Monday, March 31, 2008

delegate calculator

Slate has created a nifty delegate calculator that allows you to set the percentages in all the states yet to vote and see what the delegate results would be. It effectively drives home a simple point: Clinton is so screwed. I gave her the most optimistic (bordering on delusional) of scenarios: 60-40 wins in PA, Guam, WV, KY, and Puerto Rico plus a monster 55-45 upset in IN, and held Barack back to minor 53-47 victories in NC, OR, MT, and SD, and the result?

Obama 1668-1566 Clinton.

The truth is the delegate math just doesn't change that much with different results. I put in my predictions, which I think are still a little conservative but definitely kinder to Obama, giving him 60+ victories in NC, MT, and SD, mid to high fifties in IN and OR, and all others to Clinton 55-45 and I came up with Obama 1706-1528 Clinton. The most optimistic pro-Obama prediction that still adheres to some semblance of plausibility, giving him wild 70 point blowouts in the Mountain West and 60-40 smackdowns in IN and NC, only changes the math by 10.

Friday, March 28, 2008

sustainable living: viva Chipotle!

A coda to the last sustainable living segment: here is some very good news for local growers and pastured meat enthusiasts: the burrito chain Chipotle is experimenting with switching to local, pastured pork. Chipotle also happens to be pretty easy on the taste buds, so this is especially good to hear. One more excuse to go out for dinner!

excitement at work, and a visit from the president

I never write about work, but I thought I'd relate two stories that aren't any way "dishing" about my job.

I'm on the email discussion list for the working group that maintains the online card catalog, and they've happened upon a maddening (for them)/amusing (for me) malfunction in the system whereby it randomly adds an exclamation point after the names of certain authors. No one can figure out how to debug it, and apparently the code creating "the punctuation issue" (also dubbed by a few people "the excited author syndrome") has existed in our catalog for several years. I kind of hope they never fix it; I get smile every time I think about looking for a book in the catalog and seeing:
Title: Heart of Darkness/ by Joseph Conrad!

Speaking of authors, the library receives lots of new books from various countries, as one can expect, and sometimes we get authors with funny names. I received this one today.

Mr. Love and Justice

Billy Bragg pens a New York Times op-ed on the sale of Bebo and the plight of musicians in the 21st century market. The big question mark dangling over the music industry right now is how musicians can get a fair slice of the revenue their music generates. They can't just remain as sharecroppers for the recording companies, but turning a profit has proven to be a tough nut to crack for all but the biggest dogs in the biz. If your name doesn't sell content by itself, you're in a bit of a pickle because you need the publicity that sites like Bebo and Myspace provide, but there's a point at which that publicity costs you a living wage.

Damn you Barack!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

nothing "lone" about it

AP says Texas tops the charts of population growth again:
Dallas-Fort Worth added more than 162,000 residents between July 2006 and July 2007, more than any other metro area. Three other Texas areas - Houston, Austin and San Antonio - also cracked the top 10.

Atlanta saw the second-largest population jump with just over 151,000 new residents. Phoenix was third with more than 132,000, and was followed by Houston, Riverside, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Austin, Las Vegas and San Antonio.

Surprisingly, Lubbock didn't make the list.

I'm a little surprised that there's so little growth in the Northeast. The property values thing makes sense (and yes, houses are a lot cheaper in Texas), but I thought everybody wanted to move either to NYC or Boston.

mean girls

Even when we're on the same side, and even when we're on the same side of the same side, I just can't stand Maureen Dowd's column. It's so petty and superficial, and irresponsibly biased as well; it takes quite the matrix of conspiracy theories to make Hillary Clinton into the monster of Dowd's column. Is she still in high school?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

what is the worst movie ever?

An interesting article on a fun exercise, but I have two issues with it:

1. the qualifications upon which he insists are virtually impossible. How can a movie both start with the promise of not being awful and have a terrible reputation that precedes it... and live up to that reputation?

