[2006.05.31 - 07:20 A.M.]

Dodgeball: Fifty percent eye-roll-inducing cliches, fifty percent laughs -- the latter of which came mostly from the very primal enjoyment of seeing people get hit really hard with stuff -- Dodgeball is a spoof on every underdog sports movie ever made. I typically prefer Ben Stiller when he's in Lovable Loser mode (Fockers, Something About Mary) as opposed to Over-the-Top Dorky Moron mode (Zoolander), but this movie had enough going on to take the edge off of his aggressive lunacy. Some great casting -- Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) as "Steve the Pirate" and Stephen Root (the Stapler Guy from Office Space) as Gordon -- plus about a million cameos by the likes of William Shatner, Chuck Norris and a show-stopper by Lance Armstrong. Best line of the movie? Grizzled dodgeball coach Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn): "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

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[2006.05.29 - 09:45 P.M.]

Via Shakes, what might just be the most important article you read this year. Media Matters' Jamison Foser lays a truckload of smack down on our sick, twisted, and inarguably anti-liberal media:

Why do we insist on revisiting ancient history? Because the same garbage keeps happening over and over again. Because too many people -- journalists, activists, progressive leaders -- downplay the media's failings. Sure, they went overboard with Clinton, they say, but sex sells. But it wasn't just sex, and it wasn't just Clinton. Sure, they were a bit unfair to Al Gore, someone might concede, but he had it coming -- he was stiff and insincere. But it isn't just Al Gore. Sure, too many reporters may have been complicit in the so-called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's smears of John Kerry, but he invited it by speaking openly and honestly about his service. Sure, Howard Dean's "scream" was overplayed, but he had it coming -- it was crazy! Sure, media elites fawn all over Bush, but he's just so likable! And John McCain, too. And Rudy Giuliani. They're all just so real and authentic.

At this point, you'd have to be blind to miss the pattern. Every prominent progressive leader who comes along is openly derided in the media as fake, dishonest, conniving, out-of-the-mainstream, and weak. We simply can't continue to chalk this up to shortcomings on the part of Democratic candidates or their staff and consultants. It's all too clear that this will happen regardless of who the candidate or leader is; regardless of who works for him or her. The smearing of Jack Murtha should prove that to anyone who still doubts it.

Meanwhile, any conservative who comes along is going to be praised for being strong and authentic and likable. Ask yourself: What prominent Republican is routinely portrayed in the media as a phony the way Al Gore and Hillary Rodham Clinton are?

Go read the rest of it. All of it. Yes, it's long. Save the whining and fucking read it. Because it's important. It's really, really important that the professional news media consistently portrays everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman as a bunch of decadent, whacked-out liars while they simultaneously fluff every lying, destructive scumbag from Bush to Cheney to Tom DeLay. In fact, as Foser says, it's "the defining issue of our time".

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[2006.05.29 - 07:40 P.M.]

At this moment, Tracy and I are experiencing the emotion that George Bush must have felt at the close of nearly every venture in his sorry life: Abject failure.

One month ago, we set out on a mission to reclaim a certain burnt-out section of our back lawn. It was a bold initiative, as neither of us had the smallest fragment of a clue about lawn care, aside from the universally-known details that lawns were supposed to be green, not brown, and when they got too long, you cut them. After several discussions with the helpful personnel at our local hardware store, however, we felt that we were ready to take on this unruly 20' x 50' plot. Armed with seed, fertilizer, and wills of iron, we went to work.

We tilled. We shoveled. We carted away roughly fifty tons of ripped up weeds and dirt. We raked the soil into furrows. We dispensed fertilizer. We dispensed seed. We laid down straw to protect the virgin grass we hoped to see emerge. We watered. And we waited.

Slowly, new blades of grass began to poke out into the sun. In spots. Here and there. But, lo, their emergence was paralleled by an uprush of weeds from the earth. Green life forms of all shapes and sizes burst forth. Some of them were familiar to us, having been present in this hellish plot's previous incarnation. But some of them... (shudder)... Remember the odd and usually threatening alien plants that the crew of the original Star Trek series would routinely encounter upon beaming down to various unexplored worlds? They look a lot like that.

Oh, and don't let me give you the wrong impression. Not every inch of this patch of sadness saw fit to sprout grass or weed. Indeed, I would estimate that a full 40% of the surface area involved still lies utterly dormant.

The overall effect is quite bracing. It is a monument to lawn care ineptitude. If a lawn could have leprosy, this is what it would look like. In the most improbable fashion, we have taken these thousand square feet of the planet's surface from Bad to Worse. It almost feels like an achievement of sorts. Oh, if you could only see it...

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[2006.05.29 - 03:00 P.M.]

Might be going out on a limb here. Might be guilty of hyperbole. But... I may have just witnessed the Stupidest Thing Ever.

3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Memorial Day, we're watching the Yankees/Tigers game, and they announce that we are going to observe a National Moment of Silence in honor of America's veterans. Fair enough. I'm down with that.

So what do they do at the park to commemorate this National Moment of Silence? They play a song. And the lyrics of the song actually say "Hear the silence fill the air". I was absolutely dumbstruck. I mean, Jesus Fucking Christ, did anyone spend even a nanosecond thinking that one through?

Nice going, oh nameless planners of that stunning tribute.

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[2006.05.28 - 11:00 A.M.]

So, Tracy and I have been planning on going up to the South Shaw (that's "shore" for those of you not from around Boston) to see her best friend and her brother, who are married. It's a long-standing tradition that Tracy and her friend have, getting together on Memorial Day Weekend for steamers and beer. Anyhow, yesterday, we get a phone call. Trip's off. Best Friend and Brother are fighting. Again. As usual. And Best Friend stormed off and cancelled weekend plans. OK, that's pretty inconsiderate. But, what the hell. So we're staying home this weekend. Yay! Get to lay around the house, catch up on mowing, watch some baseball, sit out in the sun. Then, this morning, we get a phone call. Best Friend and Brother have made up. Plans are back on. (-Grrrr-)

I am a man with many interesting personality quirks. Some of them might, by the uncharitable, be labeled "flaws". "Weaknesses" even. But this is one of my worst. I go fucking mental when people jerk me around by changing plans. Once a plan is in place, I expect everyone involved to stick to it, hell or high water. You change the plan once, I get angry. You change the plan twice and I'm ready to write you out of my will. I just have absolutely no tolerance for that shit.

See, I am the Uber-Planner. I need to know ahead of time what's going to happen so that I can lay it all out in my head and be prepared psychologically. I need to decide what I'm going to anticipate, what I'm going to dread, what contingency planning needs to be done. In short, I'm not real big on rolling with the moment. And I need to work on that. Seriously. So, as we pack for our hastily-cancelled-then-reinstated overnight trip, I'm going to commit to maintaining a Zen-like calm over the next twenty-four hours, taking each moment as it comes and accepting it. I will empty my cup of all expectations. I will go with the flow. I will remain placid and serene when Best Friend and Brother resume their childish fighting. I will be imperturbable when Nephew makes unnecessary noise for three hours straight. And as to the plan, que sera, sera.

Update: Tracy just informed me that Nephew will not be present. That moves the O/U to... Oh, let's say 6:30 PM.

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[2006.05.27 - 11:00 P.M.]

Shaun Of The Dead: Now that's what I call fun. Stupid, stupid fun. Have to say, if I were going to hole up someplace in the event of zombies, it would definitely be a bar. But, on a more critical note, I would find myself a good broadsword first. Far more reliable and economical than a gun or a cricket bat. I mean, we're talking zombies here. Have to be serious.

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[2006.05.27 - 10:00 A.M.]

I am working on transferring TwoGlasses.com to a new Windows-based host. This could result in the site being down for several days, but I figure the long weekend is a good time for that to happen. Enjoy the holiday, everyone.

Update: OK, let's change that to I might be changing hosts. The first company I went to couldn't even manage to process a simple credit card order. Not a good sign...

Update: I found a great-sounding Windows host that I'm planning on going with, but I'm going to wait a couple of weeks. Can't afford to plunk down a year's fees in advance until my AmEx cycle rolls over. Yay. Look at me being responsible. Of course, just because I'm waiting to switch hosts doesn't mean I can't start working on TwoGlasses2.0... (Must... not... slack...)

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[2006.05.26 - 03:30 P.M.]

Friday afternoon! Out of work early! The holiday weekend beckons! It's time for... Slices of Toast!

Browsing the liquor store aisles earlier, and here's a question: Is the reason they call it "blush wine" because people get horribly embarrassed when they're caught with it in their wine rack? (rimshot) Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all evening.

slices

From the outstanding noMaas.org, check out this quote from Red Sox Tim Wakefield catcher Doug Mirabelli on A-Rod's Tuesday night home run, which last season's MVP momentarily lost track of before realizing he'd hit it out of the park:

"The guy's got 450 career home runs, he doesn't know when he squares one up?" said Boston catcher Doug Mirabelli. "I don't believe that."

Oh, I get it: A-Rod was faking losing sight of his homer. Because, you know, he's A-Rod. What a phony.

This shit just cracks me up. So is Mirabelli this season's Kevin Millar? The Sox' Designated A-Rod Basher? You know they appoint one every year. That special Red Sox player - usually a scrub - whose job is to talk shit about A-Rod in the press. Part of the Red Sox Nation Psy-Ops Division.

