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  • October 31, 2005

    Abort Stupid Laws

    [Posted by ]

    With Samuel Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, we'll all be hearing about his dissent in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, otherwise known as the spousal notification case. I was all set to argue that requiring women to notify their spouses before they had an abortion was a good idea. After all, in Wisconsin, a spouse is notified when their partner applies for credit. Is an abortion really less important than that?

    However, reading more about the Pennsylvania statute made me want to write about something else completely: how incredibly stupid and useless that law was in the first place. This is what our legislatures are busy doing?

    To explain, the Pennsylvania law:

    did not give the husband a veto power. Rather, a married woman simply had to certify (through her own uncorroborated and unnotarized statement) either that she had notified her husband, or that her case fell within any one of several statutory exceptions, including:

    (1) [The husband] is not the father of the child, (2) he cannot be found after diligent effort, (3) the pregnancy is the result of a spousal sexual assault that has been reported to the authorities, or (4) [the woman seeking an abortion] has reason to believe that notification is likely to result in the infliction of bodily injury upon her.

    As Judge Alito noted in his dissent:

    the evidence showed that 1) most abortions are sought by unmarried women, and 2) about 95% of married women seeking abortions tell their husbands in any event. Of the small number of women remaining, the record was devoid of evidence as to what percentage would be unable to assert at least one of the four exceptions enumerated above. Nor was evidence offered to show what percentage of women would suffer retaliation from their husbands in ways not covered by the four exceptions.

    So, according to Alito this statute certainly did not put an undue burden on women seeking abortions. But, I ask, who in the world was this law targeted at? As far as I can figure out, this law is targeted at women who are pregnant with their husband's baby who don't want to tell their husband about terminating the pregnancy but not because he's not the father or is abusive or because the child is the result of rape. So, basically, the law was targeted at women who are so deceitful and selfish that they'll terminate a pregnancy without letting the father, who by accounts has nothing wrong with him, know about it.

    Did the law require these deceitful women to provide any evidence that they notified their husband? Of course not. Nope. The law would take them at their word. So, women that are prepared to have an abortion without their husband's knowledge are somehow supposed to be honest enough to tell the truth about notifying him. Yeah.

    The legislature wasted their time on drafting a law that applies to virtually no one and has no teeth for the few people it does apply to. What was the point? Was it just a legislative attempt to put a chink into abortion rights? That's what I think. But is that the job of the Pennsylvania legislature? Should they be working for the people of Pennsylvania or working for the pro-life or pro-choice lobby?

    We waste our time debating abortion. We villify good people for their stances on the issue. People have killed others over abortion. Roe v. Wade is bad law, but I almost wish it will be upheld forever because I'd just assume keep abortion on the backburner and spend our time as a nation on something else. Anything else.

    Posted by at 07:11 PM | Comments (0)


    October 30, 2005

    Poll: The Next Supreme Court Nominee

    [Posted by ]

    With President Bush widely expected to name a new Supreme Court nominee Monday, which of these more likely picks would you like to see on the Court? Please feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comments.

    Posted by at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)


    October 28, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 9

    [Posted by ]

    Last week, the SEC completely screwed me up. I think I have the Big 12 all figured out (everyone but Texas sucks), but the SEC is still a mystery to me. Unfortunately, the SEC also has the weekend's biggest game: Georgia at Florida in what's billed as the world's biggest outdoor cocktail party. I've got to say, I've never associated cocktails with football. Now, maybe you have a Bloody Mary or a Screwdriver to start off the early morning tailgate, but after that it's beer. Good old fashioned beer from a can. Yum. Anyway, on to this week's picks:

    North Carolina at #6 Miami (FL): I think North Carolina is a bit better than anyone realizes. I was disappointed by their loss to Louisville, but then they bounced back with a win over Virginia. Miami, on the other hand, is undoubtably a good team, even though it's so wrong that they're ranked ahead of Florida State who has the same record and beat Miami head to head. Stupid pollsters. Anyway, I'd like to pick North Carolina but it's in Miami. So, North Carolina makes it close but...the pick: Miami (FL)

    #15 Wisconsin at Illinois: It would be typical of the Badgers to ruin a great season by losing to a team like Illinois. However, I'm starting to get convinced that this team is not a typical Wisconsin team. They're not great, but they've developed a knack for pulling out a win. And, in fact, I think they'll do more than just barely win today, they'll beat the Illini badly. The pick: Wisconsin.

    #12 Ohio State at Minnesota: When I think of Minnesota now all I can see are the faces of the stunned fans after the Badgers blocked the punt and scored a touchdown in the waning seconds of the game two weeks ago. Heh. I guess Minnesota is not so invincible in the Dome after all. This week, I think Ohio State continues to prove that they are right alongside Notre Dame in the competition to determine the nation's best two-loss team. Again, heh. The pick: Ohio State.

    #4 Georgia at #16 Florida: Another damn SEC game. Why do I even bother? Georgia is undefeated but no one seems to think they're very good. Plus, their star QB, D.J. Shockley is out with an injury. With a lack of any other insights, I'm going for the upset. The pick: Florida, and another unbeaten bites the dust.

    #25 Michigan at #21 Northwestern: Ah, what should be the most fun game of the week. Michigan is on a mini roll (with a side of arrogance) after season saving wins against Penn State and Iowa. Northwestern. Man, they're just on a roll. They are an offensive machine. Sure, they can't stop anybody, but if they can score 50+ a game, who cares? In a battle of my two least favorite teams in the conference, I'm going with the offense. The pick: Northwestern.

    Posted by at 07:37 AM | Comments (2)


    October 27, 2005

    Survivor Guatemala Episode 7 recap - Amy voted off

    [Posted by james]

    The Episode starts with Judd -- what else -- TALKING. It has to really, really, really suck to live with this guy. At least he's apologizing for his blowup at tribal council, "Yeah, man, sorry, man." "My bark is bigger than my bite, man." Ok, man.

    Jamie tells the camera that he wants to keep Judd close, because Judd is only going to keep blowing up. Smart move. (man.)

    Back at Yaxha, Bobby Jon is showing off puss-oozing, festering shoulder sores from the medicine ball challenge. Yick. Brandon has em too, and says that he thinks they make people look "tough." With the look you have going on, Brandon, you need all the help you can get.

    Reward challenge is some goofy event where people have to wrap 30 feet of material around themselves like they're spools or something.... 1 person will be the "winder," and 4 will be the "winders." I prefer to refer to them as human spools. Or "tools" for short.

    Probst tells the teams that the Maya discovered chocolate, so the reward involves some sort of chocolate feast. (fact check: Wikipedia confirms Probst. "The chocolate residue found in a Mayan teapot suggests that Mayans were drinking chocolate 2,600 years ago, making the Mayans hold the earliest record of cacao use. The Aztecs associated chocolate with Xochiquetzal, the goddess of fertility. In the New World, chocolate was consumed in a drink called xocoatl, often seasoned with vanilla, chilli pepper, achiote (which we know today as annatto) and pimento.") I guess ya learn something new every day. Neat-o!

    Jamie and Amy are winders for Nakum and Yaxha, respectively. After a lot of winding and many close up shots of skin-on-skin action (why else do you think they'd do this stupid challenge?), Yaxha wins reward. Side thought: Danni really, really needs a sammich. Seriously. She's so skinny it's frightening.

    The winners take a few zip-lines across the top of the jungle and feast on chocolate. Eat up, Danni, before they producers have to start highlighting you in blue like a hockey puck so the viewers can find you on the screen.

    After the chocolate feast, the Yaxha returns to camp, and Danni tells us that it's her birthday. The team decides to row over to Nakum camp and invite them over for a pool party. HUH? Is that even allowed by the rules? Whether it is or not, they get in the boat and decide to attend the party. "No game talk," everyone promises. [All of the private cam shots show people saying "I didn't want to go" - which can only mean that this is going to backfire BIG TIME. I can't wait.]

    Nakum arrives, and Yaxha shares their pool and their left over chocolate. The day of fun comes to an end, and Nakum rows back. All the way back Jamie is saying how he didn't want to stay that long with "the enemy." Steph, as usual, complains.

    Back from the commercial, Amy starts to act all looney, telling Gary that if he's lying about being an ex-pro football player, she's going to use police databases to track him down. Way to admit your plan to commit a felony, Amy! She probably doesn't have too much to worry about, though - after the brass sees that she's missing a few nuts and bolts, she's sure to get canned anyway. Of course, Gary keeps up the lie.

    Immunity Challenge is your typical puzzle challenge, with the twist being that the pieces are buried in a sand pit. Nakum figures out the puzzle, and they win immunity. This is great news - not because I like Nakum, or that I dislike Yaxha, but because this means that since Steph is on the winning team, we won't have to listen to her whine about how much of a loser everyone else on her team is.

    The team heads to Tribal Council, but not before we're shown a plot by Yaxha to get rid of Bobby Jon. The general sentiment seems to be that Bobby Jon isn't deserving of a chance for a million, because, as one tribemate put it, "he had his shot already." CBS leads us into the vote thinking that Bobby Jon would be sent home. Though he gets two votes, in the end, it's Amy who is sent home.

    EXTRA SURPRISE! Ha, you thought the title "Surprise Enemy Visit" referred to the swim party, didn't you? Boy were you fooled. Probst tells the 4 remaining Yaxha that they will not be returning to their camp - instead, they'll head to Nakum's camp, where the tribes will merge. I guess they're running out of ways to surprise these guys, huh?

    Check out more about Reality TV at our sister site, Zebrality.

    There, you can sign up for mailing lists and discuss shows in the Discussion Forum area.

    Posted by jkhat at 08:05 PM | Comments (0)


    Breeders Cup Picks

    [Posted by ]

    For some sports fans, the biggest day of the year is Super Bowl Sunday, opening day of baseball season or even the bowl games on New Year's Day. I look forward to the last Saturday in October. As the last leaves cling to the trees here in Wisconsin, the greatest horses in the world will gather at New York's Belmont Park to run in the Breeders Cup in one of eight races worth over a cumulative $14 million. While the Kentucky Derby is great, it's a lot of buildup for two minutes of excitement. On Breeders Cup day, there's barely time to digest an exciting race before another one begins. It's a whirlwind of beautiful horses, heartpounding finishes and, oh yeah, great betting opportunities. The beauty of the Breeders Cup is that because the fields are so good, high quality horses go off at relatively long odds. Even mild surprises can be hugely profitable for the savvy horseplayer.

    I'm ready to make my picks this year. A caveat before you print this out and head to your local track or OTB: I'm usually wrong. However, every 4 or 5 years I'm dead on and almost can't lose. Hopefully this will be one of those years. Now let's commence with the picking!

