Sunday, December 30, 2007


I missed the opportunity to say Merry Christmas, so, Happy New Year. L, U, and I were in beautiful Boogey for Christmas day. We have been back a few days. At Thanksgiving, U helped turn a 313.8 mile drive into an eight hour journey. This week, he was a superstar and limited it to a six (or so) hour trip. Much better.

Anyway, I don't have anything to add to the biggest story of the holiday season, i.e. Bhutto's assassination. Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the world, and instability there is dire. I did see an amazing little piece of schadenfreude (or schadenfreude?) in today's paper though. Apparently Norway has always been the poor relation when dealing with Sweden. However, in the last few years oil has made Norway much wealthier, and has supported a roaring economy. Now Norway has Swedish people coming to Norway to make money doing menial labor. And the Norwegians can't quite contain their glee.

The Times also proved that they just-don't-GET-it in this article. It is devoted to the idea that Hip-Hop is in trouble because CD sales are down. Of course, CD sales may not be the best measure of success these days. I own the Kanye and Common albums they discuss. In both cases, I bought them on iTunes. The last CD I bought? An English edition of the new Dizzee Rascal, because it had a song I could not buy on iTunes. Before that? Couldn't tell you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Over the years I have posted one TV show or another. I was a fan of Bad Lad's Army. I have posted about the disaster that is Girl's Next Door. I see this as part of my role in keeping you informed.

So, E! is turning out to be my new favorite channel. First, there is Keeping Up With the Kardashians. You know that woman, Kim Kardashian, who was famous for . . . being Paris Hilton's friend, and making a sex tape with Brandi's little brother? Well, it turns out that Bruce F-ing Jenner is her stepdad, and her family is all as stupid as she is. The show is really great. Kim is famous for her sex tape, and sister Kourtney is about to be famous for sex pictures she took with a boyfriend. In one episode the FBI comes to interview the family to try to keep Kortney's pictures from being sold. As the agents arrive, the mom says, "the FBI is here. Look your best." Hard to believe that her daughters keep ending up in trouble. Oh, and Bruce Jenner is transcendant as the straight man in a family full of idiots, and he may have had significant plastic surgery since 1976.

Snoop Dogg's Father Hood is the second great show on E! It turns out that Snoop is the father of two boys and a girl. His wife (!) is actually in charge of what is a surprisingly normal hoousehold, and Snoop has a bunch of hangers-on who are hilarious. Snoop seems to basically be a kid who has grown up. The family definitely lives in a good-sized house, but it is not a mansion. Snoop hangs out in one of those sheds you buy from Home Depot and assemble in your yard. He plays a lot of video games and eats lots and lots of chicken. My favorite moment so far? Snoop gets sent to yoga because his blood pressure is high and he is afraid to have blood drawn. Predictably enough the instructor is quite hot. She has them do a position and says "this is to open your hips." Replies Snoop "I got something to open your hips." The look on the instructors face was priceless.

Of course, The Soup summarizes daytime TV for me so that I can go to work. I recommend watching it to ensure you don't fall behind on great moments from The View like this, or this on Passions. That second clip actually is from The Soup.

So, set your Tivo for E! and sit back and relax. Happy holidays.

Monday, December 17, 2007


The entire time L and I were at the University of Illinois, we joked that Kankakee was the epicenter of crappy weather in the midwest. If it rained in Champaign, and snowed in Chicago, there was nasty, freezing rain in Kankakee. If there was heat in Champaign and cool in Chicago, there was a tornado in Kankakee. And so on, and so on.