2. The writer's choice for Worst. Movie. Ever., the 1980 "anti-western" Heaven's Gate, may have offended the sensibilities of the fine hosers at the Toronto Film Festival, but it then moved on to Cannes... where it was nominated for the Palm d'Or. I'm not saying it's not a terrible movie (I haven't seen it so I don't know), but it sounds like it only did so much damage because it was so horrendously expensive. Plus, the director's cut received better reviews.

I'm having a hard time with a pick of my own, however. I've typically tried to avoid the worst of the worst, so I'm in no position to decide if Caligula or Battlefield Earth or Gigli is the worst ever. I did see Summer of Sam, which to this day is the only movie I've walked out of, and I also saw the third The Prophecy movie which was significantly worse than that. I never saw it, but I remember Leatherface being heralded by a reputation for suckitude so profound that our local Austin news station actually did a mocking report on it, though perhaps that was also because it's a sequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

"a large share"

So I'm reading the New York Times and I come across this article on workplace bullies. Sounds interesting, as I've never really experienced that but it sounds just awful, and then I come to a graph to which the editor should have paid a little more attention:
A large share of the problem involves women victimizing women. The Zogby survey showed that 40 percent of workplace bullies are women.

According to, women constitute 48% of the working population. If we're talking proportions, then, isn't it men who constitute "a large share of the problem," seeing as they comprise 52% of the overall population but 60% of the bullies?

Damn you Michael C. Hall!

Crime dramas bother me. In virtually every crime drama, the judicial system is actually an impediment to the struggle for justice because it is hamstrung by the Bill of Rights. Evil criminals slip through the fingers of the righteous policemen thanks to sissyfied civil rights and unctuous, amoral defense attorneys until the evidence finally proves their guilt, when suddenly their eyes narrow and they remorselessly and calmly lay out their evil machinations in minute detail, revealing their true, monstrous nature. The moral message of every other episode is: "Damnit! If only we didn't have habeas corpus and laws against illegal searches, then we could've saved that last victim!"

Dexter adopts this "moral" message and carries it even further, arguing not only that skirting civil rights makes for more efficient justice, but that it takes a serial killer to clean up the mess of criminals made untouchable by the Bill of Rights, that true justice is the western style, 2-in-the-noggin variety. Dexter is a more efficient and precise instrument of justice, we are told, precisely because he is unbound by the accused's civil liberties, and his justice is more enduring and complete because there is only one punishment.

Now if the damn show would just stop being so well written and acted, maybe I could stop loving it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

sustainable living: going grass fed

They're very excited to be here.
(picture c/o Natural Wellness)

As I mentioned in my post on the farmer's market, one of the things we found in Elkhart last weekend was a booth selling pastured, or "grass fed" beef, pork, and poultry. I was also pointedly reminded that Sap did not eat 3 different things to my 1, that I had neglected to mention the apple fritter that tided me over while she had her quiche, but that's beside the point. Pastured meat is obviously the original way to raise livestock, but it's rarely done these days because, frankly, the game has been rigged against it and in favor of industrial feedlots. FDA protocols and regulations originally intended to protect the food supply have been retooled by industry lobbyists and political cronies to make industrial feedlots more cost-effective and make slaughtering meat so horrifically expensive than only the CAFOs can afford the facilities to do it.

The reason I still wanted to search out pastured meat, however, is in its health benefits for myself and the land. Grass finished beef-- that is, from cows that weren't just reared in the pasture but actually spent their entire lives in it-- has half the overall fat of skinless chicken breast, and yet is significantly higher in omega 3's (that's the "good" fats that come from fish and walnuts), almost as high as some fish, in fact, and it lacks the growth hormones and antibiotics of its industrially-produced counterparts.

(c/o Fair Oaks Ranch)

Despite the lack of antibiotics, pastured beef is also cleaner than CAFO beef in terms of food-borne diseases (spongiform encephalopathy, or "mad cow disease," for instance, is a product of CAFO cows being fed beef fat. And yes, most of them are fed it).