    Juvenile Fillies
    The day kicks off with a 1 1/16 race for two-year old fillies. The big favorites are the Wayne Lukas (from Antigo, WI-woo Valley Conference!) trained Folklore and Adieu. Adieu has beaten Folklore in two out of three meetings. My thought is that there is just a ton of speed in this race. Knights Templar, Sensation and Diamond Omi should all also be near the front. Sometimes two-year olds, as the races get longer, just stagger to the finish and a stretch-runner can pick up the pieces and win. That's what I think is going to happen here. My pick is Wild Fit. This California filly won her first two starts but was defeated in her last race at 1-2 odds. She got tired that day, but I think that will help her be a little more fit on Saturday. I can see her swooping past the field on the turn and passing the tiring leaders. My top three:

    1. Wild Fit
    2. Folklore
    3. Sensation

    The next race is for two-year old males and I see the same kind of pace scenario developing. The huge favorite in this race will be the undefeated First Samurai. People think he's racing's next superstar. I think these people are crazy and my strategy is to find the horse who's going to beat him. In this last race, First Samurai just plodded through a very slow final quarter. He might be a great miler, but I think he's just average beyond that distance. Like the fillies, the colts' race has a lot of early speed. In addition to First Samurai there's the ultra quick Henny Hughes and the good Chicago colt Sorcerer's Stone. I want a horse who can run from off the pace. I think that Stevie Wonderboy is that horse. He inhaled the field in his last start, the Del Mar Futurity in San Diego. My worries are that A) he might just be a stretch-running sprinter and that B) he's had a long time off since that last race. Concern B was somewhat alleviated by the fact that he put in a spectacular work earlier this week. Concern A I just have to live with. I'm picking Stevie Wonderboy, but I'm also very interested in Dr. Pleasure. He's a son of Breeders Cup Distaff winner Beautiful Pleasure and I think he's just figuring out what this whole racing thing is about. Dr. Pleasure (along with Flanders Fields who's not racing today) are just going to have to be my tomorrow horses. My top three:

    1. Stevie Wonderboy
    2. Dr. Pleasure
    3. Stream Cat

    Filly & Mare Turf
    Last year's winner, Ouija Board, is the probable favorite again this year. The big question is whether she's the same horse she used to be. I think she's not and that therefore the race is wide open. While some will jump all over the Europeans in the turf races, I think that actually the American turf runners in all divisions are strong. So, I'm looking to the home team for some winners. I'm torn in this race between Wonder Again and Wend. Wonder Again is an ultra consistent mare who has gone through a limited campaign specifically designed to get her to peak for the Breeders Cup. Wend, on the other hand, is an up and coming runner who has shown absolute flashes of brilliance. And, unlike some others in here, she's proven herself at the 1 1/4 distance. I really want to pick Wend, but I don't think she likes soft turf. And, with all the rain on the East Coast lately, the Belmont turf is likely to be at least somewhat soft. The question really is how much it will dry out. I don't want to be a slave to the weatherman, so I'm going to reluctantly choose Wonder Again. My top three:

    1. Wonder Again
    2. Wend
    3. Film Maker

    The sprint is always my favorite race on the Breeders Cup card. When handicapping the Sprint, I like horses who have demonstrated ability at 6 furlongs. I also like to go with the speed of the speed. This year, unbeaten Lost In The Fog will probably be the shortest price of the day. He's a three year old who has run all over the country and almost always runs from the lead. However, I think a couple of things are going to stand in his way here. First, he has never run against tough older horses. Second, I don't think he's going to get the lead. Looking at opening quarter times, I think that a couple of horses could get under him: Attila's Storm, Battle Won and Lifestyle. Of these, I think Lifestyle is the quickest. Normally, I'd take that opinion to the betting window. However, these horses are all so evenly matched that I think they'll destroy each other. Taste Of Paradise is the logical closer, but I've going with something completely different: Wildcat Heir. Wildcat Heir should be able to sit just off the leaders and drive by them in the stretch. He's had some injury problems, but his last race was absolutely spectacular, earning a huge 117 Beyer figure. My top three:

    1. Wildcat Heir
    2. Lifestyle
    3. Lost In The Fog

    In the Mile, I've gotten to the point that all I pay attention to is how fast horses race their final quarters. Because the Mile turns into a mad dash at the finish, I think this is the determining factor in who wins. I also have a bias towards the French. Seriously. For whatever reason, French trainers seem to better understand how to get horses ready for the Breeders Cup than their English or Irish counterparts. Anyway, looking at the preps, it's clear to me that last year's winner, and my pick this year, Singletary, is still the best closer in the field. The other horses I can see there with him are Artie Schiller and the filly Sand Springs. The European runner Majors Cast has a past performance line that suggests he has a good closing kick, but it hasn't been enough for him to win in Europe, so why would it be enough here? The likely favorite, Leroidesanimaux (French for "The King of the Animals", although the horse is actually Brazilian) does not have a fast closing kick. Instead, he runs from the lead like past Mile winner Lure. Unless Leroidesanimaux is the second coming of Lure I don't think he's going to win. Plus, he's starting wearing bar shoes, which may be an indication of an injury and he's trained by Bobby Frankel, who almost never wins when it counts. My top three:

    1. Singletary
    2. Artie Schiller
    3. Sand Springs

    Last year's winner, Ashado, will be the favorite again this year. If she wins, she'll become American racing's all time top female money earner. I can make a case for Happy Ticket, who lost to Ashado last out to win. I also think that Island Fashion may have returned to the form she showed last year. Stellar Jayne could even come through with a win. But, at the end of the day, Ashado just seems to come through when it counts the most. She finished second in the Juvenile Fillies in 2003, she won the Kentucky Oaks and the Breeders Cup Distaff last year. She's my pick to repeat. Wow, I'm a little concerned with picking two repeat winners in a row, but hey, if the horses fit, who am I to argue? My top three:

    1. Ashado
    2. Island Fashion
    3. Happy Ticket

    This race feels unfathomable to me. I can't picture how it's going to be run. For simplicity's sake, I've narrowed the horses under consideration to Bago, Fourty Niners Son, Gun Salute and Shakespeare. Bago, from France, won last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Europe's most important race. This year he was a good third. Fourty Niners Son was third to the injured Powerscourt and Kitten's Joy in the Arlington Million. He's also trained by Neil Drysdale, who is a genius and would be my trainer of choice if I ever won the lottery and bought some racehorses. Gun Salute is a three-year turf specialist that hasn't raced against older horses yet, but has run times comparable to his elders. Shakespeare is an unbeaten American son of Theatrical. Both Gun Salute and Shakespeare are trained by Bill Mott. I really can't choose between them. I think Fourty Niners Son is probably the best value, but is he the best horse? Shakespeare was incredibly game in his last win, but did that take too much out of him? With all these questions, the answer I keep turning to is to simply pick Bago. So I will. My top three:

    1. Bago
    2. Shakespeare
    3. Fourty Niners Son

    Finally, we come to the classic. I agree with most handicappers that the Classic is really a three horse race between Borrego, Saint Liam and Rock Hard Ten. Borrego's last race was a powerful tour de force. But, Borrego has been consistently handled by Rock Hard Ten. I think that big, black and beautiful horse had the perfect prep in the Goodwood earlier this month at Santa Anita. He has a slight injury right now, but if his trainer, the great Dick Mandella, is unconcerned, then so I am. I know I should also consider Saint Liam for the victory, but I'm really not. I just can't get past Rock Hard Ten, my definitive pick.

    Update: Rock Hard Ten has scratched. In his absence, I'm moving my pick to Borrego. I'm not as confident, but I think he'll win easily now if he can repeat his Jockey Club Gold Cup performance. My top three:

    1. Borrego
    2. Suave
    3. Saint Liam

    Whew! So those are all my picks. Good luck and happy wagering to all.

    Posted by at 12:52 PM | Comments (2)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    Today, in my neverending quest to find the answers to the questions that plague men's souls, I turn to the King.

    Personally, I love the Burger King mascot. I'd love to wake up with the King. And hey, at this point I half expect to hear that the Packers have signed the King to a short term contract. Let's face it, they could use the help.

    Posted by at 12:29 AM | Comments (3)


    October 25, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap: Episode 5

    [Posted by ]

    New! Visit our new Zebrality forums to talk about The Amazing Race and other TV topics.

    Not surprisingly, tonight's episode was a non-elimination leg of the Race. I knew it was coming, but I had hoped it would come in time to save the Aiellos or Schroeders. Instead, it saved the Godlewski sisters, who feel to the bottom of the pack because Sharon couldn't get a hit off of a Panamanian little leaguer.

    Wait! Did I type Panama? I did! You know what that means, the racers actually left the country! What's funny is that even the teams were giddy to be getting out of the States. I'm thinking that this isn't the kind of Race they signed up for.

    So anyway, teams traveled to Panama and had to take boats through the Panama Canal and find some guy on an island in a hammock. First, I need to confess that the song "Panama" was in my head for this entire episode. Thanks producers. Second, to get that song out of my head I invented a new song that went a little something like this:

    Take me down to Panama City
    Where guys named Phil are looking pretty
    Oh won't you please take me home

    After finding the dude in the hammock teams could a) go for a bungee-jumping fast forward, b) go to a nature preserve and look for wooden birds or c) go to a bunch of music venues and collect instruments.

    The Paolos and the Gaghans headed for the fast forward. DJ Paolo sucked it up long enough to do a tandem jump with his Mom and the Paolo family completed an excellent leg with a first place finish. The Gaghans did some backtracking and eventually completed the musical instrument detour.

    It looked like the bird detour was a little easier to find, so the teams that did that one (the Weavers & Bransens) made it to the roadblock first. In this roadblock, one member of the team had to get a hit off of a little league pitcher. Rolly Weaver and Beth Bransen made quick work of the roadblock, but not before Ma Weaver could bitch at the other teams for heckling Rolly while he was batting. To me, it sounded like some good natured ribbing. None of the teams can stand the Weavers. If one team doesn't like another team, I can explain it away, but when all of the teams hate a team, they're probably on to something.

    Nick Linz and Pa Gaghan also got hits pretty quickly. Unfortunately, poor Sharon Godlewski looked like she would fit right in the 2000 Milwaukee Brewers. That's not good. After god knows how long she finally made it to first base. The Godlewskis obviously knew they were way behind because on the bus ride to the pit stop they put all of their clothes on just in case it was a non-elimination leg. And, it was. As is his new habit, Phil confiscated all of the Godlewski's cash and posession, except the clothes on their back.

    Team Standings:
    1. Paolo
    2. Weaver
    3. Bransen
    4. Linz
    5. Gaghan
    6. Godlewski

    Next week: there's trouble in Weaverville. Woohoo!

