Monday, January 30, 2006

Best. Movie Trailer. Ever.


More Feist

Bob Gendron positively reviews Friday's Feist show in the Tribune.
Without abandoning the soft demeanor of her current covers-heavy album, the Broken Social Scene member revealed a broader palette that took her beyond the indie-rock spectrum with which she's associated. In addition to shoring up familiar songs with greater dynamic presence and soul-baring intensity, Feist played a generous amount of newer, unreleased material that hinted she has Delta mud flowing through her veins.
The Sun-Times was a little more mixed.
While she seemed eager to present her familiar songs in unfamiliar ways, the altered approaches didn't play to her strengths. The studio version of her first and most memorable single "Mushaboom" is light, sprightly and insistently catchy, but her three-piece backing band seemed to rush it, and Feist didn't even bother to reach for the high notes.

But these missteps didn't overshadow the treat of hearing her Billie Holiday-via-Astrud Gilberto vocals in person and up close. And the as-yet unrecorded material she played should provide plenty of anticipation for what's in store: Like the a capella opener, the best of the new songs used loops to weave rich, rippling webs from her vocals, over which Feist sang and played guitar.

More On Signing Statements

Dahlia Litwick expands on the legal ramifications of the President's use of "signing statements" here:
Unless you spent New Year's weekend trolling the White House Web site or catching up on your latest U.S. Code Congressional and Administrative News as you waited for the ball to drop, you probably missed the little "P.S." the president tacked onto the McCain anti-torture bill. The postscript was a statement clearly announcing that the president will only follow the new law "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president to supervise the unitary executive branch ... and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power." In other words, it is for the president—not Congress or the courts—to determine when the provisions of this bill interfere with his war-making powers, and when they do, he will freely ignore the law.
Should we dismiss these statements just because President Bush is so brazen in his claims? So willing to take legal positions that are undefended because they're legally indefensible? Will all this just go away someday, when a court dismisses these statements as excessive and unfounded? No. Because President Bush isn't trying to win this war in the courts. Thus far, he has faced each legal setback as though it never happened; or—more often—he's recast it as a victory. He doesn't care what the courts someday make of his signing statements, just as he didn't care what the courts made of his enemy-combatant claims. He views the courts as irrelevant in his pursuit of this war. These signing statements are dangerous because they repeat and normalize—always using seemingly boilerplate language—claims about the boundless powers of a "unitary executive." By questioning the principle of court review in the McCain statement, Bush again erodes the notion of judicial supremacy—an idea we have lived with since Marbury v. Madison. When he asserts that he—and not the courts—is the final arbiter of his constitutional powers, he is calling for a radical shift in the system of checks and balances.

Saturday, January 28, 2006


Saw Feist at the Park West last night.

The opener was her BSS bandmate Jason Collett. His vibe perfectly matched the faded '70s decor of the Chicago landmark -- sounding like a bit of The Band crossed with a Tom Waits-ish growl. A very nice set, highlighted by five guitars (and a bass) on stage with a drumming Feist for "Feral Republic" (I think it was "Feral Republic," anyway).

Anyway, after the break, Feist came out alone for a tape-loop version of "When I Was A Young Girl." While her three-piece backing band was fine, the best parts of the show for me were her Billy Bragg-esque solo moments -- all raspy voice and scratchy guitar.

I guess what was most surprising about the show was her command of the stage. Diminutive as she is, she was easily able to keep the audience right in the palm of her hand. Noreen described her as a siren, who was able to keep every man in the crowd mesmerized.

Worked for me. Great show.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Man Who Would Be King?

Slate's Jacob Weisberg examines the bedrock constitutional issue underlying the NSA spying story -- quite apart from how we should feel about the government taking unto itself the authority to wiretap its own citizens without warrants -- and many other stories unfolding in Washington (e.g., the President is now refusing to supply Senate investigating committees with documents or witnesses surrounding its [in]actions in New Orleans).
... the Senate hearings on NSA domestic espionage set to begin next month will confront fundamental questions about the balance of power within our system. Even if one assumes that every unknown instance of warrant-less spying by the NSA were justified on security grounds, the arguments issuing from the White House threaten the concept of checks and balances as it has been understood in America for the last 218 years. Simply put, Bush and his lawyers contend that the president's national security powers are unlimited. And since the war on terror is currently scheduled to run indefinitely, the executive supremacy they're asserting won't be a temporary condition.