There's also my concern about CAFO's from an ethical standpoint. I eat meat, and animals are killed to feed me, and I'm okay with that. I'm comfortable with my omnivorous nature. What makes me less comfortable, however, is stacking animals in a giant, smelly building so close to each other that they can't even turn around, standing directly over a giant lagoon filled with their own festering shit and being fed a food they weren't biologically designed to eat that makes them sick (generally a mix of corn, soy, growth hormones and beef fat-- remember, cows are ruminants, meaning they're strictly grass-ivores). The unhealthy food and unsanitary conditions means they have to be pumped full of antibiotics while the lack of space to move necessitates the hormones. The cattle are slaughtered mechanically or via low-wage labor, often still alive when they start to get chopped up, and are dressed so lackadaisically that frequently the intestines are punctured or burst in the process, covering the meat in its own shit. And yes, some of that does shit does get shipped in the chuck; where do you think e. coli comes from? Pigs live in similar conditions, while chickens have it even worse: chickens are kept in quarters so cramped that they go mad and start trying to peck their neighbors, and themselves, to death. Consequently, industrially-raised chickens have their beaks removed, and often sport open wounds on that spot.

Meanwhile, the prodigious amounts of feces produced by these feedlots can't be broken down by nature because it's too concentrated and has to be sequestered in artificial, sealed lagoons or sprayed over farmland from shit sprinklers, whence in either case it eventually drains into the water supply, taking its diseases and bacteria hormones and antibiotics with it.

I still eat industrial meat, however, because like many people I'm appalled by the ethical and health-related implications of CAFO's, but not enough so to stop eating meat. That has historically been my only option since, like a mere 99% of Americans, we shop for our food at the grocery store, and I've never even heard of a grocery store that sells pastured meat. The farmer's market finally offers a chance to indulge my carnivorous cravings more safely and healthfully.

So to test it out, I bought a package of frozen hamburger meat, which cost me about $3.50. It's expensive for hamburger meat, no question. It's wrapped in simple white paper stamped with a meat inspector's stamp, and when I opened it, I found that the meat was noticeably darker than store-bought beef. It also has an odd odor to it, not an unpleasant one, perhaps reminiscent of buffalo meat (probably because buffalo tends to be pastured, too). It's a damn lean meat; I had a hell of a time flattening it into patties with breaking pieces off, and very little fat drained from this meat when I cooked it, especially when compared to store-bought hamburger. That odd odor was reflected in the flavor as well. With other high quality meats, like free-range chicken, for instance, it usually tastes a little better than regular chicken, but it's a subtle difference. If someone gave you a cooked chicken breast and told you to identify whether it's free range, you'd probably be hard-pressed to give the right answer. There would be no such difficulty telling this meat from regular beef, though. It's almost a sweeter meat, less savory, which makes sense if you think about the strong, slightly sweet flavor of grass and clover, especially compared to corn. I'm not sure if I'd say it tastes better than store-bought beef, but if I got used to this I'd probably have a hard time going back.

And I do intend to get used to it. I bought my second pound on Saturday.

the return of haggling

Not sure how I feel about this. I'm sure I'll like the idea a lot more if I ever manage to save a heap of money via haggling, but I'm naturally dovish and averse to conflict, so I get a little uncomfortable at the idea of fighting over prices with a store worker.

Captain Milquetoast to the rescue!

Evan Bayh explains that Hillary actually wins if you look at how many electoral college votes the states have that she's won compared to Obama.

Josh Marshall, who is remaining relatively neutral in the race, provides a useful commentary on the tendency of the Clinton campaign to search for new metrics by which to show how Clinton's "actually" ahead (e.g., red states don't count, caucus delegates shouldn't count in with the pledged delegates, etc.):
I imagine playing poker around a table with friends. Player A has a Straight Flush; Player B has four of a kind. Then B says well, sure, if you're counting straights, but if we were adding up the numbers rather than going by straights winning, I'd have won.