(sigh)

Funny how you never hear Yankees players trashing any of Boston's players in the press. Maybe they just have that much more class. Or maybe there's just no one there worth wasting their breath over.

slices

Here's Shakes commenting on a news story titled (no shit) "Lower Income May Mean Higher Stress":

I feel like I should write a serious post about this, mentioning why this feeds into the necessity of a living wage, and how it can be tied into everything from healthcare to illegal immigration, and how the Bush administration has categorically failed to address the needs of the poor, instead moving increasing amounts of wealth further and further up into the clutches of those who are the least in need. But would I really be able to say anything new, anything we haven't discussed here a thousand times? No.

I can't personally offer any deep thoughts on this that haven't been said a thousand times either. Instead, I'll offer this excerpt from Prometheus Rising (1983) by my all-time favorite author, Robert Anton Wilson:

[A] modern man or woman doesn't look for bio-survival security in the gene pool, the pack, the extended family. Bio-survival depends on getting the tickets. "You can't live without money," as the Living Theatre troop used to cry out in anguish. If the tickets are withdrawn, acute bio-survival anxiety appears at once.

Imagine, as vividly as possible, what you would feel, and what you would do, if all your sources to bio-survival tickets (money) were cut off tomorrow. This is precisely what tribal men and women feel if cut off from the tribe; it is why exile, or even ostracism, were sufficient punishments to enforce tribal conformity throughout most of human history...

In traditional society, belonging to the tribe was bio-security; exile was terror, and real threat of death. In modern society, having the tickets (money) is bio-security; having the tickets withdrawn is terror.

Welfare-ism, socialism, totalitarianism, etc. represent attempts, in varying degrees of rationality and hysteria, to re-create the tribal bond by making the State stand in for the gene pool. Conservatives who claim that no form of Welfare is tolerable to them are asking that people live with total bio-survival anxiety anomie combined with terror. The conservatives, of course, vaguely recognize this and ask for "local charity" to replace State Welfare -- i.e. they ask for the gene pool to be restored by magic, among people (denizens of a typical city) who are not genetically related at all.

Indeed.

slices

Random Toast Factoid: Kenny Rogers' The Gambler is not only one of the few country-western songs I genuinely like, it also might just be the only song I'm aware of which I can sing in its entirety, at full volume -- none of that falsetto or sotto-voce shit -- and perfectly in key. This is something I appreciate deeply, as one of my curses in life has always been perfect pitch but no range.

slices

Captain Derek Jeter. Two thousand fucking hits, bitches. Just now. Take that.

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[2006.05.26 - 05:20 P.M.]

Do me a favor, go read Jesse Kornbluth's commentary at the Huffington Post on Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (hat tip, Angelos). Fucking great piece on a whole bunch of levels. Here, in order, are the thoughts it provoked for me:

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[2006.05.25 - 10:00 P.M.]

It totally took me by surprise. The verdict, that is. I'd forgotten the case was even going on, what with all the other Republican scumbaggery in the news. But as I popped up Google News during a break from Meetingpalooza, there it was:

Enron Jury Finds Lay, Skilling Guilty

Wow.

I never, ever thought I'd read those words. I just always assumed that those two would get off. I figured Fastow took the fall and that's as far as it would go. The Biggest Douchebags In The Room would walk away.

I have never been happier to be wrong.

Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. GUILTY!

Wait, six counts on Lay?

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! And GUILTY!

Skilling convicted on 19 of his 28 counts?

GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! GUILTY! And GUILTY!

Ahhhhh. There we go. I'm happy.

These two men are going be punished. They're going to be punished for what I personally consider the lowest of all human impulses: Greed.

There are worse crimes in the world than what they did, sure, but there is no lower motive. Crimes of passion are comprehensible to me. Love, lust, hate, fury? Reprehensible-but-comprehensible reasons for hurting someone. Greed? Greed on the part of the already obscenely wealthy? Disgusting, unforgivable, and, to me, incomprehensible. Make no mistake: Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling hurt people. They hurt them economically. They caused them hardship. Consumers. Employers. Investors. Yes, I'll even shed a small tear for their investors. I'm sure most of them were acting in good faith.

Mostly, though, they hurt Grandma Millie. You remember Grandma Millie. She was the fictitious woman -- probably on public assistance, certainly having trouble paying her electric bill -- who those two young soulless cocksucking Enron employees bragged about sticking it to on tape during the fake "shortage" in California that their company helped cause. Oooh, that was so funny! Yeah, you guys really fucked Grandma Millie over. I bet you got a nice wash and detail job on your Porsche out of the money she had to borrow to pay your illegally inflated rates.

Well, Grandma Millie can rest a little easier tonight. Because the guys behind the guys who fucked her over are going to jail.

(sigh)

Maybe justice isn't quite in the grave yet. I know one thing: I'll be walking around with a big smile on my face today.

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[2006.05.25 - 09:45 P.M.]

DING! Round Two!

Tracy and I began our second cycle of IVF treatments today. Of course, I say "Tracy and I" but I really mean "Tracy". Unless you think my being the clumsy bastard who gets to stick needles in her for the next 14 days justifies the "and I" part.

Round Two got underway with a bang. (No, not that kind of bang.) They started her right in on the stimulation meds. No waiting period, no Lupron to "reset" her system. This time they're using the meds to augment her normal hormonal cycle, or at least that seems to be the idea. The upshot is that this means everything's going to happen a little faster. Assuming all goes well, egg retrieval will be on June 5th and embryo transfer will be on the 8th. As usual, I'll keep the world (that would be all of you, dear readers) posted on our progress.

Fingers crossed.

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[2006.05.25 - 09:30 P.M.]

I have had a long day. Long, long, long day. Two-hour IVF appointment this morning. Five-hour meeting at work. Anyhow, I get back home from Karate around 8:00 PM, give Tracy her shots, cook up some kielbasa, and finally I'm ready to sit on my ass and watch some tube. Turn on MSNBC to see what Olbermann is up to, and what do I see but Chris Matthews' giant fucking head over a "BREAKING NEWS" banner. Repulsed by the former but momentarily sucked in by the latter, I refrain from flipping the channel. Breaking News? What happened? Are they talking about the Enron verdict? Did Fitzy indict Rove? Did we nuke Iran?

Nope. Bush and Blair gave a speech. That's your breaking news.

But surely the content of the speech must've been something meaty, right?

Uh, not so much. Seems like they both wrung their hands a bit about things that had gone wrong, opportunities missed, and, for Bush, things that he maybe shoulda worded a little differently. ("Bring 'Em On!")

That was it. The rest of the speech basically amounted to the usual "We did the Right Thing and we're Staying the Course".

That is "BREAKING NEWS"?

Sorry, I did not need that tonight. Nor did I need what followed, the televised spectacle of Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough taking turns slurping the president's dick with Tucker Carlson momentarily popping his head in to say "Hey, guys, you might not want to swallow that."

No, really. I mean, is it a bad day when Tucker Carlson is the voice of fucking reason or what? Scarborough was the worst. At one point he was going on in that slimy, freakish voice of his about what a brave man Bush was for sticking to his guns despite his sinking polls. Then, right on cue, he regurgitated the same moronic, blood-pressure-stoking lies about the Iraq war being a Great War of Liberation and the people over there attacking us aren't insurgents, they're terrorists, and blah diddy fucking blah.

What's my point? Just this: The American people may have finally figured out what a major-league clusterfuck this stupid war is, but the media aren't keeping the pace at all. And it disappoints me. It sickens me. I really thought that by now they'd have at least started shifting their storylines. But no. This might as well have been a Hardball repeat from 2004. Fucking clowns. Fucking broken, robotic clowns. Ugh.

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[2006.05.22 - 07:55 P.M.]

In case you missed it, the Connecticut Democratic Party held their nominating convention for this year's races on Friday night, and Ned Lamont came away with a third of the delegates. That might not sound so great if you're not following this race closely, but believe me, somewhere, at this very moment, Joe Lieberman's Depends™ are filling up. The buzz around the state is that this was a stunning "victory" for Lamont. Not only did he easily win enough votes to force a primary in August (he only needed 15%) but the feeling is that if he can take a third of the hard-core party operatives who make up the delegates, then that means there's some serious unrest brewing out there, and Lieberman could be in big trouble when the rest of us get our say. Here's Colin McEnroe, local radio host and liberal political commentator:

There were stories circulating on the floor about Lamont voters who stayed home rather than show up and be squeezed by the rest of their delegations. And several Democratic elected officials admitted to me they were voting for Lieberman in the public forum of a convention while fully determined to vote for Lamont in the privacy of a booth.

I think 33 percent is a pretty bad number for an incumbent senator to give up to a challenger nobody ever heard of. Certainly, the Lamont team members were staggering around like dazed lottery winners. "Pinch me," Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan told a comrade. The Lieberman team was acting like they knew it all along. "Can we count or can we count?" Lieberman manager Sean Smith languidly told a reporter. He was unpersuasive. It may have been a number that tumbled out of their worst-case game theory, but it certainly was not a number they wanted.

The real number is lot worse for Lieberman than 33 percent. I don't know how big the Lamont vote would get if you could tabulate the no-shows and the sleeper cells of delegates who plan to vote differently in the primary, but I do know it's a bigger number. And the convention is full of party regulars, usually the easiest people to keep in line. Wisdom of the ages would suggest that the "amateur" voters are potentially much more rebellious.

A few weeks ago, a commenter over at Shakes' place dismissively asserted that Lieberman was going to be the candidate this year, and that all us Lamont freaks were wasting our time and emotional energy. I responded that you had to be here, in Connecticut, to understand how wrong that attitude was. People in this state are pissed off. They're tired of being represented by a guy who was wrong on the biggest issue of his tenure, the Iraq war. They're tired of hearing him sanctimoniously lecture them that he still thinks it was the right thing to do. They're tired of watching him stab his own party in the back on FOX News. They're tired of him kissing Bush's ass.

