter such nonsense as:
Still, the agitprop version of this week — that Reagan opened his campaign with an appeal to racism — is a distortion, as honest investigators ranging from Bruce Bartlett, who worked for the Reagan administration and is the author of “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” to Kevin Drum, who writes for Washington Monthly, have concluded.
But still the slur spreads. It’s spread by people who, before making one of the most heinous charges imaginable, couldn’t even take 10 minutes to look at the evidence. It posits that there was a master conspiracy to play on the alleged Klan-like prejudices of American voters, when there is no evidence of that conspiracy. And, of course, in a partisan age there are always people eager to believe this stuff.
To his credit, Brooks also writes about what things Reagan could have done but didn’t in his speech, but his his column is largely devoted to the above two paragraphs, which close his piece.
One would think his fellow columnists disagree with him, and one would be correct. Over the weekend, Paul Krugman chimed in via his blog, The Conscience of A Liberal:
When he went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980, the town where the civil rights workers had been murdered, and declared that “I believe in states’ rights,” he didn’t mean to signal support for white racists. It was all just an innocent mistake.
Indeed, you do really have to feel sorry for Reagan. He just kept making those innocent mistakes.
When he went on about the welfare queen driving her Cadillac, and kept repeating the story years after it had been debunked, some people thought he was engaging in race-baiting. But it was all just an innocent mistake.
Similarly, when Reagan declared in 1980 that the Voting Rights Act had been “humiliating to the South,” he didn’t mean to signal sympathy with segregationists. It was all an innocent mistake.
In 1982, when Reagan intervened on the side of Bob Jones University, which was on the verge of losing its tax-exempt status because of its ban on interracial dating, he had no idea that the issue was so racially charged. It was all an innocent mistake.
And the next year, when Reagan fired three members of the Civil Rights Commission, it wasn’t intended as a gesture of support to Southern whites. It was all an innocent mistake.
Poor Reagan. He just kept on making those innocent mistakes, again and again and again.
Today, Bob Herbert responds on the Op/Ed page itself:
Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context.
That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.
Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.
He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.
He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.
Congress overrode the veto.
Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.
Throughout his career, Reagan was wrong, insensitive and mean-spirited on civil rights and other issues important to black people. There is no way for the scribes of today to clean up that dismal record.
To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency.
Ronald Reagan was an absolute master at the use of symbolism. It was one of the primary keys to his political success.
The suggestion that the Gipper didn’t know exactly what message he was telegraphing in Neshoba County in 1980 is woefully wrong-headed. Wishful thinking would be the kindest way to characterize it.
There you go.
Look, the reality is that the Republicans have been very successful at winning elections and the Southern Strategy - that is, catering to racist whites in the South - has been effective. This is not saying that all whites in the South are racist, of course, but it's an effective strategy, as evidenced by the fact that folks still keep catering to these folks and using the same code phrases. If you vote Republican, you have to do so with that on your conscience. There's plenty to be ashamed about voting for Democrats, but supporting and catering to racists isn't one of them.
And Ronald Reagan, hero to many (including our current president), did this as good as anyone. It's time for everyone to just deal with that.
I’ve been dreading this, but after Monday night’s debacle in Seattle, it’s time to pull back the curtains and take a long, hard look at the wasteland that is the 49ers, and Bay Area sports in general.
The 49ers are awful. Losing 24-0 is pretty embarrassing, of course, but a deeper dive into the statistics are even more telling. They converted just one third down in 12 chances. They had a total of 173 yards on offense, which is of course putrid. Sadly, it continued the season-long streak of the entire team not managing a single game of 300 total yards. That’s despicable, and it takes a team effort – coaches and players alike – to achieve that kind of putrescence.
I know that offensive coordinator Jim Hostler gets a lot of heat, but frankly, they’ve called interesting offensive plays of late, and failed on almost every one of them. Alex Smith either floats the ball past the receiver, or that wideout – especially Darrell Jackson – drops the ball. (What’s with D-Jack? I always loved him in Seattle from a fantasy perspective, but the guy has hands of stone.) Frank Gore has been injured, and there haven’t been many lanes to run through when he’s been active.
The defense is solid but spends so much time on the field that they end up giving up too many plays, and at times they look unable to stop anyone. Again, the real problem is the line – as the saying goes, being a quarterback is pretty easy when you have all the time you need to find an open receiver. Whether it’s Matt Hasselback, Joey Harrington or Eli Manning, the 49ers can’t tee off on a soul, and while their secondary is good, no one can cover folks for that long.
Often, I worry about the play calling – the team doesn’t so much seem as needlessly conservative as I’d thought early in the season, but they really seem to miss opportunities far too often. It’s easy to second guess, but the coordinators seem sloppy. Mike Nolan – and I should express here and now my total condolences on the passing of his father, another former 49ers head coach – is, I believe, a good head coach. But as Ira Miller wrote in a recent column, it’s not clear that he – or most any head coach – should serve also as the GM.
