Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hail Gutenberg!

According to Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac, today in 1455 the first Gutenberg Bible was printed. All readers, myself included, should raise a glass today in recognition of the ol' German who made it all possible.

When people tell me they can't imagine how I do all the reading that I do, I usually reply that I can't imagine not doing it. Reading is like breathing for me.

Stolen from Shoebox Blog

"Barack Obama has been accused of plagiarizing some lines in his speeches. Admit it, Barack, that "Yes we can" line is totally stolen from Bob the Builder!"


Children are basically a tremendous waste of time.

Except Simon.

Friday, February 22, 2008

You and I

February 22, 2008

Apparently, there was an article in a local paper bemoaning the presence of pharmacy technicians and (some of) their lack of training. Well, guess what? In this country we have decided, for better or for worse, that health care is going to be a for profit entity. Don’t whine when business act like, well, businesses-try to get maximum profit while minimizing cost.

I’m rereading Bill James as part of my preseason psych up for baseball. He had an observation on the early and mid 1980s Red Sox teams-they got old and decayed together while management kept trying to recapture 1975. I thought about that in lieu of Boston’s 2004 and 2007 teams, and how much turnover there was between those two teams.

2004: 2007:
C-Varitek C-Varitek
1B-Mientkiewicz 1B-Youkilis
2B-Bellhorn 2B-Pedroia
SS-Cabrera SS-Lugo
3B-Mueller 3B-Lowell
OF-Manny OF-Manny
OF-Damon OF-Ellsbury
OF-Nixon OF-Drew
SP-Schilling SP-Beckett
SP-Lowe SP-Dice K
SP-Martinez SP-Schilling
RP-Foulke RP-Papelbon

The ruthlessness with which Boston trims the tree and removes deadwood is not romantic, but it is effective. This is perhaps, a reflection of a stat minded mindset-while we appreciate your skills in ways that more traditional teams might not, we cull you relentlessly when you start to slip, or hopefully, just before then. That’s showbiz.

Michelle Obama apparently stepped in it when she said she was proud of her country now “for the first time”. Hillary, of course, wasted no times in proclaiming that she has “always” been proud of her country, and Cindy McCain, who seems like a basket of neuroses in her own right, piled on as well.

Well, America has done a lot of things we aren’t, and shouldn’t be, proud of in the last fifty years. (I have to assume Michelle is in her fifties. I’m pretty sure Barack is 60, or thereabouts. I could look it up, but my company is run by retarded chimpanzees, so we don’t have internet access.) I don’t know exactly how to measure such things, but it can be convincingly argued that race relations in this country are close to being as good as they have ever been. To borrow a phrase from the late Kurt Vonnegut, it used to be pretty much completely acceptable for people to hang black people from trees if they looked at a white woman the wrong way. It was illegal, but it was damn hard to get caught, and even more prosecuted, doing it. That isn’t true anymore.
There are still racists around, of course-at one of my previous jobs, some semievolved simian used to leave White Power publications in the waiting room. It made me angry at first, and then just kind of sad. It’s like the Chris Rock line about women who won’t engage in oral sex- “They still MAKE you?” That kind of white power-America first crap is not just wrong and immoral, it is deeply irrelevant, discarded decades ago into the dustbin of history. It takes a special kind of delusion to look at the world around you and believe firstly, that white men aren’t still in charge, and secondly, that, since they’re not, it would be a better world if they were. Racists have lost the power to intimidate, and now we just kind of pity them. It’s like someone still believing in voodoo, or being afraid of electricity, or getting ready to open a buggy whip manufacturing plant.

Podcasts finally done with, onto the music:

“Could I’ve Been So Blind”, Black Crowes, Shake your Moneymaker

Another album and group that I keep forgetting how much I love. Yeah, they’re derivative. So what.

“Pride (In The Name of Love)(LIVE)” U2, Rattle and Hum

I’m hardly a U2 fanboy, but I loved Rattle and Hum.

Rattle and Hum, IIRC, was released 21 years ago.


“For the Reverend Martin Luther King, sing!”

Ever notice how right wingers always swing about and bring up King’s infidelities and supposed Communist leanings whenever anything positive is brought up about him? Aside from simply confusing the issue, which they love to do, (they can’t attack his beliefs or values, so they attack the man) they do this to deflect the fact that Christianity, which they love to wrap themselves in, teaches that you do for others first. Which goes against their deepest value, which is love of Mammon.

“I Should Tell You,” Rent

This musical still breaks my heart every time I listen to it. The loss of its composer, whose name escapes me at this moment, seems more and more tragic with each day.

“Here Comes The Sun”, The Beatles, Abbey Road

I used to sing the chorus of this song when the local paper, the Lowell Sun, arrived at my first job. People usually didn’t get it.

“A Room of Our Own(Live)”, Billy Joel, 12 Gardens Live

One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite neglected album sides, Side Two of The Nylon Curtain. Kind of like Side Two of Zeppelin IV, the mega hits are on Side One, both with one neglected classic (“Laura” and “Battle of Evermore”) among the bigger songs (“Allentown”, “Pressure”, “Goodnight Saigon” and “Black Dog”, “Rock and Roll”, “Stairway to Heaven”) And in both cases, Side Two is full of good stuff that for years I never heard because of rewinding Side One over and over again.

“Daniel”, Wilson Phillips, Two Rooms

My wife has never stopped making fun of me for having Wilson Phillips among my CDs when I married her.

Yeah, I bought it. So what?

“Rain King”, Counting Crows, Across a Wire

One of the CDs I bought with my Best Buy gift card from Christmas. I really loved the first Counting Crows record.

