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  • November 30, 2005

    What's the Best Song of All Time?

    [Posted by ]

    I'm working on a music writing project and I've been using Acclaimed Music as a source. It's kidn of a fun site that lists the top songs, albums and artists "of all time compiled from critics' best-of lists all around the world." Now, keep in mind that these critics have proclaimed that Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" is the best song of all time. Ack!

    I don't agree with that, but maybe you do. In the spirit of our Greatest American series, I'm going to post some polls (by decade, starting with the 1940s) and we'll determine what really is the greatest song of all time. Here's how it's going to go:

    • For each decade, I'll take the top 5 songs from the Acclaimed Music critics list
    • I'll pick 3 more songs that are in the top 200 of the critics list
    • Finally, I'm giving myself one wild card that may or may not be in the top 200
    • I'm going to try have artists only represented by one song in any poll
    • The winners of each decade's poll will square off in the star-studded finale where we'll declare a winner!
    • If you don't like any of the choices, well, that's kinda too bad, but do feel free to make a pick in the comments

    First up, it's the 1940s. I don't know that many songs from this era, so I can't really complain about the critics list, or do much to expand on it. Looking at later decades, oh, let me tell you, I'm going to have some issues when the 1970s roll around.

    What's the best song of the 1940s?
    I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry-Hank Williams

    This Land Is Your Land-Woody Guthrie

    Round Midnight-Thelonius Monk

    White Christmas-Bing Crosby

    Blue Moon of Kentucky-Bill Monroe

    God Bless The Child-Billie Holliday

    Wabash Cannonball-Roy Acuff

    Sentimental Journey-Les Brown

    Stormy Weather-Lena Horne

    Current results

    Update: the polls are closed. Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" is the winner and will advance to the finals.

    Click here for more on our Greatest Song competition.

    Posted by at 06:38 AM | Comments (12)


    November 29, 2005

    Amazing Race Episode 9 Recap-To Be Continued

    [Posted by ]

    Let's get it out of the way. The Weavers suck. Tonight's Weaver Moment of Hypocrisy came early as Rebecca Weaver (note, this whole time I thought she was Rachel) called the Godlewski sisters "bottle blondes". Okay there Skunky, I don't think the Lord made you with white blond streaks in your black hair. Hate them.

    Speaking of hate, or at least dislike, after tonight Michelle Godlewski is on my list. Michelle is one of the older Godlewskis. She's the one with the shorter hair and bigger breasts. And, she's a complete bitch. For some reason she's decided to single out her sister Christine as her enemy rather than her teammate in the Race. Christine might be annoying, but no one deserves to be treated the way Michelle treats her.

    In actual racing news tonight, the teams basically traveled hundreds of miles between various places in Utah and Wyoming. The Linzes were screwed by "production difficulties" and went from first to last place. Luckily, they were saved as the leg ended not on the mat of Philimination, but rather with Phil giving the teams another clue to continue on the Race. Thank God. For awhile there I was afraid for Team Cincinnati. Hey, if they win do you think Chad Johnson could honor them with a special "Amazing" dance?

    Other notes from tonight's race:

    • Nick Linz continues to be a charmer. When the final clue didn't mention a pit stop, Nick affected a saucy French accent and wondered if zumzing fishy vas going on. Oh Nick...
    • While Christine gets away with nothing, Megan Linz is really completely spoiled by her brothers. They don't razz her when she claims to be suffering from cramps and they let her watch most of their detour task from the sidelines.
    • Speaking of tasks, tonight's episode probably had the best tasks in the entire race. I like detours where one choice isn't obviously better than the other and tasks that have some cultural or historical significance. Tonight's Old West-themed detour required teams to either pound together some railroad or haul coal. The roadblock was also an ode to the Old West, as two teammates played the cowboy and herded some cows and their calves. It didn't reach the high comedy of other past animal-related Amazing Race tasks, but I've come to realize that almost nothing in this season is comparable to prior Races. I don't like it, but I'll live with it
    • I loved the hot air ballooning. It's not particularly exciting to watch, but it's soothing, like Wally Bransen. Plus, I appreciated the fact that the Weavers got the Communist balloon (red with a gold star-seriously, I'm not kidding, they got a Commie balloon)
    • Phil has never looked better than when we has jauntily sitting on a fence waiting for the teams to run to the non-finish mat. Mmm...Phil indeed
    • I'm no fan of stupid bunching, but tonight's episode had a great instance of natural bunching as teams were forced to wait until Old Faithful erupted before they could get their clue. The wait allowed the Weavers to catch up to the Bransens, while both the Godlewskis and the Linz family just missed the first eruption and were forced to wait another 92 minutes for it was go time again

    Finally, I have to mention how much I'm looking forward to watching next week after seeing the preview of the Weavers getting pulled over by the cops. Heh. And they weren't wearing their seatbelts! I hope The Man comes down hard on Linda and her brood.

    Want more? Click here for Viking Pundit's recap.

    Posted by at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)


    Republicans: The Duke & The Gipper

    [Posted by ]

    I don't pay attention to ethical scandals in Congress. I believe there are probably an equal number of crooked Republicans and crooked Democrats and the rest of the party plays a game of "you got our guy, so we're gonna get your guy" with them.

    However, the news on Randy "Duke" Cunningham sparked my memory. Where had I heard that name before? Oh yes, in addition to pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion, Cunningham is also responsible for this little gem of a quote back in June when some Republicans were trying to pass an Amendment to the Constitution to ban flag burning::

    "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the (World) Trade Center ... [a]sk them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

    What a piece of work, huh?. He's also an example of what is so frustrating about party politics. He has(well, he used to have ;-) an "R" behind his name, but he represents the views of the average Republican about as well as Georgia congresswoman Cynthia "a regime that would steal an election right before our very eyes will do anything to all of us." McKinney represents the average Democrat.

    Sometimes I think we could easily stop calling our elected officials "Republicans" or "Democrats" and instead brand them together as simply "politicians". It's easy to be cynical when the Republicans in power have turned into big government spenders and the Democrats are busy trying to turn Iraq into Vietnam: the sequel.

    But, just like every rose has its thorn, every cloud has its silver lining. While I'm disillusioned with all the Bush conservatives and the evolution of Russ Feingold from independent idealist to shameless opportunist, I was excited to read about Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels in today's Washington Post. Daniels, at least in this article, sounds like the kind of person I could get behind. George Will sums up his philosophy like this:

    There is more to limited government than limiting its spending, but there will be nothing limited about government unless its spending is strenuously limited.

    Daniels himself, while working in Bush's director of the Office of Management and Budget, once said that Congress' motto apparently was "Don't just stand there, spend something."

    Heh. Both of those quotes sounds like something Ronald Reagan would have said. It's kind of funny that a man named "Duke" from California is the antithesis of Reagan, while some city slicker from Indianapolis, via Princeton & Georgetown, could be his heir apparent.

    Posted by at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)


    November 27, 2005

    Is America Ready for a Cheesehead President?

    [Posted by ]

    Isn't it about time America had a Cheesehead President? Senator Russ Feingold thinks so, or at least he said so on ABC's "This Week". But is Russ really the man Wisconsinites (and the rest of the country) want to be the first Cheesehead in the White House?

    Feingold is clearly positioning himself as not only the anti-war candidate, but also as the only man in the world who had the smarts to see through the efforts of the CIA, Defense Dept., Bush administration and world leaders past and present as they made the case for the Iraq war. But not only was Russ smart, he was also courageous. While other noble Democrats may have had an inkling that Bush was LYING, only Russ refused to be bullied. Seriously. That's the story Feingold told this morning on "This Week". He is running as the smartest, most courageous and noble man in the land. And he's single!

    Not only is that a lot to live up to, but his new sober smartypants image also contradicts the Russ Feingold that Wisconsinites have voted for in the past three elections. That Russ was a liberal to be sure, but an independent-minded liberal with an irreverent sense of humor. He was the Democrat's own McCainian maverick, but better looking and with a better personality. Now, it certainly looks to me like Feingold is getting into bed with the looney Cindy Sheehan left that is mobilizing itself to go up against that "hawk" Hillary Clinton.

    The quest for power makes for some strange bedfellows indeed. Even though I usually disagree with him (and I think McCain/Feingold is one of the worst laws on the books), I've always respected Feingold. I feel that respect slipping away. By running his infant campaign on a message of "the war was wrong", he's putting himself in a position of rooting against his own country. Think about it. In two years, if all's well in Iraq, he's an idiot who opposed a successful war. His future success now hinges on his country's failure.

    I think there are too many holes in this Cheesehead.

    Posted by at 11:17 PM | Comments (1)


    Movie Review: Walk The Line

    [Posted by ]

    What you walk into "Walk the Line" expecting is going to determine what you think of this movie. If you want to see a film about Johnny Cash's musical inspiration and legacy, I think you'll be disappointed. If you want a movie that explores the demons that drove the musical outlaw, you'll be somewhat satisfied. If you want to see an old-fashioned love story, you'll probably love it. And, if you can manage to walk into the theater with an open mind, I think you'll thoroughly enjoy it.

    I've always liked Johnny Cash, but I didn't really know anything about him. Although, unlike a shockingly large percentage of moviegoers and reviewers, I did realize that he was a rock, not country, pioneer. I've read reviews from more than a few writers who were surprised to learn that Cash shared the stage with the likes of Elvis, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis. The movie, based on a couple of Cash autobiographies, covers Cash's life from 1944 to 1968. Cash, we learn, was driven by guilt and his father's emotional abandonment after the accidental death of his beloved older brother Jack.

    Yeah, that seems like a big time movie cliche, but, like I said, the movie isn't about Cash's demons. It's about his angel, June Carter. I read a review that was pretty critical of the portrayal of Carter:

    June is made to seem like a high school virgin protecting her honor, and when we see her composing the lyrics to ''Ring of Fire,'' it doesn't compute: As written, this perky, straight-and-narrow woman is the last person on earth who would fall, through love, ''into a burning ring of fire.''

    Reviews like this just don't get it. A man like Johnny Cash could never have written "Ring of Fire. I think Cash fell into burning rings of fire every time he managed to get out of bed in the morning. For a woman like June, on the other hand, falling in love with a tortured soul like Cash really was like reaching a hand down into hell to get to him. Reese Witherspoon does a great job of playing a woman who is sweet and spunky, but also has the strength and quiet courage to love Cash. All that, and she can sing (Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix do all their own singing in the movie)!