The Article II plus AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] justification for warrant-less spying is essentially the same one the administration has advanced to excuse torture; ignore the Geneva Conventions; and indefinitely hold even U.S. citizens without a hearing, charges, or trial. Torture and detention without due process are bad enough. But why does this all-purpose rationale not also extend to press censorship or arresting political opponents, were the president to deem such measures vital to the nation's security?

I don't suggest that Bush intends anything of the kind—or that even a Congress as supine as the current one would remain passive if he went so far. But the president's latest assertion that he alone can safeguard our civil liberties isn't just disturbing and wrong. It's downright un-American.

As Weisberg points out, this attitude is also of a piece with the "signing statement" that went along with his signing the McCain anti-torture bill in December. Tacitly acknowledging that a veto would be overridden (the bill passed the Senate 91-9), the President essentially said that he'd sign the bill into law with the understanding that it didn't apply to him.

Kobe Beefs

Slate's Tommy Craggs and's The Sports Guy both take on Kobe's 81-point game on Sunday against the hapless Raptors. (Can we just go ahead and call them the Haptors now? Life's too short to keep on wasting the time.)

Craggs' article is a minute-by-minute recount of the game's video, available from Google here, if you've got a spare $3.95 and a spare 2-1/2 hours. Better to read the article and move on with your life. Highlight:
35:04: Requisite Staples Center celebrity interview: The Lakers play-by-play man asks a miked-up Chris Rock, "Do you think [Kobe is] the best player in the league right now, Chris?" Rock, a Knicks fan, replies: "Is Kobe the best player in the league? Uh, he's pretty good. The best player on a bad team in the league, I'll tell you that. … Of all the players on all the bad teams, he's the best." The two announcers chuckle. It's clear that Rock is not joking. The conversation then turns to what "Katzenberg is doing."
Score: Raptors 40, Lakers 29. Kobe: 14 points.
The Sports Guy reminds us that Kobe could have done this a couple of weeks ago against the Mavs, but chose to sit out the fourth quarter -- but then points out that 81 shouldn't have come as any surprise:
After the 62-point game against Dallas, when I bemoaned Kobe's lost chance to make history, hundreds of Lakers fans disagreed. The common theme of the e-mails: "Dude, are you crazy? He's shooting the ball 40 times a game! There will be plenty of chances for him to go for 80!"
His last paragraph is right on the money when it comes to Kobe's legacy:
Maybe this was Mamba's ultimate destiny: One-man scoring machine, gunner for the ages, the real-life "Teen Wolf." Future generations will remember him for the 81-point game and his awesome 2005-06 scoring binge, not for being the second-best player on three championship teams. Hey, that's what they should remember. After all, plenty of NBA players have three rings. Only two NBA players have ever scored 81 points in a game. One is dead. The other lives on.
And at this rate, as the best of all the players on all the bad teams, getting that fourth ring doesn't seem likely.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Mo' Canada

The Tribune op-ed page weighs in today on Monday's Great White North Election.

An editorial leans too far one way, an opinion leans too far in the other.

According to the ed:
Stephen Harper's Conservative Party posted a solid victory Monday over Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal Party in Canadian elections. Thus ended 12 years of Liberal Party rule that had brought an increasingly leftist tilt.
The Conservatives failed to win a clear majority in parliament, so they will need to reach out to other parties to form a governing coalition. But Canada's politics definitely lurched rightward with this election. Closer ties with the U.S. are almost certain as Harper, a free-market economist, assembles the new government.
Canada was ready for a change after the years of Liberal rule. ... Canada was so ready for a change that even charges that Harper was "pro-American" failed to do much damage.
Solid victory? Failed to win a clear majority? Their 124 seats are still 31 short of a majority. That's not even close to a majority. The Grits failed to keep a government together with 133 seats. Victory, yes. Solid? Not so sure. The fact is that this might well have been the Tories best chance to gain a majority and the ability to lead Canada clearly in their direction -- and they failed.