The people of Connecticut are tired of Joe Lieberman's act, and I think they're going to give him a really rude awakening three months from now.

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[2006.05.22 - 07:15 P.M.]

A luxurious nap. A thunderstorm. A fine bottle of red wine. Tracy playing her Billie Holiday CD. A game of Trivial Pursuit. Candles burning in the window. Damn, life is fine sometimes.

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[2006.05.21 - 04:15 P.M.]

I can't tell you how happy this story makes me. Finally, at long fucking last, Americans are waking up and realizing, hey, this guy's not just incompetent and corrupt, he's actually kind of a douchebag too!

Americans Don't Like President Bush Personally Much Anymore, Either

WASHINGTON - It's not just the way he's doing his job. Americans apparently don't like President Bush personally much anymore, either.

A drop in his personal popularity, as measured by several public polls, has shadowed the decline in Bush's job-approval ratings and weakened his political armor when he and his party need it most.

..

Six public polls in recent weeks showed the opposite of Rove's account - that Bush's personal approval ratings have dropped since he was re-elected in 2004:

-A recent Gallup poll for USA Today showed that 39 percent had a favorable opinion of Bush, while 60 percent had an unfavorable opinion. In mid-November 2004, 60 percent had a favorable opinion and 39 percent unfavorable.

-Pollster John Zogby found 42 percent with a favorable opinion and 55 percent unfavorable. In November 2004, it was 58 percent favorable, 40 percent unfavorable.

-A poll for CBS and the New York Times showed that 29 percent had a favorable opinion of Bush, while 55 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

"The president's public perception problem is not only about his dismal job performance, but also his striking lack of personal favorability," said Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg.

Personal favorability can encompass many things in the minds of voters: character, respect, warmth, kinship, even whether a voter would want to have a beer with a politician. Or in the case of the teetotaling Bush, a soda.

Bush has lost ground on most of those measures.

Chris Matthews must be on suicide watch right about now, because them's some pretty ugly numbers. Seems like only the real whackjobs actually like the president these days.

(Hat tip: Shakes)

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[2006.05.19 - 07:45 A.M.]

Do not adjust your browsers. If you notice anything weird with the site today or over the weekend, it's just me screwing around with some new layout stuff I'm teaching myself. Of course, if you're using Opera, everything looks fine... (sigh).

Update: Should be all set now, although, depending on your browser settings, you may have to refresh to get the new stylesheet to kick in. TwoGlasses is table-free!

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[2006.05.17 - 07:20 P.M.]

Guys, in case you missed it, the government has announced some new reproductive guidelines which you'll want to pay close attention to:

New federal guidelines ask all males capable of impregnating a female to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as proto-fathers, regardless of whether they plan to get a woman pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all post-pubescent men should take saw palmetto supplements, refrain from smoking and drinking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control. In addition, boxers should be given preference over briefs at all times and bicycling should be avoided. Laptops should always be placed on a table or other free-standing surface rather than on one's lap, and water temperature for all showers and baths should not exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, it is strongly recommended that men who are not sexually active with a partner masturbate no more than once every three days or less than once every five days in order to maintain a healthy load of fresh sperm.

While most of these recommendations are well known to men who are trying to get a woman pregnant, experts say it's important that all males follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and, shit, if you're going to fuck around and have an unplanned kid, you damned sure want it to be a healthy one.

The recommendations aim to "increase public awareness of the importance of proper testicular maintenance" and emphasize the "importance of healthy sperm in the Great Cycle of Life" said Samuel Posner, co-author of the guidelines and associate director for science in the division of reproductive health and cultural engineering at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the report.

Later in the article, they say that several attempts were made to reach representative American Males for a response to these new guidelines, but they were all busy either getting hammered or compulsively beating off.

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[2006.05.17 - 07:25 A.M.]

And on the tenth day, the peoples' faces were finally lifted in joy, for in the Valley of the River of Farmington, there was sun. Verily, the masses said, It is about damned time.

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[2006.05.15 - 07:40 A.M.]

Sadly, in this game we call life, the best and most deserving people don't always win. And so it is with Survivor as well. Last night, in a final episode that was as gut-churning as it was predictable, clueless bobblehead Danielle double-crossed Terry for a second time, putting herself and Aras into the Finals where the latter won easily. The show started off well enough, with Danielle ousting uber-Loser Cirie in the fire-off and Terry winning the reward challenge, a meal and a bed supposedly meant to set him up for the final immunity challenge the next day. But, oh, that immunity challenge. What a bad draw. A balancing competition on a succession of tiny platforms floating in the ocean? Think the 90-lb. woman might have a slight advantage over the two 180-lb. guys? Danielle won without batting an eyelash (well, except the one she batted at Aras, "promising" him -- under his interpretation -- that she'd take him to the end).

The only fireworks in the final tribal council came courtesy of Shane -- yes, the same Shane who so annoyed the crap out of me at the outset of this season -- who called Danielle useless to her face and then skewered Aras for being an untested whelp who was broke and still mooching off of his parents. Somebody had to say it. It's been a while since two more undeserving contestants made it all the way to the Finals. In the end, Aras took the vote 5-2, based, one would hope, on his superior physical ability in the challenges and not much else.

For a while, it seemed like Danielle had screwed herself by taking a fellow Casaya member that everyone liked more than her rather than taking Terry and relying on that maddeningly unbreakable Casaya bond to seal the deal. Based on the polling at the live follow-up event, however, it wouldn't have mattered. Only two jury members, flaky Bruce and lazy Cirie, would have voted for Danielle had she squared off against Terry instead. Meaning, of course, that if she had kept her word and taken him to the Finals, Terry -- Captain America, possibly the greatest individual competitor to ever play the game -- would have won the million.

Curse you, Danielle.

All in all, a very frustrating season. It was actually painful seeing them bring back some of the La Mina members for the reunion. Dan the astronaut. Austin the writer. The older quiet woman whose name escapes me. All better and more deserving than the screwball Casaya lot.

Most baffling of all from last night was the Cirie Love Fest. Here's this shallow, lazy blob of a human who spent thirty nine days out there smiling and coasting along, all the while talking shit about people behind their backs, and yet people loved her. Contestants and audience members alike just thought she was the nicest person ever. Ugh. Tracy and I kept turning to each other on the couch in disbelief: "I do not get this. Do you get this?" "No, I don't get it."

Bah. I'm happy to put this season behind us, and I look forward to Survivor 13 which, hopefully, will have fewer losers. After all, I figure the loser pool must be running low after this go-round.

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[2006.05.14 - 10:45 A.M.]

Capote: Interesting movie. I'm not a film student, so forgive me if I fail to convey the experience properly. Here's my best shot: Spare. Stark. Simple. I expected a full-blown biography of Truman Capote, but this was more of a vignette (albeit a two-hour long one). The entire film centers on Capote's complex relationship with the two condemned Kansas killers (well, mainly the one, Perry), a relationship which is neither glamourized nor romanticized but instead shown as conflicted and problebmatic, with the Capote character alternating between genuine sympathy for his subjects and calculating, self-serving manipulation. The rest of Capote's life circumstances are left at the edges of the story, shown for context only, never taking center stage. An exceptional acting job by Hoffman, and an unusual, yet compelling, approach to story-telling.

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[2006.05.13 - 01:45 P.M.]

Tracy and I are off to Boston in a few minutes to celebrate Mother's Day and my grandmother's 90th birthday. Before we go, however, a quick SSTAM entry.

As Tracy was leaving work today, she called me on the cell phone to share the following observation: All the women at the branch had parked their cars nose in, like normal human beings, whereas all the guys had parked nose out.

This is a trend, see. I think it arose out of the whole tuner scene. Somehow, this annoys me more than guys driving around in cars with 1-liter egg beater engines who think they're bad-ass because they put a coffee can muffler on their exhaust. It annoys me more than guys who lower the suspension on their $300 ride and drive around slouched real low like they're stalking their prey or something. The backing in thing? Fucking stupid, OK? Really fucking stupid. Listen up, kids: The extra 45 seconds you spend backing your car in is not going to get you an audition for Fast and the Furious III. Get over yourselves. Most of you barely possess the skillset to park the correct way anyhow, let alone aligning a car ass-in. Silly twits.

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[2006.05.12 - 07:30 P.M.]

Sitting here listening to De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising. Man is this a blast from the past. Easily one of the top-ten hip hop albums of all time. Certainly the number one psychedelic hip hop album of all time. Ever have an album that you absolutely love, and yet you go years without listening to it for some reason? Then something finally makes you go grab it and play it -- in my case it was Tracy asking me on the drive home about a pond we were passing "How high's the water?" (Three feet high and rising) -- and you're like, holy shit, why have I not listened to this in so long? This particular album evokes vivid memories of sitting in a beanbag chair on the floor of my frat room getting baked out of my mind with Hampster and playing Super Mario Brothers for hours on end.

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Speaking of "on end", I was in a meeting at work today and I believe it was the first time I ever heard someone use the phrase "minutes on end". I didn't think minutes could last "on end". Of course, he was discussing the response time on a piece of software.

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Big Trauma in Yankeeland. Last night, in the first inning of the rubber game with Boston, Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui broke his wrist trying to make a sliding catch. The picture in the paper today was just sick. Theismanesque. Now, I don't want you to think I'm paranoid or nothin', but here's the deal: Matsui had played in 1,768 straight games, including his time in Japan, and 518 since his first appearance as a "rookie" in the majors. Quite the Iron Man streak. Two weeks ago, I declared to Tracy "You know what? I think Hideki is my Favorite Yankee." Bam! The Toast Sports Cloud striketh down mightily. And -- double whammy -- he's on my roto team too. Hideki, dude, I'm so fuckin' sorry. Shit, it's a good thing I didn't buy your shirt the other day. You'd probably have been paralyzed.