    As good as Witherspoon is, Phoenix is even better as Cash himself. Of course he's no Johnny Cash, but his singing is good enough. He has the weathered craggy face and he's never afraid to make Cash ugly and unlikeable at times. There are moments when he absolutely inhabits the role. The best scene in the film is when Cash and his band audition for Sun Records' Sam Phillips. The play a gospel song by the numbers, but then Phillips challenges him to sing something he believes. Cash starts to play "Folsom Prison Blues", but first he asks whether Phillips has anything against the Air Force. After Phillips responds he says, just under his breath, "well I do". It's a tiny little moment in the film, but sometimes it's the small things that give you a better idea of the person.

    I hope Phoenix wins an Oscar for his performance. If you read about him, I think it's easy to see why he's so perfect for the role (rumor has it that he was handpicked by Cash). Like Cash, he's had to deal with the death of a "golden child" of an older brother (River). And, like Cash, he's an artist who has never been afraid to delve into the dark side of humanity and has struggled with his own addictions.

    So, I know I've made this movie sound like kind of a serious downer, but it really isn't just that. Like Cash, it's got a dark side. But, also like Cash, it's full of great music. It's bound to spark an interest not only in Cash, but also in other early rock artists. It's almost impossible to not walk out of the movie humming "Folsom Prison Blues". There's something strange and wonderful about a theater full of people singing about shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die.

    Posted by at 04:45 PM | Comments (4)


    November 23, 2005

    Keep Innovation Simple, Sweetheart

    [Posted by ]

    If any of you are interested in creativity and innovation, I can't recommend the Report 103 newsletter enough. Each month I get a little tidbit of genius. This month the topic is innovation, and the author, Jeffrey Baumgartner says:

    One of the underlying maxims of engineering is that of KISS, an acronym for “Keep It Simple, Stupid” or, as I prefer: “Keep It Simple Sweetheart”. And if you have ever watched a project evolve from concept to design to implementation, you will understand the importance of Kiss. When new ideas are at the drawing board, they are often simple, elegant concepts. But, as more people become involved, they all want to add features to the concept. As a result, the design must become increasingly complex in order so support all the proposed features.

    However, many of those proposed features will prove useless. They will add complexity to the design of the project, they will make the finished product more expensive to purchase and maintain and they will offer no real benefits to the end user.

    Apple has always been held up as the best example of a company that succeeds by creating simple, elegant products that fulfill needs the consumer didn't even know they had. However, even Apple is falling into the trap that Baumgartner describes above. Maybe they're busy behind the scenes creating the next iPod, but this season they're just marketing more and more enhancements and features of the iPod. Hopefully they're just making what they can and tiding themselves over until they come up with the next big thing.

    And what is the next big thing anyway? Looking at WalMart's Black Friday list, I don't see it. It looks to me like just a bunch of new features and additions to past innovations like DVDs, digital cameras and laptop computers. Undoubtably, if this is a poor Christmas sales season, we'll hear about how high gas prices or economic uncertainly or even the War in Iraq is to blame. Rarely, if ever, are retailers and manufacturers themselves blamed for failing to bring anything new to the table.

    I wish there was something new and exciting out there, because I don't have a clue what to tell Santa I want this year.

    Posted by at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)


    College Football Picks-Week 13

    [Posted by ]

    I'm sure that the folks behind the BCS are very thankful for the play of Texas and USC this year. These two teams are clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the pack and are headed for a classic duel in the Rose Bowl. A duel that will, I might add, get yooge ratings for their friends at ABC Sports. Of course, one or both of these teams could stumble between now and the not-on-New-Year's-Day classic. Do I think they will? Read on...

    #2 Texas at Texas A&M: The only team to hold Texas below 40 points this year was Ohio State. The Aggies, on the other hand, have given up 42, 56 and 36 points in their last three games (all losses). If Texas was playing Colorado or Missouri or Iowa State, I think there'd be a chance they'd be flat and already be looking forward to the Rose Bowl. But this is a rivalry game and they'd be ready to play it even if both teams were 4-6. The pick: Texas and the BCS dodges the third to last bullet.

    #24 Wisconsin at Hawaii: I have a bad feeling about this game. I think the Badgers are probably out in Hawaii enjoying the weather and thinking about Barry's coaching career coming to an end and not thinking about what they need to do to win this game, get to 9-3 and probably go to the Capital One Bowl. That said, I think they're clearly better than Hawaii. They might give the Warriors (and hey, why is this name okay for Hawaii but not for Marquette?) a head start in the first half, but the pick is still: Wisconsin.

    #23 Florida State at #19 Florida: I think these teams are badly misranked. Florida has a single quality win (over Georgia) while Florida State has victories over Miami and Boston College. Now, granted Florida State has lost its last two, but I just have a gut feeling that they are a better team than Florida. The pick: Florida State.

    North Carolina at #5 Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech showed admirable character by bouncing back last week from their loss to Miami. Of course, I think North Carolina has shown similiar character all season. In fact, if the game was in Chapel Hill, I'd be tempted to pick the Tar Heels. Unfortunately for them they're playing in Blacksburg. At night. The pick: Virginia Tech.

    #13 Georgia at #20 Georgia Tech: Georgia is one of those teams whose ranking is primarily the result of a weak early season schedule. Despite playing in the "great" SEC, Georgia has managed to play against just two ranked teams and has lost to them both. Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has defeated Auburn, Clemson and, most recently, Miami. This is a no brainer to me. The pick: Georgia Tech.

    Posted by at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)


    November 22, 2005

    Amazing Race Episode 8 Recap - Weaver Family Finishes Last in Non-Elimination Leg

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight I'm going to divide my recap in facts and opinions.


    • Teams traveled throughout Utah in this leg, stopping in Monument Valley, Park Valley, Salt Lake City and visiting Bart, a giant bear
    • The Linz family finally won a leg, followed by the Bransens & Godlewskis
    • The Weaver family finished last, but were not eliminated because this was the (probably last) non-elimination leg
    • The Linz family used a Yield on the Weavers, but that didn't really factor into the outcome as the Weavers were hopelessly behind after taking the scenic route to Park Valley
    • The detour was biking or rappeling while the roadblock involved performing a ski jump into a pool.
    • There was another glimpse of Nick Linz: wet, but sadly, he was wearing a wetsuit.


    Sure, this season stinks compared to the classic edition, but the Weavers are great television. They're possibly the biggest hypocrites I've ever seen this side of Jim & Tammy Faye Baker. One moment they're complaining about the rudeness of other teams and the next they're mocking the other teams by claiming they'll spend their winnings on boob jobs.

    The Weavers think they're the only "nice" family in the race, but at the same time they never miss an opportunity to be downright nasty. Since they were so far behind most of the teams tonight, the entire state of Utah felt their ire instead. While the Linz family oooohed and aaahhed over the scenary, the Weavers just bitched about how "ugly" it was. Let me tell ya, the ugliest thing I saw tonight was Rolly Weaver yelling "You wish you were Lance Armstrong!" to a couple of innocent bikers on highway 92. Rolly and family, you only wish you were nice people. Ugh. I can't tell you how much I wanted them to be eliminated tonight. I haven't felt this way since Flo & Zach were saved in season three in Switzerland.

    Moving away from the Weavers, I just have to say how much I wish the race could have been planned different. If the teams had to, for the most part, stay in America, then why not make the race a trip through the best America has to offer. Monument Valley was spectacular, but the giant chair in Alabama? Not so much. Why not replace those lackluster destinations with something a little more beautiful or historical or meaningful? There's a lot more to America than big chairs and gas stations.

    Next week: the final four! Hot air balloon collisons! Weavers acting like loons!

    Posted by at 09:16 PM | Comments (2)


    Top Ten Green Bay Packers Gameday Promotions

    [Posted by ]

    While watching the Packers game last night, I noticed that one of the loudest cheers from the fans came when the TV cameras lingered on former Packer (and Bear and Viking) Jim McMahon. McMahon must be pushing 50, but he's still the "punky QB" with his pierced ear and glorious fur coat. Of course, what made the crowd cheer even louder was something that the TV announcers missed: The "Majik Man", Don Majikowski was standing right next to McMahon. It's a sad thing when the site of former players is the highlight of the night. But, that's the way it goes when you're 2-8 and on your way down.

    It's a rough year for Packer fans, but with a little bit of creativity, I think the team can salvage the season. They may not win any more games, but they can at least make the losses more entertaining for the fans. With that in mind, I present:

    My Top Ten Green Bay Packers Gameday Promotions

    10. Washed-Up Quarterback Night: Packers "legends" like T.J. Rubley, David Whitehurst, Rich Campbell & Randy Wright compete in a Quarterback Toss at halftime. The winner gets a signing bonus and a clipboard.

    9. You Be The Coach Day: The Packers could win a lot of points with their fans by firing coach Mike Sherman now, rather than waiting until the end of the year. Rather than hiring an interim coach, the fans could determine the plays through the end of the year. Using a sophisticated "applause-o-meter", the fans' intent to run or pass, punt or go for it will be determined and implemented. It'll be a dream come true for every armchair coach who thinks he has what it takes to head up an NFL franchise.

    8. Historical Re-enactments: At every remaining home game, the current Packers will re-enact a glorious moment from the team's past. Moments will include Bart Starr's quarterback sneak in the Ice Bowl, Chester Marcol's touchdown run off of a blocked field goal against the Bears, Don Majikowski's touchdown pass in the Instant Replay Game* and Dorsey Levens rushing through a "hole big enough to drive a truck to the Super Bowl through" in the 1995 NFC Championship game against Dallas.

    7. 1/2 Price Beer Day: 'nuff said.

    6. Let a hockey game break out.

    5. Reggie Bush Welcome Days: Word on the street is that USC's great running back would prefer to play for a warm weather or major market team. Sadly, Green Bay is neither, but that doesn't mean the team won't try to convince Bush that Green Bay is just the place for him. During the Packers last two nationally televised home games (against Chicago & Seattle) Lambeau Field will be turned from a Frozen Tundra into a tropical paradise. Giant inflatable palm trees will be strategically placed around the stadium, fans will be given free leis as they file into the stadium. Additionally, those fans sitting in the top row of Lambeau Field will be asked to hold up signs simulating a new, skyscraper-filled Green Bay skyline.

    4. Pick the Kicker Contests: Lost in all of the Packers other problems is the fact that kicker Ryan Longwell (aka "Shortbad") sucks. With the amount of money he makes, I'm deathly afraid that the Packers will consider drafting a new kicker next spring. To avoid that type of catastrophe, I think the team should find a new kicker now and add some fan excitement. Before every game, one lucky ticketholder will be randomly chosen to be the placekicker for the day. Some will stink, but you never know when you'll find a diamond in the rough.