How well would that go over? I remember, when I was a little kid playing chess with my dad (who unlike some Dad's never saw the point of throwing games in my favor) and sometimes when I lost I'd toss out some version of ... well, but if my rook could move diagonally, then ... You get the idea.

Admittedly, there is a relative scale of ridiculousness. I can see the argument over the non-sanctioned Florida and Michigan primaries, though I don't agree with it. But ruling out caucuses? Or today's gambit from Evan Bayh arguing that we should be looking at who's winning by the electoral college vote, which yields a narrow win for Hillary? ...

...The system is based on pledged delegates and super-delegates. Period. There's a set of rules everyone agreed on. The wisdom of those rules is irrelevant at this point. The Clinton campaign is entitled to do whatever it wants to get superdelegates to come over to her side to even out the pledged delegate deficit. My take is that whatever the arguments, the superdelegates aren't going to go against a clear pledged delegate leader. And I think they'd be extremely ill-advised to do so. But the superdelegates do have this power under the rules. But these constant efforts to say the rules aren't fair are just silly, and truth be told I think they're more undermining of the Clinton campaign than they realize.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

why I liked "A More Perfect Union" so much

Obama has staked his entire candidacy on the belief that the voting public can be trusted to comprehend an issue that neither provides its own obvious answer nor strokes the American ego with dubious hyper-patriotic dualism, in spite of a press and opposing party that have treated Americans like self-centered morons for the last 30 years. It's a pretty radical act of trust in 300 million strangers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I'm pretty blown away by this speech. It's by far the most intelligent, honest, and realistic speech on race in America that anyone's bothered to give Americans in, well, maybe ever. This is what I want the president to sound like and think like.

And by the way, Barack wrote it himself.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I am blind

I love British commercials.

sustainable living: the new farmer's market

(picture c/o The Farmer's Exchange)

This post begins a new series here at the Ranch documenting our journey on the road to a more environmentally friendly home life. At least, it will assuming I have the patience to maintain a series of blog posts. We'll see. As many of you already know, Sap and I have been making a point to try out new ways to cultivate a way of living that is less damaging to the environment, healthier, and generally more economical. We became particularly interested in sustainable living starting in 2004 when we bought a house, moved in together, and in the course of some very early home projects found that the more environmentally friendly alternatives were also better on the bottom line over the long term, and not just in some "we all benefit from better air" kind of way, but real, quantifiable savings.

We have also been re-examining the food that we eat. I'll intermittently discuss the utter brokenness of our current industrial agriculture system throughout this series, though if you're interested in it, then I cannot recommend highly enough Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, which I've talked about before. Go to the library and check it out; it will change your life in tangible ways. Suffice it to say that ever since Pollan's book touched our lives we've been working to replace as much of our food as we can with locally and sustainably grown alternatives.

This endeavor led us last weekend to the American Countryside Farmer's Market in Elkhart. Farmer's markets are often an economical way to get organic and local foods, which are often much more expensive than grocery store slop. The real benefit of locally grown food, however, lies not in cost, but in quality. We ate at the market (it has a number of restaurant-style booths), and the food was great. I had an Italian meats sandwich on fresh ciabatta bread, while Sap had fresh-made strawberry sorbetto, and then a veggie quiche and a lemon-poppyseed muffin (she also got Diet Dr. Pepper from the fountain, making the market the one location we've found outside of Texas that offers it).

We scored some great finds to take home as well, particularly of the meat/dairy variety. Many of the booths are run by the Amish, who offered fresh-made butter (by the ton) and cheese chemical- and hormone-free. The provolone wasn't even much more than the store bought stuff. I also found a buffalo steak (!) for $3; don't worry, I'll let you know how it is when I make it. And, amazed as I was to see it, I finally found something for which I've been searching for a long time: true, honest to God pastured beef, chicken, and pork. Sap also found local, homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam.

