|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Nifty Blogger Toys
I finally migrated the blog to Blogger 2.0 or Beta or whatever they called it, and I'm glad I did. As a Google Reader user, I've now got the ability to link up what I'm finding and reading out of my RSS feeds in real time.
To that end, if you visit my main page you'll notice the box in the upper left. It will track the last five feeds I've tossed into my "share" folder. Read them, don't read them, whatever. I just think the functionality is cool.
Now, if I could make this look a little more blended with the page design...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Proving God's Divine Creation Agenda
Jesuschrist this made me laugh. Clear two minutes from your schedule and see if you have as much fun watching this as I did.
(h/t to OneGoodMove)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
US Attorneys and the Lazy "But Clinton!" Argument
I have to counter a simple question to you. Were all 93 USA's that Clinton fired "underperformers"? Or is it even remotely, slightly, in the leastbit *gasp* political?!?! If you say it isn't, then I call bullshit. If you say it is, then there truly isn't a difference aside from the timing of these firings.
I started writing a response to this, but instead will ask anyone who wants to understand this more thoroughly to read up on the issue from any number of sources to formulate a better argument than "calling bullshit." Here's a study guide to get you started:
Critical Questions Regarding US Attorneys and the Similarities and Differences Between GWB's Firing of Eight and Clinton's First-Term DOJ Staffing Initiatives
1) How do the USAs get their jobs? Are these lifetime appointments?
2) What happens to the roster of USAs when a new administration takes office? What happened when GHWB took over from Reagan?
3) How unusual is it for USAs to leave their positions for any reason other than a new President making his wholesale changes? (PDF)
4) For what reasons have these changes occurred? (Read the PDF - it's not that long)
5) When Clinton fired two USAs midterm, choking a TV reporter and biting a stripper were the USAs actions that predicated the dismissals (from the PDF linked above). How is this similar or different from the alleged reasons GWB has fired his USAs?
6) Has there been a USA in the last thirty years who was dismissed for overtly political reasons (to suppress an ongoing investigation)? Despite the President technically having the legal authority to make a USA change, did Congress and the media dismiss what happened as a non-issue?
7) If all or some of the eight fired USAs were fired due to the reasons alleged, what message does this send to the other USAs still in their offices? "When the White House or RNC tells you who to chase, you damn well better start chasing?" Is this appropriate? Are you okay with having prosecutors who are pressured to serve the party first, rule of law second?
8) When the House Judiciary Committee wants to ask questions about how these decisions to fire USAs were made, are they somehow limited to only asking for information if they have unassailable proof that actual illegal wrongdoing occurred? Should Congress just willingly accept talking points from DOJ press conferences and Op-Ed pieces from AG Gonzales as enough truth that the executive branch is not exerting inappropriate political pressure on USAs? Should they or shouldn't they ask questions if they have questions to ask?
I'm not looking for answers to these in my comments, really. Whether or not it turns out that these firings had no political motivation to them at all, I'm pleased that Congress is finally exercising the oversight on this administration that we haven't had since they took office. It is not enough to accept Tony Snow's talking points when we have questions. If the DOJ and the White House are going to do something unusual that has the appearance of potential political interference in the legal system, then they should do so transparently and answer questions about it if Congress wishes to ask.
As a citizen, you should be responsible enough to read up and understand why this is unusual, and ask for the same honesty and transparency from your executive branch that Congress is now demanding. To attempt to analyze this issue without the baseline understanding of its unique nature is lazy, because good citizenship demands more than simple blind trust and baseless assertions of similarities where they don't exist.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Over Under Sideways Down
One small unreported anecdote from Atlantic City a couple weeks ago...
We're at some sports bar watching "Petey and the Bandcampers" play their St. Patrick's gig. "Petey...", for those that are unaware, is basically the house band for the last couple Bash at the Boathouses. Anyway, they're well into their second set when I see a guy trying to work his magic with one of the blondes from an orbiting bachelorette party. He's been talking with these girls and buying them drinks for the better part of two hours, so you know he's been putting in his time.
So the guy's at the bar with this blonde, who I think is not the same blonde who was dry heaving on the dance floor thirty minutes prior, and he's trying to run his game. All of a sudden the guitarist for "Petey..." comes off the stage wearing his wireless pack and manages to wedge his way in between the guy and the girl, all while keeping up with his rhythm guitarist duties. The guitarist also happens to be a fairly decent looking dude, not to mention a GUITARIST!! in a BAND!!
The look of incredulity on the cock-blocked guy's face turned into severe disappointment in milliseconds. After the set, I managed to overhear the guitarist and the guy (they knew each other) politely discussing the issue, with the guitarist claiming he was completely unaware he was messing up the other guy's game.