    Posted by at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)


    The Mark of the MSM

    [Posted by Laura]

    It's been 952 days since March 19, 2003 when we invaded Iraq. Possibly 2000 American service people have died there, not counting the odd contractor burned alive or beheaded. That's about 2 dead per day.

    The number of days from the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to the 1975 evacuation of Saigon was 3919. Those dates do not encompass exact start and end dates of the Vietnam War - difficult to do anyway since war was never declared - but I think most of us can agree that the vast majority of casualties occurred during those years. Total Vietnam war deaths were 58,158 but to be conservative let's say 56,000 died within that time range. That's about 14 dead per day.

    Every death is a tragedy. But the media's insistence on focusing daily on each death, and the tremendous focus on 2,000 is ridiculous. As U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said, "The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."

    The media would prefer to cover anything but the fact that the Iraqis just sucessfully held an election and adopted a constitution. This 2,000 mark is the mark of the media's desperation to relive their glory days when they helped cause a military to surrender after winnng every single engagement in the war. Unfortunately for them, the main thing that Iraq has in common with Vietnam is the media's resolute insistence that we lose.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 02:49 PM | Comments (11)


    October 21, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 8

    [Posted by ]

    Last week I got burned on two last second plays as both of my picks (Penn State & Notre Dame) lost at the last second. Of course, by that point of the day I didn't care at all since Wisconsin also came back to beat the hated Golden Gophers in the last seconds. F*ck 'em, Bucky!

    Anyway, I feel like I understand the Big Ten pretty well, but I'm just starting to learn about what makes other conferences tick. Hopefully I can use some of these observations to pick some winners.

    #10 Texas Tech at #2 Texas: I think I've got the Big 12 figured out. Each year one team is pretty good and everyone else is pretty bad. This makes the pretty good team look great. The pretty bad teams all play each other so they're not exposed as the frauds they are until bowl season begins. This year, Texas is clearly the pretty good team. In fact, they may buck the trend and actually be a great team. So, I have complete confidence in them against the also undefeated Texas Tech. Texas is the real deal. Texas Tech is just another overrated Big 12 team. The pick: Texas.

    Purdue at #19 Wisconsin: If you've seen highlights of the Wisconsin/Minnesota game you probably think the Badgers won because they were lucky. Let me enlighten you. Down by 10 with around 2 minutes left in the game, the Badger offense drove for a quick TD. Then, the special teams came through with an onside kick that, although they didn't recover it, did trickle down to the 10. The defense did their part by stopping Minnesota on a 3 and out. Sure, Minnesota screwed up the punt, but the Badgers made a lot of their own luck. Our defense is just decimated, but even so I don't think we'll lose at home to an underachieving Purdue. The pick: Wisconsin.

    #17 Tennessee at #5 Alabama: My impression of the SEC is that all they care about is just killing each other. Their fans might be happy beating their biggest rival and no one else rather than have it the other way around. Alabama is undefeated, at home but untested. I can't figure Tennessee out. When I think they're crappy and done for the season they turn in a tremenous effort. My guess is they do it again here. The pick; Tennessee.

    #16 Auburn at #7 LSU: Another SEC game, another game I don't have a clue about. I have a soft spot for Auburn because of Charles Barkley. LSU is probably the better team and they're at home, but I think they've played this season on emotion and you can't sustain that. They're due for another let up. The pick: Auburn.

    #1 USC at Washington: USC is so lucky to still be undefeated. I still don't think they'll win out, but their loss won't happen today. Although wouldn't it be a great story if they lost to Ty Willingham's Washington? The pick: USC.

    Posted by at 07:06 AM | Comments (11)


    The Internet Is Broken

    [Posted by james]

    No, it's not just you. At 2 a.m. this morning the internet started falling apart when Level3 went down. Verio went next. This is undoubtedly the latest in the row between Level3 and Cogent, two tier 1 internet providers that have been making the public very aware of their on again, off again getting-old-fast soap-opera-like relationship. (more info)

    Long story short, depending on how you connect to the internet, you may or may not be able to get to about half of the sites out there. I don't know if this will be fixed by morning, but even if it is, expect your email to be messed up for at least the rest of the day.

    You can try getting up-to-the-minute stats from somewhere like here. That is, if you're able to connect at all.

    Internet Pulse also has stats.

    Update 3:20 AM Central:

    "Level(3) had an OSPF failure in Chicago, that is resulting in nationwide failures across the US and parts of Europe. They are currently working on restoring service in all markets."
    Looks like it wasn't the result of corporate bickering after all. Instead, it was just a few techs that didn't know what they heck they're doing.

    How ya doin, Chicago? Thanks for breaking the internet!
    Love, North America and Europe. (*smoochies*)

    more info:
    boing boing

    Posted by jkhat at 02:21 AM | Comments (11)


    October 20, 2005

    Survivor Recap: Episode 6 - Brian & Margaret Voted Off

    [Posted by ]

    With 18 contestants, I knew we were headed for one of these double Tribal Council episodes. I love it. I could care less about the silly reward challenges. Let's commence with the scheming and voting off.

    Nakum won the cool non-immunity challenge, in which teams attempted to roll a giant ball over a goal line (it was more interesting than that sounds). Although, they still had to go to Tribal Council, Rafe was safe as he won an individual immunity challenge (with an assist from Judd, who gave him the answer to the word game puzzle). As the winner, Rafe also got to attend Yaxha's Tribal Council.

    But first Nakum had to hash things out. After a few beers, Judd's boorish personality reared its ugly head. He may or may not be justified in his Margaret behavior, but he isn't justified in thinking his sh*t doesn't smell. Just because Bobby Jon & Brandon aren't on the team anymore, it doesn't mean he's God.

    At Tribal Council, Judd & Margaret got into it, with more than just a little goading from Jeffy. I think Margaret knew she was a goner and so she had no fear of calling Judd out. Judd, she said, is a bully. Well, no kidding, he's a huge bully who won't even let the other players finish their sentences. Rafe in particular seems scared to death of him.

    Anyway, Margaret was predictably voted out. She left the area without a word or even a backwards glance at her tribe. I don't blame her. Judd, Princess Stephenie and the gang treated her like crap.

    Nakum, on the other hand, is still the love tribe. While Brian wants to vote out Bobby Jon, it appeared that Amy (who is injured again) and Brian were the real targets. Because Nakum is full of cool people, instead of ripping on each other, the tribe falls all over itself to praise both Brian & Amy. While Probst characterized this as sneaky, I think they honestly all like each other and didn't want the person who was voted out to feel bad.

    But, before Nakum can vote, Probst reveals yet another twist. As the individual immunity winner, Rafe will also be able to bestow immunity on one member of Nakum. He does so but it's not revealed to Nakum before their vote.

    I'm not at all surprised that Brian is voted out 5-1. However, I was a little surprised that Rafe gave immunity to Gary. I thought he'd give it to Amy so that Nakum would be forced to keep an injured player.

    11 players are left and here's how I rank them, from my least favorite to my most favorite.

    11. Princess Stephenie: I cannot wait until this entitled loser gets voted off. I'll wish I had Tivo so I could watch it over and over again. Even in slow motion.

    10. Judd: At first I liked Judd, but now I agree that he's a jerk and a bully.

    9. Lydia: She's short and cute, but she's useless. She's a physical liability and she's not even making up for that by being sneaky or interesting.

    8. Cindy: Who?

    7. Jamie: At least he's cute, although at this point he's little more than a Judd hanger-on-er.

    6. Rafe: My favorite Nakum. He has this look of perpetual sadness on his face that just grows on me.

    5. Amy: Tough as nails. She's really impressed me.

    4. Gary: I actually like Amy better, but I think the whole plotline of Gary trying to hide that he's some washed up ex-QB is hilarious. I don't want it to end.

    3. Bobby Jon: He's as dumb as a box of rocks, isn't he? But he is awfully nice and cute.

    2. Danni: She's so much better than I thought she'd be. She's just a tomboy with a good head on her shoulders.

    1. Brandon: I like Brandon so much better than anyone else. Unfortunately, he seems like that guy that's going to get voted out and just miss the jury because he's too much of a threat. I'll miss him.

    Next week's predicted boot (I'm basing this on no spoilers, just my guess): Amy

    For more reality TV news and views, visit our Reality TV site:

    Posted by at 08:16 PM | Comments (2)


    Even a Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day

    [Posted by Laura]

    CSPAN2 - Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) just said something I LIKE. The date is October 20, 2005, time is 6:15pm Central Time. Mark it down, people. This may never happen again.

    She just said that she's going to be putting forth a bill that will defer mortgages for 6 months in the event of a serious disaster - be it a hurricane, terrorist attack, whatever. At the end of the 6 months you don't have to pony up the full amount - if you did, what would be the point? It's tacked on to the end of your mortgage. As a homeowner who was not in debt - we don't even have credit cards! - other than my husband's student loans, before Katrina, and now is very emphatically in debt to cover various daily life items and rebuilding costs, this sounds like a really fabulous idea.

    However, I will spare a thought to Washington Mutual and its investors, and all the other mortgage companies. Can any of you financial gurus out there tell me if this will really hurt them, or will this be a minor blip to them? I love this idea because it will really bail us out of a bad situation, but I'm interested in opposing viewpoints if anyone has one.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 06:31 PM | Comments (4)


    Congress passes Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, AP goes Bananas

    [Posted by John Tant]

    Well, today Congress passed S.397 (the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act) and it's going to President Bush who has said he'd sign it.

    This despite a hysterical media campaign that promised all sorts of bad things would happen if this became law. But then, the MSM did the same thing at the sunset of the so-called Assault Weapons ban last year, and it turns out violent crimes in this country are at historic lows. But that aside, in case you didn't hear about the Act, this law would prevent frivolous lawsuits against the firearms industry for the purpose of driving them out of business. You know the type...suing Ruger because some kid went on a rampage with his dad's Vaquero...that sort of thing.

    Well, because I'm a fan of schadenfreude, I read Laurie Kellman's AP report with interest. And wow. If anyone needed a case study in hysterical liberal bias, this story is it.

    I'm not going to fisk the entire thing, but I do want to point out some interesting things that made its way into a "straight" news story.

    First, let's start with the header:

    Congress Gives Gun Lobby Its Top Legislative Priority, Passing Lawsuit Shield From Gunshot Victims
    That's kind of a misstatement, and a rather material one at that. What the bill does is prevent stupid lawsuits. For instance, one person shoots another. How is it the fault of the manufacturer of the firearm? Well, if the manufacturer was negligent in making the gun and that negligence resulted in someone getting shot, then you can make a case. It's also a case you can make under this new does nothing to deep six bona fide negligence cases. But you wouldn't know it from this summary, would you?

    Now, who do they go to for a quote early on in the story?

    "This legislation will make the unregulated gun industry the most pampered industry in America," said Kristen Rand, director of the Violence Policy Center.