Not all of the food was cheap; in fact, most of it was more expensive than what you'd find in a grocery store. Locally grown foods like what you get at the farmer's market are worth the cost, though, because they're better in 3 ways: 1. they're better for you, 2. they're better for the planet, and 3. they're better on the taste buds. I'm just going to lay this out there in no uncertain terms: if you don't patronize a farmer's market or cultivate your own garden, you don't really know what a tomato tastes like. You just don't.

There's a certain hodgepodge quality to the market, a high tolerance for odd juxtapositions. You'll see an Amish dairy by an Italian deli and an ice creamery next to a doggy biscuit bakery (yes, "Providence" fans, it really is called the Barkery, and yes, the woman at the counter does look a little bit like the sister in the show). The quiche place, run by two young Amish girls, is next to a buffalo burger joint, which sits by a Mexican food joint, which I believe was next door to a roast chicken vendor (they were selling whole chickens for $5.50). And this is just the food floor; the second floor has an alpaca clothing booth, a wood furniture store, a family photographer, a coin collector, and an African clothier, among other things. Of course, I guess this is what one should expect from a place frequented by Amish farmers and craftsmen, urban liberals, arts and crafts types, and families with little kids looking for fresh ice cream.

And yes, there is a shop run by a Yoder.

For you Michiana readers, I have to say that as much as I like the South Bend farmer's market, American Countryside is just vastly superior. The downside is that it's a fairly significant trek (about 10-15 minutes down the bypass from 31), but let me tell you, it's worth it.

We've decided that we're going to try to go to the market every Saturday.

Friday, March 14, 2008

it happened to people like us

Wow. Go MTV!

the George W. Bush reality distortion field

From Reuters (via Matthew Yglesias):
In a videoconference, Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.
"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

I guess we know what's wrong with our foreign policy now: nobody bothered to tell G-Dubs that "Dulce et Decorum Est" was meant as an ironic title.

It also goes without saying that the president didn't have quite the same reaction to being on the front lines of helping a certain young democracy succeed when he was himself "slightly younger and not employed here."

I don't wanna know what that means

Most unfortunate quote of Eliot Spitzer's resignation speech:
Of those to whom much is given, much is expected.

Heh. Hehe. Yeah, I bet.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

race-baiting Obama

Cafferty has it exactly right. Joe at AMERICAblog and Kos also note that what we're seeing now is pretty clear evidence that the Clinton campaign has adopted race-baiting as a conscious campaign strategy. There have just been too many too obvious comments to deny it anymore. Clinton has defended herself from these charges before by claiming that, if Obama can't learn to parry these strikes from her, then how can he handle the Republican slime machine? This also protects her from the charge that, in her stubborn insistence on continuing to joust this windmill, she endangers the party's chances in November by sandbagging Obama while McCain fires his slings and arrows unmolested. Josh Marshall, however, explains the problem with that argument:
It is insufficient to say that Republicans will do this in the fall so there's nothing to be lost in hearing it now from Democrats. Because by doing this now, as a Democratic campaign, they are mainstreaming the message. If Obama is the nominee, when this emerges again, no doubt in a harsher, more rancid incarnation, it will come pre-approved by dint of a Democratic campaign's imprimatur.

This race-baiting via refusal to "reject and denounce" Ferraro is damaging Clinton in a big way in the media and netroots. As you can see, I've noted exceedingly critical, even condemnatory posts from at least 3 major bloggers (2 of whom have taken no side in the race and one who runs the biggest blog on the web) plus Jack Cafferty. And here comes a big one: a scolding special comment from liberal darling Keith Olbermann:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yay Texans!

CNN: Obama won more delegates in Texas than Clinton.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has won the Texas Democratic caucuses and will get more delegates out of the state than his rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who won the state's primary, according to CNN estimates.
After a comprehensive review of these results, CNN estimates that Obama won more support from Texas caucus-goers than Clinton. Based on the state party's tally, Obama's caucus victory translates into 38 national convention delegates, compared to 29 for Clinton.