As pointed out here:
What does it mean? It means that, for Harper, running a perfect campaign isn't enough. Having his opponent run a terrible, terrible campaign isn't enough.

It means Harper has to run a perfect government. No mistakes. He has to ensure there are no backbench bimbo eruptions whatsoever. No fumbles, no flubs.

He has to show his party is indeed moderate and centrist.
The op, on the other hand, veers to sharply into the sky-is-falling-while-I-shreik mode.
For those of you who have looked to Canada as a model for progressive social programs, look no more. Socialized medicine will now be under threat as Harper seeks to introduce American-style private health care. Forget about our progress in the area of government-financed child care. One of the Conservatives' top priorities is to scrap the national day-care program. So long to our progressive income tax structure as Harper seeks to ape the corporate-friendly tax giveaways of the Bush administration. And the Conservative agenda may well include turning back the clock on same-sex marriage, capital punishment and a woman's right to choose.
Don't mistake the Conservatives for the Canadian political party previously known as the Progressive Conservatives. That party was devoured whole by the right-wing Canadian Alliance in a merger of unequals that led to the current incarnation. The fact that the new party adopted the name Conservative but dropped the adjective Progressive tells you all you need to know about where Harper and his troops are headed.
Here's hoping that Harper's reign is short-lived and that he cannot do irreparable damage to the Canadian social fabric. And here's hoping that he's not the one who has to deal with another independence referendum in Quebec. Because unless we Canadians can unseat the Conservatives as soon as possible, we might not only be looking at the end of the Canadian dream; we could be looking at the end of Canada itself.
Well. What do you really think?

For all the same reasons, those opposed to Stephen Harper are as wrong about his likely ability to radically change Canada as those who support him. His government, like any minority Parliamentary government, will have to govern issue-by-issue, and in this case by forming coalitions with those with which he has very little in common. That is a very difficult way to "do irreperable damage to the Canadian social fabric."

Or anything else of much significance.

Monday, January 23, 2006

And In Fake Election News...

While the real world Canada holds their elections, in the U.S. we're closing in on our fake election.

The one between Jimmy "Victor Sifuentes" Smits and Alan "Hawkeye" Alda, that is.

And it looks like it will be the last fake election we will see in this country -- at least until the quiver-carrying six-footer Geena Davis takes to the hustings on "Commander In Chief."

Yes, it appears that The West Wing will be wrapping it up after this season. Now, if you had told me this a year ago I probably would have said something witty along the lines of, "so?".

Fact is, though, that I've really been watching this season (having a DVR now doesn't hurt), and it's actually interesting. It's consistently pretty well written, and even the more outlandish episodes (like last night's nuclear accident storyline) somehow still ring true.

The recent life-imitating-art heart-attack death of John Spencer (who had an infarction on the show a couple of years ago) merely pushed a likely cancellation over a cliff, and I guess I'm happy that the show was able to rally to a strong finish.

Little doubt after last night's show, though, that Victor Sifuentes ... er, Matt Santos will soon become our first Latino fake President.

Election Day

Not that anyone is interested, but today is election day in Canada.

After narrowly avoiding a no-confidence vote in May, the ruling Liberals could not avoid one in November, and an election was called for January 23rd.

All predictions are for the Progressive Conservatives to take over control of a minority government, led by Albertan Stephen Harper. Harper is notable in that he is not from Quebec. With the exception of three PMs who held office for only a few months each, every Canadian Prime Minister since 1968 has been from Quebec. He's also notable in that he's being described by some (and this is not considered a complement) as the "Canadian George Bush."

The fact that his party is considered radically conservative because it wants same-sex marriage to be voted on in the Parliament rather than simply decreed by the courts gives you an indication of just how different things can be on the other side of the 49th parallel.