    The characterization of the gun industry as "unregulated" is laughable on its face. Unregulated?!? You know, I can't think of an industry that is more regulated. How many industries do you know of that feature compulsory background checks on each and every purchase? The mandatory federal licensing and oversight of its dealers? Yet Rand's quote is printed without context or rebuttal in the story.

    Oh, the fun goes on. Check out this graf:

    The bill's passage was the NRA's top legislative priority and would give Bush and his Republican allies on Capitol Hill a rare victory at a time when some top GOP leaders are under indictment or investigation.
    Um, what? First, I don't know what they mean by "rare" victory. What recent losses has the Bush Administration and his Republican allies suffered, and in the quantity that would make this bill's passage equate with "rare?" Second, nice way to just oh-so-casually toss in "indictment or investigation," as if that had any bearing on this whatsoever. Oh, and in case you were wondering:
    Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, did not vote. He is in Texas in connection with his indictment in an alleged scheme to violate state election law.

    Gee Ms. Kellman...who else didn't vote and for what reason?

    Propelled by GOP election gains and the incidents of lawlessness associated with the passing of Hurricane Katrina, support for the bill has grown since a similar measure passed the House last year and was killed in the Senate.

    Of course, last year this bill had broad support until Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) & Co. brought up "poison-pill" amendments that were designed to kill such being a reauthorization of the "assault weapons" ban. At the end, Senator Larry Craig decided to kill the bill rather than chance anti-gun measures going to conference. So actually, it's not quite as the AP portrays it. The bill itself had strong support already.

    The next part is a study in faux-balance:

    The bill's authors say it still would allow civil suits against individual parties who have been found guilty of criminal wrongdoing by the courts.

    Opponents say the strength of the bill's support is testament to the influence of the gun lobby. If the bill had been law when the relatives of six victims of convicted Washington-area snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo sued the gun dealer from which they obtained their rifle, the dealer would not have agreed to pay the families and victims $2.5 million.

    "It is shameful that Republicans in Congress are pushing legislation that guarantees their gun-dealing cronies receive special treatment and are above the law," said Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Calif.

    One sentence from the authors of the bill. Much more from the opponents of the bill, and what they mention as fact is presented so hysterically it's hard to take it seriously. For instance, buying a rifle legally is just You have to make the case that the dealer was negligent under the law in selling that rifle (say, by failing to perform the background check required in this "unregulated" industry). If the dealer was negligent, you can bring suit under this new law. But no longer can you sue simply by virtue of the fact that a legal dealer sold a legal product to someone and met the laws in question, regardless of what that person eventually did with the product.

    And then Kellman has to get the most rabid Lefty in the House, Robert Wexler, for a comment. The legislation does not put anyone above the law...but it does prevent others from bringing frivolous suits that in any other industry would be laughed out of court. If anything, it keeps the anti-gun lobby from being "above the law" in that respect.

    And of course, buried at the end of the story (just so some guy on the Internet won't get his panties in a wad about it), there's actually some truth printed:

    Bush has said he supports the bill, which would prohibit lawsuits against the firearms industry for damages resulting from the unlawful use of a firearm or ammunition. Gun makers and dealers still would be subject to product liability, negligence or breach of contract suits, the bill's authors say.

    Of course, it's presented as a "the bill's authors say" as contrasted with the statement of fact earlier about the Washington "snipers," but still. Kellman probably looked at studies that show a tiny fraction of readers make it to the end of a story and figured it was safe to put this little caveat here.

    And lastly, a MSM specialty..guilt by inference:

    Democrats and Republicans alike court the NRA at election time, and the bill has garnered bipartisan support. But the firearms industry still gave 88 percent of its campaign contributions, or $1.2 million, to Republicans in the 2004 election cycle.

    Gun control advocates, meanwhile, gave 98 percent of their contributions, or $93,700, to Democrats that cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Um, what place do donations have in this story, unless you're trying to imply that Congress was bought? And seriously, $1.2 million is enough to buy Congress? Puh-leeze.

    So the way I see it...anytime the AP gets this exorcised over something, enough so that they put in all sorts of snarky irrelevancies, it's gotta be a good thing.

    Posted by John Tant at 02:57 PM | Comments (1)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    Last week, the "Yays" had it again. This week, we want to hear from you in the aftermath of last night's Powerball drawing. In fact, we want to hear from you twice.

    Posted by at 12:17 AM | Comments (2)


    October 19, 2005

    Racism & the NBA Dress Code

    [Posted by ]

    So, the NBA has instituted a "business casual" dress code for players while on team or league business. The minute I heard about this I started mentally calculating how long it would be before someone claimed that such a dress code was "racist". It took about a week. Indiana Pacers guard Stephen Jackson (pictured on the left) has specifically complained about the fact that the new dress code bans chains worn over clothing:

    "I think it's a racist statement because a lot of the guys who are wearing chains are my age and are black," said Jackson, 27. "I wore all my jewelry today to let it be known that I'm upset with it.

    "I'll wear a suit every day. I think we do need to look more professional because it is a business. A lot of guys have gotten sloppy with the way they dress. But it's one thing to [enforce a] dress code and it's another thing if you're attacking cultures, and that's what I think they're doing."

    Unfortunately for those eager to play the race card, the NBA dress code does not just ban young black guys from wearing chains. And, it's not just young, black fashion that's banned. Players can't dress like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (pictured at right) either.

    As the brilliant Michael Wilbon pointed out today on Mike & Mike in the Morning, the NBA let itself be turned into the "hip hop" league after Michael Jordan's departure. Unfortunately for them, hip hop doesn't pay the bills and its appeal is fast fading with those who do pony up for basketball: the networks and marketers. To appeal to a broader audience, basketball players are going to have to change their image from playas to something more family friendly.

    For the most part, NBA players are acting like huge babies. I can't wear whatever I want to at work. I'm not allowed to unconditionally express myself while on the job. That's one of the things normal people sacrifice for a paycheck. Welcome to the world of being a grown up. Although, I will give Milwaukee Bucks guard T.J. Ford a bit of a pass:

    Ford often wore jewelry while seated on the Bucks bench last year, when he sat out the entire season due to a spinal cord injury. "The only thing I have a problem with is the jewelry," the third-year pro said. "I have a lot of jewelry to wear, and now you really can't wear your chains to the gym.

    Heh. While I'm irritated that these extremely well paid men bitch about having to wear a suit from time to time, I can sympathize with Ford's problem. The poor guy is all dressed up with nowhere to go!

    Posted by at 07:35 AM | Comments (2)


    October 18, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap: Episode 4-Schroeder Family Philiminated

    [Posted by ]

    The Schroeder family, who were my second favorites after the Aiellos were eliminated last week, were eliminated tonight in their hometown of New Orleans.

    People are complaining about how much less exciting, exotic and well, amazing this family edition of the race is. I agree, but I'm enjoying this version on its own merits. What it lacked in exotic locales tonight it made up for in human drama. I have to admit it, I got a little teared up when Dad Schroeder talked about how the Race showed him how capable his family was and how he had no doubts about their ability to deal with real stress. That kind of speech means a hell of a lot more when you realize the Schroeders would go through Hurricane Katrina just weeks later. (Although the show didn't address it, I've read that they lost their house but did, for a time, stay with the Rogers family in the aftermath of the storm).

    While the end of the show was heavy, and resulted in another likable team being eliminated, the rest of the hour was pretty light-hearted. The increasingly likable Bransens and the Linz family mooned and flashed each other down the highway. I think there could definitely be an inter team romance in the works.

    Teams also visited Talladega where the freaky Weavers thought they would have to face their fears of a racetrack (the father was killed at Daytona). Instead teams had to ride a goofy multiperson party bike. Now, NASCAR is hardly glamourous, but this was a real step down. After the track, teams hit some more amazing and exotic American locales: the gas station and a mobile home park (I'm not even kidding). At the mobile home park, teams had to search for the one of three departure times. Even after watching 8 seasons of this show, I can't believe how many teams are willing to settle for a crappy departure time before knowing all of their options.

    I think it's killer fatigue. And frankly, killer fatigue is what did the Schroeders in. Well, that and the curse of the hometown. I don't know what it is, but teams racing in their hometown are never successful.

    Tonight's overall results:

    1. Bransens: Again. Pa Bransen may not be much of a runner, but this team inevitably floats to the top.

    2. Paolos: No. Really. They bitch and bitch and bitch and bitch, but they rocked the log cutting detour and moved up in the standings.

    3. Linz: They seem to pick up time on the highways but chose the silly gambling detour, which probably cost them the win tonight.

    4. Godlewskis: I still can't tell them apart. Apparently some of them are more emotional than others. Who knew?

    5. Weavers: Lackluster performance all around. They are so going to succumb to some killer Killer Fatigue soon.

    6. Gaghans: The poor Mom & Dad are ending up having to do too many detours without help from the kids. How long can a team of two compete against teams of four?

    Next week: Ladies and gentlemen we are leaving the country. Woo!!!

    Want more? Click here for the Viking Pundit recap.

    For more reality TV news and views, visit our Reality TV site:

    Posted by at 09:16 PM | Comments (0)


    Madonna, Moral Arbiter

    [Posted by Laura]

    In what must be some bizarre crossover event from an alternate universe, Madonna is now warning people that they "are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior."

    Is this the same woman who changed the bustier from an undergarment to an outergarment? The same one who so perfectly epitomized the 1980s, the Decade of Self? Who published the book "Sex"? The same one whose picture you might find in a dictionary, illustrating the word "raunchy"? Who spawned wannabes Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Lil' Kim? And to add insult to injury, inflicted us with Evita?

    There are a lot of other people out there destroying the culture and morality - pretty much everyone involved in gangsta rap comes to mind. However, those people are not turning around and telling the fans who financed their empire that they are going to hell for emulating the entertainers behavior.

    I will give anyone credit for turning their life around, even one who has profited as thoroughly from her conversion as Madonna has. (Chuck Colson is a far better example of a changed life.) Madonna went from the personification of hedonism to a quasi-mystic mother and wife, but adulthood includes taking responsibility for your actions. If she doesn't like the popular culture, she has herself to thank for it.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 10:34 AM | Comments (1)


    Top Ten Reasons I Kinda Wish Kerry Would Have Won The Election

    [Posted by ]

    I knew George W. Bush was a spend & spend Republican. I accepted that and overlooked it because, to me, the War on Terror was the most important issue of the 2004 campaign. I still believe in what the President is doing overseas, but what's he's doing here is ticking me off more and more every day.

    The bold initiatives, like comprehensive Social Security reform, have fallen by the wayside. Instead of nominating a conservative giant to the Supreme Court, the President nominated a nobody. And, Bush has apparently never met a huge spending bill he didn't like. All in all, this whole second term is making me think that things might have been better if John Kerry had been elected instead.