And though Clinton won more delegates than Obama in the primary, 65 to 61, Obama's wider delegate margin in the caucuses gives him the overall statewide delegate lead, 99 to 94 — or once superdelegate endorsements are factored in, 109 to 106.

Speaking of the presidential election in Texas, I've been saying for a while that Texas is going to be more competitive than people are expecting. I'm not saying I think the Democrats are going to steal it in '08, but it isn't as red as it's looked the last decade. It's been undergoing a population boom for the last several decades composed mainly of young professionals into Austin and Dallas, and Hispanics into the southern part of the state, two demographics that skew Democratic. This population trend is mirrored in several other southwestern states as well (Nevada, Arizona, California and Colorado), where it has resulted in a bluing effect over the last couple of decades. Bubba Clinton, for instance, carried all of them but Texas at one point or another, as this cool interactive map illustrates.

Furthermore, much of the GOP's gains in the state are exaggerated by temporary circumstances: Texas' extra Republicans in its House delegation can be traced to Tom Delay's mid-decade gerrymandering, and Bush won such huge victories there (he got 61% of the vote in 2004) because he was the former popular governor of the proudest state in the Union.

So imagine my delight when I saw a new SUSA poll showing the Crazy Train beating Barack Obama in Texas... by 1.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

does not compute

I've written before about Chris Matthews' peculiarities as a pundit, specifically his tendency to ingest months', or even years', worth of talking points uncritically and then suddenly come to the epiphany that they were never true in response to some off the wall quip by some random wanker in the middle of a segment. Playing the role of "wanker" today is Joe Scarborough:


Seeing as how he was such a zealot, we probably should have guessed he had some skeletons, but nevertheless I don't think anyone saw this coming.

I think the egregiousness of Spitzer's crime lies mainly in expectations. No one had any idea that Spitzer was doing this stuff. There weren't any rumors or stories that I know of about him having any proclivity for prostitutes, whereas there had been rumors about Larry Craig and David Vitter and Mark Foley (and, interestingly, Mitch McConnell; I see another bombshell somewhere in our future!). He doesn't fit the stereotype of the crooked politician. He's not an unctuous, smooth talking, cigar smoking senator or a fiery Republican morality policeman. In fact, it seems so unlike him because he's exactly the opposite, a liberal reformist hard-nosed prosecutor and a "cold fish."

And for the love of Pete, can we stop calling it a "prostitution ring?" He called an escort service. Can I order my journalism a little less sensationalist, please?

The whole affair has also sparked some arguments about whether prostitution should be decriminalized/legalized, which involves discussions of whether it is "victimless" and whether it is qualitatively different from legal things like pornography. Civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald and feminist Amanda Marcotte are making the most cogent arguments for and against. Marcotte's insight on the myth of the "Sad, Unfuckable John" and the power dynamic between prostitute and john is particularly strong.

Clinton hints at stealing pledged delegates

I'm actually pretty surprised at this. I'm really not one of those "Hillary will do ANYTHING to get back in the White House!!!" people, and aside from the occasional hypocrisy I haven't found either campaign to be particularly dirty, so I thought this was an ethical line that Hillary wouldn't cross. Maybe she still won't, now that she's seen a bit of the reaction.

In other election news, since you read this Hillary's VP candidate waterboarded her in another western state with 60% of the vote. But it's just a caucus so it doesn't really matter. And in another southern state. The Magnolia State, however, is a red state, so it doesn't really matter, either. To channel Howard Dean, apparently they don't have congressional seats in red states and caucus states.

Speaking of states that matter, you might be surprised to hear that, after the dust settled last week following Obama's "surprising" loss of 3 states consisting almost entirely of Clinton's base, he actually gained ground on Hillary. You live by the supers, you die by the supers. Obama also won Mississippi and Wyoming so crushingly that he erased Hillary's pledged delegate gains from Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island. It's Super Duper Tuesday all over again.