As fractious as U.S. politics may seem, it is nothing compared to our frosty northern neighbor's. The fact that the Conservatives will have a minority government basically means that in order to pass legislation they will have to make common cause with either a party to their left (Liberals), a party way to their left (New Democrats), or a party that only exists in order to break up the Canadian Confederation (Bloc Quebecois).

The only reason to expect that anything other than complete gridlock will happen will be the fact that they all know how pissed voters will be if they force another election before a decent interval has passed.

So it seems as though Harper will lead a hamstrung government that only be able to make changes incrementally and will, like any minority government, start gearing up for the next election.

Friday, January 20, 2006

More From Friedman

Tom Friedman is back on energy policy today:

Friends, we are in the midst of an energy crisis - but this is not your grandfather's energy crisis. No, this is something so much bigger, for four reasons.

First, we are in a war against a radical, violent stream of Islam that is fueled and funded by our own energy purchases. ...

Second, ... If we don't quickly move to renewable alternatives to fossil fuels, we will warm up, smoke up and choke up this planet far faster than at any time in the history of the world. Katrina will look like a day at the beach.

Third, because of the above, green energy-saving technologies and designs - for cars, planes, homes, appliances or office buildings - will be one of the biggest industries of the 21st century.

Finally, if we continue to depend on oil, we are going to undermine the whole democratic trend that was unleashed by the fall of the Berlin Wall. ... Indeed, this $60-a-barrel boom in the hands of criminal regimes, and just plain criminals, will, if sustained, pose a bigger threat to democracies than communism or Islamism. It will be a black tide that turns back the democratic wave everywhere, including in Iraq.

The one thing we can do now to cope with all four of these trends is to create a tax that fixes the pump price at $3.50 to $4 a gallon - no matter where the OPEC price goes. Because if consumers know that the price of oil is never coming down, they will change their behavior. And when consumers change their behavior in a big way, G.M., Ford and DaimlerChrysler will change their cars in a big way, and it is cars and trucks that consume a vast majority of the world's oil.

The more Detroit goes green, the faster it will be propelled down the innovation curve, making it more likely that Detroit - and not Toyota or Honda or the Chinese - will dominate the green technologies of the 21st century. A permanent gasoline tax will also make solar, wind and biofuels so competitive with oil that it will drive their innovations as well.

George Bush may think he is preserving the American way of life by rejecting a gasoline tax. But if he does not act now - starting with his State of the Union speech - he will be seen as the man who presided over the decline of our way of life.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Not That Ironic

Bob Herbert on one of the "ironies" surrounding the government's disregard of existing law regarding the domestic use of the NSA:
I find it peculiar that an awful lot of Americans who would be outraged by the burning of the American flag are positively sanguine about the trampling of the Constitution.
Actually, the two attitudes seem perfectly aligned. Civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution are sometimes an unnecessary luxury.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Newest Leastest Loved

Little doubt about who is the latest Hoosier to join the pantheon of Illini Guy's least-loved opponents.

In addition to having a name straight from central casting for Pride & Prejudice, Marco Killingsworth put 23 and 12 on the Illini -- just enough to allow the candy-stripers to eke out a 62-60 win in Bloomington.

He did so while proving to be a maximum dickhead throughout -- all the way to joining in the odd court-rushing celebration after the game.

"They're a top-10 team winning at home," (James) Augustine said. "Our fans don't storm the court after every win. I mean, it's funny."

It's also a trend. Ten days earlier, Iowa fans reacted exactly the same way after the Hawkeyes beat Illinois. (via the Peoria Journal-Star)

Hey! Crimsony Cream fans. January 17th. 2-point win in a game you were favored to win by 2-1/2.

Calm down.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Illini Guy

NYT article today about "The Illini Guy," an Edwardsville, IL Illini fanatic.

"During the game, the Illini Guy refused to answer phone calls. Someone tried the doorbell, which plays the Illinois fight song, but the Illini Guy stuck with his Saturday game plan: watching Illinois basketball.

The next day, the Illini Guy felt well enough to talk about the loss, which dropped his team's record to 15-1. He even managed to do a bit of laundry. "One load of blue clothes, one load of orange clothes," he said.

