Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heads up

I'm going to be doing a liveblog of the Republican YouTube debate tonight at my Wausau Daily Herald blog...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who says TV Guide doesn't do real journalism? This is new and important information about Barack Obama...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mark Halperin reconsiders

During the 2004 election I read The Note more or less every day because it felt super insidery, like you were getting a glimpse of the true machinery of the campaigns. But over time the site got stale to me, or I outgrew it or something, and its aggressively cultivated vacantness started to feel icky. I think I stopped reading it even before the election. (I do recall that this New Yorker profile crystallized something for me.)

I still think that anyone who wants to see social change ought to be acquainted with the machinery of politics, and ought to be prepared to accept certain compromises about what's possible now. To me, part of that means following politics, which means following campaigns. That's easy for me because I love politics! I like the competitions, the strategies, the punching and counter-punching, all that. But politics exists because democratic government exists, and our elected leaders are the ones who decide things I care about like whether we get out of Iraq or have universal health care or whatever it is, an end to the drug war or something equally far-fetched and necessary. There is always a point to politics.

The problem with Mark Halperin's The Note -- also the problem with Mark Halperin's ideology, also the problem with an entire planet of Washington journalists -- was that it literally didn't care about policies or consequences, only about campaigns.

Well, as of yesterday, Mark Halperin has reconsidered. He now believes politics ought to involve something more than just optics, message discipline and rapid-response campaign war rooms. It is a monumental turnaround, and that it comes at a pretty late date doesn't make it less big, or less welcome.

What next? How does Halperin plan to enact his new belief that journalists ought to somehow take into account what will happen on the day after the election? I am not waiting around to find out; I am busy trying to take it into account today.

P.S. ... Lots of bloggers responded quicker and probably better to this op-ed, find them here here here here and here.

Waxy Monkey Frog

Welcome back from the holiday weekend, those of you who had long weekends. I have experiences I'd like to share, ideas I'd like to reflect upon, readings I'd like to recommend. But since it is kind of late, for right now I will just offer this photo I took this weekend at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. It is of a Waxy Monkey Tree Frog:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


This morning I dreamed that I got new brown shoes. Then I woke up and had to wear my same old brown shoes to work. What a let-down.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From the annals of insanely obvious headlines: "Giuliani playing 9/11 card."

P.S. ... Not as good as "Men want hot women, study confirms" but pretty good still.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Of course!

Tyler Cowen asks why there are so rarely grocery stores in poor neighborhoods. Corporate conspiracy? Endogenously selected poor eating habits among the impoverished? Lack of brand identity?

None of the above. Tyler's answer:
Factor #1 in my view is lack of cars. Living in an inner city has its downsides, to say the least, but at least you don't have to buy a car. Yet the modern grocery store is designed for car transport, both how you get there and how you get the groceries away and of course the radius of advertising.
Why didn't I think of that? He also explains why this answer solves the mystery of relatively more grocery stores in poor LA neighborhoods.

A related topic was breached back in the 1.21 Gigawatts days, with regards to Chicago City Council's move to keep a Wal-Mart from moving into the city. No doubt it would have had a large impact on access to groceries and fresh food. But Cowen's thesis says maybe not so much. Keep in mind, however, that Wal-Mart is now the biggest mover of organic food.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Going postal

Look, I am not saying I advocate it. I am not in favor of shooting mail-carriers for delivering the mail too late in the day. That is wrong. I am just saying that, as a former resident of Chicago, home of the country's worst mail system, I understand how it gets to that point.

crossposted to What's Your Beef?

Monday, November 12, 2007

I love the smell of Eeyore in the morning

Via my buddy Mike, here is Apocalypse Pooh, a video mash-up by Daniel Clowes, who makes the comic Eightball:

Mike writes:
I got a few good laughs out of it. Certainly it's one of the earliest examples of a true video mash-up. Circa 1991.
I like Piglet as the Dennis Hopper character.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

R.I.P. Norman Mailer, a literary giant of whom I've never read more than a few pages. Maybe I ought to start now.

At 29:25, a clip from a weird Mailer appearance along with Gore Vidal and Janet Flanner on the Dick Cavett show:

Friday, November 09, 2007

TPM Reader RM makes a deeply brilliant point here, don't you agree? That RM certainly seems like a smart fellow, and I would imagine good-looking, too.

UPDATE [11/9 2:58pm] ... And a worthy response.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Obama on Saturday Night Live

Watch it fast, SNL usually gets these taken down.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Couple of Clinton thoughts

  • It may be true, as conservative Rod Dreher believes, that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, the right will not be able to help itself from going into "the whole American Spectator/David Brock mode of attack attack attack." But isn't it sort of funny to phrase it this way, as something outside the right-wing media's control? It's possible to at least imagine another way of confronting an ideological opponent...isn't it?

  • Via TNR, this email from "another presidential campaign":
    There's just no way she wins running as a victim. [...] She can't simultaneously put on boxing gloves and call herself the tough guy in the field ("i'm your girl"), ask for the keys to 1600 and the nuclear codes, and complain that Russert and boy candidates are being mean to her. She's asking to be made the most powerful person in the world, and aggrieved victim isn't part of that profile.
    I guess that's true logically, but is there some sort of rule that campaigns can't simultaneously advance contradictory messages? I am pretty sure they do it all the time.

    Assuming a female candidate is widely perceived as meeting the "toughness" requirement, which Clinton clearly is, then a few strategic uses of the victim card could be a perfectly useful part of a campaign's political arsenal.

  • The other way pretending to have been victimized becomes a political program, of course, is if it feeds an "any weapon to hand"/inconsistency/flip-flopping storyline, i.e. she says one thing then says another. And that hardy perennial probably is Clinton's greatest general-election vulnerability:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ann Powers on the new Britney Spears album:
[A]s seductive as the music is, it fails. Instead of reconciling the fantasy Britney with the one who breathes, these songs push aside her pain and defeat and substitute an almost militant wantonness. In the process, they abandon what made the invented Britney so appealing: her stance on the knife's edge between virtue and corruption, the innocence of a girl brash enough to declare "I'm not that innocent."

As the living, breathing Spears continues to crash downward in plain view, few seem troubled by the disconnect between the success of this album and the sorry state of its nominal maker. Even more disturbing, no one seems to care that the songs on "Blackout" uphold the very attitudes about femininity, sexual power, and the blur between reality and television-tabloid "reality" that have dragged Spears into misery -- and those of us enthralled by her into a state of callousness and cynicism.
UPDATE ... Link fixed.

Nation Sickened By Sight Of Happy Young Couple

The reason I find this so damn funny is probably the same reason my girlfriend says I have "intimacy issues."
OAK PARK, IL—Though sharply divided on the war on terror and domestic controversies such as abortion, drugs, and gay marriage, Americans are in almost unanimous agreement over one issue: that Oak Park, IL couple Dave Petrun and Julie DeSimone are totally sickening.

...According to an ABC News–
Washington Post poll released Monday, a significant majority of Americans believe the couple's persistent displays of affection, which include almost constant hand-holding, mutual giggling, and insufferably coy little kisses, were "fucking ridiculous."

...In recent weeks, elected officials in Nevada, South Dakota, and Virginia passed largely symbolic "Get A Room" ordinances designed to encourage Petrun and DeSimone to make their affectionate displays more private.