I watched the Broncos-Chiefs game for awhile this weekend, and what struck me was that before the season, no one would have listed Brandon Marshall or Dwayne Bowe as exactly the kind of receivers the 49ers should have, but they are – big, physical and with great hands. The Niners certainly have had the draft picks to grab a good wide receiver, but haven’t done so in years.
And of course, the Patriots have the 49ers #1 draft pick this year – looking like a top five pick at that. While I know the team can benefit from a lower salary burden in the draft, they need to spend each and every pick on the defensive line, offensive line and wide receiver. Two of each with the balance at DL, and they might find some players to right the ship starting next year. Because this season is virtually over.
What’s sad is not just the collapse of my favorite team in all of sports, but the general decline of sports in the Bay Area in general. The 49ers are terrible and the Raiders aren’t much better. The Giants might be unwatchable next year (it’s insane – INSANE – that you don’t hear their names in the Miguel Cabrera or A-Rod discussions), and the Warriors really seem to have self-immolated with the Jason Richardson trade, losing a lot of the momentum they created in the playoffs. The A’s are in the best shape – and they finished 18 games out in the AL West. (Note: I think the Sharks are supposedly good, but San Jose isn’t in the Bay Area, and hockey isn’t a sport I care a whit about.)
Now, let’s be clear – I’m not expecting a return to maybe 20 years ago, when the 49ers were winning Super Bowls, the Giants met the A’s in the World Series and the Warriors were making the playoffs. But this is just pathetic, and painful and embarrassing. This is one of the great metropolitan areas in the country – nay, the world! – and we can’t field a single competitive sports team.
What team will right the ship first? I’d bet on the A’s, as they are the team who has proven they can win quickly and on the cheap. But I’d love it to be my 49ers or Giants.
Courtesy of Matthew Yglesias, who in turn got the following from Ann Friedman, a graph here to show the racial diversity of the campaign staffs of many of the top contenders for President.
Really, is this all that suprising? Well, sort of. What's shocking is that apparently Giuliani's staff is 100% white, which is something one would think you'd have to actively try to achieve given the American landscape these days. And I'll just leave the fact that Republican staffers are much whiter than their Democratic counterparts on its own - no explanation necessary, as many of the GOP candidates are still playing the 'scary brown people' card, even in 2007.
Of course, Matthew Yglesias points out that Rudy is plenty diversified:
...only Giuliani among the major contenders has child molesting priests and mobbed-up former police commissioners in his retinue. It's only diversity in the racial and gender senses that he's lacking.
Been real busy of late, but this snippet from the NYTimes felt worth passing along:
Bush vetoed no bills during his first five years in office. He has since vetoed a stem cell research bill twice, an Iraq spending bill that set guidelines for troop withdrawals, and a children's health insurance bill. House and Senate Republicans managed to sustain those vetoes.
Man, what a guy. He vetoes nothing - including horrible bills that racked up huge deficits like the Medicare and Pharmaceutical bills - but he wants to veto research into finding ways to cure serious medical problems, provide insurance to poor children and start measures to end a brutal war that more than 60% of the country is against.
That's leadership, folks. What a douche. Glad the Senate finally put him in his place, even if its not the first thing I'd have chosen to do that with.
Miguel Cabrera figures to be one of the big name to change teams during the offseason, with the Florida Marlins' young slugger being dangled at the general managers' meetings.
On a day when GMs voted to recommend the limited use of instant replay, action started to percolate on players. Particularly third basemen.
Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams acknowledged Tuesday that he was listening to offers for Joe Crede. The New York Yankees, who lost Alex Rodriguez when he opted out of his contract and became a free agent, could get involved in talks for both Cabrera and Crede.
Cabrera, a four-time All-Star, made $7.4 million this year after winning in salary arbitration and is likely to make over $10 million next year, more than the budget-conscious Marlins want to pay. Two years ago, Florida traded many of its top players and got top prospects. Teams were waiting to find out which prospects the Marlins would want for Cabrera, their 24-year-old third baseman.
Seriously, Cabrera is one of the few young players who could resurrect the Giants franchise. There's no one besides Lincecum and Cain that shouldn't be made available in this effort to get Miggy Cabs. RUN, Mr. Sabean, run!
In a really pleasing development, Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney is now blogging for NPR, in a column called Monitor Mix. If S-K isn't going to release new music, I guess this is as much as I can hope for, yes?
And what's more, she's a good, funny writer.
Song stuck in my head: Theme from "Curb Your Enthusiasm"
Maybe because it's the only aspect of the current season that isn't brutal. And it's the only part of the show I can repeat out loud without offending anyone.