    3. Bat Day: Stealing a page from the Milwaukee Brewers promotional handbook, the first 15,000 fans into Lambeau Field will receive a commemorative bat. Special attention should be paid in order that "Bat Day" does not coincide with "1/2 Price Beer Day". However, there should be no problems if Bat Day just happens to coincide with the Packers/Bears game.

    2. Pack Rap Attack Revival & Halftime Show: Back in the mid 80s, the Packers sucked and the Bears were a playoff team. To counter the Bears' now classic "Super Bowl Shuffle", some enterprising Packer fans wrote their own rap song to gently poke fun at their Packers. Well folks, I think it's time for a Pack Rap revival. With Fox as a partner, the Packers would hold a nationwide contest to create a new song. Each week, pretenders to the throne would be voted off by the football viewing audience, a la American Idol. The winning group would get to perform their song at halftime of the Packers' New Years Day game against the Seahawks.

    1. Ice Cream!: If the Packer defense gives up five or less touchdowns in any game, every fan with a ticket stub will be entitled to a free Culvers ice cream cone. Nothing motivates people like the potential for ice cream.

    *Upon further review, the Bears still suck

    Posted by at 07:44 AM | Comments (3)


    November 20, 2005

    World Caliphate Museum Exhibit Opens

    [Posted by Laura]

    Fill in the blanks in this future news article - post your nominations in the comments.

    7/26/1452 Anno Hegirae (11/21/2030 Anno Domini)

    MECCA (Al Jazeerah) - World Caliphate Museum Exhibit Opens

    In a new exhibit modeled after the one in the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum that honored the contributions of Senator John Kerry and actress Jane Fonda to the Communist victory over America in the Vietnam War, the World Caliphate acknowledges the contributions of the British MP George Galloway, American (Representative, Senator) _______________ and journalist ____________________. Without their unrelenting calls for tolerance and appeasement, without their efforts to proclaim every bad act and ignore every military victory by the imperialist crusaders, the sacrifices of our martyrs to defeat the infidels might have been in vain because there was certainly no way we could defeat them except by a superior media campaign.

    In the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful, we salute these dhimmis for taking the heart and will to win from the infidel imperialists.

    Linked to The Political Teen, Third World Country, Adam's Blog and The Land of Ozz.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 10:41 PM | Comments (1)


    November 18, 2005

    College Football Picks-Week 12

    [Posted by ]

    We're getting down to the nitty gritty now. College football teams are fighting for a place in the best warm weather Bowl Games and I'm fighting to stay alive in the Dummocrats College Football Pool. I trail James by 4 points and Drew from the Longhorn Mafia by 3 points. It's time for me to make a move. So, I've gotta pick some upsets.

    #23 Boston College at Maryland: Why is BC ranked? Although actually, I take such delight in picking against them that I should be glad they're still in the top 25. Maryland hasn't beaten a ranked team all year, but they are coming off a good win at North Carolina. Furthermore, this game is at Maryland and Boston College has lost it's last two road games, including a loss to the aforementioned North Carolina. The pick: Maryland, and BC is finally, mercifully booted from the top 25.

    #9 Ohio State at #17 Michigan: As an outsider to the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry, it seems like the team that needs this game the most inevitably loses it. This year, Michigan needs to win it to cement a successful season. Ohio State, on the other hand, needs it for a chance at a BCS bowl bid. Over the course of the entire season, I think Ohio State is the better team, but with all that's on the line and with the game being in Ann Arbor (who, by the way, is a whore) all bets are off. The pick: Michigan, which means that the Badgers will be Alamo Bowl bound. Hello, San Antonio!

    #8 Alabama at #11 Auburn: 'Bama was exposed as a pretender to the National Championship throne last week. Now, I think they'll be exposed as a pretender to even the SEC Championship. Auburn, after basically graduating their offense, has been a pleasant surprise this year. I have a soft spot for the school because of Charles Barkley. I'm sure these boys don't want to let Sir Charles down. The pick: Auburn.

    #4 LSU at Mississippi: Mississippi is terrible. They've only won one game in their conference. But, they play LSU tough and they're at home and I need some big upsets to have a chance at taking the lead. The pick: Mississippi.

    #16 Fresno State at #1 USC: If you just look at the rankings, you may think this is going to be a tough game for USC. But, let's look at who Fresno State has beaten this year: Weber State, Toledo, Hawaii, San Jose State. This list goes on. In their only game against a ranked opponent, they lost to Oregon. While I probably should pick the shocking upset, I'm not even tempted. The pick; USC.

    Posted by at 07:05 AM | Comments (6)


    November 17, 2005

    Survivor Guatemala-Sticking with the Six (or not): Jamie Voted Off

    [Posted by ]

    Jamie was voted off Survivor Guatemala tonight and guess who the mastermind was. Rafe! It occurs to me that Rafe is one of the most underestimated Survivors ever. He's won two individual immunities and now he's engineered one of the first really surprising boots of the season. Because he's a little effeminate, people discount the fact that he's quite athletic, smart and has the trust of everyone on his tribe. While Judd rather derisively referred to him as "Steph's lapdog", he's a very serious threat to win the game.

    In other news tonight, Judd, Steph, Gary & Danni teamed to win the Reward challenge. They received a helicopter ride to an overnighter at a luxurious private house. And Folgers coffee! Lots and lots of delicious Folgers coffee. In brand new flavors! Everyone should try the new Folgers coffee. You can find it at a grocery store near you.

    The winning Survivors also got to enjoy videos from home. Judd's kid is cute. Steph's family looks big and boring. Danni likes her dogs. Gary's family is endearingly weird. Just like Gary.

    Speaking of Gary, while enjoying the Reward, he threw a Hail Mary to Judd & Steph. Unfortunately, those two batted down his attempt to form a new alliance with Danni and him.

    But, after Rafe won immunity, he was basically badgered into voting for Jamie. But, oddly enough, it wasn't his so called master Steph doing the badgering. It was Jamie doing it. Jamie earned a special distinction in Survivor lore as he was voted out because he wouldn't stop asking people if he was going to be voted off.

    Anyway, after enduring another session of Jamie asking him if he was "sticking to the six", Rafe had enough. He asked his lapdog, Lydia, what she thought. Lydia, of course, thought nothing. Then, Steph was brought into the plan. I think Steph was secretly delighted because she wanted to vote out Jamie all along but now she at least claim that it wasn't her idea.

    So, in the end, those three along with Gary and Danni voted for Jamie. Interestingly enough, no one bothered to tell Judd what was going on, so Judd spent Tribal Council with his eyes bugged out. Not an attractive look. Is Judd on the outs? Could Danni and Gary sneak into a new Six? Only time, and a few more episodes, will tell.

    Posted by at 08:15 PM | Comments (1)


    November 16, 2005

    Deployment Gear List for Iraq

    [Posted by Laura]

    Ever wonder what the troops need to win the war on terror? Here's the Deployment Gear List from Military Spot that U.S. Military personnel should consider for combat deployments. They say that in some cases, these items are furnished by the U.S. Military and soldiers should please check with their unit before ordering.

    1. Under Armour HeatGear Tactical T-Shirt
    2. Under Armour LooseGear Tactical T-Shirt
    3. Thermotux Cool-Aid PASGT Combat Helmet Insert
    4. Psalm 91 Camo Bandana
    5. Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts
    6. 5.11 Tactical Pants
    7. Shemagh Desert Headdress
    8. Altama Ripple Sole Combat Boots
    9. PolarMax Acclimate All-Weather T-Shirt
    10. Wiley X SG-1 Sunglass/Tactical Goggle
    11. Book: Lion Taming For Beginners

    The biased conservative media left out this damning indictment: THERE ARE NO WHIPS AND CHAIRS ON THIS LIST! I demand that Rummy and Chimpy McBushHitler be held accountable for this because I support the troops!

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 03:57 PM | Comments (0)


    November 15, 2005

    A Little Sanity Regarding Gitmo, Please

    [Posted by Laura]

    A Google search this morning revealed some typical headlines, "No Justice at Guantanamo," "Right to Trial Imperiled By Senate Vote," "Legal Relief in Jeopardy," "Habeas Corpus Attack Undermines Courts," "Abused by Senate," "ONE STEP BACK," "Guantanamo inmates to lose all rights," "Renouncing American ideals" and my personal favorite, "Senators acting as judges." (Note to San Francisco Chronicle re: that last headline - the Senators were doing their jobs, not acting as judges. I'm sure you agree with Nancy Pelosi that any sound emanating from the Supreme Court - that is favorable to your liberal agenda - "is almost as if God has spoken" but you need to go back and take a sixth grade refresher Civics course. Start with the concept of "checks and balances.") Surprisingly, Reuters played this one pretty straight.

    Click the graphic to see a clip of the debate that sums up why giving detainees habeas corpus rights is a dumb idea.

    As to the torture debate, I agree that we ought not to engage in neck slashing, gouging out eyes, burning off genitals, using rusted shackles, refrigerating people naked and putting them underground for a year, ripping teeth out with pliers, cattle prods applied to genitals, and drilling holes through people's ankles. Nor should we force people to sit on broken Pepsi bottles until they bleed to death, hit people on the head with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds, and rape women at all, much less in front of their husbands. I'll even go so far as to say that we should not use people's skin to extinguish cigarettes, or purposely flood underground prison cells so that the prisoners drown. But I also think we need not go so far as to utilize the dreaded comfy chair.

    Here are three quotes from the Gitmo Cookbook as a reminder - we're not torturing them, they are not innocent goatherders who stumbled into the wrong place at the wrong time, and simply letting them go is a bad idea.

    • "The food is good, the bedrooms are clean and the heath care is very good. There is a library full of Islamic books, science books, and literature. Sports, reading, and praying, all of these options are not mandatory for everyone, it is up to the person."
    • More than 10% of detainees possess college degrees or obtained higher education at western colleges. Among the detainees are medical doctors, airplane pilots, aviation specialists, engineers, divers, translators, and lawyers.
    • Abdullah Mahsud [Massood] was a detainee who was released in 2004 after claiming to be forcibly conscripted by the Taliban military to be an office clerk and truck driver. During his stay at Gitmo, his medical treatment included receiving a prosthetic leg. After his release, press reports from the Washington Post and Fox News indicate that al Queda linked militants, ordered by Mahsud, kidnapped two Chinese engineers in Afghanistan.