Of course, there's a chance that the Toast Cloud could have a silver lining. Rumors abound that Cashman and crew might try to trade with the Nats to get Alfonso Soriano, my previous Favorite Yankee, back in pinstripes....

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Dominionists. Like Nazis, only without the badass uniforms. Or the tanks and planes. Take a look at this story in Salon on these crazy-ass bastards. I'd say it's "scary" only I'm more pissed than scared. Check out this quote from George Grant, former executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries:

"Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ -- to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.
But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice.
It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.
It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.
It is dominion we are after.
World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less...
Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land -- of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ."

Yo, Georgie, I've got news for you: You'll have dominion -- quite literally -- over my dead body. You clueless superstitious turds haven't got what it takes to bring human progress to heel, to bring liberal humanism to heel. We -- the committed secularists of the world -- might be a minority, but we're smarter and more evolved than you and your ghost-worshipping thugs are, and we'll fuck your shit up if you get too uppity. You take those Ten Commandments tablets and shove them straight up your ass.

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Memo to cooks everywhere: The only time it is acceptable to serve seafood such as lobster or crab in the shell is when you're serving it solo. If you're serving it as part of a recipe -- mixed in with rice or vegetables or pasta or whatever -- take it out of the fucking shell first. Really, what is the point of putting an unshelled crab leg in a mix of rice and vegetables if I can't scoop it up and eat it? Instead, you make me dig it out, shell it, and then, what, return it to the mix? The fuck is that all about? Same thing applies to shrimp tails. Don't leave the damned tails on shrimp that you're mixing in with my pasta or whatnot. You're just making work for me. Take 'em off and let me eat unhindered. Fancy-ass pretentious dorks.

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[2006.05.09 - 05:00 P.M.]

Earlier this week, USA Today revealed that the NSA's Ultra-Super-Secret Terrorist-Eavesdropping Program -- the program which George Bush assured us was only being used to look into calls made from the U.S. to overseas terrorist suspects -- had an additional dimension: The creation of a comprehensive database of every phone call made within the United States.

This, finally, seems to have grabbed the attention of our politicians. Democrats and Republicans have both raised a mighty cry of outrage over this unconstitutional infringment on Americans' civil liberties. It is a roar of indignation that will not be silenced until... um... well, actually, any minute now. In fact I think I just heard it stop. Being the spineless and unprincipled lot that they are, our elected representatives in Congress will surely shut their yappers about this durn phone database bidness right quick once they learn that a clear majority of Americans support the president's ass-raping of their privacy rights.

Here's Mark Jellison of Quincy, MA:

"After 9/11 our world has changed," Jellison said yesterday, standing outside a grocery store in Dorchester. "Prior to 9/11, I would have been more concerned, but I'm less concerned today."

Fourth amendment? Fuck that shit! No, really, fuck that shit, Mr. President. Here's some lube. I'm ready!

Or listen to William MacKenzie of Taunton, MA:

"I have nothing to hide, so I don't have a problem with it. If it's for the security of the country, it's OK with me."

Rights? I don't need steeeenkin' rights. Rights are for criminals!

The mind reels, no? For a country that never stops running its collective mouth about "freedom", we don't seem to have the thinnest sliver of a clue what the word means.

Yesterday, remarking on the news of the NSA call database, Peter Daou again drew the analogy between Americans slowly having their Constitutional rights stripped away and the frog in boiling water. You know, the frog that doesn't know it's being boiled alive because the heat is being turned up so gradually? I don't think that's accurate though. I think Americans are more like frogs that eagerly line up at the edge of the boiling pot, waiting their turn to dive in. After all, the guy with the funny white hat told them it's safe in there.

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[2006.05.10 - 07:20 A.M.]

Just remembered a terrible dream I had last night. I was walking around the neighborhood I grew up in, and I'm on someone's lawn. I look across the street, and George Bush is giving a speech. He's really loose, talking like a normal person. He's connecting with his audience. He laughs, they laugh with him. I was filled with this sense of dread, knowing that the next day his poll numbers were going to rebound and people were going to rally to him again and it would kill us in the fall elections. Damn, I fucking hate bad dreams.

Luckily, I woke up, and things were as I remembered them.

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[2006.05.09 - 05:15 P.M.]

Well, well, it appears there's a new meme afoot! It's the "Lefty Bloggers = Sixties' Radicals" meme, and it's sweeping the nation, baby! Here, again, for your reading displeasure, is Jon Chait from last weekend:

It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early '70s.

And here (via Shakes) is the Washington Post's clown prince, Richard Cohen, today:

The anger festering on the Democratic left will be taken out on the Democratic middle. I have seen this anger before -- back in the Vietnam War era.

The hatred is back. I know it's only words now appearing on my computer screen, but the words are so angry, so roiled with rage, that they are the functional equivalent of rocks once so furiously hurled during antiwar demonstrations.

Now, in Cohen's case, I'm willing to write off the sixties fixation as an expression of Boomer Narcissism. I'm not sure where Chait gets off making these claims, however. His bio states that he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1994, which, assuming he's not an academic late bloomer, makes him anywhere from 3-5 years my junior. As it happens, I was a fetus when those "fanatics" were at the height of their crazed frenzy, tearing apart the nation and dooming the fortunes of the Democratic Party. (Or, alternately, waking the nation up and saving it from the catastrophe of Vietnam. One's reading of those events depends largely on whether one has an intra- or extra-rectal view of the world.) I don't know first hand what the left-wing activists of that era were like. I don't know precisely what motivated them at the individual level, although the trends and events they were reacting to are well-documented. I don't know what prompted their tactical choices. I wasn't there, so all I've got to rely on are various cultural and historical artifacts to tell me what the "New Left" of the old times was all about.

But I do know one thing: We're not them.

Today's "Angry" Left-Wing Bloggers are not the fucking Weathermen. We're not SDS. We live in distinctly different times. Sure, some elements of the plot are the same, starting with the ill-advised war raging in the background. But culturally, the aughts couldn't be much more different from the sixties. The liberals decrying this war aren't throwing rocks or bombs or staging sit-ins. We're writing blog posts and trying to engage the mainstream media in a constructive debate. We're raising money to support candidates and trying to work through the political system rather than trying to overturn it. When we can be bothered to gather physically and protest, our actions are peaceful (and, alas, ignored).

And yet Chait calls us "fanatics"? Cohen says our words are like "furiously hurled rocks"? Please. Get bent, gentlemen. The sixties are over. Most of us never fought those battles, and those who were around that did have largely moved on. You really ought to consider doing the same.

Update: Rob Salkowitz is playing the same song here. Granted, he's got the soaring guitar solo going while I stick to the crunchy power chords, but still.

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[2006.05.09 - 05:00 P.M.]

My good friend Eric -- software guru, world traveller, head banger, and all-around Renaissance Man -- has been travelling in Europe on business and spent last weekend in Amsterdam. This morning, he sent me a lengthy piece of correspondence containing his musings on this wondrous city. I want to share it with you (with his permission) not just because it's beautifully and evocatively written, but also because, as he suggests in his closing paragraph, it paints a picture of the way human beings can live together when they pull their heads from their asses and decide to live like a civilized species.

Amsterdam is something of a utopia for a person with progressive politics. It is prosperous but not too corporate. Modern buildings of sleek glass round the historic core made of bricks many hundreds of years old. Ethnic diversity is the norm. Relatively clean and without violent crime, it is famous for open prostitution and soft drug use. But, most of all, Amsterdam is a city full of tolerance.

People live inside European cities. For Americans who have never traveled to the Far East or Europe, that is the key distinction between our cities and theirs.

Americans gravitate to the suburbs, driving home their cars every night on a 25-minute commute to well-planned housing areas. There is a small shopping plaza down the road and a mall within thirty minutes. The business centers and shopping malls are deserted at night. Empty city alleys are dark.

Amsterdam houses are five-story brick buildings crowded one upon the other right in the urban heart of the city. Shopping districts have businesses on the ground floor and are lit until they close, which for the city center is early in the morning. People are everywhere, all the time. Foot traffic fills the streets. Local families mingle with wasted tourists and businessmen in a bustling mixture of art studios, bars, restaurants, grocery stores, police stations, coffeeshops and offices. The art and design scene is brisk.

With all the pedestrians and cyclists, driving a car through Amsterdam is a nightmare. Most streets are a single-lane going in one direction. I've seen traffic jams caused by someone stopping their Peugeot to chat with a friend on the sidewalk. Meanwhile cars and a horse-drawn carriage backed up behind them. The Peugeot driver then got out to take a photo of the friend with a tree-lined canal in the background before getting into his car to drive off. All told he must have blocked the road for fifteen minutes. The poor souls stuck behind him waited patiently with nary a horn. God forbid you get caught behind a traffic accident.

What this horrid traffic really means is people just don't drive that much. Although the Peugeot driver stopped on one of the major streets of Amsterdam Centruum, only two cars and the buggy were trapped by him. Virtually everyone is on foot or bike because it's a lot faster that way. In twelve hours of randomly wandering city streets I had to pause at a crossing signal three times, each at a major train stop. Normally when crossing the street you simply watch out for faster bikes and wander your way over. Walk down the middle of the street if you want, so long as you keep your ears open for the ring of bicyclists.

