Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Donna Brazile on Colbert

"I'm a woman, so I like Clinton, I'm black, so I like Obama, but I'm also grumpy, so I like McCain."

That is one Super Delegate.

She said other presumably hilarious stuff, including heavy flirting with Stephen, but I could only sorta hear it over my guffaw.

Donna Brazile, you rock!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

War good for Obama; Economy good for Clinton

I feel like this is the sort of superficial argument I would expect pundits to be making, so maybe they're making it, or maybe I'm more superficial than they are.

Does it seem like pure coincidence (or blatant revisionism) that Obama's campaign really took off when the issue of the day was Iraq? In the Clinton-Edwards-Obama competition, Obama had the best position on Iraq -- he was against it from the start. And lately, the issue of the day is the economy -- Iraq's still out there, but after the surge the press seems to cover it a lot less. Meanwhile, high oil price, high food prices, foreclosures and economic stimulus packages dominate the headlines. And Clinton's holding on.

I'm the best kind of pundit -- I haven't bothered to look at any polls, and I'm staunchly ignoring that electoral politics is probably all about local demographics. But still -- Clinton's got good name association with fixing the economy. I can see how she might appeal more to the voters that put that at the top of their priority list.

Maybe if Edwards were still in the race, he'd have the strongest rhetoric of the three on the economy and taking care of the little guy. But when he was running, Iraq was the big story, which he had neutralized as a deficit, but didn't have as an asset.

If the focus turns back to Iraq, I would expect Clinton's fortunes to wane faster.

I guess I'm saying this whole foreclosure/credit crisis/oil thing is a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy plot to damage the Democrats by injecting some life into the Clinton campaign. Bush is political poison -- his support can't help McCain -- but the Democratic primary (and possibly, Democratic performance in the general election) is still affected by what the most talked about aspect of how awful Bush is.

Whether one should blame the media, or the neocons, or just random chance, is up to the viewer, although of course random chance is the most likely and therefore the least fun.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Random semi-edu-comment

Sometimes I see a bulleted list, and when I realize the speaker is going to read through each one, I cringe.

Do students do this -- even when they don't know what the bullets are?

Do students react to unknown words as mysteries or disempowering gobbledygook?

I ask these questions, but of course I "secretly" just want validation of the obvious answers.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Follow the link for references to the tyrant king porn dragon

So, anyone near Indiana, is this a real person? Is this getting a lot of Indiana press, or is he an ultrafringe loon who is mostly ignored?

I'm not kidding about the tyrant king porn dragon. Apparently it's pulling Jews into sex slavery, according to Zirkle. (See, now you HAVE to follow the link, don't you?)
clipped from

Tony Zirkle, a GOP congressional candidate in Indiana, recently came under heavy criticism for speaking to the American National Socialist Workers Party (ANSWP) on the 119th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birth. At the event, Zirkle “stood in front of a painting of Hitler, next to people wearing swastika armbands and with a swastika flag in the background.” On his website, Zirkle has responded to the criticisms by railing against Jews and prostitution:

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hello, World!

The maiden photographic voyage of my shiny new Canon PowerShot SD870 IS Digital Elph. Together, Augie and I shall be an unstoppable force of cuteness!

At least 3 people care about prisons

This is for Sarah, who is one of the above 3. Some interesting posts in the comments (if you ignore mine), but no direct discussion of _why_ prison reform is a political third rail.

I suppose indirectly there's some evidence however: many people say our massive imprisonment gets results, and the fact that the rest of the world isn't as unique as us explains why we need to imprison 1 out of every hundred adults. So what's to reform?

Yikes: "The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners." Needless to say, we lead the world in imprisonment. This seems like a serious problem, especially when you consider Tyler Cowen's point that our prisoners face unusually dire circumstances by developed world standards.

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Bike lanes

True other places too. I'm not a big biker, but I'd be far more tempted if it didn't involve chicken contests with cars.
For example, the city fathers of Washington, DC should consider that though it's nice that they've established some bike lanes, the key thing would be for the lanes to connect with one another and go into the downtown area so they'd be helpful for people trying to get from where they live to where the bulk of the stuff is.
It's like how the roads for cars don't just stop arbitrarily.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

You Say It's Your Earth Day . . .

In honor of Earth Day I thought I'd share the websites I squirrel away in a folder labeled "Green."

Re-Nest - The consumer-centric (though with a dash of self-loathing) website formerly known as Apartment Therapy - Green. "Oh wait, remember how we told you dryer balls are good for the planet because they reduce the length of time you run your dryer? They're made of something totally evil for the environment. Ooopsy! Now let's open the comments for a discussion of how best to dispose of those evil dryer balls." I think the reason I check it every day as opposed to the following sites is that reading Re-Nest I every so often get the opportunity to feel righteous indignation that I am in some way greener than them. Not so much with the rest of these bad boys.

Grist - It's like the environmental CNN.

Treehugger - Where Re-Nest gets its best info from.

Common Ground Magazine and Conscious Choice are apparently one and the same these days.

I must have been delusional when I bookmarked all these green building websites. Like I'm going to be in the position to do any building or remodeling anytime soon. Maybe that's why I bookmarked them, so that ten to twenty years from now when I am, I'll have a bunch of handy out of date bookmarks to refer to. Bitter, party of one? Your table is ready.

The U.S. Green Building Council - Ever hear of LEEDS certification for green buildings? This is the non-profit organization responsible for it. And they're a great resource for green building information.

Modern Green Living - I ache with envy. That's green, right?

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency - So in my fantasy world, I have a Craftsman bungalow and decide to install solar panels and a wind turbine and the state that I'm in rewards me for this decision through tax incentives. Already own a Craftsman? This site is where your tax preparer's dreams can come true!