    Mahsud is not the only detainee that we had, and released so he could continue to make war against us. Zenpundit had a good article on illegal combatants with lots of cites. In any event, giving these detainees rights that no POW or other detainee has had before is simply stupid, and bowing to left wingers who just want to sit around and sing kumbayah with those poor misguided insurgents - I'm guessing that's their plan, since they have not publically announced one since 9/11/01 - is a waste of our hard earned majority status.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 03:24 AM | Comments (1)


    November 13, 2005

    Revisited: Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing

    [Posted by ]

    While pundits across America searched for the meaning of Election Day 2005, I know what this past Tuesday really meant. It meant that it's now time for politicians to start their 2006 campaigns in earnest. And actually, truth be told, most of those campaigns have already started, at least online. My inbox is full of political communications every day. Campaign managers obviously think the internet is the new, great way to get their message out, but they just as obviously have no idea what they're doing.

    I think now is a great time to revisit an old post of mine on the Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing. Political campaign managers haven't learned much in the year or so since this was last posted. In fact, some of the emails I've received lately have prompted me to add a few things to this last.

    (As an aside, I keep reading about how some presidential candidates have already hired online campaign directors. I'd like to note that in addition to my MBA and degrees in political science and journalism, I also have over 5 years of experience in online marketing. If any political gurus are reading this, I am not yet taken for 2006 and/or 2008. ;-)

    So, without further ado, the new, and improved, Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing:

    1. Don't spam. Ever. This is the cardinal rule. If you spam, be prepared for a huge backlash that will dwarf any positive gains from your unwanted emails. Yes, it's legal for political campaigns to spam (CAN-SPAM states, somewhat ironically, that politicians can, in fact, spam), but that doesn't make it right and it doesn't make it good marketing. When you go online, you play by the online rules. And, in the online world, a spammer is about the lowest form of life.

    2. Do, however, consider emailing bloggers individually. A caveat here, by "individually" I really mean individually, not by putting a different name in the "to" field. Target bloggers who share your geography or specific ideology. For example, I wouldn't be offended if someone from the staff of the Republican candidate in my congressional district emailed me individually. I'd be flattered.

    3. Don't email bloggers asking for money, even if they're in your district and even if they share your opinion on everything. Ask for their involvement both on their site and on yours as guest writers. Save your online fundraising for those who have already given you their permission to email them.

    4. Do realize that content is king. Talk about your goals and policy positions. Save the sound bites for TV. The internet is the place for your candidate to expand, in detail, on their positions. Your web presence should reflect that. Post policy papers. Share statistics. Highlight your candidate's accomplishments in.

    5. Don't think that you can put up misleading information on your website and then simply erase it if you get caught. A record of your mischief will still exist and your opponents will have as much proof as if you placed a traditonal ad.

    6. Do understand that people who read about politics online are interested in politics, not just issues. If your campaign has a blog, don't just post old press releases, write about some of the inside details of the campaign. If you do, people will come back time and time again and you'll gain an audience for the rest of your candidate's pitch.

    7. Don't think putting your website's URL on brochures is effective online marketing. Read and comment on other blogs. Reference interesting articles that other people are writing on your blog. Bloggers always read their referral logs and if you link to them, they will come back to you. And, they'll spread the word to their audience as well.

    8. Do constantly update your website. At the very least, keep an up-to-the-minute schedule of campaign stops online. Neither the Kerry or Bush campaigns do a good job of this. If they did, I'd visit their sites all the time to get local coverage from their latest destination.

    9. Don't make your online communications a one-way street. Encourage supporters to participate through moderated email lists, forums and the like. Of course, everything the public says won't be positive, but it may be instructive. Think of it this way: if you give the public a voice, campaign staff can be partly released from the nasty job of telling a candidate things they don't want to hear - staff can simply point the candidate to the nearest computer.

    10. Do speak online in a slightly different voice. For whatever reason, a little more irreverance is allowed online. Ironically enough, your candidate may be able to best showcase their personality and humanity through a computer.

    And now for a couple of new additions to the list:

    11. Don't send attachments. Seriously. In last few weeks I've gotten word documents and pdfs sent to me by various campaigns. I'm not going to open them and what's worse, I resent it that you're clogging up my email and possibly sending me a virus. Whenever you feel like sending an attachment, don't do it. Either post a link in your email to an HTML version of the information OR just put the text directly in the email itself.

    12. Do create events especially for bloggers. Set up a teleconference for your candidate and invite local bloggers along with members of the traditional media. The bloggers will actually be excited to attend and will undoubtably write about it. I think bloggers still feel special when they're treated like the "regular" media. Take advantage of that feeling while you still can.

    13. Don't communicate too often. I don't need to hear from the RNC twice a week. The more email you send me, the more likely I am to ignore it. And don't think you can justify the frequency by saying that you're not seeing an increase in your unsubscribe rates. People don't unsubscribe anymore. They either block your email or just delete it without reading it.

    14. Do learn lessons from other online marketers. Online, your candidate's website is just a keystroke away from Amazon and your email can hit an inbox right next to a message from Best Buy. Learn from the people that make those sites and those email programs successful. Online political marketing isn't so different than online marketing in general. There are a lot of very worthwhile conferences and vendors that can help online political marketers as much as online retailers. Use them. I'm always surprised that I don't meet more people from non-profits and political organizations at such events. I'm sure it's just as important for a candidate to know where traffic to their website is coming from or what areas of their website are most popular or who is actually opening their emails. In fact, given the stakes involved, I'd think it's even more important.

    Posted by at 01:18 PM | Comments (2)


    November 11, 2005

    The 2008 Presidential Campaign and the Law of 14

    [Posted by ]

    Eric, the Viking Pundit, reports that Joe Biden is running for the Presidency in 2008. As Eric points out, Biden's candidacy is doomed for many reasons, but, perhaps most powerfully, he's bound to fail because he doesn't meet the "Law of 14". The Law of 14, states that:

    With only one exception since the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, no one has been elected president who took more than 14 years to climb from his first major elective office to election as either president or vice president.

    George W. Bush took six years. Bill Clinton, 14. George H.W. Bush, 14 (to the vice presidency). Ronald Reagan, 14. Jimmy Carter, six. Richard Nixon, six (to vice president). John Kennedy, 14. Dwight Eisenhower, zero. Harry Truman, 10 (to vice president). Franklin Roosevelt, four. Herbert Hoover, zero. Calvin Coolidge, four. Warren Harding, six. Woodrow Wilson, two. William Howard Taft, zero. Theodore Roosevelt, two (to vice president). The one exception: Lyndon Johnson's 23 years from his first House victory to the vice presidency.

    Wait a minute: zero? Right. The rule is a maximum, not a minimum. Generals and other famous personages can go straight to the top. But if a politician first runs for some other major office, the 14-year clock starts ticking.

    "Major office" means governorship, Congress, or the mayoralty of a big city: elective posts that, unlike offices such as lieutenant governor or state attorney general, can position their holder as national contender.

    The theory is that you have a relatively small window of time once you reach a nationally prominent office to climb to the White House. After 14 years, you're stale and voters don't want stale Presidents. And Biden, who was first elected to the US Senate in 1972, will be 22 years past his expiration date. In fact, looking at some of the top potential Presidential candidates for 2008, you'll see that some of the favorites are unelectable according to the Law. For example, in 2008, Russ Feingold will be 16 years past his first election to the Senate. Bill Richardson will be at 26 years and it'll be 20 years since the first major election of Evan Bayh.

    For the Republicans, George Allen was elected to the House in 1991, putting him at 17 years, while John McCain will have been in the Senate for 22 years, and, most tantilizingly, Rudy Guiliani was elected Mayor of New York in 1991 (15 years from 2008. Ouch.). So who's left? These are some of the major candidates that still have a chance according to the Law of 14:

    • Wesley Clark: 0 years
    • Hillary Clinton: 8
    • John Edwards: 10
    • Barak Obama: 4
    • Mark Warner: 7
    • Sam Brownback: 14
    • Bill Frist: 14
    • Chuck Hagel: 12
    • Mike Huckabee: 10
    • Bill Owens: 10
    • George Pataki: 14
    • Tim Pawlenty: 6
    • Condi Rice: 0
    • Mitt Romney: 6
    • John Huntsman, Jr.: 4
    • Tom Tancredo: 10

    Not surprisingly, the Dems don't have a lot of fresh candidates, while frankly, the Republicans don't have many prominent ripe, if you will, candidates. It's hard to look at that list above and really believe that the name of the next President is on it, isn't it?

    Posted by at 12:59 PM | Comments (1)


    College Football Picks-Week 11 - Bye Bye Barry Edition

    [Posted by ]

    Note: if you are a part of the Dummocrats football pool, your picks are due today at 6:55 pm Eastern time.

    Last week, I boldly picked some upsets that happened and stupidly picked some upsets that had no chance of happening (Missouri?). This week, my goal is to eliminate the stupidity. Wish me luck!

    #17 Florida State at Clemson: Charlie Whitehurst and his Clemson Tigers have had an unusual season. Their four losses are by a combined 14 points, and this includes heartbreakers against teams like Miami (FL), Boston College and Georgia Tech. I really want to pick Clemson but I just can't. They've proven over and over again this season that they just don't have what it takes to beat top notch teams. I think they'll keep it close but lose yet another game by less than a touchdown. The pick: Florida State.

    #25 Northwestern at #10 Ohio State: I'd really like the Big Ten to get two teams into big BCS bowls. For that to happen, Ohio State needs to keep winning. I think Northwestern's offense is a bit overrated, in part because their biggest win was over Wisconsin's horrible defense. Against teams with actual defenses they are far less impressive. Ohio State is one of those teams. The pick: Ohio State.

    #5 LSU at #4 Alabama: Honestly, I think both of these teams are frauds. It's one thing to start your season with a couple of creampuffs, but these two were playing the likes of Utah State and Appalachian State just a couple of weeks ago. That said, I think Alabama is the bigger fraud. They are so this years version of last year's Badgers. I think LSU is going to win and, to me, the big question is whether or not Alabama will even score. The pick: LSU.

    #1 USC at California: Remember when people thought this game would be USC's biggest hurdle in the drive for an undefeated season? Oh how the mighty Golden Bears (wait, is that really their name or am I thinking of Jack Nicklaus?) have fallen. Now the Trojans biggest test before the Rose Bowl will probably come against Fresno State. Fresno State people! If that's not a sign that the Pac 10 kinda sucks, I don't know what is. The pick: USC

    Iowa at #19 Wisconsin: Whatever you think of the Badgers, you have to respect what Barry Alvarez has accomplished in his 16 years here: 3 Rose Bowl victories, a Heisman Trophy winner and spearheading a massive Camp Randall renovation Tomorrow is Barry's last home game. I bet he has no idea of the kind of outpouring of love he's going to receive from the fans. It's going to be immense. Barry is a beloved figure here. Wisconsin is going to pumped to send him off with a big win. I expect the Badgers to have an offensive explosion Saturday. I think they'll score on the ground, in the air and on special teams. Of course, they'll give up tons of points too, but not enough to spoil Barry's big day. The pick: Wisconsin.