    In that spirit, I'd like to present the:

    Top Ten Reasons I Kinda Wish Kerry Would Have Won The Election

    10. Our Teresa graphic is way more fun than our Laura graphic.

    9. Bushes would outnumber Clintons 2-1 on the disaster aid brigade.

    8. I'd rather listen to Republican Senators justify votes against Sonia Sotomayor than listen to them justify votes for Harriet Miers.

    7. Homelessness would disappear, the economy would suddenly be robust and the news from Iraq would be all good.

    6. I would have had a good excuse to brush up on my French. Mon dieu!

    5. Saturday Night Live's Seth Meyers would have received a huge career boost due to his Kerry impressions.

    4. Without Bush to kick around, dirty smelly hippies would just stay home and get high.

    3. Instead of being envied for having the most free, productive and inventive country on earth, we'd be envied for our leaders' full, luscious heads of hair.

    2. Cindy who?

    1. No one could blame me-I voted for Bush!

    Posted by at 07:23 AM | Comments (5)


    October 16, 2005

    The State of Stereotypes

    [Posted by ]

    During the 2nd half of yesterday's Wisconsin/Minnesota game, the ESPN announcers made a quick comment about how Minnesotans think people around the country see them and their counterparts from Wisconsin. 'Sotans thought the rest of the country saw Wisconsinites as freaks who wear cheese on their heads and that Minnesotans were simply a bunch of lumberjacks. (Side note: normally I listen to Badger games so I can hear the best football play-by-play man in the world, Matt LePay. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to tune in to him yesterday, although I did get to hear his call of the blocked punt later. ;-)

    The exchange reminded me of an article I read the other day about how people all over the world are basically wrong about their national stereotype:

    The English see themselves as repressed emotional bricks, Canadians think their average person is extraordinarily nice, Italians believe themselves to be fiery and passionate - but they're all completely wrong.

    Every nation on earth has a firm stereotype of the "typical" local, but a major international study shows that stereotypes bear little, if any, resemblance to reality.

    Character traits around the world are far more similar than we would like to believe - Canadians and Americans are pretty much alike, as are Australians, Kiwis and Brits.

    Because Americans don't care about the rest of the world, we probably spend more time thinking about state stereotypes. Texans are all cowboys, Californias are all surfers, Kentuckians are all married to their cousins. You get the idea. Those stereotypes are just as inaccurate as the national stereotypes studied in the article above. Researchers want to know why we do it:

    The findings are prompting researchers to ask why we are so determined to create artificial concepts about ourselves. Are we desperate to belong to a distinctive national identity, are we searching for perfection, or just too lazy to assess individuals on their merits?

    Oh, I think it's about 50% because we're too lazy to assess individuals on their merits and 50% because it's fun. We may not be at war with other countries or states, but they're still rivals in the worlds of sports, business, art, etc. New Zealanders want to "beat those cowboys", not "beat those 'agreeable, excitement-seeking, disciplined people'."

    But back to Minnesota. Do people from other parts of the country really think of Minnesotans as lumberjacks? I would never think of them that way. Here in the upper midwest, the stereotypes go like this:

    • Minnesotans are oh so Scandinavian. They're cool, calm and collected
    • Folks from Illinois are flashy and drive too fast.
    • Wisconsinites are boisterous partiers
    • The lower pennisula of Michigan is inhabited by east coast looking snobs. The upper penisula is inhabited by Bob & Doug McKenzie.

    I'm so curious about things like this around the rest of the country and the rest of the world. Ann Althouse had a post a month ago about how Bavaria was the "Texas of Germany". While the rest of Germany may see itself as cool and efficient, Bavarians wear lederhosen, go to a Catholic church and probably know the "Too Fat Polka" by heart. (Hmm, why do I feel like I'd fit right in in Bavaria?).

    I'm just going to dismiss concerns that stereotypes like this are dangerous. I think they're far too broad to be dangerous. In fact, my main concern is finding out what other regional stereotypes are. So, what do Texans really think of Oklahomans (and vice versa). Does New England have an oddball state? How do folks in North and South Dakota stereotype each other? Hopefully some of our readers from around the country will be willing to chime in to answe some of these burning questions.

    Posted by at 10:46 AM | Comments (2)


    October 14, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 7

    [Posted by ]

    Last week not only did the Badgers lose, but I only got 50% of my picks right. I guess Ohio State really isn't that good, are they? On to the picks.

    #23 Wisconsin at #22 Minnesota: I was all set to pick against Wisconsin here. I thought the killer combo of the Metrodome and a poor defense would do them in. But then I thought more about it and I realized that for as bad as the Badger defense was, the offense was just as good. And, my god, they almost won last week. I think Minnesota is more one dimensional than Northwestern. That's going to be the difference. The pick: Wisconsin.

    #11 Florida at #10 LSU: Apparently Florida has some serious injury problems. I think if you're going to play at LSU you've got to have all of your guns ready to go. The pick: LSU.

    #24 Colorado at #2 Texas: Why is Colorado ranked so low? Their only loss was at Miami (FL). Lots of teams lose there. That said, Texas appears to have no relation to the team that quit against Oklahoma last year. I think this game will be a lot closer than the spread (17 points) would indicate. The pick: Texas, but not by much.

    #8 Penn State at Michigan: Michigan has developed a pattern where they follow up a bad loss with a good win. After their loss to Notre Dame they crushed Eastern Michigan. After losing to Wisconsin they beat Michigan State. Last week they lost to Minnesota, so clearly this week they're going to hand Penn State their first loss. Right? Well, I just don't think so. I feel like the heart has gone out of this Michigan team and that they may have packed it in for the year. The pick: Penn State.

    #1 USC at #9 Notre Dame: Ah, the big one. Everyone seems to think that USC is going to lose a game this year but no one seems to know when that's going to happen. I think it's this week. No, Notre Dame isn't that good, but USC has been playing like a team that can get beat by the not-that-goods. Notre Dame is poised to finally be that team that plays an inspired game for 60, rather than 30 minutes. In the shadow of Touchdown Jesus, they'll bring down the mighty Trojans. The pick: Notre Dame.

    Posted by at 07:15 AM | Comments (10)


    October 13, 2005

    Crocs, Cowboys, and City Slickers - Blake voted off Survivor Guatemala

    [Posted by james]

    Crocs, Cowboys, and City Slickers

    Bring on the whining! Nakum is pissed at Judd for "switching sides" and voting Brooke out last week, and we see each and every one of these people complaining about it to the camera. "He's a traitor!" says Margaret. "I'm sad at what he's done." Newsflash People: It's a GAME. Only one person can win. Why should Judd, stranger to you, have any allegiance to you? Get over yourselves. Gosh!

    Over at Yaxha we learn that Amy is afraid of beetles as she freaks out, "I didn't know beetles could fly! Get it away, get it away!!!" Why in the world would you go on Survivor if you're afraid of beetles? And how do you not know that beetles fly? "I'm from the city," she says. Oh, I didn't realize that they don't have bugs in the city. My Bad.

    Brian confides, "They're nice, I wouldn't hang out with these people outside of the game. I'm very New England, I'm very Blue State, and these people are very Red State, you know, they're all like 'I'm from Tulsa, OklaHOOOmahhh!'" Oh Brian, for someone that has "Ivy League Student" written under his name, you sure sound like a friggin' idiot. Maybe that shouldn't surprise me as much as it does.

    Reward Challenge arrives, and it's a race - cut some ropes, chop some logs, crank a turnstyle to pull a cart up a hill, fill the hill with your tribemates, and send the careening down a hill. I dunno about you, but these types of challenges bore the hell out of me. What ever happened to drinking calf blood and chewing up eyeballs? (gross!)

    Yaxha wins reward, and they get get margaritas, guacamole, chips, and a floating crocidile-proof swim cage. That swim cage has got to be nice. And those margaritas sound pretty good, too. I'm jealous. Lucky.

    Despite the fact that Nakum was completely blown out in the challenge, Jaime keeps going. It was pretty much his fault that they lost, and he tries to... I don't know what he's trying to do. "Let's just untie this one.... What.. you guys are quitting?' Steph looks at him like he's retarded and covers her face in frustration, "umm.. the challenge is over." (Jaime looks back like he IS retarded.)

    Yaxha is enjoying the croc tank, while Brian says "This is great, I'm a FISH back home!" I'm sure you are Brian, only I'm thinking that you're a different kind of "fish" - "Who's up? Pretentious snob on the lot!"

    At Nakum, Steph sits and whines about how she hates losing. "How is this happening again? Why does my team always suck?" Hmmm, Steph, maybe you're just ... a loser? Don't get my wrong, you seem like a great girl to me, and I like ya a lot, but maybe we should start to face facts. You don't ever win. And all you do is point fingers.

    The Immunity Challenge is some sort tribal missle command where coconuts are launched by catapults by half the team and caught in a net manned by the other half.

    Nakum wins Immunity, sending Yaxha to tribal council.

    Blake and Brian both have their heads on the chopping block - Brian b/c he's obnoxiously arrogant, and Blake because he never stops talking. And I mean never. "This one time, my girlfriend took these pills, and her boobs got bigger! They were double-D! I mean, they were D before, and then they were double D! And look at me! Look at me! Pay attention to me! ME! MEEEEE!"

    Votes: Blake, Brian, Brian, Blake, Blake, Blake.

    That's enough, Blake voted out.

    Couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. Well, except for Brian.

    See ya.

    For more reality TV news and views, visit our Reality TV site:

    Posted by jkhat at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    The Yays were victorious again last week. This week, we turn our thoughts to a quote from that great Texan, Kinky Friedman.

    Posted by at 07:30 AM | Comments (7)


    October 12, 2005

    Lessons from 9/11

    [Posted by ]

    On more than one occasion I've promised myself that I wasn't going to post about articles in Madison's Capital Times anymore. Every time I say that, they someone suck me back in. Here's the day today. The Cap Times landed an interview with Jazz legend Sonny Rollins, who is performing at the Overture Center this Saturday. Rollins lived six blocks away from the World Trade Center and witnessed the terrible events that day. Here's the exchange that caught my eye:

    When you talk to people do you feel that ordinary Americans have learned what they need to from 9/11?

    I feel that technology has created so many consumer goods and distractions from just being able to sit down in a quiet place and think about who you are and what life is. It's taken people away from being able to contemplate. Maybe contemplation might do it. It does for me. It's just harder today to get to a place where you can even feel, well, let's try to change the political system. People aren't as interested in that anymore.

    Huh? The lesson we needed to learn from 9/11 wasn't that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or that we can't turn a blind eye to the forces of evil in the world. Nope. The lesson we should learn is that technology is bad and we should stop and smell the roses. While that's a perfectly legitimate view, what in the world does it have to do with 9/11?

