Saturday, September 12, 2009


Yeah, Drabble.

Peter DeWolf, who is an excellently excellent blogger I just stumbled across, had a contest for "Drabble"-a work of fiction of exactly 100 words. The theme is "Love".

Hell, I can do that.

The contest is over, but I've never been a fan of rules, so here goes:

"She looked at him from across the room, clearing the table while he watched. He was sitting there, absorbed in the baseball game, his face lit twice, by the TV screen and the laptop in front of him. He was tending towards flab, the way the husbands did in their circle. She was no prize either, she had to admit. Did he know? Probably not. It was over between them-the kids and her husband need never know. It was good to feel alive again, but it was also good to breathe without fear. She was sad. She wasn't sure why."

Remember what I said about the world not coming to an end? Forget it.

The indomitable Dan Carlin assaulted my ears again today. I have dropped several podcasts (No Agenda, I'm looking at you...) over the years not out of concerns about their content, but out of a general sense that, however true their message, my fragile psyche just couldn't take their message.

Dan Carlin had another whopper that I listened to today, and it has me in a funk.

Dan's theme was about the 60s, and specifically the hoary old cliche, "Turn on, tune in, drop out". Dan asks if you would be better off, given the perilous state of the United States today, simply dropping out-not voting, not paying attention to it. Giving up-live your life, pay your taxes, but otherwise just stay the heck out of things.

George Carlin on voting and civic participation:

If you've read me for any length of time, you probably have guessed that I am a bedwetting liberal. A namby pamby, granola eating, latte drinking, Volvo driving, wine and cheese party neo-Communist socialist Red. You're mostly right about that.

While reading through some of my archives, I realized the startling depths of my antipathy for President Bush. I knew I wasn't fond of him, but golly gee, I REALLY wasn't fond of him. As a consequence, nearly anything Obama does gets 20% of a free pass from me, because at least he's not Bush-I have a baseline assumption of rationality and good sense that I did not have for the actions of the previous president.

I get very defensive about criticisms of the current President. Partially that is due to reflexive "my guy" sympathies, partially it is the unprecedented hurricane of fail he was presented with in January(ie even FDR, Lincoln and Truman working together would be challenged by the current mess) , and partially it is the above assumption of good faith. I'm trying to get over that.

Dan's thesis in this episode was basically that we're all doomed, and, what's worse, there's nothing you can do about it. I am afraid he may have a point.

You don't need me to tell you about the numerous crises-fiscal, and military, and educational, and energy-related, and on, and on, and on...

"Cut taxes and spending", the right cries, while when in office, they actually did one of the two. "Give people a hand up," the left cries, while 40 years of trying has not ended poverty. And, as time goes on, and the problem gets worse, our representatives kick the can down the road, refusing to cut spending or raise taxes, blaming the other guy, running for reelection in the organized system of bribery we call an election.

William Pfaff on elections and money:

"The contributors of money to Senate and House campaigns are dominated by the source of that money, and the source of the money is the United States government, which directs it to them as a result of the contracts awarded to them by the House and Senate members whose election they support. The process is circular."

Exactly. They're never going to do anything unpopular, and the money is going to keep sloshing around and around. The plutocrats will whine that they have to pay any taxes at all, and the lefties will whine that we can't possibly cut THAT program, it is CRITICAL.

When my jovial foe DMarks says something about government being the enemy, or the problem, I usually tell him it's his government, and he should change it. But sometimes I think he's half right. Government isn't the problem. We are.

We are selfish, spoiled children, who want everything in the store but want to pay for none of it. We want to cut government spending, but not for the fighter project that brings jobs to my neighborhood. We want to cut taxes, too, apparently expecting the fighter to be paid for with unicorn hair.

The Day The Music Industry Died

Blogger Anil Dash on the death of the record company.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Andrew Sulllivan on 9/11

Andrew Sullivan on 9/11.


Duh. In one of the great "No kidding" moments in recent times, Michael Jordan goes into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts today.

I'm Stupider Than You, Part One

BORDERS LADY: Can I help you?

ME: Yeah, I don't see those special remastered Beatles CDs that were supposed to come out last week.

BL: They might be over there (points to the enormous Beatles display inside the front door, featuring the video games, all of the CDs, posters, t shirts, messenger bags, calendars, biographies, lunchboxes, and clocks)

ME: Oh. (shuffles away sheepishly)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How Comcast got its groove back

Nobody loves big business, but I just have to share the following story. I arrived at my mother's house on Monday to hear about a problem she was having with Comcast. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that it was annoying, but not fatal. I remembered that Frank Eliason of Comcast is on Twitter, and have heard that he will intervene to solve customer issues.

So I sent him a Tweet, figuring that some time on Tuesday he would get back to me. Frank immediately got back to me, and gave me an email address to use. I used it to send my complaint in, and within 24 HOURS, on a HOLIDAY WEEKEND, Frank and Comcast had my mother's problem fixed.

Needless to say, my flabber was well and truly gasted. Huzzah to Comcast, and huzzah to Frank (@comcastcares) for representing his company so well. And if you're having an issue with Comcast, why don't you get on Twitter and get in touch with Frank? He certainly helped me.

Game 139: Better Late Than Never

Last night, Paul Byrd was, as they say, good enough for government work, pitching 5 adequate innings. But the Orioles tied the score at 4 off of Manny Delcarmen, who has become as reliable as...uh....something unreliable, and it took a 3 run pinch double from VMart to put this one into the win column, 7-5.