    I can't tell you how much I'm going to miss seeing Barry on the sidelines. I'll even miss his penchant for pleated pants.

    Posted by at 07:35 AM | Comments (5)


    November 10, 2005

    Much Ado About Little

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    The Kansas Board of Education adopted new science curriculum standards this week, and the new standards have generated a great deal of discussion and / or condemnation both in the MSM and on some of the better blogs such as Althouse. It is usually portrayed as the end of evolutionary teaching in Kansas and the start of a new curriculum comprised of Creationism. Curiously, very little is being said about the standards in Kansas itself. As a Kansan, I feel compelled to at offer an explanation for some of this.

    For the record, the actual written standard contains the following:

    We believe it is in the best interest of educating Kansas students have a good working knowledge of science: particularly what defines good science, how science moves forward, what holds science back, and how to critically analyze the conclusions that scientists make.

    Regarding the scientific theory of biological evolution, the curriculum standards call for students to learn about the best evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory. These curriculum standards reflect the Board’s objective of: 1) to help students understand the full range of scientific views that exist on this topic, 2) to enhance critical thinking and the understanding of the scientific method by encouraging students to study different and opposing scientific evidence, and 3) to ensure that science education in our state is “secular, neutral, and non-ideological.”

    From the testimony and submissions we have received, we are aware that the study and discussion of the origin and development of life may raise deep personal and philosophical questions for many people on all sides of the debate. But as interesting as these personal questions may be, the personal questions are not covered by these curriculum standards nor are they the basis for the Board’s actions in this area.

    Evolution is accepted by many scientists but questioned by some. The Board has heard credible scientific testimony that indeed there are significant debates about the evidence for key aspects of chemical and biological evolutionary theory. All scientific theories should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered. We therefore think it is important and appropriate for students to know about these scientific debates and for the Science Curriculum Standards to include information about them. In choosing this approach to the science curriculum standards, we are encouraged by the similar approach taken by other states, whose new science standards incorporate scientific criticisms into the science curriculum that describes the scientific case for the theory of evolution.

    We also emphasize that the Science Curriculum Standards do not include Intelligent Design, the scientific disagreement with the claim of many evolutionary biologists that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion. While the testimony presented at the science hearings included many advocates of Intelligent Design, these standards neither mandate nor prohibit teaching about this scientific disagreement.

    In addition to the above passage, the standards contain the following additional specific criticisms that I could find:

    “The view that living things in all the major kingdoms are modified descendents of a common ancestor (described in the pattern of a branching tree) has been challenged in recent years by: i. Discrepancies in the molecular evidence (e.g., difference in relatedness inferred from sequence studies of different proteins) previously thought to support that view. ii. A fossil record that shows sudden bursts of increased complexity (the Cambrian explosion), long periods of stasis and the absence of abundant transitional forms rather than steady gradual increases in complexity. iii. Studies show that animals follow different rather than identical embryological development.”

    “Whether microevolution (change within a species) can be extrapolated to explain macroevolutionary changes (such as new complex organs or body plans and new biochemical systems which appear irreducibly complex) is controversial. These kinds of macroevolutionary changes generally are not based on direct observations and often reflect historical narratives based on inferences from indirect or circumstantial evidence.”

    “Some of the scientific criticisms include: a. A lack of empirical evidence for a “primordial soup” or a chemically hospitable pre-biotic atmosphere; b. The lack of adequate natural explanations for the genetic code, the sequences of genetic information necessary to specify life, the biochemical machinery needed to translate genetic information into functional biosystems, and the formation of protocells, and c. The sudden rather than gradual emergence of organisms near the time that the earth first became habitable.”

    To be fair, the 100 plus page document contains mostly information on what knowledge students are expected to have, including lots and lots of evolution, but the above passages would appear to be the contentious ones. In addition, note that it is local school districts that determine the textbooks to be used and the specific curriculum to be taught, hence the degree of indifference of many people within the state. In short, nothing much will actually change.

    A great many people believe the aforementioned language is an opening for a future debate on Creationism. They are correct. I have no doubt that we will see someone try to pass off Creationism under the guise of the approved criticisms. So what? As much as I have no doubt that someone will attempt this, I have no doubt that said Creationism would be rejected by the Board and the people that put them there.

    A great many other people believe the aforementioned language is, or is at least a symbol of, an attempt to stop what has been an assault on religion by our public education system. They are also correct. Quite frankly, there is a barely disguised contempt for all things religious being displayed by far too many people in academia. Having said that, modifying the science curriculum really won’t address the issue short of some discussion of religion in schools. A better forum might be a philosophical class devoted to religion and spirituality, but then again any such class in a public school would be quickly condemned, which is part of the problem.

    It appears to me that the criticisms contained in the curriculum consist of two basic types, one type focusing on criticizing current conventions within the greater concept of evolution, while recognizing evolution exists, and another focusing on science as an explanation for life. The first type of criticism is technical in nature, and often put forth by scientists not as a justification for Creationism, but as a means to modifying evolutionary theory based on an ever expanding body of knowledge as to what is going on in the biological world. Such criticisms are not only justified, they are necessary if evolutionary theory is to continue to evolve itself to better explain the world around us. Their inclusion in the curriculum is not an endorsement of creationism. It’s a recognition that scientific theories are rarely chiseled in stone.

    It’s the second type of criticism that is more interesting. Can science explain life? Is the question of the origin of life scientific or philosophical in nature? Darwin’s title, The Origin of Species, was very well chosen. He didn’t entitle his work The Origin of Life, and with good reason. His work, the work of those who followed, and evolution as a theory deal with how species came to be differentiated, not with how life came to exist in the first place. With that in mind, what is the appropriate position for public schools to take on the origin of life itself? The current position is a sort of “we have some theories, none of them can ever be proved, but we’re sure it wasn’t a deity.” This is unsatisfying to say the least. Does ignoring religion, and religious explanations that everyone knows exist, benefit students? Or would students be better served by including a discussion on the origin of life, including religion, that leads to an appreciation of the issue as a philosophical one as opposed to purely a scientific one? I don’t know. I do know that the Board of Education wrestled with these same questions, and the standards adopted represent a compromise. My real hope is that the standards will promote a more open debate, and maybe a discussion as to the limits of what science can and cannot explain.

    Posted by BVBigBro at 12:48 PM | Comments (32)


    November 09, 2005

    In Defense of Ditch Diggers

    [Posted by ]

    John Hawkins at Right Wing News has a post about about what Americans can learn from the Paris riots. While I agree with some of the items on the list (assimilate & speak English), I wholeheartedly disagree with this:

    Our immigration policy needs to be updated for the 21st century. The United States is the strongest and most prosperous nation (of any size) in the world. Because of that, each year, there are far more people who want to come into this country than we can accept.

    So, what's wrong with being choosy about whom we allow to become a citizen of the United States? For example, why shouldn't a computer programmer from India be given preference over a ditch digger from Mexico? Why couldn't we take in a scientist from Jamaica instead of a lawyer from Germany? What's the point of allowing a day laborer from Brazil into the United States when we could have a nuclear physicist from New Zealand instead?

    My question is what the hell is wrong with ditch diggers? Does America no longer need hard working men to dig our ditches? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe that under the Statue of Liberty it says, "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free". It doesn't say "Give me your affluent, your accomplished, Your upper middle class yearning for a lower tax rate."

    Isn't America that one place in the world where even a ditch digger can work hard and build a good life for himself and a better life for his children? The day that America rejects hard working individuals is the day the American dream dies. Do some of you really want to turn your back on that dream? Shame on you.

    Do you think it was the great grandsons and great great grandsons of the European chattering classes that stormed the beaches of Normandy or climbed up the stairwells into the World Trade Center? Hell no. It was the descendents of farmers, and laborers and yes, even lowly ditch diggers who answered the call in the greatest numbers when America needed them.

    Hawkins also says:

    Our goal with immigration shouldn't be to bring in more day laborers, it should be to bring in the best and the brightest applicants from all over the world.

    Is America the Ivy League now? We're only going to accept those who have connections, or who already have impressive accomplishments or are disadvantaged and have a great story to tell. God, I hope not.

    I think America should be State U. If you meet some minimum admission requirements you're in. Some of you won't make it. Some of you will need some tutoring and other help. Some of you will go on to accomplish great things. But the vast majority of you are going to end up somewhere in the middle. And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with the middle. We throw great parties.

    Ronald Reagan famously described America as a:

    tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.

    I shudder to think of what the Gipper would think of those who would turn that city on a hill into a gated community.

    Posted by at 09:32 PM | Comments (10)


    November 08, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap - Episode 7 - Paolo Family Eliminated

    [Posted by ]

    The redemption arc of the Paolo family came to a predictable conclusion tonight as the lovable bickerers were eliminated in Lake Powell, Arizona. The family made the fatal error of not asking for directions and wandering aimlessly and fell to last place behind the Bransens, who finished last in the previous (non-elimination) leg in tonight's two-part episode.

    DJ Paolo went out on a low note-yelling "idiot!" to one of his family members as they pulled up to Phil. Although, once on the mat of doom, he was able to man up a bit and say some nice words about his mom. Good for him and good for Pa Paolo for reasserting himself within the family. At the start of the race it seemed like he was just along for the ride. By the end he was a much more integral part of the team.

    Moving to the winners, the Godlewski sisters won both of tonight's legs. They won the first leg with some airport luck and the second leg basically because they weigh less than the Linzes. I'm kinda "meh" about the Godlewskis, but the fact that their success pisses off the Weavers makes me like them at least a little bit.

    What I liked a lot more than a little bit was the nice glimpse of a shirtless Nick Linz. Mmmm...Nick Linz. Anyway, although Nick was quite impressive, the most impressive thing about that family tonight was the way the brothers let Megan do a roadblock that involved doing a 360 roll in a fighter plane. I was suprised, and pleased, that they would so readily give up a prime opportunity at adventure to their sister. Good for them. Megan did a great job and the team stands in second place. One of the new ongoing storylines is how the Linz family never finishes first. They don't finish last, but they've won a leg either. Hopefully that's foreshadowing for their eventual triumph.

    Now, on to the Weavers. The Weavers don't understand why the other teams don't like them. They even went so far as to whine to Phil about how the other teams don't like them and how they're the only team trying to live a good, Christian life. Now, I only went to Catholic school for eight years, but I don't think that good Christians talk smack about people the way the Weavers do. I also don't think they pray to God to help them do well on reality shows. And finally, I don't think that good Christians approach all other people in the suspicious, we're-better-than-you manner that the Weavers do. Simply put, the other teams hate them because they've held themselves not only separate from the rest of the field, but they see themselves as better than the rest too. Who wants to hang out with people like that?