It was a joke. Until I saw Tom Skilling's response in the Ask Tom Why column of the Tribune on Sunday. The question?
I'm sure there is a great deal of variation in seasonal snowfall between Green Bay and St. Louis, but are there meaningful differences across this area--say from Milwaukee to Kankakee?
Bravo, Jon Kartman of Mundelein for that question! Any relation to Eric Kartman? Anyway, kudos for picking Kankakee as one of the cities! Anyway, the answer:
You bet there are. As winter storms traverse the Midwest, the dividing line between rain and snow is frequently located somewhere in the greater Chicago area between Milwaukee and Kankakee. That means that the difference in seasonal snowfall between those two locations is significant, with Milwaukee's 52-plus inches doubling the typical 26 inches that Kankakee receives. If fact, the difference in seasonal snowfall between Green Bay (53") and St. Louis (22") is only about 5 inches greater, illustrating the fact that most of the variance in snowfall totals occurs across the Chicago metropolitan area.
Did you see that? "The dividing line between rain and snow is frequently located somewhere in the greater Chicago area between Milwaukee and Kankakee." Just as we thought! Kankakee is the epicenter of crappy weather in the midwest. We always knew it.

And where is Kankakee in the context of this discussion? See below.

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Friday, December 14, 2007


Two things. I failed to hear or see any of the Democratic debate last night. It was surely scintillating, but I missed it.

Second, the Clinton (very high level) staffer who dropped the Obama smear I wrote about yesterday quit. Because he acted contrary to Hillary's will. Even though he was very high level. Riiiight.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Did anyone else see the Republican debate in Iowa last night? I only heard about ten minutes of it on my way home (with a Christmas tree white trashed on the roof of the ride). However, it is clear to me that the Republican field this year is like granola. Full of fruits and nuts.

First, Alan Keyes is running again? Alan Keyes is completely insane. The reason Keyes is being ignored is that he is speaking for the little man. And the fundamental issue in America is that we cannot remain free if God is pushed out of the classroom. Wowsa.

Next, Ron Paul clearly sees an entirely different universe than any other person running for President. In a nutshell, pull the troops home. From everywhere. From Europe. From Japan. From Korea. Everywhere. Get rid of as much Federal government as possible. Encourage home schooling. All action by the government is to preserve liberty.

Third, we have NAFTA. "What specific changes should be made to NAFTA?" **
Guiliani: "It should be enforced." What? What the hell does that mean? Then he starts talking about India and China, neither of which is yet in North America. Oh boy. I guess the world west of Manhattan really is a blur.
Thompson: "NAFTA is a long and complex document and I don't have any specific changes." Good. A well considered answer. Roughly translated as "I dunno know." I liked you on Law and Order. How did you get elected in New York with that accent?
Tancredo: "Get rid of NAFTA." If NAFTA worked so well, why are so many people still trying to sneak into the United States? Uh. That might be asking a lot of NAFTA. I mean, people still emigrated from Europe after the Marshall Plan, right? How about, did U.S. exports to Mexico increase (yes), and is per capita GDP increased in Mexico (yes). Tancredo also did a bit about sovereignty and trucks. No black helicopter references though.
Hunter: "Get rid of NAFTA." We have a trade deficit with Mexico. We used to have a trade surplus. That's bad.
As you can see, the analysis of NAFTA is really sophisticated. From the pro-NAFTA Clueless 2 to the anti-NAFTA Conspiracy Couple, the Republicans haven't a clue what they're talking about on NAFTA.

Now watch this. Keyes, McCain, Huckabee, Romney, Thompson, Paul, Hunter, and Guiliani all flub the answer. Sadly, I don't even know who the no name who tried to respond to the actual question was. Sheesh. What a collection of goofs. UPDATE: He was someone named "Tancredo," whatever that is.

All that and I didn't even mention that the frontrunner is named "Mitt." Mitt is not a name, it is a thing. President Mitt sounds almost as bad as Huckabee. Don't they sell American comfort food at Huckabees?

What a collection of fruits and nuts.

** Quotes are approximate.

Character is a funny thing. Essentially, I think of it as the very core of who you are. It is, ultimately, who you become when the chips are down. There have been a few examples of character in the last few days.