Violent crime is nearly unheard of. Dealers will push cocaine or viagra or other hard drugs; but, don't mess with them and they won't mess with you. If someone scares you, just yell for the police and they will run off - not so much because of fear of the police but because all the foot traffic nearby will hear you and be witnesses. Given that locals are interspersed throughout the tourists someone is bound to recognize the perpetrator.

More than even the great immigrant cities of America, such as New York or Los Angeles, Amsterdam is a melting pot of myriad peoples. There are areas with more concentrations of one ethnic group over another; but, nothing is homogenous. Arabs live next to Vietnamese live next to Germans live next to British live next to Thai live next to Dutch live next to Turkish live next to Italians live next to Africans live next to Americans live next to Frenchmen live next to Spaniards live next to Christians live next to Muslims live next to Atheists live next to Hindu live next to Jews. Gays are open and its no big deal. The number of people who speak not one or two, but three or four, languages is surprisingly high. And again, violent crime is nearly unheard of.

Amsterdam has its sordid side as well. But like ethnic hatred, sleaze is diluted by being amongst renaissance cathedrals, classical music schools and family businesses. Most of the few beggars I saw tried to do something in return such as providing instructions on how to buy a train ticket. By the end of a night of heavy partying the tourists are trashed out of their minds on potent concoctions of alcohol and psychedelic drugs. Morning crews wash off the streets. Wild ducks adapt by snatching straw and rope to make springtime nests. Watch out for the splash of crews cleaning the ubiquitous outdoor public urinals (which are not for the shy.)

And of course, there's the prostitution. Behind neon-lined windows women try to lure in paying customers. Yes, some people consider it a terrible sin and say so right then and there. Yes, some people are turned off by the frank business transactions made between the hooker and john. Yes, husbands caught by their wives wandering Dollebegijnensteeg are in for a good drubbing when they get home - and maybe a ruined marriage as well. There are a lot of negative things about prostitution. However, here in Amsterdam the horror of forced prostitution, social stigma for the woman and venereal disease are all but absent. Market forces in the busiest areas have increased the quality of wares while keeping the cost low.

I've never encountered another city in the world that has such a tolerant attitude in its people. The pretty, tree-lined canals and open hedonism aren't the only attraction of Amsterdam. It is a haven of tolerance for any kind of lifestyle. This is what humanity can be like when living in nearly ideal conditions: peaceful, prosperous, being excellent to each other.

To all of this, I have only one question: Do they need software engineers?

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[2006.05.09 - 08:00 A.M.]

I just cancelled my subscription to The New Republic. What took me so long, you ask? Why now, you ask? Good questions. The answer to both is "Jonathan Chait".

I started reading TNR back during the 2000 presidential campaign. To me, it seemed like the most well-written and thoughtful of the big "liberal" political magazines, filled with interesting analytical pieces that dug deeper than their competitors did. Also, the writers there always seemed to bring something unexpected to the table. Whereas you can pretty much predict what The Nation or The American Prospect is going to say about practically any subject, TNR liked to throw you a curveball from time to time. Not the knee-jerk contrarian bullshit you read in Slate either, but things that honestly made you think "Huh, I never looked at it that way."

Of course, most of what TNR was writing about back then was related to domestic policy, and while their analytical work in that domain was innovative and unpredictable, the values that informed it were more or less my own. After 9-11, however, when foreign policy took center stage, I quickly discovered that that was a sphere in which my own values and those of The New Republic diverged sharply. Just weeks after 9-11, they published a sloppy, McCarthyesque op-ed suggesting that liberals who attended the upcoming anti-globalization rallies in Washington D.C. would be turning their backs on their country and, it was implied, supporting anti-American forces. From there, it got worse. TNR was at the head of the media cheerleading squad supporting Bush's march to war in Iraq. Later, as the war began to go to shit, they published a special edition titled "Were We Wrong?" The answer they gave, of course, was pretty much "No". Lately, they've even begun to make serious-sounding noises about the threat from Iran. Fool them twice, indeed.

Through all this, however, I kept them on hand because, at least once every couple of months, Jonathan Chait would come out with one of his 10-page masterpieces. There was his eye-popping analysis of Bush's post-9-11 failures to attend to America's security at home, "The 9/10 President". Then, of course, there was my favorite, "The Case For Bush Hatred", in which he beautifully demonstrated how, yes America, it is possible to have both a visceral loathing of Bush and make an intellectually-sound case against the man's policies. There were others, too, which I've since forgotten. Suffice to say that, in the time from 9-11 to now, Chait redeemed TNR for me.

Alas, all good things come to an end, I guess.

In the current issue, Chait has a piece titled "The Left Vs. Joe Lieberman", in which he tries (and fails) to make the case that it would be bad for the Democratic Party if the activist left -- by which he seems to mean, at least in part, the netroots -- succeeded in helping Ned Lamont take Lieberman out:

Watching the left wing of the Democratic Party trying to take down Joe Lieberman has been a deeply confusing experience for me. The lefties say the Democratic senator from Connecticut is a self-righteous suck-up who lends President Bush undeserved credibility. Lieberman's allies say the lefties are a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals.

They're both basically right. So how am I supposed to deal with this?

Oh really? They're both "basically right"? That's interesting. I do not consider myself "crazed". I get awfully angry about the horrible things the Bush administration is doing, and I'm not afraid to express that anger, but I reserve "crazed" for my sports commentary. I am not "ignorant" by any stretch of the imagination or definition of the word. I do subscribe to an ideological agenda which could best be described as "FDR Liberal" but I'm not absolutist about it. And, lastly, I do not eat human flesh.

From that opening slap in the face, Chait actually goes on to do a pretty good job of running down the charges against Lieberman. He notes Lieberman's disinterest in investigating the Bush administration for their misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the war. He recalls Lieberman's excusing the abuses at Abu Ghraib by invoking the victims of 9-11. He reminds us of Lieberman's calls to quiet dissent for fear that it might undermine the president. He then goes on, briefly, to show that Lieberman's conservative streak goes beyond foreign policy, noting that he favors taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income (a highly regressive position) and that he rallied to the right-wing side when it came to intervening in the Terri Schiavo case.

For paragraph after paragraph, Chait goes on making the left's case against Lieberman for us, finally wrapping up by describing the symbiotic bond the Senator has forged with right-wing politicians and media outlets by positioning himself as the right's "Favorite Democrat". By the time you get to the end of the piece, you're left wondering "OK, now why shouldn't we want to remove this boil from the ass of the Democratic Party?"

Chait answers thusly:

In the end, though, I can't quite root for Lieberman to lose his primary. What's holding me back is that the anti-Lieberman campaign has come to stand for much more than Lieberman's sins. It's a test of strength for the new breed of left-wing activists who are flexing their muscles within the party. These are exactly the sorts of fanatics who tore the party apart in the late 1960s and early '70s. They think in simple slogans and refuse to tolerate any ideological dissent. Moreover, since their anti-Lieberman jihad is seen as stemming from his pro-war stance, the practical effect of toppling Lieberman would be to intimidate other hawkish Democrats and encourage more primary challengers against them.

Simply put, Chait doesn't want Lieberman to lose because it would be a victory for the activist (and anti-Iraq war) left. And we can't have that, can we?

Chait makes an empty comparison between today's liberal rabble rousers -- I assume he's thinking of the usual suspects, such as MoveOn, DFA, and the rest of the netroots -- and the 60's radicals that he and others blame for the Democratic Party's decline. Unlike his case against Lieberman, however, he levels this charge without a single piece of evidence. It's not an argument he falls back on, it's an assertion. The activist left "thinks in simple slogans" he tells us, and yet anyone who's spent an hour surfing liberal blogs knows this is not the case, knows that, indeed, the quality and complexity of debate and deliberation on the left is something to be proud of, while "slogans" are something we have a bitch of a time coming up with. He says we "refuse to tolerate ideological dissent", when nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if anything is true of today's liberal activists, it's that we're overly worried about electoral outcomes at the expense of bolstering any shared ideological foundation.

But Chait doesn't see any of this. He's too wrapped up in establishment storylines to understand what's really going on. He lacks the curiosity to explore what really motivates the anti-Lieberman left, what it is about our current political moment that drives progressives to get out of bed every day and work to tug the political center of gravity back where it belongs. To him, we're just angry hippies. We're ghosts.

Well, I can't stomach that. Chait can side with establishment Democrats if he wants, but not without giving up his claim to reasonability and sound analytical skills. And once he's handed in those credentials, there's just no more reason for me to keep reading the magazine that he calls home.

Update: Chait responds, at TNR's blog "The Plank", to various posts taking issue with his random attack on left-wing "activists". It's not pretty. Rather than simply admit that he was being unfair, he does what everyone does these days, dig in his heels. In the process, he throws two big stink-bombs:

[O]ne of the chief rebuttals I've seen to my column is that the lefty blogs aren't actually all that lefty. This is true if you consider only their policy agenda in a vacuum. But it's not true if you take account of their political style, which is distinctly New Left. It's a paranoid, Manichean worldview brimming with humorless rage.

There are two problems here. First, the bizarre fixation on style and tone. Chait pretty much comes right out and says "I'm not evaluating these people on what they're saying, but rather how they're saying it." This is ridiculous. And yet it goes to the core of the debate we've been having in left-of-center precincts for years now. The professional media has concocted this fraudulent notion that one cannot simultaneously be angry and have a valid point. (Of course, this only applies to liberals. No one seems to give a damn about how unhinged the right is.) Second, the portrayal is simply inaccurate. There's plenty of rage on the left, sure, but humorless? Give me a break. If Chait thinks the liberal bloggers don't frequently and successfully channel their political frustration into humor, well, he doesn't get around the web much, and he's missing some truly hysterical -- and creative -- political ranting.