    And let's be honest for a moment here, the other teams are hardly a pack of evil. The Godlewskis tried to comfort the Weavers when Ma Weaver was off on a go kart roadblock. They were trying to empathize with these poor kids who lost their father on a racetrack. Instead of accepting that empathy, the Weavers just bitched about the "Desperate Housewives" behind their backs. You catch more flies honey, dear Weavers.

    Oh, and the Bransens were there tonight too.

    Other highlights:

    • Marion Paolo mentioning how she'd rather be racing to New Zealand than Arizona. I hear ya, honey
    • Brian Paolo trying to rip on DJ and then immediately taking it all back. Obviously, DJ actually is the boss of him
    • Arizona is actually beautiful, it's just not very exotic
    • Good roadblocks: go kart racing and adventure flying. I would love to take one of those planes for a spin
    • Nick Linz:wet

    Want more? Click here for Viking Pundit's recap

    Posted by at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)


    Classic Dummocrats-Frenchman Interrogation Tools Uncovered

    [Posted by ]

    With the Muslim uprising in France and allegations of torture in the news again, it seemed like a good time (at least to me ;-) to revisit an old post here at Dummocrats. James wrote this back in July of 2004, and I think it's just as good today.


    Two Frenchmen are alleging that they were abused during their 2 year detention in a military prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying of their experience, "We have emerged from hell." Said one of the imprisoned French terrorists:

    '"bizarre" medicines had been given to inmates at night and [sic] one caused some prisoners to break out in spots." He gave no other details.

    As you well know, we here at Dummocrats take allegations of human rights violations very seriously; that is why, upon hearing about these allegations, we immediately launched an investigation and dispatched our ace reporting staff to Paris, France, where they met with the former detainees (read: terrorist assholes) to get "'the rest of the story."

    We wanted to know, just what were these "bizzare medicines" that were given to these unfortunate souls, and why isn’t the media talking about it? I'm happy to report that we've broken the story. I'm sure that Drudge will probably pick this up and it'll go mainstream, so, remember, you read it here first.

    Frenchman Interrogation Agent Number One

    This nasty substance, code-named "soap" by top government officials, has been an effective Frenchman interrogation tool throughout much of the 20th century. However, as with most tools of war, this is not your grandfather's "soap." As is plainly indicated by the "2000" designation, this heavy-duty product is definitely a weapon for the 21st century. "Because Frenchmen have increased their dirtyness over the years, we've had to come up with more effective tools," said a top-government official who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. "1950-era soap has little or no effect on the Frenchman of today; he's developed an unbelieveably high tolerance."

    Frenchman Interrogation Agent Number Two

    This is a particularly nasty form of the "soap" interrogation tool listed above is similar, but comes in a liquid form. "Often, it's hard to get close enough to the Frenchman to use the bar form of the soap," said the same top-government official." "We're able to use this liquid form in conjuction with our state of the art laser guided soap delivering tools (see exclusive photo below) to achieve the same positive effect with minimal risk to the olfactory senses of American soldiers."

    Top-secret photo of state of the art laser guided soap delivering tool, used in conjuction with liquid form of "soap" formula, above. Image taken without permission of the US Government by a top-secret Russian satellite passing over Cuba.
    Frenchman Interrogation Agent Number Three

    When the interrogations get tough, the tough pull out this tool, called a "toothbrush" by many in the military. While we were unable to get an official confirmation as to what exactly this nasty device is used for, rumor has it that it is used in conjunction with a paste-like substance to leave the victim's teeth "fresh, minty, and clean." Suffice it say, the government's continued silence on the topic speaks volumes. Note the cross-action of the bristles in the zoomed in portion of the image - the angle of each bristle is allegedly carefully chosen by top-Army scientists to ensure the maximum, "hell on earth" minty-effect, and at least one source tells us that the different colors of the bristles are a top-secret state-of-the-art technology that lets an Army interrogator know when its time to switch to a new tool, thus ensuring the maximum "hell-like" effect.

    Rumors abound about semi-automatic or automatic versions of this hellish tool, but we've been unable to confirm these reports. However, we were able to hire a police sketch artist to reproduce what this tool is alleged to look like.

    Artist's rendition of alleged "semi-automatic" version of "toothbrush" tool

    Frenchman Interrogation Agent Number Four

    We are unsure of what this strange looking product labelled "ban" is used for, but we're told that it's applied to the underarms of detainees twice a day. We suspect that it is a time-released chemical of some sort, and the fact that it "goes on clear" leads us to believe that it is often secretly applied. Supporting this conclusion are rumors of another similar device called only "Secret." It's rumored that this "Secret" is similar to "Ban" in that it is "strong enough for a man," but different in that it is "pH balanced for a woman." Clearly, this nightmarish tool works by supplying some sort of chemical transdermally, and the fact that different versions are needed for men and women seems to indicate that it is hormone-related.

    Needless to say, we are mortified that this sort of interrogation is going on in America! (err, make that Cuba. -Ed.) Remember, just like Abu Ghirab was entirely the fault of President George W. Bush, so is this human rights disaster. Frenchmen should not be subjected to these terrible tools of torture! So on November 2, vote for the only candidate that promises to get the permission of every foreign leader, every domestic leader, every special interest group, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson before subjecting foreigners, particularly French terrorist asshole foreigners, to this nightmare in the future.


    Posted by at 08:48 PM | Comments (3)


    November 07, 2005

    The Arrogance of PC

    [Posted by John Tant]

    Regular readers may know that I have a love/hate relationship with Oprah Winfrey. I usually keep at it because the entire Oprah world is intriguing to me. Anyone who utters even one critical word about Winfrey is usually treated to a litany of defenses, ranging from her charity to outright personal attacks on the author. And for some things, it's usually not worth it, although her accusing the Hermes store on the Champs d'Elysee of racism came close for me (Oprah dear, they probably weren't turning you away because you are black, but because you're an American. But how reassuring it is for Red America to now know you can stroll the Champs d'Elysee without running into racism!). But it was Friday's show that put me over the edge. It wasn't because it was outrageous, but rather one little item in one little segment that just highlighted the casual arrogance of not only Winfrey, but the entire racial dialogue.

    The show was aired on November 4 and was titled "Oprah's Pros Reveal Their Secrets." The part I caught was a frankly gratuitous bit about how she got her guest house redecorated and we were all treated to the Life of Oprah's Guest in all of its glory. But one part really irked me. They were going through the living room (the picture is after the jump) and there was a painting by Eugene A. Montgomery over the fireplace. It was of a woman with a mandolin, titled curiously enough "Woman with Mandolin." Winfrey made a point of mentioning the "paintings of African-American women."

    Oh, the casual arrogance this highlights. First, how do we know the woman in the painting is even American? This reminds me of the whole Vonetta Flowers incident.* And how do we know she comes from Africa? I mean, is it because she's black that we can assume that, as if no black people come from, say, Detroit? But if the argument is that even if she's a mandolin player from Detroit (something which would guarantee her ass-kicking, I'd think) that we can trace her ancestry back to Africa, doesn't that mean we all are African-American? I mean, I thought current anthropological theories put the cradle of Humanity in Africa, meaning we all come from there. But if that's the case, then the term "African-American" is meaningless because it describes everyone (well, every American, that is).

    But aside from the PC label, isn't it a little strange that the first thing Oprah Winfrey mentions about the art piece, indeed the entire way she chooses to describe it, is centered around the skin color of the subject? I thought there was a word for people who chose to use skin color as a defining characteristic, and that word was "racist." Indeed, not even the artist has the skin color of the woman mentioned in his's simply "Woman with Mandolin." So is it there because it's a painting of a black woman? What if it was a white woman, but the rest of the imagery remained the same. Would it still be there? And imagine if we were doing a tour of President Bush's ranch and he pointed out the paintings of the white women...would that not be cause for an uproar, possibly led by Winfrey herself?

    And hence my ire. When we start getting into racial labels like this, at what point do they start doing more harm than good? And isn't there just a hint of the double standard in it?

    But it's OK. Oprah Winfrey is very charitable!

    *Vonetta Flowers was the first black athlete to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. However, NBC reported her as the "first African-American to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics." Funny, Flower's partner is rarely if ever mentioned. Anyway, the insistence on using the term "African-American" made people wonder if she was the first black American to win a gold medal or the first black athlete from any country. It wasn't until a day or two later that the Washington Post ran a story and clarified that she was the first black person ever to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. The Flowers story is a good example of journalistic accuracy and credit for one's achievements being sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

    Here is the guest living room of the egalitarian and humble Oprah Winfrey:

    "Woman with Mandolin" is above the fireplace.

    Posted by John Tant at 11:44 AM | Comments (4)


    Enough With the Anchor Babies, Say Some GOP Lawmakers

    [Posted by Laura]

    The GOP, realizing that it has been losing its base, is finally beginning to address a problem that many on the right consider a serious problem. I received a Homeland Security email update that referenced a Washington Times article entitled GOP mulls ending birthright citizenship. Is this a political ploy on the part of some of these Representatives? Sure, for most - they finally figured out the base has been screaming about this for years, and right now, approaching the 2006 elections, they need us on board. At Dummocrats, we've discussed this issue many times before, especially in the posts Just a Minute, Man and in Illegal Aliens: Your Hearing Is Apparently Optional the particular issue of anchor babies was discussed.

    A Zogby poll reported by on May 6, 2005 found that:

    • A huge majority (81% of respondents) believe local and state police should help federal authorities enforce laws against illegal immigration. 14 percent disagreed.
    • A majority (56%) opposed the Bush plan, and 35 percent supported it when asked, "Do you support or oppose the Bush administration’s proposal to give millions of illegal aliens guest worker status and the opportunity to become citizens?"
    • A majority (53%) agreed and 40 percent disagreed when asked, "Do you agree or disagree that the federal government should deploy troops on the Mexican border as a temporary measure to control illegal immigration?"

    So what's the problem with continuing to bestow US citizenship to babies born in the US? The article Chain Migration is a good breakdown of the situation. Basically, it's like Amway, only it works for pretty much everyone who tries it.

    As a US citizen, that anchor baby can grow up to sponsor the citizenship of other family members, who then sponsor more family members, who then sponsor other family members...

    Chain migration happens because present U.S. immigration policy is based on the principle of broadly defined family reunification; immigrants are able to sponsor their relatives back home to be admitted as immigrants here.1 In other words, most immigrants are admitted simply because they have a relative here who sponsors them, not because of what they might be able to contribute to our society.