“Come On In My Kitchen”, Eric Clapton, Me and Mr. Johnson

Some people still get mad at people like Eric Clapton for “stealing” the blues from guys like Robert Johnson. Say what you will, but if it weren’t for his efforts, I would have never heard as many Robert Johnson songs as I have.

“Marathon(Live)”, Rush, A Show of Hands

Not my favorite Rush song. “The Pass” or “War Paint” is probably my favorite Rush song.

My wife hates Rush, because she believes they broke up her friends’ marriage. It’s a little more complicated than that.

“I Will Follow(Live)”, U2, Under a Blood Red Sky

A great riff. A GREAT riff. Very reminiscent of their very first albums and shows, a very punky, small club kind of vibe.

“I’ve Loved These Days (Live)” Billy Joel, Songs from the Attic

A very sad, wistful song. Describes how I feel a striking amount of the time.

“(Just Like) Starting Over”, John Lennon, The John Lennon Collection

No, I didn’t buy the studio albums. So sue me.
Supposedly, he had the tapes for this song in his hands when he was shot. Creepy.

"You and I (Reprise)", Chess

The saddest final two lines I've ever heard:

"And we'll go on pretending...
Stories like ours, have happy endings..."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Outrage!

Obviously, the wrong baby was selected.


is the cutest baby in the world.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A few words from the master

"What I do know is that this belonging and caring is what our games are all about;this is what we come for. It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look-I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring-caring deeply and passionately, really caring-which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete-the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball-seems a small price to pay for such a gift."

-Roger Angell

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Drinks Are On Me

February 19, 2008

Listened to a fascinating Justice Talking today about policing and crime. Apparently the mayor of Philadelphia is beefing up a stop and frisk program in the city, which is actually a neat analogy to the question about government surveillance of telephone calls and emails.

Part of me channels my Grandma Ruth, who always said that, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. Check my emails and IMs (and blog) all you want-you’ll find lots of inappropriate remarks and poorly written editorials, but no criminal activity. Similarly, search me today, tomorrow, next week-I won’t have a gun.

Yet another part of me says, wait a second. I am a goddamn American citizen, and that used to mean that, if you’re going to pry into my person, papers, or effects, you need a good reason-and you need to go before a judge and give them that reason before you do it. I have a right to be left alone. If you think I’m doing something wrong, get some evidence and prove it to a judge.

Would that have prevented officials from stopping 9/11? Hell no. Many of the plotters were here on EXPIRED STUDENT VISAS. I hate to sound like the NRA, but how about we prove we can use the powers and laws we already have before we go fishing for another one.

Another big NBA trade-JKidd to the Mavs. Aside from paving the way to an Eastern Conference Finals date between the Pistons and Celtics, this further strengthens the West at the expense of the East. JKidd, Shaq, Timmy, Kobe, Gasol, AK47? Phew, it’s going to be a battle out there.

Curt Schilling’s situation is very interesting. Apparently, some doctors are arguing surgery, and some are not. He is leaning towards surgery, and apparently the Sox doctors are saying he can get by without it. It would be a shame to face a postseason run without the Big Schill, but with Josh Beckett turning into Cy Young Part II when the big lights come on, maybe we don’t need him that much.

I wonder if Schilling makes the HOF if things stay as they are? Postseason heroics are one thing, but Don Larsen isn’t a Hall of Famer. My gut feeling is he doesn’t make it, but I don’t thing it’s a miscarriage of justice if he does. Addie Joss did, after all.

Curt never buys a drink in Boston, that’s for sure.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Time's Makin Changes

Listened to KCRW's "Left, Right and Center" today. A lot of discussion about the Democratic race, contrasting what seems to be the Clinton team argument that, though Obama is inspiring, it's not pretty words that get things done, it's hard work.

I will certainly vote for Clinton if she gets the nomination, but you know what? I know something else that doesn't get things done-doing things the same old way we fucking have.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Take It To The Limit

February 17, 2008

It feels sometimes like I have the reverse Midas touch-everything I touch turns to shit. I’ve had this feeling since I was young. I remember being vaguely ashamed of my family whenever I went anywhere with them. Now I get to inspire those same feelings in my own child. Oh boy.

The last two Car Talk podcasts have failed before completely downloading. That sucks. I can’t really complain, since it’s free, but it still sucks.

The arguing about FISA is really silly. I expect nothing less from the lawless brigands who run this government, so it doesn’t provoke anything more than a sigh, really. But the level of their outright lying are breathtaking, nevertheless.

If FISA expires, nothing changes. Lawful wiretapping can, and will, still continue. Is it so bloody awful to ask a judge and do things the right way? Is it so impossible to ask the government to obey the frickin’ law?

A brilliant Studio 360 this week, “The Lincoln Memorial”. I keep subscribing, week after week, and usually it is stuff I’m not smart enough to understand or just don’t care about. Then they hit one out of the park like this week. Wow. Brilliant. All about the memorial itself, and who Lincoln was, and who he wasn’t, and all the historical and pop culture versions of him.

Being a melancholic, I feel a deep sympathy for Lincoln, how terribly the burdens must have felt with all that death surrounding him. Everything he did was divisive and controversial and difficult, and you get the feeling that he agonized over each decision. He lost a son, too-who knows how much worse that made everything.

I’m playing fantasy baseball again with the members of the BoSox List. I’m lousy at it, partially because I don’t spend enough time on it, and partially because I’m just lousy at it. I’ve already de-Yankified my selections list, so that I won’t find myself rooting for a New York Yankee at any point this year. That’s irrational, but I don’t care.

"All alone at the end of the evening..."