    Maybe one of the things we should have learned from 9/11 is to stop asking actors and musicians what they think about world events.

    Posted by at 03:31 PM | Comments (3)


    Will Miers Really Tear Conservatives Apart?

    [Posted by ]

    Will the furor over the Miers nomination drive conservatives together or tear them apart? I was listening to Rush Limbaugh while driving around at lunch today and he seems to think it's the former. Rush's thought is that yes, conservatives are ticked but this will just drive them together to take back control of the Republican Party.

    Rush pointed to the Reagan revolution of an example of the power of conservatism unleashed. After rejecting Gerald Ford's version of the Party, voters overwhelmingly chose Ronald Reagan's vision of Conservatism. Given the chance, Rush seems to think, they'll rally around a similar candidate.

    I'm sitting in my car thinking "bring it on!". We certainly need another Reagan. I do believe that another Reaganesque conservative would not only get the conservative vote, he or she would also bring those Reagan Democrats back into the fold. But then Rush got a caller. The caller was in perfect agreement: conservatives felt betrayed by Bush's nomination, etc. Of course, the reason the caller felt betrayed was because he was fearful that Miers would uphold Roe v. Wade and sure, she was an evangelical Christian, but some of her Church's activities included gays.

    I groaned aloud. This is the brand of conservatism I'm supposed to rally around? Now, don't get me wrong, by all accounts Roe v. Wade is just bad law. People agree with that assessment regardless of their stance on abortion. But what ever happened to a conservative movement centered on the idea of limited government? This caller was exclusively concerned with moral issues. That's all well and good for him, but not for me. I don't think we can rally around the same candidate. Conservatives can't just "come together" because we all don't believe in the same things and even if we do fall on the same sides of some issues we prioritize those issues in a vasty different order.

    I think the 2008 primary season will determine which brand of conservatism will control the Republican Party (at least for awhile). The fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives will duke it out in what is sure to be a bitter battle. In fact, I think it will be so bitter that the loser will either vote for the Democrats or sit out the general election entirely. However, if something big happens in the War on Terror, all bets are off as both of these groups will make national security their number one issue.

    If the Republicans nominate another spend and spend conservative (this time with added morality!) I'm not going to abandon my belief in limited government. But I, and others like me, might very well abandon the party and find someone else to support. I know people scoff at this, but I just ask you to remember 1992. If Ross Perot wasn't a complete loon, he would have been elected President. I think the time is ripe for a real third party in America. The Republicans can't really serve the interests of both fiscal and social conservatives, can they?

    Posted by at 12:11 PM | Comments (4)


    Notes on Creativity

    [Posted by ]

    I'm always interested in finding new ways to boost my creativity. I keep a list of 10 steps on my desk. Here are a few of them:

    1. Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach
    2. Always carry a small notebook and pen so that you're ready no matter when or where inspiration strikes
    3. When you're stuck, open a dictionary and randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating the word
    4. Go for a walk
    5. Argue, but don't bicker, to exercise your brain
    6. Don't do drugs. As the list says, "People on drugs think they are creative. To everyone else, they seem like people on drugs."

    A friend of mine told me a story today that gave me a new one to add to the list: think like a child. My friend's father-in-law uses a story about his granddaughter, Emma, to help his sales team. As an example of trying to find new solutions and "thinking outside the box" (although, to his credit, his father-in-law would never use such a tired phrase) he tells a story about playing Barbies with Emma.

    He put one of Barbie's jackets on backwards. Emma, naturally, saw this first and told her Grandpa about his wardrobe mistake. Grandpa started to take the jacket off to switch it, but Emma said, "You don't need to do that Grandpa." Instead, she took the Barbie and just turned Barbie's head 180 degrees and then handed it back to her grandpa with a "There."

    Kids aren't afraid of being ridiculed so they're more willing to try new things and new ways of doing things. They don't get bogged down in nuance or nay saying. Of course, Emma's idea wasn't perfect (Barbie's legs and torso were now facing in the wrong direction), but it was a start. I think sometimes we all get so focused on the result, the execution and the finish that we never even get to the start.

    Posted by at 11:51 AM | Comments (1)


    October 11, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap - Episode 3 - Aiello Family Philiminated

    [Posted by ]

    And you thought Marion Paolo was the only stick in the mud. Nope, tonight the Aiellos' (a dandy Dad and his three son-in-laws) jeep kept getting stuck in the mud, leading to their elimination.

    Teams had to fly (I know!) from Washington Dulles to Charleston, South Carolina. Once in Charleston teams had to choose to drive a jeep through a mud course or de-head 200 pounds of shrimp. Shockingly, almost all of the teams chose the shrimp. I certainly would have been all over the mud.

    Of course, in tonight's episode it was wise to remember that mud spelled backwards is dum(b). The Weavers, who apparently everyone hates, and the Aiellos made attempt after attempt and kept getting stuck. Eventually the Weavers made the switch to shrimp, while the Aiellos kept at it. Of course, while the Aiellos were in the midst of their transportation hell, the Gaghans came along and merrily completed the course on their first try. They are so the Pepe Le Pew to the Aiellos cat-with-a-white-stripe.

    After the detour, teams signed up for charter buses to an unknown destination. With four to a bus and two hours between buses, the last team was sure to be the Weavers, Aiellos, Paolos or Gaghans.

    After eight hours, the buses arrived at Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Once there, it was roadblock time. This season, roadblocks will occasionally be done by two members of the team. In this roadblock, two team members had to go in a NASA simulator and submit themselves to 3.2 Gs. It looked like a lot of fun.

    Sadly, the end of the leg was rather poorly designed. Because teams could only do the simulator one at a time whoever signed up for it last was doomed. So, even more sadly, the Aiellos were doomed.

    Tonight's standings:

    1. Bransen: Dad is still kind of a hangdog, but the girls are obviously able to overcome him. Bonus-for finishing first in the leg everyone in the team gets free gas for life from BP. Now that's an awesome prize.

    2. Linz: The dark-shirted Linz who didn't do the roadblock is really good looking.

    3. Schroeder: We learned a little bit more about this family's dynamic tonight. On one hand, young Hunter is kind of a dink and the step-mom is kind of a hardass. On the other hand, as soon as she started ribbing the kids during the detour they made a comment about how she was just as bad as they were. She was a part of the family too. That's cool.

    4. Godlewski: Looks like they have a meltdown next week.

    5. Weaver: They had a complete breakdown during the 8-hour bus trip and really antagonized the other teams. On one hand, they are annoying. On the other hand, a death in the family can really mess people up for a while, particularly when it's unexpected. I have to give them a pass, but I really do question the Mom's decision to bring the family into the race. Do they really need more stress?

    6. Paolo: Less annoying than normal tonight, but that's probably just because they weren't on much.

    7. Gaghan: This looks like another bad finish from these guys, but they really rocked the detour and with the bunching by bus their good work this leg was kind of swept aside.

    8. Aiello: A fond farewell.

    One thing I liked about tonight's episode was that we got to see the teams interact with each other. They've been alone in their cars for most of the first two legs so seeing them together in the airport and on the buses made this feel like the Original Recipe Amazing Race.

    Next week: looks like the producers give the Weavers a major mind f*ck by making teams go to a NASCAR track (father Weaver was killed at Daytona). That's just a low blow.

    Click here for Viking Pundit's update.

    For more reality TV news and views, visit our Reality TV site:

    Posted by at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)


    Enough With The Apologies

    [Posted by ]

    The United States apologized today to Hungarian Holocaust survivors because, at the end of WWII, some US troops looted items that had previously been stolen by the Nazis. Apparently we've also reached a $25.5 million settlement with elderly Hungarian Jews over the incident. Reuters reports:

    Under the settlement reached in March, the first involving the U.S. government and stolen Nazi treasure, no direct material compensation will be paid for the stolen property.

    Instead, all Hungarian Jews born before the end of the war, and their heirs, are eligible for help with medical expenses, or even paying their rent, if they need it.

    Huh? This settlement is ridiculous. The US Government is going to pay some guy money because a soldier may have stolen something from the Nazis who may have stolen it from his grandmother sixty years ago. Oh yeah, clearly we can't possibly cut anything from the budget to pay for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction. Oh no! Those Operation Offset people are just a bunch of crazy fools.

    That's bad enough, but why are we apologizing? Over half a million American soldiers were wounded or died in WWII. I think the blood these men spilled is apology enough for this particular plundering.

    Posted by at 05:45 PM | Comments (9)


    Promoting the General Welfare

    [Posted by ]

    I was reading a forum earlier today about how liberals aren't really liberal anymore. They don't promote freedom so much as they promote freedom to do things their way. An interesting discussion erupted about what the appropriate functions of government are. One poster, "baal" said:

    I think the functions that are appropriate to governments, generally, are those that relate to the general welfare of all the people that comprise that government. I've come up with a list, which I think is fairly comprehensive, and also fairly limited. The criteria by I've allowed something to be on the list, is, 'Without satisfying this need, does a person die?' Further, I've premised this list on the assumption, that human beings are both physical and spiritual animals, and that a good life for a person demands satisfaction of both physical and spiritual needs. Kind of metaphysical and perhaps overly broad, but here it goes anyway:


    social structure

    Now, this individual does claim that he's "not saying that the government is responsible for providing these things, any more than the brain is responsible for pumping blood through the arteries and veins. However, I do think the government is responsible, for seeing to it, that the needs of its citizens are being met, however those citizens decide to go about that task."

    I'm fine with most of the things on this list, although social structure and art/beauty/truth stop me. I don't really understand what the author means by social structure. Does he mean allowing for things like marriage? I also don't think government has any business being in the art/beauty/truth business. I think it's okay for government to sponsor the arts, if that's what the people want, but I view it as a "nice to have" not "need to have" thing.

    Surprisingly enough, I'd actually add something to the list: information. I think it's government's responsibility to guarantee a free press and government should, in most cases, govern in the open, not in smoky rooms behind closed doors. But, other than that, I've got nothing to add. Can anyone else think of things we need for our general welfare?

    Posted by at 12:46 PM | Comments (9)


    October 09, 2005

    Modern Day Missionaries

    [Posted by ]

    When I see a new website pop up in our Site Meter I usually click on over and check it out. Today I discovered the Civil Discourse Bustard. The mission of the site is to encourage liberal readers to visit conservative websites "and change some minds. Be Civil. Have Discourse." The site's author helpfully provides some short reviews of conservative sites. Here is ours:

    Dummocrats - Pays a lot of attention to Sports and TV. A group blog that claims not to be pro-Republican, only anti-Democrat. Comments? Yes.