    Because of the chain reaction described above, immigration numbers continue to rise. Under the "immediate relatives" category, the parents, spouse, and children of a U.S. citizen are admitted without limit. Therefore, once the law was changed in 1965 to create the so-called family reunification system, chain migration caused the numbers in this category to steadily rise. Five years after chain migration began, the number of immediate relative admissions had nearly doubled (from 32,714 in 1965 to 79,213 in 1970); ten years after, it had almost tripled (to 91,504 in 1975); 15 years after, it was nearly five times higher (151,131 in 1980); 20 years after, it was nearly six times higher (204,368 in 1985); 25 years after, it was seven times higher (231,680 in 1990); less than 30 years after, it was eight times higher (249,764 in 1994); and in 2001, 36 years later, the number of immediate relatives admitted 443,964-over 13 times higher.

    From the Washington Times article:

    Most lawmakers had avoided the issue, fearing that change would require a constitutional amendment -- the 14th Amendment reads in part: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States."
    But several Republicans said recent studies suggest otherwise.
    "There's been recent scholarship that says we can do it by statute, and we ought to try," said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican, who usually finds himself on the opposite side of immigration issues from Mr. Tancredo.
    "How in the world can you explain that's a good policy to have? It simply doesn't promote respect for the rule of law," Mr. Flake said.
    Several lawmakers said the U.S. and Mexico are the only major Western countries to have birthright citizenship. Most European countries have moved away from birthright citizenship in recent decades.
    Whether or not this passes, it will at least be an interesting discussion. Now if we can just get our representatives to pull a Tom Clancy - in Debt of Honor, whatever other countries' trade laws were, we just mirrored them. Imagine what it would be like if our incoming illegal immigration policies mirrored Mexico's - instead of educating, providing healthcare and welfare, and even resident discounts for college age illegals that are not available to Americans from other states, they summarily deport tens of thousands of Central American illegals every year.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 11:41 AM | Comments (8)


    November 05, 2005

    Aging Madison Hippies to Halloween Revelers: Our Protests Are Better Than Your Riots

    [Posted by ]

    I was listening to some local talk show on my way home last night. The show was hosted by a 19-year old and an 18-year old. Because of their age and the time of the year, the topic of the program was Halloween. What went wrong, what went right and what should we do next year.

    Unsurprisingly, callers were split on the topic generationally. The oldsters thought the young people day sucked and the young people thought the cops sucked. However, I discovered a brand new complaint against today's youth. One man, who said he was in his 50s (and, not uncoincidentally, that makes him a dreaded Boomer) questioned why today's youth would get out and risk getting their heads bashed in by the cops for a party, but didn't have the same "courage" to do it to protest an "unjust war" in Iraq.

    Sadly, neither host laughed at this remark. And, neither host pointed out the obvious thought that perhaps today's youths don't think Iraq is an unjust war. Perhaps the only people who do think so (at least to the point of protesting about it) are aging hippies who think everything is another Vietnam-the high point of their existence.

    I think a lot of these hipsters protest Iraq because they simply want to relive their youth. But, not just content with that, they want today's young people to relive their youth too. Instead of having a great time in the Oh Ohs, kids today should have a Sixties. My god, doesn't everyone want a Sixties?

    Well, apparently not. Below is the face of the anti-war movement in Madison during Wednesday's protest:

    Looks like the usual suspects to me. Anyway, these usual suspects, these aging hippies, find some moral superiority in the fact that they bashed in windows of State Street businesses back in the day because they were rioting about a war rather than rioting because of a holiday (note that just one window was broken this year-so kids today aren't even good at rioting!) To me, a bashed-in window of a business is just as broken no matter what the reason.

    If you want to protest something, go for it, but please don't bitch when other people don't want to join you. I know it's hard for some people, particularly aging hippies, to believe, but not everybody agrees with you.

    Posted by at 08:11 AM | Comments (0)


    November 04, 2005

    Maureen Dowd: Are Men Necessary?

    [Posted by John Tant]

    Well, I've been knocking around this blog for a little while now, and I've come to think of you, the dear reader, as a dear friend. One to whom I can confide. One who will understand my foibles and idiosyncracies, and not judge but rather celebrate. So with that, it's time I confess something to you that may be considered weird and is certainly somewhat embarassing. But if Mr. Sulu can come out of the closet, then so can I:

    I have a long standing crush on Maureen Dowd.

    I'm not sure what it is. I mean, OK so the years aren't on our side, in that she's got about 15 of them on me. But she does take a pretty good photo:

    The eyes, the Mona Lisa-esque hint of a smile. I mean, wow. You could print out that photo and set it up across the table from you over a nice Bordeaux and have a pretty good conversation: Why yes, Maureen...I think we were justified going into Iraq and if you'll indulge me I'll explain why. Maureen, hanging on my every word.

    Or maybe one a little less mysterious:

    Now that's just fun: Ah, Maureen, you enjoy my impression of Harry Reid working on a crossword puzzle, don't you?

    Even when not dolled up for an evening out, she still looks pretty good:

    Well, let me tell you exactly HOW the handsome, charming, and intelligent John Tant changed my mind about a great many things...."

    Or accepting an accolade from a particular group:

    Yes, landing John Tant IS quite an achievement....

    Now maybe part of this unrequited (as far as I know) crush has to do with our politics. I mean MoDo (I can call you MoDo, can't I?) is unabashedly left, and well I think President Bush isn't conservative enough. So we have that whole opposites thing. And of course there's the minor point of me being happily married so there's that whole "safe to fantasize" thing. But still...MoDo is a hot little number with the package. Looks, wit, and smarts.

    Well, maybe not so much on the smarts, at least in certain areas. When I read her (past tense...I hate Times Select so much that it robbed Maureen from my screen) I always got the sense that she wasn't quite as smart as she thought she was. Or if she was smart, she was being deliberately disingenuous with some of her things. But one glimpse of the byline photo and my concerns would be assuaged. Ah, sweet Maureen. Be all thy sins remembered.

    That she's famously single never concerned me either. Hey, sometimes you make choices in life that don't involve getting a significant other, you know? I figured she was deliberately single. And this made several recent revelations all the more difficult to bear. Because sweet Maureen...sweet, confident flummoxed by men.

    Maureen Dowd's penchant for provocative overstatement has found its most recent outlet in a much talked about excerpt of her new book, Are Men Necessary?, in the New York Times Magazine. In it she bemoans a perceived return of 1950s values and courtship rituals and portrays a younger generation of women as grasping, shallow housewife wannabes and "yummy mommies." In the most inflammatory and intriguing passages, she claims that men are put off by women in power, that they prefer the women who serve them—maids, masseuses, and secretaries—to their equals. She attributes the fact that she is unmarried to her powerful position as an op-ed columnist at the New York Times. Then she notes her own family history of domestic service and concludes that "being a maid would have enhanced my chances with men."

    And this isn't the first time she's expressed thoughts like this. Back in January she denounced men for wanting to marry their mommies. And when I go back through her columns, it dawns on me that she's been bitter about her single status for a looong time. I guess I was too enamored of the photo that accompanied those rants. So in the interests of saving this relationship, I want to give a little advice.

    Maureen...grow up. Men don't want to marry their mothers. And that's why you're still single. Because're Mom! You are overly critical, piously moralizing, and you have an opinion on everything over which you'll brook no disagreement. Why would any guy want to marry that?!? Plus, when an older woman bemoans the fact that she isn't married because there are no good men out there, usually the unspoken complaint is "There are no good men out there like me." Could it be that MoDo's problem is not the availability of "acceptable" men, but rather her own narcissistic streak?

    This isn't to say all men aren't intimidated by "successful" women. I know some are. But I think the vast majority of men want to be in a relationship that both thrills and challenges. And I think you have to take a marriage on that basis. If you're looking for a spouse who is your mirror image because you're so doggone perfect, then you're going to be one lonely person. With cats.

    So for my sweet Maureen...ditch the attitude and start accepting others on their terms instead of bitterly insisting they use yours. You might be happier. And so will I.

    Posted by John Tant at 09:39 AM | Comments (7)


    College Football Picks-Week 10

    [Posted by ]

    I can hardly believe it's already week 10. Why, it seems like just yesterday that some pundits were predicting an undefeated season for Purdue or that Louisville would be this year's BCS buster. Shows what they know. Hopefully, this week will show what I know. There are some difficult and intriguing games, so here we go:

    #19 Boston College at North Carolina: BC is one of those schools it's easy to hate. John Kerry went to law school there. Their hockey fans are the most obnoxious in the nation. And, worst of all, they didn't send me an application packet full of beautiful pictures of campus. Because of that, I'm all about BU, not BC. All that said, their football team has been all hype and little performance this year. Why are they still in the top 20? North Carolina, on the other hand, seems like a tough and gritty team. They put up a battle for a half against Miami last week. Boston College ain't no Miami. The pick; North Carolina.

    Tennessee at #8 Notre Dame: For the last few weeks, Notre Dame has been locked in a battle with Ohio State for the title of the nation's best two-loss team. Personally, I'd give the title to Notre Dame. People have bitched about how Charlie Weis got a contract extension and Ty Willingham got shown the door, but these same folks having been raving about the job Weis has done since week 1.The guy has turned the program around. Tennessee, on the other hand, appears to be going in the other direction. Can you believe they are 3-4? The pick: Notre Dame.

    #14 Wisconsin at #10 Penn State: It's the battle for the Orange or Fiesta Bowl! The winner of this game will control their own Big Ten destiny. Will the Badgers win one more conference title for Barry? Or, will the Nittany Lions prove that their hearts are as strong as Joe Paterno's eyeglass prescription? Will I'm quite sure that our brave and bold Bucky Badger can beat the crap out of Penn State's mangy mascot, I'm not so sure about the actual football teams. With Wisconsin's porous defense, I wouldn't be surprised to see Michael Robinson run for 200 yards and pass for another 300. On the other hand, Brian Calhoun or Jonathan Orr could score 4 TDs. In the battle of offense vs. defense, it's smart to remember that defense doesn't always win. The pick: Wisconsin.

    #23 California at #15 Oregon: I think Cal is way overrated and I have a soft spot for the Ducks. But, they're playing this game without their QB, Kellen Clemens. Even at home, that'll be enough for California to spring a minor upset. The pick: California.

    #5 Miami at #3 Virginia Tech: Earlier in the year, I was convinced that Virginia Tech was really one of the two best teams in the nation. Even though they've kept winning I've soured on them a little bit. I just have a feeling, not a logical reason, that they won't end the season undefeated. This is obviously their biggest test. Miami hasn't had much success in Blacksburg, but if you're the number five team in the country, you should be able to play (and win) a tough road game. My hope is that a player like Marcus Vick starts believing his own hype and that Virginia Tech won't be prepared to work for a hard win. The pick: Miami.