Most recent album I learned to love only by listening to it as background music: The National's Boxer
Check it out. (And yes, I love the fact that she likes one of my new favorite bands, The National.)
In the ongoing saga of "Greebs can't pick the football games..." this week is a DISASTER. My random picks, which chose the visiting team, scored just one less than the picks I made using my infinite football knowledge...which means I can beat a random pick, yes?
Well, not quite. My picks got ONLY FOUR correct. That's so pathetic I can't write much more. I'm going to go sit in a corner and rock myself slowly to sleep.
Since the tribes merged last night, it’s well past time to discuss Survivor: China. Any fan of reality (or ‘unscripted’) television has to recognize that Survivor is the King of Beers, so to speak. No other show combines the psychological game play with actually demanding physical challenges, and clearly, no one is remotely as good of a host as Jeff Probst. (Seriously, he should be contracted to be the host on EVERY show. They’d all be better.)
The fact that they’re in China is marginally interesting – whether it’s the forced reliance on the writings of Sun Tzu (and I’m somewhat appalled that no contestant appears to have heard of, let alone read, The Art of War previously), or the slow-motion kung fu style they’ve put into some challenges, the fact remains they’re in a tropical island area (a gorgeous one, at that).
The irony of a show as successful as Survivor is that the best fans of the show make the best players – which makes for the least exciting seasons. They figured this out awhile ago, and most of their recent casts have been with people who are not life-long fans. Viewers like myself can therefore relish in the stupidity of Peih-Gee and Jamie intentionally throwing a challenge. This never, ever works. Surprise! Jamie was kicked off last night, and Big Ears Peih-Gee isn’t long for the game unless she rebounds quickly. (By the way, could Mark Burnett possibly cast an Asian woman who isn’t uptight and overly analytical? Just once. Thanks.) They’ve also finally stopped casting beautiful people everywhere, which got pretty old. In fact, the best looking people on the show have basically been kicked off, capped off with Jamie’s eviction last night.
The best part of the show last night – though not quite as amazing as it could have been – was Jamie thinking she’d found an immunity idol, which she hadn’t. James had both of them (courtesy of a brilliant plan from Todd in last week’s episode that backfired when lunchlady Denise couldn’t eat a balut) and was besides himself thinking of Jamie busting out an immunity idol that was simply a piece of plywood.
As it turned out, she had to try to use it – and did so in a way that didn’t make her look too stupid (though Probst tossing it into the fire was yet another priceless moment), and found her way out of the game. Jean-Robert looked terrified – somehow the possibility of the immunity idol didn’t seem to have occurred to him (and yes, he's a professional poker player) – as he would have gone had Jamie’s idol been for real.
Right now, there are a few folks I would like to see win, though I’m sure at least a few of them will do something repugnant in the next few weeks to make me root against them. I do like Todd, the flight attendant who probably would be the lightest contestant ever if Courtney, all 17 pounds of her, wasn’t sitting there acting like a coat rack. Todd knows the game and is obviously a huge fan, and so far is playing it quite well. James, the gravedigger who might have the most impressive physique of any contestant ever, is hard to root against – he’s likeable and competes at full strength all the time. But my current favorite has to be Frosti, the parkour athlete who seems to get along with everyone and not stand out for the athlete he obviously is.
Survivor keeps on proving itself to be the cream of the reality crop, and this season is no exception to that rule. I’m hooked.
As, of course, I am for The Amazing Race, which returns this Sunday! Can’t wait…
THAT...is not flattering.
I have nothing really to offer besides that. Thanks to the always entertaining Go Fug Yourself.
But I do love Tyra Banks looking awful. I can't stand that woman, and if I still watched her show, I'd wish that a contenstant who was getting told by Tyra that "you always have to look good because you never know when a photographer is going to snap a picture of you," that they'd hold THIS up and say, "Oh, like this?"
Not that I would expect someone who calls himself "Dog" to be brilliant, but this is flat our moronic, racist and hilarious (in a schadenfreude kind of way):
Here are some snippets from the understandably controversial chat, in which Chapman—a Hawaii-based bail bondsman by trade—discusses with his son the repercussions of having a black person around while he and his team use the N-word (Tucker's girlfriend, Monique Shinnery, is black):
"I'm not taking a chance...not because she's black but because we use the word n---er sometimes here. I'm not going to take any chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for 30 years because some drunken n---er heard us say n---er and turned us into the Enquirer magazine...I'm not taking that chance at all never in life. Never..."
Then, of course, he is now saying that he's not a racist at all -- but, he uses that aowrd a lot. Which, given that he's white, is somewhat inconsistent with his "I'm not a racist" comment. It's sadi, because I honestly didn't think it was that prevalent for white people to still use this slur, no matter how stupid they are. But I guess folks like Dog exist to prove me wrong.
You're the man now, Dog. The stupid man.
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