And then the Illini Guy, a graduate of Illinois, class of 1977, went into a personal spin cycle. "After a 2-9 football season, this basketball team is helping to heal a lot of wounds," the Illini Guy said.


He told family members that if they die during the Illinois football and basketball seasons, it should not be on a Wednesday or a Thursday.

"That would mean the wake would likely fall on a Saturday, and I'm not missing my games," he said. "My father complied - he died in May."

In May, of course, the basketball season is over. Which raised the question: What is the Illini Guy's life like between the Illinois basketball and football seasons?

"During that time, there is really no meaning to my life," he said.

Seems pretty normal.

My favorite aspect of the story? Has to be the blue Ritz crackers covered in orange squeeze cheese in the picture.



Personally, I think it must be some sort of karmic payback for the White Sox, and the Bears, and the incredible roll that Illinois basketball has been on.

How else to explain the fact that all of a sudden Tubby Smith has completely forgotten how to coach, and Rajon Rondo has completely forgotten how to play the game of basketball?

The Listlesscats made it 3 in a row yesterday, opening the SEC season with two home losses, the latest to a depleted Alabama Crimson Tide.

Some good signs -- Tubby seems to have figured out that he needs to shorten his rotation (Bobby Perry didn't play at all), and the most promising (and exciting) part of the game was spent experimenting with a Nova-esque four-guard lineup.

Some bad signs -- the four-guard lineup was back in storage in the second half, and at crunch time both Randolph Morris (19 points) and Rajon Rondo were out of the game. Unfortunately for the Cats, Rondo was on the floor at the time. Coming out of a timeout with 30 seconds on the clock, 6 seconds on the shot clock and down 1, Rondo inexplicably pounded the ball until time was left only for a desperate fling.

Botched play? Brain cramp? Does it matter?

On the road to Georgia now.

Go Bears.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Sands Of Time

The Mildcats take the floor again today in Rupp Arena, and I hate to say it, but it's entirely possible that the season is on the line.

I know it's only January 14th, but consider that a loss would give them an 0-2 SEC start, with both losses at home. As bad as that would be in actuality, the psychological damage of another home loss would be much, much worse.

The last three outings have been disasters of biblical proportions -- a last-second home win over a decidedly mediocre Central Florida team, a 27-point thrashing in Lawrence, and a first-ever Rupp Arena loss to Vanderbilt (a game lowlighted by 9 points from the boys in the first 15 minutes) -- that have the UK message boards frothing with rage.

Now, understand that many of these are not people with the strongest grip on reality in the best of times. In times like this, forget about it. The fact is that this is a program which has dominated its conference over the past several years -- 4 championships & 2 2nds in the last 6 years -- and was two bad possessions (one offensive, one defensive) from the Final Four just last year.

And many, many of these people now want to fire the coach.

Insane? Yes.

The fact is, though, that the sands of time are running out on this season, which is why today's game is crucial. A win would put the team at 11-5, 1-1, with a couple of wins over Top-25 teams and a couple of losses to Top-25 teams. Not a great resume, but plenty of opportunity to still contend for the SEC title. A loss would mean an 0-2 start with 8 more road games awaiting.

The last time this team had a truly crucial game, the response was strong. This time, the stakes are even higher. Win, and positive possibilities are out there. Lose, and the sands of time will run out even further.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not OK

I guess this would have been just a bit too cool for Chicago.

Childhood's End?

So aren't this and this really two sides of the same coin? One diagnosing a problem to which the other contributes?

Judith Warner joins the rising chorus -- and I've joined in that chorus myself -- who decry the speed with which childhood is dispensed. The close cousin is the argument that children are no longer able to gather outside and develop their own fun -- spontaneous games of baseball or kick-the-can or whatever -- without adult intrusion and organization. I've been part of that chorus as well.

But isn't an attitude like Morford's also part of that problem? If children need the ability to have a childhood, then does it help that someone like Morford is essentially arguing that if children's books also don't entertain him as an adult, then they "suck." (I know Morford doesn't write his own headlines -- no newspaper writer does -- but isn't this one a little much?)