First, we see that Hillary Rodham Clinton is turning back into the nasty, cynical politician she seems to become whenever times get tough. Now that our Hometown Kid has caught Hillary the New Yorker in New Hampshire, her campaign is pointing out that Obama used cocaine and marijuana when he was younger. That, apparently, makes him unelectable. Of course, Obama wrote about the drug use in his own book, and has mentioned it in speeches to young people, so it was not really a secret. It was more a matter of something to say to slow Obama down. Notice, Hillary and her campaign did not say anything positive about themselves. They are cynically using Obama's own admissions against him. That is an insight into Hillary's character, and it is not good.

We will talk some other day about how a half-Kenyan, half-Kansan, raised in Hawaii and Indonesia who went to school in Boston became Chicago's Very Own, while the kid from Park Ridge, Illinois is the outsider. It seems to all be about the last place you hang your hat. And whether you ever made some idiotic statements about being a Yankee and a Cub fan.

Anyway, in another clear example of a person's character, the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons quit yesterday. Lots of people quit jobs, but Bobby Petrino did it in spectacular fashion. First, he quit with three games to go in the season. Second, he quit during his first season in the NFL. Third, he slid out of town without even meeting with his team. Mr. Petrino did this to take over the football program at the University of Arkansas. Dear Arkansas, this is like marrying someone you started dating while they were cheating on their spouse. That's a character issue, and it won't go away just because the scenery changes. Petrino will, some day, turn back into the weasel coward who snuck out of Atlanta with you too. Nice hire.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I understand that there are many things about parenthood I do not understand. Many things. Like everyone else, I want the best for my child. I want him to have "every advantage" et cetera, et cetera. Still, I think people are crazy.

This weekend the New York Times ran a story about the surging interest in the game of squash among high school-aged kids, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. You know squash. Niles and Frasier Crane played it. You can see why kids in Connecticut would be into it, right?

It turns out that squash is played on a varsity level by essentially all of the Ivy League, as well as other fancy pants schools, like Kenyon College. They may not give atheletic scholarships, but they do recruit people to play on their teams. Even their squash teams. It also turns out that squash is so reletively little-played in the United States that a kid who starts playing squash in 9th grade, and who is pretty atheletic, can be nationally ranked by the time they are applying to go to the Ivy League schools, or fancy pants schools like Kenyon College. So, squash is a smart hobby.

This is hardly the worst story I've read about people working to get their kids into elite schools. However, I am stunned by the process of poring over the life of an elite university, looking for the weakest recruiting link, and launching your child on a path to be the perfect candidate for that niche. I know that it is "smart" but it feels kind of disgusting. I guess it is undeniable that there are vast benefits to be had from attending an elite school. Still, something seems wrong with it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


This post was written on my Blackberry on Monday night. I then got Spanish flu, whooping cough, and possibly the grippe and was knocked out Tuesday and Wednesday and did not post. So, anyway, here's what I was thinking Monday night . . .

This weekend looked like it would be a good weekend. L's sister M was coming to town and I had some fun stuff I needed to do around the villa. Or so I thought.

First, the bronchial, snotty, plegmy illness U has been spreading around the house for a week finally caught me. I was almost feeling cocky about not having caught it. So much for that. As luck would have it, I had a brief I needed to finish and file, so I infected my office today. Good stuff.

Then the Bears proved that they are just an atom's width worse than the Giants by losing the Too-High-Draft-Pick-at-Quarterback Bowl. Eli Manning sucks. So does Rex Grossman. So do the Bears. Just an abomination.

Third, we have the BCS. I am happy to have the Illini in the Rose Bowl. They will have to play out of their minds to compete with USC, let alone win. Still, I said that about the Ohio State game too. However, I can't believe how Mizzou got jobbed. They were the number 1 team in the country five days ago. Now Kansas, who they thrashed is in a BCS bowl and they are not? What kind of chittlins is that? I don't think Mizzou was that good a team, but come on.

Finally, it is winter here now. We had an ice storm. It is chilly. December 3 and I can't wear a medium weight jacket. My hat has already made an appearance. Damn.