Shameless Self Promotion

The title links to an essay by 'lil ol me at The Baseball Chronicle.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Game 138: With great vengeance, and furious anger...

...the Red Sox did smite the Orioles of Baltimore yesterday, scoring 10 while allowing no visitors to dent the dish. Great, long home runs were struck not once, not twice, but five full times-our men DP and Youk, the suddenly offensively minded Alex Gonzalez, Sir JD of Drew, and the Large Father, finishing things off with an awesome clout into the bleachers in center field.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health Care Stories

This is a story of living without health insurance. And so is this, and this, and so is this. So all these people, and all the tens of millions of others, are passing up health insurance so they can drive their Jaguars to their summer homes?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Game 137: And then, there was silence...

After a lone first inning run, Chicago's Mark Buerhle shut down the Red Sox, and 5, being a larger number than 1, put the Red Sox on the losing side once again.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Game 136: The chips? They were down. Time to call Big Jon.

Jon Lester once again showed himself to be the single reliable starting pitcher on the Red Sox, throwing 7 innings of four hit, shutout ball. Home runs from Mike Lowell, American Hero, and V Mart provided the juice, and Billy Wags, Danny Ocean, and the Lord of the Dance locked down a 6-1 win in Chicago today.

Free Speech For Thee, But Not For Me

This is an interesting case, also mentioned on Bill Moyers' show this week. The Supreme Court is taking up a case arguing about whether or not the government can regulate political speech. As shameful as the result may be, I feel that First Amendment freedoms are absolute and must be protected, even though I do fear the speech of real citizens being crowded out by corporate speech.

Bill Moyers on Health Care

"The editors of THE ECONOMIST magazine say America's health care debate has become a touch delirious, with people accusing each other of being evil-mongers, dealers in death, and un-American.

Well, that's charitable.

I would say it's more deranged than delirious, and definitely not un-American.

Those crackpots on the right praying for Obama to die and be sent to hell — they're the warp and woof of home-grown nuttiness. So is the creature from the Second Amendment who showed up at the President's rally armed to the teeth. He's certainly one of us. Red, white, and blue kooks are as American as apple pie and conspiracy theories.

Bill Maher asked me on his show last week if America is still a great nation. I should have said it's the greatest show on earth. Forget what you learned in civics about the Founding Fathers — we're the children of Barnum and Bailey, our founding con men. Their freak show was the forerunner of today's talk radio.

Speaking of which: we've posted on our website an essay by the media scholar Henry Giroux. He describes the growing domination of hate radio as one of the crucial elements in a "culture of cruelty" increasingly marked by overt racism, hostility and disdain for others, coupled with a simmering threat of mob violence toward any political figure who believes health care reform is the most vital of safety nets, especially now that the central issue of life and politics is no longer about working to get ahead, but struggling simply to survive.

So here we are, wallowing in our dysfunction. Governed — if you listen to the rabble rousers — by a black nationalist from Kenya smuggled into the United States to kill Sarah Palin's baby. And yes, I could almost buy their belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, only I think he shipped them to Washington, where they've been recycled as lobbyists and trained in the alchemy of money laundering, which turns an old-fashioned bribe into a First Amendment right.

Only in a fantasy capital like Washington could Sunday morning talk shows become the high church of conventional wisdom, with partisan shills treated as holy men whose gospel of prosperity always seems to boil down to lower taxes for the rich.

Poor Obama. He came to town preaching the religion of nice. But every time he bows politely, the harder the Republicans kick him.

No one's ever conquered Washington politics by constantly saying "pretty please" to the guys trying to cut your throat.

Let's get on with it, Mr. President. We're up the proverbial creek with spaghetti as our paddle. This health care thing could have been the crossing of the Delaware, the turning point in the next American Revolution — the moment we put the mercenaries to rout, as General Washington did the Hessians at Trenton. We could have stamped our victory "Made in the USA." We could have said to the world, "Look what we did!" And we could have turned to each other and said, "Thank you."

As it is, we're about to get health care reform that measures human beings only in corporate terms of a cost-benefit analysis. I mean this is topsy-turvy — we should be treating health as a condition, not a commodity.

As we speak, Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, has been fined a record $2.3 billion dollars as a civil and criminal — yes, that's criminal, as in fraud — penalty for promoting prescription drugs with the subtlety of the Russian mafia. It's the fourth time in a decade Pfizer's been called on the carpet. And these are the people into whose tender mercies Congress and the White House would deliver us?

Come on, Mr. President. Show us America is more than a circus or a market. Remind us of our greatness as a democracy. When you speak to Congress next week, just come out and say it. We thought we heard you say during the campaign last year that you want a government run insurance plan alongside private insurance — mostly premium-based, with subsidies for low-and-moderate income people. Open to all individuals and employees who want to join and with everyone free to choose the doctors we want. We thought you said Uncle Sam would sign on as our tough, cost-minded negotiator standing up to the cartel of drug and insurance companies and Wall Street investors whose only interest is a company's share price and profits.

Here's a suggestion, Mr. President: ask Josh Marshall to draft your speech. Josh is the founder of the website He's a journalist and historian, not a politician. He doesn't split things down the middle and call it a victory for the masses. He's offered the simplest and most accurate description yet of a public insurance plan — one that essentially asks people: would you like the option — the voluntary option — of buying into Medicare before you're 65? Check it out, Mr. President.

This health care thing is make or break for your leadership, but for us, it's life and death. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Mr. President. We need a fighter. "