It's the Shrek-ization of childhood culture. The idea that everything has to have enough levels to entertain parents as well as children. Well, I guess that works sometimes (and I'm not sure if Shrek is one of those times), but is it fair to pop up now and hold C.S. Lewis to that standard -- 60 years after he wrote the books?

I read all of the Narnia books to my daughters and no, they're not great writing. Yes, they're kind of flat and straightforward. No, they don't have multitudes of meanings, "shades and ponderings and uncertainties." They're not supposed to. They're children's books! They're not meant to entertain the adult mind, so why be surprised when they don't? Guess what? Children like straightforward narrative and easily identifiable characterizations -- and that's just fine. My kids liked them, and that's enough.

As we wrestle against the rapid disappearance of childhood for our children, shouldn't we also understand that it's OK if they have some popular culture that is actually childish? Do we have be so selfish as to demand that it entertains us as well?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ALL Things Mitch

Guy named Smit.

Blog (or whatever) named SmitHappens.

Pretty much every Mitch Hedberg TV appearance compiled on one page of links.


(SmitHappens is mostly NSFW, though -- not cool if you are @W!)

Uh, Look, Dude

I guess these still apply w/r/t the wife once you get married.

Especially #3. That's a given, right?

And #4 -- that crap should be out as a matter of course as well.

I'm not sure about how useful #1 -- the sweater one -- is under any circumstances. But what do I know?

But #2 and #5? Hell yeah, those gotta help some.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

English Icons

The British Culture Minister Sunday announced an effort to identify the "Icons of England" from across the centuries.

As a mere colonist, I'm not sure if I'm eligible to nominate or vote, but these would be a few of my iconic English icons as viewed from across the pond:

That Union Jack-et that Pete Townshend used to wear back in the '60s;

The car that Patrick McGoohan drove in the opening credit scenes of "The Prisoner";

Becks' white football boots;

Sir Bedevere's helmet in Monty Python & The Holy Grail;

Jean Shrimpton's bangs;

The Queen's Corgis;

The Gallagher brothers' eyebrows.

Howard On Howard

Well, Howard Reich has weighed in on the extra-terrestrial version of Howard Stern in the pages of the Tribune -- after one day.

The verdict?
The words tumbled out in a torrent--vulgar descriptions of body parts, bodily functions and the kinkiest sexual practices.
The speakers seemed to revel in the telling, reiterating the blue phrases like a mantra, then laughing uproariously at each repetition.
But was it funny? Was it supposed to be?
Now, I wasn't able to hear the first day (still working on getting all the pieces of my impending satellite radio put together -- some pieces are in short supply these days), but Reich's description is 100% unsurprising.

Everyone knew that the first day on satellite would consist of little else besides the c-word, the f-word and every other lettered word imaginable -- which is exactly why I'm not particularly upset that I missed the first day.

What Howard (Reich that is, not Stern) seems to have missed while interviewing Tom Dreesen (Tom Dreesen? -- do the lettered words WTF come to mind?) is that you're only going to be able to judge the new show after it's settled in for a while. Yes, the unfettered ability to cuss will be like a shiny new toy for a while, eventually the show is likely to settle into a groove that will be very similar in tone and content to the old one.

With a few lettered words thrown in for good measure.

And that's when I'll be listening.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Me? Nerd, baby. Nerd.

My results from the Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test? Thanks for asking. Mostly nerd.

The test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 79% on nerdiness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 55% on geekosity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 23% on dork points

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

All Ricky Gervais All The Time

If you haven't listened to the Ricky Gervais/Stephen Merchant podcast, do yourself a favor -- it's hilarious. You can subscribe to it (or just download the most recent as an mp3) here.

Meanwhile, HBO is rerunning Extras on HBO Comedy on Sundays at 9:30pm (that's CST) and it is also ... hilarious.

Finally, BBC America is rerunning The Office at every oddball time you can think of (just TIVOed a whole slew of them on Saturday in the dead of night), and these are also ... well, you know.