Later in his post, he slides in this shiv:

The would-be Grover Norquists of the left fashion themselves as shrewd political tacticians.

Oooooooh, it's the dreaded "You're Just Like That Person You Hate" gambit. This is probably the most annoying debate tactic known to man. When I was six, my mother would try to rein in bad behavior by comparing me to my annoying niece. When I was thirty-six, friends would try to claim that my anti-religion stance made me "just like" the dogmatic preachers I loathed. It's a crappy, underhanded dodge. Nice for getting under someone's skin, but it doesn't advance the discussion any.

The left doesn't have any "Grover Norquists" nor do we desire any. Norquist isn't just some organizational mastermind, he's a fascist. He wants to obliterate the liberal point of view entirely and he doesn't care who or what he destroys in the course of achieving that goal. There is no mirror-image campaign like that on the left. Most liberals I know would like to return to an era of bipartisanship. The only way we can do that, at present, is to dismantle Movement Conservatism (the DeLay-Norquist-Rove-Abramoff axis) and the right-wing media Noise Machine. We don't wish to silence conservative voices generally, and we sure as hell aren't interested in one-party rule. But I guess that distinction is lost on Chait.

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[2006.05.08 - 06:45 A.M.]

"Every day is a gift. But why's it always gotta be a pair of socks?" -- Tony Soprano

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[2006.05.07 - 07:00 P.M.]

Dear Joe Torre,

Please stop sending Tanyon Sturtze out to the mound. Right now. Please. Tanyon Sturtze sucks. No, I'm not even going to attempt to come up with some stupid one-liner about just how much he sucks. The situation is too serious for that. All you need to know is that he sucks really bad. So stop playing him. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.

Sincerely, Toast

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[2006.05.07 - 03:00 P.M.]

Sorry for the beer blogging hiatus last weekend. We were a little on the busy side and, despite my best intentions, the weekend slipped past without time for an entry. Today, however, I'm gonna hook you up. Promise.

Before we get down to beer blogging though, I need to indulge in some beer snobbing. Every year the Hartford Advocate does their "Best Of" readers poll, and every year Budweiser sweeps all the categories it's eligible in. Best Beer: Budweiser. Best Domestic Beer: Budweiser. Best Domestic Light Beer: Bud Light. I simply cannot fathom this. Sure, I can understand drinking a Budweiser now and then, although I think it's horribly overpriced for what you get. But voting for it as "Best Beer"? That would be like voting Kraft Mac & Cheese as "Best Pasta". As for Bud Light? I don't understand how they even sell it. It is a testament to two things: The power of marketing and the fact that a lot of people don't really like the taste of beer but want to drink it socially. As a beer lover, I can honestly say that if I walked into a bar and they were giving Bud Light away, I'd pony up the cash to buy something better. Piels, for example. And just read how the reviewer in the advocate describes it:

Gonna make it a Bud Light? You're not alone. The full bodied, low-calorie carbonated alcoholic treat has been the most popular beer in America for over two years. "People want a lighter, easier drink. That's what Bud Light is, a smooth and easy drink," Budweiser market manager Brett Hollander told the Advocate.

Full bodied? The 5-cent drafts we had in Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break back in the day -- which were watered down so the bars wouldn't lose too much money, mind you -- had more body than Bud Light. It is smooth, though. I'll give it that. Smooth like pond water.

CoronaNow before you say "Toast, come on, don't you like any normal beers, ya beer snob?", I give you... Corona. Two Summers ago, Tracy's dad was coming down to visit, and Tracy said we should get a 12-pack of Corona because that's what he liked. I had tried Corona once or twice and found it decent, but nothing special, and I said as much. "But have you tried it with lime?" Tracy asked. No, I had not, I replied. The rest, as they say, was history. Corona is now our default Beer of Summer. As such, I must give it its due.

When Corona first became popular back in the 80's, it quickly gained a reputation as "Yuppie Beer". The Great American Beer Renaissance was still several years away, and so La Cerveza Mas Fina's import status gave it a certain cachet. Now, two decades and ten thousand microbrews later, in a day when you can walk into your typical Mom & Pop Liquors and find rare Belgian ales, Corona seems about as exotic as Coors.

In it's natural state, Corona is a somewhat bitter and heavy lager. The body is certainly more robust than a mainstream domestic lager and the flavor has an edge to it that's part Heineken, part ashtray. Ah, but insert a wedge of lime through the neck of the bottle and an amazing bit of alchemy occurs, transforming this sour, standoffish brute into a suave party boy. The sweetness and zest of the lime bond with the beer's natural characteristics to create a rich and refreshing taste experience. The body actually seems to become lighter after the addition of the lime (the beer's body, that is). The malt is brought out more too, and the ashy aftertaste is completely gone. Truly, I don't know how or why these synergistic effects happen. I suppose, in the interest of science, I should try adding lime to other lagers to see if something similar transpires. In fact, I'll get right on that. For now, though, I just want to give mad props to whoever it was who took that first bottle of ordinary Mexican lager and decided to give it a wedgie. Sir/Madam, I raise my bottle to you.

Rating: Au Natural - 3.5, With Lime - 6.0

UFO Rasberry HefeweizenLast week, as I was perusing the wares at my local package store, I espied a sign that read "Special: UFO Rasberry Hefeweizen $5.99". It's true, I hadn't been terribly impressed by Harpoon's UFO the first time around, but-but-but... this had rasberry! And rasperry is what you put in weissbier to make it zippier! (It actually is. Not making that up. Berliner Hefeweizen, for example, is supposed to be served with a spoonful of rasberry extract in the bottom of the glass.) I just had to investigate. Unable to find any in the cooler, I prevailed upon the manager, who retrieved the last six-pack from the warm shelf. In passing, he mentioned to me that his distributor had delivered a case of this by accident. (See?) I thought. (Serendipity. That's what this is.) Anyhow, this is what I wrote, back in February, about UFO:

UFO is the beer equivalent of meringue: Soft and airy and light but not entirely insubstantial. The flavors float and suggest themselves, rather than asserting themselves outright. This is a good thing after you just got your ass handed to you by a particularly pugilistic stout, but under normal circumstances I like my weissbiers a little more tangy and playful. See, this beer is kinda shy.

Guess what, peeps: Shy and retiring UFO has red-headed sister and she is a wild and crazy girl. That's right, the rasberry did the trick, providing just the tangy assertiveness that was lacking in regular UFO. (Note: I didn't intend this to be Fruity Beer Blogging Day, it's just working out that way.) The body is cloudy, like UFO, but with a slight hint of a reddish hue. Texture wise, it has the same light, fluffy character. The flavor, on the other hand, is completely overhauled by the addition of the rasberry. You get a tart rasberry whallop right on the tongue that lingers through each mouthful. Swish it around a bit and the sour lemon flavor comes through as well. Not much going on in the hops department, but, oddly enough, that's probably for the best. You've got a sweet, fruity, happy bouquet here. Presenting a hoppy edge would probably throw that completely out of whack. Bottom line, this is a fun little beer.

Rating: 6.0

Sierra Nevada SummerfestThe Yankees game is over (they won, sweeping the Rangers on the road) and I'm upstairs in the office now. A few narrow rays of sunlight are slanting through the window, and one of them is passing through my tall glass of Sierra Nevada Summerfest beer. Dozens of columns of bubbles are slowly streaming upwards through the crystal-clear, golden body, where they merge with the soft foamy head. It is a vision that evokes both radiant energy and sublime transcendence. It is a vision of life.

Oh, yes, someone has a happy buzz on, and that someone is me.

Sierra Nevada has crafted us a truly first-rate lager here for the Summer of 2006. The body is crisp and clear and pure and the taste is surprisingly complex for a lager. There's a nice round hit of maltiness up front. Then, as it it settles under the tongue, a slightly sour component edges in, followed by a honey aftertaste. Only after the sip is long gone and your mouth is starting to dry out do you taste the hops, which are on the delicate side of bitter. Just a lot going on for a style that's not renowned for its intricacy. Strongly recommended. (Honestly? I wish their Celebration Winter Ale had been half as interesting as this, and that's a style that's supposed to bowl you over.)

Rating: 7.5

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[2006.05.06 - 11:50 P.M.]

The Natural: I had to spend the first twenty minutes adjusting the gain on my Cheese Filter, but after that I found this to be a highly enjoyable Sports Movie. Redford's Roy Hobbs character starts off annoyingly naive but matures (after a 15-year fast-forward) into a wise, heroic and likeable protagonist. The bad guys are a little tired, but oh well. Bottom line? Predictable at times, sure, but well done.

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[2006.05.06 - 03:00 P.M.]

If you wanna go and take a ride wit me / Two-wheelin' on the Trek with the drop handles / Oh why do I tour this way? / (Hey, s'posed to be sunny!)

Here I sit with an incredibly sore ass, every last molecule of energy sapped from my being, barely able to hold my head up. Went for a little bike ride this mornin', you see. Had to get up really early to disperse fertilizer/weed killer and then see Tracy off to work. Rather than go back to sleep, I figured, hey, it's beautiful out, I've got the next four hours to myself, time to go for a nice, long, hard ride.

Bike Ride Map 05-06 As for you -- oh, thou luckiest of blog readers -- well, you get to come along for the ride without the ensuing ass-ache. First, you'll need to consult a map, which I have provided for you at left (click on any image to see a full-size version). Started out in Weatogue around 9:30 AM. Mix of sun and clouds, temps in the low sixties. Headed northwest towards Barkhamsted. Destination: The Barkhamsted Dam.