I hate to say it, but I found the whole thing fucking hilarious. Short of George Clooney appearing out of the men's room unexpectedly and asking the girl for a light, I can't imagine a worse way to go down in flames.
I had a dream last night where Angelina Jolie was a super-villainess who used her power of teleporting in and out of the graphics of department store shopping bags to kickbox Batman. She threw a whole bunch of multi-colored shopping bags in the air and would jump into one only to appear out of another with a flying scissors kick to the head.
See, Jolie had kidnapped Obi-Wan Kenobi, Boba Fett and Princess Leia, and I had to try and rescue them. Batman's talking hellhound showed me where they were being detained, and I managed to get in. Then, Jolie appeared and started shooting me with a non-lethal gun that sent a constant pulse of dull pain into the side of my neck (like the world's strongest WaterPik or something). I managed to get the gun away from her, subdued her with it, then found the sequence on her master computer that wiped her memory clean.
Then, of course, I tested how clean her memory was by claiming to be her boyfriend and making her kiss me.
Anyway, I sent her on some errand to get her out of there and started to get Leia, Boba and Obi-Wan down to the car so we could escape. That's when Batman appeared to offer help, and he ended up having to fight a now-remembering Jolie in order for us to escape.
I have no idea what any of this means, but it was pretty awesome.
If I hear one more righty pundit invoke the "B-b-b-b-but Clinton did it!" defense when discussing the US Attorney issue, I'm going to climb a clock tower. Arlen Specter said it on "Meet the Press" this weekend, and Russert didn't bother to challenge it.
If you cannot understand how this is different, I can't help you dig your head out of the sand.
+$35 yesterday playing horses at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise. I hit the early Pick Four at SA, only to find out that there was a $400k carryover in the late Pick Four. Dammit. Anyway, that was a nice little pickup ($125 payout on a $1 ticket - I had played it eight ways), and my handicapping at Santa Anita was on-point all day long, having one of my top two win six of nine races.
But one situation in particular illustrates how far I've come as a horseplayer.
In race two there were six horses running, ranging in price from 2-1 to 7-1. On my oddsline, my favorite was the betting favorite, but as I had the horse at 2-1 on my line, she wasn't playable at the same 2-1 on the oddsline. My co-second choice was 3-1 in my book, but 7-1 on the board.
Now, sometimes you should just play the second choice at 7-1 on a win ticket and be content that you made a good choice regardless of the outcome. That's an absolutely valid approach.
Instead, I saw the fairly even spread on the oddsline and thought I'd look to the Place pool to see what odds I was being offered on that same 7-1 horse there. If I was willing to play that horse at 7-2 to win, I'd be thrilled to get 2-1 on the place, right?
Sure enough, I did the math and because the money was spread out amongst the six horses (as opposed to concentrated on the favorite), there was an opportunity to get a minimum of 2-1, and a maximum of 4-1 on my horse if I chose the much safer Place pool.
She won, and paid 3-1 in the place pool. Granted, 7-1 is nice, but it was riskier. It was a grinder's bet, and an opportunity I don't think I would have recognized a couple years ago. I felt really good about that play, despite "missing" a 7-1 win bet.
Francis Schaeffer said that secular man can only live in the lower storey (secular world) by borrowing from the upper storey (spiritual world). In other words, atheists can only talk about ethics because they are immersed in a social structure sustained by the "mythology" they reject. They borrow ethics from God and then claim that these ethics exist without a transcendent law-giving God to uphold them. What the atheists cannot explain is how they justify their ethical standards. -- Letter to a Popular Atheist: American ThinkerExcusing the patent irony of allowing argumentation constructed on the framework of myths and legends to be peddled by a site called "American Thinker*," the problem with this argument is that it ignores pre-Judeo-Christian philosophy, and assumes that morality did not exist before god spelled it out for mankind.
Actually, I think a far more valid argument for the existence of morality lies in the laws of the animal kingdom. Behaviors that predate the written language, but are understood to be true in the nature of self-preservation and community are hard-coded into the brains of lower species than man, so why is it exactly that we believe first-century literati were all of a sudden gifted with the truth of a moral code?
It all boils down to animal behavior. Don't fuck my sex partner or I'll fucking kill you. Don't steal my carcass or I'll fucking kill you. Don't try to kill me or... well, you get it. Now, obviously, we've shined this stuff up a little bit by applying language, reason and logic, but we behave in a moral fashion because that's the deal we make with society. If you want to be a part of what we've got going on, then don't mess with anyone else.
This is a uniquely christian viewpoint that I'm somehow unable to understand without accessing my catholic upbringing? Please.
*Then again, this is probably what passes for deep philosophical thought with Americans, particularly those that would muddy rational intelligence by forcing it through the prism of an imaginary father figure whose power is only exceeded by his mystery. Dale Junior Rules.