Friday, January 06, 2006

And Tom Friedman Gets It Too

Mind-blowingly spot on column by Tom Friedman in today's NYT.
What's so disturbing about President Bush and Dick Cheney is that they talk tough about the necessity of invading Iraq, torturing terror suspects and engaging in domestic spying - all to defend our way of life and promote democracy around the globe.

But when it comes to what is actually the most important issue in U.S. foreign and domestic policy today - making ourselves energy efficient and independent, and environmentally green - they ridicule it as something only liberals, tree-huggers and sissies believe is possible or necessary.

Sorry, but being green, focusing the nation on greater energy efficiency and conservation, is not some girlie-man issue. It is actually the most tough-minded, geostrategic, pro-growth and patriotic thing we can do. Living green is not for sissies. Sticking with oil, and basically saying that a country that can double the speed of microchips every 18 months is somehow incapable of innovating its way to energy independence - that is for sissies, defeatists and people who are ready to see American values eroded at home and abroad.

Living green is not just a "personal virtue," as Mr. Cheney says. It's a national security imperative.

No matter what happens in Iraq, we cannot dry up the swamps of authoritarianism and violent Islamism in the Middle East without also drying up our consumption of oil - thereby bringing down the price of crude. A democratization policy in the Middle East without a different energy policy at home is a waste of time, money and, most important, the lives of our young people.

We need a president and a Congress with the guts not just to invade Iraq, but to also impose a gasoline tax and inspire conservation at home. That takes a real energy policy with long-term incentives for renewable energy - wind, solar, biofuels - rather than the welfare-for-oil-companies-and-special-interests that masqueraded last year as an energy bill.

Enough of this Bush-Cheney nonsense that conservation, energy efficiency and environmentalism are some hobby we can't afford. I can't think of anything more cowardly or un-American.
We've now just entered another election year -- one in which it's possible (barely possible, but possible) that one or both houses of Congress may turn over, a fact that makes it an important election year. Are the chances good that anyone, anyone running in any of the 468 congressional elections this year will speak out on this subject?

Friedman is right. All the talk about "security" that the Bush Administration makes pales in significance to this one. We are utterly dependent upon oil for our way of life -- hell, for our very civilization. Oil is a diminishing commodity for which we are increasingly dependent upon unstable foreign governments in unstable regions. Unless we want to step up the pace of oil wars in the future, somebody needs to step up to the plate and lead on this issue.

468 elections. Any takers?


Bill Simmons' Rose Bowl diary was hilarious, as usual.

His evolving takes on Vince Young...
8:40 -- Let's be honest -- there's no way Vince can succeed in the NFL with that throwing motion. It's impossible. It can't happen. I'm telling you. There has never been a successful NFL quarterback who threw like that. And by "that," I mean, "throws like someone who just realized they have dog poop on their hand and is trying to fling it off."

10:55 -- Texas comes roaring back with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, including an awesome 14-yard TD run by Young. Texas 23, USC 17. Screw it, why couldn't some NFL team just run the option with Vince? Wouldn't you rather have him running your team than Charlie Frye or J.P. Losman?

11:11 -- Young scrambles for 45 yards to the USC 20, giving him 150 yards on the night (and counting). Wow. This guy could throw like Costner's Dad in "Field of Dreams" and still thrive in the NFL. Unbelievable. He's killing USC. Now I would put him above Frye, Losman, Gus Frerotte, Brooks Bollinger, Kyle Orton, Mike McMahon, David Carr, Josh McCown, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, Kyle Boller and all the Detmers. And we're not even in the fourth quarter yet.

11:59 -- This just in: Vince Young is awesome. He just single-handedly kept Texas alive with two crazy scrambles (including a 17-yarder for a TD to cut USC's lead to five). Sure, it's helping that USC is steadfastly refusing to keep extra defenders around the line of scrimmage to contain a guy who doesn't seem like he can successfully throw deep, but still. Fouts sums it up best: "I've never seen anything like him in my life."

12:21 -- Young runs for the 2-point conversion. I now have him ranked above every NFL QB except for Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer.
For anyone who saw the game, you know what he's talking about -- the guy really is like no football player I've ever seen.