Know this about cycling in Connecticut: Direction is everything. The geography here, especially west of the Connecticut River, is best described as a series of ridges and valleys that run north to south. If you pick a north-south route, staying within the confines of a single such valley, you can ride for miles and miles on end with very little effort, breezing past the occasional ripple in the landscape, the pavement carrying you along, supporting a steady cadence. If you pick an east-west route, on the other hand, well, then you're kinda fucked.

I pondered this fact as I started up route 309 (not labeled - it's the northern leg of the route) headed out of Simsbury. I had driven out this way once or twice -- not far, or at least certainly not as far as I intended to go today -- and I vaguely recalled some sharp curves and a few minor hills, but nothing that really stood out in my memory as daunting. Oh my, was I mistaken. Funny thing about the bike experience versus the car experience. Geography, slope, elevation? They don't register a whole lot when you're driving. But, man, when you've got to do it under your own power, it's a different story entirely. The first "little hill" I came to was roughly a mile long. As it twisted and wound past an odd, heterogeneous mix of new McMansions and old ranch homes, I heard muffled complaints emerge from the legs of my cycling shorts. "Hey! What is this shit? This is no Rails-to-Trails path! What are you doin' to us, dude?!" Ah, yes. Hello, quads. Hello, hamstrings. Howahhya? This muted cacophony was short-lived, however, as my labored breathing quickly drowned it out.

Finally having crested this mini-monster, I coasted down into what I believe is West Simsbury and merged onto route 179. For a few miles, this was easy going. Even got a bit of a second wind. But then, in the near distance, I spied another rise. Oh, fucking hell. Up we go. Downshift. And up. Downshift again. And around a curve and... up. Grrrr. Drop to the climbing gears. Dum de dum, still going up. Downshift more. Running out of gears. Speed: 5.5 mph. Yes, hi, guy going by in his SUV. Yes, I'm OK. Why, this is my face's normal color. Up. Another curve and... OH COME THE FUCK ON ALREADY! You gotta be shitting me! More UP?! Still going. Alternating a pedal stand with sitting to keep my momentum. Speed: 4.7 mph. Hey, how's it going, cyclist headed the other way? Gravity-assisted dickhead. Up and... Finally.

Weather Report: Know how I said it was partly sunny? Now, not so much. The clouds are spitting on me. Low sixties doesn't feel so warm anymore without sunlight on my skin. And as I pick up speed coasting down into East Barkhamsted, I find that a thirty mph wind on a sweat-soaked shirt in 60 degree temperatures with rain is, um, kinda uncomfortable. No matter, though. I have conquered Hell Mountain of the Fuckmeuptheass Range. I am mighty. I will persevere. (Oh shit! Rain! I just put broad-leaf weed killer down! It wasn't supposed to rain today, dammit! Grrrr.)

Route 219. About FACE! Headed southwest now. This is Connecticut in microcosm. There are no roads that go due east-west. If you want to go that way, you have to zig-zag, like tacking against the wind in a sailboat, only you're tacking against the terrain. I hit a few more climbs -- nothing like what I've already been through -- and then settle in for the long descent to the reservoir and Barkhamsted Dam. Still feel cold, but fuck it, I'm flying now. I can feel the endorphins romping through my system. Ha ha! I'm the King of the World! (Note: If future film directors find this and decide to make a movie of my life, do not have Leonardo DiCaprio play me. I will come back from the dead and fuck your shit up.) Coasting down the hill, I keep one hand on my rear brake lever at all times, dumping velocity occasionally, eyes glued about 15 feet in front of the bike looking for holes, bumps, or foreign objects. When I was a teenager? I'd have been hammering away in my highest gear, caution to the wind, trying to set a new land speed record. Not so much anymore. I speed cautiously now.

Toast at the Barkhamsted Dam Ah, finally, here we are. Oh, come on, what were you expecting? The Grand Cooley? Toast at the Barkhamsted Dam On the left, there I am, taking a breather on the walkway out to the dam's operator tower. On the right is a view down the far side of the dam. You can see the channel where they let the water through. I don't believe this dam generates any power, by the way. Just for regulating the Barkhamsted Reservoir. (Based on the shape, I'm wondering, would this be considered an "ogee weir"?) The hard part of the ride is over at this point. I'll be sticking to the shoreline of Lake McDonough between here and New Hartford, then taking Route 44 most of the way back home, which is a major state highway and therefore pretty well graded. Oh, and, good news: Despite the pounding from the hilly terrain, my knees didn't act up. For the last ten years or so my biggest limiting factor with cycling has been knee pain, and steep hills used to aggravate them the most. But so far? Nothing. I'm guessing my leg muscles and associated tendons are a hell of a lot stronger now, after 16 months of Karate. Yet another fringe benefit of the discipline.

OK, enough slacking. Off we go. The road around Lake McDonough could certainly use some paving, but, hey, at least it's flat. Some Cows Stopped to say hello to these two guys a few miles down the road. Someone help me out here: Are those cows? Bulls? Whatever they are, I think they're the eating kind. But, for now, existing peacefully. Moo, yo. New Hartford Onward to New Hartford, where we shall come about and set a course for home! What's New Hartford like, you ask? Here you go. It's a typical small Connecticut country town. A cute little place. And I was actually thinking, as I rode along past various town greens, that the state of Connecticut should make that the new motto on our license plates. "Connecticut: What a Cute Little Place!" I considered stopping at the New Hartford Dunkin' Donuts for a Boston Creme -- cycle fuel, you know? -- but I controlled myself. Plenty of calories to be had later in the day, thank you.

Continuing down route 44 now, I come to State Park 666, aka Satan's Kingdom State Recreational Area. Satan's Kingdom Many are the times that I have driven by this particular sign in pure wonderment. How in the hell do you name a state park "Satan's Kingdom"? I am baffled, and yet I am always filled with joy to see this sign. I've worn a pentagram since I was, like, 16, see. Long story. My frat brothers used to joke that I was a Devil Worshipper. So having this park less than ten miles from my home? Destiny. Tracy and I really do need to go hiking there sometime. By the way, no, that's not a double chin. Just my helmet strap playing tricks on the camera. No, seriously. (Actually, it's hard to tell from the way it came out, but I was trying to do an angry face and make heavy-metal horns. Stupid self-timer snapped it too early.) Farmington River Back on the road again. That's the Farmington River you're looking at. The River of Ubiquity, it winds through much of northwestern Connecticut, zigging and zagging 'twixt the aforementioned valleys. It's everywhere. I once had a commute where I crossed it four times. Just an odd little wanderer. The river, that is. Route 44 in Avon And here we are, at long last, back in civilization. Just take in that handlebar view, would you? Riding down the busy four lane, but I ain't skeered. My suburban cycling kung fu is strong. You grow up around Boston, you learn how to command your little shoulder of the road, fending off crazy-ass drivers of all kinds. The ones that tag along behind you forever, afraid to pass, who then finally swing all the way over into the other lane to creep by you lest you get sucked into their wake. The ones that seem to take perverse joy in flying past you inches away, like you're not even there. And then, of course, the idiots who think it's high comedy to beep repeatedly or shout stuff out the window to startle you. "Haw haw! Made you jump! You're on a bike! You're stoopid!" You know, all kinds.

Here we are, then. You are now entering the Shire. The Shire Tell me that sign doesn't look like it was made by hobbits. Just under two miles left now. I'm finally feeling it. Shoulders are sore. Legs are nearly limp. I've got a nice coating of road grime. Just need to push on a little bit further. Third ride of the season, and this was a pretty respectable one. With five of the next six weekends booked, I needed to get out there and put some miles on the odometer. So I'm happy. Wicked sore, but happy. Final Stats:

(Note: To give you an idea of what I'm talking about with the east-west terrain versus the north-south terrain, my typical average speed is 3 mph higher when I stay with the latter type of route.)

Helmet HairOh, and one last thing: I have Helmet Hair. Resembles ridges and valleys. Appropriate.


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[2006.05.05 - 06:30 P.M.]

I am drinking a Pulco. This is a drink Tracy discovered online that is comprised of Tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. It is a very... puckery... drink. But, hey, we're trying to get in the spirit of things here at Casa De Toast.

A few crumbs for you from the toaster oven.

First, Porter Goss has resigned as the head of the CIA for undisclosed reasons. I hear it has something to do with gay hookers and cigars, but I'm just a crazed lefty blogger, so what do I know?

Second, Richard Cohen is a tool. Not just any tool, either. Something gas- or compressed-air-powered. The kind of tool that's so fucking big you rent it instead of buying your own. See, Cohen didn't think Stephen Colbert was funny, he thought he was rude. He's right, too. Somebody should have slipped Stephen the memo that says when you're standing five feet away from a man who is responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and the faltering economic fortunes of untold millions, you're not supposed to spit in his face, you're supposed to lick his balls.

Oh, shit. That was rude too. Crass, even.

Third, Hey, ABC! Tracy and I loved Sons & Daughters. So what's with this "The next episode has not yet been scheduled" crap? Don't you even think about canceling that show. You know how often I actually find a sitcom I enjoy? About once a decade, that's how often.

Fourth, yesterday's Question of the Day at Shakes' place: "What issue—political, cultural, legal, whatever—do you think never gets as much coverage as it needs/deserves in the mainstream media and/or the blogosphere?"

I think I was the 49th (or so) person to answer that question. I answered "Global Warming". I was the first person on the board with that entry. That is some fucked up shit, yo. There's a lot of evil shit humans are doing to each other on this planet, but in terms of magnitude, nothing warrants our consideration more than the threat of anthropogenic catastrophic climate change. ("Anthropogenic". I am one bad sesquipedalian mothuhfucka.)