I bought a rack of pork ribs** yesterday and chose to braise them (yes, I seem to be braising an awful lot lately) in a sauce of white wine, lemon juice, chicken stock and some horseradish mustard. I ended up pulling the pork apart and tossing it in the remaining sauce (to which I added butter and more stock) with some orecchiette pasta. It turned out okay I guess, but I regret using the mustard. I think a regular brown mustard would have been fine, but the horseradish smell caught up to the rest of it and kind of added a sweat-sock sort of aroma to the mix that I wasn't real fond of.
Anyway, as I was pulling apart the pasta I not only found and discarded bones, but there were some bone-like softened gristle pieces that were about the size and shape of pinky fingers. I had thought I found them all, but halfway through eating the food I bit clean through one I had missed, and nearly puked. It was so fucking gross to feel that crunch and give and all of a sudden have a tubular piece of gristle floating around in my mouth. I couldn't eat anymore, and I'm seriously considering dumping the rest of what I cooked in lieu of eating my leftovers. Yuck.
Just thinking about that moment yesterday makes me nauseous.
**They were kind of an odd cut, more like a rack of lamb than a rack of baby backs, but had a fairly small fat cap on them. The rack was priced at $2.99 a pound, was a two pound portion, and had one of those "please buy me today" $3 off stickers on it. I won't feel awful about tossing it if I end up doing that because the whole meal couldn't have cost more than $6 to cook in total.
I'm currently reading Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science, which is surprisingly well-written and not-at-all dense. Mooney has a post on HuffPo today that outlines thematically some of the main points he addresses in his book regarding why Republicans seem to be fighting what he considers to be scientific consensus on climate science.
I recommend the book. It's more interesting than I thought it would be.
I haven't had a decent gyro in almost a year. This makes the little Greek that lives inside my belly (I call him "Spiro") unbearably sad. Not as sad, however, as the little Persian fellow who hasn't had a good kibbeh or kafta since my Detroit days. Someday Ali... someday.
Side note: I've lived in my house since late last June, and shortly after moving in I had Veal Piccata at the Italian joint 150 yards from my door. Unfortunately, they garnished it with hardboiled eggs. I hadn't gone back. Last weekend I decided to try their pizza for the first time, instead of driving five miles to pickup from the usual joint.
Yes, I did fear there'd be eggs on my pizza. No, there were no eggs. It was surprisingly good.
So I took a bit of a bad beat last week on the job front. I interviewed in New Jersey for an opening that was right up my alley. I'm qualified to do the job, and they wouldn't have to pay for relocation. I don't mean to insinuate that I felt like a shoo-in for the job, but I figured if they found someone better than me, so be it.
The interview happened a couple weeks back. They brought me in and spent 30 minutes with me before cutting the interview short due to having a lot on their calendar (I don't doubt this).
Last week I follow up, and they blew me off. Then they reposted the position.
In other words, they didn't pick me, but it wasn't as if they found someone better either.
I'm fairly mystified by this, and by "mystified," I mean "angry." This makes nearly no sense to me, and just continues to add to the pattern of me getting fucked over on the career front for whatever reason seems valid at the moment.
Made me want to kick a puppy last week. Not my puppy, but someone's.
I do have a couple of things brewing that could be positive, but it won't be until next week at best that I will know anything about anything.
Regarding the new Theismann-free ESPN NFL crew, I spent some time this week talking to Mike Tirico, and he told me that being behind the microphone in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE is a game of inches, and a marathon of preparation and perseverence from preseason all the way through the playoffs. I also had a chance to meet with Tony Kornheiser this week as well, and he told me that chemistry is the most underrated factor for a booth crew in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. He said that while you can't pick the guys you go to war with, you have to want to have their back in a gun fight in order to make it all work out.
Good riddance. They should reunite Theismann and Maguire with Bob Hammond for Notre Dame games. Give me one more fucking reason not to watch.
I blame the liberal media.
Lastly, Gracie and I are searching for a political book we can read and discuss together. What I've already read/am reading:
The Republican War on Science
American Fascists (about Christian dominionists)
In Defense of the Religious Right
How Would a Patriot Act?
Not looking for the Sam Harris/Richard Dawkins books as a suggestion, and we're not limiting this to religion. As a matter of fact, in the lead right now is Irving Kristol's Neo-Conservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.
I don't think either of us cares what the political issue is, or what side of the aisle the issue(s) in the book is biased towards, but we're looking for something a little smarter and more focused than O'Reilly, Coulter or Franken (last one's just for you there Ceej).
Big bonus points if you can recommend a lefty book, and its righty counterpoint (or vice-versa) from personal experience.
Have at it.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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