Charley Casserly is the GM of the Houston Texans, and the dude has now got one hell of a dilemma. His team had successfully tanked the season closer in OT, thereby winning the Reggie Bush Bowl.

But now the pressure's gonna be enormous on this guy to take Young at #1 (Houston HS & Longhorn legend -- guaranteed ticket-seller) even though he is just the type of unclassifiable player that makes most GMs squirm. The guy's game is unorthodox as hell, but he has so much talent, so much charisma, so much leadership -- so much ability to completely change the way the game is played -- that it is going to become all but impossible to pass on him.

Should be a very interesting run up to the draft in Houston.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

2005: The Mix CD

Another year, mixed into 80 minutes:
  1. The White Stripes - "Blue Orchid" (Get Behind Me Satan)
  2. The Hold Steady - "Banging Camp" (Separation Sunday)
  3. Gorillaz - "Feel Good Inc." (Demon Days)
  4. LCD Soundsystem - "Daft Punk Is Playing At My House" (LCD Soundsystem)
  5. Annie - "Heartbeat" (Anniemal)
  6. The Decemberists - "The Infanta" (Picaresque)
  7. The Mars Volta - "The Widow" (Frances The Mute)
  8. Keren Ann - "Que N'ai-je" (Nolita)
  9. Andrew Bird - "Sovay" (The Mysterious Production Of Eggs)
  10. Kanye West - "Gold Digger" (Late Registration)
  11. Ladytron - "Destroy Everything You Touch" (Witching Hour)
  12. Bloc Party - "Like Eating Glass" (Silent Alarm)
  13. The New Pornographers - "Use It" (Twin Cinema)
  14. Spoon - "The Two Sides Of Monsieur Valentine" (Gimme Fiction)
  15. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "In This Home On Ice" (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah)
  16. Black Mountain - "Druganaut" (Black Mountain)
  17. Silversun Pickups - "Kissing Families" (Pikul)
  18. Death Cab For Cutie - "Soul Meets Body" (Plans)
  19. Sufjan Stevens - "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." (Illinois)
  20. Feist - "One Evening" (Let It Die)
  21. Antony & The Johnsons - "Hope There's Someone" (I Am A Bird Now)

It Could Have Been Worse?

... and then came Central Florida.

Other than Rajon Rondo's game-winner averting the complete disaster of a loss, what at all positive can come of this latest Wildcat travesty?

Ramel Bradley, I suppose, has to have won himself a starting job opposite Rajon. 30 minutes of action, 3-4 from the arc, 3-3 from the line, 3 steals. Given the (all too familiar) desultory start (down 7-0 at the first TV timeout), can there be any reason to keep Patrick Sparks in the starting lineup any longer?

I understand that everyone is waiting around for Randolph Morris' return, but can he really be expected to right the ship of this kind of effort? I mean really, outrebounded 36-27 by Central Florida? 40% shooting against Central Florida? These are not good indicators of what might happen against Florida Florida.

The good news is that a 10-3 record is not as bad as it might be. A marquee road game against an erratic opponent (@ Kansas on Saturday) provides an opportunity for a nice lift heading into the SEC (with Morris on the court) next week.

Of course, a repeat effort like this will only serve to lift a shovelful onto this season. Look for Ramel's insertion into the starting lineup to be the penultimate change before a final (and hopefully ready) lineup is locked in next week.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Most Recent iTunes Random Plays

  • Stupid Marriage - The Specials
  • Toddler Hiway - They Might Be Giants
  • Short People - Randy Newman
  • Middle Man Of Time - Young Fresh Fellows
  • My Wave - Soundgarden
  • Lost In Hollywood - System Of A Down
  • Mind (Alternate Version) - Talking Heads
  • High Fidelity - Elvis Costello
  • Where Your Eyes Don't Go - They Might Be Giants
  • Got Glint? - The Chemical Brothers
  • Deeper Into Movies - Yo La Tengo
  • Victoria - The Kinks
  • My Blank Pages - Velvet Crush
  • Funky Nassau - Beginning Of The End
  • The Ghost In You - The Psychadelic Furs