This begins the food politics segment of my Earth Day link list, brought to you by In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. Just finished it. Love it. More how to and less new journalism than Omnivore's Dilemma. I recommend reading OD then IDoF. Then subscribe to a CSA and never buy processed food again. Oh, but tofu is OK because it's an ancient Chinese secret.

Ag Observatory - Run by The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, this site covers U.S. and World agricultural policy, which has a humongous impact on the planet and your dinner plate.

Food News - Run by the Environmental Working Group.

Dr. Greene's Organic Prescription - I can't think of anything but Dr. Funke's 100 Percent Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution.

Pesticide Action Network of North America - No smiling doctors with babies here. Death is at your door! Well, if your door opens onto a wetland.

Organic Consumers Association - News about organic food.

Simple In Season
- I believe this the the partner website to a book about seasonal eating, which is all the rage with locavores.

Did I say local?

Indiana Recycling Commission - Are you a Hoosier who doesn't know what to do with something you don't want anymore? This is the site for you!

Monroe County's Environmental Information & Education Resources - A way longer list than this of fabulous green websites and not just for Hoosiers.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stir It Up: Test Drive for California?

This morning at about 5:40 a.m. it sounded like a train rolled quietly through our house. I was having a restless night reading on the couch under the big picture window in the living room. I wasn't sure what it was until I heard David, half asleep, say from the bedroom, "Get away from the windows." He thought it was a tornado, we are in the Midwest after all. The dogs didn't make a peep. I guess they're preparing to be jaded SoCal pups. They don't get out of bed for a measly 5.2. No harm done, though my sleep was then interrupted by the garbage truck, which I mistook for an aftershock.
For the official stats check out the U.S. Geological Survey.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Why Matt Yglesias is my blogdude

This is the kind of sarcasm I look for in my daily reading. Sadly, I wish he had fewer soft targets to aim his righteous biting wit at...

Michael O'Hanlon gets a Washington Post op-ed to lay out his surprising view that the surge is awesome and, indeed, is working so well that we can expect to start taking troops out of Iraq in early 2010 if everything continues to be so awesome.

In essence, thanks to the super-duper success of the surge, all we need now is several years of additional war and for all of Iraq's problems to solve themselves. Mission accomplished!
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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bob's Innumeracy watch

Apologies to Ms. Beard for posting the whole article, but hey, if your math wasn't deceptive I wouldn't be forced to do this.
clipped from

Betty Beard
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 6, 2008 09:05 PM

The recent rise in Phoenix's housing prices means that in some cases the cost of owning a house grew too high compared with the cost of renting one, says a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C.

Based on 2006 housing costs, the cost of renting in the Phoenix area averages $862 while the average cost of owning can range from $1,343 to $1,804, depending on interest rates, the report said. That means that Phoenix rental costs can range from 47 to 64 percent of ownership costs.

The report says that when ownership costs exceed 50 percent, it indicates a bubble. Some "extraordinary" gaps include New York City, where it costs 109 percent more to own a home than to rent; San Diego, 133 percent; San Francisco, 161 percent; and Los Angeles, 168 percent.
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The percentages cited for other cities use a middle-cost scenario, while the Phoenix range of costs for owning is the low-cost and high-cost scenarios. So even if you knew better, you'd need to read the article to find the apples-to-apples comparison, which is this: the cost of ownership in Phoenix exceeds the cost of renting by 78%.

That's what those percentages mean, by the way: the article drops some critical words -- it should be "...when ownership costs exceed rental costs by 50 percent or more, it indicates a bubble."

Oh, and that "47 to 64 percent"? That's dividing the cost of renting by the (low and high scenario) cost of owning, which isn't directly comparable to any of the other results. Also, since that result isn't particularly meaningful, it's NOT in the original report, as opposed to all the other numbers in the article.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

McCain: The Other White Meat

In the Sunday New York Times Magazine Michael Sokolove's article Change Makes a Call on Levittown looks at the Obama campaign there through the eyes of a former resident. Most interestingly a few folks interviewed in the article mentioned that they'd vote for Obama in the primary and yet consider voting for McCain in the general election. In moments of irrational anger, I have thought, "If Clinton wins the democratic nomination, I might as well vote for McCain."

As if responding to that negative thought, sent out an email today: 10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't). It is well-supported with zippy sources and zesty links, and we've recently figured out how to link footnotes, so I thought I'd share. Though I will re-title it:

Even if Clinton Wins the Nomination Here are 10 Reasons You Still Should Not Vote for McCain

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.1

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."2

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.3

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."4

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.5

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.6

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."7

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.8

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."9

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10


1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008
"McCain Facts,", April 4, 2008
2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008
"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008
3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008
4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007(back)
5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008
"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007
6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008
"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008
7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008
"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008
8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008
"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008
9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008
"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008
"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008
10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Only Sensible Strategy in Iraq: Rapid Withdrawal

Nieman Watchdog (my new favorite blog thanks to Joel Berg, a regular contributor to Neiman Watchdog and a one-time commenter here) reported that Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.) testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the U.S. should withdraw from Iraq post haste. If you're looking to take a stand at your next dinner party (or in your next letter to your elected representative), he artfully addresses many of the arguments against withdrawal.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Cake Rock Beach

If you're a hipster craftster then you already know all about Purl Soho. And you are probably so cool that you already know that Purl Soho cofounder Joelle Hoverson, author of the exquisitely photographed Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts, has just released her first fabric collection Cake Rock Beach manufactured by Moda. The image in this post is the Flora print in the Water color way in which the images range between four and fourteen inches and the pattern repeats every twenty-three inches. The Purl Bee has posted more luscious pictures of the collection and a project using the large scale Flora print.