We've reached the point in the campaign where the math is definitively on Obama's side. Obama is virtually assured to enter the convention with more delegates, more states, more money, and a bigger chunk of the popular vote than Clinton. At this point, all Clinton can reasonably hope for is that Obama destroys himself, or that she figures out how to knife him without herself getting tainted by the blood. Meanwhile, Jonathan Chait notes the trouble with Clinton remaining in the fray if she doesn't have a decent shot at the nomination:
...Clinton's kamikaze mission is likely to be unusually damaging. Not only is the opportunity cost--to wrap up the nomination, and spend John McCain into the ground for four months--uniquely high, but the venue could not be less convenient. Pennsylvania is a swing state that Democrats will almost certainly need to win in November, and Clinton will spend seven weeks and millions of dollars there making the case that Obama is unfit to set foot in the White House. You couldn't create a more damaging scenario if you tried.

Imagine in 2000, or 2004, that George W. Bush faced a primary fight that came down to Florida (his November must-win state). Imagine his opponent decided to spend seven weeks pounding home the theme that Bush had a dangerous plan to privatize Social Security. Would this have improved Bush's chances of defeating the Democrats? Would his party have stood for it?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Stupid Texans

Oh well. Nothing huge happened. Both sides got what they wanted: Hillary got her moral victory and Obama held firm in the delegate count. Clinton has now firmly established that she can beat Obama by 4 points and lose a caucus by only 4 in a state tailor-made for her... given that Obama spends the prior week getting triple-teamed by her, John McCain, and the Canadian Conservative Party, anyway. I am starting to wonder: is the Clinton campaign committed to raking in the moral victories all the way to a convention they have no chance of successfully brokering? If this primary season continues in this same way it's progressed so far, she will continue to eek out small victories against Obama in states where she has the advantage and get blown off the field everywhere else after blowing huge leads, and will show up at the convention without having made much ground at all in the delegate margins. In fact, even if she won every state left with 60% of the vote (a feat she has pulled off only once in this entire primary), she would still be short on delegates. On what basis, then, can she make a case for the presidency over Obama?

Meanwhile, the obvious nominee spends the next 5 months picking buckshot out of both sides, and Hillary continues to tell people that John McCain is a better candidate than the guy who's assured to win the Democratic nomination.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

-10 hit points

A sad day in geek world (of which this humble blog claims a part). Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons and Dragons, dead at 69.

The stars at night are big and bright...

Alright, Texans, go do your thing. Don't f**k this up.

a bizarre mental picture

TIME's blog:
This has got to be a first. Here in Austin, on the night before that make-or-break Texas primary, the Clinton campaign has set up a filing center for the traveling press corps ... in a men's room. Insert metaphor here.

UPDATE: According to the schedule, we will be here in the men's room for the next five hours. Someone will soon have to declare a moratorium on the "down the toilet" jokes.

UPDATE2: Hey, Jay: Is it true Obama has put his press corps in the Golden Door Spa tonight?

UPDATE3: There's also dinner and a television in here. I really wish I had Ana's little camera thing-ee, so I could share.

UPDATE4: CNN has a photo.

UPDATE5: A wider shot (wider stance?) from my own cellphone is posted two entries above this one. A gentleman just wandered in, expecting to use the facilities, and looked very startled to see three dozen reporters typing away on their laptops.

The second comment:
Karen Tumulty:

KT here--

They have also brought in food and a television. One of the most famous names in journalism just used the facilities, and the sound of the flush was so loud it startled everyone.

Posted by Karen Tumulty | March 3, 2008 6:53 PM

They're in a men's room. And they invited the female reporters into it, too. And one of the reporters used the bathroom... while Karen Tumulty and other women were in it... eating.

One of the commenters made me laugh, though:
Jeeze, even without the mental picture of Tim Russert doing his impersonation of a bear in the woods three feet from the mini-quiches and swedish meatballs., that's gross.