    That's pretty fair and hey, someone actually looked at our FAQ. Although really, I do think our claim to not be pro-Republican is pretty verifiable, although maybe it gets lost in between posts on the Amazing Race and the Badgers (Northwestern?).

    Of course we weren't the only conservative site profiled. Here are some of my favorites:

    Ace of Spades HQ - He slammed the MSM, expressed a lot of outrage, because Osama got a Time Magazine cover earlier than Ann Coulter. It's clear who he thinks is more important. At times displays ferocious, demented sense of humor. Comments? Yes.
    Little Green Footballs - Way, Way out there. Nasty people. Wallowing in evil. When the facts are in your way, make up some new ones. Quite Big. Mithras brilliantly notes a "stong scent of roast pork." Comments? Yes.
    Michelle Malkin - One of the Biggest: No comments: No reason to go unless you like to see evil in action.
    My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy - Their dream ticket in 2008? For Pres.: George Allen, and Condeee for V.Peee. How did the right get so many mean women? Comments? Yes.
    Ankle Biting Pundits - Exceptionally dishonest and cruel; and I've seen a lot. Describes Jimmy Carter as "a favorite of mass murdering dictators the world over." Even though Carter introduced the idea of human rights into the conversation. "Now that Katrina has come" liberals "can barely contain their glee."Comments? Yes.

    So, in a nutshell, liberals should go visit the sites run by these evil, dishonest, cruel and mean people and engage in civil discourse. Does anyone think this is just bizarre? How in the world do you start a civil conversation with someone if you're already convinced they're evil?

    I'm also surprised by how easily some people throw around words like "evil" and "cruel". Maybe that's why it so easy for some to compare Bush to Hitler or Gitmo to the Holocaust. I mean, if your threshold for evil are the guys from LGF, then yeah, a lot of people are really evil.

    If, on the other hand, you define evil as something more than just "people who disagree with me", then you're probably grounded in reality enough to figure out that these folks have no intention of discussing anything. They're simply modern day missionaries preaching for some converts.

    Folks were supposed to choose their first conservative website based on the the first letter of their name, so to any Daves, Dons, Dougs, Debbies, Donnas or Dawns who may be visiting: hello and uh, good luck. You'll need it ;-)

    Posted by at 06:21 PM | Comments (6)


    A Romantic Anniversary

    [Posted by ]

    491 years ago today, Princess Mary Tudor (Henry VIII's little sister) married King Louis XII of France. Mary was 18 and reputed to be the most beautiful princess in the world. Louis was 52, a little sickly, and, uh, not quite such a catch.

    While almost everyone knows about Henry VIII and his six wives, few people know anything at all about his equally passionate sisters. Not to go all "her"story on you, but Mary was the star of one of the best royal romance stories of all time and it's worth a retelling.

    Before Mary's marriage, she fell in love with Charles Brandon. Brandon was one of Henry VIII's best friends. He reciprocated Mary's feelings but a marriage between the two of them was unthinkable. She was a princess and her marriage would be used to further England's relations with France or Spain. But, Mary, to her credit, refused to just accept that her fate was not in her own hands. So, before she traveled to France she extracted a promise from her brother (a promise he most certainly didn't intend to keep): she'd marry Louis, but when he died she'd marry the man of her choosing.

    After just three months of marriage, Louis did die. Mary was isolated for six weeks to make sure she wasn't carrying a potential heir to the throne (she wasn't). The only man who was allowed in her presence was the new king, Francois I. During their time together, Mary confessed her feelings for Brandon and she and Francois hatched a plot. As one of Henry's closest friends and advisors, Brandon would be sent to France to fetch Mary. When he arrived, Francois arranged for a meeting between the two and Mary did the rest, convincing Brandon to defy his king and be with her.

    "In the small chapel of the Palais de Cluny, Mary Tudor did the unimaginable for most princesses, she married the man she chose. When Henry found out about the marriage, he was furious. However, Mary was his favorite sister and Charles was an old friend, and the couple was soon forgiven."

    Throughout her life, Mary was referred to as the "French Queen", a constant reminder that she had married beneath her, but also, one would imagine, a constant reminder that she also defied the world and had her heart's desire. Sadly, Mary died of cancer when she was just 37. Although Henry VIII's will declared that Mary's heirs inherit the throne before their other sister Margaret's heirs, it didn't turn out that way. The closest the descendents of Mary got was with her granddaughter, the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey.

    Posted by at 03:17 PM | Comments (2)


    October 07, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 6

    [Posted by ]

    Last week, I was a stellar 4 out of 5. I was right on about Michigan and Alabama. Unfortunately, my lack of faith in Touchdown Jesus marred what would have otherwise been a perfect Saturday. Now on to tomorrow's games. There are 12 undefeated teams in division 1. After tomorrow, that number will for sure drop by two (undefeateds play each other). At the end of the day, my prediction is that we're left with just eight unblemished records.

    #14 Wisconsin at Northwestern: This game scares me a little. Yes, Northwestern isn't that good but a) neither are the Badgers and b) even when Northwestern sucks they still give us a tough game. I'm know that Ryan Field will be more red than purple, and Wisconsin might wish they had some of those fans in the defensive backfield to defend against Northwestern's rather potent spread offense. I heard this morning that Northwestern has racked up something like 470 yards/game this season. Can the Badgers really win a shootout? They did against Bowling Green so I'm betting they can do it again. The pick: Wisconsin.

    Oklahoma at #2 Texas: I remember watching the Oklahoma/Texas game last year and thinking to myself that if these were the two best teams in the Big 12, then the Big 12 must just be horrible. Their performance (Texas excluded) in the bowl games reinforced that opinion. On some level, I think that Ohio State and Texas really could be the two best teams in the country still. As a worthy #2, Texas shouldn't have any problems today. They crowd the line and stop Adrian Peterson and that should be about all she wrote. The pick; Texas.

    #5 Georgia at #8 Tennessee: Georgia is one of the delightful dozen of undefeateds. However, they're one of teams I predict will go down. I was all ready to right off Tennessee after their loss to Florida, but they've rebounded quite nicely since then. I just have a feeling Georgia is going to come out kind of rusty and fall behind and never even have a chance to catch up on the road. The pick: Tennessee.

    #15 Texas Tech at Nebraska: I honestly don't know much about either of these teams, but I'm kind of shocked that Nebraska is undefeated but unranked. Are they really that bad? I guess for now I'm going to take the pollster's word for it. The pick: Texas Tech.

    #10 California at #20 UCLA: The other battle of unbeatens isn't so clear cut. I feel like Cal hasn't really played anyone and that part of their higher ranking is simply due to the fact that they were good last year. Sometimes that happens in college football (Iowa). This will be one of the bigger upsets in an otherwise chalky day. The pick: UCLA.

    #6 Ohio State at #16 Penn State: The game of the day. Michael Robinson scares the crap out of me. I can see him just going wild on the Badger's defense. However, he won't be playing them tomorrow. I think Ohio State will handle him, just barely, and will tag Penn State with their first loss in a tense and very exciting game. The pick: Ohio State.

    Posted by at 08:59 AM | Comments (5)


    October 06, 2005

    Survivor Recap: Brooke Voted Off

    [Posted by ]

    My theory goes something like this: Precious Stephenie was going to get her ass kicked again, so the producers orchestrated a tribal switch. The new tribes are:

    Yaxha: Brian, Bobby Jon, Blake, Brandon, Gary, Danni & Amy
    Nakum: Judd, Rafe, Jamie, Cindy, Margaret, Stephenie, Lydia & Brooke

    The former Nakum "B"s (Bobby Jon, Blake & Brandon) along with Danni vowed to take out Amy, Brian and then Gary.

    Meanwhile, on Nakum, Judd hooked up with Jamie and Stephenie and plotted against Brooke, supposedly the weakest person on the tribe. Judd's under the impression that after Brooke is gone, Lydia will be the next to go. Jamie, Steph, Rafe & Lydia seem to be under the impression that now that Judd has given them the numbers they'll just be able to pick off Margaret and Cindy and then Judd.

    I don't know Judd. If you were gonna be a turncoat you should have at least brought someone else with you. If he wanted to get away from his former team he should have done something like this: tell Brooke they're voting her off unless she does as they say. Take her and team up with Jamie & Steph. The four of you will vote off, say Margaret. Margaret & Cindy will vote for Lydia and Lydia & Rafe will vote for Brooke. Bang, your new alliance of four is now in control and you have some equality within that alliance. Why don't survivors do anything fun like that?

    Back to reality. Gary is still keeping up with his "Gary Hawkins" lie. It's especially hilarious now because Danni clearly knows who he is. Once again I ask, who cares? And really, Gary's former career sure would have come in handy during the immunity challenge, which kind of involved throwing objects through hoops. In other words, it was basically a quarterback drill. Oddly enough, Gary didn't even participate in it. His team didn't need him as immunity stud Brandon saved the day. I like that Brandon.

    At Tribal Council, Judd did betray his former tribe and Brooke was booted. I liked Brooke. She always had a smile on her face. I guess not anymore.

    Finally, a special thank you to the Survivor cameramen. I loved the croc's eye view of the survivors lounging by the lake. You gotta appreciate the nod to great horror films.

    Next week: Judd faces the wrath of Margaret. Lemme tell ya, I've faced the wrath of a Margaret and it's no fun. Good luck, Judd.

    For more reality TV news and views, visit our Reality TV site:

    Posted by at 08:13 PM | Comments (0)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    Once again, the Yays had it last week.

    I'm thinking of reading Cynthia Lennon's new book "John", and that brings up this week's topic.

    Posted by at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)


    October 05, 2005

    Top Ten Reasons That I Wasn't Nominated for the Supreme Court

    [Posted by james]

    All this talk about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers has me thinking, "Why wasn't I nominated?" After all, I'm probably just as qualified for the High Bench as she is -- which is to say that I'm completely unqualified.

    Kris thought that a top ten list would help my ego recover from the egrigious slight, so she helped me compile the following:

    Top Ten Reasons That I Wasn't Nominated For the Supreme Court

    11. Numerous law school school assignments have resulted in a long, attackable paper trail.

    10. Too much of a DC insider.

    9. The 50 best looking people on the Hill didn't want more competition.

    8. Too much previous judicial experience by way of my service as a safety monitor in 3rd grade.

    7. Not on the Gang of 14's "Approved list".

    6. Love of brats shows a contempt for the concerns of Muslim Americans.

    5. Pollack isn't a "real" minority.

    4. I was actually nominated, but I want to get the hell out of DC.

    3. Degree from top-notch law school makes me unable to comprehend the problems of the "average" people.

    2. No boobies.

    1. Close personal friends with Busch, but not Bush.

    Posted by jkhat at 10:17 PM | Comments (4)


    October 04, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap: Episode 2-Rogers Family Philiminated

    [Posted by ]

    Oh poor, poor Brock Rogers. Not only was his family eliminated from the Amazing Race tonight, he still has to put up with his dad. Papa Rogers steered his team in the wrong direction (literally) and tried as hard as he could to blame it on Brock until it became apparent it wasn't the kid's fault. Hilariously, after the elimination the Dad went on about how he wanted to teach his children to not cast blame on others. Oh dear, try practicing what you preach.