    The only pick I feel good about is Notre Dame. These other games are just scary. Of course, I'll be happy to go 1-4 with these picks as long as Wisconsin is my one win ;-)

    Posted by at 07:34 AM | Comments (3)


    November 03, 2005

    Bye Bye Brandon - Survivor Guatemala Episode 8 Recap

    [Posted by james]

    Yaxha leaves last week's tribal council and heads over to Nakum for merger. Along the way, Bobby Jon tells us that he can't be around Stephanie for more than a few minutes without wanting to vomit, and that he can't be around Jamie for more than a few minutes without wanting to knock him out. Heh - last time Jaime and Bobby Jon got into it, there was a shouting match. Maybe we'll get treated to a Bobby Jon/Steph gag-off.

    Needless to say, Nakum is shocked when awakened.

    Treemail comes and delivers a shock - there is a small few-inch long individual idol hidden in the woods, and that whoever finds it can hide it away and use it any time they want, up until the final 4. Interesting.

    While looking for the Idol, Bobby Jon and Steph make a pact that leaves Bobby Jon with the impression that Steph will do everything in her power to make sure that Bobby Jon makes it to the jury. What she actually says is "you belong on the jury, i want you on the jury, i'm going to do everything in my power to make sure Brandon gets voted off first, if he doens't win immunity." Two seconds later Steph turns around and tells the camera that if Brandon wins immunity, she's voting Bobby Jon off. No wonder Bobby Jon can't stand her.

    The Immunity Challenge features a choice between taking part in the challenge or skipping it and getting to pig out in a huge feast. The catch: pick the feast and you can't win immunity. Pick the challenge and you can't eat. Raif, Jaime, Steph, and Lydia all choose the feast. Those in the challenge have to balance a clay pot on their head while standing on a block for one hour, then move on to a tiebreaker. Gary wins the immunity in the tie-breaker stage.

    The team heads to Tribal Council where it comes down to a showdown between Jaime and Brandon. In the end, Brandon gets the boot, 6-4.

    Bye Brandon. Bye bye bye.

    Posted by jkhat at 09:11 PM | Comments (0)


    Cell Phones: Tool of the Devil?

    [Posted by ]

    Yesterday, Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman huffed off after a cameraman's cell phone went off during a press conference:

    Like moviegoers everywhere, the Green Bay Packers are fed up with interruptions caused by those annoying cell phones going off at the most inopportune time.

    So, coach Mike Sherman cut short his weekly news conference Wednesday when a camera operator's phone rang, and the team canceled quarterback Brett Favre's weekly briefing when the culprit failed to 'fess up.

    The cell phone went off about 16 minutes into what is normally about a 25-minute news conference when Sherman was in the middle of answering a question about his defense.

    "I don't understand that," Sherman, a former high school history teacher, said as he walked away from the podium in the media auditorium. "That stuff to me, to be honest with you, is a total lack of respect for each other. Forget me, you don't have to respect me. But respect each other."

    While Sherman was probably more pissed off about being the coach of a 1-6 team than he was about a cell phone, his reaction is understandable. Cell phones are convenient, and yet also horrible. On the plus side, people can reach you no matter where you are. On the minus side, people can reach you no matter where you are. And, Sherman's damn right about how so much of cell phone use shows a complete lack of respect for the people around you. And I'm not just talking about strangers who have to listen to one side of your conversation. I've been with people, who, in the middle of conversation, will answer their cell phone and proceed to gab away, while I'm just left sitting there twiddling my thumbs.

    I was at a concert last week and I saw an entirely different phenomenon: people who were more excited to get on their cell phones and call their friends while the concert was happening than they were to actually watch and listen to the concert themselves. My thought is that cell phones have made us so preoccupied with what is going on away from us that we're not paying enough attention and care to what we're actually doing. The grass is always greener on the other end of the line.

    So, I ask, are cell phones a tool of the devil? If so, perhaps the rest of us could take a cue from Mike Sherman and demand that real, live human beings take precedence over these bright, shiny, seductive minions of Satan.

    Posted by at 12:46 PM | Comments (4)


    Yay Day or Nay Day

    [Posted by ]

    First, I can't believe how many people find the King creepy. What's wrong with all of you? I suspect that some of you have issues with your royal betters. To test my theory, this week's question also tackles a monarcy.

    Posted by at 06:30 AM | Comments (9)


    November 01, 2005

    Amazing Race Recap - Episode 6 - Gaghan Family Philiminated

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight's episode reminds me of why I both love and hate this show. I hate that the Gaghans, who I've really come to like, were eliminated in Costa Rica. I hated watching poor Carissa Gaghan tear up. But, on the other hand, I loved that you could tell Phil just wanted to hug her.

    Tonight, the Gaghans were "Lenaed". For those of you new to the show, Lena & Kristy were a pair of sisters from season six. They looked to be a likable and capable team until Lena hit a roadblock where she had to find a clue rolled into one of a hundred or so bales of hay in Sweden. Lena unrolled bale after bale after bale and found no clue. Every other team passed her, but she still kept unrolling. The poor girl unrolled bales of hay for eight hours before Phil finally left the mat and mercifully eliminated the girls right there in the field. Similarly, Tammy Gaghan had to find the one red coffee bean in a pile of 800 lbs of coffee beans. So, basically it was a needle in a, err, haystack (sorry Lena). It took her forever and every team passed her, including the hated Weavers, who had been yielded by the the Paolos.

    Speaking of the Paolos, they again kicked some ass to finish first. DJ Paolo should note that the nicer he is to his mom, the more attractive he is. Seriously.

    The Linz family had another good second place finish, while the Bransens were third. The Paolos are good because they seem to instinctly choose the better detours (tonight they chose to gather bunches of bananas rather than search a rain forest for Mayan relics). The Linzes and Bransens, on the other hand, seem to excel through superior navigation skills.

    Despite starting the leg with no money or possession, the Godlewski sisters finished fourth, followed by the Weavers.

    A few comments on the Weavers. First, must they pray to God for help at every difficult pointin the Race? Second, for such a wonderful group of christians, they sure are hateful. They called the Paolos "retards" and mocked them for standing next to a garbage truck in their yield photo. They sneeringly wondered how much the Godlewskis paid for their breasts. They are just nasty people. It's no wonder all of the other teams hate them.

    So that's the bad. Some good moments from tonight:

    • Bill and Billy Gaghan watching Tammy search for the red coffee bean. They talk about how it probably doesn't help Tammy when they yell at her during the Roadblock. Almost immmediately after saying that, they both start yelling at her again. Billy pulls out a perfect "You can DO it!". Heh. I really grew to love Billy
    • The Godlewskis tried to use their feminine wiles to get money from locals. One local man tells them that he has no money. But he does have love. Boom chicka waa waa.
    • Costa Rica was beautiful. I have nothing against the good 'ole USA, but it was refreshing to see a beautiful, exotic, foreign location again.

    So what did you think of tonight's episode? Talk about it in our new Zebrality forums!

    Want more? Click here for Viking Pundit's recap.

    Posted by at 09:14 PM | Comments (2)


    RE: Abort Stupid Laws

    [Posted by John Tant]

    This was going to be a reply to Kris' latest post, but it started to outgrow the relatively brief confines of the comment field and so I thought it should be a post in its own right.

    Kris has an issue with Alito's dissent in Casey and she starts by quoting from Alito's reasoning as to why the spousal notification piece wasn't an undue burden and was therefore constitutional. Kris then goes on to argue that it's a stupid thing for the legislature to be wasting time on.

    I have a couple of thoughts about this.

    First, I think this case neatly illustrates the kind of judicial temperament we as conservatives should be looking for. See, the question before the Court was not whether this was a good law. The question was whether it was a constitutional law. The law itself was duly enacted by the Pennsylvania state legislature, answerable to the good people of that state. The exact wrong thing for a judge would be to look at the law and decide that it's stupid, and strike it down on that basis. This is the danger of activist judges, ones who twist the law to suit a predetermined (or desireable) outcome.

    What I'm trying to say is that we can have laws that we'd consider "good" (for instance, making it illegal for Ted Kennedy to ever open his mouth again), but those laws would be unconstitutional...and we can have laws that we'd consider "bad" (my nominee for this is legal abortion) but they'd be constitutional. The danger we run into is equating bad with unconstitutional. For instance, I think abortion is bad. But absent a new and major finding of fact, it's constitutional. I think that allowing a judge to overturn laws he thinks are stupid turns the idea of representative democracy on its head. If the people want to make stupid laws, they should have that right. I mean, are we going to trust in the idea of We The People or aren't we?

    So I think based on the law, the established precedent, and an understanding of the proper role of the judiciary, Alito made a good decision.

    Second, let's examine this spousal notification issue. Kris wonders:

    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?

    To put the law in context, in Pennsylvania (as in many if not most other states) a husband can be responsible for child support for any children his wife has while they're married even if they are not his. Put more simply, the law recognizes (or creates, if you prefer) a responsibility of the husband for such children. Now put that fact aside for a minute.

    As the law sat before the spousal notification bit was passed, you could have a situation where the husband really really really wanted children but the wife did not. Since such a formula is guaranteed to result in the wife getting pregnant (through the application of Murphy's Law), there's a bit of a pickle. For all the talk about "reproductive rights" and so forth, the rights of the father in this situation are being swept aside. The mother could abort (or kill the baby, if you prefer) and the father wouldn't even have the minor courtesy of knowing about it. In other words, in the law you have a situation where a father would be compelled to care for a baby he didn't want yet be barred from caring for a baby he would want.

    Now, there's an argument that a father gives up a certain amount of individual freedom in such matters when he gets married. But then, why doesn't the mother? I think it tilts the playing field a little unfairly when one person in the situation can compel action from another. Plus, it's not even as if the spouse had any real course of action under the Pennsylvania law. He couldn't keep the abortion from happening, even if he's willing to take 100% of the responsibility of raising the child.

    Based on that, a spousal notification requirement, even one as filled with exceptions as the one in question in Casey, is not an attempt to do away with abortion "rights" (indeed, by Kris' own argument it isn't an undue burden as it "[applied] to virtually no one."). I think instead it's an attempt to bring the husband/father into the equation, as a partner and not a dupe. The representatives (accountable to the people) apparently felt that way too and so they enacted the law. I don't think you have to be pro-choice or pro-life to think a husband should at least know if his wife is aborting his baby.

    Posted by John Tant at 08:21 AM | Comments (7)


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