Fifth, apparently, some people think thirty-something guys who dig twenty-something chicks are creeeeepy.

Sixth, did I mention that this drink is tart?

Seventh, this is now my favorite Yankees site. These guys pull no punches. (Thanks, Fridge)

Eighth, speaking of the Yanks, how about Johnny Damon hitting a grand slam down at Tropicana field last night? Nice to see that some of Steinbrenner's big-name off-season acquisitions don't get shrinkage the second they put on the pinstripes (coughUnitcough).

Ninth... Pizza's here! Gotta run.

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[2006.05.05 - 07:45 A.M.]

And the season just keeps grinding on. These last few weeks, it's started to feel like we're watching repeats. Once again, Terry wins individual immunity (5 straight!!!). Once again, he fails to form an alliance with one or more of the remaining Casaya lunatics. I'll say this: He's got Outplay and Outlast nailed down. Not sure about Outwit though.

Last night, Shane got voted off. If you'd told me half a dozen episodes ago that I'd find this a bittersweet experience, I'd have laughed in your face. But I have to admit, the guy's grown on me a bit. Part of it is that he seems like less of a psycho now (who would think Survivor could mellow a guy?) and part of it is that one by one his Casaya tribemates have revealed themselves to be raging egotistical assholes.

At the top of that list right now is Aras. What a whiny, spoiled, annoying twit. I loved it when Terry tweaked him with the "just a Mom" comment last night and Aras got all self-righteous about how his Mom was his "rock" and she meant just as much to him as Terry's wife did to Terry. Enormous entertainment value just watching both of their facial expressions, Aras looking like he's about to come unhinged and Terry barely able to suppress his laughter at the psychological discomfort he's causing. Oh, and Aras, buddy, you're high if you think a parent can match a spouse for emotional closeness. High or maybe just a little bit of a Momma's Boy.

The good news is, by my count, things are looking awfully good for Terry right now. With the secret idol still stashed away, he's got himself at least down to the final three. All he has to do is win one more immunity challenge and he's locked into the final two and ready to face the jury. At that point, he'll have the two ex-La Mina members' votes, plus I figure he'll have Shane and Courtney's votes, since they've both been royally screwed over by their Casaya alliance buddies in successive weeks. He might have Bruce's vote too. Hard to tell. As for his eventual competition, it looks like it'll just be Aras, Danielle and Cirie voting for each other. The Loser's Club. Fitting.

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[2006.05.04 - 08:20 P.M.]

Despite the fact that Tracy and I have had our DVR for over a year now -- plenty of time to acclimate to the new technology -- I still refer to the act of recording a program on it as "taping". I wonder how long that weird little bit of anachronistic language will hang around for?

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[2006.05.03 - 05:45 P.M.]

Haven't commented on the ongoing illegal immigration debate discussion uprising brou-ha-ha yet ("brou-ha-ha?" Sure, go with it). You're probably not wondering why, but I'm going to tell you anyhow: I was hoping the subject would go away. Really. I find this whole thing annoying on so many levels.

Let's start with the self-styled "pro-immigrant" protesters and my fellow liberals who love them, OK? I'm sorry, but at what point did this argument become about immigrants and immigration in general? Nobody -- well, nobody who should be taken seriously -- has an issue with immigrants who are here legally, either on a temporary basis or because they're on their way to citizenship. Some people do, however, think illegal immigration is a problem that needs to be addressed. Agree with them or not (I don't), that is the question. It strikes me as dishonest to try to elide the problematic nature of illegal immigrants' legal status by focusing on the broader issue of immigration generally. Yeah, I get it: My ancestors were immigrants once too. But you know what? They checked in at the front desk, thanks, so spare me the self-righteous attitude. The fact is that these "undocumented workers" -- and is that ever a heavy-handed bit of linguistic framing -- are here in violation of U.S. immigration law. Maybe we need to change that law. Maybe we need to change the economic incentives that lure them into breaking that law. I don't know. I do know that I'm tired of being lectured to about the glorious character of immigrants as a class, as if that somehow excuses the illegal status of the specific few.

That said, far worse than all the "pro-immigrant" posturing on the left is the din on the right about the Great Illegal Immigrant Threat. Give me a fucking break already. Ugh. From right-wing bloggers getting all high and mighty with their calls to "Round 'Em Up and Ship 'Em Out" to the jackass winger radio jocks working their knuckle-dragging listeners into a frothing frenzy over them durn brown people from south of the border who are coming to steal your job and suck up your tax dollars. The manipulation is just so goddamned transparent. For just how many more centuries do you think the lower economic classes in this country will allow the rich to play them off against the latest Out Group? First it was Native Americans, then it was freed Black slaves, then it was the Chinese. Jesus Christ on a crutch. Slow learners much? What sort of cowardice is it that makes a person turn around at the behest of the wealthy and piss all over those just one step below him on the economic ladder? Of all the recurring pathologies that have plagued America from before its founding to the present day, that one has to be the most disgusting to watch.

But you know what? What's really got me annoyed as all hell about the Immigration Debate of 2006 is the fact that we're having it at all. Three months ago immigration -- illegal or otherwise -- wouldn't have cracked any person on the street's Top 10 list of Problems Facing America. But the Right Wing Noise Machine needed something to distract everyone from the collapsing presidency of George the Dumber and the festering wounds of corruption that have left their party looking gangrenous in the public eye, and so here we all are talking about illegal immigration as if that were the biggest problem facing this fucked up nation of ours. How do they do it? Why do we let them do it? Illegal immigration? Yeah, let me just set aside some time to freak out over that between wondering if the NSA is tapping my phone lines, pondering the fact that George Bush has usurped the power of all three branches of government, and trying to guess when the lunatics in Cheney's office are going to start World War III with Iran. Fucking illegal fucking immigration. Yeah, that's an important topic.

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[2006.05.01 - 05:15 P.M.]

Is it physically possible to use Super Glue without getting any on your skin?

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[2006.05.01 - 04:30 P.M.]

Tonight, at 7:05 PM Eastern Standard Time, the Greatest Rivalry in Sports* will be renewed as the New York Yankees visit the Boston Red Sox. (*Yes, it is. Don't even waste the keystrokes trying to make the case for any lesser pairing.) For our part, Tracy and I will be on the couch, beer and hotdogs in hand, rooting for the good guys (hint: they'll be the ones wearing the road uniforms).

The big question, of course -- the one that's been hyped at a fever pitch for several days now -- is "Johnny Damon: Will They Boo Him or Will They Cheer Him?" Damon, once accorded god-like status in Boston, is returning to the city that loved him to face the club that showed him no love last November when he was negotiating a new contract. Shorn of his legendary locks, clean-shaven and sporting the Yankee logo atop his formidable brow, he awaits, along with the rest of the sports world, the verdict of Red Sox Nation.

Will they cheer and honor the man who played such a crucial role in ending their 85 years of torture?

Or will they lustily boo the man many of them see as the love child of Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold?

Here's my prediction: Tonight, at approximately 7:10 PM, as Damon walks out to the plate, I'll be able to walk over and open my window in Weatogue, Connecticut and hear the boos and cat-calls from all the way up in Boston. I mean, come on, people. These are Red Sox fans. Bitter, angry, paranoid people. Not known for their class either. Does anyone really believe they'll cheer a man who left them for - gasp! - the Evil Empire? Please. I will be shocked beyond belief if that occurs. And I'll come right back here and apologize to them all. Promise.

Not holding my breath though.

As for the actual baseball games to be played tonight and tomorrow, I like our chances. The Yankees smoothed things out nicely during the home stand and now occupy the top slot in the AL East standings (albeit only percentage points ahead of Boston). The bats have been running a little hot and cold, true, but they seem to be learning how to win those games where they don't score a dozen runs. And our pitching's been a very pleasant surprise. At the moment, the Yankees pitchers have a combined ERA of 3.65, good enough for second in the American League and a whole lot better than many of their panic head fans (coughAngeloscough) were predicting a few weeks back. Meanwhile, the Red Sox seem to be in a bit of a funk. So here's hoping. Sure would be nice to see Damon's return be a triumphant one.

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[2006.05.01 - 07:45 A.M.]

And I ran, I ran so far a-way-ay-ayyyyy
But Iran was the Bad Guy of the Day-ay-ayyyyy
I couldn't get away

No, seriously, if I hear one more fucking thing about Iran I'm just going to start randomly swinging at people. God, what a fucking joke. Yesterday, the banner on Headline News read:

"NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN?"

I didn't know whether to laugh or puke. Is this how far we've fallen as a "super-power" -- is this how desperate our need for a Boogeyman Fix has become -- that we have to turn some shit-dick country like Iran with a half-assed nuclear program into the new U.S.S.R.? Nuclear showdown indeed. Please.

And just now, on NPR, I hear some administration flack discussing why the U.S. absolutely must take a hard line with Iran as opposed to taking a more diplomatic approach:

"We don't negotiate with evil."

I just started screaming at the shower radio "Shut the fuck UP, you fucking CHILD." I mean, do these people think we're all in grade school or something? We don't negotiate with Eeeeeee-vil. What the fuck. Dear Tools: In the interest of nuclear non-proliferation, we negotiate with whoever the fuck circumstances dictate we have to negotiate with. Sorry if that puts a crimp in your Captain Marvel pose, but grow the fuck up already.

How many days until these pathetic, posturing morons are out of office again? I think I might need to add one of those countdown timers to the site just so I can keep track at all times. Might be the ticket to sanity.

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