    Tonight's episode also featured a trip to a giant shoe in York, PA. I think if someone builds a giant shoe they should make sure they have an old lady living in it. In my mind, said old lady also has a shotgun and about 50 cats. But that's just me.

    After York, teams traveled to Washington, DC and the producers got a little devilish and exploited the the fact that because the Race is in America, the teams are coming in with some assumptions about where things are. The clue directed teams to the "reflecting pool at the US Capitol". Naturally, when teams heard "reflecting pool" they assumed they should go to the Pool between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. You know what they say about assuming, right? Well, lots of the families looked like asses, particulary the Gaghans who searched around the Monuments for two hours before finally deciding to ask someone. My god. How in the world can you walk around that long before asking some questions? That's just terrible racing.

    For the rest of this recap, please visit our reality TV site

    Posted by at 09:22 PM | Comments (0)


    'Civil Rights'

    [Posted by james]

    Drudge attempts to shock with his latest H1-all-caps headline "HARRIET MIERS SUPPORTED FULL CIVIL RIGHTS FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS; BACKED AIDS EDUCATION PROGRAMS FOR CITY OF DALLAS." Actually, he's only quoting a linked-to Time magazine article that says "she supported full civil rights for gays and lesbians."

    I'd like to know - since when were special rights considered "civil rights?" I support full civil rights for every man and woman legally within the borders of the United States, be they black, blue, gay, or tree-o-sexuals. But since when was gay marriage definitely, 100%, no question about it, a "civil" right?

    Of course, it's not a civil right, it's a special right. And even if some want gay marriage to become a "civil right," isn't that what the whole debate is about, anyway? Isn't the debate whether gay marriage is a civil right or not?

    By running headlines like this, news outlets are skipping the debate and assuming the truth of their own conclusion.

    Do I support "full civil rights" for gays? Of course I do; I think that most people do.

    Do I support expanding the traditional definition of marriage to allow same sex couples to marry? I'm not passionate about the issue, but I lean towards the "no" side. But don't ever, ever take that and report that I don't support "full civil rights" for gays. That's irresponsible and activist.

    To even suggest that gay marriage is on par with civil rights violations is demeaning and condescending to those that have actually had their actual rights actually violated. To even suggest that gay marriage is on par with civil rights makes a mockery out of war crimes, slavery, and all of the other atrocities that have been commited in the past.

    All too often with these activists, everyone who opposes them is Hitler, every group that has a different opinion is a regime, and every perceived injustice is the second Holocaust. Just yesterday, some loudmouthed Hollywood busybody compared an NBC programming decision to book burning in 1930 Germany.

    Government book-burning as being on-par company's programming decision about an inappropriate and off topic 3 second sound clip?

    Give it a rest already.

    Posted by jkhat at 01:44 PM | Comments (3)


    A Musical Reaction to Miers

    [Posted by ]

    My reaction to the latest Supreme Court nominee, as expressed by the last ten songs played randomly on my iPod:

    I sure hope that Harriet Miers is more than a woman. As a conservative in the vein of the dearly departed Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, I have to say my feelings are hurt by the choice. Miers certainly wasn't the only one, I know better than that. There were plenty of qualified choices.

    But perhaps I should give the President the benefit of the doubt. He's often shown to really be one step ahead of his critics. But, you have to wish that the praise of Miers didn't sound like so much lovesick blues: "Oh, she's a wonderful person, blah blah blah...". Where's the substance?

    So, as we face the faded flowers of autumn, it's time to hear what Miers has to say for herself. My advice: say you will be a constructionalist in the mold of Scalia and Thomas. Those of us who voted for Bush in part based on his promise to nominate justices like those two titans of the court deserve it. Hopefully you'll have a private conversation with your friend, Chief Justice John Roberts. And, maybe the two of you, even though you're the freshmen on the Court can help swing it back to being a body that respects the Constitution as written.

    Finally, a note for future Presidential candidates. Yes, Rudi, a message to you is - remember that the voters are going to hold you accountable to nominate the kinds of judges you promised to on the campaign trail. If you don't we're going to throw you bums out of office. Consider yourself warned.

    Posted by at 11:31 AM | Comments (3)


    October 03, 2005

    Miers Gave money to Gore, Dems

    [Posted by james]


    Harriet Miers gave cash contribution to the Democratic National Committee in 1988 and Gore campaign -- while Bush dad was running for president!...

    On a conference call this morning, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie admitted Miers was democrat througout the 1980s; asked specifically about the Gore contribution, Gillespie said that she was a 'conservative' democrat who later became a republican... Developing...

    Posted by jkhat at 01:33 PM | Comments (30)


    October 02, 2005

    Supreme Court Nominee Poll

    [Posted by ]

    With Bush expected to name a new Supreme Court nominee any day, there's no time like now to ask who you would like to see on the Court:

    I don't have a "none of the above" option, but if none of these candidates trip your trigger, use the comments to tell me who you want.

    Update: Wow, it didn't take long for this poll to become irrelevant. Bush has chosen Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. I know nothing about her. Anyone want to venture an opinion?

    Posted by at 10:24 PM | Comments (4)


    Supreme Court Diversity (again)

    [Posted by ]

    I was thinking about John Roberts and diversity on the Supreme Court today. I've written about this before and I really don't want to rehash it. But, as the White House prepares to nominate someone else to the Supreme Court I can't help but think it's a shame that how someone looks is the only diversity that seems to matter. Even someone like Alex Kozinski would be branded as "just" another white male. No notice would be taken to the fact that he grew up as the son of Holocaust survivors behind the Iron Curtain in Romania. And that's not just a superficial difference either. It's easy to see how Kozinski's experiences as a child helped to shape his libertarian view of the law.

    But back to Roberts. On the surface he really does have a similar background to the rest of the Court: boarding school, Ivy League undergrad, Harvard Law, law clerking, appellate court appointment. But dig a little deeper and think about some of the cases the Court may be asked to hear during Roberts' tenure. Roberts and his wife couldn't conceive a child. They adopted two children (one who famously couldn't stand still during his introduction). As reproductive science and ethics collide, isn't it important to have someone on the Court who has felt the pain of infertility?

    That's really only a little tongue in cheek. What I think the President should do is approach this the way you'd fill any job. You'd find the best candidates and then interview them to determine who's the most passionate about the job, who will add the most to the rest of the team and who is the most interesting person. It seems pretty simple to me.

    Posted by at 10:03 PM | Comments (1)


    Maybe Dan Quayle was on to something.

    [Posted by Laura]

    Charles Murray's WSJ article, The Hallmark of the Underclass, defined the problem. Fatherlessness --> underclass --> criminality. Dr. Reo Symes at Ace of Spades HQ examined it in The Underclass and It's Lack of Fathers and concluded that you can't unring the sexual revolution bell.

    Thirteen years ago, Dan Quayle was pilloried in for expressing the idea that marriage is the best possible social program.

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Where there are no mature, responsible men around to teach boys how to become good men, gangs serve in their place. In fact, gangs have become a surrogate family for much of a generation of inner-city boys. I recently visited with some former gang members in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In a private meeting they told me why they had joined gangs. These teenage boys said that gangs gave them a sense of security. They made them feel wanted, and useful. They got support from their friends. And, they said, "It was like having a family." "Like family" - unfortunately, that says it all.... I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it. Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know that some things are good, and other things are wrong. Now it's time to make the discussion public.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 05:37 PM | Comments (1)


    Notes from the Sporting World

    [Posted by ]

    A few notes from the weekend's world of sports:

    • Even Badger fans are amazed that the team is 5-0. I think if you would have polled fans before the season, the consensus would be that we'd be 3-2 (the losses coming to Michigan and either North Carolina or Bowling Green). If Wisconsin keeps it up, you're going to start to hear about how "easy" the Badger's schedule is. A few things to keep in mind:
      1. No, we don't play Ohio State, but under Barry Alvarez we've handled Ohio State just fine. Ohio State may be lucky not to play us
      2. The Badgers' bye week is the last week of the Big Ten season. That'll be rough as bodies start to get bruised and battered.
      3. The Badgers have the misfortune to hit a couple of teams (Indiana yesterday and Northwestern next week) that are coming off of their own bye week. That means the Badgers' opponents keep getting an extra week of preparation.
    • Sports Illustrated has a nice article about the Badger pregame experience. I thought about trying to tackle that topic last week myself. This article focuses on students. Of course, it doesn't tell the whole story. I lived by Camp Randall my junior and senior years and part of the "fun" of football Saturdays included having your landlord pack in cars full of randoms in your driveway for $10 each (you wouldn't see a dime of that money), having slobby alums throw their trash in your lawn and finally, having to dodge the busy hands of drunken 30+year olds in the bars that night. I kind of hated football Saturdays as a student.

      Now, however, I am one of those drunken 30+year olds (although I do keep my hands to myself) and I love football Saturdays. I love the whole experience of being herded into crowded beer gardens like cattle. I like gratefully paying $3.50 for a can of beer. I even like the absolutely horrible music played (Last week I heard "Who let the dogs out?". I'm not even kidding). I love walking down Regent Street and watching everyone all decked out in their Saturday best Badger red. I love the smell of brats. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I finish that first, bitter morning beer. I love the camaraderie and the way that suddenly everyone in red is your new best friend. Sadly, there are only two more home games to go this season.

    • I'm thinking of leaving the baseball-free zone and becoming a Milwaukee Brewers fan again. I think I'm ready to forgive and forget. Yes, it helps that they look like a team on the rise, but I think it's more about the fact that the Seligs don't own the team anymore.
    • The Breeders Cup is just 4 weeks away. New readers should know two things about me:
      1. I love horse racing and know far more about it than most people.
      2. I almost never pick winners. But, I'll make Breeders Cup picks again this year. Around every 5-6 years I suddenly become almost infallible on Breeders Cup day, so you never know when I'll strike gold again.

      Right now, I think Rock Hard Ten should win the Classic, but the rest of the races are still kinda foggy. Heh, well actually not, that reminds that I also think that Lost in the Fog should make quick work of the field in the Breeders Cup Sprint.

    • Finally, I'm proud to announce that my nephew John is kicking ass on Madison LaFollette High School's varsity cross country team. Yesterday he finished 4th (out of probably well over 100 kids) in the Stoughton Invitational. He's only sophomore, so the best may be yet to come.

    Posted by at 02:25 PM | Comments (7)


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