Meanwhile, the reporters assigned to John McCain's beat were invited to a BBQ and deep-tissue massage at McCain's place yesterday. Gee, I wonder who's going to be getting more positive coverage?

Great plan, Clinton campaign!

wait a minute, to "save" them?

I knew the banks had gotten themselves into some trouble, but unless the reporter used sloppy wording, I had no idea it was this bad. From Marketwatch:
Mideast sovereign wealth funds may fail to save troubled U.S. banking giant Citigroup Inc. unless more cash is pumped into the lender, the head of a $13 billion Dubai-owned investment firm said Tuesday.
Sameer Al Ansari, Chief Executive of Dubai International Capital told delegates at a private equity conference that it will take more than the combined efforts of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Kuwait Investment Authority and Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to save the bank.
"It's going to take more than that to rescue Citi," Ansari said. He added that more write downs are expected and that Gulf investors would be required to bolster Citi.

This sounds like Citigroup is in very real danger not only of losing more profit or downsizing or layoffs, but actually of closing. Citigroup, by the way, is the largest firm in the world, with assets over $2.4 trillion. The ramifications of any major bank closing, with its echoes of 1932, would be enormous; Citigroup's demise would be something truly ominous. For those of you interested, Accrued Interest has a nice article dealing with the question of whether Citigroup is too big for the government to allow it to fail.

IN-02: Return of the Zirkle

Oh, so sweet! Tony Zirkle is back! From the South Bend Tribune:
Tony Zirkle says we should talk about segregating the United States by race. So then you work out the percent of white people and give them a certain number of states. Same for blacks. Same for Asians and other hues of humanity.

Zirkle, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for Congress’ 2nd District, believes it’s worth debating.

“I’m not going to say which side of the debate I fall on,” Zirkle told The Tribune on Monday. But he did say the idea is worth looking into — that segregation could create a new sense of community.

Zirkle is known for suggesting controversial ideas, as in 2006 when he said there should be a debate over using the guillotine to punish "porn pimps" who prey on children.

Tony Zirkle: filling potholes with the bleached skulls of deadbeat dads!

Yes, folks, apparently there's a "debate" over the topic of forcibly transplanting all the blacks out of Indiana and all the whites out of Mississippi. I hear it's getting rather heated out there. In the streets of South Bend. In the rifle ranges of Elkhart. At that nudey bar in Kokomo. In the internets. And of course, at his church, St. John the Principled Rebel Purely on the Grounds of State Sovereignty and Economic Differences. But Tony Zirkle is too thoughtful to just impulsively join either the pro- or anti-mass-forced-segregation crowd. No, Michiana's own master of the zeitgeist's gonna have to think this one through.

My favorite part of the article is where he hedges on forced segregation by questioning not the ethics of it, but the logistics:
“I don’t have enough facts to support it,” Zirkle said of his proposal, speaking with The Tribune. “I think it would need a congressional study to see if I support it. It may mean the cost of transferring people is too high.”


managing expectations

It will be a huge victory for Clinton camp if they eek out wins in two states that are tailor-made for Clinton, and where she was winning by 20+ points three weeks ago.

It is a setback for Obama that, in a contest of proportional representation, he only closed the gap by 20 points in three weeks and not 22 points.

Monday, March 03, 2008

you'd think they would've caught on by now

Here is the list of the top 10 most fuel-efficient cars of 2007. Hybrids all occupy the top 3 spots, with the Prius at the top again, as one would expect, followed by what I call "the wee machines" (the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, Mini Cooper, and Hyundai Accent/Kia Rio) and Honda and Toyota dominate the list. Ya know what's missing from the list?

One single solitary American car.

Meanwhile, VW is introducing a 70 mpg diesel-electric hybrid. Yowzahs. If Volkswagen wasn't slipping in the reliability ratings these last couple years, I might start saving up. Ya know, Big 3, it wouldn't take that much to get in on this action...